Tag Archives: Chardonnay

Fortant Coast Select Chardonnay – French White Goes American!

Everyday Glass is dedicated to finding the best wines money can buy for under $15 – wines that you should be proud to serve to guests or enjoy with a simple 30-minute dinner recipe. We try every wine that we sell to make sure you get only the best. This blog is a collection of our favorites.

There’s no more classic white wine for winter than Chardonnay – it’s like ice skating on Frog Pond in the Common. So dutifully, we’ll tell you about one of our new favorites that could be a staple in your rotation during this season of unending coldness.

Fortant de France is a producer in Languedoc, a region in the South of France. They offer different levels of wines but mostly focus on Pays d’Oc, which is a category of non-appellation French wine that can range from “excellent value” to “unthinkably ghastly”. Fortunately, this Chardonnay passes muster in a big way (that’s why your trustworthy Bauer team tastes so many wines – to make sure it falls in the former category).

Fortant Coast Select Chardonnay2012 Fortant Coast Select Chardonnay – Pays d’Oc, France ($11.98, 2-for-$20) reminds us more of California than Burgundy, France’s famous home of this grape. Full and clean with fruitiness reminiscent of nectarines and tropical fruit, and the right amount of oak to give the wine a creamy texture without overdoing it. It finishes clean with lingering fruit flavors, and the whole thing is held together with nice acidity that makes you go back for another sip.

Drink this wine because:
– Pays d’Oc represents many excellent values in French wine.
– The lush creaminess and full texture of this wine stands up to winter chilliness.
– The tropical fruit notes in this wine will remind you of warmer places.

Drink up and enjoy your everyday glass!

Cheers,
Bauer Wines
bauerwines.com

Crisp, Bubbly American Summer

Boston may be a port city but in the everyday hustle and bustle…when do we get to enjoy the water?  Do we Bostonians ever get out on the water?  Most of us can answer that with a disappointed no.

When the days get longer and the temperature starts to to rose I begin to daydream of blue waters and crisp white sails.  I may not be able to hop on a sailboat and dead out to sea, but I certainly can continue the fantasy when I open up a bottle of Domaine Chandon Brut Classic’s Limited Edition of American Summer.

The look of the bottle IS the picture of summer: A trio of red, white and blue give the feel of looking at the mainsail of a sloop in Boston Harbor.  This refreshing sparkler that is crisp, lively and made in the Methode Traditionelle (Classic Champagne Method) that allows a second fermentation in the bottle.  In doing so, the wine gives aromas of green apple, cinnamon, lime and vanilla that lead to flavors of tropical fruit, pears and a hint on toast.

Chandon is comprised of the three classic Champagne grapes of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  Grown in some of California’s finest appellations: Yountville, Carneros and Mount Veeder, Chandon’s sparkling wines are Pinot Noir heavy due to the structure and body the grape gives to the wine.  Chardonnay adds delicacy with the tropical fruit and pear notes and the Pinot Meunier offers nutty and earthy flavors.

Pinot Noir

Chardonnay

Pinot Meunier

Most people save their bubbly for special occasions, but with Domaine Chandon’s competitive price…there is no need.  Drink this one whenever the mood strikes!  Ceasar Salad, Fried Calamari, oyster, or sushi are the perfect compliments to Chandon’s Brut Classic.  But really any salty, creamy or nutty foods will go great with this summer quaffer.

Preemptive Minimalism with Donelan Family Wines

Preemptive minimalism:  to understand the process of wine making so deeply, you remove yourself from it.

-Tyler Thomas ~Winemaker Donelan Family Wines

Despite the blustering winds, I made my way down to the Boston Harbor Hotel on Wednesday, January 18 for an evening of great wines and incredible food.  For this being my first year going to the Boston Wine Festival,  I am one lucky gal that I have been able to go to two events.   Escaping the elements,  I walked into the hotel bar and there they were-Sue, Becky and Kathleen-all with a glass of wine in front of them.  Jealous of their head start, I sat down, ordered a glass for myself and joined in the conversation.

