Winter is prime time for red wine and one wine I get oodles of questions about is Beaujolais. With the release of Beaujolais Nouveau on the third Thursday in November, like clockwork, it’s easy for consumers to be seduced by all the advertising fanfare. Especially for a wine that’s under $10 a bottle! But, you know what they say, if something seems too good to be true…it usually is.
Unfortunately, Beaujolais Nouveau is essentially mass produced, poorly made wine that has marred the reputation of the region over the years. The upside to this situation however is, despite the jammy, insipid Nouveau wines, there are actually MANY fabulous Beaujolais wines worth exploring!
Located in the southernmost part of Burgundy, Beaujolais also produces charming, easy-drinking red wines from the Gamay grape. This thin-skinned grape variety produces wines with minimal tannins capable of displaying a variety of aromas and flavors including cherry, raspberry, blackberry, violet and peony, which are usually accentuated by black pepper, herbs or spice. So how can you find these special wines and avoid the plonk? Please scroll down, my wine loving friends, for all the deets!
The key to exploring and ultimately enjoying Beaujolais is actually quite simple: look for the name of one of the region’s 10 crus on a wine label. A “cru” is a specific vineyard site within the Beaujolais appellation known for producing wines which express characteristics unique to their region, a quality known as terroir. In Beaujolais, the crus include Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Fleurie, Regnie, Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Chiroubles, Juliénas, Chénas and Saint-Amour. Seeing one of these names on a label usually ensures you’re getting a quality wine.
Which leads me to this week’s featured wine, the 2011 Louis Jadot Château des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent ($20). This wonderful wine demonstrates much of what’s to love about Beaujolais. After opening it the other night, almost five years after bottling, we were pleased to find an utterly delicious, casually elegant and enjoyable wine. A true gem at the price point to be sure and I hope you take the time during red wine season to enjoy all Beaujolais has to offer as well!
Who it’s from: Maison Louis Jadot was founded in 1859 by Louis Henry Denis Jadot whose family settled in Beaune near the turn of the century. Maison Louis Jadot focuses on the purest expression of terroir through the medium of the vine. The historic Château des Jacques estate, located in the Moulin-à-Vent appellation, was widely considered one of the most prestigious estates in Beaujolais and was purchased by Louis Jadot in 1996. As a result, Jadot became the first Burgundy house to own a major Beaujolais vineyard. In 2001, Louis Jadot bought another vineyard in Morgon. In 2008, both vineyards were regrouped as the Château des Jacques Estates.
Where it’s From: This wine hails from the the village of Moulin-à-Vent (which translates as ‘windmill’ in English), between Fleurie and Chenas. The Moulin-à-Vent wines are referred to as the “King of Beaujolais,” and widely considered to be the most Burgundian “Cru” of Beaujolais. Unlike other crus, Moulin-à-Vent wines are often fuller-bodied and more complex with ample tannin and structure which allows them to age longer. The pink granite and manganese-rich soils of Moulin-à-Vent also promote the growth of concentrated grapes on the region’s Gamay vines, which produce more intensely flavored wines.
This Wine by the (Geeky) Numbers:
Grape Variety: 100% Gamay
Ageing: 10 months in French oak (30% new), 6 months in bottle.
The Glamorous Gourmet’s Tasting Note: This wine beckons from the glass with its beautiful bright ruby red color and enticing aromas of dark fruit, spice cake and lavender. On the palate, fleshy dark fruit predominates with flavors of ripe black cherry, blackberry and cassis balanced by supple tannins and a bright acidity. Even after five years in the bottle this dynamic wine could have definitely lasted another five!
Pair it with: This versatile wine would make a perfect match with a variety of dishes ranging from our recently posted Lamb, Harissa and White Bean Soup with Turmeric Yogurt as well as our super popular Quick Coq au Vin and Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onion!
Suggested Retail Price: $20 – and while this vintage is no longer on the market, find the most recent year you can and enjoy either now…or in a few years!
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I must say, California wine country is simply stunning in the Fall! During our recent visit to the legendary North Coast, which encompasses Napa and Sonoma counties among others, we encountered towering trees cloaked in their seasonal reddish, gold splendor, refreshingly chillsome evenings (we ARE from Florida after all!), as well as many amazing wines. While I look forward to sharing them with you over the coming weeks, I was especially inspired to feature one wine in particular as our latest Wine of the Week, the 2014 Failla Syrah Estate Vineyard.
While Failla primarily focuses on cool climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, owner and winemaker Ehren Jordan‘s eclectic winemaking experiences and sheer vinous talent allow him to work adeptly with many different grape varieties extremely well. As a fan of Syrah from the Northern Rhone, I was very impressed with his ability to craft a California wine that so closely approximates its French counterpart while allowing its terroir, and the character of the new Fort Ross-Seaview AVA, to shine through. Please read on to discover more about this very special wine that’s just perfect for enjoying during the chilly Winter months.
