Drinking Older Bordeaux Wines

Drinking Older Bordeaux Wines

By Bob Lipinski

“No, Agnes, a Bordeaux is not a house of ill repute.” (George Bain 1920–2006, Canadian author, Champagne is for Breakfast, 1972)

At a fabulous private wine event, I had the opportunity of tasting wines from three classic Bordeaux wineries dating back to 1982. The wineries were Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Château Branaire-Ducru, and Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste. Leading the sit-down discussion were representatives from each of the Bordeaux estates.

My tasting notes of some of the wines are below.

Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte (Martillac, Graves) Red wines are made from a grape blend that varies by vintage; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Red wines are aged in oak barrels for about 18 months.

2010 “Blanc:” (Blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Sémillon grapes) Bouquet and flavor of coconut, marzipan, citrus, peach, mango and ripe melons. 10 months in oak.

2012 “Blanc:” (Blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc / 5% Sauvignon Gris / 5% Sémillon grapes) Flavors of peach, apricot, and citrus, with hints of caramel and star anise. 10 months in oak.

2012 “Rouge:” Dark colored with huge mouthful of black tea, black currants, spices, and black cherries.

2009 “Rouge:” Full-flavored with red fruits abounding; spices, perfumed bouquet, cinnamon and raspberries.

2000 “Rouge:” Notes of sweet cherries, cranberry, licorice, and black raspberry with light tannins. Elegant.

1998 “Rouge:” Maroon-colored with an earthy bouquet; black currants, dark fruits, sweet cherries, leather, mushrooms. Velvety and very long aftertaste. Wow!

Château Branaire-Ducru (Saint-Julien; fourth growth—1855 Classification). Produces only red wine from a grape blend that varies by vintage; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Wines are aged in oak barrels for 16 to 20 months,

2011: Dark color with a bouquet of cedar, sweet cherries, chocolate, and spices. Some tannin to lose. Overall quite young.

2010: Closed, tight nose; heaps of fruit, well-balanced, tannin and plenty of cherries.

2008: Perfumed bouquet, violets, dried red fruits, well-balanced, still tannic, some black currants.

2005: Bouquet loaded with brown baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), wonderfully structured, softening. Still youthful.

1989: Perfumed bouquet of roses, cherries and violets. Medium-full bodied and elegant but thinning out. Drink by 2020.

1982: Brick-color; certain sweetness of fruit; soft, elegant with some tannin, Hint of tea and orange peel. Drink by 2020.

Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste (Pauillac; fifth growth—1855 Classification). Produces only red wine from a grape blend that varies by vintage; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

2009: Dark red color with a complex bouquet of fruits, blackcurrant, cedar, spices, licorice. Youthful.

2006: Bouquet of black currant liqueur with hints of cedar, black tea. Still tannic.

2005: Garnet-color with hints of cherries, black currants, spices and wet stone. Still quite youthful.

2000: Brick-color; bouquet of cherries, mint, licorice, and plums. Still quite flavorful and fruity.

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bob@hibs-usa.com.

 

20 Great Wine Quotes To Stimulate Your Palate

20 Great Wine Quotes To Stimulate Your Palate

By Bob Lipinski

I love reading quotes, especially funny, historical, inspirational or those from well-known individuals. With that in mind I’d like to share 20 of my favorite wine quotes that may stimulate you to reach for a bottle of wine.

“Life is too short to drink bad wine.” (Author Unknown)

“A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.” (Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1755–1826, French politician and writer)

“The fine wine leaves you with something pleasant. The ordinary wine just leaves.” (Dr. Maynard A. Amerine, 1911–1998, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis)

“Wine is one of the agreeable and essential ingredients of life.” (Julia Child, 1912–2004, American master chef)

“Wine is the intellectual part of a meal. Meats are merely the material part.” (Alexander Dumas, 1802–1870, French novelist)

“Where there is no wine, there is no love.” (Euripides 480–406 BC, Greek playwright)

“If food is the body of good living, wine is its soul.” (Clifton Fadiman, 1904–1999, American writer and editor; New Yorker book reviewer)

“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.” (Galileo Galilei, 1564–1642, Italian Mathematician, Astronomer and Physicist)

“I love everything that’s old: old friends, old times, old man­ners, old books, old wines.” (Oliver Goldsmith 1730–1774, She Stoops To Conquer, 1773)

“Wine is a substance that is wonderfully appropriate to man, in health as well as in sickness, if it be administered at the right time, and in proper quantities, according to the individual constitution.” (Hippocrates, Greek Physician 460–377 B.C.)

