This month's Wine Blogging Wednesday is brought to you by Wine for Newbies and it's just what the new-to-wine needs! It's a noble notion --getting people off the basics, though I'm constantly finding both beautiful Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs that blow me away with their depth, character, and the wild variation of flavors that both grapes are capable of achieving in the hands of a talented wine maker. That being said, it's a big wine world out there, so do what you can to take it all in.
Those that are new wine need to try to the wines of the Rhone, which are some of the most fragrant and wonderful wines on the planet. The reds are legendary, but the whites are also unique wonders that are worth seeking out. Rousnne is one of the Rhone's most aromatic grapes. Like viognier, its perfume adds depth, mystery, and complexity to the typically blended wines of the region. In the U.S., few have ventured to create a 100% rousanne, but if anyone can do it, the Perrin family and Robert Haas can. The Perrins are responsible for Chateau Beaucastel, one of the finest in Chateauneuf du Pape. (Check out my link to their cool winemaking blog in both French and English). Together with the mega-importer Mr. Haas, they purchased land in California's Paso Robles in 1987 and first planted in 1990. In the steady California sunshine, combined with the distinctly un-French ability (necessity) to irrigate, a 100% Rousanne is an easy to hit target by a family with almost a hundred years experience coaxing life out of the stressful, rocky soil of the Rhone Valley.
The style of the Tablas Creek rousanne is big and round, with a whole burst of floral scent hitting your nose. The color is golden and heavy. It has gobs of fruit, but remains elegant. It is not an austere wine, but one to open with friends, especially as an aperitif, when you want something that has crowd appeal but with a distinct difference from the normal party quaff.
I did just that this weekend and this wine held its own very nicely paired with my friend A.'s home made Hamachi and Maguro Poke with jicama, served not in the usual spicy sesame style, but in a light, lovely ginger mayonnaise.
It must have pleased the Perrins to make such a lovely wine in California in 2002 when their French property, along with everyone else in Chateauneuf was picking grapes underwater in one of the worst years ever.
Seek this one out, and if you can only find the Espirit de Beaucastel Blanc, buy that, as it's usually between 40% and 70% Rousanne. Of course, if you 're looking for the real thing, try the 2003 or 2004 Beaucastel Blanc.
This unsuspecting white Burgundy came from Paul Marcus wines, I believe, and was part of a nice case of wine that my wife gave me for Christmas - Thanks, Honey!!
This wine is full of apples, minerals, and gentle lees-yness, and a real sense of the Mersault region, though this is just labled as a simple Bourgogne Blanc. I will be seeking out his regular Meursault offerings as I don't remember a simple white Burgundy having this much character and flavor.
It's blood orange season and yes, you could slice them up with some nice endive in a poofy little dressing, but I'd rather drink 'em. I made this up a few years back and I look forward to Blood Orange season every year so I can whip up a batch of these treats. I found some perfect small, juicy bloods at the Berkeley Bowl that were only about 3" around. If you have large ones, You can use just one. This recipe makes two cocktails.
Blood Orange Sour
Juice of 2 small Blood Oranges or 1 large one - the darker the better Juice of 1/2 a regular orange Juice of 1 lemon Juice of 1/2 a lime 3 oz. of Jim Beam Bourbon 2 tsp. superfine sugar or big splash of simple syrup
Shake all in a cocktail shaker. Serve neat or with the ice. Add a nice slice of Blood Orange as a garnish. No cherry required.