Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fine wines aboard a cruise ship

I just returned from my 2 week vacation last week and no, it wasn't Italy, but it was a location just as beautiful, the state of Alaska! I seeked out wineries, of course, prior to my visit, but nothing was along the way of where I was going to be. Trust me though, there was plenty of wine drinking. 
Denali National Park Alaska with Mt. Everest
Denali National Park
The best event that I attended while onboard the Princess Cruise line was the Maitre'd Wine Club run by the head waiters of the dining room. We sampled 6 wines in the price ranges of $39-110 featuring wines from France, CA and my beloved Italy. Here was the lineup:
  • Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne
  • 2012 Silverado Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2012 Chamisal Chardonnay
  • 2008 Overture
  • 2010 Zeni Amarone
  • 2010 Meritage Luce Della Vite
I tend not to be a huge fan of champagne, more because I'm not a fan of bubbles. A little background on champagne. It was actually discovered in the 1600's by a monk I'm sure we're all familiar with, Dom Perignon. Only clergy could produce wine at that time. Dom had never tasted his own wine he was making until he made Champagne. It was originally called the “wine of the devil” because during the discovery of the fermentation process the bottles were bursting. Fun fact: How many bubbles are in a bottle of champagne? According to Bollinger, it is about 49-52 million bubbles. I'll trust them as I won't be the one to count them. This champagne was made of 50% chardonnay and 50% pinot noir and pinot meunier. It was straw color with flavors of green apple and smaller, less fizzier bubbles. Look for food that is slightly more acidic to pair it with. We sampled it with some simple appetizers with salmon mousse.
Appetizer pairings with wine
This wine comes out of Napa Valley. It is made 92% of sauvignon blanc with 8% viognier in stainless steel without malolactic fermentation. It's almost clear in color. It's lighter in body including lime, citrus and grapefruit with an apple finish combined with refreshing acidity.

Made of 100% chardonnay this wine was straw color with peach accents on the nose. On the palate it showed citrus, ripe pineapple that was smooth creating a nice medium bodied wine.

This is the second wine of Opus One, a Robert Mondavi and Bordeaux's Baron Philippe de Rothschild partnership. It's a Bordeaux blend made of primarily cabernet sauvignon along with malbec, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot. The winery actually limits a 10 bottle maximum for purchase. It's aged 16-18 months in french oak and the barrels are the used barrels of Opus One. It was a dark ruby color and on the nose it displayed rich scents of oak, vanilla and dark fruit. On the palate it contained rich fruit with a nice full body and velvety texture.

I love the wines of the Veneto region and this one is just another to add to the list. It's made of 50% corvina, 30% rondinella and 20% molinara. It went through a 36 day maceration period and was racked 5 times. This was a younger ruby color and had strong scents of prunes and raisins. It was nicely full bodied with rich fruit with a little tannin on the lengthy finish. A good pairing to game and pheasant.

This wine is also a partnership between Vittorio Frescobaldi and Robert Mondavi. It consists of 60% sangiovese and 40% merlot. It spends two years in oak and 2 years in the bottle and was just released. Showing a nice dark ruby color I picked up notes of dark chocolate on the nose. It was very complex with notes of cinnamon, cloves with a nice full body and tannin structure. A good pairing to gouda and I can attest to the dark chocolate pairing as well.

I'm not one to sit here and write long, detailed reviews on wine as I don't enjoy reading them myself so I do like to keep them brief. Plus, what I pick up in a wine someone else may not. I enjoyed each in their own way, but it did prove to me that the higher the cost doesn't always mean better quality. It's all about what you enjoy and what you experience. Wine is meant for enjoyment. Cin cin!

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