Bordeaux under $30 – 2008 Mouton Caudet Blanc

Continuing on my post on “Bordeaux under $30”, here is the second one in a series of fine values I discovered.

2008 Mouton Cadet Blanc

This Bordeaux blend is 50% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Muscadet.

Exhibiting bright pale lemon colour with glints of green and gold highlights. The nose is medium-plus in intensity
and has a rich variety of tropical florals and fruit, honey suckle and citrus. The palate is dry, smooth and expressive of ripe fruit, citrus and mango. It finishes with good length and refreshing tartness.

At $16.95 this is a lovely wine and ideal as an apperitive or sipper as well as with Seafood in a light cream sauce or poached white fish.

Alc. by Vol.: 11.5%

Rating: 3.5/5

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Bordeaux under $30 – 2008 Premius Sauvignon Blanc

Continuing on my post on “Bordeaux under $30”, here is the first one in a series of fine values I discovered.

2008 Premius Sauvignon Blanc

2008 Premius Sauvignon Blanc

This Sauvignon Blanc, sourced from a “young” appellation known as Vin de Pays du

Comté Tolosan, has a brilliant pale yellow color with hints of green. This is an expressive and fruity wine offering citrus (lemon, grapefruit), honey, peach, orchard blossoms and faint touches of grassy notes. Dry with medium-plus acidity, there is a rich and refreshing mouthfeel with aromatic echoes of peach and citrus finishing with medium length and refreshing acidity.

At $12.95 this represents pretty good value.

Alc. by Vol.: 12%

Rating: 3.5/5

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Bordeaux under $30

That was the theme of the recent “Bordeaux Under One Roof” road show by the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) held in Toronto Oct. 28, 2009.

This trade event intended to provide a taste of the diversity and affordability of Bordeaux wines under $30.

I attended this tasting for that very reason, i.e. in order to learn more about the wines of Bordeaux in that price category. After all, not many of us are blessed with deep enough pockets to drink Latour, Lafite or Pétrus with any degree of regularity or even just on any rare special occasion.

So what did I learn?

Well, I learned that among the 40 some odd wines showcased, there were more similarities than there were differences, both in whites and in reds. Overall, these are wines that do show a certain typicity, be it Cabernet Sauvignon dominated blends from the generic Bordeaux appellation to those of the Graves and Médoc etc. or the Merlot dominated ones from Côtes de Bourg, St.Emilion and Pomerol and so on. Most of these wines were relatively young, with a preponderance of ’05 and ’06 vintages pretty even split, a few ’07 and fewer still of ’08 vintage reds while the very limited number of whites was all ’08 but one (’09). Not surprisingly, I also had no “epiphanies”, with other words, there were no truly outstanding examples of Bordeaux in the lot. Many of them displayed prominent herbaceous notes, the ’05s more fruit forward and certainly most still had tannins ranging from noticeable to unripe to just plain raunchy. There were however a few decent values of good quality and to my surprise, there were a couple of pretty whites that would actually make me go buy some of them. I will provide my tasting notes on some of these over the next couple of posts.

The bottom line on Bordeaux under $30:
Reds – the better ones are closer to the $30 mark, most need food, none are overly complex.
Whites – some surprisingly pleasant ones.

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Cedar Planked Salmon with Chardonnay

Continuing the theme of summer BBQ’s and grilling, one of my favorites, with a perennial WOW! factor on my friends and guests, is a braided, cedar planked salmon (Get the fully documented recipe from my site).

I usually serve this with rice (50% long grain and 50% Manomin, i.e. Canadian wild rice) and seasonal grilled vegetables.

This recipe does not present any real pairing challenges and a good quality Californian or Burgundian Chardonnay will complement this dish very well but if Chardonnay is not to your liking or you’d rather have a red, there are some options.

Keep in mind the following considerations:

  • Salmon is a flavourful, rich and fatty fish
  • Grilling it enhances the flavours
  • Grilling adds smokiness
  • Grilling on a Cedar board will add additional subtle or strong smoke flavours (depending on whether you water soak the board or not)
  • This recipe uses mapel syrup as well, therefore adding sweetness and caramelized flavours
  • Salt (Sea or Kosher) also plays a significant role in this recipe
  • Rice is relatively neutral but the Manomin adds some earthy flavours to the dish
  • Grilled vegetables typically have an enhanced flavour and add some acidity to the palate.

