PIO CESARE BAROLO 2005

"Il vino fa buon sangue.” … (Good wine makes good blood). A common Italian proverb believed to have originated in Tuscany about wine and good health, like “An apple a day….”

Barolo is the region, a D.O.G.C. within Piedmont in northern Italy in which the Nebbiolo grapes for this wine are grown.  Nebbiolo is grown in other areas and used in making wine.  Also well-known is Barbaresco; not so well known are wines labeled Gattinara or Langhe (and there are others).  Barolo is considered the gold standard for the Nebbiolo grape and this one from Peo Cesare (ARP now $55) is well regarded with scores of 93 from Wine Spectator, 91 by Wine Advocate, 91 from Wine Enthusiast and 90 by Tanzer. 

Regardless, all taste (like politics) is personal. And Nebbiolo wines can be assertive early on, requiring time to evolve.  Young, they are tartly acidic and with gripping tannins.  (This 2005, for example, could easily be enjoyed through 2020). Early on, these wines will offer scents of tar and roses. (Even now, I admit to finding tastes and aromas that many find pleasing a bit confounding).  Either way, as they age in bottle and tannins balance, more fruit becomes evident:  cherry, raspberry, blackberry and prune, along with non-fruit notes of violet, truffle, tobacco and tar. Aromas of licorice, violet and clove are common.

The winery was founded in 1881 by Cesare Pio with vineyards near the town of Alba where the winery itself still sits today. Combining the benefits of modern technology with tradition, the winery produces wines considered stylistic but traditional. 

In the glass, my 2005, for example, was of medium cherry color. Picture Pinot Noir with orange hues - classic Barolo. As Barolo ages, its perfume enhances.  I was struck by a strong nose of spicy cherry and dried flowers.  Pronounced in the flavor was black cherry and plum.  Still, this 2005 (after 3 years aging, and a vintage from 11 years ago) had tannins up front that were lengthy and carried into the finish.  This is not “breakfast wine.”  I paired it with veal Osso Bucco, parsnip puree and roasted and seasoned rainbow carrots and wedges of sweet potato.

But this is a wine you can also enjoy by itself, to contemplate over its complexity. I find it a good companion also with cheese such as Grana Padano, or with duck or roast goose or beef, veal or lamb.  Tannins interact nicely with the fats in these foods in a symbiotic way.  Whatever you choose, however, Barolo benefits from decanting.  I fear just leaving the bottle open for a few hours won’t do the job. And while you needn’t impress your friends with a decanter looking more like an art project, you will benefit from even a simple one with a large open top; one allowing the wine to be caressed by air.  Respect the age of older wines, (decant gently, forgo the blender) and let patience reward you with a wine of intrigue.

Cin Cin!
……………. Jim
Like Wine Mizer on FaceBook for recipes, industry news, fun facts and mini wine reviews.

TECH SPECS
Grape:             Nebbiolo, 100%
Vinification:   Stainless steel tanks. About 20 days of skin contact
Ageing:        Medium toast French oak for 3 years: 70% in 20 to 50 hectoliters casks                                                   (a hectoliter is 100 liters, or about 26.5 gallons), and 30% in barriques.

     


     




SINEANN CABERNET SAUVIGNON BABY POUX VINEYARD (2008)

“Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.” . Louis Pasteur

I went into the racks today to see which wine might be needed to be enjoyed now, selected and tasted a 2008 Sineann Wines Cabernet Sauvignon from their Baby Poux Vineyard in the Columbia Valley AVA(Oregon). Oregon is what I often think of when I’m thinking of Pinot Noir, and – o.k. – maybe Pinot Gris. Cabernet Sauvignon, for me, is left bank Bordeaux blends, Sonoma or Napa Valley. A good vintage (97 points Wine Spectator), it’s unlikely you will find a 2008 on the shelves now, but 2012 (at 95 points) and 2013 (at 91-94) should be available and worth looking into from Sineann. Deep purple in the glass with a nose of plum, cassis and blackberry that jumps from the glass. Flavors of plum, cola, blackberry, and cassis are well integrated in a full bodied wine that finishes with a razor’s edge of crispness in a wondrous contradiction of flavors that not only linger cleanly but develop. Sage and cinnamon end notes. Aired more and tasted on the second day, mashed blackberry dominates the nose. Flint and pencil lead develop in the taste that still leads with blackberry. Tannins are silky and the wine is creamy smooth. A most interesting and enjoyable Cabernet Sauvignon. Offered a taste to someone who generally does not like structured wines and she loved it. Thumbs up on this one! 
Cheers!
………………… Jim

Like Wine Mizer on FaceBook for reviews, fun facts, recipes and industry news.


ALLEGRINI PALAZZO della TORRE

“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.” ….  Paulo Coelho, Brida

Give me a lotto winner’s check book and I can give you a magnificent red blend.  Trim the winnings down to under $19 and I can still do that with several very enjoyable white wines.  Trim off a little more and insist I do that again but now with red wine and the options narrow into the challenging lane.  To narrow the lane even more and add a speed bump, insist also that the wine be ageable and classically made and then the options lead surprisingly not into a lane at your specialty liquor store, but instead to the checkout lane at your local grocery.

People that have been around wine for decades, have learned through experience that price is not always indicative of quality and that bargains are fermented under the radar so to speak.  The most recent issue (Jan – Feb 2016) of Wine Spectator, for example, stated (page 84) that the average price for a wine awarded 90 or more points in 2015 was $100 in France, $82 in California and $71 in Italy.  There are numerous reasons for this that I’ll forego mentioning in this piece and save, perhaps, for another time.  Let’s accept that most of us aren’t inclined to spend even $71 on a bottle of wine to accompany our family’s prepared-at-home meal whose ingredients cost $15. So being able to find a bottle of red wine that is delicious, affordable and available at the same grocery store you’re shopping at for that meal seems, to me, a real bonus.

Palazzo della Torre (IGT) is an Italian red blend of 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Sangiovese. The vineyard is in the Fumane (municipality) di Valpolicella in Verona (Northern Italy).  This is the same area famous for producing Valpolicella Superiore and the more expensive Valpolicella della Amarone wines. Vines for Palazzo della Torre average 41 years and this wine produced by Allegrini shares some characteristics with these expensive cousins in using both Corvina and Rondinella grapes in the blend and, by the way, in percentages allowed in making an Amarone.

Of course, there are differences. One being price.  Palazzo della Torre dries only a small percentage of the grapes (about 30%) before they are mixed with the base juice (grapes not dried) and then subject to a second fermentation.  (For more on the process of drying grapes (appassimento) click here.   

The Corvina contributes structure and aroma. Rondinella is naturally high in sugar, also shrivels nicely and contributes both sweetness and body with mouth texture. Sangiovese contributes floral aromas and flavor notes of cherry.  This is a wine of depth, deep purple in the glass, with flavor to match: fruit is creamy rich and deep with a silky mouthfeel (malolactic fermentation) and full bodied.  Flavors are of ripe blackberry, cherry-cola with mocha on the back taste and with a hint of nutmeg.  Aromas of blackberry and chocolaty plum jump. It has a medium finish that is off-dry with some tannin on the end but with a sensation of sweetness.  This dry-sweet interplay is always enjoyable; common in wines fermented with dried grapes. Wines of this composition are often somewhat low in acid but Palazzo della Torre can be aged ten years under optimum conditions.    
 
Referring to the above prices ($71) and point ratings (90 and above), this 2011 Palazzo Della Torre scored 90 points from Robert Parker, 90 points from Wine Enthusiast and 92 points from James Suckling. And I found it stocked at a local grocery for $16.99.  Referring to the quote this post opened with, Palazzo della Torre is a bottle that will be finished once opened, not just tasted.  Pair this wine with lasagna, eggplant parmigiana, risotto with saffron, medium cured cheeses, pork sauced with mushroom. Try it with an Italian style charcuterie of cured sausage, Parma ham, cheeses (gorgonzola, pecorino, Parmesan Reggiano) and walnuts.

Cin Cin!
…………………….   Jim

Like  Wine Mizer on FaceBook for fun facts and quizzes, short reviews of wine, industry news and recipes to pair with your wine.

