2014 CVNE Monopole Blanco, Rioja, Spain

If I can lay my cards on the table, I love Spanish wine and I’m pretty sure that’s not a secret. I fell in love with them a few years ago because I couldn’t afford the good stuff(still can’t FYI). For what I could spend, I didn’t like a lot of the stuff from California at the time. One day my boss turned me on to a little Tempranillo from Rioja and I was completely sold. So that’s my back story with the region. On to the point.

CVNE(pronounced Cune) has been making this Monopole Blanco the exact same way for over 100 years. I’m told it was also the first ever white wine sold in Spain. That’s pretty serious commitment to tradition. 


Real talk: It blew me away when I tasted it. Mainly because most of the buzz about wines coming out of Rioja are about the Reds. You know, Crianzas and all that jazz. Vareitally it is 100% Vera and it is everything I like in a white wine.

Nose: Fresh Apircot, chalk, Wet Stone

Taste: Bright but balanced acidity, lots of symmetry with the fruit and minerality, crisp/clean finish 

(Reminds me a lot of Muscadelle)

Pairings: light pasta with olive oil and tomatoes, charcuterie(if in Spain Jamón, the Margarita Extra pizza from Frank’s Pizza Napolentana

Available for $15.99 at Wine Country Bistro & Bottle Shop

Patricia Green Sauvignon Blanc, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Oregon isn’t necessarily known for it’s Sauvignon Blanc. When you think of that varietal, your mind usually wonders to New Zealand, France, or even Napa Valley. Oregon is world famous for their Burgundian styles of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Through what we’ll call research, sharing a bottle or two with some friends in the wine biz, I found out that before the great Oregon Pinot craze there were actually a lot of Sauvignon Blanc planted. Pinot Noir got popular and they pulled a lot of it Sauv Blanc out and replanted the Pinot. Thankfully we have producers like Patricia Green.


Patricia Green is a pretty well respected name in Oregon Pinot Noir. She makes many single vineyard Pinot Noirs that are a bit pricey but definitely well worth it to anyone who is a fan of the region. But we’re not here to talk about her Pinots. This Sauvignon Blanc blew my mind.

On the nose, it has the most beautiful tropical skittles fragrance. Dead serious. No grapefruit or green bell pepper. Full notes of passion fruit and kiwi.

Those flavors come through on the palate perfectly. Acidity is very present so that the sugar-sense of all those rich fruits don’t over power the mouth-feel. Most of the time, a wine with this profile will fool you into thinking it’s sweet. That is definitely not the case here. Fresh, fruity, and crisp are the only things you’ll be able to think about in regards to the finish. That and wondering how many bottles you’ll be able to keep.

It’s great wine to pair with humidity, which we have plenty of around here in Shreveport, Louisiana. Also try it with arugula based salads, your favorite sushi roll or shellfish.

An Accidental Dinner With Arcadian Wines

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I wasn’t expecting Wednesday night to end the way it did. I had my weekly meeting at work with the owner and other managers to discuss the last week’s numbers and a plan going forward through the rest of this week. After starting the day off and moving through the rest of it, I managed to get invited to a meeting where one of my wine reps was going to showcase some Arcadian wines at Lucky Palace with Kuan Lim. I had to accept.

  

What you need to know: Arcadian Winery was started by Joe Davis and is known throughout the wine world for making Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in California that could easily be mistaken for the holy grail of those variteals, Burgundy. He started working for California’s Morgan Winery and then went on to work for Domaine Dujac in Burgundy before Arcadian. When he returned to the United States, he brought back with him the methods of the world renown Burgundian wine making philosophies. Now we have Arcadian. Back to dinner.

Now, I’ve had many of the Arcadian wines before and I’ve really liked them. But these were different. Older vintages of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that are consider “library wines.” 2008’s and 2009’s. That may not seem like that old with those 2009 and 2008 Cabernets held in such high esteem, but most people will turn the other cheek when they see a 2008 Chardonnay on the shelf that’s not from Burgundy or some Cali producer like Far Niente. 

