We recently had family in town – my husband’s brother and his family. Neil is a wine aficionado like me, and was thoughtful enough to bring some of his favorite wine to share.
Ghost Pines 2010 Merlot ($15-$17) is big and bold with dense flavors of black cherry, ripe mixed berries and hints of chocolate and toffee. This is a fat and juicy wine, not too tannic.
It’s smoother than most Merlots that I’ve tried – and I don’t drink Merlot very often – with a fairly long finish. It had a little bit of a sour aftertaste for me, but not enough to ruin the experience.
This winemaker’s blend features grapes from the winegrowing areas of Sonoma and Napa Counties, aged in French and American Oak.
If I were to buy a Merlot to keep in my wine reserve, this one would be at the top of my list. Thanks, Neil, for introducing me to to this wine.
This is the first post in a series on grapes that are either a type that has been tried in a blended wine, but are difficult to obtain as a standalone example or lesser known varietals in general. Since most people have an idea of Chardonnay, Cab Sauv, Pinot Noir (thanks Sideways), and Riesling, I thought it might be interesting to profile a few of the other wines you might be able to find as an opportunity to expand your palate if you get a chance.
Pinot Meunier is the other red grape used in the production of Champagne. In fact, it accounts for roughly 40% of the total plantings of vines in that region. The two “noble” grapes of Chardonnay (found alone in Blanc de Blanc) and Pinot Noir (found alone in Blanc de Noir – usually. This can also have Meunier as Cresta has explained) have long overshadowed the humble Meunier. If you have tried all three type of Champagne and not found the same sharpness or acidity in either of the sole varietal versions, what you are noticing is the Meunier. American and Australian bubbly producers also grow Meunier to help produce an offering closer to the traditional Champagne.
The flavor when produced alone produces a jammy wines with moderate acidity and low tannin. It makes a very nice drink now wine that usually doesn’t need a large amount of time to open up. There are very few producers who make a still version of Meunier and even fewer who make a sparkling version. Chandon, Eyrie, Wilakenzi, and Bouchaine are a few of the wineries who produce a still version. Chandon is usually available in Kentucky and Ohio. The rest might need to be a special order from you local wine store or a direct order from the winery. The only sparkling version of Meunier I have had was at the 2012 Cincinnati Wine Festival. It was imported by Terry Theise can called Aubry Brut, sadly that is the extent of my notes on that selection.
Personally, I enjoy the sharpness of the Meunier on its own. It provides a balance lending towards acidity with enough tannic structure to make a nice wine that is easily paired with lighter foods. If you get the chance to try one of these, take it. Especially if you like Champagne or want to taste one part alone from the others to try and see if you can tell the make up the next time you try some bubbly.
Thanks to Alphonse at DEPS Fine Winne, Kevin at Party Source, David at Water Tower Fine Wines, and JP at Party Town for their help with this article. Please support your local wine shops and any of these four folks will be more than happy to help you find some unusal wines if you stop in and see them.
Castillo de Monjardin La Cantera 2009, another selection from our wine club, is a delicious rich, fruity wine.
Garnacha (knowns as Grenache in France) is the most widely planted grape in Spain. Because it is not a very acidic or tannic variety, Garnacha is typically blended with other grapes, such as Tempranillo and Syrah.
This wine is 100% Garnacha.
Bright ruby in color and very aromatic. It is very easy to drink. Fruity, yet earthy, filled with the taste of raspberries and currants and a little bit of spice. Aged in an oak barrel for six months, this wine has a nice structure. I definitely recommend it.
I believe you can purchase for somewhere between $10 and $12.
Growing up under a successful watercolor artist (my mom) I was constantly surrounded by all types of artist and art. I love the fact that when wine comes together with art it makes me all giddy inside. That’s what I thought about when I tried Ed Hardy wines for the first time…now I know a lot of you out there are saying oh yeah the guy that makes the loud t-shirts.
I must admit I’ve always loved his color choices and his tattoo art. When I heard about his wines I didn’t want to try them, I thought they were probably over done and they’re just out there for the name. But recently I hosted a wine tasting and one of the wines was the Ed Hardy Moscato. I really enjoyed it, it was a drier moscato not a typical sugary sweet Californian Moscato. It had tastes of peach and melon and it was refreshing. I looked at the label and saw that the grapes were grown and bottled in France. The price was right too: $7.99 a bottle.
After trying that I bought a different wine, the demi-sec Diamond Sparkling Rose`. Great wine it wasn’t bitter and it wasn’t sweet it was a blend of dry with a hint of sweet. The blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Pinot Noir tasted perfect, this was light with a hint of cream, berries, and a little yeast after taste.
Now with this being said, I haven’t tried any of the other wines. I believe I like these 2 wines because they are inexpensive, light, and you do not have to over think them. Plus they are pretty bottles to look at after you’re finished with them. Great wines for a night with friends. What’s your thoughts on Ed Hardy Wine please give me some feed back on the other wines.
A couple of weeks ago Cresta shared with us that Aldi Grocery stores sell wines. I thought I would check it out, and what I found was a pretty great deal. I purchased 4 different bottles of wines from Aldi all priced under $7; none of the other wines were over $9. Here’s my reviews of the 4 wines I purchased.
I can’t wait to go back and try other wines that Aldi has to offer. If you have an Aldi Grocery store in your neighborhood just remember you can pick up some wine for dinner while you’re grocery shopping.
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