Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving & Pinot Noir - The Pinot Project 2011

I pulled a couple of shifts at my local store last weekend helping folks find their way around while dispensing advice (when asked for of course), and much has been written about what wines to pair with your turkey and stuffing. In truth you could go lots of different ways. But what impressed me the most was that the vast majority of people shopping for Thanksgiving asked for Pinot Noir. It makes perfect sense of course that a lighter style red would fit the bill nicely and Pinot has been steadily climbing in popularity. Of course other light reds came to mind like Beaujolais or even some Chiantis, but California Pinot Noir has what most consumers want - ripe sweet fruit and soft tannins.

Today's post features one of the best entry level Pinot Noir's I have ever had. Some Pinots cross the too ripe and too sweet line for me. Evereyday Pinot Noir should be translucent in color and oriented toward fresh light red berry flavors and no raisiny elements in the aromas. The Pinot Project, despite it's somewhat industrial sounding name, is a Pinot that will please just about everyone - and for only $10.99. This private label project of importer Michael Skurnick has the goods. Prominent aromas of smoky black cherry, raspberry and spice with fairly bold cherryish flavors and excellent balancing acidity that keeps this wine lively. This wine will definitely enhance your Thanksgiving feast, especially if you have a crowd. Cheers.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Table Mates - Lobster and Vouvray Domaine d'Orfeuilles 2010

I wrote up the 2009 version of this wonderful Vouvray sometime last year so this post is a bit of an update with the current 2010 vintage in the spotlight. Chenin Blanc is the grape of Vouvray and it is native to the Loire Valley, having been cultivated there for centuries. It's a late ripening varietal with high natural acidity that easily picks up flavors from the soil in which it grows, in this case from clay and limestone soils that add richness and stony elements. Vouvrays, when soundly produced, are wonderful wines that have the size and versatility to enhance a wide range of foods. But for me, one of the best pairings for Vouvray is lobster. There's something about the combination of flavors, the richness and the zingy acidity that just make the two a perfect match.

The 2010 Domaine d'Orfeuilles Vouvray features wonderful pear and citrus aromas with wet stones nuances. It's large scaled and creamy in the mouth with wonderful richness and texture. The poached pear and lemon peel flavors are offset nicely with brisk acids and a finishing note of roasted nuts. At $11.99, this is an outstanding bargain as good examples of these wonderful wines can easily go for $20 or so. Vouvrays age magnificently and even entry level examples like this will last 10 years or so, becoming more honeyed as they mature. Cheers!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

No power, no water, going mobile-Damilano Arneis '09

First off let me say that my heart goes out to all those folks who hurricane Sandy has devastated. I may be without power for a bit, but those who have lost their homes or businesses are dealing with a life changing event. So when we went out for a bite last night, in part to feel somewhat "normal" again, we visited our favorite fish house, the Blue Point Grill in Princeton. In tow was a bottle of Arneis, a somewhat unknown northern Italian varietal grown chiefly in Roero and the Langhe. This Langhe version from Damilano, a wonderfully consistent producer, is a sure everyday winner at $12.99.

Beautiful aromas of ripe pear are supported with notes of pineapple, orange rind and honey. In the mouth there is excellent body and texture with ripe pear flavors again leading the way with notes of citrus and mint on the long smooth finish. This wine strikes a very attractive balance between it's ripe fruit and supportive acidity. Though less floral than Arneis tends to be, this is a delicious example of the heights that lesser known varietals can achieve. This is an all stainless steel cuvee and it is imported by one of my faves, Vias. Cheers!