Choosing Holiday Wines Based on Labels with Memories (OK, Houses)

Since 2004 I’ve been talking about choosing wines for x day on the calendar, y special occasion, z oddball event. How many more arrows do I have in my dang quiver for this? What to do about holiday wines?

I was thinking about this while at Vino Volo in SeaTac, on my way to visit family in Tacoma for Thanksgiving weekend. I don’t travel with wine because checking bags is anathema to me. Frankly, I wasn’t going to bring any wine and just chug whatever was around. (I said as much in my newsletter. Subscribe! I get weirder, more off the cuff, opinionated, etc.)

Well stoping at VV and seeing an old pal from my retail days, Geoff, had me changing my tune. I picked up two bottles. Was very impressed with the selection at Vino Volo. You’ll pay a premium for retail wines. But considering I didn’t have to check a bag, retrieve it, and obsess about breakage, I call it an excellent deal.

Memory Lanes by Jenni Konrad via Flickr.

I’ll get to the dynamic duo of wines. First I want to explain choosing holiday wines by “labels with memories.” These are not some #smartlabels internally loaded with memory that can “demystify” wine and “engage” drinkers with “curated” content.

It’s rather like an old, familiar, quirky signpost whose distinctness transports you to a time, a place, a person, a table. MAYBE EVEN DOWN LOVE’S MEMORY LANE, IS THAT SO CRAZY?!?

Now these labels aren’t the slick, rad, modern graphic design-y stuff I usually dig. They have a swoon-worthy amount of ye olde* charm that completes me.

Also, I just realized both labels have houses on them. Well, calling each a house is putting it a bit simply. But I want to be shrunk to scale and transported into these tiny label houses (that are actually large) and live my tiny life drinking out of tiny cups with tiny cats. THE END. (Maybe they’re smart labels after all? Whoa.)

Anyway, the holiday wines for Turkey Day.

Abbazia di Novacella Kerner 2017 (Alto Adige, IT) [$18]

Choosing Holiday Wines Based on Labels with Memories (OK, Houses)

I first wrote about this wine in 2010 and then again in 2012 so after six years, why not make it a trifecta? It’s made at a monastery in the extremely picturesque Alto Adige wine region way up in northern Italy. That should seal the deal already. Speaking of deals, average price on Wine-Searcher is $18. It’s a white wine with a very small amount of sweetness you won’t really notice cuz it’s a mountain bomb of alpine floral refreshment. Dang, this wine is so easy to drink.

I really like the script for “Kerner” and the ornate frame for the monastery painting. The latter is so charming. I stare at it and imagine leaving everything behind. (Which would be like my IKEA bed, a bike, and a coffee table plucked from the street. Easy-peasy.)

Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly** (Beaujolais, FR) [$27]

Choosing Holiday Wines Based on Labels with Memories (OK, Houses)

What can I say about Cru Beaujolais that I haven’t already said? These are wines from ten designated sites that are like uber-Beaujolais. You can age them and they also have a complexity recalling fancy Burgundy (Pinot Noir) just north of the region. (Though Cru Beaujolais is made from Gamay.) Côte de Brouilly may not be the most prestigious of the crus but go by the impeccable producer, Château Thivin. Cru Beaujolais has gone up in price over the years, but if you love elegant reds with substance please gobble up all the CB you can while it’s sub-$30.

This label. I love the color scheme. With the rusty-orange mountain and roof, green trees, and yellow-y cream, it’s a label I can spot from a mile away. It’s not a color scheme that should work but it’s absolutely perfect here. The font for “Château Thivin” really does something for me, too.

I’m also transported back to Beaujolais, where I recall a dinner with a handful of winemakers who brought large pots of assorted rib-sticking dishes and we hung out a winery over long tables. It was, in fact, a dinner at Dominique Piron’s and Claude Geoffray from Thivin was there as well. (Also Jean-Paul Brun. Wow, that was a Beaujolais geek’s dream.) So this label is extra-special and MEMORABLE and that’s how I’ll choose my holiday wines FOREVER.

*“Ye Olde” Is Fake Old English (And You’re Mispronouncing It Anyway)
**The bottle was drained and dumped before I could jot down the vintage. Prolly 2016.

The post Choosing Holiday Wines Based on Labels with Memories (OK, Houses) appeared first on Jameson Fink.

Wine Reviews: Château du Moulin-a-Vent

I buy, cellar, and drink a lot of Cru Beaujolais. I love the freshness, the food-friendly appeal, the crisp and complex flavor profiles. They perplex me with their seemingly contradictory traits: they age beautifully but can be so crazy expressive in their youth. On a weeknight, when I’m cooking dinner (it doesn’t really matter what I’m cooking), popping a bottle of Cru Bojo makes everything better.

I recently tasted through four wines from Chateau du Moulin-a-Vent. While not inexpensive, these wines delivered exactly what I love about wines from this region.

The estate and brand have undergone seismic changes since 2009, when grocery store chain owner Jean-Jaques Parinet bought the estate. More than 70,000 vines were replanted and the cellar equipment was updated. Parinet, now overseeing 37 hecrates of vineyards, also decided to vinify four different terroirs separately, emphasizing the diversity of expressions within the vineyards.

