My First Words on Wine…

It seems only fitting that my first post in “What’s in the Glass” should be about French Wine.  The first wine I ever purchased on a regular basis was French, Mouton-Cadet Bordeaux Rouge… to be exact.  A friend had suggested it to me, and I liked it.  Like many new wine drinkers, I stuck with what I knew…what I was comfortable with…so, that was the only wine I would buy. If my usual store was out of it, I would try a different store, I didn’t dare buy anything else. That was until a few years later when a new wine shop opened here in town… John Welch opened Welch’s Beverage in the mid 1990′s, his store was my neighborhood wine shop and the first one that I frequented. At first, I just walked through the wine isle to get to the beer cooler…but eventually I slowed down and looked around. I found out that they held monthly Wine Tastings…and I started attending them whenever I could.  I eventually went to work there. This is when my wine education began.

This past week was Wine Tasting week in my shop, and we featured 12 different French Wines…all of them were new to me…and to my customers.  So…all these years later, I am writing about French Wine…just not Bordeaux.  People who are most familiar with “New World” wines (United States, South America, Australia, etc) are often intimidated by “Old World” wines… like the wines of France.  French wines are often labeled by the wine growing region (where the grapes are grown). not by the type of grape that the wine is made from. That Bordeaux Rouge that I mentioned earlier only tells you that it is red wine from Bordeaux.  Some of the more modern labels will indicate which grapes the wine was made from, on the back label.  Some wineries are now listing the grape varietals in small print on the front, but most wineries label their wines in the traditional way. One of the main objectives of “What’s in the Glass” is to help you become more comfortable with this sort of thing, so that you can explore and enjoy wines outside of your comfort zone.  I chose the name “What’s in the Glass”…written as a statement…not a question…for a reason. This is not a test. I am not asking you to figure it out. I am merely hoping to share with you what I have learned… to help you understand a little more about wine.

Today, I am going to be writing about a couple of my favorite wines from our last tasting.  (truth be told, I really did like all 12, but a couple of them spoke to me) My favorite white wine of the evening was from an area called Costieres de Nimes which is a smaller region within the Southern Rhone River Valley. Chateau de Campuget Cuvee Prestige Viognier has a more modern label, it tells you the name of the winery, what area of France it comes from, and that it is made of the Viognier (vee uhn yay) grape.  Viognier is considered the “noble grape” of the Rhone. It is often included in the blended whites of Cotes du Rhone, Chateauneuf du Pape and is vinified on its own to produce Condrieu in the northern Rhone. Viognier is a grape that I know well and have a special affection for.  It is a very complete grape that makes wine that has everything…it has a beautiful nose…(it smells pretty…like flowers)…It is rich in fruit…(has a lot of flavor)…and finishes dry without being to acidic…(it does not make your mouth pucker).  I often use this wine as an example to help the culinary students at EMCC identify the “nose” component of the wine during our wine seminar.  Viognier can be made to drink very young, or vinified to last a a very long time…and it is an excellent food wine.  I often recommend  Viognier to pair with Salmon, Pork, Ham or Turkey.  It is a great summer wine that pairs well with things off the grill and versatile enough to cover most of your holiday dinner needs…

My favorite red wine of the tasting was also made with Rhone Varietal Grapes.  It was from a different region though…from Roussillon in the Coteaux du Languedoc.  L’Argentier Coteaux du Languedoc Les Demoiselles is a blend of four grapes, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Carignan…This young tasting expression of a classic Rhone varietal blend spoke to me on the very first sip.

I should take step back here and let you know that when I was finally ready to expand my horizons beyond Bordeaux Rouge (back in the beginning) one of the first new wines that I really identified with was Cotes du Rhone Rouge.

This wine, although from the Languedoc, is made with the same grape varietals. Rhone varietal blends are fun, have great fruit and are easy to drink.  L’Argentier Les Demoiselles is a very well balanced, youthful tasting expression of this classic blend. It has lush, medium weight fruit and a hint of spice on the finish, with very little tannin (does not dry your mouth out).   I was impressed by this wines youthful, bright tasting fruit…considering it’s age (2006 Vintage) and it’s very reasonable price. This wine pairs well with anything barbecued, or anything grilled…from Portabella Mushrooms… to lean cuts of Pork or Beef…and anything dark and roasted… from Duck to Lamb…I found this wine to be a very versatile year round sort of wine that could also takes it’s place on your holiday dinner table…

Thanks your reading this first entry…I will be back soon…and often…I need all the followers I can get…so, please become one… and share this with all of your friends… on facebook…twitter…or wherever else your friends might be…see you next time…