My father Howard has a wine importer that orders him cases of wine in all kinds of varieties and most of the wines are an excellent bargain. Hand selected by a veteran of the wine industry, the Alsace Hugel Reisling from France is a subtle and balanced white wine, refreshing and complex. For under $20 the Hugel Resiling is one of the best wines in its class. For the $10 we paid, it was an absolute steal. According to Hugel Vineyards, maturity reached record levels, the highest for 50 years and the Alsace Hugel Riesling is their most demanding variety. It is this maturity and maturation that makes this Riesling such an excellent wine. “Totally dry with high natural acids. This famous grape celebrated in all the Rhine valley combines great elegance, finesse and minerality.” White wines are best with seafood and this wine went very well with our sushi platters. Light, refreshing and complex, we definitely recommend this wine for under $20.
From Alsace Hugel Vineyard
The vintage :
The winter of 2010 was particularly harsh, with more than 30 days below zero, and temperatures dropped as far as -17°C. Budburst on 8 April was early, but flowering which began on 10 June took almost 3 weeks to finish due to cool temperatures. July was exceptionally hot and sunny, before cold, damp and rainy weather set in throughout August and into September. Ideal weather conditions returned on 11 September, with not a drop of rain for 6 weeks. Our harvest began on 27 September and ended on 26 October. Maturity reached record levels, the highest for 50 years, with good acidity, similar to 1996. Crop size was 30% below average, and even lower for Gewurztraminer.
Superb wines with magnificent balance, purity and fruit. 2010 is a great classic vintage, with good ageing potential.
Quick View :
It is the Pinot Noir of white wines! Riesling is our most demanding variety as it is also the latest ripening. Dry and elegant, it expresses its best on our steepest slopes with a most complex minerality.
In the vineyard :
Harvested exclusively by hand from clay and limestone vineyards in a dozen of the most favoured localities in and around Riquewihr.
The grapes are taken in small tubs to the presses, which are filled by gravity, without any pumping or other mechanical intervention.
After pressing, the must is decanted for a few hours, then fermented in temperature-controlled barrels or vats (at 18 to 24°C). The wine is racked just once, before natural clarification during the course of the winter. The following spring, the wine is lightly filtered just before bottling, and the bottles are then aged in our cellars until released for sale.
Capital Grille’s Master Sommelier George Miliotes discusses pairing lobster, and unquestionably, Chardonnay is said to be the classic and ideal wine pairing. A Lobster recipe is stuffed with bay scallops, shrimp, fresh herbs and a touch of parmesan cheese, and served with flavorful, roasted chanterelle mushrooms, Miliotes it shouldn’t just be any Chardonnay. There are few food combinations in the world more decadent than the plush sweetness of lobster and the rich earthiness of chanterelles, and the wine you choose to accompany them has to be equally decadent.
Chardonnay is produced all over the world, but arguably the finest in the world hails from the prime wine-growing regions of Burgundy, France, and the Santa Maria Bench in California. For those who enjoy a structured Chardonnay, Master Miliotes recommends Louis Jadot Meursault from Burgundy—a full-bodied wine with notes of oak and vanilla with an exotic, nutty finish. For those who prefer a rich, ripe wine with tropical fruit aromas and flavors, Cambria Estate Winery produces magnificent vintages from grapes grown in the Chardonnay-loving soil of Katherine’s Vineyard.
Old World and New World Chardonnays with very different profiles, but a mutual love for lobster. Uncork a little sophistication this season.
White Grenache is Not Everyday, but Worth the Wait
By Eric Duncan & Matt Goldstein
The Mont Tauch Winery is based in Tuchan located in the wine making region of Languedoc, Southern France. Rated an 88 by Wine Spectator, this white Grenache is available for just under $15. Tasting Notes of the Mont Tauch Grenache Blanc: A crisp light scent, thin light beige and light gold color, slight pear and slight fruit taste but not sweet. The Grenache Blanc is a thin crisp beautiful flavor and very refreshing in the summertime. The brilliance of this wine is the crisp finish subtly in the flavor. We would drink this wine again and again. It’s one of our favorites.
