Sunday, September 22, 2019

Wine Review: Château Bellevue Monbazillac 2011

Château Bellevue Monbazillac 2011

Oh, dessert wine! Yesssssss! Alright, here's the thing, I have never been into sweets. Candy has never appealed to me and I absolutely despise cake (except for carrot cake). My junkfood has always been the salty stuff. Chips and cheese, man. Those giant jugs of UTZ Cheeseballs? I could devour that whole thing in one sitting. Anyways, my point is, I don't like sweets but I love sweet wine! And dessert wine is like friggin' heaven, I'm telling ya right now! All you dessert wine producers out there should be sending me some of your dessert wine because it's guaranteed to get a good review. Just saying.

Monbazillac is an AOC in southern France that makes sweet dessert wine around the village of Monbazillac, and even though the Monbazillac AOC wasn't established until 1936, they've been doing their thing with dessert wine for a very long time. Monbazillac's wines are said to be similar to Sauternes but tend to have more Muscadelle in the blend.

This guy right here is from Château Bellevue, which was built in the 17th century, and is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle, using the traditional methods of producing Monbazillac. One interesting thing I found while searching for information: Ponton d'Amecourt is the name of the family that has owned the Château since 1972, and their ancestor Gustave invented the helicopter in 1861. Neat!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Saké Quickie: Kikusui Shuzo Funaguchi Jukusei Nama Genshu

"Jukusei" means it was aged, so this Sake was purposefully released after it sat there for awhile. "Nama" means that is was not pasteurized. "Genshu" means alcohol was added but it wasn't watered back down like your average Honjozo, so it's got a rather high ABV of 19%. And HOOOO BOOOOY. It's full bodied with a mellow mouthfeel and perfectly balanced acidity. There's cooked apple, stewed plums, cinnamon, vanilla extract, pie crust, and on the finish there's a little splash of raspberry sauce. This Saké is some kind of apple/plum pie crossover and it's just so very good. It's one of the more expressive, different, and intriguing Sake's I've had since I started my interest in the category. I wouldn't recommend it to a beginner, but I absolutely would recommend it to an explorer like myself. It's fucking fantastic.

Friday, September 20, 2019

It's #GarnachaDay 2019! (Part 2)

My first group of wines today were from The Wining Hour chat held this week to celebrate Garnacha Day, but the purpose of this smaller group is not only to promote Garnacha Day but to promote a specific region in Spain as well.

Cariñena is a Denominación de Origen (DO) within Aragón in northwestern Spain. It's mostly noted for the wine it produces from the Carignan variety, but that's not all that they grow there. They're big into Garnacha as well, and they have the largest planting of old vine Garnacha than anywhere else in Spain. Let's have a taste!

Sierra de Viento Garnacha 2018 is medium bodied with a lush mouthfeel and a wonderful spicy pepperiness to its character. There's some tart cherry but the lush blackberry helps to smooth it out, and those guys are joined by vanilla, caramel, and pepper. This is a $7 Garnacha that could be asking for $12.

Beso de Vino Old Vine Garnacha 2016 was actually also in my first set of wines today. I found that it's your typical entry-level Garnacha meant for quaffing with pizza or whatever. You're not going to sit there and analyze it because it's pretty basic, but I really liked it! It's fruity with plums and cherries, and there's some chocolate and caramel there too.

Look at how cool the bottle is for Bodegas Paniza Fábula de Paniza Garnacha 2018. I love it, and I love the wine, although I highly suggest you give it a slight chill before you drink it. That little chill livens it right up, as it does for most Garnachas in my experience. It's medium bodied with a lush mouthfeel, perfectly balanced acidity, dusty tannin, and a nice savoriness. There's strawberries, cherries, chocolate, and vanilla. And that finish? Strawberries, raisins, and licorice. Mwwwah. Awesome.

So much is put in to Garnacha Day every single year and it's always a lot of fun for people like myself, but the real purpose is to get the word out to YOU. Yeah, YOU! Go out and try some Garnacha, guys! Those who don't know about it don't know they like it yet!

It's #GarnachaDay 2019! (Part 1)

That's right! A whole day dedicated to Garnacha! The other day I was lucky enough to be invited to taste five Garnacha's in celebration of the grape along with a whole bunch of cool people on the #WiningHourChat hashtag on Twitter (thanks to @WinesofGarnacha and @TheWiningHour). It was very fast paced but a lot of fun! Here's a little bit about the wines that we tried. Happy Garnacha Day, my fellow wineos!

Let's start with Spanish Garnacha:
The Clos Dalian Garnacha Blanca 2018 really took me by surprise. Light and crisp and refreshing but with lively fruit of apples and pears. It was my second favorite of the evening. Beso de Vino Old Vine Garnacha 2016 is your typical entry-level Garnacha meant for quaffing with pizza or whatever. You're not going to sit there and analyze it because it's pretty basic, but I really liked it! It's fruity with plums and cherries, and there's some chocolate and caramel there too. Evodia  Old Vine Garnacha 2017 was better than I thought it would be. The last time I had Evodia, it was on a decline as production increased. It's still not as good as it used to be, but it's improved. I noted blackberries, strawberries, and tea.