TECH SPECS FOR WINE GEEKS
Alcohol:                                13.85%
Total Acidity:                         6.1 g/l
Residual Sugars:                     5.4 g/l
pH:                                          3.71

Elevation of Vineyard:                       787 ft Above Sea Level
Exposure:                                            East / Southeast
Soil:                                                     Mostly Clay & Chalk
Avg Age of Vines:                              41 yrs                   

Manual harvest is during the first week of September for grapes to be set aside for drying; end of September for grapes to be vinified immediately. Fresh grapes are de-stemmed and pressed in September; dried grapes in the second half of December.  Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The first fermentation is at 77-84F for 10 days; the second at 46-72F approximately 15 days. Malolactic fermentation is in mid-April in barriques (59 U.S. gallons). Ageing is 15 months in second use oak barriques, blended together for two months and then bottle aged an additional seven months before release.



COTE MAS (DOMAINES PAUL MAS) BLANC MEDITERRANEE

“It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full. There is always room for more wine.” … … Anonymous

I’ve written about some of Jean-Claude Mas’ other wines before, and today I need to write about another. Really, I think it’s his fault because Mas is putting out some of the best product at value prices anywhere in the world today.  His wines are quality focused, but casually enjoyable and at value prices. The Languedoc area in which Cote Mas is located is well known among those in the know for producing excellent value.  The Domaine itself is centuries old and Jean-Claude is the fourth generation winemaker who took the helm of Domaine Paul Mas in 2000. Since then, he has expanded the operation beyond the family’s original estate in Montagnac to now include nine estates across the hillsides of the Languedoc.  Grapes are either estate grown or sourced from long term grower contracts. 
Getting ready to taste
His philosophy is labeled (by himself) as Luxe Rural.”  And he defines it as: “… about finding pleasure from what you see and hear around you. Things don’t have to be very expensive, (he says) In fact it can be something as simple as a perfectly ripe peach or a beautiful view.”  To those who have enjoyed a ripe, farm fresh peach at its peak, or viewed a spectacular water sunset, let me say you probably understand his appreciation for natural perfection. For those whose only experience has been with peaches that are as hard as shipping cross continent necessitates … well, you’re in for a treat with this wine. 

Jean-Claude Mas (R) and the
Wine Mizer. I've lost weight since
but haven't gotten any taller!
In 2012, Jean-Claude brought his “Luxe Rural” philosophy to life with the opening of the Cote Mas Restaurant at the original winery in Montagnac. With an original farm-to-table menu, Cote Mas wines were introduced at the restaurant and became so popular that tourists and travelers wanted to be able to enjoy them at home too. Cote Mas Blanc Mediterranee is one of those original four wines and is now available worldwide.

I first tasted this wine in June and again in August last year and was struck, nay – delighted each time with its masterful balance and sophisticated nuance.  35% Grenache Blanc, 25% Vermintino, 25% Chardonnay and 15% Sauvignon Blanc, each grape is vinified separately.  Each enjoys short skin contact, pneumatic pressing and stainless fermentation to preserve fruit and freshness.  Free run and first press juice only are used in this wine.

In the glass, it shows medium lemon and offers a wondrously lovely nose of quince, orange pith and pineapple.  Flavors of orange segments emerge and a hint of lime develops and as the wine finishes lemon develops again but richly as with lemon curd. The wine finishes cleanly with tastes of citrus and in well balanced acidity.  But what most impressed me about this wine was its nod to tradition despite its “new world bent.”  This is a wine of finesse and, despite its citrus character, subtlety.  Nothing is overpowering. Nothing clubs. It has grace notes: Balance in a classical old world style.
 
On my own I tasted this against two popular new world whites in the same price arena. In each comparison (I won’t mention the brands) I found Blanc Mediterranee to be less sweet (read that to be not cloying) and with a cleaner finish, making it more adaptable to meal pairing. In a very well-known and popular white domestic blend of three grapes, Blanc Mediterranee also came with the advantage of costing less. As with others of Domaines Paul Mas and Cote Mas, the wines burst with personality and express their unique terroir.  And, in this example, the wine does this at a suggested retail price of only $12.99 (often available at even less).

