Posts Tagged ‘France’

Things are going well here in Minnesota as I celebrate my one year anniversary. School is starting up again in a couple weeks and I hope to maintain the part-time job I landed for the summer.  Concurrent to my studies, I am working as an Interior Design Assistant at a retailer of home accessories.  Interacting with clients, educating them as best I can in the art of effective home design and trying to make a place for myself with this wonderful local company.

I am still surprised at the tremendous disparity in the pricing of wine(s) between Canada and the USA; even regionally within both countries, there is a huge range of factors that determine the final sticker shock. In Ontario this bottle runs ~$16; in Manitoba ~$18, Minneapolis ~10, San Francisco ~$7, various wine shops in Paris ~€3.

Southeastern France, as we all know, is a huge producer of all sorts of vinos.  The Perrin Family owns Chateau Beaucastel, sources its grapes from many small local vineyards, and is one of the premier cellarers of Chateauneuf-de-Pape.  I have yet to sample a CdP so as soon as I am lucky enough to try one, you can bet there will be a posting about THAT!!!

This vino displays a rich garnet color in the glass and decent density of berry freshness on the nose.  The forward palate is ripe and round with strawberry and structured earthiness while on the back-note, there are hints of spice and tobacco smoke.  Finishing with a moderate length, the alcohol becomes rather evident as you swallow.

Not too bad, remarkably consistent versus previous vintages. It is mostly Garnacha/Grenache blended with Syrah and character-adjusted with various other regionally approved varieties.  Pairs well with everyday foods such as hamburgers, meat-topped pizza, and even a grilled NY Strip!

Cheers!

~tvb

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**image credit – Google Image search.  thevinoboy.com makes no claim to ownership of the image and republishes under Fair Use Provisions for product review and critique.

Traditional method bubbles are getting more affordable these days.  When you stumble upon one that you’ve never heard of before, don’t search for an excuse to save it for a special occasion. Chill it and have it tonight.  You don’t even have to pair it with anything!  Well, when I say affordable, most budget to moderately-priced bottles (under $25) are fair game.

I’ve written about bubbles in the past: how they’re made, whats in them, etc. Some are tasty, others not so much.  How do I decide which ones to buy that I’ve never seen before?  *shrug   The label is typically no help, the dark-colored thick glass makes it impossible to see the wine…  The only senses left are taste and smell and we can’t do that if the vino is trapped in the bottle.

The wine is lightly yellow in color and the soft mousse has a curiously subtle green tinge.  Oranges, light spices and soft hints of yeast make for a pretty complex aroma. Mouth-feel is slightly sweet and the fizz is bright. Palate is fresh, tangy and more than a little complex with layers of grain drifting to the back of the nose.  The finish has a faint sourness but the yeast essence makes up for that.

I think I’ll give this a recommendation if you can find it.  Even then, its not overly rare, so expect a  price tag of ~$20/btl.

There’s no special day like today.  Cheers!

~tvb

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**images credit:  Google Image Search.  thevinoboy.com claims no ownership and republishes under fair use provisions for product review and critique.

One of the most consistently delicious and pedigreed wines I’ve been keeping very detailed notes on is an affordable junior-level vino from one of the most recognizable vintners in the world: Louis Jadot. Its trademark frieze of Bacchus and uniquely colored label stands out on any shelf in any vino purveyor’s shoppe.

Though my tastings have only dated from the 2004 vintage, this historic vino travels back in time to the early 1800’s.  The winery has been passed down through the last 200 years to various parties whose best interests ensure the sustainability or the vineyards and most importantly the consistency of the final product.

(V) 2004 – the beginning of my tasting was almost the end.  A prominent barnyard aroma, slight cherry flavor yet thin on the palate and no finish at all.

(V) 2005 – dark and ominous in the glass, the faint layer of earthiness is rather pleasing with a strawberry essence on top.  Berry-forward palate with the earth on moderate finish.

(V) 2006 – We went through two bottles of this amazing vino at an out-of-the-way bistro during a trip to Paris. Took another back to the hotel for the evening.  Smooth palate, flavors of raspberry and cherry with a silky finish. Great for breakfast sopped up with day-old baguette. Best bottle yet!

(V) 2007 – Predominantly peppery on the nose, tangy strawberry flavor, bright acidity –  deliciously gulpable!  Almost Nouveau in style.

(V) 2008 – Spicy cherry on the nose with hint of peppercorn.  Rather light-bodied and finishes with a hint of anise.  Strange flavor profile for this type of vino but still drinkable.

(V) 2009 – Crushed strawberry and barnyard on the nose, lively acidity on the mid-weight palate, distinctive peppercorn finish.

Prices range from ~$8/btl to as high as ~$17/btl as your local vino merchant

Six years, six bottles of the same vino produced from vines as old as 200 years. Consistent and enjoyable and ready for the release of 2010’s offering.   I have several other vinos with years of detailed notes like this; look for another retrospective sometime soon.

