We’re getting a little stir crazy here, how about you?
Though the slowdown has been a nice change of pace from our otherwise crazy busy lives, I’m ready to get back at it! I’m ready to travel, see friends, and even sit at a bar by myself–anything that gets us out from the house! Hopefully, we’ll get back to some kind of normalcy soon.
In the meantime, here are some wines from the past week.
I love this label by the prestigious Barons de Rothschild (Lafite’s) family. Their “economical” Bordeaux wines are a great value for the money at less than $60 for this bottle. The blend is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. The wine is extremely elegant with beautiful black fruit and spice flavors. Easy drinking and smooth, this is definitely a great Bordeaux bottle for those who say they prefer the silkiness of New World reds.
Duckhorn Merlot, 2016
Napa Valley, California
If anyone does Merlot right, it’s Duckhorn. We enjoyed this bottle with rabbit ragu, and I can’t say there’s a much better pairing. Velvety and full-bodied with inky fruit flavors like blackberries, plum, and just a hint of soft, sweet spice. Because it is a big wine, we decanted it for about an hour before we enjoyed the wine with our dinner. This is a bold but velvety wine that goes down very easily, especially if paired with the right meal.
Virginia Petit Manseng Trio
Last week, I participated in a virtual event with three Virginia wineries where we tasted through their version of a single varietal dry Petit Manseng. For those of you who don’t know, Petit Manseng is native to the southwest of France but has found a comfortable home in Virginia. It’s a high acid, high sugar grape, which fairs well in the warm, often wet summers and early fall in the Mid-Atlantic.
Walsh Family Wine Petit Manseng, 2018
Loudoun County, Virginia
I met the Walshes (Nate & Sarah) on my last trip to Virginia this past February. They are a wonderful couple, and Nate is making some pretty incredible Virginia wines. I was very impressed with all the wines we tasted that evening with them but especially enjoyed their Merlot and Tannat.
When I saw that their Petit Manseng was part of the trio, I was excited to participate in this virtual tasting.
Out of the three wines, the Walsh version was the most tart with green apples, citrus, pear, and some spices like cinnamon dominating the flavor profile. Nate explained that the wine spends some time in barrel and undergoes partial malolactic fermentation. After the tasting, I took the wine outside and sat on the balcony and was so impressed with how the flavors evolved as the wine warmed up. It was an incredibly rich and textured wine that I enjoyed throughout the evening. Bravo, Walsh Family, on another fabulous wine!
Early Mountain Vineyards Petit Manseng, 2018
I only very briefly met the Early Mountain folks at this year’s Governor’s Cup in Richmond, but I’ve heard and seen wonderful things throughout social media. They were the ones leading this trio tasting, so naturally, their Petit Manseng was part of the fun.
The Early Mountain wine was a little heavier than Walsh’s, with a more creamy green apple textural flavor. They ferment partly in concrete and use lees aging to give a more “cheesy” characteristic to the wine. Early Mountain employs gentle skin contact through stomping but without the stems, which may add extra bitter components if they are included. The wine is aged in oak to counteract some of the high acidity found in this grape.
Michael Shaps Wineworks Petit Manseng, 2016
Michael Shaps’ Petit Manseng is just gold. Truly a fantastic wine. It is a creamy, spicy monster wine that can hold up to just about anything. Dried fruit on the palate along with high acid. This wine can age for years more.
No malolactic fermentation, but lees aging and oak were used. We enjoyed the wine with some ahi tuna steaks and soy sauce and it was a lovely pair. This particular Petit Manseng is heavy enough to act as a red wine pair if you have the right complementing flavors. According to the Virginia winemakers, soy or “umami” flavors are an excellent match for these wines, and that was confirmed by our dinner.