Tardieu-Laurent Côte-Rôtie 2008

Tardieu-Laurent Côte-Rôtie 2008

Tardieu-Laurent Côte-Rôtie 2008

Apparently, it’s “National Drink Wine Day.” I thought that was every day. But in any case, please feel free to raise a glass to yourself or a loved one, and enjoy another wine-centric entry on my blog.

Another Christmas has gone by, and another wonderful wine gift from my father-in-law showed up at my door to ring in some merriment. This past year it was in the form of 8 bottles of Tardieu-Laurent Côte-Rôtie 2008. Yes, I am lucky! This time the wine came from my (and now one of his) favorite sources, Last Bottle Wines.  I had the first of these just after Christmas, and in the fray of a busy holiday season, I am finally getting around to writing about it while I enjoy the third.  We shared that first bottle with friends in Washington DC over dinner at their home, and caught up on at least a year of stories. What better way to do it? We paired it with grilled burgers and salmon. A little cold was not stopping a good grilling. The wine went beautifully with both entrées.

As you may or may not know, the laws of the Côte-Rôtie appellation dictate that this wine be 80-100% Syrah, with the other 20% allowed being the more prestigious white grape of the Rhône, Viognier. The rest of the northern Rhône appellations — Cornas, Hermitage, St. Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage — also require the only red grape in the blend to be Syrah.  Cornas and Hermitage have to be 100% Syrah whereas St. Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage also permit around 10% of white grapes, which can include Marsanne and Roussanne.  The wines of the Côte-Rôtie are in their own right catching up with the stature, and complexity of the very famous Hermitage and the Southern Rhone’s Châteauneuf. They age beautifully and have been made here for centuries.

The wine is purple in color, smoothly balanced and has well-integrated acidity and tannin. On the nose are ripe black and red fruits, leather, wildflowers and the game and black pepper notes that are classic Syrah. Côte-Rôtie literally translates into the ‘roasted slope,’ paying tribute to the abundant sunshine afforded these steep, eastern-facing slopes. While aspect contributes the sunshine, altitude lends the cooling counterpart needed to perfectly ripen grapes, particularly grapes like Syrah which require ample time to develop fully. The Viognier brings the nice floral note to the wine and the schist soil adds the final piece of the wine’s terroir profile by retaining heat and aiding drainage and root strength. While I don’t know (and don’t want to, being a gift) what they were pricing them at, wine-searcher has the average price for this vintage at $69 a bottle.

It is delicous yet again. I better save the rest for a while, but it is hard to resist such an elegant and structured wine.

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Finding Devotion in the Cold and in Wine

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge

This is my entry in the monthly wine writing challenge (#MWWC7). If you like it, go over to their website and vote for it.  And please take time to enjoy my fellow wine-bloggers’ wonderful entries as well. And now…

While I’ve truly enjoyed both of the wines below in this cold snap, they share some common threads and inspire my own story on the theme of devotion, this month’s topic, chosen by last month’s winner, SAHMmelier. I’ve been enjoying reading all the entries from my fellow wine bloggers.

The last 3 weeks have brought epic amounts of snow to my front door. This has had some negative implications. To name a few: back-breaking shoveling, dangerous driving and lots of cold. But also, some positives such as ski trips, extra days spent home with family, and time and reason to open some additional wines and catch up with my reading on my favorite subject.

Land of Nod Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Wine

I wrote up our visit to this rustic Connecticut family winery about 18 months ago and briefly mentioned my enjoyment of this wine among the several tasted. You can read that here. I don’t know what took me so long to open the bottle I brought home. Maybe just that I was collecting so many more and determined to visit as many wineries and try as many different wines as possible since then. I’d say mission accomplished. There it was sitting on my smaller rack, and I was craving something sweet with a little heat for a night cap. As soon as I opened it, it brought back the pleasant recollection of that first tasting.  On the nose, this wine IS a dessert in itself. Rich cocoa notes paired with aromatic raspberry fruit waft from the glass, as well as obvious alcohol. At 17% abv, it’s no lightweight. Yet everything was so smoothly integrated, and I found myself not needing any actual dessert to accompany it, though I did pair it with one or two Valentine’s chocolates to much success.

Land of Nod Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Wine

Land of Nod Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Wine

I then returned to more of the wine itself, as it was fitting my mood precisely. And, that kick from the alcohol certainly kept me warm and cozy.  I shared some with the family and everyone agreed this is a delicious little gem from the northwest corner of our state. I pass there often on my way to hike or ski the beautiful Berkshires and Appalachians, and I will be stopping in again for more. A nationally recognized bicentennial family farm going back to before the American Revolution, I would surmise the Adam family are well-devoted to agriculture and their surroundings, and the wines are just another successful side of their endeavors with a passion that shows in the product. At the time I don’t think I knew that I’d have fallen even deeper for the subject and craft that is wine, but that devotion is alive and well today, and even stronger.

2011 Corvallis Cellars Pinot Noir

While Pinot Noir isn’t normally the big winter-warming red one would reach for in the cold, I can’t keep away from this grape, and recently just about everything I’ve been eating has been a better pairing with Pinot Noir than a big red like Cabernet. Make it a Willamette Pinot and well, I succumb to it’s allure. And, being wine, it warms me up just fine, even at 13% abv. This Corvallis Pinot Noir came from a local shop and while not a 90+ point example with a price tag to match, I can’t justify that cost for everyday drinking. I love finding values for my daily sips and this one that my wife brought home does a nice job of exemplifying the style in the region on a budget. A little less rich in fruit and spice and a shorter finish than the top dogs in the region, but enough to enjoy with a good meal, and thereafter. Definitely a value at $16.

2011 Corvallis Cellars Pinot Noir

2011 Corvallis Cellars Pinot Noir

This of course brings me to my own steadfast devotion to Pinot Noir, and those from this region in Oregon that started my full-blown enthusiasm for the wine world.  I have my father-in-law to thank for those six bottles of Patton Valley Pinot Noir he sent me for Christmas in 2010. At that time I had only interviewed for my first career in the wine business. And here I am today, fully entrenched in the field, or should I say vineyard. A few months later while studying for the first of my WSET certifications offered at my new wine job, I began this blog to further my own education, and share my stories and learning in the process.  My first blog entry was a Pinot Noir, my last entry was a Pinot Noir, and here we are again. I imagine there’s many in between. In everyday application, I tell my customers my stories, and my devotion to it, and pass on that enthusiasm in the process, hopefully making new fans of the grape and the region. I have many more in my cellar that I’m saving for a special occasion. And my eyes light up every time I discover a new one.

I have also been using this extra time to finally get through the majority of my latest wine-read, Neil Rosenthal’s “Reflections of a Wine Merchant.” There’s nothing more exciting and educational for me than first-hand accounts of another wine lover who has devoted his life to the subject and turned that passion into a career. Meeting and courting vignerons both world-recognized and virtually unknown, and the ups and downs of each journey to their cellars and the business made or lost in each experience makes for an eye-opening read. I recently enjoyed Lawrence Osborne’s own memoir on the subject, “The Accidental Connoisseur” (which I very much see myself as). I look forward to my next adventure, with Kermit Lynch’s “Adventures on the Wine Route“.  Throw in all the trades I keep on top of, tasting, collecting and cataloging my own cellar, and sharing my experiences with you all here, and its just a wonderful way for me to also try and inspire devotion in you, my readers. And there is so much more to come.

Cheers!