Tag Archives: Côtes du Rhône

2011 Rhône Valley Vineyards Luberon AOC Blanc “La Ferme Julien”

2011 La Ferme Julien Vin blanc

I bought this wine for two reasons: First, fellow blogger Talk-A-Vino had given this particular wine an honorable mention in this post. Second, Nina and I have been on a mission to become Wine Century Club members. For those not in the know, you can become a member in this club once you have tried 100 (hence the century) different grape varieties. It is completely based on an honours system of reporting and membership is free. While I am pretty certain that I have had more than 100 grape varities in my life, I am only counting those that I actively remembered, so I am still a bit short. This wine is a blend of four grapes that I did not have on my list, so it brought us closer with even just one sip…I think it is a fun way to expand our knowledge of grapes and horizons by trying to get to the magic number.

Let me start by saying that I am not the biggest white wine fan, aside from Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon blanc. I find a lot of the other whites I try uninspiring and lacking in exciting flavors and aromas. That said, we were excited to try four grapes we had never heard of: Bourboulenc, Grenache blanc, Ugni blanc and Roussanne.

For short, I will just call this La Ferme Julien blanc. I bought the bottle at Trader Joe’s for $5.99. The wine has 13.5% ABV, and, according to its back label, has been blended by the Perrin family, a well respected French négociant. You can find their wines on all levels of pricing and quality. I was surprised to find their name on this wine!

The wine showed a light yellow in the glass, with hints of green. On the nose, it was incredibly fruity: initial notes of yellow apple, peach and floral aromas. Later on I got banana (I think; Nina agreed). It was a really appealing and refreshing nose. On the palate, light bodied wine was dry, rather bland with light citrus aromas and a certain creaminess to it. There was slight strawberry, I think, but for me it was all overpowered by the alcohol, which also left me with some bitter notes at the finish, which I did not enjoy much.

In a way, this wine seemed to highlight my problem with higher alcohol white wines (not reds!): they become too heavy on my palate, when I want something fresh and clean. I felt like this wine would have been great at maybe 12% ABV, but that bit more made it hard for me to like it. The nose was fun, but the taste – not for me.

Tagged , , , , ,

2009 Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône

It was our anniversary this weekend, so we decided to try a restaurant in Ann Arbor that is focused on using local ingredients. It was our first time there, so we tried their five course tasting menu to see what the chef was capable of. The restaurant offered an accompanying wine pairing for half of what dinner cost. While I sometimes have had good experiences with these restaurant offered pairings, this is usually only the case if the restaurant has a sommelier and is as devoted to its wine menu as it is to its cuisine. Somehow, this place (and their wine menu) did not give off that impression, so I was reluctant to take it.

Given that the tasting menu was a surprise menu, it was not the easiest thing to decide what wine to go for then. Given that there was no riesling on the menu (shame on them), we decided to go with a lighter red wine that could complement most of what was possibly going to come, and sit out on the wine when it did not match at all. I find Côtes du Rhône wines to usually be a good companion when it comes to this. They are not as heavy bodied as other French reds, and at the same time offer an interesting mix of spices and earthiness. The only Côtes du Rhône the restaurant had was this one, so we decided to go for it.

Today I found out that Kermit Lynch is a major wine merchant in the tradition of French négociants from California. They offer a whole variety of wines from France and Italy with a gazillion of producers working for them. This particular Côtes du Rhône blend is vinified by Jean-François Pasturel from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Carignan grapes from 40 year old vines on 36 hectares around Avignon.

The wine had a medium ruby color. Its nose was nicely perfumy with wooden and earthy notes, Nina detected some blueberries that were definitely there. On the palate, the wine was on the lower end of medium bodied, and it showed a nice fruitiness of red berries and herbal, foresty aromas. The finish was of medium length, with a nice peppery note to it. It was pretty yummy to guzzle at dinner, and was just the right weight.

It also paired nicely with our – quite disappointing – dinner. The first course was a duck liver paté, to which the earthy notes paired well. The second course was a very nice salad with pan-seared (over-peppered) local trout, where it sort of worked. This was followed by uninspired “gnocchi” (which had nothing in common with gnocchi any Italian would serve) in a tomato sauce – the wine worked again. The next course was pork loin with potatoes (talk about uninspired again), where the wine complemented the roast aromas on the pork and went nicely with the onions. The dessert was an abomination of a panna cotta, made with buttermilk which destroyed its texture and taste (hardly any vanilla, and not even a reminder of the creaminess a panna cotta should have) and topped with a horrible concord grape syrup that tasted as bad as a Welch grape juice (which I completely detest)…luckily, I had the wine to clean my palate from the few spoons I ate before I abandoned the dish.

It was kind of a sad thing, this dinner. While I want to support locally sourced restaurants and like the idea, using these ingredients does not absolve you from making dishes that taste good. It is like organic wines. There is no inherent goodness in making wines in an organic fashion. They have to taste good first and foremost. If the two go together, the better. If not, I will relinquish ingredients over taste at any moment.

The wine was nice, so I recommend it.

Tagged , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: