From casual country weddings to noisy Formula One triumphs, there's no wrong place to splash out for bubbly wines, and that includes summer picnics, impromptu parties and romantic trysts. One version of fizz that can fill the bill anywhere is Chateau des Charmes' Brut Methode Traditionelle n/v and their "baby brut". ($25.95 and 15.95 respectively). A classic blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes combined in the traditional French (i.e. Champagne) style, it's carefully aged on the lees (the spent yeasts) for two to three years then filtered just before corking and shipping, (RD or recently disgorged) for freshness. The result, a creamy mini-explosion on your palate of Meyer lemon, lime zest and freshly toasted bread. All backgrounded by a steady stream of fine, persistent bubbles.If you want to get all spicy, there's Chateau des Charmes Gewurztraminer 2016: This hand-harvested spicy grape, with its origins in Alsace, France, planted in Canada by the Bosc family in 1996, is hitting its peak now in Niagara with its bouquet of ultra-ripe tropical fruits and lychee, smooth, rich and complex. There’s a hint of residual sugar that gives a luscious mouthfeel without extra sweetness.
Monday, June 25, 2018
There’s no place like home – when it comes to growing Riesling. That would be Germany (which welcomed the migrant grape from Austria, 300 years ago, actually).
The world’s largest and arguably the best Riesling grower by a mile, Germany’s still #1 and its red wines are getting better, too, thanks to global warming!
From parts of the Mosel Valley that resemble the mountains of Machu Picchu (it’s not farming, it’s climbing), to the rolling southern hills of the Pfalz, Germany’s Tuscany, there’s every style of elegant Riesling.There's no grape that more truly expresses the terroir of its origins while maintaining fruit, finesse and minerality. Its crispy acidity lends the wine a racy freshness and aging potential.
Wine consumption on the rise in Germany and a new generation of motivated young winemakers is re-energizing centuries-old Teutonic quality.
Take Graacher Domprobst, for example, the off-dry star from the Selbach Oster family in the Mosel: ancient vines, rich, spicy-smoky flavors of apricot-pear and dried fruits, ageable and delicious now, $35.
Or Scharzhofberger Kabinett from Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, a symphony of pear-apple, mango and honeyed notes (HHD Imports).
White wine accounts for 2/3 of production today in Germany, which is also the world’s biggest consumer of sparkling wines: 400 million bottles a year!
Remember, everything happens for a Riesling! A German Riesling, this case. 31 days of German Riesling is back July 1, with an amazing prize - a long weekend getaway for two to Berlin! #31DaysofGermanRiesling #Germanwine #Germany #Riesling
Meanwhile, there’s more to New Zealand than Hobbits and Middle Earth. If you want to be a trendsetter, buy some New Zealand Riesling! Stunningly good, unheralded, almost unobtainable except through private wine agencies.
The range starts with exquisite peach/apricot-scented, tropical, bone-dry Marlborough versions like Staete Landt, $28, (Lifford), and lean, stony Mount Riley (sbswwineimports.com), or steely, elegant Felton Road from Central Otago (Lifford).
Very gradually we move upwards in sweetness to mineral-grapefruit Craggy Range Te Muna Road in Martinborough, $28, (Select Wines), and the sweeter, more lush Waimea Classic from Nelson (Churchill Cellars) $19, and the honey-citrus Waipara Hills North Canterbury, $22, (sgws.com).
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Happy unbirthday! Today may not be your birthday, but here’s an idea for when it comes: the Reverse Birthday! YOU give the gifts.
Mine was Sunday and my lovely wife, Lavell, had the idea.
At our gardening friend Lesley’s Peony Party (no jokes, please) we put out an array of T-shirts and rainbow-hued socks and announced, “These are for you all. Happy birthday to me!”
Huge hit. Someone had brought a homemade Virginia Sponge Cake and it was time to open the vino. Do try this at home. Perhaps at a backyard barbecue.
A good way to start the BBQ party would be Chateau des Charmes Sauvignon Blanc 2017, $16, the perfect Pinot Grigio slayer, as a fresh, crisp (unoaked) aperitif in an easy gooseberry/citrus style. With the salad or with oysters.
Carnivores will love the Chateau’s 2016 Cabernet-Merlot, an elegantly fruity blend of Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and Merlot aged 9 months in French oak, also $16. Ageable but why wait?
If you’re craving Pinot Noir, there’s a great 2016 just under the radar, from Angels Gate, truly Burgundian in its finesse and flavors, showing berry fruits, spring flowers, cherry and raspberry notes and gentle tannins.
All for $18. Crafted by Aussie master winemaker Phil Dowell.