Showing posts with label sauvignon blanc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sauvignon blanc. 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!

Friday, April 30, 2021

Cheers to Sunshine!


The long overdue reprieve from the dreary darkness of winter is finally here. As daylight stretches on and lingers, nature is bursting with life once again. Farmers markets are brimming with seasonal produce to inspire the everyday chef. My wine palate is transitioning accordingly from bold tannic leathery reds to something lighter, brighter, and crisper. 

Cherry blossoms, a sign of new life 

So join me and bask in the sunshine with something white and something pink.

Something White

Sauvignon Blanc is one of my go-to whites in the sunshine. I love the grassy, citrusy flavor with juicy acidity and a touch of minerality. 

2018 CADE Sauvignon Blanc

I generally seek out French Sauvignon Blanc in single-variety Sancerre or in a white Bordeaux blend, preferably lighter on the Sémillon. From the New World, I love a good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, enough to forgive the screw cap. 

More recently, I was excited to receive a bottle of CADE Sauvignon Blanc. The Napa Valley white went through a fascinating fermentation process that included 12 different strains of yeast in a combination of stainless steel, oak (new and used), and concrete vessels. It is then aged on the lees in stainless steel and oak for five months. The end result is a quintessential Sauvignon Blanc with a lot of complexity and textural interests.

2018 CADE Sauvignon Blanc

  • Color - Light pale straw with great clarity
  • Aroma - Fragrant with apple and grapefruit 
  • Taste - Lively and crisp, tart green apple, honey, and salty minerality
  • Acidity - Bright and gripping acidity
  • Body - Medium-plus body, coating the mouth and luscious
  • Finish - Lingering
Food Pairing: Indian spiced rice, samosas, dollops of cilantro chutney, over a pile of romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, sweet onion slices, and chunks of avocado.

Spiced rice, samosa, cilantro chutney, avocado

Something Pink

Pink wine runs the gamut from light to hearty in flavor and almost correspondingly from pale salmon to deep pink in color. My favorite is the Provençal rosé, which lands on the more delicate end of the spectrum.

2020 The Walls Cruel Summer Rose
There is an air of romance about Provençal rosés. Perhaps it is the pale blush hue or the floral scent that reminds one of lavender fields. The French pink wine is made with predominantly Grenache grapes. It is everything I love about fresh citrusy white wines plus the bonus red fruilt flavor and pink tinge coaxed briefly from the grape skin.

On this side of the Atlantic, you can find well-made Provençal-style rosés as well. The Walls' Cruel Summer is one such rosé, made with 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre. It was a fun wine, fresh, interesting, and delightful! 

2020 The Walls Cruel Summer Rose

  • Color - Pale salmon
  • Aroma - Highly scented with apple and honeysuckle
  • Taste - Fresh and vibrant, tart green apple, juicy minerality
  • Acidity - High racy acidity
  • Body - Medium-plus body, elegant and silky
  • Finish - Lingering
Food Pairing: Bruschetta, crostini smeared with pureed English pea, basil, mint and EVOO, topped with crumbled feta.

English pea bruschetta

So as the weather permits and al fresco dining is in the plan, what is your wine pick to toast to the sunshine? I hope it is something light and crisp, maybe something white or pink.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Chablis vs. Sancerre

Seattleites do not take summer for granted. Following the gloom of winter and lingering drizzles of spring, summer days are long, warm, sun-filled with just a touch of humidity. Spring flowers transition into summer bloom with an abundance of assorted berries, stone fruit, and fresh produce. Seattleites live for the summer!

Summer is also the time when we leave the red wines in the cellar and start breaking into blush and white wines, the perfect accompaniment to a charcuterie spread enjoyed on a boat, in a park or on your deck. My niece and partner in wine, Taylor, and I are having fun picking out white wines from the cellar and tasting through them. This month, I'd like to share our experience with two delicious French whites - Chablis and Sancerre.

Pascal Bouchard Chablis vs. Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Blanc

2013 Pascal Bouchard, Chablis, Fourchaume 1er Cru
I never thought I would like Chardonnay that much till I tasted a white Burgundy. It is not weighed down by oak the way California Chardonnay tends to be. For the most part, I like my white wines crisp and fruity with a nice balance of minerality and acidity. Among the white Burgundies, Chablis delivers that for me. It is summer in a glass!

The Pascal Bouchard Chablis sourced from the Fourchaume vineyard is classified as Premier Cru (second highest classification in Burgundy, with Grand Cru being the first). The wine is fresh with a nice blend of acidity and oceanic minerality, that makes you want to pair it with some fresh oysters. It definitely works wonderfully with cheeses, cured meat, olives, and pickles.

Price: $39 (West Seattle Wine Cellars -

2014 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Blanc
Most people are familiar with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, especially those from the Marlborough region. However, after a magical encounter with a bottle of 2010 Domaine Etienne et Sébastian Riffault Sauletas Sancerre in New York a few weeks ago, we are going for a French Sauvignon Blanc. (Side note: The Domaine Etienne et Sébastian Riffault Sancerre was creamier, fuller in body, and less fruit forward than what I would expect from a Sancerre Blanc.)

We opened up this 2014 vintage from Domaine Vacheron, which is more typical of a Sancerre Blanc. It was medium-bodied with high acidity, delicious minerality, and green apple notes. Again, I imagine oysters and seafood by the beach with a glass of Sancerre Blanc.

Price: $35 (West Seattle Wine Cellars -

Taylor and I toasting to summer
My Verdict: After tasting both wines side by side, I am struck by how alike they are despite being from different grape varietals. Looking at the map of Chablis and Sancerre regions, they are really close in proximity. Additionally, they lie on the Kimmeridgian Chain, known for chalky soil with limestone and a high content of crushed shells. It is no wonder that both whites have complexity and crisp minerality that make me want to eat fresh oysters! Still the Chablis has a little bit more body and the Sancerre more acidity. Both are great for summer!

To that, we raise our glasses to you - santé!