Bacchic Reflections

P
erhaps the nearest I come to gluttony is with wine. As often as possible, when a really beautiful bottle is before me, I drink all of it that I can, even when I know that I have had more than I want physically. That is gluttonous. But I think to myself, when again will I have this taste upon my tongue? Where else in the world is there just such a wine as this, with just this bouquet, at just this heat, in just this crystal cup? And when again will I be alive to it as I am this very minute....?                                                       
                                                                                    M.F.K. Fisher

 
   Drink wine, and you will sleep well. Sleep, and you will not sin. Avoid sin, and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved.
                                                                         Old German Proverb

“Three things I shall never attain:  envy, content, and sufficient Champagne.”                 Dorothy Parker
I always keep a bottle of Champagne in the frig--I never know when the notion might strike to pop the cork (gently, of course), with friends or just by myself. One of the best things about good sparkling wine is that it keeps its effervescence for a few days, maybe losing just a bit each day. It's a great mood lifter--it's the cleanest wine possible, and therefore healthy.  It doesn't have to be Champagne--though for me Champagne from the Champagne region of France is a unique beverage--sparkling wines from California, from Catalonia, even some from Austria and Germany (sekt) come very close these days and are excellent. Whether I open   it, or not, just seeing it there is reassuring, with the knowledge that something will trigger the impulse to open it -- probably soon.
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Reds worth cellaring...Cabs, Pinots, Other
                            B.E.'s Cellar Notes

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NEWS
July 2015:  UNESCO cited two wine regions as World Heritage Sites: Champagne, including the vineyards, cellars and Champagne houses of Rheims and Epernay;  the climats (vineyards) and terroirs of Burgundy, specifically the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune (which comprise the Côte d'Or), as well as the cities of Beaune and Dijon.

(For wine collectors)
:   A Southern Season is offering some incredible reds on sale from their Rare Wine Rooms, including Brunello, Antinori's Solaia, Château Pétrus and other fine Bordeaus, Chateau Montelena Cabernet, special Champagnes. For the full list, email elizabeth@southernseason.com

          
Wine Buy(s) of the Week 

Just back from France, a riverboat trip down the Rhône River, after a fleeting trip to Beaune for a walkabout, then Lyon...Tournon...Avignon....Arles, aboard Grand Circle's MS Provence--me and 44 other passengers, a very genial group. Good food aboard, delightful amenities, spacious cabins, appealing ambience. Both in Paris and en voyage, we drank many delightful rosés, mostly Provençal and a few from the Languedoc (like many of those recommended below).       
      Back in Paris, had lunch with a friend at Le Bistro du Dôme in Montparnasse, a lovely spot --delicious seafood with Michel Redde's delectable P-F 2014 Pouilly-Fumé 2014, fresh and bright, with a nice minerally cut -- not sure it's in the States yet, but be on the lookout for it--great summer white, especially with shellfish. $26-30 a bottle at retail here. At Le Bistro, it was $26 euros, about $30 a bottle, a great buy.

I do find I'm eating more fish and seafood this season--and often choosing wines made from sauvignon blanc. Had the most delicious mahi-mahi at Watts Grocery recently, paired with an excellent Henri Bourgeois Sancerre**+.
A few other Sauvignons I recommend:   Trione 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley  $20-23**+  with a ripeness that  makes it  quite rich--excellent for crab or lobster;  Clendenen 2013 Mesa Verde Sauvignon, Santa Ynez Vally, $18-20**+ a little more mineral and lime zest here;  St. Supéry 2014, Napa Valley, $16** lively, piquant, good value!

Summer Wines:  the beach, the pool, the patio beckon....what will you drink? Something crisp, bright, alluring and refreshing:  like,  dry rosés           

Vina Real RosadoI love these wines -- they are indeed alluring and refreshing...and so versatile with seasonal foods.
CVNE Viña Real Rosado 2014  Rioja (Spain)***$12-14  Fresh and delectable--Spain makes delightful dry rosés and this one from Rioja Alavesa is a knockout. Pale coral, made mostly from the white viura grape with a blush of color from tempranillo.



Crios Rosé of Malbec 2014   Argentina  $15**+ 
Susanna Balbo makes big, concentrated Malbecs (which I tend to save for cooler weather), but this excellent dry pink, ideal for hot-weather sipping, as well as a wide variety of season foods.
Stemmari 2014 Rosato, Sicily***$10  Very appealing lively fruit--made from nero d'avola, a black grape native to southern Italy. Juicy red currant flavors--great sipper, great value!
Mas St. Berthe Rosé 2014, Les Baux de Provence*** $15-17  Grenache-based, sturdy and assertive, can handle heartier foods, light meats, grilled salmon, smoked meats, barbecued pork.
Domaine Houchart 2014 Rosé  Côtes de Provence**+ $14   One of my favorites, dry but juicy with berry accents (strawberry, currant).
Mezzacorona 2014 Rosé Dolomiti**  Trento  $9  You might know this producer's Pinot Grigio--this is their first rosé--fresh and dry, delightful fruit--and quite a bargain! Made from the local lagrein grape, mountain-grown.
Bergerie de l'Hortus 2014   Languedoc  $15**+   Grenache, syrah, mourvèdre lend weight to this dry pink, with plenty of berryish fruit to enjoy.
Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris 2014, Corbières, $14***  Consistently appealing--pale rose in hue, but plenty of berry and cherry flavors for delightful sipping.
Tavel 2014 Ch. de Manissy Cuvée des Lys, Provence, $14***  Bright berry flavors, hints of raspberry and black cherry. Check out at Durham's Caves Taureau.
Look also for these**-***:   Clos de Lumières 2014  Côtes-du-Rhône, $14;  Anton Bauer Rosé  Wagram, $14; J.M. Raffault Chinon Rosé 2014  Loire Valley, $14