Kathleen, Sue and Becky

After a few minutes of lively chatter, it was time to head upstairs.  Greeted at the entrance of the room, a gentleman offered up a glass of Donelan Family Wine’s  2009 Venus Blanc-a light, bright blend of 90% Roussanne and 10% Viognier.   Although the French rarely blend their Viognier because it overpowers other varietals, the cool climate and slow ripening of the Roussanne benefits from the richer Viognier grape when grown in California.  This delicate wine danced on my palate with a complexity that is rarely seen in such such a soft, floral (freesia and lilies)  wine.  Venus Blanc was the perfect aperitif for the dinner we were about to be served.

Specializing in quality, Donelan Family Wines produces small batches from each vineyard in Sonoma County.  So if you haven’t had the pleasure of tasting any of their wines, you are not alone because the most any of their vineyards produce is under 700 cases.  Although this boutique winery has had some unbridled praise, they aren’t about to expand just yet.  Quality first and foremost, Winemaker Tyler Thomas and Owner Joe Donelan have something on their hands that is making seasoned wine drinkers sit up and pay attention.  100 points Parker rated 2007 Richard’s Vineyards Syrah certainly made the wine critics take notice.

Joe Donelan and the ladies of Table 4

Joe got up to speak and we learned that not only is he talented in the wine field but utterly charming as well.  Joe spent 25 years in the paper business (yes..think Dunder Mifflin) but found his life’s passion in wine.  His love of Rhone and Burgundy varietals began with Pax Wine Cellars and the journey has taken him to his own boutique winery with a portfolio of outstanding wines that I can’t wait to have again.

After joking that he was proud that his winemaker shaved and got a haircut, Joe brought Tyler up to the podium where Tyler described each of the wines as we were served the courses.  There was a sense of pride that showed in this young talented winemaker as he ushered what is essentially a chemical process into a total wine experience for all of us.  And after tasting the wines, he should be proud of what he has accomplished.

Joe Donelan

So let’s get down to dinner.  Chef Daniel Bruce of Meritage once again hit a home run.  If you haven’t been to one of his wine dinners you are truly missing out on a gastronomical experience.  Chef tastes each wine that will be showcased and plans a menu that will highlight each wine at it’s best.  He doesn’t just say….”White wine.  We must have fish.”  He tastes the wines, thinks it through and crafts a dinner that puts your tastes buds in a state of ecstasy.

Chef describing his choices in courses

For the first course, we had pan seared Diver Scallops with celery root mash and Chardonnay Orange Butter.  Paired with Donelan’s 2009 “Nancie” Chardonnay, a Burgundian-style Chardonnay that was grippy and rich but still acidic.  The grapes struggled to ripen on the vine so they retained their acidity and the result was a Chardonnay that has melon, citrus and a solid core of minerality.  Bright fresh citrus is followed by hints of chamomile on the nose.  The Nancie is elegant, fresh and will be wonderful with any dish of lighter fare.

Diver Scallops

For the next course we were treated to a barrel sample of the  “Two Brothers” Pinot Noir and the 2009 Cuvee Moriah.  On our plates was a shredded duck, fennel and leek filled cannelloni that had a fresh herb sauce.  While Becky and I loved the smooth and silky young Pinot Noir, Kathleen and Sue leaned towards the Cuvee Moriah (75% Grenache 25% Syrah) because it was robust and similar to a great Chateauneuf du Pape.  Both wines pick up the richness of the duck and the spices of the fennel and leeks.  Silky or spicy this course was just plain delicious.

Shredded Duck Cannelloni

Next on deck we had 2008 Cuvee Christine Syrah  and the 2009 Walker Vine Hill Syrah  with a Syrah and Parmesan cheese risotto that was topped with wild mushrooms (handpicked by Chef) and shaved Bresaola.  Both wines were terrific with the Risotto.  The 2008 Cuvee Christine is 100% Syrah from four different vineyards and could be called a true expression of the varietal: spicy, chewy and meaty.  The Christine also had savory elements such as cherry licorice, dark berries, anise and clove that made it rich with layers of flavor.  Next to the Cuvee Christine, we were treated to the Walk Vine Hill Syrah.  An intense wine that explodes with blueberry immediately and follows with cherry and herbs.  There was a lot of depth to the Walk Vine Hill that gave tension to the palate and enhanced the risotto.

Syrah and Parmesan Cheese Risotto

By this point, the other ladies at the table and I had “relaxed” enough to have some lively wine conversations.  As we discussed the Donelan’s wines, the char roasted Colorado lamb sirloin was placed in front of us and the 2007 “Richard’s Vineyard” Syrah was poured.  Awarded 100 points by Robert Parker, I knew it was going to be incredible.  The lamb melted in your mouth and the Richard’s Vineyard had lavender characteristics that highlighted blueberries, blackberries and a hint of chocolate.  Full-bodied, rich and wonderful. Tasting this wine was an eye-opening experience.