Who it’s from: Winemaker Ehren Jordan and his wife Anne-Marie founded Failla in 1998 and together they specialize in sourcing cool climate fruit from the extreme coastal areas of Sonoma County. Jordan draws inspiration from his time spent in France, namely a 2-year apprenticeship in Cornas in the Northern Rhone where he specialized in Syrah, which continues to inform his winemaking style. He also held positions in California, first at Neyers Vineyards and then at Turley Wine Cellars, where he spent almost 20 years crafting world class Zinfandel. Jordan is perhaps most passionate about producing balanced, elegant, food-friendly wines that are expressive of their terroir.
Where it’s from: This wine hails from Failla’s 14-acre Estate Vineyard located in the Fort Ross Seaview AVA, a sub-region of the vast Sonoma Coast AVA, which was officially approved in 2011. Vineyards here are situated in the steep coastal ridges above the fog line where most of the surrounding terrain is too steep to farm. Out of over 27,000 acres in the AVA, only 550 are actually usable! Only Failla and a few other esteemed vintners were willing to brave the uniquely challenging conditions including Flowers, Marcassin, Hirsch, Pahlmeyer, Martinelli, Del Dotto and Peter Michael to name a few. The region’s unusually rugged terrain, high elevations, cool maritime climate and marine soils create the perfect environment for growing exceptional cool climate grape varieties.
“To me ‘terroir’ is distilling a place down to its essence using grapes as the medium.” – Ehren Jordan
Originally planted in 1998, Failla’s Estate Vineyard is located only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean and has been organically and dry farmed since the beginning. Jordan harvested the first grapes from the vineyard in 2001 and has increased production ever since. The special Estate Vineyard, located at approximately 1,400 ft. elevation, is currently planted to cool climate grape varieties including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah.
This Wine by the (geeky) Numbers:
Primary Fermentation: Native Yeast
Malolactic Fermentation: Native
Elevage: 11 months, aged Sur-Lie in French oak barrique, 25% new
Filtration: Unfined & Unfiltered
Grape variety: 100% Syrah, 20 yr. old vines
Production: 382 cases
Production notes: “Our 100% whole cluster “Estate Vineyard” Syrah was gently foot-tread, fermented with native yeasts, and basket pressed to barrel, where it competed a native ML conversion and rested on its lees until being bottled unfined and unfiltered.”
The Glamorous Gourmet’s Tasting Note: “From its lush, purplish-red hue to enticing aromas of spiced black fruit, savory herbs and a hint of lavender, this delightful expression of California Syrah simultaneously evokes the elegance of the Northern Rhone. On the palate, this stunner reveals savory layers of blackberry, plum, licorice and black pepper while demonstrating impressive complexity and richness without seeming heavy. All components harmoniously converge on the imminently satisfying, lengthy finish.”
Pair it with: Rosemary & Salt crusted Prime Rib, Roasted Rack of Lamb, Pasta with Wild Boar Ragu
Retail Price: $58 (for purchasing information, please e-mail stephanie [at] theglamorousgourmet [dot] com or simply call 561.317.6663)
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This time of year I love to revel in reds. Big, bold, complex, luxurious reds. And what better place to find them than California’s Napa Valley? Recently, I had the pleasure of sampling one such red wine – our Wine of the Week, the 2012 Brandlin Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder.
Who it’s from: The Brandlin family were early pioneers of Mount Veeder and began farming grapes there in the early 1870’s. The Brandlin Vineyard was founded in 1926 by Chester Brandlin’s grandfather, and Chester himself continued to farm the vineyard for over 50 years. In an interview featured on the winery’s website, Brandlin fondly recalls growing grapes during the tough Prohibition years which ultimately devastated California’s budding wine industry. How did the family avoid getting caught? “We were good friends with the Sheriff,” Brandlin remarked coyly.
As winemaker for Napa Valley’s Cuvaison and Brandlin since 2002, both of Cuvaison Estate Wines, Steven Rogstad honed his sense of terroir as a graduate student of Enology and Viticulture at UC Davis. During his studies, Rogstad experimented with non-commercial yeast strains on lots of wine from fifty different wineries across the appellation. This project also developed his ability to work with and blend small lots which is crucial to his winemaking style today. Over the years, Rogstad has worked with and advised such well-regarded names as Viader, Dominus, Duckhorn and Spottswoode. He was ultimately draw to Cuvaison’s estate vineyard in Carneros as well as the opportunity to build their new winery from the ground up.
Where it’s from: Named for Dutch Pastor Peter Veeder in the mid-1800’s, Mount Veeder is located among the southern Mayacamas mountains adjoining Carneros. Existing within the Napa AVA, the Mount Veeder AVA (American Viticultural Area) was established in 1993 and features vineyards which are highly exposed to elements including the winds off of San Pablo Bay. This exposure is responsible for Mount Veeder’s unusually cool temperatures, resulting in the longest growing season of any AVA in Napa Valley.
“Steep rocky soils and a moderate climate render intense, black fruited concentration and a powerful backbone of tannin that make this wine unique.”
– Steven Rogstad, Winemaker
The Brandlin Vineyard is located on a Mount Veeder ridgeline on the valley’s west side. Perched at 900 to 1,150 feet in elevation, the vineyard is divided into 15 different blocks facing a multitude of different aspects. The varied differences in sun exposure, slope and soil composition provide distinct fruit characteristics in each block. These unique conditions have led to Mount Veeder’s well-deserved reputation as an ideal place to grow world class Cabernet Sauvignon characterized by briary aromas and flavors with herbal and floral notes which are often powerful and high in tannin.
