Posted by Gabe on September 30, 2011
Alsace France is a region that can certainly inspire tons of passion from wine lovers. White varietals rule the day here. When they are from excellent vineyards and made with care they can be nothing less than amazing. I recently tasted through most of the portfolio from Gustave Lorentz. This Alsatian family has been making wine since 1836. It was a pleasure and an eye-opener to samples these wines. As is typical of Alsace the majority of their offerings are white with a few reds in the mix as well. Both still and sparkling wines are part of the mix. I’ve liked each of the selections I’ve tasted from this producer but here are three diverse ones that really set themselves apart.
First up is the Gustave Lorentz Cremant d’Alsace (NV). This sparkling wine is composed of Chardonnay (33%), Pinot Blanc (33%) and Pinot Noir (33%). This offering was produced using the classic “Methode Champenpoise.” 4,500 cases of this wine were bottled and it has a suggested retail price of $24.99
The nose of this non vintage Sparkling Wine is remarkably fresh and lively with apple and green melon aromas of particular note. Brioche, juicy orchard fruits and bits of stone fruit are all part of the palate along with spice and mineral notes. The finish shows an inherent creaminess along with touches of candied lemon zest. This is a really nice sparkling wine for the money. It drinks well on it’s own but will work even better paired alongside light foods.
Next up is the Gustave Lorentz 2009 Pinot Noir Le Rosé. The grapes for this wine were picked as ripe as possible. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir. The fruit was sourced from vineyards that feature clay and limestone heavy soils. 2,000 cases of this Rosé were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $19.99.
Fresh, ripe Bing cherry aromas drive the nose of this 2009 Rosé. Strawberries, cherries and vanilla characteristics are all at play through the palate. These are joined by hints of darker berry fruit and a touch of candied cherry. The darker fruit elements emerge a bit more forcefully in the finish along with a touch of white pepper. This wine is light and refreshing as most well made Rosé should be. But it also features more depth, weight and complexity than the average example. This wine will pair really well with light foods. A fruit and cheese plate would be perfect. Of course it should be chilled, but resist the temptation to over-chill this beauty.
The final wine in this trio is the Gustave Lorentz 2007 Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim. The fruit for this wine comes from the namesake classified Grand Cru site. This offering is all Gewürztraminer. The soils there feature heavy clay and limestone components. The vines average between 30 and 50 years of age. Fruit for this offering was hand picked and the whole grapes were pressed and this juice was separated from the free run juice. Fermentation took place with select and native yeasts in mature oak vats. It was aged in these vats for 11 months prior to bottling. 1,000 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $59.99.
Aromas of apple, yellow melon, vanilla and a touch of crème fraiche fill the expressive nose of this 2006 Gewürztraminer. Apricot and yellow peach notes are in abundance throughout the palate. A nice spice component featuring white pepper, cardamom and nutmeg is present as well. Lot’s of sweet yellow and white fruits continue through the impressively long and persistent finish which shows off a bit of a honey. In addition to the lengthy finish the purity of fruit is what strikes me as most impressive about this Gewürztraminer. This wine is delicious now, both on its own and paired with spicy foods in particular. However don’t hesitate to lay it down for the next 8-12 years.
This is a delicious trio of wines from Gustave Lorentz. That said don’t hesitate to try others with their name on the label either. I’ve sampled quite a few and each has been a winner.
Posted in Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Rosé, Sparkling Wine, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on September 21, 2011
Sparkling wine comes in all shapes and sizes. France of course has a legendary tradition when it comes to this style of wine. Today I’ll look at selection from Maison J.J. Vincent.
The Maison J.J. Vincent Cremant de Bourgogne was produced from fruit sourced in the Winery’s native Burgundy. More specifically the fruit comes from the southern reaches. This offering is composed entirely of Chardonnay. The fruit was handpicked during the earliest part of harvest. Vinification was accomplished using traditional methods for Sparkling Wine. This offering has a suggested retail price of $19.99.
