Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Hooray Hooray, for Aligote!

The New York Times has an article today (Tuesday, 5 June) on the other white grape of Burgundy. That would not be Chardonnay...

That would be aligoté, a grape struggling to shake its bad reputation — pervasively believed to be thin, acidic and good for little else beyond serving as a base for kir, an aperitif in which white wine is blended with crème de cassis. This month, I hope, we will instead see the greater potential of the grape is by drinking some very good aligotés.
Wine School: Your Next Lesson: Aligote 

Ha! Get on board, New York Times! We have long offered an Aligote: that would be from Jed Steele, his Shooting Star variation from Washington State, a wine akin in style to a Pinot Gris, but with a bit brighter fruit than most of those.

We recently picked up another Aligote, this one from Michel Sarrazin of Burgundy. Here's what their website has to say about the wine:
Hand-harvested. Fermented on indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled, stainless steel tanks. Aged 80% in tank and 20% in new, 500L oak barrels. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Aromas of red apples, fresh lemon zest, wild owers. Fresh and light, and flavorful; lemons and limes and sea salt.
Domaine Sarrazin: Bourgogne Aligote
This is not a heavy wine, so it will pair nicely with almost all seafood. We recently had some Ahi Tuna with a yogurt sauce laced with lime, the would have been a perfect accompaniment. Even better: scallops ceviche!

Monday, June 4, 2018

New Wine: Basel Cellars Claret 2012

We were a tad suspicious when we were first offered this wine, since 2012 is a bit older than most current offerings. But, when poured,  the wine still retained a purple rim--a youthful color--so we breathed more easily.

We needed the breath but the wine did not. The complex aromas spun easily from the glass, showing elements of dark red fruit, a touch of herbs, smoke, perhaps coffee. On the tongue, the wine was smooth, with few if any abrasive tannins, over a firm but balanced structure. This wine still has a few years left to mature, although our particular bottle never stood a chance.

"Claret" is an almost forgotten name for the red wines of Bordeaux. Well, forgotten on this side of the Pond anyway; derived from Medieval French,  it was used by the British and still is, originally referring to the clarity (and thus the purity) of the wine.

Claret, then, is your clue to the blend of grapes: those of Bordeaux. The wine is about half Cabernet Sauvignon a third Malbec, an eighth Merlot, and enough Cabernet Franc to fill the bottle. This gives the wine the details in the aroma mentioned above.

This wine is well balanced, and is light enough to be enjoyed by itself. It will go well with all red meats and brown sauces. I might want to throw a couple of woody herbs into that sauce.


Click here to learn more about Basel Cellars.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

New Wine: Basel Cellars Sauvignon Blanc / Semillon

This is an interpretation from Walla Walla of the classic white blend from Bordeaux of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.

Sauvignon Blanc is capable of giving wines of glass-etching acidity, with an aroma of juniper and pungent herbs. Semillon has lower acidity with nutlike aromas, which, when blended with Sauvignon Blanc, calms that acidity and adds another set of flavors to the high-end aromatics of SB. This is the classic formula for the dry white wines of Bordeaux.

This blend from Basel Cellars (73% Sauvignon Blanc, 27% Semillon) illustrates this heaven-made match.

The grapes here are from single vineyards, harvested and vinified separately. The Semillon sees a bit of oak, with regular stirring of the lees (the yeast cells left over from fermentation) which enriches the resulting wine and adds another layer of complexity to the flavors and aromas.

This rich texture of this wine might make it a tad heavy for shellfish (although I might be willing to suffer through shrimp poached with aromatic herbs) so chicken with basil would work nicely. 

Here's a link to Basel Cellars.