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Champion Middleweight Wines for Changing Seasons

22 Oct

As the weather cools and the trees turn colors, so do our palates shift to harvest flavors- not only do we seek out pumpkin, apple, and carrot, but meats shift in our meals from leaner proteins to middle weight options like duck, turkey, pork, or monkfish. And our wine preferences move to mid-body wines, from lean and linear to more body, and an expansive palate.

As the days grow shorter, I push back on sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and chenin blanc to grab Bordeaux blends and Rhône varietals such as Grenache blanc, bourbelanc, roussanne, viognier, and clairette. And today’s champion wine is a blend of my favorite four of these: clairette blanche, Grenache blanc, bourbelanc and picpoul blanc. It’s from Acqueisce Winery and is called “Ingenue”. Similarly to very finest of white Bordeaux blends and yet entirely differently; this white Rhône blend is greater than the sum of its parts.

Acquiesce Winery: 2018 Ingénue White Rhône Blend, Mokelumne River AVA, Lodi, California, USA. 13% ABV, SRP $32/bottle.

 

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

The color is pale gold with excellent clarity. The nose offers citrus, baked apple, a hint of greener spice and fresh floral cuttings. On the palate is a beautiful lemon-lime with apple and mature pear, with a savory and round mouthfeel. Dense acidity sings across the palate but the depth and beauty are apparent. This wine can pair in any direction you might wish to go: from fowl to fish to meats, from bright summer vegetables to harvest flavors of pumpkin and squash to root vegetables. I paired this first with a rich asian stir-fry and then with Italian, finishing the bottle much sooner than I’d hoped. Last time I tried this bottle it was goat cheese all in and all out, a perfect pairing with the weather directly post-harvest.

 

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

Next up is a brilliant pinot noir from under-the-radar, one that is ideal for changing weather:

Spáter-Veit Rotwein, 2015 Trocken, Mosel, Germany. 12% ABV; $18/bottle imported by Fass Selections.

 

Color is a clear ruby, while the nose offers earth, cherry, and slate. On the palate, a rich and opulent series of flavors appear quickly and dissipate -potting soil, menthol, scorched earth-  before a tremendous cherry fruit profile begins to dominate the palate.  A robust, medium body with a full and complex mouthfeel, the wine has complexity and depth while showing some linearity and focus. This wine is special- not only reasonable at under $20/bottle, but offering solid winemaking from a small, independent producer at unusually low, nearly grocery store wine prices. This pinot noir has enough complexity and maturity to be able to pair at a higher level- if only I had purchased additional bottles (entirely my fault). I paired this with fish, asian, and southwestern fare but was probably most content when tasting the wine along delicate and medium-weight cheeses. But even as I type this, I simply want to pour another ounce and contemplate the flavor profile as this wanders across my palate.

#WIYG?

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

 

 

 

Wines of Cariñena for Summer! #CoolDownwithCariñena

12 Aug

Bodegas Paniza Agostón 2016 Viura and Chardonnay Blend, Cariñena, Spain. 12.5% ABV, $13-14/bottle, internet/street. Screwcap Closure.

 

Color is a translucent, neutral straw with just a tiny hint of green. The nose offers a gentle citrus with lychee. On the palate, there are notes of lime zest, green melon, and sweet plantains. Gentle acidity on the back palate and a subtle, bitter finish. I am quick to refill this in the heat of the summer. A blend of 70% Viura and 30% Chardonnay,  it is light, cool, and refreshing: reminding me of the wonderful local wines I tasted last summer while sailing the Mediterranean Sea. This is delicate, and so similar to the wines of last summer- easy to imbibe all afternoon or to pair with raw seafood, cold gazpacho, salads and vegetables, along with baked white fish, chicken or pork. Yum!

 

 

Corona D Aragon Garnacha Blanca 2017. Cariñena, Spain.  12.5% ABV, Around $10/bottle street price.  Nomacork Closure. 

 

 

Color is young straw. The nose is quite delicate, with hints of honeysuckle blossom, sunflower, and almond paste. On the palate is fresh lemon rind, crisp apple, with a hint of tangerine. Nice acidity is left behind on the tongue and front palate, the overall effect like a ray of sunshine catching you after being lost behind the clouds. This is a blend of 87% white grenache, and 13% chardonnay grapes that paired perfectly with Chinese stir-fry and again with spicy Thai noodles, but also with flatbread white pizza and a traditional Naples-style pizza with a spicy San Marzano tomato sauce.

