Friday, November 20, 2020

A Look into the Sweeter Side of Bordeaux Wines

I’m thrilled to finally join the French Winophiles group and gain some knowledge into the world of French wine.  I’m so immersed typically in Italian wine that branching out here and there is important to get a better grasp on wine from around the world.  This month the feature are the sweet wines of Bordeaux, which I’ve written about in the past.  If you follow my blog you know I truly enjoy dessert wines so this was a treat. 

Sweet Bordeaux wines are primarily made of semillon, sauvignon blanc and/or muscadelle.  They are sweeter because the grapes are typically harvested about a month or two after regular harvest of the other grapes.  This dehydrates the grapes concentrating the sugars.  What makes the sweet wines of Bordeaux special is the fungus known as botrytis cinerea or noble rot.  I know it may sound unappealing a fungus growing on the grapes, but it transforms creates complexities in the flavors and aromatics of the grapes lending more toward honey notes.  Noble rot develops due to the climate, which in Bordeaux develops from the misty mornings and the heat and humidity of the day.   

Botrytis Cinerea noble rot
Botrytis Cinerea ~ copyright of

Dehydrated grapes of Sweet Bordeaux
Copyright of
The appellations 

I sampled four wines from 2 of the 8 AOC’s, appellations, in Bordeaux that make sweet wine, Loupiac and Sainte-Croix-du-Mont.    Loupiac occupies about 865 acres that located about 18 miles southeast of Bordeaux on the right bank of the Garonne River. It’s hilly terrain made primarily of gravel and chalky clay soils.  The appellation follows strict laws around density and even weight of the grapes harvested.  Romans were the first that cultivated vines in this area and an ancient Roman villa still exists today that can be visited. 

Sainte-Croix-du-Mont is located on the right bank of the Gironde River as well south of Loupiac.  The soils here are more limestone with clay on steep hillsides occuping 1,100 acres.  The sweet wines of this area are known for being more powerful and intense. 

Sweet Bordeaux wine appellations
The Wines 

2014 Chateau du Cros Loupiac: Part of the wines of Famille Boyer.  This wine is made of 90% semillon, 5% sauvignon blanc and 5% muscadet.   It spends 12 months in barrique.  The most golden in color of the 4 wines.  An intense nose mostly of honey and apricot.  Rather delicate on the palate, but with concentrated, complex flavors including apricot.  A beautiful silkiness to this wine.  ABV 13% SRP $15 

2015 Chateau Dauphine Rondillon Loupiac: This winery is operated by 8 generations.  These grapes are harvested from the oldest vineyards onsite planted in 1910 and are considered the best of their production.  The wine is made of 80% semillon and 20% sauvignon blanc and aged for 1 year in barrels that are a year old.  Light golden color with a nose lending more towards citrus compared to the previous wine.  Elegant and balanced on the palate with the citrus (orange) showing up more on the palette.  ABV 13% SRP $25  

Sweet wines of Bordeaux Loupiac Sainte-Croix-du-Mont
2016 Chateau La Rame Sainte-Croix-du-Mont: One of the oldest estates of the area.  Made of 95% semillon and 5% sauvignon blanc.  The grapes spend 2 years in stainless steel with 30% oak.  My favorite wine of the group here.  Light golden in color.  Raisins, apricots and peach showing up on the aromatics.  The palette is layered with flavors in harmony showing lots of vanilla with a hint of the raisins and apricot.  ABV 13% SRP $34 

2019 Chateau La Hargue Moelleux Semi Dry: These vineyards in Entre-Deux-Mers occupies all of the AOC’s and have been part of the family since 1954 acquired by Henri Ducourt.  Made of sauvignon blanc, sauvignon gris and semillon and aged on lees in stainless steel.  The only full sized 750ml bottle, while the rest are 375ml.  Pale straw colored, almost colorless in the glass.  The sauvignon blanc shines on the nose showing grassiness.  Definitely semi-dry showing up crisp and clean with tropical notes and white peach.  ABV 11% SRP $18 

Sweet Bordeaux wines
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Join us live on Twitter this Saturday @ 11am EST at #winophiles and chat with our food and wine loving friends on more sweet wines of Bordeaux.

