Throughout the Summer, this column will feature rose' wines. Since so many wineries worldwide have jumped on the rose' bandwagon, there is a certain sameness of taste among the wines; wine bandwagons tend to produce similar tastes. In making a rose' wine, the fruit juice doesn't stay with the skins, seeds, and stems long enough to develop distinctive traits; and, there is no oak involved which would produce a fuller body and its own distinctive tastes, such as butter, cream, vanilla, etc. It is very difficult to distinguish between a rose' made from Pinot Noir and one made from Cabernet; at least it is difficult for me. We can talk about a particular style of rose' wine, such as the Provence, France, style: light, dry, with hints of fruit; this style is the most popular right now. Other areas of the wine world, other than Provence, tend towards slightly fuller in body, darker in color, more fruit-forward rose' wines (the fruit juice is allowed to remain with the skins, etc., longer; these wines, I feel, are more distinctive). We at Harney's have collected many rose' wines - perhaps, the best collection on the Cape - in order to expose you to as many as possible; that way, your own tastebuds can find one that appeals to you.
BROADBENT ROSE' (PORTUGAL) Portugal is best known for Port and Madeira, but it also produces some fine red, white, and rose' wines. This rose' is made from red grapes which are peculiar to Portugal; it is slightly spritzy, which makes it very refreshing.
LE SAINT ANDRE' ROSE' Syrah 25%, Cabernet 25, Grenache 25, Cinsault 25. This rose' is done in the Provence style, exhibiting aromas and flavors of peach and orange skin, with refreshing acidity and mineral notes. Serve as an aperitif, with Summer salads, and with fish and chicken dishes.
The market has become flooded with Rose' wines. More and more vineyards are jumping on the Rose' bandwagon. Sales have increased dramatically. Some wineries are more successful than others. We at Harney's will attempt to choose the very best Rose' wines from around the world, wines that express a full range of styles, and review them in this column throughout the Summer.
BORSAO ROSE' (Spain) I'm always amused at the centuries-old battle between Spain (Garnacha) and France (Grenache), each claiming to be the origin of the Grenache grape; however, it seems to have originated on the isle of Sardinia, a part of Italy. Whatever! Borsao Rose' is 100% Garnacha. It is a rich and fruity, tasty, inexpensive, good everyday Rose'.
90+ ROSE' (France) 40% Cinsault, 35 Grenache, 15 Syrah, 10 Mouvedre.This Rose' is in the Provence, France, style: light, dry, crisp, with hints of strawberry and cherry. Very refreshing and food-friendly.
BENVOLIO TOSCANA ROSSO (Italy) This light and fruity red wine from Italy may be classified as a Summer Red. If the wine is chilled for about 30 minutes, the unpleasant taste of alcohol, which becomes pronounced in red wines in hot weather, will disappear. So, there is no reason to give up red wine for the summer. Try it and see! Other light and fruity red wines that may be considered as Summer Reds are First Crush Sangiovese and Santa Cristina.
ROSE' FESTIVAL JUNE 10, 2:00 TO 4:00
We recommend the following wines for your pleasure as the warmer weather approaches or at any time of the year. Each week throughout the Summer, we will feature two additional Rose' wines plus a white or a red.
ST. MICHAEL-EPPAN PINOT GRIGIO a product of Northeast Italy, land of the Italian style Pinot Grigio: light-bodied, crisp, and dry. Fermented in stainless-steel tanks to guarantee freshness, this wine exhibits aromas and flavors of pear and apple, with a hint of mineral. Pair with lighter foods: salads, fish/seafood/chicken dishes.
JOSH CELLARS ROSE' CALIFORNIA. Many of you are already familiar and very pleased with the Josh line of wines by Joe Carr, who travels between the Cape, where he lives, and California. Here is his version of Rose' (89% Barbera, 6 Muscat, 5 Syrah), light-bodied, fresh, dry, with aromas and flavors of strawberry, peach, and citrus. Serve as an aperitif and with lighter foods.
Mi Mi ROSE' from the Provence area of France; a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, and Syrah. It is typically dry and crisp, with hints of strawberry and peach. Serve as an aperitif or with salads and lighter foods. Another Rose' wine we have that blends Cinsault, Grenache, and Syrah, is Estandon, also from the Provence area, a best-seller for the last three years.
