Friday Feature – 3/19/10

Hello and Happy Friday!

Remember that kid that used to get sent to the corner of the class and forced to wear a dunce cap? Maybe it was you, maybe it was me, or maybe it is a fictitious image in my head. Regardless it is going to help with my analogy of the day.

There is a wine equivalent to the dunce cap. Wines that were once popular, but now are forced into a permanent “time out” as consumers look to new areas.

As a defender of that wine in the corner, I have decided to spin that kid around, knock off that dunce cap, and show you all what you have been missing!

The spring temperature has got me craving white wine, and today, three white wines are featured that deserve all the love you can give them.

Have a great weekend,

Muscadet is one of France’s greatest white wines. Made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, it is a highly expressive grape easily painting a picture of its terroir, climate, and even producer style.

It also has a scarred and checkered past, with many producers overproducing, and making innocuous wines. The great producers of Muscadet like Jo Landron of Domaine de la Louvetrie have worked hard for decades to fight against that image.

In a bottle of Landron’s Hermine d’Or, you will get a clear, concise and delicious taste of Melon de Bourgogne. The Hermine d’Or designate is given to specifically selected (via blind tasting) Muscadet’s that show the typicity of the region at its highest quality level.

The ’08 displays the intensity of the low yields of the vintage with intense flint and lime blossom aromas. Bright and crisp on the palate with hints at orange and lots of mineral. Yes you can have this with oysters, but also consider simply prepared shellfish, or taking it to your favorite BYOB Thai restaurant.

A terrific value!
$16.99 BTL. / $203.88 CASE
Riesling has the ability to be the world’s most perfect wine. I say this because I firmly believe that balance is the mark of any great wine. Off–dry Riesling carries low alcohol percentage, which doesn’t mar the wines flavor, and makes it so easy to drink.

If there ever is a wine to get people more interested in off–dry Riesling, it would be a wine from Merkelbach. Located in the village of Ürziger, the Merkelbach’s own a small piece of the prized vineyard named Würzgarten. A super–steep vineyard on one of the many insane curves of the Mosel river, there is a good bit of red clay in the soil, giving the wine its spice and ripe, almost tropical fruit notes.

Sweetness levels in wine are more about your palates perception rather than what you are told. Kabinett Riesling is known as a more dry, apertif style than some of the later harvested wines. Most important in the evaluation is the weight and texture of the wine. This is a light, refreshing style of Riesling, with lovely citrus, pineapple, flower and spice notes. It glides across the palate with noticeable ease.

It is a crime that people don’t drink more German Riesling in Chicago. It really is the answer to all of life’s problems.
$16.99 BTL. / $203.88 CASE

Sherry was Spain’s first great wine. What’s sad is that most people today don’t consider Sherry a wine and there is also a lot of misunderstanding regarding the different styles. Not all Sherry is sweet, in fact my favorite style are the crisp and fresh styles called Fino and Manzanilla.

To get you introduced or re–introduced to Sherry, we should definitely start with the king of the Manzanilla style, Bodegas Hidalgo.

Located in the town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, the history of the Hidalgo family in the region goes back to the late 1700’s. What makes this region special is its chalk soil. The Palomino Fino grape varietal thrives there, and for La Gitana, Hidalgo uses grapes from their vineyards in the district of Balbaina and Miraflores.

Manzanilla is specific to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and the process of producing it is unique in the world of wine. The grapes are harvested in early September, only the free run juice is then fermented in temperature controlled tanks. The wine is lightly fortified to 15% before being moved to barrel. If you had to point to one thing that made Manzanilla special it would be the “flor” which is a protective layer of yeast from the air that coats the wine and protects it against oxidation in the barrel. Only in Sanlúcar de Barrameda does the flor grow year–round due to the effects from the sea air. This is what gives Manzanilla its unique flavor.

So how do you enjoy Manzanilla? Serve it cold as an aperitif, with olives, cured meats, cheeses, or seafood. It is super versatile and will really open your eyes to the style. It is very important to buy fresh Manzanilla, and this shipment just landed in Chicago this week. It is bottled in 500ml bottles, as one should consume it in the first day of opening it. Once you open it though, you will have no problem finishing it. La Gitana, you can come out of the corner now!


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