Archive for August 2011

The Hilarity Which a Glass of Good Claret Seldom Fails to Produce: Château de Reignac Bordeaux Superieur 2005   Leave a comment

"I wasn't always this sober."


A buddy of mine came across a video which has a blind tasting of the best that Bordeaux had to offer coming out of the 2001 vintage.  Although the video could benefit from a little more editing, it is worth watching to the end.

With that as inspiration and not having such deep pockets to afford the ridiculously priced better known clarets, we decided to try this little wine.

 Château de Reignac Bordeaux Superieur 2005.  Jump forward to the terrific 2005 vintage and here we have a typical blend of 75% merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Straight out of the bottle, the room filled with the perfume rising from this darkly purple elixir.  When that happens, that’s very exciting.  This little baby offered hints of smoke and pepper on the nose.  On the palate those notes were carried forward in a savoriness that was irresistible.  Initially grippy tannins loosened up as the bottle relaxed.  The finish was very long.  You want to see what terroir is about?  Buy this.  At $30 a bottle it does not come cheap, but with the price of high-end bordeaux busting through the stratosphere, just think of how many bottles of this you could buy instead of a single bottle of Petrus.  The wine benefits from input from superstar wine consultant Michel Rolland.  According to the back label, the grape clusters were hand harvested and sorted twice to remove any undesirable fruit.  That kind of care, simple yet expensive, has yielded a fine wine.  Parker and Suckling each gave this 90 points.  I think they are being niggardly with those ratings.  Rated ***

Drinking this wine with my buddy and two other Fellow Sybarites, and laughing, chuckling and filled with mirth, I was reminded of a passage from a letter written by George Washington to a French fellow in arms, the Marquis de Chastellux who was a major-general of the French Army who spent three years as the personal interpreter for Washington.  Shortly after the battle of Yorktown in 1781, and knowing that Washington was loath to accept any gifts of any kind, Chastellux marshalled all of his powers of persuasion to get Washington to accept a gift of a “barril” of claret:

“Dear General – Your excellency knows very well that it is an old precept to offer tithes of all earthly goods to the ministers of God.  I think in my opinion that the true ministers of God are those who at the risk of their life employ their virtues and abilities to promote the happiness of mankind, which consists for the greatest part of freedom and liberty.  Accordingly, I believe I am bound in duty to present your excellency with one of ten barrils of claret that I have just been received.  

If you was, dear general, unkind enough not to accept of it, I should be apt to think that you want to prevent the blessing of heaven to fall upon me, or…that you are an enemy to French produce and have a little of the tory in your composition.  

Whatsoever be the high opinion that I entertain of your excellency, I wish to judge by that criterion and to guess by it your dispositions for the French troops and myself.”

Which brings us to Washington’s response:

“You have taken a most effectual method of obliging me to accept your Cask of Claret, as I find by your ingenious manner of stating the case that I shall, by a refusal, bring my patriotism into question, and incur a suspicion of want of attachment to the French Nation, and of regard to you.  

In short, my dear sir, my only scruple arises from a fear of depriving you of an Article that you cannot conveniently replace in this Country.  You can only relieve me by promising to partake very often of that hilarity which a Glass of good Claret seldom fails to produce.”

Extracted from John Hailman’s book, Thomas Jefferson On Wine. 

Translation: “You’ve got 9 barrils left over– drink up!– you know I’ll be doing the same.” 

Hilarity?– G. Wash?  Apparently, a glass (and indeed many glasses) of claret reduced the father of our country into a chortling chucklehead.  Just like the Sybarites of today.  Makes me proud to be an American!

Posted August 10, 2011 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

Kenneth Volk Vineyards Mourvedre Enz Vineyard 2007   Leave a comment

There are some weeks when the universe just does not cooperate.  This was one of those.  At the start of the week I caught some bug that left me bed ridden for two days.  And even after that it took till today to feel as energized as I normally do.  So today being a breakout day we celebrated with a little home-made shrimp, carmelized onion, turkey bacon and avocado pizza and today’s wonderful little wine.  Do we need reasons to celebrate?  No, mostly the mere fact that we can celebrate is cause enough for celebration.  Translation: we need very little encouragement.

When I was in Paso Robles last year, it was getting toward the end of my second day there and I asked around for a couple of recommendations for artisanal wineries to check out.  This led me to the tasting room that Kenneth Volk and Lone Madrone share with each other.  If you love to try different unblended varietals (as I do) Kenneth Volk is the place for you.  His web site offers little hint of the number of varietals on offer in the tasting room. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to meet Mr. Volk, who used to be the founder and winemaker at Wild Horse before he sold out to corporate America in 2003.  But that was a long time ago.  What he is doing today is– aw heck, I can’t do a better job than he does at describing who he is and what he does:

“Don’t let the calligraphy scare you away, it’s still me, the artist previously known with the horse label.  It’s a rare opportunity to reinvent oneself in the wine industry, but that’s what I’m doing. My previous industry job left me with a silver spoon in my mouth, which I’ve melted down and have been spending my time fixing up my new winery and launching my family namesake brand, smaller, better and slower.”

Artist… smaller… better… slower….  He’s got all the buzz words that I, as a wine consumer, look for.  And he’s putting his name on the bottles. 

Kenneth Volk 2007 Mourvedre Enz Vineyard Lime Kiln ValleyKenneth Volk Vineyards Mourvedre Enz Vineyard 2007.  The Enz Vineyard is located in the Lime Kiln Valley AVA in San Benito County.  So, strictly speaking, this is not a Paso wine.  According to Wikipedia, the soil in the region is composed of foundations of limestone and dolomite with sandy, gravelly loam above.  As of 2008, the only vineyards in the Lime Kiln Valley AVA are owned by the Enz Family.  There are 40 acres of vineyards, including a 15 acre parcel of head-trained Mourvedre that was originally planted in 1922. 

As for the wine itself: Hints of cedar and herbs on the nose.  Silky on the palate with a sour cherry component.  Distinctively feminine and distinctively terroir driven.  Why did I only buy one of these?  Why?  Rated **1/2

Posted August 7, 2011 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

No-Guilt Wednesday Wine: Domaine de Pajot Cotes de Gascogne Les Quatre Cépages 2010   Leave a comment

This little guy doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  Every Wednesday (though it could be Tuesday or Thursday) I will write-up a wine that I feel delivers good value for drinking in the middle of the week.  Aside from quality, my only other criteria is price.  To start, less than $15, but ideally less than $10, for a 750 ml bottle. 

I will also add any recipes that I paired with the wine.  I hope to leave you with a recipe that you can use to match up with a wine of your choice if you can’t locate the one I recommend.

No-Guilt Wednesday is not about compromising on quality.  It’s about all about drinking good wine that does not break the bank, eating good food and of course, it’s about sharing with the ones you love.  

Today’s wine is a French white from Gascogne (or Gascony) in southwestern France.  

Domaine de Pajot Cotes de Gascogne Les Quatre Cépages 2010 ($8).  A winning blend of  four varieties of grapes: Colombard, Ugni-Blanc, Sauvignon, and Gros-Manseng.  Citrus and apricot notes mixed with wetted stone dominate the nose.  Mouth-watering citrus and half-ripened peach fills the mouth.  Refreshing, juicy, perfectly leveled by the right amount of acidity.  Pure happiness.  A great price.  Rated ** 1/2

Serve this with smoked salmon on blinis. 






Posted August 4, 2011 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday