Bacchic Reflections

          Wine is like the incarnation -- it is both divine and human.
                                                                            Paul Tillich
                                                                            Philosopher and Theologian
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Judgment of Charleston --- Part  2  see B.E.'s Bio

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Reds worth cellaring...Cabs, Pinots, Other
                            B.E.'s Cellar Notes

Special Aged Wines:   B.E.'s Discoveries

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Wine Books for Wine Lovers
            see B.E.'s Wine Tips

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      Starting a Wine Cellar:   B.E.'s  Wine Tips
      Wines for aging:  see B.E. Cellar Notes
B.E. on organic and biodynamic wines
                  see  article

Wine Buy(s) of the Week
Summer Whites...

Chablis 2014  Albert Bichot Long-Depacquit France **+  $25
-- $19.99 through this week at Hillsborough Wine Co.  Delightful--a nice mineral 'cut' on this 100% chardonnay makes it a superb choice for shellfish (including oysters or cherrystone clams on the half shell). Excellent value on sale at HBC.

Albariño. Spain's lyrical and fragrant white wine is perfect for now and on into summer. A fresh batch of 2014s has arrived on wine shelves. These are appealing whites that sip beautifully and make delightful aperitifs.  Albariño is a white grape native to Rias Baxias, a district in the northern Spain region of Galicia; these floral-scented wines have become very popular in the U.S. Some are off-dry, but there are quite dry ones that go nicely with lighter fish and shellfish (scallops, shrimp) such as these, ranging from $17 to $24 a bottle:  Baladiña, Valminor, Señor da Folla Verde.  Keep an eye out.

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2015   New Zealand   $15-18**+ 
An excellent value in NZ Sauvignons, with typically exciting zest and tang. A great match for shellfish and other seafood. Very nice just for sipping, too. 
Kim Crawford Spitfire 2015  NZ  $26***  This Sauvignon has the "cut" of good Sancerre--worth a search.
Guigal Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc 2014    France   $15-17**   this dry white from the Rhône Valley is quite charming, a blend of viognier, marsanne and roussane, with aromas of wildflowers, hints of peach; round, fruity, assertive but well-balanced.

Let's Drink Pink!   Dry pinks, that is....and among my favorites are rosés of pinot noir for their enticing fragrance and fruit, which is knockout; but I like lots of others as well--those made from grenache, cinsault, mourvèdre, Spain's garnacha. Some pinks boast lofty  pricetags, but moderate-priced good ones abound for $14-18. These wines are lovely on their own just for sipping, and highly versatile with a variety of seasonal fare.  A rosy river of young, fresh 2015s are streaming our way--and here some I've tasted and recommend:
Hecht & Bannier 2015 Côte de Provence Rosé   Provence $18**+   $15.99 on sale this week at Chapel Hill Wine Co -- A very attractive dry pink, fresh and fragrant with floral and spice scents, as well as a bracing mineral spine that makes it both refreshing and food-friendly. Blended from grenache, cinsaut and syrah, it's definitely one to look for and stock as a summer staple.
Baron de Ley Rosado 2015   Rioja, Spain     $15.99**  ($11.99 at Chapel Hill Wine Co)
Hints of strawberry scent this dry rosé made from 100% tempranillo; it's dry, fresh and spritely; a season bargain this week at $12--worth snapping up!
Chateaumar Côtes-du-Rhône Perle de Rosé 2015  Rhône Valley  $15-16**+   Mostly grenache, pale pink but quite tasty, redolent of early summer berries.
Sancerre Rosé 2015, Domaine Eliza Gueneau   Loire Vally  $28.99***  This is one of those pinot noir knockouts! Wonderfully fragrant, beautifully balanced, delicious flavors of fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries). Pricey, like most rosés of pinot noir but in this case, worth it. Find it at Hillsborough Wine Co.
Château de Fabregues Rosé 2014  Costières de Nímes  $15** 
Syrah and grenache, fresh and flavorful--good value. 

Septima Obra Malbec 2-14   Argentina  $15-22**+ 
Rich dark berry flavors, fresh and surprisingly smooth for such a bold young red. Great for summer grilling.

Biltmore Reserve Cabernet Franc 2014   North Carolina   $25**+   Balanced,  flavorful  red plum and red currant fruit make this a very attractive seasonal  red  -- grown and made in  N.C., you will note.  Appealing choice for grilled meats and chicken, sausages,  and savory cheeses.

Domaine Les Grands Bois Côte du Rhône 2014  France  $15.99 ** (also at Hillsborough but available around the Triangle). A solid red blend with 65% grenache and 30% syrah--meaty dark-fruit flavors with hints of black pepper. Great for spring grilling.

Saint Cosme Côtes-du-Rhône 2014   Rhône Valley  $16**  Solid, tasty red with dark berry flavors and appealing juiciness; it's worth stocking a few bottles to have on hand for grilling season.

Coudoulet de Beaucastel  2013   Rhône Valley  $25-28***   From one of the top producers of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Château Beaucastel, this young red reeks of ripe berries. Definitely buy one to taste, and one to tuck away, because it will improve. But the ripe berry fruit and peppery accents are enticing  now--a great match for roast lamb.

Pont Du Gassac 2012 (or '13, just out) Languedoc $15**+ 
Cabernet and Merlot can be a tasty blend--add a healthy dollop of syrah and you often have something quite juicy and highly quaffable, as in this red. This second wine from one of the top estates in the south of France, Mas du Daumas Gassac, is a great value, one to stash in quantity and bring out for the next grilling spree.

Dry Creek Vineyards 2014 Zinfandel Heritage Vines   Sonoma  $16-22**+   A consistently excellent Zinfandel--20% petite sirah darkens this red, but the black cherry flavors sift through to make it quite juicy and appealing, a reliable choice for grilling season, and with meat and cheese dishes.

Organic.  It's easy to find wines made from organically grown grapes--vineyards around the world are increasingly certified organic. Organically made wines are much rarer.  They must have NO added sulfites (minute quantities of sodium dioxide, so2, are a natural by-product of the fermentation process, but not enough to prevent or delay oxidation). Here's one to look for::
Bodegas Iranzo 'Spartico ' 2014    Valencia, Spain   $12-14**  USDA certified organic. A blend of 50% tempranillo and 50% cabernet sauvignon, this smooth, lively red  is quite good, tasty, easy to drink, with clean flavors of ripe berries, red currants. A good seasonal red for grilled chicken and lighter meats.  Very appealing on its own, when you're looking  just for a nice glass of red. Good value, too; and best now while its fruit is youthful and fresh.

Bubbles.........always have one on ice, just in case....
Crémant de Limoux, Domaine J. Laurens  NV  Languedoc-Rousillon  **+  $16.99 at The Raleigh Wine Shop. Bright and crisp, quite dry, very Champagne-like--no surprise, there's chardonnay in the blend. An excellent value.
J Vineyards 'Cuvée 20'   Russian River Valley   $25***  An appealing very dry froth with floral scents of honeysuckle and bright citrus flavors. Nice zing on the palate but creamy in texture, with a steady stream of tiny bubbles; good depth, long in finish.
Gloria Ferrer 'Royal Cuvée' Brut 2007   Carneros, Sonoma  $22-26.**+  Consistently good, and consistently a medal winner in national wine competitions bright and fresh, good balance and length;  very good with smoked salmon and other saovry hors d'oeuvres.
Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs NV, Califonria, $18-22**+  Brisk, bright, clean, dry and quite delicious. Keep this sparkler on hand  as a great aperitif, year-round.  I've tasted this wine several times with great pleasure. An excellent value, too.
Domaine Chandon Etoile Brut Rosé  $24-30***  Chandon's top cuvée--a dry pink, very elegant with a delicate scent of strawberry; tiny stream of bubbles, long in finish. A delicious match with smoked salmon.  The traditional Etoile Brut is excellent as well.


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                                                                                                                                             ©Barbara Ensrud