Tasting Notes : Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir Pic St-Loup 2010

Gerard Bertrand Grand Terroir Pic St-Loup 2010

Region: Pic St-Loup, Languedoc, France

Grape: blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache

Price: around $20

PSL

I had my friend who works in the wine industry over for dinner the other night and, since I didn’t have any dessert ready, we decided to have wine as dessert instead. My stock of red wines was limited and I chose the Pic St-Loup because I thought it would be a good conversation wine. Pic St-Loup is a specific sub-region of the vast Languedoc region in Southern France. Languedoc is traditionally known for producing a lot of simple, cheap, easy to drink wines even if recently the overall quality has been rising and smaller sub regions like Pic St-Loup have been established. The region produces mostly red wine and the varieties are centered on the GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) trilogy.

Eye: very deep ruby

Nose: Clean, intense. Well, hello jammy fruit! Plums, prunes and blackberry, I also detected a hint of thyme, very Southern France flavors

Palate: medium acidity, medium body, low tannins, short finish

I’m going to start by saying a very snobby thing, but I promise, if you bear with me, I will explain and it won’t sound as bad once I’m done. Deal? Ok here it goes. This producer exports a significant part of his production to the US, and you can tell he caters to a perception of what Americans expect from a wine. This Pic St-Loup is a very easy to drink, very enjoyable and ultimately very forgettable wine. It has very little tannins, very little structure and almost no staying power at all. From the first sip on, it’s pure fruit, very well rounded, very simple and, I think, very efficient. Languedoc wines can be a little harsh with high alcohol but this wine is very well rounded and goes down easily. A third of the wine is aged 9 months in oaked while the rest is kept in vats and the two parts are then mixed together to produce a smooth, fruity result. By design, this wine is easy to drink.

Food pairings: As I said, this wine was my dessert. I think it would work well with dishes that include herbes de Provence. Lamb chops grilled with thyme come to mind for some reason.

Overall opinion: My friend called it a slut of a wine. It gives you everything right away without making you work for it. Instant gratification that ultimately leaves you not totally satisfied. This Pic St-Loup is enjoyable, but it is not interesting.

 I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, sometimes easy to drink and accessible is what you’re looking for. Ultimately that’s what it comes down to: what are you looking for? If you want a wine that will change your life, challenge you and make you see God, then this is not your wine. If you want to sit back, relax and just have a glass of wine then, by all means, have some of this Pic St-Loup.

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Tasting Notes : Terra d’Oro Deaver 2009

Terra D’Oro Deaver 2009

Region : California, Amador

Grape : 100% Zinfandel

Price : around $25 online

terra-doro-deaver-zinfandel

This wine is kind of a double unknown for me. Not only do I have limited knowledge of US wines, I also have no knowledge of Zinfandel whatsoever. Unlike Pinot or Chardonnay, Zinfandel is not cultivated in France. It is in Italy though, under the name Primitivo, but I don’t think I ever saw it in a French wine shop. All I know about Zinfandel comes from my classes so I opened this bottle with an open mind. Actually, that’s not true, I opened it with a corkscrew. It’s really hard to open a bottle with your mind, empty or not, it doesn’t matter. Trust me on this one, use a corkscrew, it will go faster.

. One thing of note is that this wine is made with grapes from old vines, 125 years old vines to be precise. It’s usually a sign of quality as older vines have smaller yields and better grapes.

Eye: clear, medium to intense ruby color with hints of purple

Nose:  clean, medium to pronounced intensity. Red fruit notes like cherry or red plum and spice notes like cloves

Palate: low to medium acidity, medium tannins, light to medium body

In terms of flavor I feel the spices notes are more obvious than the fruit ones. The clove notes are especially present and it’s a flavor I really like for some reason. Fruit is more subdued than expected; it’s more plum than cherry in my opinion.

I have a hard time finding anything to say about this wine, nothing stands out, it, honestly, feels a little weak to me which is strange because the tannins are present and “soft” but the wine lacks a bite. I would say it’s subdued but almost too much.

Zinfandels have a reputation as “fruit bombs” but in that case, the really old vines are probably the reason the flavors are a lot more subtle with more spice box notes than orchard ones.

Food pairings: steak, any red meat really

Overall opinion: I can’t point anything wrong with it but I can’t say I’m wowed by it. I wish I had something even remotely interesting to say about this wine. All that I have is that it is really easy drinking because of the present but subdued spice notes. I’ve been drinking it as I write down these notes  with a Red Sox World series game broadcast in the background and the experience is nothing but pleasant.

Tasting Notes : Pine Ridge Pinot Clones 2011

Pine Ridge Dijon Clones 2011

Region: California, Napa Valley, Carneros

Grape: 100% Chardonnay

Price: around $30 retail

Pine Ridge DC

My Parisian boss was around last week so we went for a very French 3 hours lunch at Hillstone near Government Center. I had the Pine Ridge Chenin-Blanc/Viognier blend a while ago and I liked it so I decided to try the “Dijon Clones” Chardonnay from the same winery.

The Carneros region is famous for producing “Burgundy-like” chardonnays, its climate benefits from cooling breezes from the San Francisco Bay and summer fogs are common. This particular wine is named “Dijon Clones”; Dijon is the historic and administrative capital of Burgundy. “Dijon clones” is the name of a specific clone of Chardonnay, a specific strand of the variety that was developed in Dijon and imported to the US in the eighties.

Eye: medium intensity gold, clear

Nose: clean, medium intensity, strong aromas of stone fruit (mostly white peach I would say)

Palate: medium-high acidity, medium-high body, medium length

The wine has a strong “fat” feel, with buttery notes that gives it a pretty strong body for a white wine. In this particular case it comes from the six months the wine spent “sur lie” (with residual yeast). I felt like it went a little overboard with it and that took the spotlight away from the primary aromas of the wine. On the plus side, it gives a very rich, lush body to the wine.

The same aromas from the nose are there; especially the white peach and coconut notes from the oak can be tasted. Once again, they are a little overpowered by the buttery feel of the wine.

Food pairing: I had a seared tuna sashimi with it which worked really well. I would try to pair this wine with sushi or very lean dishes to cut the slightly excessive buttery feel of the wine.

Overall opinion: Worked really well with a fish meal, it’s a pleasant wine for a not excessive price, I feel it would be a little too overwhelming to drink by itself.