French Wine

Le Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé! The New Beaujolais Has Arrived!

Today, the third Thursday of November, marks the 60 year French tradition of unveiling the first wine of the harvest season, Beaujolais Nouveau.

Beaujolais is located in the region of Burgundy, France, where winemaking traces back to the Roman times. There are 2,500 Beaujolais growers in the region.

  • By law, Beaujolais grapes must be harvested by hand and grown on individual, free standing vines.
  • Beaujolais Nouveau is made from 100% Gamay grapes, which have thinner skins than most grapes, causing lower levels of tannin. The wine is meant to be served slightly chilled, at about 55°F, which brings out the wine’s refreshing and fruit-forward character better than if it were served at room temperature.

    Video on Jean-Claude Debeaune Beaujolais Nouveau 2012

  • Beaujolais Nouveau owes its easy drinkability to a winemaking process called carbonic maceration, or whole-berry fermentation. This technique preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the wine without extracting bitter tannins from the grape skins.
  • Originally, Beaujolais Nouveau was the wine of the vineyard workers, consumed to celebrate the end of harvest and giving them a first taste of the new vintage.
  • In 1985, France passed a law requiring that Beaujolais Nouveau must always be released on the third Thursday in November anywhere in the world.
  • More than 35 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau are expected to be consumed in the months following the wine’s release.

To celebrate the day, Beaujolais Nouveau countdown parties became popular throughout France and abroad. Now, Beaujolais Nouveau Day is a global celebration. While there are many great brands of Beaujolais Nouveau to chose from at your local wine shop, Georges Duboeuf has created the biggest splash in the U.S.

This year, Georges Duboeuf celebrates their 30th anniversary of Beaujolais Nouveau in the U.S. with “Thirty Years of Magic“…

  • Marco Tempest, world-renowned techno-illusionist, is using his new brand of magic to tell the story behind the brand, the wine and the overall celebration of Beaujolais Nouveau. And he’s created a label for this year’s wine that comes to life, through a customized augmented-reality application that is used with your smartphone. Get all the details here.
  • Events are happening across the country, like today’s Tapping of the Keg in Baltimore. See the list here.
  • The 2012 vintage is vibrant, fruit-forward and best served chilled. Despite the short harvest the “quality is excellent!” Georges Duboeuf has proclaimed. “The color is a lovely ruby red with purplish tints. The aromas are very pleasant, dominated by red berries, and on the palate, they are flavorful, subtle, fresh and fruity with good structure and balance,” Duboeuf confirmed.

Beaujolais Nouveau is a perfect pairing with a wide range of foods making it ideal to serve next week for Thanksgiving.

I’m off to pick up my bottles of Le Beaujolais Nouveau! Santé!

Loire Valley Sancerre Rosé Finally Found

My first discovery of Pascal Jolivet wine was in Paris for my Mom’s 60th birthday. We had their lovely Sancerre Blanc at Brasserie Bofinger (5-7 rue de la Bastille), Paris’ oldest brasserie since 1864. And since, I order it whenever I can.

Last summer, I saw online they make a Sancerre Rosé. As a Rosé lover, I had to try it. For some reason it eluded me until a few weeks ago finally turning up at Cork & Fork in Washington, DC.

Provence is the most commonly thought of Rosé producer in France, but being Sancerre and Pascal Jolivet, this comes from the Loire Valley.

Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Rosé 2011

  • Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
  • Aroma:Bright red fruit with floral notes
  • Taste: Soft cherry and dry notes
  • Price: $25
  • My thoughts: I must say after all the searching for this wine it didn’t quite live up to my expectations especially for the price. It was overall soft and dry without much oomph. Having said that my friends and I enjoyed the bottle as an aperitif on a hot day.

I would highly recommend Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Blanc. It’s a gem and worth the price (usually $12-$15)! With vineyards in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, they are one of the youngest wineries in the Loire Valley. They make many different wine labels under the Pascal Jolivet brand. Next I need to try their Pouilly-Fume.


Screwtop Wine Bar: Every Rosé Has Its Thorn

It’s hot which is perfect Rosé weather as it’s light, crisp and refreshing wine, and a pretty pink shade. Over the last few weeks I’ve tried several new Rosés at local wine bars.

Last night I finally visited Screwtop Wine Bar in Clarendon, a neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia. Their motto…drink what you like. So I had Rosé from the Every Rosé Has Its Thorn line up…one from Germany, France and Austria.

  • Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé 2011, Pfalz, Germany
  • Mittelbach Zweitgeit 2011, Burgenland-Austria: Round strawberry taste
  • Chinon Rosé Cabernet Franc 2011, Loire Valley, France: Heaviest in body of the three with a tart cranberry taste

My favorite of the bunch…

Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé 2011

  • Variety: Pinot Noir from Pfalz, Germany
  • Aroma: Crisp berty
  • Taste: Bright zippy cranberry and raspberry
  • Price: $12.99
  • My thoughts: This was my favorite Rosé because of its fruit forward taste with a truly zippy finish. The wine is a J.L. Wolf, part of the Dr. Loosen wine family. Ernst Loose’ s goal at J.L. Wolf is to make powerful, traditionally crafted Pfalz wines (drier and more full bodied Rieslings as well as Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer and Silvaner. ) to complement his lighter Dr. Loosen wines from the Mosel (Rieslings that are higher alcohol and ripe flavors of fruit and stone).

Screwtop is featuring German wines throughout August including this one. I really enjoyed our time at Screwtop. More to come on it in an upcoming series, What Makes a Great Wine Bar?

Prost to Rosé!

Wine Discoveries: Summer Wine Bargains from Italy, France & Uruguay

Planet Wine Shop, my local wine go to in Alexandria, had a great tasting for their usual Wine Wednesday…Summer Wine Bargains. I don’t know about you but I tend to go through more wine  in the summer (it’s hot and I love sitting on the balcony at sunset), so it helps to discover great wines under $15.

Wednesday’s tasting included Italy, France and Uruguay.

  • Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco 2010, Dolomoti, Italy, $14: nice crisp northern Italian
  • Domaine de Laxé Côtes de Gascogne Blanc 2011, Côtes de Gascogne, France, $12
  • Vignerons de Buxy Buissonier Rosé 2011, Burgundy, France, $15: big cranberry and red currant flavors
  • Domaine Laurent Gauthier Chatenay 2007, Chiroubles, France, $12: from very old vines, big pepper notes
  • Bodegas Carrau Tannat de Reserva 2010, Los Violetas, Uruguay, $15

My two surprise favorites from the tasting were…

Domaine de Laxé Côtes de Gascogne Blanc 2011

  • Variety: 60% Colombard, 40% Ugni Blanc from France
  • Aroma: Bright citrus
  • Taste: Refreshing acidity with hints of exotic fruit
  • Price: $12
  • My thoughts: Very interesting wine coming from extreme southwest France. Ugni Blanc is one of the grapes used to make Cognac and I don’t see it in wine a lot. The combination of grapes made a nice unique discovery. Perfect for the summer heat.

Bodegas Carrau Tannat de Reserva 2010

  • Variety: 100% Tannat from Uruguay
  • Aroma: Red fruit and spice
  • Taste: Vanilla and caramel
  • Price: $15
  • My thoughts: I haven’t tried many wines from Uruguay but this one is fantastic. I’ve also tried a few bad Tannat wines so it was a pleasure to taste this one. Tannat is originally a southern France variety and makes a very tannic wine. Made in Uruguay, it is lighter in body but full of flavor. The Carrau family wine business started in Spain in 1752 and added Uruguay in the 1930s. Nice red wine for when it’s slightly cooler, say low 80s. I’d like to try some more of their wines too.

Cheers to summer wine bargain discoveries

Eat, Drink, Simply at The Wine Kitchen

After antique shopping in Frederick, Maryland this weekend and a stop in Frederick Cellars, we ended up the sunny day turned rainy at The Wine Kitchen. Open since October, this is the second location for Mike Mercer and Jason Miller who own the three-year-old restaurant / wine bar by the same name in Leesburg. The Wine Kitchen’s motto…Eat, Drink, Simply.

Sitting in a lovely spot on Carroll Creek Way, a creek turned canal and park, they have a great patio location for guests to enjoy the scenery (Bryan Voltaggio’s Lunchbox is just next door) and inside is a Sonoma / French feel wine café. We sat at the bar for a wine flight and some bites.

The Italian Renaissance flight we chose consisted of the 2010 Borgo M Fruilano from Friuli, 2010 Vigneti Massa Sentieri Barbera from Piedmonte and 2008 Marabino Noto Nero d’Avola from Sicily. Each flight and glass of wine comes with a very thoughtful and colorful tasting card.

All the wines in our flight were very flavorful but our favorite was…

2010 Vigneti Massa Sentieri Barbera

  • Varietal: Barbera
  • Aroma: Cherry, tobacco
  • Taste: Tart cherry, caraway seeds, pipe tobacco
  • Price: $4 taste, $10 glass, $33 bottle
  • My thoughts: The tasting card was right on with this one…caraway seeds?!? It sure had hints of them. This Barbera was lighter than I expected but with its multi-layers, a perfect stand alone or food pairing wine.

I also tried a taste of their 2009 Domanie des Nuges Gamay from Beaujolais, France. Cranberry on the nose and palate with a hint of orange. The tasting card read ‘the red ruby slippers of wine’ which was right on… it sparkled in the glass and on the tongue.

The warm curry cashews and artisinal cheese plate were perfect as were the staff! The menu looked delicious and definitely worth a try on our next stop in Frederick.

Cheers to Eat, Drink, Simply!