Showing posts with label brut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brut. Show all posts

Sunday, July 31, 2022

My Go-To “Grocery Store” Wines

Summer! It’s time for road trips, hikes, and picnics. For such moments, you want a wine that is made for easy drinking and maybe fits into a CamelBak®. Here are my three go-to “grocery store” wines that are widely available and eager to please - a white, a pink, and a bubbly.

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region is an easy choice for the summer. Kim Crawford ensures consistency of quality for US$10-$18. Pale yellow in the glass, the Sauvignon Blanc has the distinct Marlborough perfume of green apple and fresh herbs. On the palate, it is vibrant with plenty of acidity, tropical fruit, and a tinge of grassy field. Kim Crawford pairs really well with fresh oysters and seafood. It also works with corn dogs and coleslaw.

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
Fun Facts: Founded by the namesake winemaker and his wife, Kim Crawford Wines started in 1996 as a “virtual” winery. The couple ran the business from their home and used leased facilities to keep operating costs low. In 1998, the wines were exported to the United States and were highly successful. By 2003, Vincor International, a Canadian company, bought the the winery for US$8.6 million plus an incremental amount based on the growth in profit for the next five years. In 2008, Vincor was purchased by global beverage giant, Constellation Brands. Since then, Kim Crawford has been part of the Constellation wine portfolio, which ensures its availability throughout the country.

AIX Rosé

If your favorite wine color is pink, I recommend a nice Provençal rosé. And if you’d like a label that you can remember, it doesn’t get easier than AIX. From Maison Saint Aix, AIX Rosé is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault. Salmon pink in color, the rosé is aromatic with floral and herbal notes. On the palate, it is dry, medium-bodied, and zesty with tropical fruit and briny minerality. AIX Rosé pairs well with poached lobster and roast chicken. Or enjoy it with ham sandwiches and potato salad. You can find AIX Rosé in the range of US$16-19 at major grocery stores.

AIX Rosé
Fun Facts: Despite being named after the celebrated appellation of Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, AIX is a young winery owned by a Dutchman. Looking for a life change in his mid-forties, owner and winemaker Eric Kruger left his advertising career and moved to France with his family. He eventually decided to follow his passion in wine, something he nurtured since his high school days working in a wine shop. The first vintage of AIX was produced in 2009 and won the Medaille d’Or in Paris. Leveraging his marketing expertise, Kruger was able to catapult AIX into the US market, and we can now find it in our grocery stores. 

Flama D’Or Brut Cava

Perhaps you are looking for a little sparkler this summer without breaking the bank. At US$6-9, the Flama D’Or Brut Cava is an excellent deal. Cava is Spain’s affordable answer to Champagne. It is made in the traditional or Champagne method. This means that the second fermentation of the wine takes place in the bottle (as opposed to a tank like a Prosecco). Flama D’Or is made with three Spanish grapes - Macabeo, Xarel.lo, and Parellada. Straw yellow in color, persistent bubbles from the wine help deliver floral and fruity aroma. On the palate, it is vibrant, fizzy, and citrusy. Flama D’Or Brut Cava is perfect with tapas. It is also yummy with fried chicken or creamy mac and cheese.
Flama D’Or Brut Cava
Fun Facts: Flama D’Or Brut Cava is made by Castell D’Or, founded by a group of 13 Catalan cooperative wineries in 2006. These wineries span the areas of El Penedès, La Conca de Barberà, Priorat, Tarragona and Montsant. In Spain, cooperativism dates back to the second half of the 19th century. The member wineries of Castell D’Or pull together their generations of winemaking knowledge to create a wide range of cavas and a few still wines. Besides being found in grocery stores, Flama D’Or Brut Cava has also gained popularity in restaurants for being food-friendly at a great price point.

With several weeks of summer left, I hope you find a “grocery store” wine that beats the heat and also the inflation. And if you happen to try any of the three, let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Vouvray, My Summer's Last Hurray!

Labor Day is around the corner, and the glorious warmth of summer days will soon cool into a burst of fall colors. But today I shall enjoy basking in the sun, sipping a glass of chilled Vouvray Sec, while poring over wine literature.

Vouvray, nestled in the heart of the Loire Valley, is an Appellation d'origine Contrôllée (AOC) that is dedicated almost exclusively to Chenin Blanc. This single grape however is extremely versatile. It is high in acidity and sugar, which makes for a crisp white wine with a nice body and mouthfeel. It can be completely fruit-forward and great for easy drinking. In the right terroir, such as Vouvray, it can also have interesting minerality, adding layers of complexity that is well sought after by wine collectors.

Vouvray in Loire Valley
In Vouvray, Chenin Blanc manifests itself in different styles of wine - from sparkling to still, from dry to sweet!

Sparkling Vouvrays are mostly made in the Champagne method (or traditional method), but you can find a less bubbly version made in the ancient method under the label "pétillent naturelle" or "pet-nat." (The difference between the two methods and among others as well is a topic that deserves its own blog post.) Sparkling Vouvrays are typically Brut (dry) or Demi-Sec (slightly sweet).

Still Vouvrays, which is what I normally drink, can range from Sec (bone-dry), Tendre (off-dry), and Demi-Sec (slightly sweet) to Moelleux (sweet or dessert-style).

2012 Foreau Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Sec
On this lazy summer afternoon, I popped open a bottle of 2012 Philippe Foreau Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Sec. 2012 was a challenging year in Vouvray as fluctuating weather conditions ended in a wet harvest season. Even then, the Foreau Sec was quite tasty.

On the nose, I got pear and honey, a winning combination for aromatics. While crisp and dry, I could taste apricot and honey mixed in with salty minerality. It was quite a pucker with the high acidity but well-balanced with medium-full body. The pucker also lent itself to a lingering finish. It was completely satisfying, and I'd imagine great with seafood or any light meat.

A note about Foreau and Huet...

Normally, my wine club sends me Vouvrays from Domaine Huet, which is known as the gold standard for the appellation. If you have read the book, Wine and War, or my blog post about it, you would also learn that co-founder Gaston Huet fought the Nazis during World War II and was a prisoner of war for five years.

As it turns out, Philippe Foreau is Gaston's nephew. It is no wonder that this third-generation winemaker is a Vouvray powerhouse in his own right. His Vouvray Sec was absolutely delicious and fitting for my summer's last hurray. I can't wait to get my hands on his sparkling wines and Moelleux, which will be the perfect celebratory wine for the holiday season.