Monday, February 25, 2008

For the Love

I had the honor of leading a wine & cheese pairing with Jim Tanner of Bonnie Blue Farms. Jim & his wife Gayle run the only Farmstead Goat Cheese dairy in the state of Tennessee. There cheeses are absolutely delicious. We paired cheeses with wines at Circa this past Sunday. All wines are available by the glass or bottle on Circa's winelist. It is so inspiring to see artisans at work, & to taste the product of their passion. Jim makes some damn good cheese, I can't wait to get my hands on more at this summers Memphis Farmer's Market downtown. The first cheese was a fresh chevre paired with a Pouilly Fume. Sauvignon blanc & goat cheese, such a classic. Next was the feta, which Jim indicated is not aged too long in brine. Therefore, it isn't as salty as most fetas. We paired that with Gunderloch Jean-Baptiste Riesling, the sweetness played off the saltiness of the cheese. Then we had the Hickory Smoked feta with Champalou Vouvray Cuvee de Fondraux, the hint of sweetness & flint in the wine played off the smoke in the cheese nicely. Next was a Gouda style with Olivier Savary Chablis. On to reds. Rex Hill Pinot Noir matched up against a Rosemary/Garlic Chevre, the earthiness of the pinot complimented the rosemary's herbal tones. A tomme style goat cheese was paired with Earthquake Petite Sirah. The last cheese was my favorite, it is something new Jim is playing with. They have crafted a Camembert style cheese that is so creamy, luscious & slightly grassy/earthy. Wonderful. That cheese was matched up against Clos la Coutale Cahors. The earthy, gaminess of the malbec/merlot blend brought out the pungency of the cheese.

There is some amazing cheese being made in Tennessee, check it out.

Bonnie Blue Farm.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Great Grape?

I have the pleasure of tasting many wines on a regular basis. I always keep notes because if not, they are sometimes difficult to recall. However, sometimes there are wines that are unforgettable. Two such wines, who both happen to be the same varietal, happened upon me very recently.

Kelly & I were craving a good bottle. I decided to pop open a 2002 Neyers Hudson Vineyard Syrah from Napa Valley. The at the core of the glass was a deep black color with barely any hints of ruby at the rim. On the nose was heady aromas of blueberry soaked bacon, smoke & black olive. The palate also exhibited blueberry, bacon & black olive with medium grade, very integrated tannins. It was slightly hot on the finish, which blew off as it sat in the glass. Outstanding.

2005 Montes Alpha Syrah Apalta Vineyard from Colchagua Valley, Chile. Wow...seriously wow. The nose was doses of licorice, blueberry jam & dried ham. It was expressive on the nose but not overpowering, more leaning towards elegance. My goodness, what a rich, round palate, but balanced & beautiful as well. The wine is medium bodied with firm tannins, blue & black fruits & a nice long finish that lingers with fresh acidity & licorice.

I love syrah when its done well.

The Great State of Washington

I have recently had the pleasure of tasting a myriad of wines from Washington state, almost all of them were outstanding & none of them were of poor quality.

Most notable was the Andrew Will Champoux Vineyard 2005, a blend of 45% cabernet sauvignon, 20% cabernet franc, 30% merlot & 5% petit verdot. At the heart of the glass was a core of dark, almost black, color that extended almost to the rim. The nose expressed plum & blackberry in an elegant & slightly dusty/earthy manner. The palate was rich & supple with black currant, black raspberry, smoke & spice. It had a very firm grip & beautiful balance. What really struck me was that winemaker Chris Carmada was not going for higher brix, but supreme balance. The result was a wine that was never too sweet or fruit driven. It was beautiful & seamless, each characteristic playing a supporting role that pushed forth one absolutely stunning wine. I believe this bottle will be on Circa's new wine list. It is by no means an inexpensive bottle, but it is more than worth it. When compared to California wines of the same quality, this is a bargain!

Keep an eye out for a Washington State wine dinner soon?

Friday, February 15, 2008

New Wine List!

Check out the new wine list at Majestic Grille.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Zaca Mesa

On Monday, I had the privilege of tasting a small lineup of wines from Zaca Mesa Winery. For more information visit their website. Four wines were poured. I like these smaller tastings, it gives me a good snapshot of what the winery's style is like without being overwhelming.

