Wednesday, September 5, 2018

A Tour & Tasting at Weingut Geheimer Rat Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan

Deep in the heart of the Pfalz wine country, located just off the famous “Weinstrasse” (wine street), a 300 year-old estate watches over the nearby vineyards in anticipation of the upcoming harvest. The Weingut Geheimer Rat Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan has created a legacy of internationally acclaimed Rieslings within a small town called Deidesheim. I was fortunate to receive a tour and tasting at the estate with Sebastian Wandt, Sales Manager, in late August.

Our tour started with a drive into the vineyards where Bassermann-Jordan grows their grapes. The estate owns plots of vines within 10 "Erste Lage" (the equivalent to Premier Cru) and 10 "Grosse Lage" (Grand Cru equivalent) vineyards. This year was very hot, with little precipitation – very similar to the 2003 growing season. Harvest will be starting extra early this season; the week after my visit, in fact, to ensure the grapes are at optimum ripeness and to maximize concentration in the resulting wines. 

From there, we returned to the estate for a tasting. I was surprised to learn that Sauvignon Blanc is gaining momentum within the Pfalz region.

Bassermann Jordann’s Sauv Blanc is abundant with tropical fruits like underripe pineapple and passion fruit, alongside nuances of the traditional grassy notes towards the finish. Refreshing acidity and a clean finish make this wine perfect for those who prefer a more fruit-forward style of Sauvignon Blanc.

A drier style of Riesling is generally preferred within the community of the Pfalz, and this 2017 Deidesheimer Kieselberg Riesling represents this style well with racy acidity, and stony minerality mid-palate. Combined with a complex flavour profile of white peach, melon and a hint of tropical fruit, this is a must-try for anyone who loves dry Riesling!

My personal favourite of the tasting was the 2017 Deidesheimer Leinhole Riesling Spatlese. Incredibly fresh and clean, with ample stone fruit aromas, bright acidity and honeyed stone fruit leading into a long, lush finish. The wine is on the sweeter side as Spatlese means "Late Harvest", but not cloyingly sweet at all. This Riesling will pair extremely well with desserts like strudels and fruit pies, and is equally as delectable on its own!

From there, we journeyed into the cellar. Built in 1822, the cellar has expanded as the estate grew in both side and wine production. A full library containing wines of each vintage from 1880 onward is contained here, and is also fully functional with stainless steel tanks and aging racks for the winemaking process. 

Bassermann-Jordan's wines are widely available internationally and through North America and offer a wide range of Rieslings that will fit your palate, as well as other varietals including Sauvignon Blanc, Spatburgunder, even Sekt! Special thanks to Sebastian for the tour and tasting. I wish Bassermann-Jordann a successful harvest, and a successful vintage in their wines!


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Cremant Tour de France Stages 1 & 2: Cremant de Limoux & Cremant de Bordeaux

I really need to start blogging more often.

The Tour de France is almost over already, and although I won't be making it past an estimated stage 5 (pending the amount of Cremants I can find from the Loire Valley in my area), I feel like I am way behind. Life has been crazy hectic in the Concubine household for the past few months: my husband was studying for an exam he wrote in late June and I solo parented so he could focus on studying, and then a plethora of visitors visited the unofficial "Concubine B&B" (now that would be one heck of a name for a B&B!) for a few weeks afterwards. Now that life is calming down a bit, I finally have time to kick off my #cremanttourdefrance and share my tastings!

I decided to start Stage 1 in the Limoux AOP. Located 25km south of the village of Carcassonne, the climate here is influenced by cooling breezes from the Atlantic Ocean, and four varied terroir styles due to its proximity to the Pyrenees foothills. Limoux is also the birthplace of a grape varietal called Mauzac, which is credited to have created the first sparkling wine by the monks of St-Hilaire in 1531. Because of this, Limoux is best known for its sparkling wines. Cremant de Limoux bubblies are generally made using a blend of up to 90% Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Secondary grape varietals like Mauzac and Pinot Noir are allowed in the blend to a maximum of 20% (Pinot Noir is allowed up to 10%). Cremant de Limoux is vinified using "Methode Traditionelle", which means that a second fermentation occurs within the bottle, the same way official Champagne is crafted. 

One of the most prominent wineries to craft Cremant de Limoux is Domaine Delmas, located 20 minutes south of Limoux in the village of Antugnac. Their focus is on both Cremant and Blanquette de Limoux wines, but also vinify a still Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The Cuvee des Sacres Delmas is composed of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir and Mauzac. Honeyed notes of banana, melon, and a hint of toasted almonds dance on the palate. The bracing acidity on this cremant, as well as the aggressive mousse, pairs well with rich cheeses and seafood in cream sauce. But don't let the intensity fool you; this gem is very approachable and easy to drink!

Limoux is also known for creating another type of bubbly named "Blanquette de Limoux". Blanquette wines are vinified from the Mauzac grape, with a bit of Chardonnay blended in. The wine is aged for 8 months on its lees in old oak barrels. 

