This week’s tasting at City Vino features wines where there wasn’t really a particular theme in mind. I considered calling it a “Variety of Varieties,” until I realized that one of the wines was technically a blend of 85 percent of one grape, and 15 percent another. Though many places around the world, legally, the 85 percent means it can be labelled as the predominant grape variety without mentioning the secondary grape at all, but let’s stick to the non-themed theme, shall we?
Our first non-themed theme wine is the 2020 La Sorbonne Viognier, from Pay d’Oc, in France. Pay d’Oc is a big catchall area, or fairly generic classification for wines from southern France, that stretches from the Mediterranean coast to the mountain slopes of the Pyrenees and the Massif Central. The wines with this designation on the label don’t fall under other more specific, regulated classifications. The Pay d’Oc area encompasses vineyard areas similar to all of South Africa, and represents 20 percentage of total French wine volume. There is no specific style of the wines from this designation, and the wines are often value priced.
La Sorbonne Viognier is made 100 percent Viognier. While Viognier’s native home is Northern Rhone, this wine comes from further south. The vines are planted on limestone soils from the Jurassic period that seem to yield a wine that has minerality with nice acidity. Viogniers have a rich, viscous, and oily texture that comes across as weighty in your mouth the way two percent milk would be heavier than skim milk. There are aromas of apple, pear, peach, citrus, and flowers. The fruit is juicy on the palate with green apple, pear, orange peel, and honeysuckle. This a medium-bodied wine with a medium finish that would pair well with appetizers, grilled seafood and fish, and foods with a creamy or fatty sauce.
The next stop in our non-themed theme takes us to the Alsace, in France. The Alsace is a region near the border between France and Germany, which, over the centuries, has fallen under each country’s domain multiple times. The Vosges mountains to the west protect the area’s climate from storms from the Atlantic that come eastward. The region is known for Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir.
Our Alsatian wine is the 2018 Michael Fonne Pinot Blanc which is 100 percent Pinot Blanc. In Alsace, if the wine is labelled Pinot Blanc, it must be 100 percent. Pinot Blanc is the second-most-produced wine from this region, behind Riesling. The fragrance of the wine may feature orange blossom, peach, apple and pears. Flavors may include honeysuckle, ripe citrus, and other fruit. Expect the wine to be off-dry and to bring acidity and a long finish. A great aperitif wine, and for pairing with traditional Alsatian dishes like terrines, sausages, and salads.
We now venture to the volcanic island of Sicily, which is off the toe of the boot of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean. Believe it or not, Sicily is the largest wine producing region in all of Italy ahead of both Tuscany and Piemonte. Our wine selection from here is the 2019 Vento di Mare Nerello Mascalese, from Terre Siciliance IGP. This wine is made from 100 percent Nerello Mascalese, which is an indigenous red grape from the island. Terre Siciliance on the label translates to “Sicilian lands.” The Terre Siciliance IGT is the region-wide broad designation for wines that don’t meet stricter Sicilia DOC regulations.
The Vento di Mare (Sea Wind) Nerello Mascalese has whiffs of blackberry, blueberry, and bramble fruit along with earth, rosemary, sage, and eucalyptus. On the palate, there is black plum, raspberries, cocoa, and butterscotch. The wine is dry and full-bodied with high acidity and tannins. This wine would be an excellent companion to grilled or roasted meats, roasted peppers, eggplant, and semi-aged cheeses.
Our final theme-less wine is the 2015 Atelier Prestige Foncalieu L'Apogee, from Saint-Chinian in Languedoc, in France. Saint-Chinian, located in the foothills of the Massif Central, is considered the oldest winemaking area in the Languedoc. Winemakers in this region are working to make notable wines from this appellation, which grows mostly Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Grenache, in addition to Carignan, and Cinsault. Also, it should be noted that the name “Chinian” isn’t the same as “Chinon,” which is a region located in the Loire, and known for red wines made from Cabernet Franc.
L’Apogee is blend of 85 percent Syrah and 15 percent Grenache that was aged for 12 months in 70 percent new, and 30 percent second-year use French oak barrels. This wine is deep ruby in color with a nose of violets, blackberry, black cherry, blueberry, vanilla, and white pepper. The taste of this wine features blue and black fruit, of both fresh and baked qualities. We detect some layers of freshly ground coffee, black tea, cocoa, smoke, earth, and herbs, too. There are many layers of complexity here in a full-bodied wine with a long finish. This would be a fine accompaniment to grilled or roasted ribs, duck breast, or lamb chops. The characteristics may pair well with Asian cuisine that features ginger or orange.
In summary, a non-themed theme works when it comes to wine in our book. Cheers and we hope to see you soon!