Friday, June 24, 2011

6 Vineyards and a Bunch of Freaky Mannequins

It's been a long day and since my mom is the only person who actually reads my blog, I'm going to keep it brief. 
Domaine de la Poultiere (Vernou-Sur-Loire):  I can't believe I'm wine tasting at 8:45am.  Greeted by a sweet dog.  Nice wines.  Bought a lovely white for dinner.

Then I picked up my friends after having to do an entire lap around the town in a large rental station wagon (it was between that and a Smart Car and there are 3 of us).

Domaine des Geleries (Bourgueil):  Remembered enough of my French 101 fruit vocabulary to discuss the wine with the winemaker.  He was impressed enough to give us a barrel tasting.  Success!  Nice reds - preferred Bourgueil Cabernet Franc to Chinon Cabernet Franc.  Mellower and richer.

Don't remember 3rd winery (Bourgueil):  Was not great. 

Domaine Du Cedre (Bourgueil):  Yummy pink sparkler.  No room in suitcase.  Bummer.

Couly-Dutheil (Chinon):  Typically over commercialized winery though the people there were really nice.

We then visited the Chateau in Usse which inspired the writer of "Sleeping Beauty."  It is gorgeous from the outside, but it is decorated with a plethora of mannequins and wax figures illustrating French life as well as the story of Sleeping Beauty.  AND, the mannequins are dressed in costumes reflective of the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries with a little 1970s thrown in for good measure. Super freaky and totally confusing.  The above picture is from the "Tasting in the Wine Caves."  I decided to join the mannequins. 

Chateau Gaudrelle (Rochecorbon):  Great stuff.  Nice white with a little oak on it.  Lovely dessert wine.  Alas, no room in the suitcase.  Plus, the winemaker was shooting down everything I wanted to pair the wine with.  I may have a lot to learn, but he didn't have to be so snotty.  Oh well.  There are other, nicer producers for me to buy from!

Then we went back to Amboise, found the only boulangerie in the region that is open past 5pm and had a feast of bread, cheese, macarons and salami for dinner.  Still full.

Tomorrow I head to Paris where I may actually venture into wines that are not from The Loire.

Until the next sniff, sip, quaff, cheese binge and/or mannequin tour,


Alli M.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Two Wineries, Two Chateaus and One Big Ass Wheat Field

Unfortunately we only made it to two vineyards today as we took our time visiting Chateaus, eating long meals and leisurely driving around the Loire.  Truth be told, we got a late start, got lost in a wheat field (despite having two GPS systems) and spent way too much time eating.

After visiting the lovely Chateau de Chenonceau where Laura and I decided it was much better to be the mistress than the Queen, we made our way to Caves Monmousseau in Montrichard.  It was a little too commercial for my tastes, BUT, we tried a really interesting sparkler called "Spicy Bubbles."  We thought it was going to have a spicy pepper taste, but what they meant by spicy, was spiced.  It tasted like sparkling wine with a few teaspoons of cinnamon and nutmeg.  It was better than I expected and tasted like something you'd have over the holidays which is why Jen bought a few bottles for her famous Christmas cookies and cocktails (and now "Spicy Bubbles") party.  You're all invited!

The next winery was a lot more fun - Domaine Des Roy in Pontlevoy, the town next to Montrichard.  We pulled up to a small house and walked in to find a sweet older man, a long table and a bunch of white and red wines.  We tasted alongside a French couple who I believe made some jokes about young people and wine tasting.  At least I think we laughed at the right moment. 

At Domaine Des Roy, my favorite wines were the Cot (which is what they call Malbec in the Loire) and a wine they called Les Linottes which is almost 100% Gamay.  Gamay is a red that grows really well in the Eastern part of the Loire (which is where we are) as well as in Burgundy.  It's also one of my favorite summer reds because it tends to have a nose and palate full of berries and is lighter bodied (despite being a pretty dark ruby color).  Domaine Des Roy's Les Linottes is a classic Gamay and at 6 Euros per bottle, I just had to pick one up.  The Cot was also quite good, though different from Argentinian Malbec.  The Cot had a lot more Cabernet-like notes of green pepper and earth - not surprising given that Cabernet Franc is the dominant red grape in these parts.  I also picked up a bottle of the Cot. 

For those keeping count, that puts me at 3 bottles which means I'll be buying a bag to carry my clothes on the plane with me.....

Until the next sniff, sip, quaff and wine shopping binge,


Alli M.

p.s.  The above picture is what I look like while frolicking in wheat fields. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

After 5 days of beating up my liver in London and thus forgetting everything I'd want to share about the wines (and tequila and Pimm's and beers and ciders) I had, I have made my way to the Loire for a proper wine tour.  My friends, Jen and Laura, have joined me despite acknowledging their hatred of French wine.  In fact, I'm not sure why they decided to join me, but I'm happy they're here.

Today we made our way to three wineries - Domaine Huet, Les Caves de Loires and Maison Bredif.  Huet was the vineyard I was most excited about and our first stop of the day.  I've had their sparkling wine from their Clos Du Bourg vineyard and have really enjoyed it.  Today we tried sparkling and still wines from their three vineyards - Clos Du Bourg, Le Haut-Lieu and Le Mont.  Of the three, Le Haut-Lieu was my favorite.  The wines under the Haut-Lieu labels tended to be a bit simpler but with a really smooth and velvety mouth feel.  Really lovely.  Then again, I always find it hard to like the most complex wines during straight tastings without any food.  Ahh, the tough life of a self-professed wine snob.....

After Domaine Huet, we made our way to Les Caves de Loires, a collective of several vineyards in the area.  90% of their wine is sparkling and almost all of it is from the Chenin Blanc grape.  And before I move on to share what I really thought, my friend, Laura, tells me that I must share the one factoid she remembers that there is a guy who works there who turns 42,000 bottles of champagne a day.  Laura and Jen now believe this to be my career calling. 

As for me, this was my least favorite visit of the day because they not only made us wait 40 minutes for the tour, but I also found the tasting to be mediocre and the guide to be, well, typically French in her approach towards non-French tourists.  Plus, I didn't really like the tasting.  They had a nice Late Harvest dessert wine, but otherwise, it didn't sooth the savage snob. 

From there, we were going to take our exhausted selves back to the hotel, but we had one more taste in us and we ended up at Maison Bredif, which was excellent.  They have vines outside of Vouvray so they do more than just Chenin Blanc.  As much as I love Chenin, it's nic to try other things!  Though my favorite of theirs was their 2009 Vouvray (we grabbed a bottle that we ended up kicking at dinner) and their Nectar (a late harvest Chenin - one of my favorite ways to enjoy Chenin).  Moreover, the guy in the tasting room was knowledgable and helpful.  Jen also found him attractive though Laura found his ongoing ass scratching to be a bit disturbing.  All in all, though, it was a great way to rebound from Les Caves de Loire.

Earlier tonight we started planning for tomorrow's trips and we're thinking a Chateau, some tastings and ideally some walking....After tonight's dinner of bread, cheese, wine and salami (my favorite French dinner), we're going to need to find some activity that involves more than just minor bicep curls.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

If you have not yet tried Torrontes, you're missing out!

Last night I went out to Sushi Lounge, a good, local place with my friend and fellow wine lover, Sharon.  Sushi Lounge does not have a great wine list, but they have a few of the more interesting varietals such as Torrontes.  Torrontes is a lovely, medium bodied, floral white that is grown in the North Argentina.  Moreover, since it's a lot less expensive to make wine in Argentina and since the varietal is not well known (and thus not over planted - yet), it tends to be one of the bigger values on a wine menu. 

Sushi Lounge carries Lo Tengo Torrontes out of Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina.  It's slightly sweeter than many other Torrontes I've had, but delightful, and smooth with some nice honeysuckle and citrus notes.  As expected, it pairs perfectly with sushi and is also easily enjoyed on its own.  This is probably why Sharon and I went threw two bottles!!!

So the next time you're in the mood for a good, food friendly white, break away from your Savignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay or Riesling and give Torrontes a try.  I'd be truly surprised if you were disappointed.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.