Wine Club Newsletter - November 2016
The Sweet Season
By Gary Parker, Owner
The WineSellar & Brasserie
The holiday season is when most dessert wines are consumed throughout the year. As groups gather to dine and celebrate, those after-dinner wines can mark the occasion with a stunning finale. There is a wide range of dessert wines hailing from all over the planet. The following is a general guide to what we can find locally.
Sparkling Wines and Champagne
Yes, there are sweet versions of the bubbly! Look for the words on the label such as Demi-Sec, Doux, or Molleaux, all of which signify a degree of sweetness. From Italy, look for Asti-Spumante or Dolce. These are all wonderful with cheeses and pastries.
THE classic after-dinner wine, made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blends. Picked very late in the season, they are super-sweet, dehydrated, and in most cases affected by the ‘Noble Rot’. These wines are smooth, elegant, complex, and long-lasting. They are excellent with peach tarts, cheese, and foie gras.
Long names are long on character and complexity. Auslese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, and Ice Wines are typically made with Riesling grapes. The longer the name, the more select they are with the grape selections, which translates to increasing levels of sweetness. These can age for decades, and are low in alcohol, but high in intensity. Ripe cheeses, nuts, or just enjoy them on their own.
This would include the different and varying styles of Sherry and Madeira. Using oxidized grapes, and adding grape brandy to produce a 17-20% alcohol content. The wines are loaded with lovely aromatics of toasted nuts, and are fabulous with dried fruits, ripe cheese, and of course nuts.
As with Fortified Wines, there are different styles of Port, so uses may vary accordingly. The most popular Ports are Vintage and Late Bottle Harvest (aka: LBV). These sweet, dark red/black wines are age-worthy. The classic combination is Stilton cheese and roasted nuts.
Tawny Ports are sweeter, yet lighter in color and weight. They improve significantly as they get older. Try to find some 30- or 40-Year Tawny, and enjoy with figs, roasted nuts and cheese.
2015 Pinot Gris, McPherson Wine Company
Growing Region: Central Victoria, Australia
Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Gris
Fermentation: Wood and Stainless Steel
Alcohol Content: 13.5%
Suggested Retail: $22.00
WineSellar Club Price: $14.34
Here is a new wine producer, their first release being the 2014 vintage. The wines from McPherson Wine Company (MWC) are made with food in mind. Their mantra: soft, savory, earthy styles of wine with European influences. They are rustic in style, full, and of interesting, complex characteristics, made for those who love great, honest wines.
By the label, there is no doubting it is a 2015 Pinot Gris from Victoria! And thank you, screwcap! The wine has a very cool color, showing copper, salmon, and steel notes, with good long legs running down the bowl.
The aromatics are as distinctive as the color. Pinot Gris is naturally a red grape, and there are some red wine aspects to the nose. But its white grape side wins out by the nose, showing us firm white peach, tangerine, apricot, and pineapple.
I love the texture! It is rich in fruit, yet clean and refreshing in the mouth. There is a nice touch of mineral and lively, zesty, citric acid to balance it beautifully.
Ripe tangerines, white peach, and apricot dominate the early palate. The middle palate features solid fruit offerings, gaining some pineapple, pear, and lychee. It finishes with a lemon-line-like acid that is dazzling.
The MWC team thinks this will age through 2019, but I say why bother? It’s delicious now and will go great with oysters, grilled salmon, and composed salads.
2012 Chateau La Chapelle Aux Moines, St. Emilion
Growing Region: St. Emilion, Bordeaux
Varietal Composition: 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Fermentation: 15% New Oak, Tanks, and Barrels
Alcohol Content: 14%
Suggested Retail: $25.00
WineSellar Club Price: $22.49
All three of our wine clubs will be blessed with receiving yet another superb Bordeaux wine at an excellent price. 30-year-old vines produce intense berry flavors, as this vineyard is perfectly situated in orientation to the sun and the soils. The vineyard was established in the 19th century. The resulting wine rated 92 points by Wine Enthusiast.
Classic-looking Bordeaux bottle and label, with the Chateau etching theme central to the overall design. The Grand Cru sticker is a nice touch, as well. Straightforward hue of garnet at the core, bleeding out a little as it gets to the rim.
The exotic nose keeps changing on me! Kind of a rainwater freshness on the nose… Sea breeze. That hovers over earthy, clay, honey, raspberry jelly, black cherry, cedar, and smoke. Hints of barley, oats, and malt, as well as graham cracker and chocolate chip cookie.
Medium-plus in body, good weight in the mouth. Sensational yet elegant, sophisticated, clean, and smooth. Classic Bordeaux texture. Long in the palate, staying even. This is kind of a blend of New World and Old World styles.
May not be able to stop…milk chocolate, blackberry, black cherry, vanilla oak, black pepper, damp soil, huckleberry, smoke, cedar, lilac, white pepper, cookie dough, fresh herbs all delivered on a sheet of liquid silk.
15 years in the bottle will add more complexities to this beauty. I would try to enjoy this wine with well-made, high quality foods. It deserves to have the finest.
