Monday, April 15, 2013

Le G: The Other Wine of Guiraud

Chateau Guiraud is best known for it's Premier Grand Cru Classe sweet wines and it's gorgeous tree-lined entrance to the property, as pictured below:
(Photo courtesy of Matthew Mantle, taken March 2011 at Chateau Guiraud)
The grapes that Chateau Guiraud uses to make their intoxicatingly aromatic sweet wines are affected by Botrytis, also known as "Noble Rot". In viticulture, Botrytis is a fungal disease that attaches itself to grapes and removes the water in the pulp, leaving behind the sugars. It is caused in Sauternes naturally by foggy, damp mornings in the vineyard that give way to hot summer afternoons, but not all of the grapes end up afflicted with Noble Rot. So what happens to the healthy, ripe grapes that aren't able to be used for their prestigious sweet wine? The healthy grapes are used to make a Bordeaux Blanc Sec (or dry wine) that Chateau Guiraud calls Le G de Guiraud.

White wines made in Bordeaux are constantly overshadowed by their highly esteemed and popular red counterparts-and this trend will continue as long as Bordeaux is a worldwide staple in the red wine market, making some of the most highly sought-after wines in the world. However, producers are working to increase the quality of their white wines by reducing the amount of sulfur they use (used as an antioxidant and an antiseptic), using stainless steel vats and better temperature control for fermentation, and avoiding malolactic fermentation. These wines are more refreshing and fruit-forward with their flavors, and have a bit of aging potential. If you drink white wines, do not underestimate the quality of a Bordeaux Blanc Sec, especially Le G de Guiraud.

Le G de Guiraud is composed of 70% Sauvignon Blanc grapes, complemented by 30% Semillon grapes. The healthy, ripe grapes are hand-harvested at the peak of their ripeness, sometimes requiring a second passing through the vineyard to maximize yields. Once the grapes reach the winery, they are pressed and then fermented for 2 weeks in new oak barrels previously used for the sweet wines. Aging takes place in barriques for 6-9 months afterwards and the juice is left on the lees, which are regularly stirred for added body and flavor. The end result is a great value white wine full of flavor, costing about $35 CDN/bottle.

I had been storing two bottles of the 2008 vintage in our wine cellar and figured now would be a good time to drink one to see how developed the flavors had become. I found the 2008 G de Guiraud to be a fully developed, well-balanced white with grass and stone on the nose and palate, with just a hint of damp oak and gooseberry. The wine has a refreshing acidity that lasts well into the long finish. Subtle complexity with a great concentration of flavor. Best to drink now or within a year, but newer vintages could hold for 5 years.

Even though Bordeaux whites will never have the same reputation or  as their reds and sweet wines, they're still a great value with great flavor. If you like full-bodied whites, why not get one on your next visit to your local wine or liquor store? I promise you won't be disappointed. Cheers!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Challenge Accepted! Cherpumple Cake

My daughter's first birthday is coming up this weekend and even though she'll probably never remember it, I wanted to do something special for her first cake and avoid the store-bought route (not that there's anything wrong with that).

One of my most awesome friends found the idea for Cherpumple Cake online and sent it to me as an idea for the cake. I say to that, "Challenge Accepted!" (in the way that Barney from How I Met Your Mother would say it).

Cherpumple Cake is the turducken of desserts-3 layers of different types of cake with a pie baked in to each layer! Generally the bottom layer is a spice cake with apple pie inside it, the middle layer is a yellow cake with pumpkin pie inside, and the top layer is white cake with cherry pie inside. What I plan to do with mine is going to be only 2 layers: the spice cake with apple pie layer and cherry chip with cherry pie layer. I'm going to use my third layer to make a separate cake for my daughter to smash at will! I haven't decided if I'm going to put a pie in that or not, it would be wicked messy and a super sugar high if I do that!

Charles Phoenix does a great but slightly-annoying tutorial of how to make the Cherpumple Cake. Check it out here! And don't forget to stay tuned to see how mine turned out!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Getting to Know You...Gruner Veltliner

Once upon a time, the Traminer grape met an obscure grape called St. Georgener in a faraway land. The 2 grapes began a torrid "love affair" and the fruit of their passions became known as Gruner Veltliner, one of the defining grapes of Austrian wine.

Gruner Veltliner (or GV as it will be called for the rest of the post) has small greenish-yellow berries on the vine. It grows best along the Danube river in Austria, and the best quality wines come from regions named Kremstal, Kamptal, Wachau, Weinviertel and Donauland. It is also grown in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Germany. GV is known for it's peppery notes both in the bouquet and on the palate, with refreshing acidity and the ability to age for years in a cellar. It also boasts mineral, citrus and sometimes peachy flavors in the mouth.

The wine I tasted was the 2011 Rabl Gruner Veltliner Spiegel, based out of the Kamptal region. This was part of 3 bottles given to me for my 2013 cellaring project. 

Crisp with refreshing acidity and mineral, citrus and stone fruit notes, this wine is light, yet full-bodied. It coats the throat with a smooth, slightly sweet finish that will make you want to sip again and again! I did not pair this with any food, but some recommended pairings include asparagus, smoked salmon, potato pancakes and sashimi. 

What shocks me the most about this wine is it's reputation for aging, and not just for a year or two in the cellar. Some sommeliers and websites state that GV can age upwards of 20+ years. Here's a link to an article of GVs from 1960-1979 that were tasted in 2002, and beat out some notable Chardonnays and White Burgundies. Although I'm unsure of how long I plan to keep these in the cellar for now, you bet it will be a long time! Remember, a fine wine gets better with age!