Saturday, November 19, our friends at Artisan Wine Depot invited us over to taste some wines specially chosen to accompany the usual Thanksgiving dinner. We were not disappointed. As an added bonus we’ll throw in a couple of recent discoveries we’ve made on our own. But first, here’s sommelier Christine Tran explaining what varietal is particularly good for Thanksgiving:
Forthwith to the tasting notes.
Two Recent Finds[pullquote]We usually don’t like rosé, especially in sparklers. But this is an exception. Notes of raspberry, pineapple with a smoky minerality in the background. Can be aged through 2020 if you have the patience. We don’t. In the best Champagne tradition, this is 70% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir.[/pullquote]
The other night we opened a bottle of Louis Barthelemy Brut Rubis champagne. We discovered this goody at a previous Artisan tasting and wrote about it then. Our previous review holds up pretty well. →
We bought two more bottles for the holiday.
You probably won’t be able to get our second choice in time for Thanksgiving unless you live near Paso Robles. When we tasted Field Recordings‘ wines, we joined their wine club on the spot. Our latest shipment arrived two weeks ago. We’ve been working our way through the box. A few nights ago we opened thair 2016 Chardonnay Pet Nat ($25). And I forgot to read the description first. I should have suspected something was different because the closure was an old-fashioned bottle cap. When it popped off we were greeted with a geyser of foam that lasted for well over a minute. Lesson number 1: open in a big bowl.
It turns out that this wine was bottled while the primary fermentation was in progress. It is naturally carbonated, but far more so than sparkling wines that rely on secondary fermentation. Andrew’s tasting notes refer to crisp apple. We would add the most refreshing limeade you have ever tasted. At my behest, Andrew got this up on their website. Thanks to him for helping us out.
And Twelve From Artisan
Artisan offered a full dozen wines. With a couple of exceptions you will not go wrong with any of these. Our reviews will be brief because we want to get this review online before Thanksgiving (although these will work perfectly well throughout the holiday season). Wines we bought from this tasting: Minuty “M”, Man Family chenin blanc, Saint Cosme’s 2015 Cotes du Rhone Blanc, and the Domaine Lafage Lieu Dit La Narassa 2014 Cotes du Roussillon.
Whites, Champagnes, Rosés, Oh My!
First up was the Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Rose Champagne ($75). Yeasty aromas with fresh bread lead to a palate of more yeast with subtle notes of wild strawberries.
The Chateau Miraval 2015 Côtes de Provence Rose (Provence, France, $14 for 375 ml) is the product of a partnership between Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and the Perrin family (Château Beaucastel). If you want a wine associated with Hollywood, this one is for you. But we found it flat and uninteresting.
Minuty offered their “M” 2015 Rosé AOP (Cotes de Provence, France, $20)An unusual rosé with aromas of mushrooms and strawberries, followed by a lighter strawberry palate.
South Africa contributed the Man Family “Free Run Steen” 2016 Chenin Blanc ($8, MAJOR BARGAIN). Aromas of peach lead to a palate of strawberries and white peaches. We bought four bottles and ordered a case which we will pick up later today.
Returning to France, Saint Cosme’s 2015 Cotes du Rhone Blanc ($19) is perfumed with floral notes. The flavor is like chewing violets. Viognier, marsanne, and picpoul grapes give this wine its unique character.
Followed by Four Reds
Heading south to Spain we found the Bodegas Faustino I 2001 Gran Reserva DOCa (Rioja, Spain, $30). Aromas of forest floor and black cherries are followed by more black cherries with hints of leather and tobacco.
And moving west to Italy, the Cataldi Madonna “Malandrino” 2012 Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo (Abruzzi, Italy, $19) was the only failure of the dozen wines. Aromas of wet dog followed by a soggy cardboard palate.
Over the years we have drunk many bottles from the Hahn Family collection. We’ve always found their Lucienne label a bit overpowering. Here they offered their Lucienne “Lone Oak Vineyard” 2013 Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands, $40). Aromas of dark fruit, black cherry, blackberry, followed by an explosion of fruit on the palate. A bit too acid and too big for our taste, but if you like your wines that way, you’ll love this one.
And it’s back to France with the Domaine Lafage Lieu Dit La Narassa 2014 Cotes du Roussillon (Roussillon, France, $16). Aromas and flavors of black raspberry, chocolate, pepper and olives. We picked up a couple of bottles. Very quaffable.
And Three More Whites
Moving further west, the Hansen Lauer NV Brut Riesling (Mosel Valley, Germany, $20) opens with rose petal aromas followed by wild strawberries on the palate. Too mild for our taste, but eminently drinkable.
Another from Germany, the 2014 Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg (Nahe, Germany, $28). Aromas of lemon sorbet followed by a nice balance between the residual sugar and acid.
Finishing where we started, France brought us the Vigneau-Chevreau NV Vouvray Petillant Brut (Loire Valley, France, $20). Notably, this is a chenin blanc sparkler. The winery tasting notes say, “This wine is characterized by its fine bubbles , its shiny yellow color and aromas of apple and ripe quince.” We agree with that but would add that the palate is almost exclusively bubbles.
We wanted to get this review up in time for Thanksgiving ordering. If you live near Mountain View or Los Gatos, Artisan offers an in-store pickup option that saves you shipping time and cost. Highly recommended.