Archive for May, 2013
Wine of the Week is a new idea I’m trying out. Each week I’ll share with you a reasonably priced gem that I’ve found among the thousands of wines available at Kentucky’s wine retailers. The only requirement of these wines is that they are well-made, reasonably priced, and tasty! Let me know what you think.
2010 M. Chapoutier Marius White
France > Languedoc Roussillon > Vin de Pays d’Oc
Purchaed From: Liquor Barn ($12) – also spotted at WineStyles and Corner Wine
The words “inexpensive” and “France” aren’t often found found together in the wine world. Even when they are, the guidance of a wine pro is almost a necessity as so many of the value-priced wines exported from France are… well…. crap.
Having said that, let me introduce you to Marius. A two-year-old value brand made by one of the Rhone Valley’s best, and most outspoken winemakers, Michel Chapoutier. The wines of Chapoutier often command price tags in excess of $100, but in honor of his grandfather, he decided to launch the Marius line of more affordable line of wines, after whom they are named.
The Marius white was incredibly enjoyable. It had a clear straw yellow color, with aromas of apples, peaches and hints of citrus. It was slightly dry, but not too acidic, a little flinty, and I swear I tasted caramelized apples. The finish was very clean and refreshing, with more of the apple notes and even a bit of cinnamon. It was well-balanced, with the tannin a little more pronounced on the finish. If you like Sauvignon Blanc or dry Rieslings, you’ll really enjoy this one.
Food: We drank this with Cajun-seasoned chicken, green beans and a basic green salad and it worked pretty well. This would also be great with seafood or cream-based dishes.
The wine is a blend of Vermentino (more commonly found in Italy) and Terret (a popular French grape, often used to make Vermouth). While the Pays d’Oc region of France, where this wine is produced, is known for inexpensive French table wines, the Marius is of unusually good quality. Alcohol: 12.5%
Europeans, I’m told, have a tradition of drinking local. A couple of times a year, they will launch off on a tour of their backyard wineries and haul home ten or so cases (whatever fits in their car) to get them through the next six months.
With that in mind, I decided to take a break from the mainstream wine world and taste some of the wines that are produced in our own backyard. I’ve had a number of opportunities to experience Kentucky’s local wines in years past and my results were always mixed – a few gems, but many off-balance funky wines that really weren’t good.
This time around we were really impressed! In just a few short years these wines have come a long way, with several wines that were complex, inspiring, and downright enjoyable!
The next two blog posts are a sampling of what I found.
Equus Run Vineyards
Just outside of Midway, Equus Run has been making wine since 1998 under the supervision of owner and winemaker Cynthia Bohn. I first tried their wines several years ago and thought they were kind of “meh.” But their wines have been consistently improving. In my opinion, the turning point in quality occurred several years ago when they were commissioned to produce a special recurring bottling for the Kentucky Derby. The grapes were originally sourced from California and the wines become immensely popular. The Derby wines are now coming from local grapes and the quality seems to be trickling down to Equus’ regular wines.
Equus Run makes 20 different wines, mostly labeled without vintages. Among their current releases, the reds are what really shine. We found the Reisling to be pleasantly smooth with notes of honey. Their Chardonnays and Vidal Blanc however, seemed very acidic, bitter and off -balance. Their Zinfandels however (Zin doesn’t really grow in Kentucky, so it’s probably California fruit) were wonderfully aromatic and well-balanced. We got some cola on the nose and both Zins were slightly jammy, with some black pepper and spice. The Tempranillo was equally pleasant and balanced. Their two Merlots came up a little short – dried fruit and herbs, but overkill on the tannins.
– Riesling ($16)
– Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc de Noir Rose ($16)
– Tempranillo ($23)
– Zinfandel ($22)
– Wine Club Reserve Zinfandel ($28)
Located just off the Bluegrass Parkway near Versailles, Wildside Winery is basically a one-man show. Owner and engineer-turned-winemaker Neil Vasilakes does most of the blending, winemaking, bottling and corking – occasionally soliciting help from his wife (or whoever is manning the tasting room.) The winemaking facility shares space with the tasting room which offers visitors a glimpse into the process of making wine.
This was my first experience with their wines, and the ones I tried were pretty solid. Wildside makes 19 wines: two whites, (a Dry Riesling and a Niagra) ten reds, and seven fruit wines. The Dry Riesling was acidic, smelled like apple blossoms and had lots of green apple flavors on the palate. If you like dry Rieslings from France or Germany, I think you’ll love this one! The Cabernets and Chambourcins were a little disappointing – too astringent for our liking. The Norton, Wild Duet Blend, and Cabernet Franc, were all pleasant – very peppery and with strong tannins. Most interesting is their Pawpaw, a forgotten local fruit, and honestly tasted like fruit salad in a glass. It was so intriguing, I’ll probably devote an entire post to it.
– 2012 Dry Riesling ($15)
– 2011 Wild Duet ($12) (red blend of Foch and DeChaunac grapes. Jammy and tart – very nice)
– 2010 Cabernet Franc ($25)
– 2011 Pawpaw ($13)