Monopole Rioja Blanco 2014  Spain**+ $14.99 
Fresh, crisp and dry, slightly minerally, this  very attractive white made from viura, a white grape native to Spain (known as maccabeo in Catalonia).  Zesty and unoaked, it's an excellent choice for fish or seafood pastas.

Pascal Jolivet "Attitude" Sauvignon Blanc  Loire Valley  $16.99**.  From the producer of very fine Sancerre comes this zesty Sauvignon, bright and clean, a great summer pick for summer seafoods, goat cheese, smoked turkey and such.

Gruner Veltliner, Austria's snappy white is both appetizing and thirst-quenching.
Anton Bauer 2013**+, consistently bright and appealing, nice zest of lime, hint of lychee, $12-13 for the basic Gmork, $25-28 for the Spiegel, which is creamier, a little more complex.
Meinklang Gruner Veltliner 2014, $15, somewhat fizzy but attractively so.-- delightful with smoked salmon and other savories.
Steininger G.V. 2013, Kamptal   $16**.   Steininger makes several Gruners, including sparkling versions (sekt), but the basic one is quite winning, dry and vibrant, versatile and appealing.

2 Neat Whites from Biltmore:  Biltmore Pinot Grigio**+   $14   Fresh and bright, dry and crisp, a fine summer sipper, great with seafood pastas.  Likewise, Biltmore Sauvignon Blanc**  also dry, with snappy mineral accents and bright citrus flavors.  Both versatile with summer dishes and goat cheese.  Biltmore Winery is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Winemaker Bernard Delille has greatly improved the quality of Biltmore wines across the board.

Benton Lane Pinot Gris 2012  Willamette Valley OR  $18*** Lively, mostly dry, with nice richness of texture and appealing flavor notes of pear and green melon, aromas of sweet honeysuckle.  An excellent example of Oregon Pinot Gris. Enjoyed on a recent visit with John and Ragan Hailman in Oxford, MS (at Bouré).

SPARKLE, SPARKLE...
As I noted above in Bacchic Reflections:  it's always good to have a sparkling wine on the chill and ready to enjoy.
Hillinger Secco Rosé   Austria  $20-25  
Made from 100% pinot noir--and it shows in the delightful fruit in this dry sparkling rosé from Austria's Burgenland region. Lovely balance and length--sometimes hyped as Prosecco-like, but I think it's much better than Prosecco.
Mirabelle Brut Rosé  California  ***  Schramsberg's second label is very appetizing--while suggested retail is $28-30, it's widely available for $20-22--and worth a search. Bright berry flavors in this appealing froth, a blend of  55% chardonnay, 45% pinot noir.


A Few Good Reds.....
Antinori Santa Cristina Rosso Toscana 2012   Tuscany  $9-11  
This light (but not too light) red blend is reliable bet as an everyday red--can be lightly cooled to make it more refreshing.
Dry Creek Heritage Zinfandel 2013, Sonoma $15-20**+ 
One of the best balanced Zinfnadels available, Dry Creek's 2013 Heritage has marvelously toothsome flavors of blackberry, black raspberryand a hint of licorice, round and succulent; great for summer grillings.
Dona Paula Estate Malbec 2012, Argentina  $15**+  Nice intensity of black fruits (plums, berries) -- great for grilled steaks.
Look also for Crios Malbec 2013, $12-14** and Catena Zapata Malbec 2012, $15-18**  similarly ripe and dark Malbecs.

Hillinger Blaufrankisch 2013 Burgenland $17-20** 
This black grape is native to Austria, producing dark, rich-textured red wines--don't let the name scare you off! Round and drinkable now.  Hillinger also makes an excellent dry sparkling rosé (above).
 
Meiomi Pinot Noir 2013, California**   $20+  Medum-bodied, juicy pinot flavors (cherries, ripe berries) with hints of spice and smoke. Widely available, nice for roast hams, Cornish game hens and other fowl.  Look also for: Schug Sonoma Coast, Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara, Edna Valley Paragon

Anton Bauer Cuvée 2012, Wagram  Austria   $16-17**+   A juicy blended red that is an excellent match for the lighter meats (veal, pork, chicken) but an appealing richness suits beef as well as savory cheese dishes.  Look also for Anton Bauer Zweigelt,$13, a soft appealing red with flavor hints of black raspberry.



            
                                               




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