We recommend the following elegant wines for your enjoyment during this holiday season:
CLOS DU VAL CHARDONNAY
A more respected wine region in the world does not exist. Napa's wines, especially Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, are world-class. This medium-bodied Clos du Val Chardonnay offers many-layered aromas and flavors: pear, peach, citrus, with hints of vanilla and toast. A perfect complement to the traditional foods of the season.
LA CREMA PINOT NOIR
SONOMA COAST, CALIFORNIA
This Pinot Noir is highly concentrated. There is so much going on here. The wine exhibits aromas and flavors of raspberry, strawberry, plum, with hints of mocha and spice; and, depending on your wine palate, you might also detect cherry, cola, cranberry, black tea. Superb with lamb.
CHAMPS DE PROVENCE ROSE'
COTES DE PROVENCE, FRANCE
The Provence region of France has always been known for its rose' wines. It's only in recent years that the United States has changed from a syrupy-sweet, heavy version of rose' to the light-bodied, crisp, and dry style of Provence. Over the last three years, sales of rose' wines have risen over 40%. Mainly Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah, Champs de Provence exhibits notes of berries, citrus, with hints of raspberry and mineral.
I recommend the following elegant wines for your pleasure during this holiday season:
DAVIS BYNUM CHARDONNAY 2013
RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
From a single vineyard: River West, comes this rich and creamy Chardonnay, exhibiting aromas and flavors of butterscotch, lemon, and apple; medium-bodied, with a long, lush finish.
HIGH HOOK PINOT NOIR
One of our most popular wines for years. It exhibits aromas and flavors of red raspberry and smoky black cherry, with a hint of spiciness. The mouthfeel is full and smooth, with a very long finish. Excellent with traditional, seasonal dishes; extraordinary with lamb.
ENDLESS CRUSH ROSE' OF PINOT NOIR 2016
RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
Made from organic grapes, this superior rose' wine exhibits aromas and flavors of strawberry, watermelon, blood orange, red currant, with a hint of mineral. It was fermented with Provencal yeast in stainless steel to guarantee its freshness and fruitiness. Only 672 cases produced.
The Bordeaux region of south-west France is as recognizable and noteworthy in the wine world as Burgundy, France; Tuscany, Italy; Rioja, Spain; Marlborough, New Zealand; Mendoza, Argentina. All those regions have proven to be reliably good in the production of quality wine year after year, vintage after vintage. Think Pinot Noir, and Burgundy, France, immediately comes to mind; think Chianti, and you think of Tuscany, Italy; think Sauvignon Blanc, and you think of New Zealand; think Bordeaux wine, and you think of the region of Bordeaux, France.
Many countries in the wine world have copied the Bordeaux model of blending red wine grapes. The descriptions of such wines reads BORDEAUX STYLE. The difference, however, is that Bordeaux, France, is very strict about what grapes may be used in the blend; it is limited legally to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.
In price, Bordeaux wines range from the inexpensive to the very expensive, worth several thousand dollars.But inexpensive does not imply that the wine isn't good. Chateau Des Leotins (50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc) is a good, inexpensive, everyday Bordeaux, exhibiting aromas and flavors of plum and blackcurrant; it is dry, medium-bodied, with a firm structure, which is expected of a traditional Bordeaux. Pair with red meat, hearty stews, and grilled Portabella mushrooms.
Taste and see!
It is difficult to find an inexpensive California Cabernet Sauvignon that satisfies one's expectations of a Cabernet. Although I enjoy all good wines: red, while, and Rose' - I hear that someone has produced a BLUE wine, no kidding - I'm partial to Cabernet Sauvignon, and not exclusively to those from California. A Don Melchior from Chile, a gift to me, might be among the top five wines that I have ever enjoyed. That is now my standard to judge other Cabernet Sauvignons. So, I am very discriminating when it comes to Cabernets. When one has crossed a threshold of taste, as I did with the Don Melchior, is it still possible to be satisfied with anything else?
So, when I tasted this Leese-Fitch Cabernet I was delightfully surprised. It is a very tasty, inexpensive, everyday California Cabernet. (In the same category, I also recommend the following California Cabernets: Carnivor, Woodwork, and Bogle - which is consistently good vintage after vintage, whatever the varietal.) What the Leese-Fitch lacks in weight-body, it makes up for in flavor. It exhibits aromas and flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, black currant, mocha, and caramel; and, the tannins are soft and well-integrated..
Taste and see!
