- Always face the sun: wine & winery reviews, wine tasting & wine country info

Posts Tagged ‘sauvignon blanc’

SW France

July 1, 2012

What to Drink with Foie Gras: Monbazillac Dessert Wine

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Monbazillac is really the great foie gras wine. Neighboring Sauternes (you know it, Château d’Yquem from Bordeaux) is usually regarded as holding this position, but Monbazillac is indeed from the same region as the French home of foie gras, the Dordogne. This region is well-known by foie gras lovers — producing 90% of all foie consumed in France — as well as wine lovers, as it’s Bordeaux’s thoroughly respectable wine-neighbor. This means high-quality wines from down-to-earth wine makers in a range of easy-to-palate prices.

Monbazillac Castle

Monbazillac is the gem of Bergerac (yes, the town from which the famous writer and lover Cyrano came) and is made from mostly the same grapes ( SémillonSauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle) plus noble rot as Sauternes. The major difference is that Muscadelle does particularly well in this region, making these wines somewhat lighter and full of life, as well as nuttier.

Monbazillac dessert wine

This wine goes well with rich French cheeses, fresh fruit tarts, nutty desserts, and also works as an aperitif in the garden before dinner. And, of course, with foie gras. There couldn’t have been a better wine than Château Montdoyen Monbazillac on my Day of Foie (5 kinds of foie gras in one day!) in this most delicious French region; it shone sweetly, like the French spring sun, rounding out a perfect day of wine and foie.

Santa Ynez Valley

September 25, 2011

Los Olivos for Grownups: Alta Maria Vineyards

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Alta Maria Vineyards tasting room in Los Olivos, CA

Alta Maria wines (along with Native 9 wines and Autonom wines) have been around for almost a decade, but now that they’ve opened a tasting room along the main drag in Los Olivos – the tasting room town of Santa Barbara wine county – I’m even more inclined to make a run through town.

Alta Maria Vineyards tasting room in Los Olivos, CA

In a typical weekend rush of tourists from Orange & LA counties plus Santa Barbara wine tour companies, the Alta Maria Vineyards tasting room is a lovely and cool respite from any wine-tasting-bachelortte-or-birthday-partying on the street. It’s sophisticated and down-to-earth. It’s western and classy. It’s minimalist and Pottery Barn.

Alta Maria Vineyards Chardonnay & Pinot Noir in Los Olivos, CA

The wine on the tasting list also demonstrates such duality. In addition to the Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Alta Maria is known for, they have a unique Sauvignon Blanc and solid Cabernet Sauvignon on the list, just created for the tasting room. The Chardonnay is half oak-fermented and half stainless steel to give us a lemon cream tart with lots of acidity. And the Alta Maria Pinot Noir is a perfect blend of fruit, wood and earth, a basic Pinot Noir that’s a steal at $28 a bottle.

Autnom Syrah & Native 9 Pinot Noir in Los Olivos, CA

But the list has more. Viticulturist James Ontiveros is pouring his baby here: Native 9 Pinot Noir. And this is the only place you can taste the 2009 Pinot Noir. This wine is from a vineyard on his multi-generational family’s property in Santa Maria valley, where he grows 8 different clones and blends different concoctions each year to create a fuller, exotic Pinot Noir.

And the winemaker of the duo, Paul Wilkins, got his love for Rhone varietals working for John Alban of Alban Vineyards. His Autonom SM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) is almost sold out because if its nose of bacon fat and pie crust (this sounds like heaven in a glass) and perfect balance, and his Autonom Syrah is a blend of cold-climate fruit and warm-climate fruit that manages to be vegetal, fruity and spicy.

Grown-up heaven.

Drinks & Concoctions

August 27, 2011

Wine Cocktail: White Peachy Bloody Mary

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White Wine Peachy Bloody Mary

In Alabama, cold drinks are mandatory near the close of each work day…or maybe I should say just somewhere around 3 pm, when the day is at its hottest… and its humidest (and this is what humidity does to your brain in Alabama).

Several factors influenced the ingredients in this particular drink:

  • I had just driven through North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia with my dad, where ripe peaches were everywhere.
  • Earlier in the summer, I drank a fabulous tomato-hot pepper-peach-white wine cocktail at Palmina Winery and wanted more.
  • I had just transported some beautiful cherry tomatoes grown in my friend’s garden from North Carolina.
  • My personal Alabama chef had left me plenty of cilantro and lime, left over from his lovely grilled salmon dinner and his breakfast frittata (read about brunch in Alabama here).
  • It was hot. And humid. And nearing the end of the day – ok it was afternoon and that’s good enough.

So, in the high heat and humidity of this Southern afternoon, I had the idea to mix fresh tomato juice, muddled peaches, lime, simple syrup, cilantro and Sauvignon Blanc into one good-lookin’ tall drink of wine. Or do I mean good-lookin’ tall drink of water? The wine or my chef? I forget now, it was so hot.

Rosé Wine Peachy Bloody Mary

I also tried it with a dry frizzante Rosé (which is slightly sparkling) above, that I got from a visit to Raffaldini Vineyards in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley. I loved the color of this one, and the small bubbly feel. (You could get this effect in the white version using a little club soda.)

Whichever version or combination you choose to create (get more ideas here), it’s sure to cure all your ills. But it certainly won’t help your grammar.


Santa Rita Hills

August 1, 2009

Autumn in a Glass: Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Lafond Winery

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Lafond Winery in Buellton, CA

Lafond Winery in Buellton, CA

Ace, my super-business-consultant boyfriend, was reclining on the couch with a strange but calm look on his face. It was gray and dismal outside the small window in our apartment, but he had a small ray of sun shining in his eyes. In his hand was a dark amber-colored liquid in a tiny wine glass, and he was swirling and sniffing it.

“It tastes just like autumn in a glass,” he sighed.

Before long it was down the hatch and the glass was refilled. I tried the rich-colored late-harvest sauvignon blanc. Visions of tall trees with multi-colored leaves, damp earth and crisp air filled my head as the sweet fruit hit my tongue.

“Mmm, autumn,” I agreed. We had gotten the small bottle when visiting Lafond Winery (in the Santa Rita Hills near Santa Ynez Valley) over New Year’s Eve weekend, and had forgotten about it until now.

The next time we visited the area, the bottle was long gone, and Ace insisted we get back to Lafond to pick up another bottle on our way out of town. We turned off the 101 and drove the quiet road through vineyards and fields to get there. We tasted all the wines (still loved them all) and were distressed to see the late-harvest sauvignon blanc was no longer on the tasting list.

“We’d like a bottle of the late-harvest sauvignon blanc please,” we blurted quickly at the nearest pourer.

“Oh, we sold out of that, and we’re not making it anymore. We don’t even plant sauvignon grapes anymore.”

Ace’s eyes grew wide. “They’re not even making it anymore,” he breathed. This made the wine even more valuable in his eyes. He asked if they could find any bottles in the back, or perhaps in someone’s shipment that hadn’t yet gone out.

The answer was no. We mournfully looked around the tasting room, trying to decide if we wanted to buy anything else. We loved their wines, but nothing was as special as that dessert wine.

Suddenly we saw it! A double-magnum of late harvest sauvignon blanc: eight times the amount we had bought the first time (and eight times the price). He seized the huge bottle and I scurried to fill out the membership paperwork, giving us a sizeable new member discount.

Ace was smiling as we got in the car…we were taking Autumn home with us.

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