Sunday, March 12, 2006

Around the World with Wine....

Last night, I hosted a wine party up in Merrimack, NH for a group of wonderful women. This was a Wines from Around the World tasting, and so we sampled a variety of wines from different countries. There were lots of laughs, and hopefully the women walked away learning a little bit more about wine and a better understanding of what styles they may or may not prefer - than what they had walked in with. The following are the tasting notes.

1. Chateau Couronneau Bordeaux

Bordeaux is a style of wine - named for the region in France where it is developed. Bordeauxs are usually big wines – and the astingency, dryness, fruitiness and finishcan be dependent upon the region within Bordeaux they come from; St. Emillion wines for example are big and soft; this wine is from the Supriere region, on the northeast section of Bordeaux. As a result of being in a different area within the region, the wine results are different. This is not big and soft; it’s a bit thinner, and tighter than most Bordeauxs. This is an absolutely fantastic organic bordeaux from this region, created by Christophe Piat, (Food & Wines of France magazines 'Bordeaux wine-maker of the year in 2002'). (Organic meaning "no added sulfites".) It’s predominantly a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot; this wine is more of a Merlot blend so you’ll see it’ s softer on the finish. Wonderful with roast beef, steak, rib roast, roast pork loin, rack of lamb, or duck; braised veal with mashed potatoes.

2. Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz

This medium-bodied Shiraz offers bright fruit-forward flavors of coffee, plums and strawberry, followed by a dash of pepper and a touch of black licorice. It’s fruity, but still has a hint of oak – so it’s got some structure to it. Shiraz is one of your all purpose wines – great for barbecue – great with pizza – great w. pasta.

3. Sabato Malbec

Here is an Argentinan wine, whose charms are irresistible. Deep ruby colored, this wine approaches the "fruit bomb" category without going over the edge. A rich, full-bodied red wine from the Mendoza region of Argentina, this Malbec has flavors of plum and black currant with a hint of dark chocolate. A steak wine for sure, but also great for sharp cheese.

4. Graham Beck "Pinno" Unoaked Chardonnay

A very fine example of one of the increasingly more available "unoaked" Chardonnays which are revitalizing the market. It's something new… that's actually something old. Both New Zealand and Australia have been practicing this method, and now South Africa is catching on as well. Unwooded Chardonnays, as they're inelegantly described, never really went away, we just forgot about them. Now they've been re-discovered and are gaining in popularity. This wine shows brightness, pure apple blossom aromas, straightforward but low key fruit flavors and a clean, engaging texture. It's quite dry throughout and its medium long finish is quite satisfying. Unoaked Chardonnays growing in fanbase as many people prefer the crispness of the wine over the vanilla creaminess that traditional oak aging provides. Food pairing follows the same as a Sauvignon Blanc, but can stand up to heavier cream sauces and pasta dishes quite well.

5. Macon Uchizy

The village of Uchizy in the heart of Burgundy (Loire Valley) produces very complex and sophisticated Chardonnay. This wine is made of 100% Chardonnay and is complex, dry and well structured with slightly spicy, ripe lemon flavours with a very zesty lingering finish. Pairs nicely with many styles of cheese – but do not pair with pears; the sweetness and softness of the pears takes away from the sweetness of the wine and leaves it tasting tart in comparison.

6. Giesen Sauvignon Blanc

Light straw color with a glint of gold, this wine is exceptionally aromatic. Ripe peaches come up first, followed by juicy lemon-lime and a whiff of the "green chile pepper" scent that's often found in Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Ripe and full, juicy fruit flavors are so intense that the wine almost seems sweet; but a snappy citric tang brings it into balance, clean and lingering. The wine's "in-your-face" flavors make it a challenging food match, but asparagus - here in a farfalle pasta dish with ham and a saffron-tinted cheese sauce - stands up to the herbaceous chile-pepper flavors in the wine.

7. Muscat Vin De Glaciere Eiswein

The way Eiswein is made is simply extraordinary, something completely unique in the world of wine. Grapes--most often Riesling grapes--are left on the vine until the first frost hits. In the press house, they are pressed ever so gently as winemakers try to squeeze whatever honeyed drops out of them they can, without crushing the ice crystals that have formed. The secret of Eiswein is that nature has frozen most of the water in the grapes, and the winemaker crushes the grapes gently so as to leave the water behind! As one of the world’s truly great dessert wines, the best examples are very rich and sweet, but shot through with the most searing acidity you've ever experienced; the balance will take your breath away… Randall Graham, the brilliant clown prince of California wine at the Bonny Doon winery. Ice Wine has to freeze on the vine, of course--but some years ago Randall started chucking grapes in the freezer, then crushing them in the classic German fashion