The first wine poured was the 2004 Roussanne. I've always loved Rhone Valley grape types & roussanne is no exception. It's quite surprising what happens to this grape when grown outside of its homeland. It is either really BAD or quite delicious. Luckily, this wine fell into the latter category. Aromas of spiced pear, clove & applewood sprung out of the glass, but didn't knock me over. The palate exhibited a round, rich but not heavy texture with bright acidity, flavors of almond & a lanolin-glycerol finish. Just lovely.

Next up was the 2005 Chardonnay. Okay, typically I'm not a chard guy. In fact most of the time I loathe what gets done to this poor grape in the new world. However, this wine was a surprise. Notes of apple, preserved lemon & lime curd on the nose. It showed limestone, poached apple & a fresh, crisp acid on the palate.

On with the reds, with the 2003 Z cuvee, a blend of grenache, syrah & mourvedre. The aromas were quite savory at first with the cinnamon & dill which led to cranberry & blackberry. The palate was luscious with notes of dark wild berry compote, smoke, dried meat & lavender.

Last up was the 2003 Z Three, also a blend of syrah, grenache & mourvedre. However, this wine was a more elegant expression than the Cuvee. I wish it would have been poured first, but oh well. The nose was straight up Rhone Valley traditional with notes of garrigue, earth & red berries. The palate was ripe & earthy, medium-bodied with integrated tannins, very Chateauneuf du Pape in style. Very nice.

Tonight's Tasting

Tonight on the Commercial Appeal food blog Whining & Dining, the wine of the week is Canella Rose Brut NonVintage. This flesh toned sparkling wine is a lovely expression of pinot nero (what the Italians call pinot noir). Log on to the website at 7:00 p.m. CST to taste with tonights wine personality Elizabeth Mall, with Delta Wholesale. She is smart, funny & extremely knowledgeable about wine, not to mention beautiful. Elizabeth is one of those rare individuals in the wine business that isn't pretentious, isn't a snob & doesn't flaunt her knowledge. Join her tonight to taste! This wine is the perfect color for Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Achtung! Carova Milk Bar!

So we meet again, the Carova Milk Bar that is. The lovely Meagan graced us with a delightfully delicious Sineann 2006 Gewurztraminer Celilo Vineyard Columbia Gorge, WA. She smuggled that one back from a trip with her husband Richie. It had a bright green-gold color with a nose of white flowers, jasmine, honeysuckle, rosewater, lavender & pure fennel, tarragon, & apricot fruit flavors.

Next up was the 2005 Inman Family Olivet Grange Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley provided by Michael Barar. The nose was pure black cherry fruit with dill, licorice & tea. The palate was silky, luscious, lightly creamy with an integrated acidity & elegant structure.

My contribution was a Delas Freres 1997 Hermitage Cuvee Marquis de la Tourette (which Wine Spectator says wasn't imported. Ha! I bought it in Louisville, KY!). The dark purple color barely revealed its age. The nose was all tradition with dried meat, leather, star anise & fennel. The palate displayed leather, bacon, dried blueberry & soil. It went perfectly with the lamb stew I prepared. Yum!

Elizabeth brought along a Szigeti NV Rose from Austria. Its pure color was onion & salmon tinted. The nose was raspberry-lime, stone & black licorice. The palate had cherry soda, strawberry & crisp acidity on a creamy structure.

The next Michael Barar wine was the Rhys Alesia Syrah Sonoma Coast 2003. The dark purple color did not give a hint at its age. On the nose was black fruits, pork & blueberry. The supple, full rich palate gave me the impression that it could last another 5 more years.

Mr. Chi popped open an Oliver Hill Shiraz 2005. It's black black BLACK color was impenetrable. On the nose was deep menthol, blackberry & smoke. The palate was very big & rich, full, huuuuuuuuge. Whoa. For anyone who likes to be molested by their wine, go for this one.

Lastly, I decided to open a 1999 Castello di Ama Vin Santo. Its honeyed nose had aromas of apricot & nuts. The luscious texture was sweet & pure with nice acid, rich but not heavy. Lovely.

Cheers to another meeting of the Carova Milk Bar.