The Bordeaux area in south-western France produces, on the average, over 700 million bottles of wine annually - and that is only a section of France! However, France ranks second to Italy in total wine production; Spain, with the most acres devoted to grape vines, is third; the United States fourth; and, surprisingly, Argentina is fifth.
If you watched the Downton Abbey series on PBS, Robert, the lord of the manor, at one point, asks for the Claret wine. Claret is the word the English used referring to the red wines of Bordeaux, located right across the English Channel from them. Coppola, in our Cabernet Sauvignon section, calls his wine CLARET.
Chateaux Bonnet is a typical Bordeaux wine, typically good, that is. Wine Enthusiast Magazine has rated it 94 points. A blend of 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, it is medium- to full bodied, dry, with aromas and flavors of red and black fruit, black currant, toasted oak, and a touch of vanilla.
I recommend at least a half-hour of aeration before drinking. Initially, open the bottle and pour yourself a small amount; the wine is tight, reluctant to yield flavor. After a half-hour - an hour would be even better - you will see how oxygen has expanded the flavor.
Taste and see!
It isn't true what someone once said about me, that I would drink Tuscan dishwater, and say that it was delicious. That was said, I guess, because I have nothing but praise for all things Tuscan: the landscapes, monuments, people, food, and especially for the wines.Wine Spectator, the bible of wine aficionados, rated Monte Antico Rosso 2012 at 89 points. A wine scoring 86 points and above in Wine Spectator is well worth our attention; it's sure to be good.A couple of vintages ago there was a flavor in Monte Antico that I couldn't identify. It was so pronounced that it made the wine, in my opinion, imbalanced and unpleasant. This 2012 vintage has hints of that same flavor. In reading reviews of this wine, one reviewer, in describing the aromas and flavors, said chilli pepper. That was the flavor that I couldn't identify! But in this vintage it is well-integrated so as not to call attention to itself. Besides the pleasant hint of chilli pepper, Monte Antico, a blend of Sangiovese (85%), Merlot (10%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5%), has aromas and flavors of black cherries, plums, leather, licorice, chocolate, and earth. Medium- to full-bodied, it has soft tannins and a silky texture.Taste and see!
The Macon-Villages area is located in the southern part of Burgundy, France, close to the Beaujolais area. Only white wines are produced there. If you desire a 100% Chardonnay that is clean, fresh, fruity, dry, light- to medium-bodied, look for the word MACON on the label.
There is a modern trend in the United States toward unoaked Chardonnay. Wines that are fermented and aged in oak, which is a reactive container, as opposed to stainless steel, a non-reactive container, take on characteristics of vanilla, butter, cream, and toast; oak influences the taste, texture, mouthfeel, and the weight of a wine. The newer the oak, the more it imparts to the wine. I enjoy both styles, oaked and unoaked, depending on the weather and what I am eating.
This unoaked, stainless steel fermented Louis Jadot Chardonnay exhibits aromas and flavors of apple, melon, citrus, and mineral notes. It pairs well with salads, chicken, and fish dishes. Drink young and chilled.
Taste and see!
Many years ago, New Zealand took plantings of the Sauvignon Blanc grape vine from France - just as Argentina took plantings of Malbec, California of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile of Carmenere; we owe much to France, at least in its knowledge and skill of wine - and, because of the difference, mainly, of climate and soil (terroir), has produced Sauvignon Blanc wines that are unique in the world of wine. For the past several years, these wines from New Zealand have been among Harney's best sellers.
Starborough has everything that you expect from a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. It is fruit-forward, with a plump mouthfeel and refreshing acidity, exhibiting aromas and flavors of lemongrass, grapefruit, and lime. The aromas and flavors are much more pronounced than those of a French Sauvignon Blanc or a Chilean (which I have been enjoying for over 25 years) or those from California. But, chacon a son gout (to each his own). One style is not bad, the other good, it's just a matter of taste.
Taste and see!
Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape - just as Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same grape. If anything, the wines produced from this grape differ in style. Shiraz, the preferred name in Australia, is typically a sumptuous, fruit-forward, jammy wine; Syrah, the preferred name in France, varies greatly. Shiraz is the signature grape of Australia, just as Sauvignon Blanc is the signature grape of New Zealand, and Malbec of Argentina. Shiraz from Australia became very popular in this country in the 80s and 90s, but is less so now. Tastes change: not too long ago Chardonnay and Merlot were the preferred white and red wines in the United States; now it is Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir (with Red Blends a close second).
