I've been drinking the Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre blanc as far back as the late 80's as this as well as the Lucien Crochet La Croix du Roy and the Lucien Thomas Clos de La Crele Sancerre. These are three of the most consistent examples of Loire white wines made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. The Reverdy is also a great wine to get newbies to understand that white wine doesn't have to be Chardonnay.
What I like though about the Hippolyte Reverdy wine is how aggressive importer Kermit Lynch is at making it available by the glass on lists of places like Wally's in Beverly Hills. On my last three visits it's been my starter white wine as it's crisp, fresh, has a combination of lemon zest, lime, limestone, a hint of almonds, and some grassy herbal flavors.
The wine has perfect balance, great length and is always a winner, and a perfect start to any meal. Paired with the Heirloom tomato salad, the wine is a sure pick as the acidity is crisp enough to stand up to the fruit and acid in the tomatoes.
I am hearing first hand reports on the high quality of the 2016 harvest in France from every corner of the country. Most recently, oenologue and wine consultant Phillipe Cambie share this on Facebook.
"2016 to châteauneuf du Pape, can we talk about vintage of the century? According to the former the vintage looks like 1990!!! Mythical!"
Earlier in the day, Jason Barrette, former Penfolds Winemaker, now International Winemaking Consultant and a close friend, revealed by phone to me that he's working with Chene Bleu on their wines this harvest telling me the "color and quality are excellent." When we discussed the harvest he was full of nothing but superlatives and praise for the richness and depth of the fruit and how high in quality the grapes are. His feeling was that there's something great this year and the wines are going to be something special. He was also full of praise for the 2009 Chene Bleu's which are now in market.....I agree.
Languedoc producer Sylvain Fadat of Montpeyroux's Domaine d'Aupilhac was as enthusiastic saying "2o16 will be one of my three best harvests EVER." He went on to say, while the yields are down 30 percent from last year, the quality and the color of the grapes are some of the best ever." I'm with Sylvain and two other producers tomorrow and will get more details on other parts of the Rhone and Roussillion then....until then..
i was delighted to open these two Spanish wines and really enjoyed them at the bar at Akasha with the GM, Mary and somm, Lisa. Both were as impressed with the duo, as I was, and candidly these were tremendous examples of wines that I could drink all the time.
The 2013 Adras Godello is a lemon, lime, crisp white wine that was killer with the Shrimp and Grits that were accompanied with roasted red peppers. The wine was smooth, and a perfect alternative to the usual white wine suspects, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The stony, mineral base provides a wonderful undercurrent to the citrus fruit flavors. It would also be a great clams and garlic or oyster wine. One of the high points of the wine was how well it paired with the Kale Caesar Salad which was spiked with garlic...YUM
The 2012 Adras Mencia was a stunner. Perhaps one of the best Spanish wines I have had in some time, it offered the kind of fruit that screams Thanksgiving Turkey, that has been tea smoked. Cherries, strawberries, raspberries, cassis and plums along with granite makes this wine so perfect for the hangar steak. Possessing a ripe fruit backbone, the Adras Mencia is a very soft wine and a wonderful alternative to Cotes du Rhone and Chianti.....
As the weather remains warm on the west coast, I continue to enjoy Rose wines as often as possible. What I've found over the summer months is that while the Cotes de Provence Rose's are great for sipping all by themselves, its the Rose wines from Tavel that have become my food friendly favorites.
And none is better than the 2015 Domaine de La Mordoree Tavel Dame Rousse Rose. The wine is perfect with everything from cheese to smoked meats to even a well dressed salad. The Grenache dominated wine has lots of fruit, gentle spices, just the right balance of crispness and fruit to make it a real charmer. It also has power. Last night I popped it and enjoyed it with a lightly charred Ono over a bead of green and red lettuces. Strawberry, raspberry and blueberry are the obvious flavors, but there's more to it. There's an underlying flavor chalky soil that gives it that crisp and dry quality.
Saturday night I pulled two Rose wines from my stash of 2015. Without question, the 2015 vintage for Rose in both Santa Barbara County, in the USA, and just about anywhere the sun shined warmly in France has to go down as one of the best vintages in many years. While 2014 showed what a good winemaker could do, as evidenced by the 2014 Chene Bleu I had last week at Bar Boulud in London from magnum, my two picks for Saturday night were dead-on the mark stunners to all who imbibed.
