Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lange Pinot Noir Remains All-Time Favorite

I'm learning more to seize the moment with each passing year. Perhaps old age makes us appreciate things differently!

Working with college-age students is rewarding in many ways. Several students have become good friends through my six years on campus.

Last night I had two graduating seniors over for a nice bottle of wine. They recently had traveled to California and were treated to a grand week thanks to an alum who works at Joseph Phelps Vineyards. Upon return they joined me for a glass on my front porch and we talked about the trip.

I remembered one of them saying, "I don't think I'll ever taste wine as good as we did in California."

Well, either they were smart enough to challenge me, tease me, or underestimate me but I decided to bite. Last night I opened a 2006 bottle of Lange Vineyards Three Hills Cuvee Pinot Noir.

Lange Pinot has the kind of nose that makes you swoon. I can smell that Dundee Hills dirt every time I pour a glass. Sure it's a $40 bottle of wine on a Wednesday night in spring, but what better way to enjoy great wine than with friends. These young guys are just starting to learn about wine and it was a pleasure showing them what Pinot Noir can be!

Lange is distributed in Indiana at better wine stores. It is the lighter style compared to the big Pinots from California. You still get a HUGE nose from this Pinot with some cherry and maybe even black raspberry on the palate.

This particular Pinot - Three Hills Cuvee - is one of my absolute favorite glasses of wine. The THC sells around $40 a bottle. You'll most likely find the 2007 in wine shops. I brought this bottle back from a Spring 2009 trip to Oregon.

In photo: Jesse Lange pouring Pinot Gris for me during my April 2009 visit!

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ali is a Very Nice, Drinkable Sangiovese

There's nothing wrong with a 'nice little' wine. And that's how I would describe the 2007 Donna Laura Ali Sangiovese di Toscana.

The wine is available at $9-$11. I bought this bottle at Cork & Cracker in Indianapolis.

It's a dry wine for the price point. You get a dark fruit and almost musty like quality to the wine. There even is a hint of tobacco or similar characteristic near the finish. It's medium bodied wine with a decent finish. It won't overpower you or your food.

It's a nice example of 100 percent Sangiovese - and imminently affordable. It's worth picking up if you're looking for an inexpensive bottle of Italian!

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Column on Indiana's Traminette up on Grape Sense

Every other week I write a new newspaper column. I went to post the new column today and realized I never posted the last one.


So my last column is now on Grape Sense - you can see it here. A link to the columns always appears in the left column.

The column is about Indiana's Signature (or official, maybe?) grape - Traminette! Check it out!

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wine Lovers Must Act - Stop H.R. 5034

I'll never forget investment bankers, now winery owners, Bill and Donna at Winderlea Winery in Oregon making the comparison. "The only industry more regulated than finance is wine," Donna said during an April 2009 visit.

She is right. Few industries have the web of laws and illogical policies as wine shipping. Now distributors have gotten a handful of U.S. representatives to introduce a bill which would essentially strengthen their monopoly on the wine industry and limit YOUR choice of what you can buy and where.

Check out the facts here and write your Congressman. We all must act!

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

More From My Evening with Laurent Drouhin

It was a real treat to spend time with Laurent Drouhin of Maison Joseph Drouhin, the iconic name of Burgundy wines. My story on Palate Press has been up a couple of days with two videos but I had some left over material.

So here is Drouhin on a couple of additonal topics!

Grape Sense: You are in Indianapolis to pour your 2008 White Burgundy, Chablis, and Burgundy. Talk for a bit about the 2008 vintage.

Drouhin: It’s very exciting, there’s always something new. I have to tell you I tasted those wines in September out of barrels and then went back to Beaume in December and tasted a few out of barrels and a few from bottles. I was in New Orleans on Monday (Mar. 22), and I opened the bottles and tasted them and have been blown away by these wines. We have achieved a great, great, great thing with the 08s. First speaking about the Chablis, we’ve been producing wines out of our own vineyards for 40 yrs in Chablis. My father who is retired, but he still comes and likes to taste the wines; he’s still involved in that because that’s his passion, said 'that’s the best vintage I’ve ever seen in 40 years.' Coming from my father that is a big statement, he is very demanding.

Speaking about the whites and the reds Cote de Beaume, whites first, they have precision ... very terrior driven, they have great fruit or very floral for some of the appelations ... they are pure ... but they might not have a tremendous complexity. I mean the different layers and fine flavors, a hint of this or a hint of that they do have, but they’re not that deep.

Reds, pretty much same thing, they’re very terrior driven. When you taste the entire line you can see the difference (between appellations).

What we have been able to achieve in 08s,I haven’t tasted many of my collegues’ wine from burgundy but I having tasted all of our wines, they’re pure and precise. They have great fruit, good intensity. They’re charming and approachable right now and it’s a great vintage to enjoy next few years.

Overall we are very very pleased with the quality and what we achieved. Are we at the top of the top, no but we’re not that far off.

Grape Sense: Anyone who has followed Grape Sense at all knows I love Oregon Pinot Noir. Drouhin bought property in Oregon in the 1980s and opened Domaine Drouhin. So they are producing world class Pinot in Oregon and France. I just had to ask Laurent this question ...

Grape Sense: You moved to West Chester, New York four years ago from France. How Much time do you spend on the road promoting Joseph Drouhin wines?

Drouhin: I'd say 60 percent of my time I spend traveling around United States and Carribean. The rest of time in Beaume or working from New York. I do travel a lot and sometimes that's a challenge. One of the main reasons I came to live in the U.S. four years ago is my daughter came to me and said, 'Daddy, you're always traveling and I miss you.'

So I said to my wife why don’t we all move to the United states, it might be an experience. She said it would be a great opportunity for the kids.