  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla: “Surprise! Pairing Spicy and Savory Dishes with Sweet Bordeaux”
  • Terri at Our Good Life: “Spicy Hot Tacos and Sweet Bordeaux”
  • Martin at ENOFYLZ: “Pairing Sweet Bordeaux with Southern Fare”
  • Lauren atThe Swirling Dervish: “Golden Bordeaux Meets Savory Pumpkin and Smoked Bacon Tart: a Delicious Thanksgiving Twist!”
  • David at Cooking Chat: “Pairings for Sweet Bordeaux Wine"
  • Katrina atThe Corkscrew Concierge: “Golden Bordeaux Delights in Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole Cuisine”
  • Payal at Keep the Peas: “Four Sweet Bordeaux Wines with Four Courses”
  • Jane at Always Ravenous:“Golden Sweet Bordeaux Wines: Tasting and Pairings”
  • Wendy atA Day in the Life on the Farm: “Hot Chocolate and Halva Pudding paired with Lion De Tanesse L'Amour”
  • Jeff at foodwineclick: "Sweet Bordeaux Meets the Smoke"
  • Jill at L'OCCASION : “Sweet Bordeaux Wines Aren’t Just for Dessert”
  • Lynn at Savor the Harvest: “Sweet Bordeaux Wines Get Savory Pairings”
  • Rupal at Syrah Queen: "Sweet Bordeaux Is A Sweet Delight - Savor These Perfect Food Pairings"
  • Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles : “Sweet Bordeaux Wines and pairings from opposite sides of the globe”
  • Pinny at Chinese Food & Wine Pairings: “Sweet Bordeaux Paired with Asian Carbs - Chinese Sticky Rice and Korean Japchae”
  • Susannah at avvinare: “Delightful Sweet Wines from Bordeaux”
  • Nicole at Somm’s Table:“Château Loupiac Gaudiet with Cinnamon Apple Crème Brûlée”
  • Gwendolyn at wine predator: "Successful Pairings of Salty and Savory with Sweet Semi-Dry Bordeaux"
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass: “Appetizers, entrées and yes, dessert please, with sweet Bordeaux”

*These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are always my own. 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Primitivo: Zinfandel of Southern Italy #ItalianFWT

Back in September I wrote about a unique white blend from the Amastuola winery in Puglia.  This month’s Italian Food, Wine and Travel event brings us to discover the Primitivo grape of Italy.  I fortunately had a bottle of Primitivo from Amastuola as well that I’ll be sharing a little later. 

The Grape ~ Primitivo 

Let’s first chat about the Primitivo grape.  It’s a grape that hails from southern Italy, primarily in the region of Puglia located on the heel of the boot.  In Puglia it’s the 3rd most planted grape that grows well in the hot, dry conditions.  It’s a grape that is genetically related to zinfandel, although quite different in style.  Those from California are typically higher in sugar and therefore riper in a New World style versus those of Italy that have more of a rustic presentation. 

The Primitivo grape originally came over from Croatia in the 1700’s and was selected this name meaning “early ripening”.  Primitivo had always been used as a blending grape until the 90’s when many growers and wineries received incentives to uproot many of the vines to better focus on quality.  Today the grape can be produced in a variety of styles, but is usually a full-bodied, jammy, fruit driven wine with high alcohol and moderate tannins. 

Some of the primary appellations of Puglia where this grape is grown are Primitivo di Manduria DOC, Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale DOCG, Gioia del Colle DOC and the Salento IGT.  Italians are allowed to use Zinfandel on the label in place of Primitivo, which I can imagine would give them better recognition on the market with the unfamiliarity of the name Primitivo. 

The Wine 

2015 Amastuola Primitivo Puglia IGT 

Garnet in color with aromas of cherry, pepper and earth.  On the palette it’s very dry with medium body.  It’s very different than many of the Primitivo I have experienced that are usually more lush and fuller bodied (not typically my style).  This wine has an earthiness about it, with cherry and cedar notes.  Nice acidity showing up drier on the finish with firm, moderate tannin.  ABV 14% SRP $16 

2015 Amastuola Primitivo

What’s your experience with Primitivo and is it a style you typically favor?

Follow my fellow Italian food and wine writers as they share their perspective on Primitivo.  Catch us live on Twitter this Saturday at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT.


*This wine was provided as a sample, but opinions are always my own.  Importer: Mariposa Imports

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Birthday Celebrations call for Poderi Colla Barolo and Barbaresco

Birthdays are the perfect time to celebrate popping bottles and drinking the good stuff.  Earlier this year I had received a couple of bottles of Barbaresco and Barolo from Poderi Colla and no time like the present to sample them.  Although for a Barolo and Barbaresco these wines are in their youth, they will further benefit from aging.  Luckily I got an extra bottle of each so I’ll be able to watch their progression as they age. 

The Winery ~ Poderi Colla 

The Colla family has been making wine since the 1700’s.  Pietro Colla was an important figure in the Piedmont wine industry serving as a member of the Asti Consortium newly established back in 1932.  His oldest son, Beppe, was also a prominent figure whom took over the well-known Cavaliero Prunotto estate in 1956, which was later sold over to the Antinori family in the 90’s.  Beppe was part of establishing the regulations for the Alba DOC’s and cru vineyard sites.  He was also the first in the Langhe to use cru on the Barolo labels with the 1961 Prunotto Barolo BussiaUnfortunately, Beppe recently passed away in January of 2019.   

Poderi Colla was founded in 1994 by Pietro’s youngest son, Tino, and Beppe’s daughter, Federica.  They merged three of their properties in creation of the winery including Cascine Drago in San Rocco Seno d’Elvio di Alba, Tenuta Roncaglia in Barbaresco and Dardi Le Rose in Bussia di Monforte d’Alba.  In 2016 they also added a fourth estate, Bricco Bompe in Madonna di Come di Alba.   