Retail shelves here in the U.S. often look to foreign visitors as over supplied with choices. Indeed, competition for shelf space is intense. So, at times, I enjoy tasting wines but they’re tainted with a tinge of regret knowing the wine may be difficult to track down.  In my area, several Mariano’s (retail grocery) carry this wine. If your favorite liquor store doesn’t, they may be able to order it for you. The Languedoc region continues to gain recognition as a source of wines with an outstanding quality to value ratio.  And in 2015, the Drinks International sommelier poll ranked Domaines Paul Mas among the top 50 most admired wine brands.  Mas wines are imported by Espirit du Vins/Palm Bay.

Sante!
…………………….. Jim

Like Wine Mizer on FaceBook for mini reviews (almost daily) of wine, recipes and fun facts.        
     





DOMAINE MICHEL JUILLOT MERCUREY “CLOS TONNERRE” (2011)

"Pinot Noir is more than just another varietal; it is seductive and ephemeral and attracts a fiercely independent, opinionated breed.”  Lance Cutler, Wine Business Monthly

Some “New World” Pinot Noirs are fruit forward enough to message your brain that the wine is a little sweet.  This 2011 Domaine Michel Juillot Mercurey “Clos Tonnerre” Premiere Cru will definitely NOT do that.  Mercurey is a village in the Cote Chalonnaise sub-region of Burgundy and predominantly produces Pinot Noir. It enjoys its own appellation (AOC) due to its terroir and its more quality focused appellation laws governing the AOC. 

Regarding maximum yields, for example, Mercurey more closely resembles those regulations of the Cote de Nuit and Cote de Beaune than the rest of the Chalonnaise.  The same limestone bed that underlies the Cote d’Or extends south into Chalonnaise, but temperatures in the Chalonnaise are cooler and the fruit has a more brambly forest quality to it.  Mercurey wines can offer value, and offer you a unique style rendering to round out your appreciation of the grape’s different presentations. I found this wine offered a strong nose of brambled cherry, and smooth, light to medium juice of fresh, light, sour cherry. While more ageable than other Chalonnaise, Mercurey is a wine to be enjoyed younger than the more expensive Burgundies of the Cote d’Or, though one more year in the cellar might have been helpful taming this bottle sharp notes.  Whatever your preferences in Pinot Noir, you will most certainly react strongly con or pro to Mercurey – and that is the whole point of the exercise.  Tuition for your experience comes in at an ARP of $30.  Should you be able to find a bottle from either the better 2009 or 2010 vintage, snap it up for immediate enjoyment. In either case, decant the wine, or recap the bottle and taste it again the second day to appreciate how it softens.  Strikes me as a good companion to duck breast with cherry sauce or any sweet sauced BBQ.

Sante!
…………………… Jim


Follow Wine Mizer on FaceBook for recipes, fun facts and frequent wine reviews.

CONDRIEU, E. GUIGAL

"Compromises are for relationships, not wine." --- Sir Robert Scott Caywood

Viognier (vee ohn yay).  If you’ve not enjoyed this white wine grape as a varietal, you may have had it unknowingly - blended in with your Syrah.  A small amount (sometimes no more than 3%) is co-fermented with red Syrah in order to add bouquet.  On its own, Viognier can produce full bodied wines of lush character with delightful and powerful aromatics of peach, apricot and pear along with minerality.  It pairs well with spicy cuisine. It is distinctive and one of my favorite white wines.
 
The French know very well what Viognier is, but do not label their wines by varietal. Instead, labeling is by geographical area.  Condrieu is its own appellation (AOC) in the Northernmost white wine appellation in the Rhone Valley and is the original home of the Viognier vine.  Condrieu’s terraces are composed mostly of granite and “arzelle”: a mixture of decomposed granite, mica, shale and clay that gives wine from that AOC its character.  E Guigal is the “firm” producing the wine, founded in 1946 (imagine planting vineyards so soon after war’s damage) by Etienne Guigal. It is now under the control of grandson Marcel Guigal.  

Perhaps the most famous Viognier is Guigal’s “La Doriane” Condrieu,* a cuvee with an ARP of $85. But wait… $85?  Viognier can be had for $20 and less.  Well, there are Yugos and Bentleys and both share characteristics, but can’t be said to be the same.  So a better inquiry is to wonder if that difference is worth the difference.  And by worth, I mean is the experience elevated enough for my ordinary taste buds to justify the difference?  I tasted a 2011 E. Guigal Condrieu (not the cuvee) which, at the time, retailed for $55 and which I found for $29 as an “End of Bin.” Perhaps you’ll understand later why I tasted a 2012 soon after and happily paid the full retail of $56.  Vive la difference!