Lamb Sirloin with Richards's Vineyard Syrah

Although no wines were served with dessert (probably a good thing), Chef’s Espresso Pot au Creme with toasted Almond Biscotti was decadent.  Of course, he waited until we finished it off before telling us that the tiny little pot of dessert had about 800 calories to it….and that wasn’t counting the almond biscotti.  Thanks Chef.

Dessert

If a night like mine sounds like a good idea to you, Chef Bruce’s Wine Festival will be continuing on until the end of March and there are plenty of great dinners left.  Do yourself a favor and buy some tickets for one.  You won’t regret it.  www.bostonwinefestival.net is the easiest place to search what’s coming up and the place to buy your tickets.

Nick’s adventures in stunning Oregon

There aren’t many places I’ve been to that are as beautiful as Oregon is, especially in late May when almost everything was in full bloom.  The weather was, as I was told by the locals, unusually nice for this part of the country with sunshine pretty much everyday.  The city of Portland is a nice mix of city and rural wilderness with great hikes just a few subway stops away from downtown.   After one of those hikes one day on a hot, sunny afternoon we decided to take advantage of one of Portland’s best brew pubs, Deschutes, where we enjoyed a sampling of what they had on draft that day.  The highlight was definitely their 21st anniversary Barrel Aged Black Butte Porter, with a couple years age on it, was drinking real nice with those delicious, sweet bourbon notes.

Going out to dinner in City of Roses was awesome too, we never had a bad meal at any of the restaurants that we ate at.  It seemed that all the places that we went to really focused on the farm to table concept and it really comes through in the flavors of the food.  Everything from the cheese plates to the cuts of meat to simple sandwiches were all really fresh and flavorful whether it was served from one of the many food trucks or on top of a linen covered table.

After a short day trip out to the coast to Cannon Beach and another hike along the coastline with views that can’t be described in words we made our way about an hour south to the Willamette Valley for a weekend in wine country.  The hospitable folks over at Argyle Winery were gracious enough to host us in their guest house, The Nuthouse, a cozy house within walking distance to many great restaurants in Dundee.  However if you go to Oregon Wine Country, go to the small town of Lafayette and go to Martha’s Tacos.  A life changing experience and where a lot of the vineyard and winery workers go after a long day in the fields.  We ordered a few menu items a shared every last bite, hands down one of the best meals I’ve had with the stand out being their wet burrito.

On our first full day in Dundee we started out with a full tour of Argyle.  They are renown for their sparkling wines but as they told me and from what I tasted, you can’t make good sparkling wine without making good still wines first.  And they sure make good wine.  Sourcing their fruit from four vineyard sites in Willamette they make top notch Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and small amount of Riesling as well as some dessert wine.  We happened to be there on the day that they were disgorging their 2001 Extended Triage Sparkling which was an absolute treat to taste something that is almost 10 years old and is just ready to be released.  After going to the barrel room and tasting some samples of the 2010 vintage right out of the barrel,  our tour had come to an end but the day of tasting had just started.  The rest of the afternoon we drove to Carlton and around Dundee visiting wineries such as Lemelson, Carton Wine Makers Studio, Lange, Tori Mor and finished up the day with a glass of wine on Anne Amie’s patio overlooking the entire Valley.  The only regret I have about this whole trip is that it was only a week long, I could’ve stayed for another couple weeks.

Bonding and the Wine Spectator Grand Tour

Sue, Howie and John

Sometimes it is just necessary to hang out with the co-workers outside of the office and last Thursday night that meant that a trip to the Marriot Copley Hotel for the Wine Spectator Grand Tour.  For someone like me, who is new to the Bauer team, I was able to get to know Sue, Howie and John on a different level than I had in the store.  I learned more about who they were as individuals (and no-I am not going to divulge any of their secrets to you!) and how they came to be the great people they are.   It was nice talking to them on a more personal level, rather than discussing store events, inventory and sales.  I definitely feel more bonded to them and, consequently, to Bauer as well.  Although we did discuss the store to some degree, we mainly sipped and slurped our way through the 216 wines that were offered, laughing and joking along the way.

Sue and I bee-lined for Chateau Margeaux and Mouton Rothschild first.  Legendary wines such as those needed my attention first as I have never had the chance to taste them before.  Once we linked up with Howie and John, the four of us tasted Barolos, big California reds, Super Tuscans, Bordeauxs and more.  Once our lips were stained red, we slid over to the white wines.  Sauvignon Blancs and Viogniers delighted me.  St. Urbans-Hof Weingut’s Spatlese earned a huge star…especially considering Nik Weiss was coming to Bauer the following day to have a tasting with us.  BUT the big star of the night as far as I was concerned was the 1995 Femme Champagne from the Deval-Leroy winery.  This was what Champagne was meant to taste like.  Great acidity, complex, citrus-y with hints of marzipan and a yeasty biscuit flavor.  This one stole the show from the big Bordeauxs.

At the end of this wonderful evening with my crew, I realized that most of you probably don’t know who I am because  I am usually found in the office chained to the computer.  If you visit our website site, I am the one who makes sure our products are current (and in process of a redesign that is more user friendly).  You may have seen me in the store though, usually walking back and forth between the office and the counter with papers in my hand.   I may have even rung up your purchases with smile.  So perhaps it is time for me to formally introduce myself to you all.  My name is Corinne and I

John and me-one of the few times you will see me on the other side of the camera.

am the Marketing Director.  Hi.  I came to Bauer about six weeks ago to take over their social media writing.  So anytime you read our blog, get an email, visit Facebook or receive a Tweet, it is coming from me.  It has certainly kept me busy and I love it.  Most of my friends tell me I have the greatest job in the world;  I can’t disagree.  I taste and write about wine, beer and spirits for an amazing company.

The search for that elusive, perfect Chardonnay.

I know that there are many out there who will think that I am crazy when I say this…but I am not a big fan of Chardonnay. In my defense, most of my experience with this varietal is the overly oaked, rich Chardonnay that California made so popular.   Too heavy and too buttery for my tastes but I know plenty of people who will drink nothing else.  Believe me,  I have tried different regions, different countries but to no avail.  This regal grape  that is so beloved confounds me.   The un-oaked Chards from France tickled my taste buds but I have rarely had one that made me stand up and WOW!   Australian Chardonnay has good structure with peach and nectarine nuances,  but still nothing that stood out.  South African, Italy-I’ve tried them all in an effort to find a white  grape that I love as much as Sauvignon Blanc.  I know that certain foods would pair better with Chardonnay and therefore my quest continues.

So it makes me beg the question, is there a good in-between for someone like me?

In my research, I have found a real world solution to my Chardonnay dilemma and a dreamer’s solution. One I have tasted and the other…well, few can get their hands on it.
In reality, there are a ton of great Chardonnays on the market but I found one that a finicky palate like mine can enjoy. Rodney Strong’s Chalk Hill Chardonnay has sophistication with a hint of butter cream and vanilla from oak but yet is crisply acidic. This wine is well balanced with tropical fruit, pear and mineral elegance. The best part is that you get all the flavor of a 90-point rated wine on Wine Enthusiast for only $20 a bottle.

Rodney Strong’s Chalk Hill Chardonnay’s easy availability is another reason this wine is so great. But there is something about a wine that no one can get.  A wine that is so exclusive that even when accepted to their mailing list, you still may have to wait 3 or more years before being invited to buy a bottle. No, these aren’t $200 bottles of wine, but a mere $65-70 a bottle. Aubert Wines in California is not about mass production. They average around 4000 cases a year and the Aubert label is not available in wine shops and very rarely in restaurants (one in California and one in NYC that I found). Although after some research I did manage to find an online wine store that sold their Chardonnay but at an inflated price of $150 and must have been obtained through questionable means.  Although Aubert Wines produces four different Chardonnays: Ritchie, Lauren, Rueling and Quarry, the Ritchie is the one that intrigues me to no end.  Tasting notes from both the winemaker and those lucky enough to have had it say that it is full-bodied but not excessive.  Ritchie’s complex flavors range from lush fruit to a steel minerality.  That sounds like it could be just what I have been looking for.

After all my research, I put myself on the mailing list and can only hope that in 3 years time I will be invited to buy a bottle or two.  Until then, I will gladly drink my Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay with a smile.