Monday, September 1, 2014

2004 Chateau Simone - A Rare Bird

Whether one goes by acres or hectares Palette is the second smallest recognized wine region in France, larger only than Chateau Grillet.  It is near Aix-en-Provence.  I had never seen a bottle in the U.S. until a friend who was working for a time in Marseilles brought one home as a gift in 2007.  Though not a wine drinker he ventured into a wine store in Marseilles and this was the wine the proprietor recommended to him.  I still have never seen one in the U.S. though I'm sure an internet search would turn one up.  I was just happy to put this bottle away for seven years.

The wine is mostly Grenache, Mourvedre and Cinsault though there is also some Syrah, Carignan, Castet, Mansoquin, Muscat Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Théoulier, Tibouren, Picpoul Noir and Muscat de Hambourg.  It's a veritable witch's brew of grapes.  The witches must be related to Dorothy's and Toto's friend the Good Witch of the North because the wine is delicious.  Perhaps it's the good witch of the south of France.

The medium garnet color was mostly the result of the wine throwing some heavy sediment over the years.  From the color alone I would have guessed it as an older burgundy.  Aromas of clean earth and pine forest were prominent though there was a good fruit base underneath.   The first glass was somewhat reserved and not offering much in the way of flavor but by the second glass the strawberry taste of Grenache was peaking through as well as some raspberry fruit.  I wouldn't use the word elegant to describe this wine but there was some grace mixed in with its rustic elements.  Great acid and a good dose of tannin showed up in the very long finish.

Lamb chops from the grill were a nice accompaniment to the wine as the gaminess of the lamb was a great match with the unusual flavors in the wine.

Now it's either an internet search or time to send my friend back to Marseilles.

2004 Chateau Simone, Palette.  13% alcohol.  Price unknown.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Kinkead Ridge - 2012 Red Wines

The Saturday before Labor Day is always the release of red wines from Kinkead Ridge Vineyards in Ripley, Ohio.  As much as Labor Day itself and the start of football season in this area the wine release has become my first signpost that summer is ending and we are moving toward fall weather here with its warm dry days and cool nights.  It's my favorite time of year.

Sadly, there were only two wines instead of four this year as the wines were from the 2012 vintage that was not a kind one in this area.  Both wines were on the second label for Kinkead Ridge, River Village Cellars.  Ron Barrett, the co-owner, did not think the 2012 wines were good enough for the main label so they went to the second label.

My initial impressions:

2012 Cabernet Franc.  This wine actually made me smile.  There is a good amount of vanilla and oak in the nose, but they were fresh aromas.  There is a lot of up front flavors of red cherry and spice.  There's good acidity and tannin to hold every thing together.  When the flavors faded at the end this was like drinking a rose' wine with more extracted flavors.  This is simply a happy wine.  It's also not one to save for a long period of time, though I will stow away a bottle for the future.  174 cases produced.  14.3% alcohol and $14.99.

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This is a much darker wine than the Cabernet Franc.  Its also very closed up at the moment and it took a lot of swirling and a second glass to get the aromas flowing.  When it did open up it was with earthy aromas rather than fruit.  The taste was red cherries like the Cabernet Franc, but there was an underlying darker element as well.  It seemed most like black raspberries to me.  Again, there was good tannin and acid and there was a much longer finish.  In six months or a year I will prefer this wine to the Cabernet Franc, but it still has some growing up to do in the bottle.  172 cases produced.  14.5% alcohol.  $14.99

Both wine are very fairly priced.

As mentioned here before the 2014 vintage in this area was almost totally wiped out by the extended  and unusual below zero degree temperatures of the past winter.  Kinkead Ridge will have no white wines from vinifera vines in the spring of 2015 and no reds in the fall of 2016.  With that in mind I also restocked on some white wine while I was there.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


 “A growing body of research suggests that many of the health problems associated with eating beef are really problems with corn-fed beef."

Michael Pollan ...The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
 Fortunately my local market specializes in grass fed beef,  Sliced tri-tip roast with orange tomatoes and a baked potato.   The wine was the second half of the Domaine de Nizas  in the posting just below this one.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rustic and Good

Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.
—  -Ernest Hemingway
The wine was a 2008 Domaine de Nizas from the Languedoc region of France. It was dark red in the glass and smelled insistently of the earth.  After a lot of swirling the fruit popped out of the glass but only as a companion to that sense of dry, dusty earth.  Full flavors of mixed dark fruits that never went over the top.  With six years of age the tannins had softened and integrated.  No elegance here, but a smooth and lasting finish.  60% Syrah, 35 % Mourvedre and 5% Grenache Noir.

2008 Domaine de Nizas.  14% alcohol and $12.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer Supper

Normal summer weather is finally here as temperatures and humidity are both far above what we have become accustomed to this year.  Time to move on to lighter fare....

Pictured above is a poached shrimp and white bean salad.  The salad is full of cannellini beans, thinly chopped fresh fennel, thyme and garlic all finished with a sherry vinegar, olive oil and fresh tarragon vinaigrette, fennel fronds for the garnish and set on some lettuce leaves.  With a couple of toasted baguette  slices and a glass of 2013 Kinkead Ridge White Revelation wine it made for a wonderful meal.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Heirloom Tomatoes & Zen

By nature a tomato is bound to assimilate. Fleshier plums and globes glory and mellow when cooked. Juicy globes offer the best of themselves raw. Tomatoes at their best lend rather than absorb. They require a cook to appreciate context, both of origin and possibility.

It is probably no coincidence that tomatoes occur naturally in the summer. It is probably wise to appreciate them as punctuation marks. At their best, tomatoes deliver a jolt, the end of a phrase, the question of what is to be, which inevitably curves back to the question of what was.

Molly O'Neill.  A Well-Seasoned Appetite.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Riesling, a Step Up

There was a small, post-birthday dinner for a friend Sunday evening with three wines.  Two of them are nearly gone from my memory because a bottle of 2006 Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling pushed them from consciousness.  I purchased three bottles about a year ago on a closeout sale and had yet to try one. 

The wine had a medium gold color in the glass and an initial bit of sulfur in the aroma.  Once the sulfur was gone there were aromas of honeysuckle and fall meadows full of dry grass and autumn flowers.  Mosel Rieslings tend to remind me of spring, but this Alsatian was all about the autumn.  The flavors tended toward apricots, nectarines and peaches and a bit of dried leaves from those trees.  The initial feeling was of sweetness, but that soon faded more to ripeness without sugar.  The finish was very dry and very long.

It was paired with toasted baguette slices with olive tapenade.  Very good together.

Beautiful wine.

2006 Trimbach Cuvee Frederic Emile Riesling.  13% alcohol and $50.