“Wine is like sex in that few men will admit not knowing all about it.” (Hugh Johnson, 1939–, British author)

“What is better than to sit at the end of the day and drink wine with friends, or substitutes for friends”? (James Joyce, 1882–1941, Irish novelist and poet)

“When it comes to wine, I tell people to throw away the vintage charts and to invest in a corkscrew. The best way to learn about wine is in the drinking.” (Alexis Lichine, 1913–1989, wine writer and winery owner)

“I feast on wine and bread, and feasts they are.” (Michelangelo, 1475–1564, Italian artist)

“The metamorphosis of grape juice to wine is a natural process, but the creation of truly fine wines requires balanced contribu­tions of tradition, expertise, and innovation.” (Angelo Papagni, Papagni Vineyards, Madera, California)

“Wine can be considered with good reason as the most healthful and most hygienic of all beverages.” (Louis Pasteur, 1822–1895)

“There are two reasons for drinking wine: one is when you are thirsty, to cure it; the other is when you are not thirsty, to prevent it. Prevention is always better than cure.” (Thomas Love Peacock, 1785–1866, English novelist and poet; Melincourt, 1817)

“Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.” (André L. Simon, 1877–1970, French wine writer, The Commonsense of Wine)

“You Americans have the loveliest wines in the world, you know, but you don’t realize it. You call them “domestic” and that’s enough to start trouble anywhere.” (H.G. Wells, 1866–1946, British novelist and historian, and social reformer)

“Our Italian winery workers were full of red wine and garlic. They never caught anything. The germs couldn’t get close enough to them.” (Karl L. Wente, Wente Vineyards, California)

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bob@hibs-usa.com.

 

Grana Cheese For Grating

Grana Cheese For Grating

By Bob Lipinski

Adding grated cheese to a dish of pasta is something we do automatically, sometimes without regard to the type of cheese we’re using, or which is suggested in the recipe. Not all grated cheeses are alike. These hard-grating cheeses belong to a group known as grana (in Italian), which means they have a flaky, grainy or granular texture; sharp, well-aged and hard to very hard. These cheeses are suitable for grating when they begin to get old. Grana cheeses can be made from cow, sheep, or even goat’s milk. Although most are made in Italy, some are produced in Greece, Switzerland, Argentina, and the United States.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is one of the most popular grana cheeses, but keep in mind, “all Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses are grana, but not all grana cheeses are Parmigiano-Reggiano.” Italian hard cheeses were once referred to as cacio duro. The word “Grana” is legally protected by Grana Padano Protected Designation of Origin, such that only Grana Padano can use the term to sell its produce in EU countries.

Grana Cheese

Some examples of grana cheeses from Italy are Asiago, Bagozzo, Crotonese, Grana Padano, Granone Lodigiano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, Piave, and Vacchino Romano.

Grana cheese from Greece– Kefalotyri; from Switzerland– Sapsago and Sbrinz; from Argentina—Reggianito; from United States—Dry Jack

Grana cheeses will keep for several months if wrapped in damp cheesecloth then enclosed in aluminum foil and refrigerated. You can purchase grana cheese either previously grated or in chunk form. If purchasing already grated, plan on using it within 60 days since it will begin to dry out. When using chunks, grate only the cheese you need at one time and refrigerate the unused portion. Hard cheeses may be frozen for up to eight weeks, but should then be used for grating, shredding, or cooking.

Tip: Liven-up popcorn by sprinkling it with grated, grana cheese.

In addition to sprinkling on pasta, many grana cheeses are great enjoyed by the chunk with a piece of crusty bread and glass of wine (red or white) or even whiskey. Let the cheese come to room temperature for optimum enjoyment.

