Long time readers know I am a big fan of wine writer Jane Anson, her writing style is engaging and her she has a deep knowledge of Bordeaux.
That is on full display in her new book Bordeaux Legends, which is now available in the United States.
Bordeaux Legends chronicles the 500+ year history of the 5 first growth Chateaux in Bordeaux. This is not a dry recitation of the history of these great properties, instead it is an engaging recount that shows how the history of these estates is intertwined. There are great stories that only someone with the kind of access that Jane has would be able to uncover and share.
The great writing is only one aspect of the book, Jane has paired with Isabelle Rozenbaum to provide the stunning photography included in the book. The book is filled with beautiful images that showcase the beauty of the estates as well as the wine itself. Again, these are images of parts of the chateaux that most people will never see.
This is a riveting and beautiful book and we are giving a reader a chance to see for him or herself. We are giving away a brand new copy of the book to one lucky reader of this blog.
Simply email me at email@example.com with the answer to the trivia question below and we will select one lucky winner. Entries must be received before Monday, April 8th at midnight EDT and the winner must live in the continental United States.
The question is: There are 6 red varietals that can be used in Bordeaux wine: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and _______?
Remember, send your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight on Monday April 8th and you could win!
For the last few years Château Brane-Cantenac has thrown one of the coolest and unique En Primeur parties. They choose a photographer, commission that photographer to take pictures showcasing their take on the estate, and unveil the images with a big party one evening during En Primeur.
They call this series 'Brane seen through the eyes and lens of..." This year, the featured photographer is François Poincet and the party is being held the evening of April 10th.
The team at Brane was nice enough to share some sample images, but, based on previous years, these don't do the work real justice. I highly recommend checking them out in person.
More details are available in their press release below.
This year, for our series ‘Brane seen through the eye and lens of…’, Henri Lurton has invited the photographer François Poincet, winner of the Terroir d’Images Contest in 2011 and well-known in the wine industry for his photographic contributions to the Wine Spectator, Decanter or Vigneron magazines. Particularly pleased to be solicited for this project, François agreed to give HIS own vision of Brane-Cantenac, an original vision indeed, since he chose to pay homage to all those men and women who are usually invisible while contributing daily to the production of a great wine. “I really wanted to do something different, less conventional and out of the beaten track without the earnestness of the wine and vine world” François told us.
“And I really enjoyed very much taking these pictures because I had to push the people to their limits and extract the positive aspect of their personality. I aimed at looking at the work in the vine or in the vat room from an opposite angle, with humor, letting the people express themselves fully, while bringing out the love they have for their jobs. In the beginning, they were a bit bashful, but with the help of the ‘word of mouth’, it caught on and they participated naturally investing themselves into the project with lots of enthusiasm. On the third day, I was able to capture the best moments because I did not take myself seriously either and everyone involved let go, playing with the lens freely. The introverts remained introverted, the extroverts extroverted and it shows on each snapshot, however I managed to have them ‘drop their masks’ pushing the shyest ones around so that they finally expressed themselves. As a result, those photo sessions became like a real break for everyone.
I adhered to this project with great pleasure because for the last 3 years Brane has honored our work Before me, two excellent photographers had been selected, Patrick Durand and Eric Boissenot. I had to do something different! The château and its staff appealed to me for their friendliness and most importantly, the managing team supported me 100% in this endeavor, giving me carte blanche on the one hand, and all the means to shoot in optimum conditions. Everyone was involved and as a result, the enthusiasm spread around. I felt a sense of belonging to the staff, which by the way is yet to see the pictures. My greatest pleasure was the selection process, more so than the shooting itself, because I was under a lot of stress during the sessions. This experience for me was a very beautiful human adventure”.
The pictures of François Poincet will be on display at Château Brane-Cantenac from April 10 2013 through April 1 2014. Drawing their inspiration from Richard Avedon’s black and white portraits, with lots of light, and by having deliberately chosen to be strikingly different, they are totally opposed to the stiff, carefully studied Harcourt’s portraits. With a lot of humor, François Poincet brings out a side of Brane’s daily life that is rarely revealed where wine and vine give way to the men and women of the winery.
