Château de Pourcieux, Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France

The Wine of the Week by Annette Tomei

Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to

Chateau de Pourcieux Rose
2013 Château de Pourcieux, Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France

In 1951 the wine region known as Côtes de Provence, a swath of southeastern France along the Mediterranean coast, was designated as VDQS – a classification midway between table wine and the more strongly regulated Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée; AOC status was awarded in 1977. Though red and white wines are also produced here, this region is best known for its rosé, which represents approximately 85% of production. This is a large region with varied terroir; the quality of the wines produced here also varies, so selecting wines from a reputable producer and/or importer is beneficial.

Château de Pourcieux was founded in the early 18th century by the Marquis d’Espagnet. Michel d’Espagnet has been proprietor since 1986. The chateau itself is a registered historic monument of the region.

The chateau’s rosé is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault. Each variety is vinified separately; their juice is in contact with the grape skins for 4-6 hours at cold temperature to gently extract color and flavor before pressing and fermentation. Prior to blending, each variety wine is matured in enamel-lined tanks for 1 month after the vinification process is complete.

This wine has the aroma of a lively fresh fruit salad – berries, banana, delicate herbs, and a touch of spice. The flavors are bright and crisp – more berries and ripe peach. There’s just a hint of tannins and under 13.5% ABV – essentially, a medium body, easy wine. Rosés are a recurring favorite for pairing with a variety of foods. This one did well as an aperitif with jamon de Serrano and a young Manchego. I’d also try it with the end-of-season ratatouille, roast chicken, and Provençal-inspired seafood preparations.

2013 Domaine de la Chaise Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine, France

The Wine of the Week by Annette Tomei

Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to

IMG_13392013, Domaine de la Chaise, Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine AC, Loire Valley, France

The Loire Valley is one of France’s most diverse wine growing regions, and one of the largest, with climate conditions ranging from maritime (consistent, moderate) to continental (great fluctuations by season and time of day). The Loire Valley is best known for its white wines, which make up approximately 75% of production, especially those from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.

The Touraine is located in the upper Loire Valley, centered on the city of Tours in a continental climate. The generic regional appellation of Touraine may produce red, white, or rosé wines in still or sparkling styles from an assortment of grape varieties. Unlike the more specific appellation of Vouvray, which is situated within the Touraine and is made from Chenin Blanc, the majority of the white wines of this general appellation are made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape with or without the addition of the lesser-known Sauvignon Gris.

The 140 acres of vineyards of Domaine de la Chaise are located in Saint Georges sur Cher, owned by the Davault family. Christophe Davault, the seventh generation of this winemaking family, took over in 2004.

The 2013 vintage is golden-yellow, and rich with the aromas of grapefruit and exotic fruits. The juicy ripeness reflects a distinctly “New World” style – sur lie stainless steel aging creates an especially rich and ripe character; the finish is long with grapefruit-y astringency. The full-flavored nature of this wine belies the overall light body (only 12.5% ABV). Though an easy-drinking (and affordably priced) aperitif, this wine can be paired with fresh goat cheeses, many fish and shellfish dishes, green vegetables, and lighter entrees. Try it with a creamy goat cheese risotto topped with a lemony arugula salad and grape tomatoes.

2009 d’Arenberg “The Laughing Magpie”, McLaren Vale, Australia

The Wine of the Week
by Annette Tomei

Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to

Laughing Magpie2009, d’Arenberg, The Laughing Magpie, Shiraz-Viognier, McLaren Vale, Australia

Australia is comprised of 6 states; one of them, South Australia, is home to several of the most internationally recognized wine regions and Australia’s most significant wines (in quality, not quantity). In 1993 Australia instituted the Geographical Indication (GI) system for classifying wine growing regions. In 1997, McLaren Vale, one of Australia’s oldest wine regions (established in the early 19th-century), was assigned its own GI status.

McLaren Vale encompasses multiple mesoclimates affected by proximity to mountains, distance from the climatic effects of the sea, and varying soil conditions. A large variety of grapes grow well here, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mouvedre, and – of course – Shiraz, the grape that put this region (and Australia in general) on the world’s wine map.

Shiraz is the Australian name for the Syrah grape, most commonly associated with the northern Rhône Valley region of France. Shiraz is a dark-skinned grape that adapts well to challenging growing conditions and thrives even in some of the least hospitable soils. Typical flavors associated with this grape range from smoky and meaty to rich jammy berries and licorice depending on the terroir.

This particular wine is a blend of Shiraz with Viognier, a white wine grape (92% and 8%, respectively). Though this sounds a bit unusual, it is actually a long established practice begun in the Côte-Rôtie (an appellation in the northern Rhône Valley). The role of the Viognier in the blend is to liven up the color of the Shiraz and to contribute a more complex aroma (Viognier is quite aromatic in its own right). It is traditional to ferment the red and white grapes together from the start; d’Arenberg continues this tradition in the making of this wine.

The d’Arenberg family has been part of Australia’s winemaking history since 1912. The d’Arenberg’s own label was launched in 1959 by Francis d’Arenberg Osborn (aka d’Arry). D’Arenberg may be best known for their “The Stump Jump” series of wines, or their iconic “The Dead Arm” Shiraz – most of their wines are given clever names that in no way belie the quality and passion that go into their creation.