Now for French Grenache:
Unfortunately I was not able to get around to opening the Clos Saint Sebastien Collioure Empreintes Rouge 2017 but I plan on it soon, and I'll make a quickie about it too. That Terrassous Rivesaltes 6 Year, though! Oh my goodness! This is a white dessert wine and it was the best out of the bunch. Everybody kept saying that it was like Tawny Port from France and they are not wrong. Sweet and absolutely beautiful with caramel, raisins and almonds. Spectacular.

Thank you Li for including me! I'm looking forward to doing it again! Happy Garnacha Day, everybody, and I'll be back with a Part 2 later today!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Wine Review: Domaine Laurens Pierres Rouges Marcillac 2016

Domaine Laurens was founded in 1975 right in the heart of the Marcillac wine region. They have 21 hectares of land and produce red, white, and rosé wines. Wait, Marcillac? What the heck is that? Marcillac is in the Aveyron department of southern France, near the city of Rodez. I don't think I've ever had a wine from Marcillac before. Maybe I have and just don't know it or recall.

And the same can be said for the grape that this wine is made from: Fer Servadou, AKA Fer, Pinenc,  and Mansois. It's mostly grown in the southern France regions of Marcillac, Gaillac, and Béarn. According to Wikipedia, "Fer is French for iron (Latin Ferrum), a reference to the very hard and 'iron-like' wood of the vine's above ground canopy".

Have you even heard of Fer Servadou? I'm sure I have at some point in my studies but had forgotten about it, and I've certainly never have had a wine made from it.  So without ferther servadou (see what I did there?) let's pop this bottle open!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Saké Quickie: Kikusui Shuzo Funaguchi Ichiban Shibori

So you can see that this Saké comes in a can. You can also see on the can that it says "Nama Genshu Honjozo". Nama (short for Namaganza) means that it is unpasteurized, Honjozo means that alcohol was added, and Genshu means that water wasn't added to dilute that alcohol and bring it back down like a normal Honjozo. With a 19% ABV this is rice booze, motherfuckers, and it's awesome. It's big bodied with a lush mouthfeel and a booziness all around. For flavors and aromas there's a lot of coconut (and I'm normally not a big fan of coconut) with yellow pears, melon, and vanilla. I really enjoyed it. Like... a lot. But it's not a Sake that you want for a pleasant evening with dinner. This is Sake meant for getting a bit drunky. Delicious yet dangerous.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Wine Quickie: Mas de Cadenet l'Echappée Belle Côtes de Provence Rosé 2018

I really liked this Rosé and my wife liked it even more! It's got a zippy and refreshing personality that just makes me smile. On the nose there's rose petals, grapefruit skin, and Fruity Pebbles; while on the palate there's strawberries, citrus, and peach. The bright acidity gives this fruit-forward rosé a big uplift into happiness, and the long-lasting finish is wonderful. Thumbs up from this guy (and his lady)!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Saké Quickie: Kikusui Shuzo Junmai

Canned Sake! As I explained in my article yesterday, canned Sake is becoming a big thing for the same reason that it is in the wine and craft beer industry: protection from light and air, 100% recyclability, and less weight for lower carbon emissions during transport. And I really like this one! It's got a rich mouthfeel with aromas and flavors of cantaloupe and yellow pear. But where it really gets me is on the long-lasting savory finish where the fruit brightens up and makes you smack your lips. Awesome.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Just Brew It, Part Three: Understanding and Buying Sake

If you haven't read Part One: A brief history of Sake then go ahead and check it out. Or not. It's not required reading for this article, although Sake's history is a fascinating one. But I do suggest that you head on over to Part Two: Making Sake if you haven't read it already, because that's where I tell you all about what the heck Sake is and how it's produced. 

At the end of Part Two: Making Sake we had one question before we could finish making our Sake: Will this Sake be a Futsu-Shu (lower quality Sake) or a premium Sake? And if it's premium then will it be a Honjozo or a Junmai? This determines whether it will be bottled as is or if alcohol and water are added, and talking about that made more sense here than there.

So let's take this Sake series one part further and first take a look at the different categories of Sake to help make your life as a Sake consumer a lot easier, and then we'll move on and talk about buying and drinking Sake. Don't worry because I'm purposefully trying to avoid overloading you with information. I want you to learn about this outstanding beverage and take interest in it and not run away scared, because it is absolutely worth it.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Saké Quickie: Kiku-Masamune Taru Saké Cup

Kiku-Masamune Tara Saké Cup

Saké in the jarro! This is a Jumai in a 180ml jar with a 15% ABV. "Taru" is Saké that's spent time in a cask, a nod to the Edo Period when Saké was transported in casks, and this one was aged in Yoshino Cedar until it has obtained that color and the desired flavor. It's pretty damn peppery if you ask me. I do like peppery stuff, as you know, but I'm not too sure if I like it on Saké to this level. It has a nice creamy mouthfeel and a little melon and pear, but I think with that cedar and pepper this one really depends on what you pair it with. Smoked foods seem to be suggested for Taru, and I can absolutely see that.

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