About the Mont Tauch Winery:
Set in the Languedoc’s dramatic landscape of picturesque hills and Cathar castles, Mont Tauch is one of France’s leading cooperatives, based in the heart of the Fitou appellation in the southern France.
Mont Tauch covers 1950 hectares made up of 7,000 small vineyards dotted around the villages of Tuchan, Paziols, Villeneuve and Durban. Each village is recognised for its specific terroir and for the character of its wines.
The charming beauty of the villages and the vineyards that surround them, delight the senses just like the outstanding quality of the wines. Mont Tauch produces a wide range of great AOC wines and Vin de Pays suitable for all occasions. The wines reflect this exceptional natural wealth of diversity and beauty in the Mediterranean landscape.
Named after the mountain, which towers above the cooperative’s state-of-the-art new winery, Mont Tauch is surrounded by wild garrigue – the Mediterranean terrain rich with the scent of thyme, rosemary, lavender and juniper.
Mont Tauch’s wines are a genuine expression of this terroir, which has been shared for centuries by the vignerons and the many wild boar that roam the hills of Fitou, gorging themselves on the grapes and gnawing at the vine shoots. Indeed, the wild boar is used as the Mont Tauch logo. It is not surprising that boar hunting, along with rugby, is one of the region’s most passionately pursued sports; and nothing washes down a wild boar casserole or saucisson better than a satisfying glass of Mont Tauch Fitou.
I think we should start this chronicle by answering the most basic questions about wine of who, what, where, when, and how? What is wine? Well, in the most elemental terms, wine is simply fermented grape juice. The five basic types are red, white, rosé, sparkling, and fortified. Anthropologists believe that the first wine was discovered by some knuckle-dragging cave dweller that left some wild grapes in a clay pot. (kind of ironic that wine drinking today is associated with the most elite amongst us, but I digress…) Left out over a week or so in that pot, the natural yeasts on the grape skins fermented and the mash turned into a crude wine. Then they had the first party known to mankind….sweet.
The first wines historians know of were predominant in the Mediterranean area, the Middle East, Egypt, and throughout Europe during the middle ages. The oldest known wine making facility dates back 6000 years in Armenia. The Christopher Columbus contingency brought the first grape vines to the Americas in the 1500’s as we see winemaking expand into what is today known as Mexico, South America, and ultimately into the Southwestern United States and California. Eventually overtime, the vine was also introduced to Australia. Today, “winos” refer to “classic wine” producers as the aforementioned European producers. Wines concocted in the Americas and Australia, are known as the “New World” producers. Now wine is made on every continent except Antarctica. (I wonder if the experts should count the wine that is produced on C-Block at Graterford Prison made from kool-aid fermented in a zip-lock bag under the bottom bunk, but yet again, I digress)
Just like a master chef classically trained in French cuisines, the food that is produced is only as good as the ingredients used to make it. The same applies to wine making. Wine is only as good as the grapes used to ferment it. Therefore, wine makers are extremely concerned with the cultivating of the grapes in their vineyards. They are constantly in the process of testing and experimenting with different soils and what kind of trellis system to use. A trellis system is simply the framework of wood and wire used to support the vine of the grapes as they grow. By keeping the grapes off of the ground, exposed to more sunlight, and better air circulation will ultimately increase the quality of the grape. Also, when the grapes are harvested it is also critical as to the overall quality and taste of the wine. Overtime, winemakers have figured out that a grape vine that struggles to grow actually makes better wine. Just as in life, struggle builds character.
The first step in making wine is crushing the grapes. The purpose of this process is to break the skins away from the grape itself and to release the juices. Many of you have seen the picture of the nice Portuguese fellow dancing on a pile of grapes in a festive fashion thinking to yourself, “did he wash his feet first?” Well, many old school wine makers believe that there is nothing like the human foot to break the grapes because they won’t break any seeds which release harsh tannins into the juice. (Perhaps different toe cheeses and foot fungi account for some more quality vintages…but once again sorry, I digress.)