Aromas of ripe raspberries, cloves, and wintergreen dominate with a touch of hearty meatiness developing as it opens in the glass. This wine is juicy and lush with ripe dark berries, black plums, and rich dark cocoa. Beware a bit of alcoholic punch (14.6% ABV) and rather intense tannins – on the up-side, both are factors that will contribute to this wines potentially long aging ability – decant and aerate a bit for maximum immediate enjoyment. This is one vintage older than current (though still available in the US), so you’ve already got one year of additional aging checked off. Break out that rarely (or never) used decanter and enjoy this wine with grilled steak, herb-crusted lamb chops, duck confit, or braised short ribs and polenta. For the vegetarians out there, I recommend a hearty mix of dark leafy greens, chewy grains, and roasted/grilled root vegetables and winter squashes.

Valdespino, “Inocente” Fino, Macharnudo Alto, Jerez, Andalucía, Spain

The Wine of the Week
by Annette Tomei

Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to

Valdespino Inocente FinoNV, Valdespino, “Inocente” Fino, Macharnudo Alto, Jerez, Andalucía, Spain

The Jerez (Xèrés) region of Spain, home of sherry, is situated along the southwestern seashore in the province of Andalucía. The “Sherry Triangle” is a small portion of Andalucía formed by the connection of the towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa María. Macharnudo Alto, the regions highest altitude vineyards, are located northwest of Jerez de la Frontera. The albariza soil in these vineyards is considered to be the purest in the region – the porous, chalky, bright white, high limestone soil produce low yields of highly concentrated fruit with intense minerality.

As we’ve discussed before (here and here), sherry is a fortified wine that can be expressed in several styles predominantly influenced by the aging method used. Biological aging refers to those styles whose flavor profiles are attributed to time under a protective layer of flor yeast – these include Fino and Manzanilla. Oxidative aging refers to those styles whose flavor profiles are attributed to exposure to air during the maturation process – these include Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez styles. Amontillado and Palo Cortado are styles that come from a combination of time under flor followed by a period of exposure to open air.

Valdespino is the most respected producer of sherry, and one of the oldest. They have owned their vineyards in the Macharnudo Alto since 1264. Valdespino is the only sherry producer to still ferment their wines in all oak (versus stainless steel). The Inocente Fino is produced from Palomino grapes from the Macharnudo Alto that are fermented in oak using only indigenous yeasts. The solera (aging system) is comprised of ten criaderas (“tiers”), more than double the typical size; this translates to an approximate ten years under flor by the time of each bottling, generating an intense depth of flavor and complexity.

The color of this wine is more golden and vivid than typical Finos. This heightened expression of quality persists throughout the experience – not your basic Fino by any stretch of the imagination. Intense aromas of hazelnuts, almonds, and ripe cantaloupe are heightened by a touch of spiciness. The flavors are complex and reveal layers of tartness, nuttiness, and rich olive oil-like qualities with a touch of salinity and a long, pleasantly bitter finish. Good Spanish tapas are made to go with this wine. Roasted Marcona almonds, jamon Iberico, meaty green olives, pungent anchovies, grilled sardines, potato croquettas… the list goes on. I’m a long-time believer in the wonders of sherry with food; this wine sealed that fate.

2013 Domaine Les Hautes Noëlles, Hého rouge, Vin de Pays du Val de Loire, Loire Valley, France

The Wine of the Week
 by Annette Tomei

Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to

Heho le Rouge2013 Domaine Les Hautes Noëlles, Hého, Vin de Pays Rouge, Loire Valley, France

Sometimes a simple, refreshing wine is all we need. It may be the middle of the week, or a weekend afternoon picnic that is only the start to a full day of indulgence; we all need a wine that will quench our thirst, respect simpler choices of food, and not knock us out with excessive alcohol, or an excessive price tag. And, this wine should still be “good” – of course.

Maybe French wine was not the first thing that popped into your mind to sate that need. This wine may change your mind.

Vin de Pays (“country wine”) is a designation that may be considered one step up from basic table wine. It is used in classifying wines that are, in some way, representative of a place (typical grape varieties and practices). These wines are held to set standards, but without the stringent regulations applied to the AOC wines. Many winemakers are taking advantage of this designation to experiment with uncommon blends, often introducing some grape varieties that are not originally from their region.

Domaines Les Haute Noëlles is a certified organic producer located in an AOC that specifically produces Muscadet (Melon de Bourgogne). They also grow several other non-typical varieties for use in Vin de Pays du Val de Loire. Most of their fruit is hand-harvested, with traditional methods being the norm throughout the winemaking process.

The Hého rouge is comprised of 45% Cabernet Franc, 45% Grolleau Noir, (both typical red grapes of the Loire Valley) and 10% Gamay (of Beaujolais fame). The Grolleau Noir and Gamay are both vinified by carbonic maceration, while the Cabernet Franc is vinified in the traditional manner. (Sorry, I was not able to establish the meaning of the name Hého… yet.)

This wine has an appealing sheer garnet color. Initial earthy aromas open to reveal bright red cherries, tealeaves and peppercorns, with a touch of cinnamon. This wine has a pronounced, refreshing tartness with flavors of red cassis berries, cranberries, and pomegranates. The tannins are tight and focused on the front of the palate. Though this is not an extremely complex wine, it is definitely tasty… and a great value (just over $10/bottle). Try serving this lightly chilled – remove from refrigeration 30-40 minutes before serving then enjoy – it opens nicely as it warms to room temperature. As mentioned earlier, this is a great wine for an afternoon picnic – delicious with salumi, prosciutto, olives, and hearty salads as well as grilled meats and vegetables. It’s also great for a simple weeknight meal of roasted tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.