A Santé!!

~tvb

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**image credit: via WineAlign.  thevinoboy.com makes no claim to ownership and republishes under fair use provisions for review and critique.

In my studies with the Vintners Quality Alliance, there lies within Ontario several “sub-appellations”: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelee Island, Prince Edward County just to name a few.  Grapes from the vines cultivated in the unique soils/terroirs of these sub-appellations carry with them the essence of everything in this wondrous dirt.

The sub-appellation of Costères de Nimes within the major region of Rhône is one such example in that most southern part of France.

Your vinoboy suggests slightly chilling this wine before tasting, but PLEASE not too much.  Intensely colored, floral and herbaceous nose, powerful mouth feel and an open, refreshing airy gasp of dried lavender on the finish.

The structure and balance of this vino makes it a perfect pair for exotically-spiced grilled chicken and veggies.  We’re actually crusting our chicken breasts with the famous Saffron restaurant’s Chef Sameh Wadi Spice Trail Exotic Blend Middle-Eastern blend.

LCBO/Vintages ~$14/btl   Cheers to Summer!!!

~tvb

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**image credit: republished via WineAlign – thevinoboy.com makes no claim to ownership; image used under fair use provisions for review and critique

Chablis.  Sometimes referred to as the “outcast of Burgundy”, Chablis is a small region in north-central France most well-known for its mineral-rich terroir; the soil full of limestone and calcium.  The area was once covered by a vast sea, so the fossils and shells add to the calcium content in the soil. I could go on and on about just the soil in various parts of France but will leave that to one of my on-line mentors: The Wine Doctor.  Visit and explore his extensive writings on the subject and check out his sponsors.

Chablis, therefore, isn’t so much about the Chardonnay grape from which it is made, but about the earth that nurtures the vines.

Carefully chilled to 14°C whilst dinner was prepared to hit the grill.

I’ve recently acquired a taste for whole shrimp; the jus in the carapace is succulent and tastes of the sea – reminding me of growing up in the rural Maritimes. Got some live 8-10 tiger prawns from a local Asian market, dunked them in ice-cold brine to slow them down and make them clear their guts. Drained them, sprinkled with S&P and put in the fridge. (yes, they’re still alive, but very sluggish.  Got the grill really hot and laid shrimp carefully on holding them there in case any complained about their imminent consumption.

Took only three minutes each side to perfectly cook. Split off the head and suck out the jus!  Mmmm!  Creamy soft, slight tinny taste, and lightly salty.  A sip of Chablis to compliment the custardy shrimp jus.  Nice. Peeled away the shell on the tail and savored the delicate flesh clean and simple.

The crisp and light acidity of the Chablis is a great balance to the mid-weight silky mouth-feel.  Flavors of citrus, coriander and slate carry through to a dry lingering finish.  I think I’ll be adding more Chablis to my cellar for a couple year’s rest – the time will mellow the tang of the minerals and increase the undertone of spice.

LCBO/Vintages ~$22/btl  A bit pricey for every-day consumption, but with the expensive shrimp, it was worth it.  Magnifique!

~tvb

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**image credit – Google Image Search.  thevinoboy.com clams no ownership from any source and republishes image under Fair Use Provisions for review and critique.

Ok, so I must confess before I go any further that the only reason I chose this wine (the last of the wines I chose when last out with my good friend ‘S’…) was the shape of the bottle.  Hour-glass sculpted and sinuously tall, I was hoping the vino within would be voluptuous and yummy…

That’s not entirely true, I must confess. Côtes de Provence is one of the southern-most regions of France, in the foothills of les Montagnes Pyrénées -the range that divides the country from Spain. And since I’ve had delicious experiences with French rosés of late, a tasting was in order.

The faint nose was lightly rosy with a hint of lavender. On the palate, flavors of red peppers and stone berries fill both the front and back of the mouth.  The structure is slightly heavy, but otherwise, a rather pleasing vino.

Stock is low at the LCBO so if you find it at ~$14/btl, drink it right away or even try to cellar it for a year or two.

Cheers

~tvb

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**image credit – Google Image search.  thevinoboy.com makes no claim to ownership and republishes under Fair Use provisions for review and critique.

So with the impression of the direct translation of the winery’s name (Grand Gaillard = Fine/Strapping Young Lad) an indicator of the tipple thereof, I chose this bottle to renew my faith in the grape known as Sauvignon Blanc.

“Why don’t you like Sauv Blanc?!”  I’m frequently asked.

