About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Bordeaux and Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Our wine group met for our monthly dinner last week. Once again we met at The Pluckemin Inn in Bedminster, NJ.  The food and wine service here is excellent and as a result many of our members choose it when they bring the wines.  Jim was in the wine queue this month and did a nice job with wines from Bordeaux and Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  These wines are very different both in the grapes used and the style of the wine.  For my palate I find the CdP wines to be more feminine and elegant than Bordeaux, and therefore more to my liking.

Most red Bordeaux wines are a blend of the traditional Bordeaux grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  It is up to the individual producer to determine if his wine will be a blend, and if so which grapes he will use, or if will be a single grape wine.  The majority of Bordeaux wines are often made almost exclusively of Cabernet Sauvignon (usually the largest component) and Merlot.  The other grapes may or may not play a role in the blend.  The two wines we drank were both blends.

1998 Grand-Pontet St Emilion.  While I am not a fan of Bordeaux, this bottle was very good.   It possessed an enticing earthy bouquet and on the palate it had good fruit, roundness and balance.  It finished with nice length.  $40.  Wine-Searcher.

1998 Monbousquet St Emilion.  Not my kind of wine.  This possessed, as most Bordeaux do IMO, a harsh palate and a grassy back end.  Did not enjoy this at all.  $100.  Wine-Searcher.

The laws of Chateauneuf-du-Pape allow for up to 13 grapes, 8 red and 5 white, to be used in the making of the wine.  The red grapes are, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Counoise, Cinsaut, Muscardin, Vaccarese and Terret Noir.  The white are, Clairette, Bourbelenc, Picpoul, Picardin, Rousanne.  To the best of my knowledge only two vineyards, Chateau Beaucastel, one of the most famous, and one other use all 13 varieties.  Grenache is the main grape used.  In my opinion the 100% Grenache based CdP wines are the most elegant and the most delicious.

2000 Domaine de la Mordoree Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee de la Reine des Bois.  This CdP, with some modern overtones is completely hand harvested and aged 30% in oak barrels and 70% in enameled steel tanks. The wine drank very well.  It exhibited soft tannins, forward fruit and well integrated alcohol.  A blend of Grenache 80%, Mourvedre10 %, Syrah 5%, Counoise 2.5% and Vaccarese 2.5%.  $125.  Wine-Searcher.

2000 Domaine de la Vieille Julienne Chateauneuf du Pape.  Another more modern styled CdP, this wine is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre , Syrah, Counoise, Cinsault, Muscardin, Vaccarese.  This bottle never really came around.  There was not a lot going on with either the bouquet or on the palate. $100.  Wine-Searcher.

2001 Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee Vieilles Vignes.  This CdP is a blend of 85% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 3% Mourvèdre, 2% various others. – Crafted from vines that are 60 to 100 years old, it was my favorite of the night.  It had a wonderful bouquet, earthy, complex and balanced palate and finished with considerable length. $150.  Wine-Searcher.

Some of the highlights of the meal were:

Tuna Crudo .  Pristinely fresh Raw Yellowfin Tuna on a plate with Edamame, Cilantro, Ginger, Coconut.  Delicious!

Risotto with fresh white truffles.  Ah my first truffles of the season.  Truffles were great, risotto however, while perfectly cooked, was a bit too salty.

Acqueello Risotto.  This week’s preparation of the dish was with Cherry Tomato, Guanciale, Parmigiano Reggiano and Basil Pesto.  It was superb.  Perfectly cooked and seasoned, each bite threw a party in my mouth.

I love pound cake, and so I could not resist the one served here with Vanilla Ice Cream.  See for yourself!

Another great wine dinner with the group.  Thanks Jim for a great choice of wine and thanks Marc for dinner.  Until next time...

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