All Viognier will share character, but it’s a matter of degree. The best wine, for me, is that which alludes, hints, teases, seduces.  It’s the wine that is the most difficult to describe because all the instruments in the symphony of flavor work together in symbiotic harmony; no one instrument is too dominant.  Guigal’s Condrieu offers a bouquet of pleasant spice with lemon, quince, kiwi and pineapple.  On the palate, it is rich and full bodied and gifting flavors of un-ripe peach, Meyer lemon and lemon-crème and pineapple. The finish is floral tinted and the memory of the experience taunts repeating it.

So tasty with spicy scallops & shrimp.
The aromatics and flavors are delicate, clean with minerality.  This is a wine for both the senses and one’s thoughts.  And upon tasting it, one learns why others are so enamored by the experience.  Sociologists observe that today’s generation values “the experience” over things.  I don’t pretend to completely understand that, but I can say my experience savoring Guigal’s Condrieu is one I valued.  Wine Advocate awarded 92 points to this vintage.  Wine & Spirits gave it 94.  The Rhone Report assigned it 91 as did Wine Spectator.  International Wine Cellar continued in this direction by giving it 92 points.  Along with these rankings came descriptives of flavors, some of which I also enjoyed and others which I didn’t detect so they go unmentioned. For me, what was so enjoyable was how all these aromatics and flavors assembled as a choir with superb grace and finesse. Nuances that were seamless. Once experienced, this wine, contrasted against other Viognier, makes others seem like brash cousins.  Tiramisu vs. puddin’ pops.  What your palate detects will be different.  Palates do what they do independent of our wishes, but it’s certain the overall experience will be enjoyable.

Nor should you worry that the 2011s are off the shelf.  Viognier is a wine to drink young.  I found the 2012 vintage to be much the same;  a little crisper with acids more detectable but with the same lush mouthfeel. (Both undergo 100% malolactic fermentation).  As a rule, Guigal ferments one third in new barrel and two thirds in stainless.  The 2013 vintage (not yet tasted) is available now and, allegedly, is a little tighter. No surprise there.  I found these wines improve over 1-2-3 years of cool cellaring.  Consistent along each vintage is the scoring. Wine Spectator awarded 93 points to the 2013 and 90 to the 2012.  Wine Advocate awarded 92 points to the 2013 and 93 to the 2012.  So while the experts don’t exactly agree, the consensus among those that know is that E. Guigal’s Condrrieu is the gold standard for Viognier.  And for whatever the Wine Mizer can weigh in with, I’ll say only that I’m looking forward to tasting the 2013.

Pair this wine with any seafood. Try it against oily Sockeye salmon, mushroom caps stuffed with shrimp & crab sauced with beurre blanc, lobster, pate, white asparagus and, day I say?...... ham!

Sante!
……………….. Jim

·         Follow Wine Mizer on FaceBook for mini-reviews of wines, fun facts and recipes.

* In case you’re wondering, the difference with Curve La Doriane is that it sees 100% new oak and is a selection that comes from a number of estate plots.  The classic Condrieu, remember, is two-thirds steel and with some grapes being sourced from neighboring vineyards.  I’m quite happy with the freshness of steel, but feel free to experiment.  Both bottling are 100% Viognier and made from vines whose average age is 30 years.



        

DOMAINE BERRIEN CELLARS and the POLAR VORTEX WHITE 2014

“The best way to get a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”  ….. Linus Pauling

This is the second time I’ve been taken by the ingenuity of American winemakers.  In the review immediately preceding this, I described an inventive and refreshing rendition of an otherwise classical Rhone blend by an Illinois winery.  Now I’m impressed by Domaine Berrien Cellars’ “2014 Polar Vortex White.”  The story behind this particular blend, however, is rooted in the axiom, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” But it stands too as a testament to the creative abilities of visionary winemakers who live with the grapes and live with the weather they grow in and seem to have a communicative understanding with both.