Two wines hail from 2012, and two from 2011. 2012 was a rough vintage, with yields way down, and while the finished wines managed to get a good amount of ripeness, the wines are dominated by this zesty acidity, with a lighter frame and more tangy-fruited. But these wines, for palates like mine, are a total blast to drink – bright, fresh, complex, lots of juicy red fruit but some fascinating herbal and savory elements even at a young age.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind.

2012 Château du Moulin-a-Vent Moulin-à-Vent - France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Moulin-à-Vent
$39
Vibrant ruby color. Aromas of juicy red cherries and red plums, underlying notes of mushroom, fallen leaves and pepper. Palate shows crisp and brisk acidity on a bed of fine and dusty tannins. Tart but ripe cherries and plums, the fruit is clean and fresh and matched with notes of bay leaf, pepper, fallen leaves and sautéed mushrooms. Finishes clean and fresh. Some further near-term aging perhaps but this is vibrant and lip-smacking right out of the bottle. (88 points IJB)

2012 Château du Moulin-a-Vent Moulin-à-Vent La Rochelle - France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Moulin-à-Vent
$59
Bright ruby color. Vibrant aromas of strawberries, red cherries and tart plums, along with roses, bay leaf, pepper, and dusty earth. Dusty tannic structure with crisp acidity and a bright, clean appeal. Tart red cherries, strawberries, red plums, the fruit is tangy and crunchy and shows complex elements of mushroom, soy, clay soil, dusty earth, black tea. Long and lingering. Delicious stuff, a bit more density than the regular level 2012, this should improve nicely over the next two to five years. (90 points IJB)

2011 Château du Moulin-a-Vent Moulin-à-Vent Champ de Cour - France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Moulin-à-Vent
$58
Medium ruby color. Juicy dark cherries and fresh raspberries with rose petals and pepper on the nose. Fresh acid, dusty but dry tannins, great structure but really fresh, too. Crisp cherries, raspberries, but the fruit has excellent concentration and I get notes of violets, wet earth, graphite, iron. Long, lingering minerals and dark floral tones on the finish. Beautiful but plenty of time to improve in the cellar. (91 points IJB)

2011 Château du Moulin-a-Vent Moulin-à-Vent Croix des Vérillats - France, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Moulin-à-Vent
$52
Medium ruby color. Aromas are juicy with raspberries but dark with plums, mixed with rose petals and iron. Fresh acidity, such a vibrant wine, dusty but dry tannins, it combines to form a wine that’s pure, brisk but structured firmly. Rocky soil, graphite, iron and violets on top of juicy raspberry and cherry fruit. Wow, very pretty now but years of improvement to come. (91 points IJB)

Singularity

Purity and delicacy are wine descriptors that do not appear often in reviews of top scoring wines. Terms like powerful, opulent and dense are the genre of pointy wines.

Poor Beaujolais seems destined to miss the mark for ratings defined by such descriptors. Youthful, fresh, lively, fruity, zesty and, the phrase that always damns a wine for the point obsessed, a "food wine", means low 90s at best.

Big points are the black holes of the wine universe. In the heart of the black hole the wines are dense and no light can escape from them, only points seem able to escape. Before all the lightness of wine is sucked away, down into the black hole itself, is the point of singularity where lightness can still exist. That's where wines like Beaujolais become relative.

If young Beaujolais finds relativity a problem, where can old Beaujolais find its place in the universe? It turns out Einstein was wrong when it comes to Beaujolais, Einstein's formula E=MC2 does not compute in this case where less mass creates more energy.

Recently I did a double take when I got a club shipment from Kermit Lynch. Côte de Brouilly? No surprise there. But wait! The vintage was not 2014, but 2006. The 2006 Côte de Brouilly Domaine de la Voûte des Crozes is indeed a singularity. It's a lacy, high strung ballerina of a wine. It was pure pleasure to let her dance through my dinner.

Black holes warp space time just as the 100 point scale warps wine time. Lightness is a concept that suffers in a universe dominated by black holes. They have indeed warped the wine universe.

I prefer to experience wines at the point of singularity.

Singularity

Purity and delicacy are wine descriptors that do not appear often in reviews of top scoring wines. Terms like powerful, opulent and dense are the genre of pointy wines.

Poor Beaujolais seems destined to miss the mark for ratings defined by such descriptors. Youthful, fresh, lively, fruity, zesty and, the phrase that always damns a wine for the point obsessed, a "food wine", means low 90s at best.

Big points are the black holes of the wine universe. In the heart of the black hole the wines are dense and no light can escape from them, only points seem able to escape. Before all the lightness of wine is sucked away, down into the black hole itself, is the point of singularity where lightness can still exist. That's where wines like Beaujolais become relative.

If young Beaujolais finds relativity a problem, where can old Beaujolais find its place in the universe? It turns out Einstein was wrong when it comes to Beaujolais, Einstein's formula E=MC2 does not compute in this case where less mass creates more energy.

Recently I did a double take when I got a club shipment from Kermit Lynch. Côte de Brouilly? No surprise there. But wait! The vintage was not 2014, but 2006. The 2006 Côte de Brouilly Domaine de la Voûte des Crozes is indeed a singularity. It's a lacy, high strung ballerina of a wine. It was pure pleasure to let her dance through my dinner.

Black holes warp space time just as the 100 point scale warps wine time. Lightness is a concept that suffers in a universe dominated by black holes. They have indeed warped the wine universe.

I prefer to experience wines at the point of singularity.