First was the Santa Barbara representative from pal Mikael Sigouin, winemaker and proprietor of Kaena Wines. Mikael and I have been friends for more than a dozen years, and over that time I've watched him mature as a winemaker, and really blossom into one of the world's best when it comes to working with Grenache. I often say, if the Riviera Rose Doug Margerum at Margerum Wine Company is making Cotes de Ventoux and Cotes de Provence Rose in California that perfect for a hot summer day with Asian BBQ ribs or tasty off the grill chicken, Mikael is making Tavel as his wine captures that same degree of fruit, while not being sweet or bloated. Sigouin's 2015 Kaena Grenache Rose defines that style, full of raspberry, blackberry and strawberry flavors, with a hint of juicy watermelon. More than a wine to have as an aperitif, the Kaena is a food wine, yelling for charcuterie, cheese or pate. It's also great with thin crust pizza or even a burger.
My second Rose was one from a producer I have enjoyed since the 2013 vintage, finding it first at G-Night that year. The Prieure de Montezargues is from Tavel, and it's a wine I have to special order from their east coast importer via a shop here in L.A. You don't find it easily, and it's one that needs to be better known. The Montezargues wine blend changes year to year based on the harvest. And as a result, they tend to make some of the most crisp, dry, bright, vibrant "pink" wines found anywhere, but especially in Tavel. In the case of the 2015, the wine is a supple blend of 55% Grenache (red & white), 30% Cinsault, 13% Clairette, and 2% of other grapes including Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Bourboulanc. But is it ever elegant and charming. As I drank it on Saturday, on a 72 degree night, closing my eyes I was immediately transported back to Provence, not in L.A. It has that kind of effect on the palate as it's a real pleaser.
Easily on par, and possibly better than Domaine de la Mordoree or Chateau Trinquevedel, the Prieure de Montezargues makes a Rose that is typical of Tavel's best and along with Rhone and Provence regional stalwarts, Chateau de Montfaucon in the Rhone Valley, Chene Bleu 2015 and Chateau de Roquefort Corail play in a league of their own when it comes to Rhone/Provence Pinkies.
Having been tasting the 2015 Rose's since April the Provence and Rhone wines are stunners, as have been the Bandol and Corsican ones. The two 2015 Pradeaux and Vannieres from Bandol, the Mourchon Loubie, plus the Domaine de Marquiliani's Rosé de Pauline and Domaine de Abbatucci's Faustine all continue to be memorable from both my tasting here and in France.
ROSEALLDAY is a great phrase, and with the 2015's you can be enjoying a Rose wine every day......I sure am.
Today, Lettie Teague, the erstwhile wine reviewer and critic for the Wall Street Journal has taken a taste of the Spanish coastal wines made from the Albarino grape to task. Sadly her reviews are spot on, given the vintage and the state of the Spain's most exported white wine varietal. Lettie pretty much nails how dull and boring the wines that reach the USA are this year.
I would rather she had compared them to the far more interesting Godello based wines from not far away or better yet, taken a page out of Mark Squires' searches in nearby Portugal where the Alvarinho's and Vinho Verde wines are far more complex, interesting and offer a better value. For example, last week I tasted the killer 2014 Aphros Ten white wine as part of a flight of many wines at a local wine shop in Los Angeles which lets their customers decide on what they should stock next. It was as refreshing as the 2013 I enjoyed about a year ago in Lisbon with sushi.
Unfortunately, Lettie has to write for the masses so she writes about what's widely available. With her notes today, the latest crop of Albarino's will likely languish on the shelves as after one or two bottles of those mentioned, many will start to look elsewhere for more interesting summer whites.
The 2015 Bedrock Rose. WOW, again. I've been finding and enjoying various vintages of the exceptional Northern California Rose wine for a good five or six years, or maybe even longer, since a very shrewd wine merchant in Berkeley turned me on to the the wines of Morgan Twain Peterson the son of legendary Ravenswood winemaker, Joel Peterson. To put it simply, if you want a boutique producer of wines from California, that are exceptionally made, and not from Napa, nor carrying the Napa price tag, look for wines from Bedrock Wine Company.
The Rose produced by Bedrock has been a homage to the legendary matron of the Tempier family, Lulu Peyraud, since it was first produced and is honestly, a dead ringer in style, but not color to the Tempier Rose. While it's slightly deeper in the color range of pink, the flavors are there, the style is there and the taste is there. Candidly, this and the 2015 Habit Rose, along with Doug Margerum's Riviera Rose and the newly released Reserve are all phenomenal examples of Rose being made in California and continue to show up so well against their French cousins.
Aromatically, the Mourvedre is light and bright. On the palate the wine is bone dry, crisp, loaded with black raspberry, blueberry and strawberry flavors. It was a delight and another charming example of why Rose is so good in the summertime.
As I continue to work through a copious amount of Rose wines that were produced in the fabulous 2015 vintage from across the globe, I had the opportunity to compare two more awesome Rose wines from Provence. Hailing from a 13th century chateau in Flassans-sur-Issole, France is the Chateau Peyrassol that dates back to the Templar Knights of that era.
Like so many top end producers, the Chateau Peyrassol makes two different Rose wines as well as reds. In many ways I consider Peyrassol on par with Bandol producer Chateau Vannieres or fellow Provence producer Chateau Vignulare. The wines are extremely well made, approachable, and very much food friendly.
The 2015 Commanderie Peyrassol Rose wine is made from a blend Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and a bit of Mourvèdre. It is a super wine and one much like the Cotes de Provence from Pradeaux as it would easily be a home run winning wine, if the winery didn't have one better.
And that one would be Chateau Peyrassol. The Chateau has two white grapes, Rolle and Ugni Blanc, mixed in with the Cinsault, Syrah and Grenache. Hands down the Chateau Peyrassol was the winner of the two, as it was so subtle and fresh with the flavor of iodine, saline, strawberry and raspberry fruit. The Chateau has an almost translucent pink color, while the Commanderie has a more pink tinged robe. The Commanderie though has that ripeness and dry style of crispness that makes it so easy to drink all by itself, or with a salty fish crudo. The Chateau Peyrassol is richer and yells for food and was a perfect accompaniment to crispy Pork Belly.
These are two tremendous Rose wines, and are worth seeking out.
It has been a long time love affair with Bandol for me, dating back to the 80s when I first learned of the region and the amazingly complex wines that come from the area at the western end of the Cote d'Azur. After Bandol you get to Cassis and Marseille. There, the regions are surrounded by the Cotes de Provence and the Coteaux de Aix en Provence.
In Bandol everyone knows about Domaine Tempier, but after a few visits to the region, especially over the last few years, my appreciation as gone from their eternal reds to really becoming a fan of the Rose wines too. Chateau Vannieres, Chateau Pibernon, Bastide Blanche, Gros Nore', La Tour du Bon and Chateau Pradeaux are all producing sensational wines but when you taste the Rose wines you realize that as much love and care goes into the pink wines as goes into their red wines.
The 2015 Chateau Pradeaux is giving the Chateau Vannieres I recently had a run for the money as the Rose of the year for me from Bandol, The Pradeaux is a blend of Cinsault and Mourvedre and just a few tads darker than the Vannieres in color. The flavor is big and bold, spicy and rich as Rose's go, but not sweet. It has the right amount of dryness and is a wine that is a food wine, not a light aperitif and while you could and would drink it by the pool, it would be a waste just to drink it by itself. The wine shows more raspberry than strawberry, due to the absence of any Grenache, but even without it, the fruity from the Mourvedre and Cinsault that is gently extracted during the period of skin contact, makes this wine a stunning winner.
But Pradeaux is not limited to just the Bandol Rose. The also make a delightful, bone dry Cotes de Provence Rose and the 2015 Le Cotes de Provence de Chateau Pradeaux is in my mind another of the great Rose's of the vintage. Made from three grapes, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Barbaroux (whatever that is) comes a real Provence Rose that has just a bit of Bandol rolled in. That means beyond the usual bone dry crispness comes something more. Think morning salt air as you walk by the beach. Crisp peach flavor that has been freeze dried at the peak of freshness. The wine is smooth, not angular like poorly made Rose wines, and what's more, clearly is better made than the wine of Ott or Minuty who get all the big press but fail to deliver as much as the Pradeaux.