I’m in touch now with this market morethan ever. I talk to people, meet people, in contact with the market. I can go back and say this is what’s going on here or there. It's great to have someone in the country.

I truly love being in the U.S. and been adopted so far and been treated very well. Hopefully I'll be able to get more people to drink the Burgundy and Joseph Drouhin wines.

Photos by Drew Casey.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Interview with Laurent Drouhin Published on Palate Press

UPDATE: Will have a couple of questions/answers and video up tonight (April 15) of material I didn't use in the Palate Press story!

A little more than two weeks ago I had a great Thursday night at Vine & Table's tasting of 2008 Joseph Drouhin Burgundy wines.

Laurent Drouhin, great-grandson of founder Joseph, was on hand to lead V&T's customers through the tastings and talk about his family's legend in Burgundy.

The story was published on Palate Press overnight. You can click here to go directly to the full interview, which includes video.

But I also have a little bit of material that didn't make the final cut. So I'll have a video and more from the interview up here later tonight or tomorrow. Be sure to check back.

Mr. Drouhin was charming as he was informative. It was a great evening tasting and talking about great wine!

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Andrew Rich Pinot Noir a Great Pinot for Price Point

One of the wines I picked up Wednesday at Vine & Table's Pick 24 Release Party wasn't part of the promotion but wow!

I bought a bottle of Andrew Rich Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. When manager Jeff Wilcox started talking about Andrew Rich it sparked a fond memory. I spent nearly two hours last April with Jesse Lange of Lange Winery. And I wrote about that experience extensively.

But I remember when I was leaving I was headed to the other side of the wine region to Carlton so I asked Jesse for recommendations. He was reluctant saying he was too busy to know much about anyone's wines. But I pressed him and he said to stop by Andrew Rich. Unfortunately, that day got away from me and I didn't make it there but I will next time.

The wine had a huge stinky Pinot nose with strong hints of the Oregon soils. I was happy just to smell the wine. But then I was surprised when I took my first, and subsequent sips, that the wine was really tight. The flavors just weren't opening up.

More than an hour and a half later, the wine did open and it was wonderful wine with definite strawberry flavors and spices. I loved it.

This wine got a 90 from Wine Advocate, Steven Tanzer, and was a Wine Spectator Daily wine pick last summer.

I found it online mostly around $27-$29. So I'm a little disappointed I paid $35 at V&T, but it sure tasted like a wine at the $40 price point.

Every time I open an Oregon Pinot Noir I come away impressed.

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Great Tasting/Buying Event on Indy's Northside

There is no better way to learn about wine and buy wine than to taste it.

Most retail wine shops have some sort of wine tasting events. Some are at the business while other tastings may be at a nearby restaurant or establishment - largely because of Indiana's insane alcohol laws.

But I attended one of the best events Wednesday I've ever enjoyed. It was at Vine and Table in Carmel. They called it their Pick 24 Party - 12 wines under $12 and 12 more under $24. The great part was they set up the tasting in their adjoining market and you could taste all the wines before buying.

They charged a very reasonable $10 tasting fee which included cheese, crackers, meatballs, etc., and a taste of as many wines as you wished.

All of the wines were scored 90 points or higher, though I admit I didn't recognize a couple of the rating sources. They discounted every wine a couple of bucks or more then offered a 3% discount on 3 bottles, 5% on 6 bottles, and 10% off on a full case.

And the selection is what made it great night. They had Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Torrontos for white wine fans. The red wines were even more plentiful with Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Carmenere, Merlot, and some fantastic blends.

It really was just a great fun. They host the tasting parties the first Wednesday of each month. You can get details on the website.

I bought several bottles with confidence knowing exactly what I was getting. What a great way to buy wine!

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Perrin & Fils Cotes du Rhone Villages Dynamite Value Wine

I'm loving the Cotes du Rhone wines the past several months. I had not had a bottle of red wine open in more than a week and was feeling the need tonight.

I opened a 2007 Perrin & Fils 2007 Cotes du Rhone Villages 50 percent Grenache and 50 percent Syrah wine that I had purchased at Grapevine Cottage in Zionsville. This wine retails anywhere from $10-$15 a bottle. I found it closer to the $10 price point. Wine Spectator gave the wine 90 points. I think that's a point or two high but its hard to dislike this nice little wine!

The Perrin & Fils is a nice-balanced, rich red wine. It has the nice dark fruit flavors you'd expect from Grenache and Syrah. The wine is a reasonable 13 percent alcohol.

The nose isn't much to talk about and there isn't a lingering finish many treasure in great wine. This would make a great table or house wine. It's very drinkable, good value, and a great sipper with or without food!

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Monday, April 5, 2010

A Boxed Wine Update, No. 1

I noted in my last blog that I was trying out my first boxed wine.

I added that I had a big Chardonnay fan, my boss, going to share his opinion about the juice. This morning he gave me his impressions. He was unimpressed - not something he would buy even at $6 a bottle. But his wife didn't think it was all that bad and was okay with it.

Again, you have to consider what it is - a $6 wine. I've had a couple of small glasses since last Wednesday. The wine tastes identical to the night I opened it. Upon further review, I may have been a tad kind to the juice initially - but its not the worst Chard I've ever tasted.

My assessment after talking to the boss, tasting it a couple of more times myself - is that this is pretty good $6 Chardonnay. It will not hold up to even a good $12-$14 bottle, but it is what it is!

If you're buying grocery store Chardonnay there are only a few better than the Monthaven. If you're buying your wine by the bottle in a wine shop, this may not be for you.

Now all that being said, I have tasted other wines from boxes and a few of them were very nice. So the experiment isn't over. I'll give a couple more updates on this Chard. And I need to find a good red and repeat the same test.

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