Posts Tagged ‘Wine’
A couple of weeks ago we received a surprise visit from Hervé Gantier, owner of Domaine Sainte-Eugénie in the Corbières region of Southern France. It’s always special when a wine maker seeks us out, and even more so when they have come all the way from Italy or France to visit a gift basket company in Los Angeles.
Corbières is located on the Mediterranean just north of Spain. Common grape varieties there are Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre and Syrah. But here was Hervé offering us a wine that was 45% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Something along the line of a Bordeaux but with the added structure of the Carignan and the light fruit tones of the Grenache. Elegant, well balanced and bargain priced. Hervé was pleased with our reaction – we bought it! We featured it at a recent wine tasting here in our shop and our guests bought it, too. Boy, do we have fun here or what?
This wine can be selected as an upgrade in many of the wine gift baskets on our website.
We also have some of his Reserve! But more about that one later.
Wally, Terry, and John Williams
It was a perfect night to try a new wine. We were home from work early, meaning by 7! A wine shipment had arrived in the afternoon. Hadn’t tried this one before, but we knew the producer so we bought it without tasting. This winemaker warrants that kind of trust.
I took one sip and turned to look at Terry – with my eyes open wide and my mouth agape. She said “Oh stop being so dramatic.” “It’s not me,” I said, “it’s the wine.” She reached over, took my glass and had a sip. She gave me the same look!
So what is this giant blockbuster wine I’m going to tell you about? Some big fabulous California Cab? A muscular concoction from the south of France? Perhaps a beguiling Burgundy.
But no, it was a dainty Rose from Napa Valley! John Williams of Frog’s Leap Winery had once again surprised with his mastery of the grapes. A delightful wine with a pretty French name: La Grenouille Rougante. It’s a wine that seems to dance in your mouth. Crisp acids, pleasant tannins, enchanting fruit aromas and a clean bright finish that reminds you of a shiny spring day after the rain.
Thank you, John Williams, thank you.
We’ll certainly be putting some of this in our wine gift baskets, but he doesn’t make much of it. For a short time though you can send someone a special treat. Or just call us and get some of this unique Rose for yourself. It doesn’t have to come in a gift basket in order to wind up on your table.
Send me a picture of your look when you first try it, will you?
I can’t recall exactly when we first became acquainted with the Marimar wines, but I certainly remember our meeting with Marimar Torres at her winery about a year and a half ago.
We sat alone with her and her sales rep in her large tasting and dining room at the winery in Sebastopol, California. It was a beautiful spring day, sun shining, leafy green vineyards all around, a parade of elegant wines on the table and a gracious and passionate hostess telling us about her life’s work. We were captivated.
We have been selling her wines ever since. She grows only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, just like they do in Burgundy. Her wines are sophisticated, deep and balanced – wonderful by themselves and outstanding with food. They are exactly the kinds of wines Terry and I treasure both for ourselves and our gift baskets.
A member of her staff dropped in to see us the other day and we were blown away by the wines again. And we bought a lot. We think the La Masia Pinot Noir, from the Don Miguel vineyard (named after her father), is an incredible wine for the price and we are featuring it in many of our wine gift baskets. Treat yourself to some as well. You’ll be very happy you did when you’ve got a glass of this wonderful wine in your hand.
Zonin Primo Amore – 2005
This delicious blend of Sangiovese and Merlot will delight you. For a “low-end” wine it’s astounding. Then again, with the great resurgence of wine making in Sicily, where this wine is from, maybe it’s not so surprising after all. But we were excited enough to buy every case we could get. It surely proves our belief that you can’t judge a wine by the price tag – it’s what’s in the bottle that counts.
Brilliant, attractive and warm ruby red color. Intense and pleasantly vinous to the nose with outstanding fruitiness and an appealing spicy vein. Dry on the palate with a sultry, mellow and spicy taste and a fine, harmonious balance. The wine can be consumed throughout a meal and makes a particularly fine accompaniment for barbequed meats and spaghetti Bolognese.
