February Wine Club 2023
We are pretty lucky to live where we do, pretty sure we all know that. Among the many reasons, living so close to world class wine growing regions makes it pretty great.
According to the graphic- it's like we are living parallel lives with France. Maybe that's a stretch-France has a couple hundred years on us in the states making wine. The history, the AOC, the AOP, the grapes, the labels, the language. It feels intimidating to write about.
I will try my best this month to enlighten you on French wines. I'm sure I will barely scratch the surface, but I hope its a jumping off point. The map below should help get your bearings on our trip through France this month.
Calvet was founded in 1818, by Jean-Marie Calvet. His mothers' family owned vineyards in the
Rhone valley and it was where he inherited his passion for wine making. Jean-Marie and his son Octave started their family business with warehouses in Bordeaux in 1849 and by 1870 they expanded to Burgundy to become the largest wine company in France in the 19th and most of the 20th century. New York saw Calvet wines as early as 1882, but the main focus for Calvet was Europe, Argentina and Asia. Its presence in the US had all but disappeared until the late 1990's when six generations later, direct descendant Jean-Christophe Calvet and his oldest son Jean-Sebastien Calvet reintroduced the Calvet brand back into the market. The history and family traditions of European wines really impress me, I don't know that there are too many domestic wineries that have been in the family for more than a generation, let alone 6 generations.
The Calvet Muscadet is light bodied white wine made from Melon de Bourgogne grapes, specifically from the Loire Valley and even more specifically the Pay Nantais region of Loire. The texture is rich on this wine, the fruit is subdued and the finish is long and clean. When I think of food pairings for this wine, the first thing that comes is mind it oysters and French fries. Heck it would even work to refresh the palate after a rich meal, a rich cheesy meal.
The La Verenne Chinon is my pick for the Indigo red this month. Here is another multi-generational (5) wine making family. Currently Laurent and Stéphane Gourd tend to the 72 acre La Varenne estate. The Gourons practice sustainable agricultural methods to coax the best maturity and natural low yield from their fruit. They utilize cover crops in each row and have rigorous standards for green harvesting and canopy management. From the gravelly-sandy soils of the plane and the sandy limestone hilltops, each parcel is harvested and vinified separately to reveal the expression of each parcel. We are still in the Loire valley with this wine, when you see Chinon on a French wine label you know you are drinking a Cabernet Franc specifically from the Loire.
We are travelling to the East side of the country to the Alsace region for the Sapphire white wine
The wine comes from Domaine Albert Mann it is the Pinot Blanc/Auxerrois.
90% of the wines from Alsace are white, usually floral and spicy and express the varietal character with elegance, finesse and aromatic characteristics. The Pinot Blanc/Auxerrois is no different. First of all did you all know there was a Auxerrois (pronounced oaks sur wa) grape, I didn't either. Click here to learn more. After reading this info on Auxerrois my tasting notes made more sense-my notes read "mid pallet drinks like a chardonnay" This wine has a rich, musky aroma and plenty of citrus flavors.
We head south from Alsace to the Rhône Valley. There is were the Calvet Croze-Hermitage Cru du Rhône hails from. The wine is 100% Syrah and even though Washington and France are on the 46° latitude line this Syrah is nothing like our jammy Washington fruit bombs (that's not saying all Washington Syrahs are fruit bombs). This particular Syrah is a soft, creamy wine that finishes clean.
First of all where and what is Châteauneuf-de-Pape (CdP)? CdP is located at the bottom of the Southern Rhone appellation, it is known for Grenache-based red blends. White CdP are a little harder to find as only 7% of the region's vineyards are white grapes. (We have a CdP Blanc on the bottle list at Bluebird.) To be classified as a CdP it must be a blend from grapes grown in the CdP commune (or the 4 specific surrounding communes). What grapes you say? Bourboulenc, Cinsault, Clairette, Counoise, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Muscardin, Picarden, Picpoul, Roussanne, Syrah, Terret Noir and Vaccareèse. Fun Fact: CdP was the very first French wine appellation; created in 1936. I read somewhere that Châteauneuf-de-Pape wines are the gateway drug to French wines. The peacock this month definately got me hooked. Domaine Charvin Châteauneuf-de-Pape Rouge. This bottle has it all: raspberry, plummy fruit flavors, then it evolves...herbs, leather, violets. I was left speechless when I tried this wine. My wine notes consist of O-M-G WINE CLUB PEACOCK.
I hope you all like the wines this month. We have a really exciting February at the Bird. On 03 February Chef Basso will be helping with the Emerge fundraiser at Honey Eatery. Tickets are still available, available here. Then there is Valentine's Day, it is always a busy day for us-and because we have too much love in our hearts we are going to celebrating Valentine's Day with a DINNER for 2 MENU all month long. Starts February 1st. Call us, 208-665-3777 for a reservation.