Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Filtering by Category: "France"

Return of the Rhone

The Rhone tasting calendar has been pretty quiet this fall.  Budget cuts?  An effect of the impending global wine shortage? (I'm not kidding, read about it in this Huffington Post article). Whatever the reason, there hasn't been a huge promotional push this season and I only conducted one tasting.  But, here are three for your Rhone portfolio.  Try them before France runs out of wine.

E. Guigal Cote du Rhone Blanc, 2011 (approx $15)  - The sole white in the tasting smelled of golden delicious apple, lemon zest and a hibiscus note to add a floral intrigue to the nose. On the palate, the citrus fruits, particularly line, brought a zesty freshness to the round and lush orchard.  Medium bodied and noticeably acidic, this wine brought something interesting to each sip.

Delas Saint-Esprit Cote du Rhone, 2011 (approx $13) - Sometimes simple is good.  Case in point: this easy, uncomplicated red. Bright strawberry and cherry were dominant right away, but a bit of white pepper gave it a spicy edge that kept it from being a total juice bomb. The body was on the lighter side but moderate acidity kept it in check.  There was a ping of bing cherry on the finish, just for fun.  This was very easy drinking and was light enough to be a good summer red (file that away!).  Food need not apply.

Famille Perrin Cote du Rhone Village, 2010 (approx. $14) - This last red was a fun contrast to the Delas.  Immediately, you could tell a difference in the fruit - tighter, small berried fruits, such as blackberry, were dominant on the nose, as opposed to the cheery cherries on the other. Earth and animal came through in a big way, along with some vegetal funkiness, and black pepper added a kick to the profile. On the palate, the tannins were much more prominent than in the Delas, as well as the acidity. There was almost a chewiness to the wine, but wasn't quite chewy as it was still a medium body rather than uber-full. 

Keep tasting, friends...

Just In Case

Just in case you were looking for an amazing rose to drink this weekend, let me share this newfound gem with you:

Roger & Didier Raimbault Sancerre Rose, 2012 (approx. $20)
Kir-soaked cherries.  Balsamic-glazed strawberries. Lime zest.  Stone-licking, mineral-saturated deliciousness.

Available at Union Square Wines.  Just sayin...

Happy Fourth of July!

Illicit Behavior by Sud de France

"Angel by day, devil by night!" screamed the tabloid headlines.   Apparently, Sud de France has fallen into its old ways with its reds.  Boring, insipid wines that lack intrigue, or even basic balance, have started to show up at the tastings.  There seems to be a blasé attitude towards creating anything worthwhile, even though the potential is there.  

The third tasting event for Sud de France yielded uneven results. While the region has been known to experiment with grapes and blends, showcasing its cowboy spirit, a couple of the bottles seemed to show disregard for fundamentals of quality winemaking:

Felines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet 2011 (approx. $15)
Like the Picpoul at the last event, this one showcased the same floral notes and apricot on the nose.  On the palate, ripe peach joined the apricot in the orchard, along with some lemon peel and slate-y minerality.  The salty essence that was so striking in the other Picpoul was very muted here, but it was still zingy and acidic.

Barons de Rothschild Lafite Val de L'ours, Chardonnay, 2011 (approx. $11)
Hooray! Another decent Chardonnay option.  Not quite as complex as Burgundy, this wine nonetheless gave Chard a little more street cred. Lemon and lime were immediately present on the nose and the palate, along with very ripe golden delicious apple.  There was a decent amount of stone and minerals on this wine to bring it back from the fruit side but had a round-ish mouthfeel, despite the fairly high acid.  

La Roche de la Chevaliere Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 (approx. $12)
And then, SdF fell off the wagon.  Raspberry, blueberry and blackberry coupled with green bell pepper and wet soil on the nose, but the palate was thin and flat and the fruit was marred by a stemmy, underripe green note.  It was all out of whack and felt almost like an identity crisis - what cab sauv tastes like this?

