Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Tale of Two Chenins

My blog post inspirations are coming to me as flukes so far this year. I wasn't expecting to focus on Italian reds last month, and I wasn't planning a post on Chenin Blancs in February either. But they say the best things happen by fluke!

A friend of mine journeyed to Perth, Australia during the first few weeks of the year. While he was "down under", he toured the Swan River wine region of Western Australia. He found a gem of a Chenin Blanc and brought a bottle back to share over dinner one night. 

Since I also had a bottle of Loire Valley Chenin Blanc in my cellar, I decided to see how both wines compare and contrast eachother from a new world vs old world perspective, and new release vs older vintage to see how the varietal progresses.

The 2014 Windy Creek Estate Chenin Blanc opens with a pronounced floral bouquet of white and orange blossom and hints of stone fruit. Intense flavours of apricot, yellow apples and lime envelope the palate, with fresh acidity and a lush mouthfeel. A youthful, wonderful warm weather sipper!

Chenin Blanc's homeland is in the Loire Valley and the Chateau de Targe 2008 "Les Frenettes" reflects a well-developed, well structured wine in its varietal's birthplace. Deep gold in colour, with notes of baked bananas, pineapple and gala apples on both the nose and the palate. Rich in body with a slight tang in the soft acidity.A hint of melon liqueur rounded out the finish.

I was surprised to detect more exotic fruits on the older Chenin Blanc as that can be a character trait of the young wines or wines from a more tropical climate. But since Chenin Blanc can express a wide variety of flavours this may come down to the ripeness of the grapes when they were picked.

You really can't go wrong with Chenin Blanc as it can be made into wines from dry and ripe in style to sweet and honeyed. The grape is also being cultivated in South Africa and California but it's great to see it can grow well in a region like Western Australia. I haven't yet had a Chenin Blanc that I didn't agree with, and I look forward to drinking more that will please my palate!

My next blog post will explore unoaked Chardonnays from the Okanagan. Is the crisp, clean style really as off-putting as wine snobs think it is? Stay tuned!  

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Bottle Journey Through the Boot...Tasting Italian Reds

January has been a whirlwind month for me. My baby girl arrived on December 29th at 5:45am!

Since then my life has been primarily focused on getting Cassie used to the world, navigating life with 2 kids, keeping the house in order, all on very little sleep. 

But thanks to the miracle of breast pumps, I've been able to start tasting wine again! My parents flew out to lend a helping hand mid-month, and my dad and I spent some time sampling Italian reds. It was a little tough for me at first-after all, I'd been out of practice for 9 months. What are all the secondary and tertiary flavours again? And descriptors for acidity, tannins and body? Thankfully, it all came back to me when I took my first post-partum sip of wine!

We started at "the heel of the boot" in Puglia, with Il Falcone's 2009 Castel del Monte DOC Riserva.

Focused tannins and angular acidity wrap around hints of plum, sour cherries and forest floor. Medium-bodied with a long, slightly jammy finish. Excellent for weeknight sipping or with mushroom pizza and pork loin.

Next, we travelled up to the Northeastern tip of Italy to taste Tedeschi's 2010 Corasco.

This beauty arouses pleasure with aromas of blueberry, cassis and mocha. Racy acidity and chocolate tannins add to the smooth body and sultry mouthfeel. A long, spicy finish will leave you wanting more! Easily one of the best wines I have ever had from the Venezie/Valpolicella region.

We finished with Paolo Conterno's 2011 Barbera d'Alba Bricco.

Notes of raspberries, red cherries and coffee grounds. Fine tannins and lively acidity create a concentrated, well-balanced body. This wine can handle spicy foods like salami and charcuterie, but is also excellent on it's own.

Finally, I started my Year of Champagne on December 31. I plan to drink various bottles of bubbly throughout the year with tasting notes showing up throughout the blog. First up was GH Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut NV Champagne.

Aromas of green apple, lemon and a hint of freshly baked buns. The mousse is creamy and slightly delicate, with invigorating acidity that arouses the tastebuds. Hints of underripe white peach and stony minerality round out the palate.

I plan to focus February on white wines from France and BC along with my Mother in Law's visit, along with another bottle of Champagne and maybe one or two more red wines.