Sweet Wines, First and Foremost, Are Wines

I’d like to point out the obvious: sweet wines are wines, too. I had this brilliant thought while attending Wine & Spirits “Top of the List” event. I tasted a breadth of excellent wines from all over the globe, but a sample of the Domaine des Baumard Quarts du Chaume stood out. It’s a Loire Valley wine made from Chenin Blanc and has a noble sweetness to it as well as a refreshing finish that keeps you going back for more…and more.

Sweet Wines Beyond “Dessert” Wines

It’s unfortunate enough sweet wines are often called “dessert” wines as it relegates them to single-tasker status. (Channeling Alton Brown and his loathing of “unitaskers.”) Try a wine like the Baumard with blue cheese, or anything similarly pungent, at any time of the day and get that “wow” feeling. It’s a nice wine to sip in the evening as you read a book. Or with a fruit-based pastry for brunch or, hell, breakfast if your day is one of leisure.

My point is, enjoy drinking sweet wine beyond the constrictive window of time between after your entrée and before you leave the restaurant.

When I think about the best wines I’ve ever had, I am transported back to the first (and only) time I tasted the Dal Forno Romano Recioto di Valpolicella. This was in Seattle. My first thought was, “Damn, this is the best sweet wine I’ve ever had.” But why compartmentalize it? On further contemplation, I concluded, “This is one of the best WINES I’ve ever had, PERIOD.”

Then I Gronk-spiked the blue cheese onto a baguette, and everyone rejoiced. TRUE STORY.

via GIPHY

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The New Best $15 Pinot Noir

Probably/definitely blasphemous, but I liken the task of finding a Pinot Noir 15 bucks or less to that of the quest for the Holy Grail. So when I picked up a bottle of Les Deux Moulins Pinot from the Loire Valley, I had a bit of trepidation.

Though I was cautiously optimistic, because I had enjoyed the Sauv Blanc from this producer. And, I like the label. Which is important to me. Not gonna lie.

Les Deux Moulins Pinot Noir (2016)

This is definitely everything I want in an inexpensive Pinot Noir. I got it from my close-by shop, Grapepoint Wines, for $15. (Wine-Searcher shows it for $12, but with only one seller I imagine there will be some fluctuation between the two prices.)

Since it’s fermented and aged in stainless steel,  this is a Pinot Noir that’s a fresh, easy-drinking delight. If you need a red wine to chill down for the summer, this would fit the bill mightily. (Though you’ll find me drinking it in the shade.) Very tasty stuff.

 

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A Loire Cabernet Franc Duo That’s a Delicious Bargain

One of my all-time favorite red wines is Loire Cabernet Franc. Well-aged, on the powerful side, or named for “drunken nights,” its savory freshness makes me swoon.

You can also find great deals on Loire Cabernet Franc made in a manner to drink right away. I (re)discovered this at a recent Loire Valley wine tasting.

Cave des Vignerons de Saumur Red and Rosé Cabernet Franc ($13 SRP)

I sold a ton of this co-op wine, particularly its Chenin Blanc, when I was working at the QFC in Seattle. The red, I had spaced a bit. These wines transported me to a happy Loire Valley place of delicious wines at great prices. The rosé, also from Cab Franc, is going to the top of my list for a case buy. Interesting to note that both come from the same parcel, Les Pouches.

Serving Loire Cabernet Franc

Of course the rosé is best well-chilled but also don’t be afraid to stick the red in the fridge for like a half hour. Especially when you’re dealing with a drink-now type of red wine. As far as glassware goes, I like to keep it informal with tumblers, juice glasses, or enamelware.

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Hervé Villemade Cheverny: A Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay Blend That Works

This is wine number two enjoyed at The Four Horseman in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I’m a huge, enormous fanboy when it comes to the wines of France’s Loire Valley, but I must admit to not having a lot of wines from the Cheverny region. Defintely nowhere nearly as well known as, say, Muscadet or Sancerre. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a gander!

Hervé Villemade Cheverny Blanc

This wine from an overlooked nook of the Loire Valley is also a blend of two grapes you certainly see on their own but rarely together. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe Sauvignon Blanc (70%) and Chardonnay (30%) hanging out in the same bottle is a bit of a head-scratcher? No matter. It makes for a dang refreshing and fun white wine to drink. And, forgive me for not making a note of the vintage, but this is a wine that you want to drink young. For a Sauvignon Blanc-heavy blend, it was noteworthy for not being super-aggressive and searing on the palate. Deft stuff.

Check out the first wine I enjoyed at The Four Horsement: a fizzy delight from an unusual grape.

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Coup de Boule: Totally Bought This Wine Because of the Label

Coup de Boule: Totally Bought This Wine Because of the LabelI am not immune to the charms of an attention-getting wine label. And the Coup de Boule is a wine that you are definitely going to pull from the shelf and scrutinize. What is it?

La Grange Aux Belles Coup de Boule 2014

This is a fizzy rosé from a Loire Valley producer, La Grange Aux Belles. And the text in the #horrorfont (“Coup de Boule“) means “headbutt”. This aggressive action is ably illustrated on said label.

The Coup de Boule is a “natural” wine, meaning it’s made in a way in both vineyard and winery that’s as little fussed-with as possible. (Usually entails minimal to no sulfur added, though that is just one aspect of natural wine.) Natural wine has been subjected to both regular flogging and passionate defense. (The debate tends to be dichotomous.) If you Google “natural wine” you can peruse both sides of the coin as well as some more nuanced considerations. (I am pro-sulfur as a preservative, BTW.) It’s an interesting category of wine to explore and I’ve had, like all kinds of wine, examples that are exemplary and ones that haunt me like the Boogeyman.

The bottle of Coup de Boule, fortunately, fell into the former. A blend of Gamay (red) and Grolleau (white), it’s sealed with a crown (bottle) cap, so you know there’s some serious fun-factor. Very dry and fresh, a really super wine to bring to a dinner party. More specifically, a pizza party.

It’s @zazasperfectpie roasting beets in the #pizzatruck oven. # up next.

A photo posted by Jameson Fink (@jamesonfink) on

You should check out what my friend Elana is doing with her super-cool pizza truck. NBD, just has a wood-burning oven in the back. (WHUT.) Peep: Zaza’s Perfect Pie

In conclusion: The combination of three things–label, wine color, bottle cap–will ensure that, just like me, everyone at the party will want to know what they heck the Coup de Boule is all about. And then, upon tasting, the answer will become apparent: deliciousness!

Shifting gears, a couple random East Village experiences. File this under “Good Grief”:

Coup de Boule: Totally Bought This Wine Because of the Label

I also checked out the #LowlineLab. The Lowline is an experiment to use sunlight to grow plants underground. How? Via the website:

Co-Founder James Ramsey, his team at Raad Studio,and Korea-based technology company Sunportal designed and installed optical devices which track the sun throughout the sky every minute of every day, optimizing the amount of natural sunlight we are able to capture. The sunlight is then distributed into the warehouse through a series of protective tubes, directing full spectrum light into a central distribution point. A solar canopy, designed and constructed by engineer Ed Jacobs, then spreads out the sunlight across the space, modulating and tempering the sunlight, providing light critical to sustain the plant life below.

Coup de Boule: Totally Bought This Wine Because of the Label

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