A wine tasting tip that is often overlooked is to smell your glass before you pour any wine in it. Sometimes it can have residue that will affect the taste and smell of the wine. A glass in a restaurant might smell like ammonia if it wasn’t rinsed properly. Not a pleasant taste to add to wine!
We were recently in Barolo (researching wines for our gift baskets) and one of the wine makers we were visiting took glasses from her wood cupboard and rinsed them with a little wine before we tasted. She said the wood gave the glasses a woody smell so she always rinsed the glasses with wine first.
So smell your glass first! Your wouldn’t want to spoil the aroma of a lovely wine like the ones we put in our wine gift baskets, would you?
Piemonte was a pilgrimage for me and Wally. It is home of the Slow Food Movement, great cheese, and some of the most popular Italian Wines. Barolo is made there from the Nebbiolo grape, and is considered “The wine of kings and the king of wines.” I also knew with all the different vineyards, grapes, and designations that, like Burgundy, Piemonte was going to require a personal visit so I could wrap my head around this magical land of wine and food.
While there we were lucky enough to meet with several winemakers, all of whom made marvelous wines that are available to us in the U.S. One of our favorites Mauro Veglio. We met with his wife and partner, Daniela. She was charming and funny, with a beautiful cantina set off by a huge half-circle window overlooking the vineyards that was the perfect vantage point for Daniela to school us on the different vineyards and grapes of the region.
Terry and Daniela in front of the half circle window
We sampled their Dolcetto, Barbera, and Barolos over a course of an hour or so. Now here is the exciting part: We have the Dolcetto and Barbera here in our shop now for your gift baskets. The Dolcetto is bright and vibrant, the Barbera a bit heavier, and both with a good acidity that pairs perfectly with the fatty foods of Piemonte. Both of these wines are featured together in one of our most popular Italian Gift Baskets: La Dolce Vita – the Piemonte version! Of course, you can always opt for one of them in many of our wine gift baskets as well.
Today’s topic is a rare Italian wine from Piemonte – Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato. If you’ve visited the Fancifull Gift Baskets web site or followed any of our blogs, I’m sure you’ve noticed how passionate we are about the foods we carry in our store and put into our gift baskets. Many of these require some clarification. This is certainly true in the case of the lovely Ruchè grape with it’s enticing floral and wild berry aromas.
“If it’s so good”, you may ask, “why haven’t I heard of it before it appeared as an option in one of your wine gift baskets?” Well, there are two reasons. Firstly, there just isn’t much of it! The Ruchè grape production comes from a mere 100 acres of vines in the region of Castagnole di Monferrato, which is near Asti in Piemonte, Northern Italy.
Secondly, the wines that get the attention in this area are the three B’s made from the Nebbiolo grape: Barbara, Barbaresco and Barolo! Tough competition indeed. But Ruchè (pronounced roo-KAY) is an absolute delight to have on the dinner table – and at a very affordable price. So, next time you want to send someone an Italian gift basket or just surprise them with a new wine in one of our wine gift baskets. I highly recommend this rare little gem that we have here. My mouth is watering just thinking of it and a creamy Gorgonzola cheese. And I’m really looking forward to trying this wine with the winemaker at his vineyard next week. Yes, we are headed for Italy, and this is one of our stops. Buon appetito!
My husband, Wally, and I have just returned from France and I can hardly express what a great time we had.
One of the highlights was meeting with Sylvain Fadat at his vineyard in Montpeyroux.
His Domaine d’Aupilhac Montpeyroux is one of our favorite wines and is included in many of our wine gift baskets. It’s the favorite at our wine tastings, too. And, after meeting him, it’s obvious why his wines are so good.
Sylvain is an artisan. His enthusiasm for his wine and life shows in everything he does. He even farms organically. It takes a lot more work, but it improves both the quality of the wine and the environment, so he wouldn’t have it any other way. You should hear his stories of the scare tactics the chemical companies use to try to sell him their product. Luckily, he knows better.