Wine by the (Geeky) Numbers:
Harvest Date: Oct 11- 30
Age of Vines: 12 years average
Fermentation: 15 – 28 days
Barrel Aging: 22 months in small French oak barrels (50% new)
Blend: 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Malbec, 9% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot
The Glamorous Gourmet’s Tasting Note: The Brandlin Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder possesses an opaque, deep purple color and aromas of spiced red and black fruit. On the palate, this opulent wine demonstrates remarkable balance while exhibiting notes of ripe blackberry, cassis, earth and luxuriously firm tannins. The wine’s harmonious flavors and textures hold together beautifully on the long, lingering finish.
Pair it with: Enjoy this immensely pleasurable wine with a juicy, well-marbled New York Strip Steak, our own delicious Steak au Poivre or even an aged cheese. Roast duck or pork with a blackberry sauce would also be fabulous!
MSRP: $68 (for purchasing information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 561.317.6663)
With our thoughts turning to all the delights of Fall, pumpkin spice lattes, butternut squash bisque and cozy cashmere sweaters (*swoon*), it is with great pleasure that I introduce our latest #WineWednesday Wine of the Week: the 2014 Masút Pinot Noir Eagle Peak Estate Vineyard from Mendocino, California.
Pinot Noir is undoubtedly the patron red grape of Fall. Its lighter body and savory, earthy fruit flavors provide a nice transition from the light whites and rosés of Summer. It also pairs incredibly well with many of your favorite Fall dishes – more on that later! While Burgundy, France is the birthplace of this revered grape, many of you may also be smitten with the plethora of delicious California Pinot Noir options available. If so, I think you will enjoy this delightful incarnation from Mendocino, located approximately 3 hours from San Francisco and about as far north in California wine country as you can get.
The 2014 Masút Pinot Noir hails from the estate vineyards of a well known winemaking family and offers oodles of Pinot Noir deliciousness including black and red cherry fruit flavors, a delightful earthiness and satisfying, food-friendly acidity which make it a fabulous companion at the table. Please read on for all the deets and I hope you enjoy this week’s selection. Also, feel free to share it on Twitter (don’t forget to add #WineWednesday) or save to your fave Pinterest board using the tags located in the upper left corner of each photo!
Who it’s from: The Masút Winery was founded in 2009 by Jake and Ben Fetzer, sons of the late Bobby Fetzer, one of Medocino’s best known winemakers. The brothers grew up in the vineyards of Mendocino following in their father’s footsteps. In 1994, Fetzer purchased a 1200 acre property in Mendocino and named it Masút, a Native American word meaning “dark, rich earth.” He was intrigued with the hillside site of fast draining soil, desirable sun exposure and marine influenced winds and his goal was to grow the finest Pinot Noir possible. Unfortunately, in 2006 Fetzer passed suddenly in a tragic rafting accident. Despite his untimely passing, the brothers forged onward in memory of their father to produce their “small batch” Masút Pinot Noir which debuted in 2011.
Where it’s from: Eagle Peak is located in the coastal mountains of Mendocino County. In October of 2014, the location was recognized as its own American Viticultural Area as Eagle Peak, Mendocino County. It is comprised of 26,260 acres which are marked by coastal afternoon breezes, elevations ranging from 800-3,000 feet and a cornucopia of microclimates. The Eagle Peak AVA also has substantial diurnal shifts, the variation between high and low temperatures occurring in a specific location during the same day, which are essential for producing prime Pinot Noir. It’s thin, well-drained soils are also ideal for growing the finicky Pinot Noir grape. These conditions allow the Fetzers to grow truly expressive and unique Pinot Noir grapes.
Wine by the (Geeky) Numbers:
Vineyard Blocks – 6, 7, 12, 13, 14
Pinot Noir clones – 115(50%), 23(33%), 777(17%)
Rootstock – 101-14MG, 44-53M
Yields – 2.9 tons/acre
Harvest Dates – Sept 4th-10th
Cooperage – French Oak (50% new)
Aging – 15 months Sur lie (click here for more info)
Bottling – Unfiltered (click here for more info)
Production – 1,800 cases
The Glamorous Gourmet’s Tasting Note: This medium-bodied, garnet red wine displays fragrant aromas of black and red fruit and earth. On the palate, flavors of raspberry pastille, spiced cherry and dusty earth accompany a bright, food friendly acidity. Youthful, chewy tannins are well balanced and follow through on the lengthy, mineral-tinged finish.
Pair it with: This delightful Pinot is incredibly versatile at the table and will pair beautifully with many of your Fall favorites such as succulent roast chicken and hearty soups and stews. Here on the blog, I highly recommend pairing this wine with some of our favorite recipes including: Quick Coq au Vin, Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms & Caramelized Onions and Roasted Chicken, Sage, Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Salad.
MSRP: $45 (for purchasing information, please e-mail stephanie@theglamorousgourmet or call 561.317.6663)
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