For the second year in a row we are working with several Virginia Wineries to raise money to fight Multiple Sclerosis. This year we will be hosting a wine and cheese tasting. The event is May 5th from1:00 to 3:00 and is being held at the Syrah Restaurant at the Reston Sheraton.
Tickets are $15. The ticket entitles you to a tasting of two wines each from 7 (and counting) wineries plus a sampling of different types of cheese. All money from ticket sales and auction items will benefit the DC Chapter of the National MS Society
In addition there will be a silent auction, with great items donated by local merchants.
Participating wineries include:
8 Chains North
This is a great event and last year we raised over $7000 to fight MS, this year we are hoping for even more success!
Link for pre-registering will be available soon, but you can buy tickets at the door!
Stephen and Shannon Mackey from Notaviva Vineyards have been known for some great events, from their music and wine pairings to their comedy nights, and Friday nights Murdery Mystery Wine Dinner was no exception. Held at their new wine bar Concertino, located in Berryville, VA we were provided with an evening of good food, great wine, and lots of interactive fun and laughter trying to figure out who killed 'Elizabeth'. Was it her brother, who had been borrowing money from her and recently been cut off? Was it the guy whose romantic advances she had rebuffed? Or could it possibly have been a fellow actor, who was jealous of her success? With the great actors from StageCoach Theatre interacting around the room, and many of the diners participating in minor roles, there certainly was many opportunities for ad libbing and lots of jokes.
There are certain rules most people follow when it comes to shipping wine: Pack it well, only ship during certain temperature ranges, and watch for bottle shock. That last rule has alway been the hardest for me to follow, especially when it is a wine that I am really excited about.
That was the dilemma I faced a couple of weeks ago. I received my shipment of Opalie de Château Coutet on a Friday, separately I had planned a Herbes de Provence roasted chicken for dinner on Saturday. 24 hours is not enough time for bottle shock to wear off, but it seemed like a perfect pairing so I went with it. I am happy to report that it was definitely the right move!
Opalie is a new wine from Château Coutet and a new style of wine from the Barsac region. Rather than the botrytis-influenced sweeter wines that normally originate from Barsac this is a dry white wine. Opalie is a 50/50 blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc from vines specifically chosen for this wine and aged in French Oak.
The wine has wonderful citrus, vanilla and herbal aromas which lead to a balance elegant, fresh and mineral flavors. This is not a lightweight wine though. The oak aging gives the wine body, but it manages keep its freshness through the lingering finish.
I am not the only one excited about this wine, Peter Zavialoff at the Wine House San Francisco declared it the wine of Valentine's Day 2013 and had this to say:
It is special wine. It is such a special wine that I'm going to go out on a limb and declare it 2013's Valentine's Day wine! I've heard from more than one party that it will indeed be included in this year's Valentine's Day celebrations. It's that special. Now that it's here, you can see what all the fuss is about. Now that it's here, you can partake in the Valentine's Day festivities with a bottle yourselves. It's here now, but not for long if recent sales are any indication.
From the moment it was announced I have been fascinated by A Year in Burgundy. The idea of a movie that follows the for seasons of wine in one of the most complex wine regions in the world has a lot of potential, and this movie lived up to that potential.
What better way to watch the movie than with friends and a lot of Burgundy. So, we invited the wine club and told everyone to bring a bottle of their favorite Burgundy ( red or white ).
Surprisingly, given that we didn't put any restrictions on what people could bring, we only got one duplicate. The duplicate was the LaForêt, and while it was the same wine we managed to score two different vintages.
Back to the film. A Year in Burgundy followers importer Martine Saunier during the challenging 2011 vintage as she visits various estates and talks to the winemakers. The film dos a great job of showcasing different estates and highlighting their winemaking styles and different approach to the vines.