White grapes are pressed to separate the skins before fermenting as opposed to red grapes being fermented with the skins in the mash and eventually pressed later which give the wine its red color. Both the juices from red and/or white grapes are clear. Therefore, white wine can be made from red or white grapes. Next, the wine matures in oak or steel barrels before it is eventually bottled. Red wine is fermented at a higher temperature than white wine which contributes to the coloring and tannin extraction. In some cases, the wine is moved from barrel to barrel to remove sediment known as lees. This process is known as “racking”.
As far as some of the other styles are concerned, Rosé for example is processed similar to red wines, but the grapes are only fermented with the skins for a shorter amount of time giving it a slightly less “red” color that appears pink or rose colored if you will. The cheaper/easier rosé is made by merely blending the red wine fermented juices with the white wine juice. It’s kind of like cheating. Fortified wines are wines that have had some sort of spirit such as brandy added after the fermentation process. These are your port and sherry wines. (I like some Sherry in my Snapper Turtle soup…oh sorry, digression) Lastly, sparkling wines are wines that have additional sugars and yeast added during the fermenting process which give the wine the carbonation. Champagne is the example that comes to mind here.
Speaking for myself at an adolescent age, I was introduced to alcohol by reluctantly forcing-down Natural Light cans of beer for what I thought was a decent buzz. Today, I like to consider myself a connoisseur of beer. But, as my taste buds matured, I was fortunate enough early on (like 19 years old with a fake ID) to be introduced to some Belgian Ales, American IPA’s, Stouts, etc. and found a new appreciation and respect for quality beverages. For me, this also applies to wines. I think with some understanding of how the process works, the differences, and the nuances of wine, a new door can be opened to the world of wine for anyone. Plus, if you need to impress a girl, boss, or anybody at a restaurant, stay tuned for more from Whiskey Goldmine and the Wine Chronicles to get your understanding and appreciation of wine-on. Cheers!
We’ve compiled a list of great white wines under $20 that was created by the people at Swirl, a leading wine appraiser and interactive smart phone applications. Available on the Droid, Swirl is a walking bible of great wine information with where to buy, what to buy, extensive explanations on grape varieties and food pairings with many of the recommended wines. Check out these great white wines for a great price.
Columbia Reisling, Washington State
Notes: full flavored, rich, refreshing and crisp acidity. Pairs with spicy fare, seafood, fruit dishes, rich cheeses.
Robert Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast, CA.
Pairs with artichoke dip, sushi, salads.
Columbia Crest Semillon, Oregon.
Notes: rich, heavy, oak, creamy.
Castello del Poggio Muscat Blanc Sparkling Wine, 2007 Italy.
Notes: sweet, well balanced, refined fruitiness. A staple of the Olive Garden. Seriously, we mentioned the Olive Garden.
Tormaresca Chadonnay, 2006 Puglia Italy.
Notes: citrus & exotic fruits, dry finish. Pairs with fish and chicken.
Concha Y Toro, Chile.
Notes: fruit, oak, caramel, spices, toasty oak, flavorful, pear and citrus. Pairs with fish and chicken.
Zaca Mesa Viognier, 2006 Central Coast, CA.
Notes: fruits, peach, citrus, apple, floral, excellent nose, light for a viognier. Pairs with sushi and Vietnamese cuisine.
Feudi di San Gregori, 2006 Italy.
Notes: fruit, crisp, citrus, minerals, almonds, complexity, very drinkable.
Swanson Pinot Grigio, 2008 Napa, CA.
Notes: oak, minerals, pinot, flowers, crisp, tropical. Pairs with seafood, light pasta dishes, cheese and crackers.
Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc, 2008 Sonoma CA.
Notes: tropical fruit, spices, citrus, pineapple. Pairs with sushi and salads.
Heavy Red: Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon, USA, $15
Sweet: Clean Slate Reisling, Germany, $11
The wines listed above have been selected as the 2010 Wine Trial champions. All 7 wines were put through rigorous blind taste testing that included sommelier’s, chefs, wine stewards, and cellar masters. The wines competed against “premium” wines sometimes 5-10 times their price. All of the champion wines are under $16! The book, 2010 Wine Trials, by Robin Goldstein & Alexis Herschkowitsch breaks down hundreds of wines and proves that there is no need to spend more than a few dollars to get a great wine experience.