 

 

 

Bodegas San Valero, Origium 1944:  Rosé of Garnacha, 2016.  Cariñena, Spain. ABV 12.5%, Street Price under $10/bottle, Traditional cork closure.

 

Color is a beautiful and deep cerise. The nose is of tiny fresh red berries and a hint of green leaves. On the palate is fresh cranberry, watermelon, a touch of young raspberry. Delightfully young, exuberant, and lively, with acidity crossing the top of the palate, leaving your mouth refreshed. 

 

This is a wine you want to start sipping before mid-day. It’s so fresh, bright, and unassuming– you will want to continue sipping this lightly with lunch, in a hammock as you enjoy the sun, all afternoon long as you prepare supper, while you rest with your family, and relax with friends. This lovely rosé of garnacha will pair beautifully with smoked or roasted game (think cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving) or with vegetables or any hearty flavors. There is enough acidity here to handle savory flavors of pan-tossed brussel sprouts, artichoke hearts, or a lovely paella! Just a hint of vanilla & cedar lets you know it was aged in wooden barriques and has the ability to stand up to serious main courses, not just appetizers.

 

All of these wines are excellent for hot weather, with bright citrus and delicate fruit.

If you’re looking for a great traditional dish from a regional recipe of Cariñenas, try this migas recipe with garnacha blanca, a viura/chardonnay blend, or garnacha rosé!

 

#WIYG? Whats YOUR summer wine to beat the heat?  Have you tried these?

Share your thoughts with me below!

 

à votre santé!

Three Garnachas Not To Miss!

23 Sep

I had a blast on #GarnachaDay, and if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you might have seen the carnage! (You still can if you hit these sites and search for “#garnachaday jvbuncorked” . An early afternoon master class in Garnacha was followed by tapas and 25 more Garnacha wines. Only hours later, I joined a live, Online Snooth Garnacha Tasting with two very smart, highly respected sommeliers, Laura Maniec and Christy Canterbury, both accredited Masters of Wine.

What a day of wine tasting! Of the featured wines, all were great, solid, and terrific values, many under $15/bottle. Two wines have great potential but would be better with age. Three of the ten wines from these tastings really grabbed me personally.  So here they are, my gold medal winners:

 

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La Miranda Secastilla Garnacha Blanca 2013. 13.5% ABV, Available locally and online for as little as $8/bottle! 

Pale straw in color, with a nose of herbs, freshly cut grass, lychee and banana. On the palate, a lovely balance of citrus, savory melon, and a matching acidity that pushes the flavors from the side and rear palate up to the top. Notes of herbs du Provence, spice and vanilla bean on the finish. The decadence in this wine makes me want to serve it to my fellow chardonnay lovers to remind them how stunning the rest of the world’s wines are. At this price point, it is mind-blowingly good, and stayed delicious for a week in the fridge so I could dole myself out a half ounce each night to see if I still really loved this wine. I did.

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Coto De Hayas Garnacha Centenaria, 2014. 14% ABV, I found this wine locally for $12/bottle and online as low as $10/bottle.

Color is deep ruby and the nose shows fresh, lively red fruit. On the palate it starts simply but grows in complexity. Like a concerto, gentle and delightful red cherries begin. Slowly they are joined by allspice, black pepper, stone and clay. With a triumphant swirl into the apex of the movement, notes of rose bush, red pepper, leather, and spice box emerge. Medium long finish, high satisfaction. Very nice by itself, but terrific with food. A crowd-pleasing wine.

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Last but not least, Particular Garnacha 2012 Viñas Centenarias de San Valero. 14.5% ABV, MSRP $26, found online for $18/bottle. 

This wine shows historic Burgundian winemaking features, so it is of no surprise it won me over. Deep maroon in color,  delicate, perfumed nose and flavors. Blue fruit on the palate; balanced, gentle, and reserved, with a luxurious mouthfeel. A beautifully feminine wine. Age-worthy and concentrated, with a long, ethereal finish.  This is Garnacha via Coco Chanel and Harry Winston: Classic style and elegance.

 

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I hope you spend the time to find these or other garnacha wines to taste. They offer quality and value beyond the price tag. As we like to say, the proof is in the glass!

à votre santé!

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