The film really brings the winemaking process to life, even its mundane aspects, such as racking. It manages to delves into winemaking techniques without getting bogged down to the point that it loses the focus on story telling.
However, the best part of the film is, hands down, the cinematography. The images the fly across the screen are stunning and the film really brings out the beauty in, around and under Burgundy.
It didn't hurt that we had a great selection of Burgundies to pair with the movie. It is surprisingly easy to find a good Burgundy at your local wine shop for under $30 and we had a range of estates represented during the tasting.
The hit of the afternoon was the 2006 Clos des Lambrays that Sebastien Marquet shared with us. It was an absolutely beautiful, complex wine. The wine blended aromas of red fruit and Indian spices on the nose and had a burst of fruit on the tongue that gave way to soft, structured tannins and a long finish. A rare and wonderful treat.
There has been a lot of interest in Lost Creek Winery since new owners Aimee and Todd Henkle took over last year and we got to see a preview of what is to come at the launch party on Saturday.
Aimee and Todd have been working with Sébastien Marquet, the winemaker at Doukenie Winery and owner of Burgundy Style. The result is two new wines: a 2012 Vidal Blanc and the 2011 Genesis. Both wines are excellent, and a welcome departure from the older wines from Lost Creek.
I've always admired the terroir at Lost Creek. With lots of sunlight, gently sloping hills and a close proximity to the Potomac River the winery seems well-suited to produce good wines and the two new wines live up to the potential of the land.
The Vidal Blanc is 100% Vidal and has a beautiful golden color with aromas of honeysuckle and mango. The stainless steel aged wine has lots of fruit on the Niue and a nice acidity that gives it a refreshing feel. It is a light wine that will pair well with fish, poultry, light cheeses or just a summer evening on the deck.
The 2011 Genesis is a blend of Tannat, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Given how tough the 2011 vintage was, this is a very successful wine that blends the characteristics of each varietal and allows them to shine. The wine has black pepper, currant and black cherry aromas. It has an earthy feel to it and is surprisingly smooth but balanced with firm tannins. An excellent wine to drink now or age for a few years.
Given the initial releases I cannot wait to see what is in store for Lost Creek.
February and March are usually quiet time in a winery. The wine from the previous year's harvest is aging and winemakers existence is primarily about caring and feeding last year's vintage. That makes this time of the year the perfect time for award ceremonies. The two big ones in Virginia are the Governor's Cup and the Virginia Vineyards Association Grower of the Year.
The first award, The Virginia Vineyards Association Grower of the Year went to Len Thompson of Amherst Vineyards. Len has been growing vines in Virginia since 1989 and has won many accolades for the wines produced from his grapes. From the announcement:
"Len Thompson is one of the unheralded heroes behind the success of the Virginia Vineyards Association. For as long as I can remember he has donated freely of his time to support the association and the wine industry. He helps other growers and aspiring growers while producing grapes that have been utilized in wines that have won awards in international competitions," said J. Rock Stephens, chairman, Virginia Wine Board.
An independent grower, Thompson has been an extremely active member of the VVA for over a decade. He has served in many capacities at the VVA, including two terms as vice president, two terms as treasurer, one term as secretary and a term as communications chair. Retiredfrom the VVA board, Thompson, who is also an employee of Rockbridge Vineyards,continues to serve the wine industry as aboard member of the Virginia WineriesAssociation - he is currently serving as vice president.
Speaking at the Governor’s Cup awards, Governor McDonnell said, “I congratulate Luca Paschina, the Zonin family, and the entire Barboursville team for winning this year’s Governor’s Cup for their 2009 Octagon, one of Virginia’s most iconic red wines. Luca’s Octagon wines are personal favorites of mine, and I know this award winning 12th Edition will make the Virginia wine industry proud now and in the years to come. I also commend the winemakers of the other distinguished wines that comprise this year’s Governor’s Cup Case. I am confident that wine aficionados and enthusiasts alike will take notice of Octagon and the other impressive offerings in this case. The advancements in Virginia winemaking are on display in every bottle we have here tonight and the stringent requirements of the Governor’s Cup competition ensure that Virginia wines receiving medals have been through the most demanding evaluation process."