Aromas of freshly sliced apples fill the nose of this non vintage sparkling wine. A gentle wisp of ginger chips in as well. The palate is fresh and crisp with yellow and green apple flavors playing vital roles. A bit of hazelnut emerges as well along with light touches of lemon zest. The finish shows off mineral and spice characteristics as well as tart apple flavors. This is a refreshing wine that has crisp acidity. It drinks well by itself and is also an excellent food wine.
This French Sparkler is a very nice value for $19.99. If you shop around you’ll find it for a bit less. Its complexity belies its price point. Whether you pair this with a Sunday Brunch or simply share it with friends during a casual get together you’re going to be drinking a delicious offering that you’re likely to buy again and again when you realize what a terrific wine you got for your money.
Posted in Chardonnay, Sparkling Wine, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on September 17, 2011
Most of the quality boxed wines I’ve tasted to date have come from a couple of regions; South America and the Central Coast in California. That said this is a growing segment in the wine world and offerings from many other regions are popping up on US shelves. This is good news for wine drinkers looking for value driven options for a party or a daily drinker that’ll hold up for about a month. Today I’ll look at one from the Landwein Rhein section of Germany.
The R. Müller 2010 “Rabbit” Riesling (aka Bunny Wine) was produced from fruit grown in the Landwein Rhein region in Germany. After the grapes were harvested during the relative cool of night they were pressed prior to temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks utilizing select yeasts. As is typical for the area this wine has modest alcohol content of 9.5%. This offering is available in the 3 liter bag in the box format. Octavin Home Wine Bar which is behind this release refers to it as a premium wine cask. It’s available all over the country for a suggested retail price of $24.
This Riesling has a bold nose that’s loaded with strong aromas of white peach, white pepper and vanilla. Stone fruits are accompanied by both green and golden delicious apple throughout a fruity and pleasing palate. Orchard fruits are also apparent in the finish which features Bartlett pear as well as continued spice. This wine has firm acidity which lends to its crisp, refreshing close.
I’m looking for several things in a boxed wine. Of course it should be true to varietal and offer value in its price point. Additionally I’m looking for something that’s going to please a wide array of different palates. This Riesling meets all of those criteria and strikes a perfect balance of sweetness. It’s neither cloying nor dry; in fact it’s precisely in the middle. This wine will be a great match for spicy Asian Cuisine, Indian dishes or entrée salads to name a couple of examples. It’s also terrifically suited as a something to sip with friends as you while away the hours. As with other premium boxed wines I’ve sampled this one is easy to open and operate. The bag in the box technology allows you to enjoy this over 4 or more weeks with fear of flavor degradation. In short this wine achieves its intent. Well worth expolring if you’re looking for a quality white in the super value category.
Posted in Riesling, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on September 9, 2011
Cornerstone Cellars has been an impressive producer of excellent Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for quite a few years now. Over the last few vintages they have also launched and expanded Stepping Stone a second label that focuses on wines aimed at everyday consumption. Today I’ll take a look at their current release of Rosé.
The Stepping Stone by Cornerstone 2010 Corallina Rosé was produced from fruit sourced at the Mogambo Vineyard in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley. This wine is 100% Syrah. After slow, temperature controlled fermentation this wine was aged in neutral barrels. Less than 300 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $18.
The color of this Rosé is immediately striking. Many new world examples of Rosé are a bit deeper and darker. This one from Stepping Stone has the perfect Salmon hue that comes to mind when I think of Rosé, which is often. Fleshy red fruit aromas burst out from the nose of this Syrah Rosé. The palate is loaded with red cherry fruit flavors as well as pepper spice, and red raspberry. Sweet wild strawberry flavors emerge on the finish along with continued cherry and raspberry characteristics. Nutmeg and white pepper spices chip in as well. This is a lovely dry Rosé loaded with juicy fruit flavors that give the impression of sweetness. Firm acidity keeps things well balanced and makes this a tremendous food wine.
This is a lovely example of Rosé from the folks at Stepping Stone. For $18 this wine is fairly priced and as mentioned it will pair extremely well with light summer foods as well as spicy cuisine. That said it drinks beautifully on it’s own.
Posted in Rosé, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine | 1 Comment »