Well, folks. I think I’m going to wrap up this series right here. It has been fun chronicling my wine tasting notes throughout this period of isolation and lockdown, but eight weeks’ worth of bottles is a lot of tasting notes (65+ bottles over 10 posts, and that’s not including the repeat wines or ones that I reviewed for other publications). I’ve enjoyed sharing the bottles that have given us joy while we socialized with others through a screen. Maybe you’ve discovered one or two you want to try?
While we are not through this pandemic yet, I’ll save my tasting notes for special discoveries and share them either here on my blog or on another site I write for. Please do keep up with my Biscayne Times Vino column articles for my monthly review of wines under $15.
In the meantime, here are the last few wines we have enjoyed through eight weeks of our stay-at-home orders.
Eden Valley, Australia
This is a beautiful example of a dry Riesling from Australia, with all the flavors and structure you want in this style of wine. Heavy on the citrus aromas with some apricot and tropical flavors mixed in on the nose. When it comes to the palate, lemon, lime, and orange flavors dominate with a bold, crisp acidity. It’s elegant and balanced with a medium finish. This was a perfect bottle with our pork chops and Brussels Sprouts dinner.
Pick up a bottle at 305wines.com.
Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG, Tuscany, Italy
To be honest, I had not had a Montecucco Sangiovese before, and I was so pleasantly surprised. Sangiovese is not my favorite grape. In fact, I always find it “lacking” somehow, especially when coming out of the Chianti region. This bottle, however, was just perfect. Ripe red cherries mixed with flavors of iron and earth and a bit of vanilla spice but blended very nicely with solid acidity. Medium-bodied and medium tannins rounded out the structure of this wine. We paired it perfectly with a protein lover’s pizza, and it was just divine.
This is just a stunning bottle of bubbly. I had not had Charles Heidsieck in a long time before last week when we purchased a bottle through 305wines.com for a Champagne webinar, and WOW, I’ll be back for more.
Charles Heidsieck follows the 60-40-10 rule for their Brut Réserve, which means 60 crus go into the blend, 40% reserve wine, and the reserve wine has an average age of 10 years. The blend is 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Noir, and 1/3 Meunier. The result is an incredibly complex Champagne, with aromas of baked brioche, dried tropical fruits, and even some nutty qualities. Leading into the palate with textured elegance, red fruits flavors, and a hint of vanilla along with that fresh brioche. It’s just an incredibly delicious Champagne, and at around $60 a bottle, it’s a great value for the quality of the wine. We enjoyed it for a dinner paired with sushi and buttery crab rolls.
I really enjoyed this bottle of Champagne (hard for me not to enjoy any bottle of Champagne). Much lighter than the previous one, but equally as delightful and enjoyable. Champagne Ayala Brut Majeur is what I would call a “fresh” Champagne, with more citrus flavors and crisp acidity and less of the brioche found in the Charles Heidsieck. This is a very dry Brut wine, with a low dosage added during production. The blend s 40% each of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with 20% of Meunier. Enjoy it on its own, or with a seafood dish. I paired it with Arctic Char, lightly seasoned, and eggplant with parmesan. Perfection!
Looking for something different? This Rosé de Saignée Champagne from grower house, Voirin-Jumel, is an excellent option. Not your typical rosé partially due to the saignée, or bleeding, method used to make the wine. The color is bright cherry red, and the nose and palate are full of red fruit and cherry flavors, along with some citrus like grapefruit. Super Fresh and well balanced with a long and delicious finish. This wine was a surprise to me, but such a pleasant one.
DO Madrid, Spain
This bottle is one of my all-time favorite Garnachas! And I love Grenache/Garnacha. These grapes come from old vines that are 50-90 years old from villages outside of Madrid. It’s just a beautifully elegant Garnacha with silky smooth tannins and aromas of ripe red fruits like cherry and raspberry along with some herbal notes on the nose. Very well balanced and an easy-drinking wine that also pairs well with meats. We picked up BBQ the other day and enjoyed a bottle of El Hombre Bala with a pulled pork sandwich with a little spice, and the touch of pepper in the wine just paired perfectly with the meat.
I picked up this bottle at Happy Wine in Miami, where I’ve purchased several El Hombre Bala bottles. It’s best to grab more than one because you will definitely enjoy it.
I’ve always been impressed with Domaine Bousquet’s products out of the remote Tupungato region of Mendoza, Argentina. In fact, I’ve written about the Bousquet family before for Coravin, and I’ve had owners, Anne and Labid, on the radio with me during “Food, News, and Views.” It’s no secret that I’m impressed with what they’ve done, but also the fact that they make high-quality economical wines with organic grapes, and in this case, a completely USDA-certified-organic wine.
What does it mean to be USDA-certified-organic? Labid explained that in order to be USDA-certified-organic, not only do you have to use organic grapes and production methods, but you cannot add any sulfites to the wine. Therefore, the Domaine Bousquet “Virgen” product line does not have any added sulfites.
The Virgen Red Blend is comprised of three grapes: Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. It is bursting with both black and red fruit flavors on the nose and palate, with ripe raspberry and blackberry showing through in the mouth. It’s smooth without sticky tannins, medium-bodied, and well balanced with a nice finish. I wouldn’t call it an overly complicated wine, but you really don’t expect that too often at this price point. ($13)
I look forward to trying both the Virgen Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec in their debut vintage of 2019.
Soave DOC, Italy
What a beautiful white wine! We opened a bottle of Soave for my WSET 2 class this week with Florida Wine Academy, and I chose this one from our cellar. The bottle is designed in the “vintage” or retro style of the 1930s, according to the website, and I really like the throwback to a different, more traditional, time.
The wine itself actually held up nicely with a burger pattie and Brussels Sprouts that we had for dinner later. Medium-bodied with fresh flavors of lemons and stone fruits like apricots and some peach. Crisp minerality and high acidity keep this wine very balanced. I’ve always enjoyed Garganega wines, and this was a good example of an easy-drinking white that I could come back to for enjoyment or to pair with dinner night after night. I’ll have to remember to look for more Soave in the future.
Another “study” wine and lovely example of a classic Chablis. Crisp minerality and lots of citrus-lemon and green apple aromas and flavors. This is a great “starter” Chablis as it’s priced at less than $30 from 305wines.com but still holds its own as a quality Bourgogne wine.
Do you have a friend who says they don’t like Chardonnay? Have you tried sharing a Chablis with them? A wine like this one is an entirely different style than say, your average oaked California Chard, and it just may be the wine that makes someone appreciate this grape.