The last two winters brought unusually prolonged deep chill to Domaine BerrienCellars’ estate vineyards. With temperatures below -15F for several consecutive days, many of the vines suffered.  Domaine Berrien Cellars is a member of the Rhone Rangers, a non-profit group of professionals dedicated to promoting Rhone grape varieties. Wally Mauer, co-owner and winemaker, grows other varietals too.  Located in the Lake Michigan Shore AVA, and protected by the mass of water in Lake Michigan, moderated temperatures allow for growing vitis vinfera varieties. But two unpredictable winters back to back took their toll and many vines suffered.
 
Wally was left with so little Chardonnay, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc that he was unable to bottle each as a varietal without compromising the quality of grapes used.  And thus was born
Polar Vortex White.”  The wine is produced from premium quality grapes but sufficient in quantity enough to only allow for “boutique” production – 140 cases.  It is a blend of 60% Chardonnay, 30% Viognier and 10% Sauvignon Blanc (all estate grown).

Not taking any chances this year, straw is put down
 in the vineyard to protect the vines
In the glass, the wine is pale gold with a greenish hue.  The Viognier contributes to the aromatic quality with fruity notes of lime, kiwi and unripe pineapple. Tasted on the second day, I enjoyed orange blossom and a hint of Earl Grey tea. But subsequent tastes brought me back to the fruity notes. I very much enjoyed this interplay with the senses, appreciating that such complexity doesn’t gift itself so often.

Lime is a constant. It carries into the flavor, but it’s soft and intriguing. I enjoyed it along with more kiwi, sour orange, a hint of lemon and (if there was such a thing) a taste of hybrid orange-kiwi. The finish is tart, clean and crisp with flavors of tart green apple and lingering kiwi and lime. I didn’t pick up the violet and peach other tasters did, but we all have different palates and they all do what they do. Mine was quite happy with what this wine presented.

I suspected beforehand that I would like this wine just by knowing its players. Viognier is classic at offering both aromatics and mouthfeel and the grapes’ aromatics hold up even when blended in a large portion with other grapes.  I expected its low acid to be balanced by the higher acid of Sauvignon Blanc (and it was) and the cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc also reinforced the lime and green apple. Chardonnay makes for voluminous wine in the mouth and from cool climates yields green apple and lemon flavors.  None of the juice saw wood, making this wine fresh and with aromatics and fruit being preserved instead of being obstructed or masked by oak.

But all this is really more request than review.  In truth, by the time you read this, supplies of this limited production may be gone.  So the request is issued in conjunction with hope that this year's winter will be more traditional, and that yields will be sufficient to allow continued production of this blend - not as a necessity of innovation but as recognition of a good thing.  “Polar Vortex White” took Bronze Medals at both the Indy International and Mid-American Wine Competitions in 2015.  But it was all golden to me, and I’d enjoy having it again.

For more about Domaine Berrien Cellars from a previous review, click this link

Cheers!
……………....... Jim
·         Follow Wine Mizer on FaceBook for recipes, fun facts and mini reviews of wine.

Domaine Berrien Cellars
398 E Lemon Creek Rd
Berrien Springs, MI 49103
(269) 473-9463

TECH SPECS POLAR VORTEX WHITE, 2014
Harvest:                       Sept. 25, 2014
Brix                              21
Fermentation:             Cool, using Lallemond Rhone 4600 yeast in stainless steel vats
Aging                           Bottle aged (no oak) 4 months before release
Bottled:                       March 12, 2015
Alc:                              13.2%
pH:                               3.31
TA:                               0.75
RS:                               0.5
Production:                  140 Cases
Retail Price                 $20 bottle (less club members)









LYNFRED WINERY MARSANNE ROUSSANNE 2011

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. ……  George S. Patton

Those who follow this blog by email subscription may have noticed my postings are down this year. I’ve been posting more mini reviews on FaceBook, but fewer full reviews here. Maintaining a blog is work and since I accept no advertising, it is work that also pays nothing. But the even harsher reality is that as the years accumulate, I find myself encountering fewer wines that excite me, that snap my attention to the forefront. As Shakespeare would say, “there’s the rub” because this is the greatest time in history to be a lover of wine.  More wines than ever before are available. Most are well made. Technology has benefited production and pricing and many delicious wines are inexpensively available.  What could possibly be wrong? 