These Chardonnays… Were intensely delicious. The “Seirra Madre” Chardonnay saw 3 years in French oak and the “Sleepy Hollow” saw over 4! I was completely wrong in my thinking about what the oak would do. I thought it would’ve created these oaky monsters but what it did was make a soft around the edges, creamy Chardonnay with subtle but very present oak. Joe Davis refers to this as the “boomerang effect” where the oak hits its peak after a certain time and then eases back up on the oak flavors as time goes on. It’s all about finding the sweet spot.

  
The 2009 “Sierra Madre” with 3 years of oak had an earthiness on the nose that reminded me of some mustier older French wines I’ve tasted. The drinkability of this wine was way too easy. Spiced apples, balanced acidity, and a creamy finish.

  
The 2008 “Sleepy Hollow” had to be my favorite. 4 years in French oak(which Joe actually goes to France every year to pick out his trees for barrels) completely changed this one. The nose was completely different and had multiple layers of spice and stone fruit on it. It honestly reminded me of Puligny-Montrachet. Very elegant and firm.

Next we had the Pinot Noirs: 2008 Santa Lucia Highlands and 2008 “Gold Coast Vineyards” from Santa Maria. These areas are already my favorite in California for Pinot Noir so I was beyond stoked.

The Santa Lucia Highlands was, in my opinion, the most Burgundian of the 2. It has bright cherries, big acid, and just a touch of forest floor on it. This is truly a Pinot that you could blind taste a Burgundy enthusiast and they would not be able to tell a it was actually Californian.

The “Gold Coast Vineyard” truly captivated me. It’s so rich without being boastful. It has the elegance and grace of a red Burgundy and the flare of perfectly picked California fruit. The mouthfeel is full and bursting with Bing cherry, light tobacco spice, and an exacted balance of acidity to fruit to body.

  
I want to thank Kuan Lim and Brian Gibbons for letting me join in on the tasting. It wastrels a learning experience and would suggest any one of these wines to Burgundy drinkers as well as loyal California drinkers.

2013 Bovio “Il Ciotto” Barbera D’Alba, Italy

I’m slowly becoming acquainted with Italian wines. In the past I would just tell you all Italian wines taste like band-aids, are way too dry, and have too much acidity. Slowly I’ve come to the see the beauty that is Italian wine. Still, I consider Italy to be my weakest subject in the wine world. That being said, I do take every opportunity I can to taste and learn about the region. Speaking of, check out this one:

  
Bovio “Il Ciotto” is a Barbera. That’s the grape varietal. As of 2000, it is the 3rd most planted grape varietal in Italy.  D’Abla means “of Alba” which is an grape growing area in Italy. You may have seen this Italian regional terminology on Moscato d’Asti bottles. That means it is a Moscato from Asti. Now that we’ve all passed Geography, on to the juice.

On the nose, this Barbera smells like the gooey filling of a cherry tart with a hint of Thyme. Drinking this wine is an adventure. Starting with an attack bright acidity, its quickly followed by cherry and pomegranate, lightly herby, and a rustic-tannic finish. Rustic because it’s not velvety but the balance on this thing is incredible. Acid, dryness, and texture. Bovio hit through the cycle on this one.

It’s $20 and a great bottle to have with pizza or seared duck breast.

Getting Back To Neutral

Just a small update:

I’m not usually one to make excuses but every now and then I find a good one to stick to it. I took an unannounced break from blogging during the holiday season because of the insane amount of busy we were in the retail shops as well as a huge, personal life event.  

  
I got married to this super hot lady. Which was completely, and continues to be, legendary. Speaking of hot ladies, try wine: 

2013 Revelry Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington $19.99
Bold blue and red fruits with some pipe tobacco, spice, and silky tannins. Perfect for a pork chop. Don’t wait on it because it’s Merlot. Drink the crap out of it because it’s a boss Merlot.

