The week started off with a dinner featruing the wines of an old friend - Il Poggione from Montalcino. I had the pleasure to visit this estate a number of years back, and the wine were impressive then, as they are today.
I also had the pleasure to revisit with Alessandro Bindocci, the current winemaker at Il Poggione and out guest for the evening. Alessandro makes wines that are very easy to get to know. Basically a Sangiovese specialist, Il Poggione is perfectly situated on the southern facing side or the 'back' of Montalcino, a perfect home for this grape. Il Poggione has been in production for more than a century, and as such they have the good fortune of vines that are old, with many revisions done in the early 1960s - these are 50+ year old vines at the core pf production. What does this mean to the average drinker, like you and me? Very well balanced and concentrated fruit in the glass - just like silk. You do not have to be a wine geek to like these wines - they are perfect for those of us who like a little more round and supple feel to the tannins in our wines.
The dinner had a number of current releases, including a Toscana Rosso, Rosso di Montalcino, and the 2014 Brunelo di Montalcino, but the wine that may have been my secret favorite was the Rosato, 2018. Also made from Sangiovese, and done in a very dry style - it is light and delicate with beautiful freshness and balance between the fruit aromas and flavors and the acidity.
Sancerre has been a bit of quandary for wine-buyers the past few years. There is a significant consumer demand for this wine style, but the region has had its ups and downs with weather, which has created a situation with lower production for many producers. Why is it so popular?
Sancerre is made from Sauvignon Blanc - and people like to drink Sauvignon Blanc. Sancerre is a region that has a lot of limestone in the ground. This limestone helps to really focus the acidity and freshness in the wines, while the Sauvignon Blanc grapes deliver what they are made to deliver: fruit and chalky flavors. Usually not terribly pungent and tropical like a Sauvignon from New Zealand might be, the Sancerre style is built around balance and elegance, but also richness and drinkability. Which is how we get to Tabordet Sancerre, 2018.
In a nutshell - its a pounder. Almost silky smooth, the feel on the palate is rich but smooth and light, all at the same time. Not overly fruity, but in check with great citrus and pear notes that are carried to the finish with some chalk and mineral notes. It goes down easy on a Wednesday night.
Sancerre is also a classic pairing for the other great food of the region - Chevre or goat-cheese. There is no better food and wine pairing perhaps than Sancerre and goat-cheese, in my opinion. The acids in each are perfectly suited to compliment the other and when you have them together something magical happens in your mouth. Get some Sancerre. Make a salad or other dish with goat-cheese. Drink together. Enjoy.
I am told I was the first person to taste the first sample bottle of the Jameson Cold Brew Whiskey & Coffee to hit the CT market. While I feel honored by that occasion, this will probably be the only mention of that event. Not that there is anything wrong with this product - in fact it was tasty - it's just that I am a not a huge fan of market research driven concoctions.
Jameson has been on a release train the past few years, bringing a new item out each year or so and working to capture or maintain drinkers with 'innovative' and timely concepts, such as the IPA Cask Edition last year. Now I guess Cold Brew is the thing, although I think we got over the Cold Brew moment a couple of years ago. Maybe it took a while to get to Ireland, or wherever the decisions are made on new items.
Smells like coffee. Tastes like whiskey and coffee. Falls off a little quick, but for those looking for a more delicate attack on the palate - this will fit your bill. True whiskey fans will pass. Fans of flavored shite will like it.
As part of my day-job, I get to work with winemakers and craft a few of wines that are sold with good success in the restaurants. I would never go so far as to say I 'make' the wine, of course, but I do get to sample and comment on the style and production methods, to a certain point. A couple of years ago when I was looking to add a new wine to the portfolio, I wanted a particular style of Chardonnay, from a particular source region, and in a certain price-point. I was able to find this with the guys at Campbell & McGill - Kevin McGill being a friend and supplier here in CT.
Kevin makes a wine in Sonoma that he markets under his own label, and when we discussed the opportunity to make one for my needs, we decided to piggy-back the production to keep costs in line with what our combined goals were. The result is a Sonoma County designated Chardonnay. Our first vintage, which is out and selling now, was the 2018. This week, I had a tank sample of the 2019 vintage delivered to my desk inorder to preview and comment. One of the criteria I had from the beginning and certainly after the initial vintage was made, was to increase the amount of oak used in the making and aging of the wine. For 2019, we bought a number of additional barrels, and stepped up the aromatics and mouthfeel by employing more wood in the program. With lees stirring on a regualr basis, we are able to build great fruit and balance, with delicious apple and pear flavors that are slowly being wrapped by toast and vanilla. Even at this young age, the 2019 shows a ton of promise.
Taking into consideration that we were briefly not sure if there would even be a 2019 vintage made, as the winery was evacuated due to wildfires back in October/November, this wine is a real pleasure to drink, and I cannot wait to release it later this year.