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Archive for November, 2010

This weekend I spent a little time downstairs picking out the wines for Thanksgiving.Thanksgiving is always a great time for wine. For me, it is a holiday spent with family and loved ones that come together to share a special meal. It is a time to raise a glass and a time to reflect and give thanks. All of this is facilitated and made more memorable by wine.

Thanksgiving is also a time for endless columns on wines to serve at Thanksgiving. I hope this isn’t one of them — all I will say is that the wines I chose this year are wines I enjoy and have meaning. They also very food friendly. Muscadet is one of the great food wines that also works well as an apéritif. Once food is served, the Huet Vouvray Le Mont Sec will bring weight, richness, complexity and acidity to the table. For red wine, a lot of people propose Zinfandel as the ultimate Thanksgiving wine, but I think Beaujolais (it’s a harvest wine and the tart and sour cranberry characteristics make it a natural fit). This year, the last bottle was selected as an homage to Marcel Lapierre. Here is the lineup for Thanksgiving 2010:

Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sevre et Maine L D’Or 2002
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005
Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Mont Sec 2007
Domaine du Vissoux Pierre Chermette Beaujolais Cuvee Traditionnelle VV 2009
Jean & Agnes Foillard — Morgon Cuvée Corcelette Vieille Vigne 2007
Jean Foillard Fleurie 2007
Marcel Lapierre Morgon 2009

Related posts:
Alice Feiring on Marcel Lapierre
Eric Asimov on Marcel Lapierre

Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Le L d’Or 2002
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005

More Thanksgiving Recommendations:
Arianna Occhipinti Il Frappato Sicilia IGT 2006
Rhys Pinot Noir
Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py 2007
Daniel Bouland Morgon Vieilles Vignes 2008
Sean Thackrey Pleiades XVIII Old Vines
Jacques Puffeney Arbois Poulsard “M” 2006
André Perret Condrieu Chéry 2006
André Perret Saint Jospeh 2007
Gerard et Pierre Morin Sancerre Chêne Marchand 2007
Pascal and Nicolas Reverdy Sancerre Cuvée Les Coûtes 2008
Lopez de Heredia Rioja Tondonia Rosé 1998

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Juan Antonio Ponce heads up this small family run bodega who began bottling their own wines in 2005, after generations of traditional grape-growing that continues today, with the adoption of biodynamic techniques. The Ponce family has 22 hectares of vineyards in the municipality of Iniesta (in the province of Cuenca).

Only traditional methods are used in the winery. The grapes are vinified separately and each wine is made with grapes from a certain block, each representing a different terroir, with its own personality. All Ponce’s grapes are old vine Bobal, averaging 50, but up to 85 yrs old, and are planted at an altitude of 2,300 feet and higher. Bobal is a variety of Vitis Vinifera, native to the Utiel-Requena region in Valencia. Bobal is the third most planted variety in Spain, but most people are probably not familiar with the varietal.

At Bodegas Ponce, they showcase the diversity of soil of each of the various plots, producing wines with different characters, always with reference to the variety Bobal. There are very few, if any other producers working with Bobal in this manner, and in only a few years Bodegas Ponce has managed to create a serious following of their wines around the globe.

Last month, I had a bottle of their La Casilla, from 30-70 year old Bobal vines and aged 9 months in 300,400 and 1,500 liter French oak vats. Aromatics of dark fruits with violets. On the palate, big and bold with generous amounts of ripe dark fruit, graphite, smoke, bubble gum and toast. I was at Terroir Wine Bar in Tribeca a couple of weeks back. I’ll certainly return, not only because they offered La Casilla by the glass. La Casilla is currently on sale at $15  a bottle at Canal’s Bottle Shop (it retails for about $22 a bottle).

This week I opened Ponce’s La Casilla Estrecha, from 72 year old Bobal vines and aged 9 months in 300 liter French Oak vats. It is reminiscent of the La Casilla, but a bit more depth, complexity and polish.

The wines are imported by C&P Wines. Recommended.

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Domaine Gramenon is one of the most respected producers in the Rhône. In his book on the wines of the Rhône valley, Robert Parker classified Gramenon in the same category as Beaucastel and Fonsalette. In 1998, owner Phillipe Laurent nearly doubled the area of his vineyards by purchasing some 50 acres in Vinsobres. A year later, he died in a tragic accident and his wife decided to sell some 35 acres the Perrin brothers at Beaucastel. Michelle Aubery-Laurent and her son Maxim-François continue making wines in a pretty natural way, with sulphur dioxide used just at assemblage. Their vineyards are farmed organically, and they never filter or fine their wines.

Their wines are not very well known in the United States as they are available on a limited basis. I found Gramenon’s wines through Kermit Lynch’s newsletter. He described them as a pure expression of biodynamically farmed, old vine Grenache with knock-out fruit flavors tempered by a core of strong minerality. Some might not want to pay $30 for a bottle of Côtes du Rhône, but I was able to pick up a sampler pack of their wine from Kermit Lynch at 25% off and each one of the wines has been a winner.

Last year I found some older vintages of Domaine Gramenon at MacArthur Beverages in Washington, DC — including a few bottles of their Ceps Centenaires La Mémé from 2000 and 2001. The Centenaires La Mémé is made from 100 year old Grenache vines. It is fermented with stems and aged without any sulfur dioxide additions. Gramenon’s wines are said to show best in their relative youth, so wasn’t sure what to expect from a bottle from the 2000 vintage. Copper plum in color, definitely showing a some age. Still showing some lush and silky fruit on the palate, though not as bright as the younger Gramenon’s I have had. It’s picked up a lot of complexity and has also softened and mellowed. Not sure I would sit on this much longer, but it was a memorable bottle. Add another notch to why this domaine is on my list of favorites.

Related posts:
Domaine Gramenon La Sagesse Côtes du Rhône 2007
Domaine Gramenon Sierra du Sud 2007
Domaine Gramenon La Sagesse Côtes du Rhône 2007
Domaine Gramenon Côtes du Rhône Blanc Vie on y Est 2008
Domaine Gramenon Les Laurentides Côtes du Rhône 2007

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