  

Now that I’m settling back into things as normal, I’m getting back to my passions. New Star Wars novels, mobile gaming binges, and wine. I’ve got some pretty cool things in mind for this year and I’m excited to get to work. In my blog hiatus, I have continued to write beverage columns for some local magazines: SB Magazine and Shreveport Magazine.  

In March, SB Magazine will run my article on Washington State Wine Month(which is obviously March) and the next issue of Shreveport Magazine will feature an article I wrote on last year’s Derby Day and how bummed I was that I couldn’t actually attend it because I had to bartend it. This year’s Derby Day is coming up and tickets are on sale now. Stay tuned for more reasons to drink! 

Wines for Winning Thanksgiving

Last year around this time, I started this blog with a list of my top wines for Thanksgiving. It’s been a fun year of writing about wine and my shenanigans while drinking wine so I will press on and get you some great juice ideas for the day. In random order, here we go:

Francois Montand Blanc de Blanc, France $19.99

I love sparkling wine so much that I affectionately refer to it as bubbles. The huge misconception, despite my trying still goes on, is that it’s all Champagne, expensive, and only for special occasions. False, false, and definitely false. The accessibility sparkling has to food pairings is just as unlimited as your imagination. Clean, crisp, with a slight yeast flavor and minerality for days makes this wine an easy beginning to a meal or the perfect accompaniment to complaints of having eaten too much after dinner is over. 

Seven Hills Merlot, Walla Walla, Washington $41.50

If you think Merlot is some bastard grape varietal that should only be drank by those that buy their wines at Walmart, then you are horribly mistaken. There are some cheap Merlote out there, but there are some cheap Cabs and Pinots too. 

This bad boy isn’t cheap and is completely delicious. Since Washington State Merlot tends to give us softer tannins than California, you’ll get a more elegant finish here. Soft and delicate. Before the finish though, there will be some big and robust fruits with hints of oak and flourishings of earth. Perfect density for keeping up with turkey and tons of flavor to stand with anything you can put cranberry sauce on. Probably my personal favorite this year. I’ll be having a glass or 2 Thursday.

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier, California $14.50

I can’t help myself. I love this wine. I always have. It  is a go to for me with tough pairings because it is so versital. Peach, honeysuckle, and white flowers can go beautifully with fish or even a dessert like sweet potato pie.

2014 Cellars Can Blau “Blau,” Montsant, Spain $13.99

Go figure, I’d put a Spanish wine on this list. Well I did.

Blau is a blend of Mazuelo, Syrah, and Garnacha(Grenache to the rest of the world). It sees only 4 months in French oak barrels just to give it a little tease of vanilla. It has some great lavender, blue berry, and plum flavors. It’s not super heavy like a Petite Sirah, but it’s just a hair weightier than your average Cali Pinot Noir. Take me seriously and try it with anything that’s meat coming off the grill or… Pecan Pie. Seriously.

All of these wines are available at Wine Country’s Bottle Shops for the prices I mentioned. Drink plenty and have a happy Thanksgiving!

2014 Scholium Project Steverjan Pinot Gris, California

  
Everyone thinks of Pinot Gris as Pinot Grigio. Genetically, yes similar. The names look pretty close, yes. But different beasts and each is their own.

This one though… Take everything you know about Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, and Rosé and just throw it out the window. I mean it’s freakin’ orange. Would we call this orangé? 

Rosé is made by allowing the juice to ferment in contact with the grape skins. The amount of time the skins are in dictates how pink or red the wine will be. Since Pinot Gris grapes have an orange, rusty hue to them… They make it orangé.

Flavor wise, it’s very hibiscus, spice and fresh. It has a interesting tannin structure to it. You don’t really see rosés or white wines with that much detectable tannin. 