2013 Bernard Latour, Domaine de l’Espigouette, Vacqueyras
Growing Region: Vacqueyras, Southern Rhone, France
Varietal Composition: 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre
Fermentation: 12-18 Months in French Oak
Alcohol Content: 14.5%
Suggested Retail: $30.00
WineSellar Club Price: $24.29
Bernard Latour is a fourth-generation producer at this family-owned organic estate located in the heart of the southern Rhone Valley. Each member of the family (Bernard, his wife Marie-France, and their two sons Julien and Emilien) contributes to every part of the winemaking process, from hand-selecting grapes in the vineyard to overseeing the finished product in the cellar, all the way through to working in the small tasting room housed on the family property. The wines are full, honest, and pair exceptionally well with a wide range of foods.
The label is clear, concise, and classic. You know exactly what you’re getting, and I love the embossed glass representative of estate-bottled wines. The wine itself pours a deep purple with good clarity and brightness, a vibrant violet with an auburn rim.
Fresh herbs leap up out of the glass (rosemary, thyme, laurel) followed close behind by fragrant violets, camphor, and stewed plums.
Powerful yet smooth, this is a wine of structure and balance. Full-bodied, voluptuous, and opulent, with fine-grained, well-integrated tannins and ample acidity. Light oak adds a touch more complexity.
The wine greets you with explosive notes of violets, dark plums, spice, and licorice. Savory elements are plentiful here, along with bold flavors of black tea, vanilla, aniseed, crushed herbs, cedar, and fresh sage. This is an assertive wine, youthful and hearty. We tasted it over several hours and came back to it the following morning; the ever-changing, ever-evolving flavors kept us all excited and thirsty for more.
The wine drinks beautifully now, but would absolutely benefit from 5-7 years of aging – that is, if you can wait that long! Serve with hearty dishes: leg of lamb, venison, roasted autumnal vegetables (pumpkin!), or a good piece of beef. Don’t skimp on the spice!
2014 Domaine Charlopin-Tissier, Marsannay, “La Montagne”
Growing Region: Cote de Nuits, Burgundy, France
Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir
Fermentation: 50% New Oak
Alcohol Content: 13.5%
Suggested Retail: $55.00
WineSellar Club Price: $49.99
From the importer: “Charlopin-Tissier was created when young Yann Charlopin and his wife Justine Tissier purchased the very popular Domaine David Clark in the center of Morey-St.-Denis. This ‘just thirty’ couple have taken on the existing vineyards and supplemented these in their first vintage with family holdings including a thrilling red Marsannay.”
The northernmost appellation in the Cote d’Or, Marsannay stretches across three villages just south of the city of Dijon. Most of the wine made here is red, and all are made from Pinot Noir. Marsannay wines are perfect partners for game meats and roasted vegetables, as they are packed with structure, power, and expressiveness.
Perfect burgundy color. Some cherry skin hue, a touch of black at the core and lighter shades of magenta on the rim. Looks gorgeous! I also love the label…clear, impactful, precise, focused, overall an “A” for packaging.
Solid and fresh red and black cherry fruit with notes of wood, earth, vanilla, and a touch of herb. The fragrances keep evolving as I get my nose into it time and time again over the span of 45 minutes. Asian spices, black pepper, fallen leaves are all wrapped around this lovely bowl of fresh cherries.
Smooth, even, almost silken entry to the palate provides a beautiful first impression. Medium-bodied and a good, even feel leaves you with good harmony. Upon swallowing your first sip, the expansive fruit and perfectly corresponding acids seem to loom larger and longer in your mouth. This distinctive texture is what good Burgundy is all about!
The fresh-scented red and black cherry notes are upfront and taste lovely on the flavor profile. The flavors keep to themselves for the first few minutes, but then awaken us with velvety-coated nuances of forest floor, wood, herbs, spices, and a hint of root beer. The greatest part of this is the finish lasts for a very long time, so you can savor and contemplate its loveliness for almost a minute after a sip. Did I say gorgeous?
Typical Marsannay will age 3-6 years in the bottle. With the fruit and acid balanced so well here, I think it will go even a few more years. Would be great around 2022. Have with more delicate foods such as game, roast meats, foie gras, and even light chocolates.
Okra Shrimp Rice
If you weren’t aware, my mother was rooted in the South, so our family was served all kinds of fixins keen to that culture. One item I had to learn to appreciate was okra. Mom didn’t do well with it, and it was typically the last thing left on the plate. Gear ahead multiples of decades and now I love it. So here is a fun recipe that is tasty, relatively easy, and goes great with our MWC 2015 Pinot Gris.
- 2 cups of okra, sliced vertically (1/2 inch thick)
- 2 cups brown rice, cooked
- 1 ½ cups peeled and deveined shrimp
- 1 very small onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
Salt, pepper, thyme, Cajun seasoning, cooking oil
- Coat the bottom of a large pan with cooking oil. Add okra and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove okra from pan, add more oil if needed, and then add rice.
- Brown rice and then set aside.
- Add more oil if necessary to the pan.
- Drop in onion, ginger, garlic, and Cajun seasonings.
- Cook until onion is translucent.
- Drop in shrimp, cook slightly.
- Add back in the rice and okra and cook until hot and ready to server.
- Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.