Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wine Blogging Wednesday 51: Baked Goods

I'm not much of a fan of sweet wines, but I enjoyed the results of participating in this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday. The topic is Madeira: The wine the American colonists drank (according to the Wine Bible we were responsible for importing a fourth of all the Madeira made.)

One of the unique steps in making Madeira is how it is aged. Like port, the fermentation process in a Madeira is halted by introducing clear brandy, which neutralizes the yeast. Your left with a "fortified" wine (read high alcohol content: 17-20%) with varying amounts of sweetness based on how much fermentation went on. Next comes the special step: heating. The original process was accomplished when the Madeira would get hot in cargo holds aboard ships that carried the wine from Portugal to the world. The result was actual enhancement to the flavor, a caramel, toffee flavor.

Some modern Madeiras are heated to achieve this effect. But the better quality wines are aged naturally over years in attics. This can take anywhere from 5 to 20 years. Different grapes can be used resulting in sweater or richer wines. Raisin and caramel are the distinct notes you'll find when drinking a Madeira.

I once had a wine that had been accidentaly oxidized. The wine had a distinct raisin flavor that grew overwelming as I drank it: an unpleasant experience! However, the Madeira I drank for this post was very enjoyable. It too had the raisin flavor and even what could be considered a "burnt" flavor. However, these didn't become overwhelming as I drank the wine. The sugar content was balanced by the alcohol. The wine had a nice medium body that felt nice in my mouth.

The grape used to produce the Madeira I had is called Bual. Bual grapes are grown in warm vineyards and make concentrated Madeiras with a medium-rich style. This style is lighter than port and the malmsey style of Madeira.

I enjoyed the Bual Madeira on it's own mostly. I tried it with ice cream, too, almost like a topping. The raisin flavor added a nice contrast to the sweet, richness of the vanilla in the ice cream. I'm not sure this is how our founding father's enjoyed the wine, but it worked for me!

Cossart Gordon 15 year Madeira Bual (19% alcohol)

Color: Reddish bronze

Aroma: Port like, raisins and caramel

Taste: Smooth mouth feel, raisins

Finish: Nutty with raisin


This edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday gives me my 52nd grape in my quest for the Century Wine Club!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Taste of Rhone

I finally opened a bottle of wine from my first shipment from wine distributor Garagiste. I wanted to start with something familiar so I selected a French syrah based wine from the Northern Rhone. I love the flavor of syrah and especially the style from Rhone. I still like the big, bold flavors of an Australian Shiraz, but to get a distinct flavor of the grape without a lot of fruit the Rhone can't be beat.

The Domaine de Montine Seduction is 90% Syrah and 10% Viognier. I couldn't detect what flavors or aromas were contributed by the Viognier. For that matter, I couldn't pick out any distinct fruit. But when I smelled and tasted the wine, I thought Rhone! I went to a Rhone wine tasting two years ago and really enjoyed the wines. There was an almost rubber smell and taste to the wines. This sounds bad, but it is just what I have come to associate with the unique character of a Rhone. This was a 2006 bottle, so maybe it needed to age more for the fruit to be expressed better. But the wine was very enjoyable as it was. I do wish I had purchased two bottles and been able to save one for four years to experience it with more age. Maybe next time!

This wine would have gone really well with a hearty meat dish, especially one with a gamey flavor to it like duck or maybe venison. My wife and I enjoyed it all by itself, but I think we missed out. This is a great start for my Garagiste wine stash!

Tasting Notes:

Color: Deep purple

Aroma: Rhone (for lack of being able to smell better), rubber

Taste: Rhone, again I'm lacking in skill here

Finish: Long and enjoyable. Really nice tannins that would compliment a red meat dish well

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