My first choice will always be a good quality, carefully oaked Californian Chardonnay. They tend to be fruit forward and can match the strong flavours of the dish. They retain sufficient acidity to cut the fattyness of the salmon and echo the acidity of the vegetables. The toasted smokey notes of oaked Chardonnay will echo the smokyness of the dish while the caramel and vanilla aromas derived from toasted oak can harmonize with the sweetness of caramelized maple syrup.

If you are leaning more towards the French style of Chardonnay, a good quality Beaune will work wonderful.

If you are a diehard red wine drinker you can’t go wrong with a New World style of Pinot Noir, preferably Californian from Sonoma, Santa Barbara or Monterey. These Pinots are fruity, have good acidity and soft tannins (harsh tannins are the enemy of fish and salt).

Here are some possibilities:

Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Ranches Chardonnay, (LCBO 608653 ), $ 24.95

This light yellow chard displays aromas of ripe orchard and tropical fruit, buttery toasted oak notes, nuts and citrus with hints of minerals. Medium – full bodied and substantial alcohol (14.5%).

Louis Jadot Bourgogne Chardonnay , (LCBO 933077), $ 19.95

Light honey-gold in colour, this wine offers nutty, toasty oak, warm apple and dairy notes on the nose. It’s medium bodied and replays orchard fruits on the palate with balanced acidity and just a hint of residual sugar up front.

2006 Chalone Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir, (LCBO 710145), $ 30.50

This medium ruby red Pinot shows good and complex intensity of cherry, light toasty oak, cedar and graphite with hints of dried meat and chocolate. This is a full bodied and slightly boozy (14.4%) style of Pinot that will really shine with this dish.

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BBQ and Champagne

Now that the grilling season is well under way, your BBQ has been cleaned, tested and readied for some serious outdoor cooking, your favorite recipes updated for the current trends, tested on family and proven worthy of company, it’s time to invite the gang and have them over for a fun evening of mouthwatering food, delicious wines, original drinks and decadent desserts…

But what about the aperitif?

For the past few seasons it’s been light, refreshing whites or any one of numerous summer cocktails. This season you are going to make a radical change. You are going to offer Champagne instead!
Yes, Champagne. Long thought of as wines suitable only for fine gala events or momentous occasions, attitudes have changed over the past few years and Champagne and other sparkling wines have found their way into everyday situations.
On my visits to Europe, more often than not, Champagnes, Cavas or Proseccos have taken the place of aperitifs such as Campari or Cynar.
To greet your guests with a glass of Champagne makes a strong statement that you are genuinely happy to have them over for company. It’s fun, it’s fizzy and comes with a personality of spontaneity that makes it the perfect choice as opener for your BBQ party.

Here are some possibilities:

Veuve Clicquot Brut, (LCBO 563338), $ 69.30
Light honey colour, fine bubbles, elegant mousse; ripe stewed orchard fruit, fresh baked bread, toasty, citrus and mineral notes. Dry, balanced acidity, tart apple and cirtus flavours on the palate with a persistent finish. Complex and delicious.

Pol Roger Brut Cuvee Reserve, (LCBO 51953), $ 56.70
Bright medium yellow/gold, fine bubbles and persistent mousse; fruity, baked yellow apples, leesy, chalky notes. Dry, bright acidity, rich body of fruit and good balance with a long finish. Elegant and sophisticated.

Villa Sandi Cuvée Prosecco Di Valdobbiadene, (LCBO 738542), $ 18.95
Pale yellow with glints of green, fine bubbles of lazy activity and medium mousse; opens shy but develops blossomy, fruity, candy notes; Dry, with medium acidity and apple and pear flavours on a medium bodied palate.

Codorniu Brut Clasico, (LCBO 6262), $ 12.40
Pale yellow/gold, medium bubble and fine mousse, fresh apple, pear and citrus notes. Dry, medium acidity with green apple and citrus play on the palate and a refreshing finish.

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The Burgundy tasting at the St. Andrew’s Club, Toronto – March 17, 2009

Some forty-two Burgundy producers were showing off their wines on St. Patricks Day at the St. Andrew’s Club, Toronto.

I’m still going through my notes but let it be said that one wine that definitely did it for me was the 2006 Mazoyères Chambertin by Domaine Taupenot-Merme. Hefty dark fruit, sour cherry, kirsch and leather notes with a lush replay of cherry on the palate, firm tannins and a meaty, long finish. I’d say put it down for another 5 years and it will sing!

More to come so look out….

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