C'est La View Pinot Noir Syrah 2011 (approx. $11)
In theory, I understood how this should have worked.  Pinot's plum and prune fruits could have given a plush, rounded feel to the peppery edge of the Syrah and as both wines are rooted with soil characteristics, it could have led to a rich, luscious wine.  However, what it gave was  a medium minus body that didn't deliver on the potential complexity.  It was thin, tight and high-pitched.  

Keep tasting, friends....

Can Sud de France Overcome Its Bad-Boy Rep?

PR and marketing can do wonders for a person or brand's ailing reputation.  Think about Angelina Jolie going from goth maven to humanitarian; J.Crew from boring preppy basics to arbiters of fashion; Lindsay Lohan from wild child teen star to......(well, ok, maybe not her).

The annual Sud de France promotion kicked off Memorial Day weekend, starting a month filled with pouring events around the city. It focuses on the Languedoc-Roussillon region and improving the reputation of their wines.  Historically, the area produced a lot of bulk wine of mediocre quality and although there has been improvements in recent years in vinification techniques, the infamy continues. 

These wines are worth taking a look at, though, especially in these summer months. The wines are produced to complement the warm and sunny climate and are ideal for the June - August stretch. While not all are rock stars, there are enough options to find something that can overcome the tabloid-cover reputation.

Chateau de Manissy Cuvee des Lys, Tavel, 2012 (Approx $18)
It's southern France, and you'd best be believin' they be making rose.  (I'm trying to sound tough in the face of all the rose blogs i post.  It's a lot of pink to have going on).  I totally dug this particular one.  Wild strawberry fields and ripe juicy berries were balanced by some nice minerality and acidity, which kept it from becoming a juice box.  It finished dry and it's medium-bodied style would stand up well on its own to food.  Yeah, this rose's not afraid of some dinner.  This pink's no wimp.

Domaine des Deux Puits, Cotes Catalanes, Muscat Sec, 2012 (Approx $13)
Muscat is often vinified in a sweeter style, so this dry Muscat was something fun to try.  The nose was rather floral, redolant of white flowers and honeysuckle along with essences of melon and a wee bit of citrus. On the palate, there was a lot of ripe orchard fruits, such as peach and apricot but high acidity.  It's a sitting-on-the-porch-in-the summer-sipping-some-wine kind of situation with this bottle.  Perhaps pair it with a hammock?

Chateaux Coupe Roses, La Bastide, Minvervois, 2010 (Approx $17)
Eh.  Just not in love with this one.  Made with carignan from old vines, It was really earthy and barnyard-y, lots of musky, dirty stuff going on.  There were some blackberry and black, brambly fruits on this and it could have fallen into the "fun n' funky" category of wines but it just didn't sing to me.  It was light-bodied and good for the summer but I don't ever see myself reaching for this one. The label is pretty fun, though.  On second glance the flower isn't as delicate as first impressions may give;  it looks like a tattoo on a biker chick, or maybe some big dude named Bubba. 

Keep tasting, friends...

All Rose, All The Time

Here's what I've been up to ever since Memorial Day:

I've hit rose-season full-throttle, exclusively drinking the pink stuff.  I'm not interested in the lighter Provence-style roses (yet); right now I'm favoring the more full-bodied, juicy and ripe pours. 

A particular rose of note is Domaine du Gour de Chaule Gigondas Rose 2012  (approx. $30 retail).  I had this recently at Barbuto and am OBSESSED.  Gigondas is located in the Rhone region in France and is considered the kid sister to Chateauneuf du Pape.  It produces wine very similar to CdF  but since Gigondas doesn't have the marketing machine behind it, you can often find great values without the markups.

The medium-bodied wine had vibrant notes of strawberry and tart cherry but were balanced by the prominent zing of white pepper.  It was crisp yet savory, fruit-forward but not cloying and exactly what I wanted to be drinking that warm spring night.

Keep tasting, friends....