Wild Oats is, in the tradition of Australian Shiraz, fruit-forward and jammy. It is a dark wine (the grape itself is very dark-skinned), balanced, with a velvety mouthfeel, exhibiting aromas and flavors of dark berries, plums, mocha, and black pepper; it pairs well with barbecued foods and similar dishes.
Taste and see!
(QUERCETO: comes from the Latin word for oak tree:quercus; the vineyard is located near an oak forest)
Ah, Tuscany! Why did I ever leave you? I had the opportunity to spend a year in Tuscany on an award-winning vineyard, and learn firsthand what was only book knowledge to me: pruning in the winter; bud-break in early spring;flowering; berry formation; veraison: color change (only when a certain level of sugar is reached) from green berries to a deep purple, if they’re red grapes, or to a golden green, if they’re white; and, finally, harvest, between late August and early November. But, alas, I left you! It will forever be a loss and a regret.
The red grape Sangiovese is the most widely-planted grape in Tuscany. It is the basis for the wines: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and the Super Tuscans. Querceto is mostly Sangiovese, with very little amounts of Canaiolo (a red grape) and Trebbiano (a white grape) to soften the finished wine. For an entry level Chianti - the vineyard also produces the higher ends Classico and Reserva - it is a very good Chianti with typical aromas and flavors: black cherry, plum, raspberry, earthiness, an herbal component (thyme? oregano? bay leaf?); it is medium-bodied, balanced (no single component dominates), with soft tannins.
Serve with tomato-based sauces, steak, burger.
Taste and see!
Your taste buds may not be able to distinguish between a wine made from organically grown grapes - as this Cabernet Sauvignon is - and a wine made from typical farming practices that use herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides (that's a lot of -cides!) in the vineyards, but your mind and body will appreciate the difference.
Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits aromas and flavors of cherry, currant, raspberry, vanilla, cedar, and tomato leaf (I think that is a good and apt description; a combination of oak and tannins is responsible for that aroma). The wine is medium-bodied, with smooth, unobtrusive tannins, balanced acidity, and a lingering finish.
Taste and see!
Thursday January 19, from 5:15 to 6:00, marks the first of eight (8) wine talks by Ed the Wine Guy. The format will be: a brief presentation followed by a wine tasting, illustrating points made in the presentation. A full schedule may be had in the Marketplace's January Newsletter.
Strictly - and legally - speaking, the word Champagne can be used only to describe the sparkling wines produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France, and produced according to strict regulations and methods. Other wine regions of the world use the term sparkling wine.
Italian sparkling wines, depending on their level of effervescence (the strength/size of the bubbles), are classified as spumante (full-sparkling) or frizzante (semi-sparkling).
Fascino Organic Prosecco, made from the Glera grape, is an uncomplicated, dry, crisp frizzante sparkling wine, exhibiting light citrus flavors. Serve as an aperitif or for toasting. It pairs favorably with ham, mild cheeses, and sushi - or with anything else that your own taste buds dictate.
Taste and see!
The staff of Harney's thanks all of you for your patronage, and wishes you a happy and healthy new year.
Years ago, a customer asked me to recommend a Cabernet Sauvignon. Her usual wine of choice was Merlot, and she wanted to try a different red varietal. Within an hour she telephoned: that was the worst-tasting wine I ever tasted, she said, obviously annoyed at me for recommending such a terrible wine. What did it taste like? I asked. She answered: I could taste licorice, black pepper, tobacco, and leather, among other things. Lady, you have a very sensitive wine palate; not many people I know would be able to detect as many flavors as you did. What I sold you was a very fine Cabernet Sauvignon. I think I'll go back to my Merlot, she said and hung up.
This Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon is 83% Cabernet, 10 Merlot, 3 Malbec, 3 Petit Verdot, and 1% Syrah. It is medium- to full-bodied, deep in color and intensity, with aromas and flavors of plum, blackberry, licorice, leather, black pepper, mocha, spice, and vanilla.
Taste and see how many flavors you can detect.
The most widely-grown wine grape varietal in Germany is Riesling. The Mosel Valley in Western Germany, where this Riesling is produced, is right across the Rhine River from Alsace, France.
Our most popular imported Riesling is Dr. L, and with good reason. Not only is it a great value, but, vintage after vintage, it never fails to satisfy. The Loosen family, for over 200 years, knows what it is doing.
