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Welcome Wine Club Members, – Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving from Cove Ledge!
It’s November and that means a new wine of the Month is ready to be enjoyed and accompany you on your Wine Journey.
Some of the best wines in the world are blends of several grape varieties. We are thankful this month to offer you two fantastic blends from two regions of France.
Thanksgiving being as traditional as it is, you may already have your own favorite wine pairing for turkey but if you’re looking for inspiration here are two fantastic matches.
Remember Thanksgiving dinner is not just about the bird but the flavorful stuffing, sauces and sides that go with it; so what you want is a wine with plenty of flavor to match!
The red is a nice Côtes du Rhône blend of Grenache and Syrah from the Languedoc-Roussillon. Grenache, is light in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit, a plush texture, and often high levels of alcohol. Syrah supplies darker fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy, and meaty notes. Together, this mishmash of varieties, you’ll taste both red and black fruit flavors and find a range of medium to full-bodied flavor. These wines are a perfect match for a rich piece of meat because of their complexity. And yet, they are still light enough for poultry.
The White is by the Hugel Family vineyards from the renowned Alsace Region of France. Produced in cellars, the oldest of which dates back to 1551, the white is a lovely blend of white grape varietals called “Gentil”. The Hugel Gentil revives an ancient Alsace tradition that wines assembled from noble grape varieties were called “Gentil”. The white Gentil allies the suave, spicy flavor of Gewurztraminer, the body of Pinot Gris, the finesse of Riesling, the grapiness of Muscat and the refreshing character of Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner.. The Gentil blend of Noble grapes from Alsace region display a light youthful color in the glass and is ripe with floral, fruit and notes of spice. This wine is rich, yet dry with a hint of lemon zest and mineral is the perfect complement for your dinner.
Both wines will pair nicely with your Thanksgiving Feast for sure… Or simply take the opportunity to uncork, unwind and take a time out from the start of the holiday rush by enjoying a glass of these lovely wine blends with family and friends.
Thank you for your continued patronage. As always, we hope that you enjoy this month’s selection! “Wine is our passion, but being part of the community is a life long commitment that we consider a privilege and an honor”.
Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving. J
Annette & Keith
(Of interest, we have included a bit of information herein about the wine of the month choices and their makers. Also, a few words about Rhone Blends, the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, The Hugel Family Vineyard and the Alsace Region of France. Enjoy. )
A bottle of red...
2014 Bastide Miraflors – Syrah/Grenache
Blend: 70% Syrah, 30% Grenache
RP -92- Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
A steal from Lafage is the 2014 Bastide Miraflors, which is a Cotes du Roussillon, and a blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache, with the Grenache aged in concrete tanks and the Syrah in 500-liter demi-muids. Lafage makes more expensive wines than this, but certainly excels with his value lineup. He has really hit a home run with this 10,000-case cuvée. It is deep, ruby/plum/purple, with fresh notes of blackcurrants, plums, Provençal herbs as well as licorice. Deep, medium to full-bodied, with amazing fruit, the purity, authenticity and Mediterranean upbringing of this wine are obvious. Quite deep, round and succulent, this wine should drink well for another several years. This is one to buy by the case.
About the winemaker — Domaine Lafage
Although only in his thirties, Jean-Marc Lafage already has almost 15 years of worldclass winemaking behind him. One of the most sought-after winemakers of Europe at the moment, Jean-Marc lends his expertise with Southern European varietals to several top estates in both France and Spain (he makes Las Rocas Garnacha with Eric Solomon) and also in South America. However, his best work is perhaps at home at his estate in the hills of the Roussillon with his wife, also an accomplished winemaker.
As the varietals come from different parcels all around the Eastern and Central Roussillon, they are always vinified separately, and then blended before bottling. The reds can often show off a mineral component as Jean-Marc does not favor heavy extraction. Yields are amazingly low for wines at this price level. The wines are bottled unfiltered.
Some info concerning this Month’s Red and It’s Home…
With bold fruit flavors and accents of spice, Rhône red blends originated in France’s Southern Rhône valley and have become popular in Priorat, Washington, South Australia, and California’s Central Coast. In the Rhône itself, 19 grape varieties are permitted for use, but many of these blends, are based on Grenache and supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre, earning the nickname “GSM blends.” Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape are perhaps the best-known outposts for these wines. Other varieties that may be found in Rhône blends include Carignan, Cinsault, and Counoise.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache, which often forms the base of these blends, is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit, a plush texture, and often high levels of alcohol. Syrah supplies darker fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy, and meaty notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume as well as body, tannin, and a healthy dose of color. New World examples will lie further along the fruit-forward end of the spectrum, while those from the Old World taste and smell much earthier, often with a “barnyard” character that is attractive to many fans of these wines.
