Gravner in the morning, arvine at noon, Sagrantino for dinner – and some thoughts about Swiss drinking and driving laws.

What an interesting day in wine tasting yesterday was.

It started out almost accidentally, when I stopped by the tasting room of Christophe Abbet, an excellent vigneron based in Martigny, in Switzerland, to get a couple of bottles of his wines to bring home to Quebec (including a bottle of the delightful Ambre, a slowly-matured dessert wine made from arvine and marsanne – but more on that later).

Christophe and I, along with my father-in-law and my brother-in-law and other friends and guests of his, had tasted several of his wines, two days earlier, and (more…)

Advertisements

Twitter Recipe #1: Wine suggestions for Anthony’s white bean sunchoke purée crostini (and another recipe)

The other day, I was getting ready to cook some white beans, and wanted to take the dish in a different direction than what I usually do. So knowing that I have many friends on Twitter who are well-versed in the culinary arts of the Mediterranean, I tweeted for suggestions while the beans simmered and got many good ideas.

Caroline (aka @gastrolinguista) suggested a Fabada, a bean dish with chorizo and saffron, among other things. I wound up doing a kind of fabada, that evening, with some of my homemade chorizo and dry-cured bacon.

There was also this very simple one from Anthony Nicalo, of Farmstead Wines:

@RemyCharest sweat onion & garlic, add chopped tomato, lightly color, deglaze w wht wine; add beans, and simmer w po rk stock, rosemary, salt

And then, as I dug through the fridge (more…)

Tasting Note: 2006 St Davids Bench Vineyard Gewürztraminer, Château des Charmes

A founder of modern Niagara viticulture, Château des Charmes has long been one of my favorite wineries from Ontario. This solid and constant estate was founded in 1978 by Paul Bosc, a fifth-generation French vigneron whose family had come from Alsace through Algeria before being seduced by the Niagara’s winegrowing potential. It became an early standard-bearer of the movement towards vitis vinifera and the development of quality wines from the area. With Inniskillin and Cave Spring, the Bosc family was one of the very first to obtain a licence to produce and sell wines in Ontario in the post-Prohibition era.

Among the various lines of wines produced at Château des Charmes, my favorite has always been (more…)

Twitter Taste Live: from sake to sherry, with Hahn in the middle

If you think that people who write about wine are all stuck up wine bores, you need to come on board and watch (or take part in) Twitter Taste Live, a live wine tasting event imagined by the folks at Massachussetts wine merchant Bin Ends Wine. A clever use of social media for marketing purposes, the TTL events are also just plain fun. Earlier this fall, I took part in one such event where Etienne Hugel, from the famous Alsace wine producer Hugel et fils, was the guest of honor as we tasted various Hugel wines. The sharing of notes, and opportunity to talk with the producer and fellow online wine lovers… it was just terrific. You can see a summarized recap right here which gives a sense of the event – but not all the grat atmosphere.

For the 5th Twitter Taste Live event, which took place in a lighthearted, football-and-vacuum-pump joke-filled session just a few hours ago, wine bloggers were invited to take the floor and propose wines and themes. And the proposals (more…)

Tasting Note: Dr Konstantin Frank 2006 Rkatsiteli, Finger Lakes

It’s kind of a tribute to the complicated nature of wine distribution in North America that I had to go to California to finally taste a wine from New York’s Finger Lakes, which are only a few hours drive from my home in Quebec.

How did that happen? Well, Lenn Thompson, the great defender of New York wines on the Lenndevours blog, along with his Finger Lakes correspondent Melissa Dobson, had conspired to bring one of New York’s most unique wines to the Wine Bloggers Conference, so that the dozens upon dozens of bloggers present at Santa Rosa’s one and only Flamingo Resort could discover the good stuff that’s produced out East.

It was certainly not the only wine that they had brought out. In fact, (more…)

California Wine all tastes the same? Says who?

Well, finally back to blogging. After an intense weekend at the Wine Bloggers Conference, followed by four full days of running around Sonoma and Napa – and Fairfield, and Berkeley and San Francisco – and then returning to a new position at the newspaper in Quebec City, and mulling over about twenty different potential post subjects, I finally managed to focus long enough on one subject. And here it is.

One of the things that truly struck me, throughout the tastings I attended at the Wine Bloggers Conference and in the days that followed, was the great diversity of wines I tasted. Yes, there were a good lot of big, fruity, oaky cabernet sauvignons and chardonnays, but there was also a great deal more, in terms of grape varieties, climate variations and winemaking styles. More than I had expected, certainly.

Over my week, I had everything from grassy sauvignon blanc to jammy zinfandels, rustic carignan to (more…)

Tasting Note: 1998 Conundrum, Caymus Vineyards

If you do things well enough, you can make pretty much anything work in winemaking. Even combinations and approaches that simply shouldn’t make sense.

Want proof? Try some Conundrum, the impossibly complicated blend created by Caymus winemaker John Bolta. It’s made from chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, semillon, viognier and muscat from Napa Valley, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Lucia Highlands and (more…)

Vinho Verde by the Pool

Had a lovely pool party at one of my best friends’ house, last weekend. Lots of swimming, lots of sun, great barbecue (scrumptious filet mignon) and, of course, some wine. I’d brought a bottle of Hurluberlu, a nice, fresh cabernet franc made by natural wine producer Sébastien David in the Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil appellation: it’s such an easy-drinking, delicious summer wine with bright fruit and a lovely cherry-red color (visible through the transparent glass bottle) that it didn’t last long in the bottle. I took a glass, walked away from the table for fifteen minutes, and the rest was gone in a flash.

Thankfully, my friends had more wine in store, including (more…)

Wine Blogging Wednesday 47: Swiss Salt

I really have to thank Erin and Michelle at Grape Juice for setting up such a playful WBW: Today’s Wine, Brought to You by the Letter “S” is a terrific theme, one that, as they intended, forces you to think outside the (bag-in-)box.

I thought of Savennières and sauvignons, of sweet wines and all sorts of stuff. I even went through the S section of the Oxford Companion to Wine, and finally, wound up with a wine that starts with an “a”. Or a “p”. Depends.

It’s called petite arvine, and among the many distinctive varietals of Valais, in Switzerland, it scores very, very highly. This colorful white wine (more…)

Tasting Note: Melon 2003, Deux Vert Vineyard, Yamhill County, La Bête

Melon from Oregon? Now that’s a wine that could qualify for Wine Blogging Wednesday 47, whose theme is “Brought to You by the Letter S”. ‘Cause it’s oh, so Surprising.

But no, I have another idea for WBW 47 that I will be posting later today, and for which the letter S is a much clearer sponsor.

Still. Melon de l’Oregon? Really?

Melon or Melon de Bourgogne is the default grape from which the refreshing Muscadets of the Western Loire Valley are produced. It became popular in the 17th Century, near Nantes, because (more…)