My wine recommendations are

  • 2016 Standing Stone Riesling (Finger Lakes, New York)
  • 2016 Gundlach-Bundschu “Dry” Gewürztraminer (Sonoma, California)
  • 2016 Four Graces “Pinot Gris” (Willamette, Oregon)
  • 2016 Shooting Star “Chardonnay” (Lake County, California)
  • 2013 Podere Ruggeri Corsini “Barbera Armujan” (Piedmont, Italy)
  • 2011 La Spinona “Barolo Sorì Gepin” (Piedmont, Italy)
  • 2015 Poggio al Sole “Chianti Classico” (Tuscany, Italy)

Whiskey

Wild Turkey “Rare Breed” Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey “Barrel Proof”

Jim Beam “Black Label” Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bob@hibs-usa.com.

 

The 2016 Burgundies Have Arrived

The 2016 Burgundies Have Arrived

By: Bob Lipinski

There has been much praise directed at the 2016 vintage in Burgundy, France from many well-known and respected writers and critics. The vintage was definitely quality over quantity due to lower yields in the vineyards because of frost. One thing that stood out was the abundance of spicy berries and fruit in both the white and especially reds. The wines are fresh, fruity, and well-balanced with good (not high) levels of acidity and less oak aging. The red wines have abundant flavors of raspberry, strawberry, cherry, spices, citrus, and stone fruits. White wines are aromatic, clean, crisp and loaded with peach, pears, hints of oak, butter, and citrus.

Bob Lipinski

 

Although both the red and whites can be cellared for several years, they are delicious right now. Of the many wines I sampled there were quite a few that really stood out and are worth searching for. There were too many fine wines to comment on each.

 

Whites

J.J. Vincent “NV Crémant de Bourgogne” (100% Chardonnay)

J.J. Vincent “Bourgogne Blanc”

J.J. Vincent “Pouilly-Fuissé Marie-Antoinette”

Jacques Prieur “Meursault Clos de Mazeray”

Reds

Domaine Dominique Gallois “Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, Petits Cazetiers”

Domaine Dominique Gallois “Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, La Combe aux Moines”

Domaine Dominique Gallois “Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru”

Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier “Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru, Clos de la Maréchale”

Domaine Lignier-Michelot “Bourgogne Red” (Pinot Noir)

Domaine Lignier-Michelot “Chambolle-Musigny Vieilles Vignes”

Domaine Lignier-Michelot “Morey-Saint-Denis En la Rue de Vergy”

Domaine Lignier-Michelot “Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Les Faconnières”

Domaine Lignier-Michelot “Clos de la Roche Grand Cru”

Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet “Gevrey-Chambertin Symphonie”

Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet “Gevrey-Chambertin Mes Favorites Vieilles Vignes”

Domaine Sylvain Cathiard “Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Aux Thorey”

Domaine Sylvain Cathiard “Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Aux Murgers”

Jacques Prieur “Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru”

Jacques Prieur “Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru”

Armand Rousseau “Gevrey-Chambertin Clos du Château”

Armand Rousseau “Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St-Jacques”

Armand Rousseau Ruchottes-Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes Grand Cru”

Armand Rousseau “Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru”

Domaine Parent “Corton Les Renardes Grand Cru”

Although many people love eating cheese while drinking wine, it’s a rarity to find any cheese at serious wine tastings or judgings. The alkalinity of the cheese neutralizes the acidity of the wine, obscuring its sensory characteristics.

Several of my favorites French cheeses from Burgundy may be a little difficult to find, but the search is worth it.

Charolais: A soft texture, cylindrical or flat drum-shaped (with concave sides) goat’s (or goat and cow’s) milk cheese made in Charolles, Burgundy. It is generally eaten fresh; however, it does age well.

Lormes: A semisoft cheese with a bluish-gray exterior and a delicate and pleasant taste, which is made in Burgundy. It is made into truncated cones when made from goat’s milk and flat disks when made from cow’s milk.

Soumaintrain: A semisoft, wheel-shaped, cow’s milk cheese made in Burgundy. Soumaintrain has a shiny-orange exterior, a yellow interior, and is quite pungent smelling with a creamy taste.

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bob@hibs-usa.com.

 

Rum- Not Just For Cocktails

Rum- Not Just For Cocktails

By: Bob Lipinski

Rum is an alcoholic beverage distilled from the fermented juice of sugarcane, sugarcane syrup, sugarcane molasses, or other sugarcane by-products. It is bottled at not less than 80-proof (except for flavored rum). Some rums are bottled at a staggering 151-proof.

More than 70 countries produce rum although it is produced mainly in Caribbean, Central and South American countries.

Although rum is generally used as a mixer in cocktails such as piña colada, daiquiri, rum & cola, mojito, Long Island ice tea, and others, there are many well aged rums suitable for sipping without the fruit juices. If you enjoy sipping rum, my recommendations will most certainly satisfy your cravings.

Owney’s Rum (New York City), which was started in 2012: Clear color with hints of grass, citrus, mint, black pepper, and clove. Dry and strong tasting with an aftertaste of molasses.

Puerto Angel Rum (Mexico): Just a hint of color; bouquet of coffee, chocolate, cinnamon, butterscotch, nutmeg, and vanilla. Some bitterness, but smooth with “no bite.”

Brugal Añejo Extra Rum (Dominican Republic): Amber-colored with a bouquet and flavor of citrus, molasses, cinnamon, grass, and lime. Very complex smoky taste, almost of a fine brandy.

Don Q Gran Añejo Rum (Puerto Rico): Amber color with overtones of lemons, grass, toasted oak, citrus, burnt sugar, banana, and butterscotch. It was aged in used sherry barrels.

Bacardi Reserva Limitata (Puerto Rico): Amber-colored with hints of citrus, honey, tobacco, vanilla, and maple syrup. Full-flavored with a long, pleasing, almost sugary aftertaste.

Pyrat XO Reserve Rum (Antigua): Amber colored. The rum smells like an orange liqueur with hints of nutmeg. Full flavor of candied orange peel, lemon, lime, and butterscotch. Quite refined; fantastic served over ice.

Appleton Reserve Blend Rum (Jamaica): Amber colored with a bouquet of molasses, burnt butter, nuts, clove, allspice, mace, and oil of bergamot. Dry with a pleasing smoky, burnt wood aftertaste. One of the finest Appleton’s rums I’ve tasted.

Ron Abuelo 12-Year-Old Rum (Panama): Amber-colored with a complex nose of caramel, nuts, toasted oak, and molasses. Fruity with flavors of orange, heather honey, dark cherries, molasses, and toasted nuts. Superb, smooth rum.

El Dorado 12-Year-Old Demerara Rum (Guyana): Amber-colored with a bouquet of allspice, black pepper, caramel and toasted marshmallows. Flavors explode in the mouth with sugar cane, oranges, dates, prunes, orange peel, and toasted nuts. Very well-made and so delicious.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum (Venezuela): Dark amber-colored with a refined bouquet of citrus, toasted vanilla, nuts, prunes, toffee, and orange zest. Flavors of orange, toffee, maple syrup, and honey. The rum was aged in used PX sherry barrels, which accounts for the fruitiness in the mouth. Superb!

The Andrews Sisters, a famous female singing group recorded the song, “Rum & Coca-Cola” on October 18, 1944 for Decca Records.

My book, “101: Everything You Need To Know About Vodka, Gin, Rum & Tequila” is available at Amazon.com and other on-line bookstores.

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bob@hibs-usa.com.

 

All That Bubbles is NOT Champagne

All That Bubbles is NOT Champagne

By Bob Lipinski

The expression, “All That Bubbles is Not Champagne,” might be overplayed, but it is true. Sparkling wines are made throughout the world in virtually every country that makes wine and most countries have a local name for their “bubbly.” However, the term “champagne” is properly given to the sparkling wines made in the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wines made in the U.S. must provide a geographic term such as New York, American, or California before the word “Champagne.”

A sparkling wine is an effervescent wine (contains bubbles) resulting from the secondary fermentation of wine within a closed container (bottle or tank). Sparkling wines are made globally from a multitude of different grapes and grape blends. Sparkling wines can be red, white, or rosé (pink); be dry, off-dry, semisweet, or even sweet. Prices also range from inexpensive to very expensive, sometimes costing hundreds of dollars per bottle.

Some recently tasted sparkling wines that should satisfy anyone’s taste are.

Codorníu Cuvée Clásico “Cava Brut,” Spain: (Blend of Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo grapes) Fine pin-point bubbles with a bouquet of green apples, lemon, and brioche. Dry, clean and crispy in the mouth with a pleasing aftertaste of almonds. Fabulous with fried calamari.

Codorníu Anna “Blanc de Blancs, Brut Reserva,” Spain: (Blend of Chardonnay, Parellada, Xarel-lo, and Macabeo grapes) Delicately flavored, elegant and beautifully balanced with a nice creamy mouthfeel and a lively, fruity-spicy aftertaste. Raw oysters with a hint of mignonette sauce pairs well.