Since almost the beginning of their inception Poderi Colla has taken part in Piedmont’s agricultural environmental program that focused on limiting pesticides, using fertilizers like worm compost and focusing on producing organic wines.   

The Wine 

2016 Poderi Colla Tenuta Roncaglie Barbaresco  

This wine spends 14 months in large botti.  This Barbaresco, along with the Barolo, are grown in south to southwest facing steep hills made of calcareous marl and sand.  As with all Barolo and Barbaresco these wines are made of 100% nebbiolo.  Garnet red in color.  Delicious red fruits of raspberries and cherries.  A solid backbone of acidity showing such elegance in the glass.  I was impressed by this wine’s approachability with a 2016 vintage, but I can imagine the beauty of this wine with age.  ABV 14% SRP $65 

2015 Poderi Colla Barolo Bussia Dardi Le Rose

2015 Poderi Colla Barolo Bussia Dardi Le Rose  

This wine hails from the Bussia vineyards in Monforte d’Alba.  Spending about 12-15 days of maceration.  Aged in Slavonian oak for 2 years with an additional year in the bottle.  Garnet colored with brick hues on the rim.  Layered aromas of red and black cherries, licorice, spice and dried roses.  Juicy acidity with tight tannins that become more silky towards the finish that is lengthy.  ABV 14% SRP $75 

2015 Poderi Colla Barolo Bussia Dardi Le Rose
Life is too short, drink good wine!


*These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are always my own.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Fall is Here! Warm up with a Merlot and Pot Roast Pairing #WinePW

October is my favorite month between the season change to fall enjoying that crisp, cool air, my birthday, anniversary and one of my favorite holidays.  What’s not to love!  Pumpkins and apples are in abundance and if you’re like me your brain starts to shift to thinking of more hearty recipes to pair with red wines.  This year marks the 6th anniversary of #MerlotMe month dedicated to you guessed it, Merlot.   

Merlot is one of the world’s most popular grapes.  It’s a soft, approachable wine, deeply colored, medium to full-bodied rich in berries, plums and occasional chocolate.  Depending upon how it’s produced the wines may have additional layers of vanilla and spice from oak aging.  Climate plays a major factor in the results of these wines whether they are grown in cool or warm climates around the world. 

Last year I had received quite the array of Merlot where I suggested MerlotMe pairings, but this year I received only one and it was nice to be able to focus on the one winery, L’Ecole.  Life has been quite challenging lately so I appreciated the break.       

The Winery ~ L’Ecole 

L’Ecole is a winery located in the Walla Walla Valley of Washington state.  The winery was founded in 1983 by Jean and Baker Ferguson whom really laid the groundwork and made a name not only for themselves, but the region as well.  They were the 3rd winery in Walla Walla and the 20th commercial winery in Washington state at that time.  The name L’Ecole No 41 derives from the French word for school.  Many French-Canadians settled in the area in the early 1800’s.  The Schoolhouse building you’ll find on their labels is located in the town of Frenchtown, west of Walla Walla.  The number 41 is the district number in which it is located. 

Megan and Marty were newly married when Megan’s family started the winery.  They were living in San Francisco at the time and would travel back to take part in the harvest.  They decided to move permanently to the area in 1989 and today work fulltime at the winery with their children, the third generation.  Marty is current winemaker and co-owner.   

You will find that their Estate Seven Hills Vineyard and Estate Ferguson vineyards are certified sustainable.  L’Ecole has received countless awards including being named Top Winery of the Year fifteen times by the Wine and Spirits Magazine.   

The Wine  

The 2017 L’Ecole No 41 Columbia Valley Merlot is a blend of Merlot grapes from a number of their older vineyard sites.  Their Columbia Valley line of wines are dependable quality showing the typicity of the region’s wines.   The Columbia Valley is the largest appellation in Eastern Washington.  The grapes are hand harvested and racked to small oak barrels (30% new oak) with 4 rackings aged over 18 months.  The wine is made of 81% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot. A full-bodied, structured and layered Merlot with lush black raspberries and plums with a touch of baking spice.  ABV 14.5% SRP $25 

L'Ecole Columbia Valley Merlot with pot roast

The Pairing ~ Pot Roast 

With so much stewed meat from a local farm we purchased I thought it would be great to try pairing this Merlot with pot roast.    Being on vacation this week at our vacation home in the Great North Woods of New Hampshire we took day trips with the kids so I definitely pulled out the crockpot for this meal.  Trying to balance a bunch of things all the time I have no shame in using one when needed, especially when the result was this tasty dish.   With this Merlot being rather hearty it stood up well to the flavors in this dish.  Beef in a variety of preparations has always proven to pair well with Merlot. 

What are your thoughts on Merlot?  Love it or hate it?  

Plenty more Merlot coming your way with my fellow food and wine lovers.  Join us live on Twitter this Saturday at 11am EST at #WinePW.  We look forward to seeing you there! 


*This wine was provided as a sample, but opinions are my own.