Beaujolais-Villages versus Moulin-a-Vent

Beaujolais-Villages versus Moulin-a-VentEarlier this week I was invited to take part in a Chirrup tasting with several additional wine writers to taste two types of Beaujolais wine.  We were sent the wines in advance and were given a date and time to collectively taste them.  But I messed up.  Yikes!!  I place it down on my calendar for Thursday, but it was in fact on Tuesday.  Whoops.  It’s very much unlike me to miss something like this, but I guess it proves that I’m human.  I feel terrible for missing the event too — it was one I was looking forward to.
But just because I missed the Chirrup tasting, doesn’t mean I’m not going to try the wines.  And prose my thoughts here will ultimately get a lot more visibility than anything I place on Chirrup, which is about as impacting as a fart in the wind.
A Brief Background on Beaujolais
Beaujolais is a French wine from a particular part of Burgundy and is made from a specific grape – gamay, which by many is not considered to be one of the better grapes for wine building.  But it can produce some fascinating wines.  That said, there are certainly plenty of critics when it comes to gamay.
You may have heard of Beaujolais Nouveau, which comes out in the fall as the first release of the year’s wine.  It’s very young and fruity, and usually not very excellent in my opinion.  But there is lot’s of marketing in the rear it so people drink it up and pretend that it’s excellent.  The wines in this review is much better than Beaujolais Nouveau, but they are also made from gamay.
There are different appellations of Beaujolais — as there are with all French wines.   Read more

Le Jaja de Jau Sauvignon Blanc

Le Jaja de Jau Sauvignon BlancWe’ve all ears a lot of our sauvignon blanc reviews on Chile and also had a few from California and New Zealand.  But we shouldn’t forget about France, and so today we’re checking out a French sauvignon blanc.
This wine is called Le Jaja de Jau and is produced by Château de Jau in southern France.  ”Jaja” is a colloquialism used in that province to describe everyday wines.  I don’t know much French, let alone their colloquialisms, so I’m not personally familiar with the term.  Nonetheless, the full name translates to mean “the everyday wine from Jau.”
You may notice that on the mark it also says, “Ben.”  This is because Le Jaja de Jau was established as an association of the artist, Benjamin Vauthier, who designed the mark, and the winemaker Estelle Dauré. Read more

Lucien Albrecht Cremant D’Alsace – Brut Blanc de Blancs

Lucien Albrecht Cremant D’Alsace – Brut Blanc de BlancsIn case you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to check out the November/December issue of Mutineer Magazine.  This issue includes a column, authored by yours truly, about sparkling wines—just in time for the holidays.  One of the wines built-in in this article is the Lucien Albrecht Cremant D’Alsace – Brut Blanc de Blancs.
“Cremant” is the name given to French dry sparkling wines that are not from the Champagne province, but are made using the traditional sparkling wine method.  The full method is far to intricate to clarify here, but one of the key differentiators is that it doesn’t go through CO2 carbonation.
“Alsace” is the province of France where this wine is made.  So, “Cremant d’Alsace” basically means “sparkling wine from Alsace.”  Alsace is considered by many to be one of the best colorless wine regions in the world, and it is one of my favorite regions.  This wine is a fantastic example of why. Read more

Lucien Albrecht Gewürztraminer Reserve

Lucien Albrecht Gewürztraminer ReserveAlthough its name can be intimidating to those who are new to wine, Gewurztraminer is a wonderful and exciting variety that I recommend you try.  But first, let’s deal with this name.  It looks long and intricate, but it’s not when you break it down.  Let’s start with the first half of the name, Gewürz, pronounced geh-VERTS.  You can in fact get by with knowing just that.  Walk into any wine shop and question for some geh-VERTS and they’ll know what you mean.  The literal translation of  Gewürz is “spice,” but in this case it means “perfumed.”  The second half of the name is traminer, pronounced trah-mee-ner, which is a grape variety.
When you place it all together you get geh-VERTS-trah-mee-ner and it basically means “perfumed traminer.”  In the past, the French have used some additional names for this wine which basically translate the same way: Traminer Parfumé, Traminer Musqué and Traminer Aromatique.
You may find yourself wondering now, “why is this called perfumed?”  Well, it is one of the most aromatic wines around with rich floral fragrances.  It is so distinct, that it is often one of the first varieties of wine that drinkers are able to recognize.
While I and many additional wine lovers reckon it’s a wonderful variety, Gewürztraminer is subdue not prolific on the shelves or in the vineyards.  It’s most prevalent in Alsatian and German wines.  Some of the best I’ve tasted have come from Alsace, where Gewürztraminer is the second most planted variety.  And that’s where this one from Lucien Albrecht hails. Read more

Domaine Lignères – Aric

Domaine Lignères – AricFollowing up from my last post, here is another red blend from the Corbières province in France. Domaine Lignères was established in 1957 and has prolonged over the years.  It is owned and operated by a family full of medical practitioners and scientists. Seriously, the family that runs this vineyard includes two general practitioners, a pharmacist, a dentist and a biologist.  In 2002, they started working with Italian wine consultant Stefano Chioccioli and the partnership has resulted in outstanding results.
Philosophically, they strive to wring the characteristics of the terroir where their grapes are grown and Chioccioli helps them bring that to life.
They have several different wines available, most of which are slightly more pricey than I usually buy.  But I was lucky enough to find this one for $15. Read more

Grande Maison Monbazillac – Cuvee des Anges

Grande Maison Monbazillac – Cuvee des AngesIf you want to share something sweet this Valentine’s Day there are a number of fantastic dessert wines you can try.  I don’t drink a lot of dessert wine, but when I do I like to be adventurous and try new things.
Monbazillac is something that you probably haven’t had previous to, but you may want to give it a shot.  It’s a wine produced from grapes effected by noble rot.  When I first heard of noble rot, I didn’t know what to reckon.  ”Noble” sounds like a excellent thing, but “rot” does not signal so appealing.  And grapes effected with this benign fungus look much more rotten than they look noble.  In fact, if I came across grapes looking like this on my grape vines I’d be inclined to place on a pair of latex gloves that go up to my nudge to remove this contaminated-looking mess.  Building wine from the grapes would not even cross my mind. Read more

Hob Nob Shiraz

Hob Nob ShirazOver the next few posts I’m going to take a look at a few Shiraz/Syrah wines.  In general, if it comes from Australia it’s called Shiraz and if it comes from elsewhere it’s called Syrah—although I’ve seen a few non-Australian ones with Shiraz on the mark.  This is an example of just that, it says Shiraz but it comes from France.
Syrah is generally a huge wine… huge, jammy, juicy, spicy are all terms commonly used to describe it.  Most people I’ve met either like it or despise it.  If you’re into really huge wines, you may be a fan of Syrah.
The first one I’m profiling is due to a recommendation from a friend.  I get recommendations for wines all the time and I like getting them.  When I get a recommendation for a wine I haven’t tried I’ll often hunt it down and give it a shot.  The guy who suggested this wine to me said something like, “It’s mighty tasty.”  That sounded like a excellent endorsement to me, and so I gave it a shot.
Now, the friend who suggested this wine is going to have a complex after conception my review and seeing me say, “Me no likey.”  In fact, it’s quite drinkable but not quite what I expect from a Syrah. Read more