Drinking this is a geek fest. It negates everything you’ve studied about and poses new questions you never thought you ask about this varietal. Maybe it is the excitement of not being able to preemptively figure out what it’s going to taste like.

Great job Abe Schoener.

2014 Mayu Pedro Ximénez, Elqui Valley, Chilé

I know that seems like a lot of nonsense for a wine blog post but all will be explained. I stumbled upon this fresh Chilean white wine while tasting random new stuff with one of my vendors. He wasn’t going to show it to me because he was sure I was going to hate it. Luckily, fate intervened. So here we are with this random varietal that sounds like some guy’s name. This is what you need to know:

Pedro Ximénez(Hee-man-nenth) is a varietal that typically grows in Australia, Spain, and Chilé. Australia and Spain use the grape to make fortified wines like Sherry. That’s why this one caught my mouth. This is the opposite of a rich, dessert wine.  Mayu is a fresh, light white wine. It shares similarities with Pinot Gris and Albariño with a little Sauvignon Blanc thrown in. Lemon zesty with Asian pear and blissful minerality. The acid on the back end is copious and perfectly compliments it’s white floral aromas.

Drink it with sushi or a salad with some ginger in it. Alternatively, you could take a page from my book and just pound it on a patio paired with a beautiful day.
Mayu Pedro Ximénez will keep your wine budget in line at $11.99 a bottle. The only problem is that you will probably go through a few at a time.

Another Epic Shreveport Magazine Article

I’ve been extremely lucky to be able to write for multiple publications over the last year. The first magazine I ever got to write for and actually got a physical copy of the issue was the inaugural issue of Shreveport Magazine. They are kind of responsible for making me take this whole blogging thing seriously. I also wrote one of my favorite articles to date for their latest issue.

Music has always been super important to me. I would search for hours online for any extra content that involved my favorite bands. It could have been an interview with the drummer about his gear preferences or a full track by track explanation of what each song was about. I devoured it. Wine has become equally important to me. I can get chills listening to a new song from one of my favorite artists or hearing the story of bottle of wine from a producer that I adore. In the spirit of a passion for music and wine, I wrote this article.

BBshrevemagdiptic

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Lunch time at Bodegas Juan Gil on a Beard and Barrel trip to Spain.

It was so much fun to combine the experience of my wine trip to Spain with some local bands I really dig. Instead of pairing wine with food, I paired Bodegas Juan Gil wines with songs from Shayliff, Lish Starshine and the Spirit Animals, and Irene and the Sleepers. Listen to the tracks and sip on the suggested wine for the full experience. I’ve linked the songs on in the band’s names. Pick up a bottle of the wines at Wine Country Bottle Shops and let me know what you think.

There are also some really great articles about bar programs in Shreveport, local farm to table restaurants and the importance of knowing where your food comes from, and a beautiful profile of some Shreveport locals by All Y’all. You can grab a physical copy of the magazine at multiple locations around town for FREE. Specifically: Zocolo Neighborhood Eatery, Wine Country Bistro & Bottle Shop, Wine Country Bottle Shop at Twelve Oaks, and Rhino Coffee.

Abita Oktoberfest

Abita puts out some damn fine beer in Louisiana. Their flagship beers are great and their seasonal are pretty great too. I’m talking like you people in Louisiana have never had Abita beers… So let’s talk about the Oktoberfest.

  
Aroma: malty and toasted caramel

Color: copper/tea/amber

Flavor: Truly a German style. Very nicely malty with just a little spice to it. 24 IBUs so it’s not too bitter at all. Very easy drinking at 5.4% ABV.

Abita Oktoberfest is probably one of my favorite Oktoberfest seasonals. Maybe there is a bit of home court advantage there because I’m a Louisiana boy but whatever. This is probably one of the easiest to get ahold of since it’s running from now till November. It’s case stacked at pretty much every grocery store in Shreveport and on tap at a ton of your favorite beer drinking spots.