Barboursville’s award-winning Octagon is a Meritage-style blend of the winery’s best Bordeaux varietals. The wine is made only in top vintage years. The 2009 vintage is comprised of 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine’s tasting notes are as follows: It has a deep garnet color, with aromas of chocolate, red berries, cranberries, gaining further depth with tar, spice and a touch of forest floor. Dry yet somewhat fruity, medium to full body with a long finish of tannins. A wonderfully structured old world style red blend.
Parker has devoted extensive personal time as an active proponent of the growth and vitality of the Virginia wine industry. He has addressed legislative issues, such as direct shipping; and provided leadership on many levels, serving as a past president and treasurer of the Virginia Wineries Association, a member of the Virginia Winegrowers Advisory Board, and founding member of the Loudoun Wineries Association. He has served Virginia’s interest at the national level as a member of the Executive Committee and Treasurer of Wine America.
I am a big fan of the innovative marketing campaigns that Planet Bordeaux has put together, but their mot recent one has been my favorite, and it is coming to a close today.
The campaign is called "My Bordeaux Wine is..." and it consists of videos submitted by winemakers in Bordeaux talking about what makes their wine special. More than 20 videos have been submitted and they have garnered thousands of votes.
You can view and vote for the videos on the Planet Bordeaux Facebook Page. But, remember, voting ends today, so vote quickly!
Some quick thoughts on the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting in Washington DC last night:
I know this is a strange question to ask when it is 18 degrees Fahrenheit, but I think rosé wine in Virginia is under-appreciated. Virginia winemakers, for the most part, have done a great job following in the footsteps of their brethren in Provence and Bordeaux by producing rosés that are fruity and acidity without being syrupy or sugary.
Achieving that delicate balance between acidity and structure while making a refreshing wine that does not remind people of a wine cooler is a challenge. But, it is a challenge that dozen of Virginia winemakers have managed to meet, in a relatively short period of time.
2012 was a hot dry year in Virginia, which should produce beautiful rosés. I think to coincide with the release of the 2012 rosés, which usually happens sometime in May, we should have a #varosé day. A day where Virginia Wine fans can open new rosé from their favorite winery and tell the world how great it is?
What do you all think, and does anyone have a date in mind?
We've written about this before, but it is worth repeating because the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux is coming to DC on Thursday!
Tickets must be purchased in advance from the Pearson's Wine & Spirits website. The reviews of the 2010 vintage from the tastings in Texas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have been overwhelmingly positive - confirming what I have known about the 2010 vintage all along.
If you love Bordeaux, you must attend this event!
I got really excited after reading about this wine truck from th good people at SIMI Winery. I love the idea of starting a wine food truck. Essentially, I want a wine bar on wheels, serving different wines every day along with cheese and meat plates.
So, I reached out to the Virginia ABC to ask how that could be done. This is the answer I received:
I have been asked to respond to your inquiry about a “Wine Bar Food Truck.” Unfortunately no license would be issued for such a venture. Licenses are issued for the sale, service and consumption of alcoholic beverages at retail locations with a fixed address.
Judging from my Facebook feed a lot of you are starting to prep for the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon. Well, what better way to get started then the Vintage Crystal 1k Wine Walk sponsored by the great people at the Washington Wine Academy.
This is an indoor walk through the Crystal City Shops with 20 stops to try different wines selected by the Washington Wine Academy. The walk is this Saturday and Sunday (January 12th and 13th) from 1:00 to 7:00 and it starts in the Crystal City Shops at 2200 Crystal Drive and finishes up on the 12th floor of 251 18th Street in Arlington.
Admission is $43.50, which includes 20 Tasting Tickets and a T-Shirt. Tickets are available for purchase at the Washington Wine Academy (Saturday is nearly sold out).
Image from the Washington Wine Academy Facebook Page, used with permission.