An extensive appellation producing a diverse selection of good-quality, value-priced wines, Languedoc-Roussillon is the world’s largest wine-producing region, spanning the Mediterranean coast from the Spanish border to Provence. Languedoc forms the eastern half of the larger appellation, while Roussillon is in the west; the two actually have quite distinct personalities but are typically grouped together. Languedoc’s terrain is generally flat coastal plains, with a warm Mediterranean climate and a frequent risk of drought. Roussillon, on the other hand, is defined by the rugged Pyrenees mountains and near-constant sunshine.
Virtually every style of wine is made in this expansive region. Dry wines are often blends, and varietal choice is strongly influenced by the neighboring Rhône valley. For reds and rosés, the primary grapes include Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre. White varieties include Grenache Blanc, Muscat, Ugni Blanc, Vermentino, Maccabéo, Clairette, Piquepoul and Bourbelenc. International varieties are also planted in large numbers here, in particular Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In Roussillon, excellent sweet wines are made from Muscat and Grenache in Rivesaltes, Banyuls and Maury. The key region for sparkling wines here is Limoux, where Blanquette de Limoux is believed to have been the first sparkling wine made in France, even before Champagne. Crémant de Limoux is produced in a more modern style.
A bottle of white...
The Hugel Gentil revives an ancient Alsace tradition that wines produced from a blend of noble varietals were called “Gentil”.
Hugel Gentil is a traditional Alsace blend of primarily Gewurztraminer paired with varying amounts of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat and Sylvaner.
Gewurztraminer : 15%
Pinot Gris : 22%
Sylvaner & Pinot Blanc : 50%
Muscat : 6%
Riesling : 7%
Gentil “Hugel” allies the suave, spicy flavour of Gewurztraminer, the body of Pinot Gris, the finesse of Riesling, the grapiness of Muscat and the refreshing character of Pinot Blanc and Sylvaner..
The grapes are taken in small tubs to the presses, which are filled by gravity, without any pumping or other mechanical intervention.
After pressing, the must is decanted for a few hours, then fermented in temperature-controlled barrels or vats (at 18 to 24°C). The wine is racked just once, before natural clarification during the course of the winter. The following spring, the wine is lightly filtered just before bottling, and the bottles are then aged in our cellars until released for sale.
The whole production of this wine is closed with DIAM the cork without the risk of cork taint.
Aboute the winemaker – Hugel
In the cellars, the oldest of which dates back to 1551, can be seen rows of oak wine casks, over one hundred years old, crafted by the forefathers of the present generation of Hugels now running the company. Near them is the oldest cask in the world still in use: the Sainte Caterine, which has a capacity of 8,800 litres. It was built in 1715, the year in which Louis XIV died.
The company has always maintained its family character and is determined to keep it that way. The vineyards are owned and farmed by individual members of the family whereas the company owns the buildings and machinery.
Gentil has become a joyous, convivial wine whose arrival the Hugel family always awaits with impatience in the spring following each vintage. Gentil shows pure, fresh aromas, very fruit-driven and floral, as well as expressive and flattering. On the palate, this dry wine has a lively, youthful fresh character that is refreshing, with a pleasant, scented finish. Gentil is a perfect wine to sip with friends or to enjoy with simple everyday meals. Gentil is best enjoyed chilled with saltwater and freshwater fish, shellfish, starters and hors d’oeuvres.
“Aaaah the Alsace”… Some info concerning this Month’s White’s Home…
With its fairytale aesthetic, Germanic influence, and strong emphasis on white wines, Alsace is one of France’s most unique viticulture regions. This hotly contested stretch of land on France’s northeastern border has spent much of its existence as German territory, and this is easy to see both in Alsace’s architecture and wine styles. A long, narrow strip running north to south, Alsace is nestled in the rain shadow of the Vosges mountains, making it perhaps the driest region of France. The growing season is long and cool, and autumn humidity facilitates the development of noble rot for the production of late-picked sweet wines Vendange Tardive and Sélection de Grains Nobles. Alsace is divided into two halves—the Haut-Rhin and the Bas-Rhin—the former, at higher elevations, is associated with higher quality and makes up the lower portion of the region.
The best wines of Alsace can be described as aromatic and honeyed, even when completely dry. The region’s “noble” varieties are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, and Pinot Gris. Other varieties grown here include Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Chasselas, Sylvaner, and Pinot Noir—the only red grape permitted here, responsible for about 10% of production and often used for sparkling rosé known as Crémant d’Alsace. Riesling is Alsace’s main specialty, and historically has always been bone dry to differentiate it from its German counterparts. In its youth, Alsatian Riesling is fresh and floral, developing complex mineral and gunflint character with age. Gewurztraminer is known for its signature spice and lychee aromatics, and is often utilized for late harvest wines. Pinot Gris is prized for its combination of crisp acidity and savory spice as well as ripe stone fruit flavors. Muscat is vinified dry, and tastes of ripe green grapes and fresh rose petal. There are 51 Grand Cru vineyards in Alsace, and only these four noble varieties are permitted within. While most Alsatian wines are bottled varietally, blends of several (often lesser) varieties are commonly labeled as ‘Edelzwicker.’