Some time ago I shared a little story of my sojourns through France when I was a young boy. In that instance, we had stopped on the south coast of France (Mediterranean) and spent a day at the beach. At the time, we were living in Germany, so that was not the only trip we made into France. We also made our way to Paris.
Although I was only 6 years old at the time. Paris left a lasting mark on my soul. While my father did his best to herd the family from museum to museum, some of the most vivid memories are from the city itself. For instance, I was fascinated by the hotel we stayed in because it wasn’t at all like the American hotels and motels we had stayed in. It was a small pension hotel in a bustling residential neighborhood. Not far from our hotel, there was an outdoor market where people where produce of every kind straight from the farm was available. We bought some cherries at the market that I can still taste by memory today. They were SO amazing. And although I was very impressed with the art works in the Louvre, I found the Arc de Triomphe infinitely more appealing.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been back since that trip. Yup, more travel for my bucket list. I really would like to experience the City of Light as an adult. Know what I mean? I didn’t have a single sip of wine when I was in Paris last!
Winemaker: La Vieille Ferme
Varietal: White Blend
Price: $7.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: This French white was medium yellow in color with lots of yellow (golden delicous) apple along with citrus notes in the nose. Acidity was good in this medium-bodied blend which had a slight coat-the-tongue quotient. Flavors I detected were kiwi, cream, and hints of toasty oak. I liked it. I have had other vintages that I didn’t enjoy as well, but this bottle was fine by me.
Sometimes I’m just in the mood for something new. That ever happen to you?
The other night my sweetie and I stepped out for dinner at a new casual Chinese restaurant in our neighborhood. It was called Lucky Pot. Well … I don’t know about that! Didn’t seem like our pots had much luck in them because we weren’t exactly impressed with our dishes. We were even less impressed when the owner’s young daughter – who was sitting watching TV in the dining room – started trimming her nails at a table near us. OK, so not all new things turn out to be good. Ha! But we wouldn’t have known if we hadn’t given it a try.
Still in the “new” mindset after our dinner, we wandered up to the local Whole Foods to consider a carry-out dessert. My sweetie got cookies. I opted for something different – and new to me. This Mencía caught my eye.
Winemaker: Vega Montán by Bodegas Adriá
Appellation: Bierzo, Spain DO
Price: $9.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: A dark purple wine, this Mencía had earth, pine resin and dark fruit in the bouquet. It was light-bodied with high acidity, medium tannins, and 13.5% alcohol. This selection was more focused on non-fruit flavors which made it an interesting experience for me. Especially since it was my first Mencía. On the tongue I caught plenty of woody tannins, pine tar, hints of leather, baking spices as well as some cherry and cranberry.
Here is a wine called Nature from Chile as well as some scenes of nature’s beauty in Chile.
Vineyard: Natura by Emiliana Vineyards
Wine: Pinot Noir
Appellation: Colchagua Valley, Chile
Price: $9.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: I love it when a wine surprises me (in a good way). In this case it was the bouquet that brought a fun aroma of strawberry soda to my nose as well as scents of earth, pepper and green herbs. This Pinot was light-bodied with good-to-high acidity and light tannins. Alcohol was at 13.5%. On the palate I caught flavors of strawberry, white pepper, green herbs and a hint of mushroom. I found it a pleasant, gentle selection. Although Turkey Day is a long way off, this wouldn’t be bad at all with a gently seasoned bird.
The Chapelle Saint Antonin is a chapel in the Jacobin (Dominican) monastery in Toulouse, France.
Founded in 1229 by the “Order of Preachers,” the original church was completed in 1250. From that point until the mid 14th century, it continued to expand and grow. One of the additions was the Chapelle Saint Antonin built by DominiqueGrima, prior of the conventandthe Bishop ofPamiers, to be a final resting place for members of the order and Canons of Pamiers. Although the monastery suffered some damage during the French Revolution and Napoleonic period, it has been lovingly restored.
Vineyard: Chapelle Saint Antonin
Wine: Reserve Pinot Noir
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Appellation: Pays d’Oc, France IGP
Price: $9.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: The color of this Reserve Pinot was a deep ruby. On the nose I caught fairly pungent aromas of pine forest, pepper, and berries. It was light-bodied with high acidity and medium tannins. Alcohol was at 12.5%. On the tongue I tasted cherry, smoke, some pine, a touch of pepper and brambly woodiness. It was a fine PN, and I think it would serve well as an accompaniment for game fowl, chicken thighs, turkey leg. You get the idea. By the way, you will definitely want to let this one breathe before serving or the woodiness will be the overarching flavor.
A few posts ago I mentioned a birthday party I’d been a part of. No, it wasn’t my birthday but that of a family member. The party at the Italian restaurant was basically a sibling celebration with their spouses and children. However, the festivities weren’t over after the cannoli and tiramisu. No, indeed!
See, this was one of those BIG birthdays. A milestone, if you will. So I helped put together a surprise party for friends and extended family the very next night. I don’t think I have ever worked so hard at keeping something a secret (and certain that I had failed miserably). We ordered a cake from a bakery and Thai food from a local eatery for this party. Then everyone gathered at a friend’s house while I had the task of wrangling the guest of honor. You know, making sure they got there and at the right time. Man, was I sweating it!
Seems we did OK. If nothing else, the honoree feigned surprise well. To go with the cake and Thai we served a few wines along with the requisite seltzer, soda and lemonade. I thought this Simi Chardonnay was pretty good with the seafood rice dish and the vegetable spring rolls. Given that the cake was chocolate, I switched for dessert.
Appellation: Sonoma County, CA
Price: $12.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: The Simi was a pretty, vibrant yellow. On the nose I smelled primarily pineapple. I thought acidity was good, and it was medium-bodied with 13.5% alcohol. This was a very flavorful wine. I found pineapple, vanilla, a touch of butter, some grass and chalk at the finish. It was definitely a good one for me. I’d happily drink it again and can imagine it would make a nice accompaniment to a range of fowl, fish and salad dishes.
I try not to consult the winemaker’s or wineseller’s notes on a particular wine when I’m looking for a new wine experience. Yes, I know they can prove helpful in finding things we think we’ll like based on the flavors we prefer and the wine experiences we’ve enjoyed in the past. I definitely find them useful when searching for a wine to accompany a particular meal or for an occasion. And I can’t completely ignore them if – as in some retailers – descriptors are posted with every selection. But since I don’t want all my wines to taste the same, I don’t pay close attention to them when I’m browsing.
I also try not to read the back label before drinking a wine on the chance that it’ll contain tasting notes. I don’t want my own experience to be affected by the suggestions of certain flavors and aromas being present. I don’t think I’m all that easily beguiled, but I like the idea of starting with a blank slate when experiencing a wine for the first time. And my experience has proved that, although often similar to what I taste, I don’t always agree with winemaker notes. In some cases their notes and mine are quite different. This wine is a case in point. You can read the importer’s/winemaker’s description by clicking on the picture. My notes are below. Like night and day almost. If you have tried this selection, I’d be interested in hearing what you found.
Appellation: Colchagua Valley, Chile
Price: $14.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: This Chilean Chardonnay was pale yellow in the glass with a faint bouquet of lanolin, citrus and spice. Acidity seemed good, and alcohol was at 13.5%. Flavors I found consisted primarily of clementine and grass with fleeting whispers of spice. I found it to be a somewhat restrained selection. Not the average New World Chardonnay. I liked it!
What an interesting label this wine has. It’s a picture of a bunch of rocks. That’s all – just rocks. Are they not-so-subtly telling us something about the “tierra” or terroir in the area? Could be. This red wine hails from the area known as Castilla – La Mancha and is categorized in the “Vino de la Tierra” classification which is just below Denominación de Origen or DO and above plain old table wine.
The vineyard’s name, also interesting to me, is another name for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom OR a form of the Spanish verb pallar. Pallar means to extract or glean. Which is the basis for the vineyard name? Heck if I know! Maybe both inasmuch as a person with wisdom is able to extract or glean pertinent information from raw data and make it useful. Yes, I know I’m a bit of a word geek. Can’t help myself: I love language. Of course, I also love wine which is the purpose of this blog. So I’ll get on with it.
Winemaker: Pallas by Finca Las Cruces
Appellation: Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain
Price: $8.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: The color was very dark garnet with tinges of purple. It had an earthy bouquet with scents of pine, blackberry and quinine. Medium-bodied, this Tempranillo had good acidity and medium tannins. At 14% alcohol it was what I consider dry. On the palate, the flavors I tasted were woodiness aplenty, blackberry, some pepper and quinine. I thought it had a fairly bitter affect overall, so I would recommend pairing this wine with a meat dish rather than serving it at a cocktail party.