2016 Montesel “Prosecco “Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore, DOCG, Brut, Italy: A top-of-the-line dry prosecco, which has a fruity bouquet of apples, citrus, and fennel. Flavors of ginger, stone fruit, and anise round out this beauty. Did anyone say dark chocolate with some fresh raspberries!

Philippe Deval “Crémant de Loire” Brut, AOC Loire Valley, France: (Blend of Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay grapes) A flowery aroma of apple cider, citrus, nuts, and peaches. Dry and lemony with ripe melon flavors and almond aftertaste. Serve with a fruit-based sauce over pork.

Cococciola (koh-KOHT-cho-lah) “Spumante Brut,” Abruzzo, Italy: Cococciola is a white grape variety grown in the Abruzzo (some in Apulia) region since the early 1900s and used mostly for blending. This is the first sparkling wine I have seen from the grape variety and it is amazing! Pale straw colored with a perfumed aroma of apricots, honeysuckle, litchi, and wild flowers. Flavors of citrus and orange, with hints of sage and toasted almonds. The aftertaste begs for another glass (or bottle)! Pair this with some panettone, light fruit tarts, or a bowl of strawberries with whipped cream.

By the way…the first recorded production of a bottle-fermented sparkling wine occurred as early as 1531 at the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire at Limoux in southern France, more than a century before Dom Pérignon arrived at Hautvillers.

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bob@hibs-usa.com.

 

Fondue— A Swiss Tradition

Fondue— A Swiss Tradition

By Bob Lipinski

As the weather turns colder and days become shorter, thoughts of sitting around a roaring fire come to mind. Although freshly roasted chestnuts and large mugs of mulled wine or even hot chocolate satisfies, I enjoy dipping some crusty bread into a pot of melted cheese. Not just any cheese, but one that is flavored with kirsch (cherry brandy), garlic, white wine, and seasonings. I’m talking fondue, a true Swiss tradition.

The word fondue comes from the French fondre, meaning “to melt.” There are several kinds of fondue including the traditional cheese one. Also, a meat fondue known as fondue bourguignonne from Burgundy, France, where cubes of raw beef are threaded on skewers, then dipped in bubbling hot oil for several minutes prior to being eaten with various dipping sauces. Then there is a dessert fondue featuring chocolate, cream, and liqueurs heated until melted, then used to coat pieces of cake or fruit.

When selecting wines to pair with fondue, choose fairly neutral dry white wines with good acidity, while avoiding oaky ones. My recommended white wines include a Swiss Fendant (Chasselas grape) or Neuchâtel; French Chablis or Muscadet; Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc or dry Riesling. Choose red wines with little tannin and oak in favor of wines like Beaujolais, Grenache, Grignolino, and Pinot Noir.

The following fondue recipe is a modification of the original I enjoyed while in Switzerland. Although the recipe calls for the traditional Emmental or Gruyère cheese, you can also try Appenzeller, Beaufort, or Comté, and any combination of these cheeses.

Cheese Fondue

  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1-pound Emmental or Gruyère cheese, grated (not chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (see above recommendations)
  • 1/3 cup kirsch (cherry brandy, NOT “flavored” brandy)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Nutmeg for dusting
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

In an earthenware pot, rub the sides and bottom with garlic (add to pot), then add cheese, butter, white wine, kirsch (in which the corn starch has been dissolved), and nutmeg. Place the pot over medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon. If the cheese forms into a thick mass, continue to stir and it will be re-absorbed. As the mixture continues to bubble, adjust flavor with salt and pepper, then add the bicarbonate of soda, which will make the fondue lighter. Now the fondue is ready to enjoy.

Take cubes of crusty French or Italian bread; fasten onto foot-long, three-pronged, metal fondue forks and dip into the fondue for a moment or so before popping it into your mouth.

Now enjoy a glass of some good Swiss wine!

“Cheese complements a good meal and supplements a bad one.” (E. Briffault, French gastronome)

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bob@hibs-usa.com.

