Last Sunday was the funnest wine tasting I’ve ever done! It was my delight to join Tessa Leung and her staff at Sontes in Rochester, MN. Over the course of about 5 hours, we tasted 42 wines. We tasted wines available by the glass and wines from their Captain’s List and everything in between. It was wildly fun and tremendously educational. We spoke with Bryce, Trevor and Joel from the kitchen, who shared great insights on what they look to pair and highlight in their delicious creations… which are all served Tapas-style. Annie, Staci, Mike, Kaylea, Megan, Dawn, Jodi, Karen, Kim, and Mel talked about their “Sontes Regulars.” Tessa has a great staff and they’ve followed her lead in listening to their customers and knowing what they like, don’t like, and, importantly, how to recognize a “teachable moment” to introduce them to a new offering or pairing.
My dear friend Sasa,
Thank you for bringing up this subject – lets kill the rumor that French wine is always very expensive and that the old world wines are way less value than the same chocolate/vanilla/blackcurrant stuff from anywhere else. I have already posted my view on Chateau Cantemerle 2006 which is available for €20. Here is another shot from my side on cheap – good Medoc’s.
Wine: Lamothe-Cissac 2005
Varietal: Cabernet / Merlot / Petit Verdot
Oak: 15 months (25% new)
Tasting Notes: We find here a very classic Claret from the northen Bordeaux. It shows blackberry, ceder and the classic animal’ish hints. Great tannin structure and excellent lenght.
It is not easy to find affordable Medoc of classed growth quality, but recently I had a chance to try two very fine wines from that category with fair price of 15 and 20 Euros. First bottle was Chateau Potensac 2004. Unusual wine in many senses. First, it’s classified as a Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, but its quality is way beyond average Cru Bourgeois and can reach at least fifth growth classed category. Then comes the “non only Cabernet” style which is pretty unusual for Medoc and finally ripe aromas and full body which is not expected at such average vintage as 2004 was.
Two weeks ago I dodged the rain for seventy five feet across 54th Street south through the building of 520 Madison out on 53rd to take a hard right into Alto where I had been invited by a friend to be his guest at a dinner and vertical tasting of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande hosted by Clive Coates (Master of Wine, the 72nd MW) who authored “Cote D’Or” and more recently “The Wines of Burgundy“.
Coates was on a five week tour of the U.S. doing wine dinners, charity events and other wine related appearances which were apparently all linked to Burgundy until a Nashville based collector who is an investor in Alto convinced his snowy bearded eminence to do this dinner on a night they both had free in New York.
Coates began with the history of the Chateau with the requisite mention of the Dutch draining the swamp that was Bordeaux transforming it into the land that is Bordeaux. The estate was founded in 1689 and was divided in the 19th century due to Napoleonic laws but was run more or less as a whole until 1860. Both properties received deuxieme cru (second growth) status in the 1855 Classification. The sibling is known in Bordeaux shorthand as Pichon Baron. Pichon Lalande is just to the west of first growth property Chateau Latour in the southeastern corner of Pauillac. The vineyard holdings spill over into St. Julien and Coates noted that until the early 60′s around an 1/8 of total production was bottled as St. Julien instead of Paulliac (he also noted that Lafite had similar geographical issues on the northern side of Pauillac with St. Estephe but Lafite was never forced to signify anything on thier label…)
Here we are back again in the Bordeaux area. Last time we talked about the “Left bank”, let’s talk today about the “Right bank”. Also call the “Libournais”, beacause Libourne is the major city situated in the middle of the right bank. The soils are composed of limestone, clay and sand. One of the particularities of this area is the landscape, which is very diversified, you will find some plateau and terraces, slopes and valleys, and can have the effect on the quality of the wine. The climate, like in the left bank has the influence from the ocean, with good hours of sunshine and a good humidity that helps to regulate the temperature.
Winery: Chateau Cantemerle
Varietal: 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc
Oak: 18 months new and old French oak
Average Price: $20.00 Continue reading
France is a wonderful wine country with a great variety of grapes, climates and soils and some talented and devoted winemakers. For a better understanding of French appellations and different wine styles I decided to do a Tour de France Des Vins (France’s wine Tour).
As a native of Bordeaux I wanted to start with this part of France. Bordeaux is divided in two parts, known as The Left Bank and The Right Bank, due to the two rivers (“La Garonne” and “La Dordogne“), which separate the vineyards from Bordeaux into two banks. In Bordeaux a variety of different grapes is planted, such as Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot for the reds and roses and Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle for the whites and sweet wines. In Bordeaux there are also 57 appellations and 6 main classifications.