Celebrate Spring with the 2006 Governor’s White!

Spring has definitely arrived—it’s the busy season at work, as at a lot of people are coming into town for meetings to set the year’s agenda and make special requests.  This means a lot of talking, a lot of memo writing, and a lot of negotiating.   It’s a fun time, but it’s also so demanding that I come home from work physically and mentally exhausted.  This doesn’t bode well for poor Hubby who craves “real” food after a few weeks because we basically live off of take-out during these few hectic months (yes, he could cook, but he doesn’t, so take-out it is).  This year, though, it gives me a chance to experiment with wine & take-out pairings, which is definitely an added bonus for me.

One great pairing from this week was eating Chinese food with The Williamsburg Winery’s 2006 Governor’s White.  The Governor’s White is a pale, lemon color with a strong pineapple and grapefruit smell.  As a non-drinker, Hubby doesn’t really like the smell of wine, but he’s a huge pineapple fan.  So, I asked him just to sniff my glass and tell me if there was a flavor that really “hit” him.  As skeptical as he was, he was a good sport.  He took a whiff and said “Mmmm!  That smells like a ripe, fresh pineapple.”  Clearly, the smell was something we both enjoyed. 

The wine has a surprisingly complex taste.  The pineapple and grapefruit appeared when I tasted the wine, and they were accompanied by some honey, floral, lemon, and honeydew notes.  The wine itself is a refreshing semi-dry wine, so it’s sweeter than what I normally drink, but the sweetness is part of what made it a perfect match for my crab rangoon and my very spicy garlic chicken & broccoli.  The seafood and spiciness help keep the sweetness in check. 

Is this worth A Glass After Work? Definitely. At $7 a bottle, this is an unexpected sweet treat. You can undoubtedly sit down and drink a glass when you’re unwinding after you eat or enjoy a glass with some spicy or seafood dishes. If you don’t live near VA, you might have trouble finding this wine, but don’t fret, you can grab a bottle or two or three online. Overall: 3 1/2 corks (keep a lookout for a post explaining my new rating system)

One of My Favorites…2006 Rémy Pannier Vouvray

I admit it…the warm weather has given me Spring fever.  It’s even worse (or better) because my office space has a 20ft ceiling and a balcony with a 12ft door.  When the weather is nice, my 5 officemates and I leave the balcony door open, so all day we get a warm breeze, smell the spring air, hear the city bustle, and at least comfort ourselves about being inside by breathing the fresh air.  The weather earlier this week was particularly warm for the DC area, so I couldn’t help but long for Spring to be here. What better way to celebrate the nice weather than with my favorite warm-weather white wine?

I first learned about Vouvray from a Food & Wine Magazine article about summer white wines.  At the time, I knew very little about wine, but I was intrigued by the idea of a white wine that was being touted by people who normally favored the character of red wine.  So, on my first trip to the store after reading the article, I grabbed my first Vouvray—the Rémy Pannier.  While the particular producer wasn’t mentioned in F&W’s article, it turned out to be a perfect pick, and it has remained a staple in my white wine collection.  It’s because of this that it’s no surprise that this was the wine I opened to start of the warm weather season.

Vouvray is located in France’s Loire Valley, and the grapes are almost entirely Chenin Blanc.  The 2006 Rémy Pannier Vouvray has a beautiful, clear gold color.  The nose is full of citrus and green apple. There is flowery perfume smell that is thankfully not overpowering, but rather just a hint that follows behind the fruit and adds to the summery feel of the wine. 

The moment you put the wine in your mouth, it jumps off your tongue in way that almost tickles.  The wine brings a crisp feel to your mouth and has a nice apple taste that is followed by the sweetness of honey and a touch of grass.  A second taste yields the pear flavor that is touted on the bottle’s label, and the general citrusy smell develops into a sweet, ripe grapefruit.  The taste lingers in your mouth for a pleasurable medium-to-long finish. 

I haven’t had a glass of this wine since last fall, but it was as good and refreshing as I remembered.  This is not only a perfect bottle to open after work, but also a great option to bring with you to a BBQ, on a picnic, or anyplace where you will be sitting around enjoying the weather, the company, and the wine. It’s an all-around delightful bottle of wine, and for just under $10, you can’t beat the price.

Let’s talk about labels.