 

Merlot… The Blackbird Grape

Merlot… The Blackbird Grape

By Bob Lipinski

Some believe the name Merlot was given to this black grape variety because blackbirds (known as merlau in Occitan in southern France) liked eating its plump, sweet-tasting flesh. Whether the story is factual cannot be determined, but what we do know is the first mention of Merlot seems to be in the late 1780s in the Libourne district of Bordeaux, France. According to DNA testing conducted in the mid-1990s, it was determined that the parents of the Merlot grape are Cabernet Franc and the lesser-known Magdeleine Noire des Charentes grape from France.

Merlot is a medium acid red grape variety acknowledged worldwide as producing some of the finest dry red wines. It is the predominant red grape variety of the Bordeaux region as well as in other parts of France. Merlot is also grown in most wine-producing countries producing wines from light-bodied and fruity to big, full-bodied wines of structure, tannin and great longevity. Merlot is used in many red wine blends, offering fruit, succulence, acidity, color, and overtones of jam and spices. When bottled as a separate varietal, its flavors can be subtle or dramatic, easily competing with some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Two areas of the world where Merlot really excels is the Pomerol district of Bordeaux and surprisingly, in Washington State.

In the U.S., the Louis M. Martini Winery of Napa Valley, California bottled the first “Merlot” as a separate varietal, blending the 1968 and 1970 wines from their Edgehill property, which was released in 1971.

Depending on where is grown, Merlot offers a wide spectrum of aromas and flavors. Merlot is generally bright ruby-red in color, producing scented, fruity wines, smelling and tasting very much of bell pepper, berries (blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry), black cherry, black currants, black olive, black tea, cedar, chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, green olive, herbs, licorice, maraschino cherry, peppermint, plum, and spices.

Below are some good examples of Merlot I recently had the opportunity to sample.

2014 Heller Estate “Merlot” Carmel Valley, California. Dark-colored with an intense bouquet and flavor of blackberries, black currants, and cherries. Full-bodied, tannic, and quite youthful with a lingering aftertaste of spicy herbs. Anybody for a rack of lamb with rosemary!

2014 Boxwood Winery “Merlot” Trellis; Middleburg, Virginia. Yes, Virginia! The wine is dark colored with a full bouquet of spicy black cherries, black raspberries, and some oak. Smooth and so easy to drink with a long aftertaste. Serve with some grilled portobello mushrooms.

2014 Selby “Merlot” Russian River Valley, California. Medium-ruby color with a fruity bouquet of fresh and dried berries; mint, and hints of cranberry. Baking spices along with some wood and dried plums abound. A dish of pasta with some sun-dried tomatoes works for me.

“Drinking the right wine at the right time is an art.” (Horace A. Vachell)

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bob@hibs-usa.com.

 

Pairing Wine With Monterey Jack Cheese

Pairing Wine With Monterey Jack Cheese

By Bob Lipinski

Monterey Jack, a cow’s milk cheese, was developed in the 1880s in Monterey by a Scot merchant named David Jacks. He derived the name, “Monterey Jack,” from the shipping point, Monterey and his last name, Jacks, minus the “s.” There are however, several other versions as to the origin of Monterey Jack cheese.

Although the cheese was first developed and sold in Monterey, it is now produced in several other states and with variations from dairy-to-dairy.

Most Monterey Jack has an inedible rind, often black in color. The rind is sometimes coated with a mixture of oil, pepper, and cocoa. It generally has a pale yellow-orange interior with numerous small holes. It is rectangular or wheel-shaped, depending on the preference of the dairy.

The cheese has a sweet, nutty flavor with a tart aftertaste, similar to Cheddar. When old, the taste becomes sharp and tangy. It is sometimes flavored with caraway seeds, dill, fennel, or jalapeño peppers. It has a semi-hard texture and when labeled “Dry Jack,” it is a hard, tangy cheese suitable for grating,

Dry Jack cheese is Monterey Jack that has been aged 6 to 9 months or longer. It came into existence during World War I, when San Francisco cheese wholesaler, D.F. DeBernardi found his Monterey Jack cheese had aged too long and “gone hard.” Italian immigrants immediately found it useful because it could be grated like Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino.

Monterey Jack is also called Sonoma Jack (brand-name) California Jack, or Jack.

Monterey Jack can be paired with Syrah, Merlot, Zinfandel, and of course Cabernet Sauvignon. Four California wines I recently tasted would pair quite well with a wedge of Monterey Jack. My tasting notes follow:

2010 Mayacamas, “Mt. Veeder” Cabernet Sauvignon: (blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot; aged 36 months in oak) Full bouquet with flavors of dried berries, herbs, black currants, dill, and coffee. Full-bodied, tannic, and still quite youthful.

2012 Inglenook “Cask” Rutherford, Cabernet Sauvignon: (blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet France, 3% Merlot; aged 18 months in oak). Dark-colored with a bouquet brimming with berries (blackberry and blueberry), black cherries, and black currants. Layers of fruit; great depth of flavor with plenty of acidity.

2013 Hourglass “Blueline Estate” Merlot, Calistoga: (blend of 84% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec; aged 2 to 3 years in oak). Deepest color, very fruity with hints of plums, chocolate, and spices. Quite smooth and elegant with toasted oak on the finish.

2012 Snowden “The Ranch” Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon: (blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14%Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot; aged 18 months in oak). Great depth of color; Fruity and powerful with a certain sweetness; concentrated flavors and very complex with overtones of dark chocolate, oak, and black currants.

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bob@hibs-usa.com.

There’s No Place Like Rhône

There’s No Place Like Rhône

By Bob Lipinski

No, we’re not talking about Kansas or Dorothy! The Rhône Valley, a major grape-growing region is located below Burgundy in the southeast of France. Rhône Valley’s wine production is more than 80 percent red with some whites and even rosé wines.

In the northern Rhône, the powerful reds are made principally from Syrah grapes, while in the south Grenache rules along with some Syrah. White wines made in the region are from Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier and other grapes.

My cheese recommendations for the wines are two families of goat’s (some sheep) milk cheeses— “Picodon” and “Tomme.” If you can’t find them try Banon, Camembert, Cantal, or Saint-Marcellin.

Two glasses of red wine, bottle, cheese and baguette

I recently had an opportunity to taste the reds, whites, and rosé wines of Château Mont-Redon (shah-TOH  mon-ruh-DON).

 2016 Château Mont-Redon “Lirac Blanc” (Blend of Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Viognier). Perfumed bouquet and flavor of citrus, orange peel, peach and pear. Clean, lively and zesty with a pleasant aftertaste. Serve with Thai chicken in a spicy peanut sauce.

2015 Château Mont-Redon “Lirac Rouge” (Blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre). Aroma and flavors of blackberry, black cherries, black tea and licorice. Hints of toasted bread and violets abound. Try some blackened tuna with a mild wasabi sauce and cubes of pineapple.

2016 Réserve Mont-Redon “Côtes du Rhône” Blanc (Blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier). Explosive bouquet of orange peel and stone fruit. Clean in the mouth with a crispy finish and long aftertaste. Several slices of Virginia or honey-ham would work nicely.

2016 Réserve Mont-Redon “Côtes du Rhône” Rosé (Blend of Grenache and Syrah). Salmon-colored with flavors of watermelon and raspberries, Dry and easy to drink with a strawberry finish. Delicious! A fun wine to drink with pizza, nachos, or some smoky ribs.

2014 Réserve Mont-Redon “Côtes du Rhône” Rouge (Blend of Syrah and Grenache) Ruby-colored with a bouquet and flavor of spicy jam, mulberry, licorice, tea, raspberries, and raisins. Grab a thick veal chop grilled with rosemary and finished with a mushroom sauce.

2014 Château Mont-Redon “Châteauneuf-du-Pape” Blanc (Principally from Grenache and Roussanne with a lesser amount of Clairette, Bourboulenc, and Picpoul) Intense floral bouquet of honeysuckle and daffodils with flavors of citrus, hazelnuts, marzipan and peaches. Great finish and lingering aftertaste. Don’t over chill. Try it with grilled halibut in a citrus sauce and wild rice.

2014 Château Mont-Redon “Châteauneuf-du-Pape” Rouge (Principally from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, with a lesser amount of Cinsaut, Counoise, Muscardin, and Vaccarèse) Maroon-colored with a bouquet of herbs, jalapeño pepper, dried berries, and black tea. Dry and full-bodied with flavors of dark cherry, plums, raisins and figs. Still quite tannic and need several more years of cellaring. I served it with a Porterhouse steak and baked potatoes. Excellent!

Bob Lipinski, author of ten books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bob@hibs-usa.com.