Rieslings range from dry (not sweet) to off dry (a hint of sweetness) to medium sweet to sweet to late-harvest sweet (the grapes are allowed to hang on the vines well beyond normal picking time to be used mainly for dessert wines). Remember the formula for fermentation: yeast + grape juice = alcohol, sulfites (all wines contain sulfites), and carbon dioxide (bubbles, which are trapped when making champagne); less yeast or killing off the yeast (usually by dropping the temperature) will result in a sweeter wine. So, the end result is in the hands of the vintner.
Dr. L Riesling is off dry (just a hint of sweetness). It exhibits refreshing acidity, with aromas and flavors of peach and nectarine, with a mineral note (from the slate soil).
Taste and see!
A Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley! Enough said! In my opinion, no place in the wine world produces a Cabernet Sauvignon that is comparable - with the possible exception of Chile; I recently had an exquisite Don Melchior from Chile.
This Uppercut selection (98% Cabernet Sauvignon, the balance: Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot) is unmistakably a Napa Valley Cab. It satisfies all expectations, exhibiting classic Cabernet Sauvignon aromas and flavors of blackberry, black cherry, black currant, cocoa, espresso, caramel, and a hint of wood. A perfect balance of fruit, tannins, and acidity, it has a rich mouthfeel, velvety texture, with a deep, intense flavor.
Enough said! Taste and see!
Anyone who knows me is aware that my favorite Merlots - and Merlot-based blends - in the United States come from grapes grown in and around the Columbia Valley, Washington State. A friend, who was in the Air Force in Washington State in the 50s, tells me that, at the time, the prevalent crop there was sugar beets . . . sugar beets! Then, someone with vision realized that the valley had near-perfect conditions for growing wine grapes, particularly red wine grapes: hot, dry days; cool nights; abundant runoff water from the Cascade mountains to the west; and a longer growing season than even Napa Valley. (I suspect that the Mendoza region of Argentina produces such great Malbecs because it shares conditions similar to Columbia Valley: hot, dry days; cool nights; abundant runoff water from the Andes mountains to the west.)
This 14 Hands offering has long been a favorite here at Harney's. A blend mainly of Merlot and Syrah (Shiraz, the same grape), it exhibits aromas and flavors of cherry, red currant, plum, and tea, and has soft tannins, with a lingering finish. Simply delicious!
Taste and see!
In previous Wine of the Week write-ups, I featured the five Masciarelli wines which were to be served at our Wine Dinner - a huge success! - at Gerardi's Cafe. The two remaining Masciarelli wines we offer at Harney's are:
MASCIARELLI MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO Already a favorite among our patrons, this wine is affordable, earthy, intense, with aromas and flavors of black cherries, red currants, violets, with a hint of tobacco.
MARINA CVETIC MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO This is one of my top five wines at Harney's; to me, it is the ultimate - to date, at least - expression of the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo grape varietal. This is a powerful wine, full-bodied, succulent, earthy, bursting with aromas and flavors of blackberries, black cherries, dark chocolate, smoke. It has a silky texture and a long, long finish.
Taste and see!
WINES OF THE WEEK
Featuring the three red wines that will be served at our Wine Dinner November 9th at 6:30 at Gerardi's Cafe - call 508-394-3111 for reservations.
THIRD COURSE: MASCIARELLI VILLA GEMMA MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO RISERVA A mouthful, but so is the wine. Montepulciano d' Abruzzo is the name of the grape. The wine is full-bodied and savory, with gentle tannins, with aromas and flavors of blackberry, plum, and hints of chocolate. A perfect accompaniment to the lamb and mushroom ragu.
FOURTH COURSE: MASCIARELLI MARINA CVETIC MERLOT My favorite Italian wine producers are Piero Antinori and Marina Cvetic. This Merlot is unlike any other Merlot that you have ever tasted. Full-bodied, rich, complex. Similar - I may be bold to say - to the Merlots from Washington State. Pairs perfectly with the grilled fillet Mignon.
FIFTH COURSE: BEPPE MARINO BRACHETTO BRAMUSA Brachetto is an Italian red wine grape. The wine is usually served as an aperitif or as a dessert wine. It is light-bodied, lightly sparkling, slightly sweet, and highly aromatic, the predominant aromas and tastes are strawberry, raspberry, and rose petal. It will be served with dessert: chef's surprise.