I know this isn’t about a specific wine, but as the next wine I’m going to write about is French and I know there are a few “new” winos among us, I thought that it might be good to have a quick look on how to read European wine labels. So, here’s the 411—

Generally, European (or “Old World”) wines do not have the type of grape on the label, so you really wouldn’t refer to an Old World wine as drinking a Chardonnay and you will almost never see a bottle that says “Burgundy Pinot Noir” (Pinot Noir being a type of grape and Burgundy being the region in France where the grape was grown). Instead, Old World wines are identified by where the grape is grown and, legally, you can only grow certain grapes in certain regions. So, for example, the wine on the left is not a Rioja grape, but rather a blend of Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo (Carignan), and Granacha (Grenache) grapes that were grown in the Rioja region of Spain. Tempranillo is the main red varietal grown in Rioja, and the wine is referred to as Rioja. A notable exception to this rule is Riesling, which is a type of grape and is almost always labeled as a Riesling rather than as the region it was grown.

New world wines, such as those grown here in the US or in Australia, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa, will name the type of grape on the bottle, this way you know you’re drinking a Chardonnay or a Pinot Noir. You can see the difference with the California wine on the right, which is made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that were grown in the Alexander Valley.

I hope that made sense…and I’ll definitely put your skills to the test in my next review. Keep your eyes open for one of my favorite white wines.

Jordan 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon

Monday was one of those days…not a bad day, but just one of those days where I wish I had just played hooky.  A big snowstorm was predicted for Sunday night/Monday morning, and while I tried not to psych myself up for a snow day, I couldn’t help myself.  So, when I woke up and discovered that I still had to go to work, albeit several hours late, I was crushed.  Hubby decided that he was calling out, but I just couldn’t justify it, especially since it stopped snowing by the time I had to leave.

By the time I got home from work, you can imagine that I just wanted to make dinner, relax…and of course, open a new bottle of wine.  I decided that I was in the mood for a warm, red wine to help counteract the cold, snowy weather, so I grabbed a bottle of that was given to me as a present—a 2003 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

Let me start by saying that it was wonderful!  Since the wine was a little older, I specifically looked for the orange hue around the top rim of the wine that I was reading about in my wine class textbook and was very excited when I saw it.  I made Hubby come over to look as I put my new tasting skills to the test, and he was surprised that he, too, saw the tint that gave this wine its deep ruby/almost-garnet color.

The wine had a nice, medium nose that centered around raisins, vanilla, and anise (my new found herb!).  The anise, in particular, really stood out, and when I whiffed from my bottle of anise seed, cleared my nose, and then compared it to the smell of the wine, I was amazed at the similarity. 

In terms of taste, the Jordan Cab had a nice, smoky flavor with medium acidity and high tannins.  The raisin smell seemed to turn into an overall dark fruit flavor and the anise turned into a sweet spice taste, which were transitions I found very pleasing.  The hint of vanilla that I smelled came through in the taste, but it was definitely just a hint. 

After thoroughly enjoying the glass, I decided to compare my tasting notes with those done by other people (I figured this is the best way to learn, right?).  I was surprised that I didn’t find too much information out there, since I really like the wine. That’s when I discovered that it ranges from about $50-$70!  I was in shock—shocked that my friend gave me a bottle that was that expensive for no apparent reason, shocked that I cavalierly opened a $50-$70 bottle of wine on a random Monday night (and drank it with hot dogs and tater tots!), and shocked that I’d just opened the most expensive bottle of wine that I’ve ever owned.  Needless to say, I’ve spent the rest of the week savoring it. 

Overall, I would say the 2003 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon was definitely a wine worth drinking, even at the higher price-point, although it’s not a wine that I would purposefully open on a regular weekday night. 

Francis Coppola’s 2006 Diamond Collection Cabernet Sauvignon

I admit, I’m still a wine novice, so my “tasting notes” are a little unorthodox, but I’m hoping that will just help lead to a real conversation about wine, instead this being a forum for me to post three lines about the most recent bottle that I opened.So don’t be shy, share your thoughts and suggestions!With that in mind, let’s start talking wine… 

Earlier this week, I opened a bottle of Francis Coppola’s 2006 Diamond Collection Cabernet Sauvignon…and loved it!Francis Coppola’s wine is from the Rosso & Bianco Winery in Sonoma County.As I recently learned in my wine class, Sonoma’s climate and soil is ideal for Cabs, and my tasting found that Coppola’s Cabernet embodies all of my expectations of a good California Cabernet Sauvignon.

The wine is a deep, purplish-ruby that just screamed “drink me.”On the nose, there is a strong, but clean, spicy vanilla smell.Drinking the wine was very nice.The taste was dominated by vanilla and black fruits, and hints of black pepper contributed to the spiciness.There is a lot of soft tannins and acidity, and it definitely was medium-to-full bodied wine with a good length.

Overall, Coppola’s Cabernet Sauvignon is a very good “every day” type of wine.It’s very enjoyable, with a nice intensity that will help you settle into the evening after a long day of work.So, if you like strong flavored and aromatic wine, you’ll definitely enjoy this one, especially at $17 a bottle.