Jim Beauregard's Tasting Notes: A wine miscellany
MOST OF THE New World wine regions began with a quest to make wines that were on par with those of France. That meant transplanting grapes to new places and hoping they would thrive in new, sometimes similar, sometimes different, environments.
Chenin Blanc is one white grape used to make Vouvray. Its classic flavors are honey and mineral, and the flavor profile can run from very dry to very sweet depending on the residual sugar. From its home in France, where it's also called Pineau de la Loire, it has traveled the world, and now can be found in the United States, Chile, Australia and New Zealand.
Sauvignon Blanc is another of those grapes that has traveled, most notably to New Zealand. Most famously used in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, it is found in many French regions, in Italy, New Zealand and Australia, Chile and elsewhere. Its classic flavors are very aromatic, grassy — "gooseberry" is the term you use if you like it.
Sauvin Vouvray, 2011, Loire Valley, France, $16.99. Made form the Chenin Blanc grape, this is a medium intensity pale white, with an intense nose, grapey at first, then settling into mineral notes. Medium-plus body, creamy, dry, low tannin, medium-plus flavor intensity, the mineral predominates, accompanied by white fruit and honey. Flavorful and complex. 88 pts.
Chateau de Sancerre, 2011, Sancerre AOC, France, $18.99. Sauvignon Blanc, stainless steel-fermented, of the palest gold, a rich, aromatic nose, white fruit, dry, light body, low tannin, strong flavors of herbal, gooseberries, typical to the varietal, mineral notes, long, pleasing finish. The herbal/mineral profile makes it a perfect food wine. This is what the folks in New Zealand set out to copy. Now we have two world-class centers for this grape. 90 pts.
Pinot Noir, also of France, is a contender for most interesting grape in the world. By world I mean its home in Burgundy, also France, Italy, the United States, Germany, where it's called Spaetburgunder (late Burgundy, which is kind of ironic, because the growing season in Germany tends to be short, unless you are making dessert wines), and Peter Jackson-land. The flavor profile is enormous and varies by region. Raspberries and strawberries are typical flavors, especially when the wine is young, and great Pinots age to mushrooms, vegetal flavors and heaven. Oh, it's rumored they make it in Oregon, too.
Really Good Wine by Joe 2010 Pinot Noir, Dundee Oregon, 13.5% abv, $15.19. It is made by Joe — Joe Dobbes. Classic dark red Pinot color, a nose of dark red fruit, raspberries predominating, medium intensity, dry palate, with medium acidity, medium tannin, flavors of raspberry, some bramble notes, ripe cherry, long finish. 85 pts.
In Rhone blends, more than a dozen grapes potentially go into the mix, and the only place in the world where red and white grapes go into the vat together.
Incognito 2009 Red Wine Blend, Lodi, California, $17.99. Well, not really secret, the grapes are Syrah, Cinsault, Carignane, Mourvedre, Petit Sirah, Grenache, and Tannat. Phew! Lots of the Rhone River in this blend. As dark as expected with all those Rhone red grapes, rich dark nose of red and black fruit, and pencil shavings. The palate is very dry, with good acidity, medium to full body, medium-plus flavor intensity of black fruit, blackberry, bramble, some current, both red and white, pepper in the background and a long steady finish. Good quality. Best red in show. It's a toss up for me on the whites. Go forth and taste!
Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at tastingnotesnh.com.