What’s wrong is why chefs constantly tweak recipes and photographers and artists employ different mediums when their work has already been recognized and collected.  We want to experience something new. It’s in our nature. And that’s the joy I encountered in first tasting Lynfred’s Marsanne Roussanne.  It was particularly joyful for me because I’m a Francophile at heart, meaning I prefer “old world” style wines, and this Lynfred is a wine that would never be made in the old world.  It is different.  New. With a surprising twist.

Marsanne and Roussanne are different grapes. Grown now in many regions of the world, they are still considered French white-wine grapes grown in the Rhone Valley.  Marsanne contributes color, weight and structure. Roussanne offers aromatics and flavors.  Put simply, Marsanne is big and bold. Rousanne is delicate and refined.  Blending them makes for a wine with both characteristics in a balancing act that people have enjoyed for hundreds of years.  Lynfred’s blend is 49% Marsanne and 26% Roussanne.  But wait! That’s only 75%, the legal standard in the U.S. for labeling a wine as a varietal.  Are we missing something?  Yes, one-fourth of the bottle would be empty without the other 25% being filled, in this case, with Pinot Grigio! 

Before you register shock… taste.  Here’s how it worked for me:  In the glass, the wine displayed the color of pale straw with some golden hues.  As with most whites, this wine is “semi-shy” but seductively so. It’s floral, slightly honeyed and with notes of fresh linen.  I enjoyed wisps of
Here enjoyed with wild caught Copper River Sockeye
Salmon
watermelon and, as the wine warmed in the glass - orange.  On the second day, I enjoyed vanilla-lemon, some herbal notes and elderberry. There’s an excellent balance of tart and creamy in this wine that plays the flavor senses: I enjoyed flavors of kiwi, orange, candied lemon peel and Meyer lemon in a rich mouthfeel.  I’ll always enjoy the romantic union of Marsanne and Rousanne, but I have to congratulate Lynfred on their American inventiveness.  The addition of Pinot Grigio lifted the experience. It made for a crisper finish. And it snapped my attention.   

And again with a Portobello mushroom cap stuffed with
pink shrimp & Dungeness crab, then sauced with buerre blanc.
The zesty Pinot Grigio lightened the rich sauce
and cleansed palate nicely.
Grapes are sourced from the Borra Vineyards in Lodi, California.  After pressing, the juice is fermented (separately) and aged in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks which preserves freshness and (especially) the aromatics of Roussanne and Pinot Grigio.  I wondered what contributed to the wine’s lushness in the mouth. Was malolactic fermentation allowed in any percentage?  On any of the varietals? No, I was advised (and yes, I am sometimes intrusive). The lushness is attributed to lees stirring (lees are the spent yeast cells) which was done in a Burgundian style with batonnage in tank every other day for two weeks.  Basically, that means a big stick is inserted and used to stir up the juice, keeping it in contact with the lees.  It makes for wine that becomes creamy, somewhat buttery (in texture not flavor) in the mouth – what wine geeks call volume.  Finally, a very small amount of the Marsanne was aged in oak barrels with batonnage also.

Admittedly, this may be more than you want to know.  But it will not be more than you can appreciate when you taste this wine.  At a bottle price of $22.25, it’s worth tasting several.   Traditionally, many of us  drink more red wine as the weather cools, but with central heating this is a wine everyone can enjoy year long.  I served it twice recently with different seafood.  It would do well certainly with chicken, risotto, any pasta that is white sauced.  In fact, I used white wine as an ingredient in one of the dishes I made and I would suggest you might want to try cooking with wine too.  W.C. Fields wisely said, “I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.”

Cheers!
…………….. Jim
** Follow Wine Mizer on FaceBook for mini reviews, fun facts about wine, recipes and more.

Lynfred Winery
15 S Roselle Rd
Roselle IL 60172
(630) 529-9463

TECH SPECS FOR LYNFRED MARSANNE ROUSSANNE (2011)
Alc:                         12.7%
RS                           0.8%
Ph:                          3.38
Total Acidity:         5.70 g/L
Aging:                    Stainless Steel
Filtered