He took us on a tour through his cave and his vineyards. We met his lovely wife, tasted wines, and then he insisted on taking us to lunch! Oh yeah, he also gave us a couple bottles of his wine not available in the US.
If you haven’t tried his fantastic Domaine d’Aupilhac, you should.
The Languedoc has long been the top producing wine area in France. Unfortunately, it has also been known for producing the worst wines in France. Sylvain and other vingernons (vintners) of a similar mind and dedication are changing all that.
The night before we met with Sylvain we ate at Le Mimosa, a small but well-known restaurant in the neighboring village of St Guiraud. They served us a different wine with every course, all of them from the Languedoc. It demonstrated the diversity and quality of the wines coming from this region right now. It was a night to remember. Among the wines we tasted was a Carignan that was also made by Sylvain. It came with the cheese course and sang with the Roquefort (also from the same area). We’re going to get that wine here if we can.
And if you’re ever in the south of France, you should get yourself to Le Mimosa. You’ll be glad you did.
Regarding the wines in our gift baskets, remember that you can select Domaine d’Aupilhac to be included in many of our wine gift baskets. It’s a great wine and sells for $25. Great with lamb, steaks or just by itself. Cheers!
Click Here to go to Sylvain’s Domaine d’Aupilhac website.
We recently received a shipment of the 2007 Domaine Tempier Bandol in our shop and we must admit, we are excited to have it. Domaine Tempier is a very renowned winery, particularly among wine connoisseurs, which has been producing amazing wines from the Bandol region for over 60 years (although the Tempier family has actually owned vineyards since the 1800s). While this wine has become popular over the years, it is actually a very scarce wine due to the relatively small size of the vineyard. Many have been lucky enough to try this wine, but you aren’t likely to find it at your average restaurant or liquor store.
Domaine Tempier Bandol is exclusively imported by Kermit Lynch, a popular wine merchant. Part of the year he lives in Northern California, where he was born, and part in Provence, France. One of the reasons he chose to live in this region of France (and possibly the primary one) is because he lives, in his words, “near enough to Domaine Tempier that I can fill up the trunk of my car whenever I need to.”
We certainly appreciate it too, because if he didn’t live there this wine would be even harder to come across in the United States. Due to its scarcity, Kermit only sells this wine in a specific quantity to his loyal patrons who regularly sell large quantities of wines he imports. When we found out we were eligible to buy Domaine Tempier, we jumped at the opportunity.
Needless to say, this is an incredible wine and won’t be available for very long. The Domain Tempier is a rare treat, which makes an excellent gift for both wine enthusiasts and those who simply know what they like. If you want to buy this wine, make sure you order soon, otherwise you may have to wait till next year’s vintage!
The recipe for choosing a good sparkling wine is the same as for still wine: good producers, healthy fruit and quality vineyards. True Champagne, from the French region of Champagne, is produced from the fruit of the numerous grape-growers there. Some champagne producers own their own vineyards and some do not. The best wines are made with the combination of generations of experience, traditional vinification methods and again, quality grown fruit from choice vineyards. True Champagne comes with a higher price tag than what is bottled and labeled elsewhere as “Sparkling Wine.” By law, a sparkling wine can be called Champagne only if it is from the region of Champagne in France.
Cava is another top value in the Sparkling Wine arena. Produced in various parts of Spain, the best examples are made in Penedes, the northeast area, where, as in the Veneto and Champagne, there are cooler climates that are ideal for sparkling wine production. Marques de Gelida is available on our wine gifts page in various gift baskets, it is crisp with more of an attack of citrus, white flowers and pear.
To wrap up here, I finish with a mantra to remember: top producers & prime vineyards = the best wines/champagnes. I hope this will help you somewhat to understand the range of styles of sparkling wines and their relativity to value when choosing your sparkling wine gifts. As always, I am available to assist you by phone or email here at Fancifull.
*CUVEE: a blend or special lot of wine.