“More often than not,” I reply. “It smells too much like cat’s pee!!!  Most of the Sauv Blancs I’ve tasted of late have all been overly uric on the nose, twangy mineral on the palate and the pervasive uric essence carrying thru to an off-putting finish.  THATs why I dislike Sauv blanc

“Can’t you try to taste beyond the scent of urea and get a better understanding of the essences within?  As “the vinoboy”, we’re counting on you to guide our palates and such…”

“Ok,” I acquiesce. “I’ll try just this once more. Sauv Bl. is a quintessential and classic white wine after all…”

I am so glad I did – I have nothing but thanks to my adoring fans for this re-review:

Indeed on the nose, the urea is prevalent though with this one, there’s some floral note to it that is kinda nice.  The palate is very citrus-forward, yes, but no definite true flavor to work with.  Finish is moderate reminding the taster there was a floral note at the beginning.  Not unpleasant but certainly not a showstopper.  LCBO ~$12/blt

~tvb

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Image credit – Google image search results.  No ownership is expressed or implied and is reproduced under fair use provisions for review and critique.

Not too long ago, a friend emailed me a list of bottles he had in his cellar and the two questions I hear a lot: “How long can I cellar this?” and “Is this still drinkable?”  One such bottle on that list was the Christian Moueix Merlot 2005, Bordeaux.

Like the recently reviewed Chateau La Fleur Terrien 2008, Bordeaux, the Moueix winery is located in that portion of the Right Bank appellation of the Bordeaux region.  As such, this mass-produced vino may come off as unrefined and/or lacking the depth and complexity we’ve come to expect from these regional blends and single-grape varieties.

With an off-red almost tawny hue, the nose is very wooded and alcohol forward with some scents of red berry coming through.  Mouth-feel is tannic and stemmy and middle of weight.  The finish is rather bitter and lastingly dull.

This 2005 vintage has a drinkability date of 2011, so most of whats in stock wherever you purchase your vino should be consumed if you’re up to it – personally, I’d not even cook with it.  If you have it in your cellar try it for yourself but this vinoboy can no longer recommend it.  More recent releases of Moueix Merlots no longer carry a vintage date.

Though honestly turned off by this unbalanced and uninspired offering, I’m game to try another fresher bottle of what Christian Mouiex has to offer.

~tvb

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**image credit – republished using the image posted at Snooth.com – no ownership of image is expressed or implied by thevinoboy.com

Thank you to Mel from Hamilton Ontario for suggesting this vino.  He received the bottle as a gift, went searching for reviews, and though I’d not tried it as of yet, he was impressed enough with this vinoblog to submit the recommendation via yougottatrythis@thevinoboy.com .

This is a rather beginner-level Bordeaux. It originates from a portion of the region that focuses on more of a mass production scale rather than smaller more carefully tended batches.  In this humble vinoboy’s opinion, a mass produced Bordeaux lacks quite a bit of the refinement and complexity to that of its peers.  We all know the main components of a Bordeaux-blend, this one is primarily Merlot, Cabs Franc and Sauv in equal amounts make up the balance. With that in mind, I popped the cork…

*gasp  Though the  nose is certainly alcohol forward – scents of cherry, earth and a mild peppery note come through nicely.  The earthy essence stimulates a medium mouth feel with a sensation of violets, mild cedar and the faintest hint of toasty nuts. A moderately grating finish of curious cocoa and tannin.

A barely-recommended value at ~$15/btl, buy two bottles, drink one now and cellar the other for 3-5 years.  This should take some of the grating edge off.

Cheers!

~tvb

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**image credit – Winealign (links on the right) via Google Image search.  thevinoboy.com claims no ownership of the image and reproduces it here under fair use provisions for review and critique.

Hrm…  It would seem that not all regionally blended wines from France are unique and identifiably unique.  This vino’s full handle is “Hugues Beauvignac Picpoul de Pinet 2009″. It région controlée is Coteaux De Languedoc, Sud De France.

After writing this tasting review, I tried researching the winery itself.  There are plenty of notes on third-party sites, like on WineAlign and Snooth; but nothing produced by the winemaker him/herself. The glass of the overly-tall bottle feels thick and has a couple shaped accents and punted only very slightly.

The first time ever for me trying this wine though I’ve picked the bottle up and set it back down again at the LCBO  – turned off by all the spelling mistakes on the back label.   I’m actually glad it made it into my cart this time so I know for next time to leave it alone.

The color is very pale yellow with a strange hue of silver around the edge of the glass.  The nose is lightly perfumed with no real discernible prominent note. On the tongue, there aren’t many flavors at all really other than the faintest hint of lemon, not even a detectable acidity .  The finish is somewhat minerally, sort of like sucking on a clean pebble.

This reminds me of lemon drink-mix powder mixed with too much water.

A waste of ~$10 at the LCBO.

~tvb

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**image credit – Google image search.  There doesn’t appear to be a website for the actual winery but I’ve found plenty of reviews once this one was finished.  They all read the exact opposite of what i experienced with this vino.  Did I get a bad bottle? If so, I seem to have the best (or worst) luck at finding the bad bottle in the lot.

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