The 2011 Cuvee Memoire Blanquette de Limoux also starts off with aromas of honeyed stone fruits, but the flavour profile changes to green apple, lime zest and a strong, steely backbone on the palate. Delicate bubbles (aka "mousse") and crisp, yet refreshing acidity round out the mouthfeel, leading to a strong finish. I enjoyed the Cuvee Memoire on a hot summer's evening, relaxing on my back deck. It was the perfect pairing!

From there, my tour traveled east to Bordeaux. Cremant de Bordeaux was established as an appellation in 1990. The wine varietals allowed in the blend are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Ugni Blanc, Colombard, and Muscadelle, creating a more unique flavour profile than what can be found in other Cremant appellations.

And a very unique flavour profile was delivered with the Xavier Milhade Cremant de Bordeaux! A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle, prominent floral aromas lead into notes of navel oranges and cantaloupe melon, encased in a mineral mid-palate. The acidity was racy, with delicate mousse. This wine was a treat for me as Cremant de Bordeaux wines are very hard to find in my location!

Now that I have cycled through the better part of Southern France, it's time to head north towards the Loire Valley. Stay tuned for Stage 3, in the coming few weeks!  


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Tour of Southern Rhone Reds

In the spring of 2011, My husband and I were fortunate enough to tour and taste our way through Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Rasteau. From the moment I stepped into the vineyards of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, I immediately fell in love with the region.

Photo taken outside of Moulin de la Gardette's Tasting Room, Gigondas, March 2011.

There are so many reasons to fall in love with the Southern Rhone wine region of France: The Mediterranean climate, the history and architecture, the local cuisine, and of course, the wine! The Southern Rhone encompasses a large area of sub-appellations, as per the map below:

My apologies for the not-so-good photo, this was taken off of one of my wine posters hung in my basement.

My father is also a huge fan of Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines, but hasn't had a lot of experience with the other sub-appellations. So when he came for a visit in mid-April, we dipped into my wine cellar, pillaged one of our local wine stores, and performed a "taste-off" to see which sub-appellation(s) we liked best.

1. Famille Perrin Vacqueyras "Les Christins" 2015

Concentrated and complex, with notes of cranberries, red cherries, baking spice and a hint of the tell-tale fleshiness that Southern Rhone wines are known for (my WSET Adv teacher referred to them as "Chateauneuf-du-poop" because she's classy like that). Bright acidity and velvety tannins make this beauty very approachable. You could enjoy Les Christins on its own, but it also pairs spectacularly with heavier red meats like sirloin tip beef roast.

2. Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2015

I was fortunate enough to obtain 2 of the last bottles in my local area after this wine was ranked 5th overall on Wine Spectator's Top 100 List of 2017. Smooth and lush mouthfeel, consisting of red cherry, leather, cigar box and medicinal hints. The acidity is still fairly sharp but the tannins are soft and well-integrated into the body. This baby needs at least 1 hour in the decanter to open up, and she'll need a good 7 years minimum in the cellar, but still reflects the true flavour profile of a Southern Rhone red wine. My second bottle won't see the light of day for another decade, I'm excited to see how the wine develops!

The nose opens up to ripe blackberries and barnyard aromas. Ground cloves and a charcoal finish join the palate, along with focused tannins and mouthwatering acidity. Sadly, the charcoal finish falls off rather quickly. This wine did not speak to my palate, but my dad and husband thought it was decent! Definitely worth tasting.

This wine is showing its age with aromas of dried cherries and dried tobacco. However, the palate still shows bright acidity and a long, lively finish. A flavour profile that includes a hint of smoke and a charcoal backbone adds complexity and depth to the rich body. Absolutely stunning, and if you can find this vintage, worth the splurge (estimated price in CDN is $42).

There were a few other bottles we tasted from the AOC Cotes du Rhone and Rasteau; however, they did not make the short list for this blog post.

It was almost unanimous, but the surprising favourite of our tasting tour is...

Famille Perrin "Les Christins" Vacqueyras! 

Here is how we ranked our top 4 choices:

Sara's Rankings                                                                Dad's & Husband's Rankings

1. Domaine Barville CNDP 2009                                      1. Famille Perrin Vacqueyras 2015
2. Famille Perrin Vacqueyras 2015                                   2. Domaine Barville CNDP 2009
3. Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2015                    3. Chateau Pesquie Terrasses Ventoux 2015
4. Chateau Pesquie Terrasses Ventoux 2015                   4. Chateau de Saint Cosme Gigondas 2015

We may not return to the Southern Rhone anytime soon, but our fond memories of the region and our love for their wines will stay with us forever. And we can always buy more Rhone wines anytime we like!

So what's next for the Wine Concubine? It's time to start my major tasting project of the year; I'll be conducting a "Cremant Tour de France" over the next few months, ending in Colmar, France with Cremant d'Alsace! Stay tuned, up first is Cremant de Bourgogne!