Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Three Whites and a Rose

To round out the wine ordering adventures posts (for the time being) and to make up for being such a slouch when it comes to writing about tasty wines lately, here are four excellent wines that August brought me (such a generous month!).

Starting from the top, we have Leone de Castris Five Roses Rose, from Salento, Italy.  The first rose that we ordered this summer was the Domaine de Triennes that I wrote of previously, and I totally loved it, but though we all raved about it, this second rose was much more popular with almost everyone!  Perhaps it was because we were in the grip of a heatwave that the deliciously juicy watermelon and strawberry character of Five Roses made it an instant hit.  It is an excellent mid-summer drink.  This dry rose is racy with ripe, juicy summer fruit on the nose and palate, and is medium bodied - to go along with all those delicious barbecue dishes.  It's lively and joyful, like a picnic on a summer afternoon.

Next up is one of my favourite whites.  Having had their Jubilee Riesling, I was especially excited to order Hugel's 2010 Gentil.  The 'Gentil' is a blend of Alsace's four noble grape varieties (Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Muscat), and the Gentil blend apparently reckons back to days gone by when this was a commonly made style.  Hugel is bringing it back, they say, and I think they should continue in this work.  The 2010 Gentil is dry, energetic, juicy, spicy, and nutty - just how I like my whites.  I know my preference toward this style is borderline-bias, but I can't help it; the combination of yellow apples and bartlett pears with roasted chestnuts, cream, and clove transports me back to November in Switzerland and France, where chestnuts were roasted by street vendors and sold in paper bags, and the air was full of the smells of fall harvest and fresh baking.  Though I've never been to Alsace, I get the sense that this wine tells you the story of the place it grew up in as clearly as any travel guide could.  I love it so much I'm almost hoarding it, afraid to let the number of bottles dwindle.

Speaking of delicious white wines, I come at last to a treat that I bought for us while camping.  I had just read that this year's release of Tokaji had hit the LCBO shelves, and so I swooped in to see what I could pick up.  What I brought home, and subsequently to Fundy National Park, was a Pannon Tokaj 2005 5 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszu.  That, is a lot of Hungarian.  This enchanting little bottle contained a sweet desert-style wine.  The '5 Puttonyos' part means five little baskets, which is how they measure the sweetness of a tokaji (nerd details: the little baskets were/are used to harvest the appropriately-botrytized grapes after a dry wine has already been made, and the number of full little baskets of grapes that are pressed and combined with this wine determine how sweet the resulting tokaji will be - in this case, five baskets, and very sweet).  The loveliness of this wine is hard to describe.  Despite its definite sweetness it's high acidity cleansed our palates, and there was a juicy fleshiness to the wine, like biting into a ripe peach.  The flavours were very reminiscent of fresh cobbler: peaches, nectarines, vanilla, cinnamon, honey, baked oatmeal and brown sugar.  If your mouth isn't watering yet, it must be because, try as I might, I can't get this wine into words.

And finally, a small note on a delicious champagne.  This was my celebration bottle for passing my exams and becoming a Certified Sommelier.  (I bought it in advance, and was *really* hoping that I'd pass in order to drink it in high spirits, rather than to soothe the pains of failure.)  This was Charles Ellner's 2001 Seduction Brut Champagne, and wow, what deliciousness.  The mousse was persistent and silky, and the wine had a toasty fresh-croissant character to it, with notes of Meyer lemon, mandarin orange, and hints of pineapple.  It felt good to drink as my first bottle as a Sommelier; it carried its specialness with such grace that it reminded me that though something had happened, nothing had changed.  A good champagne is always just a little aloof.

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