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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Tasting Room

Oregon's Best Gamays

Oregon's Best Gamays

2011 Bow & Arrow Gamay Noir ($19)
Scott Frank trained in France's Loire Valley before moving to Portland to make wines that emulate the Loire's fresh, clean Gamay style.

2011 Evening Land Gamay Noir ($23)
This dark-fruited Gamay, made in concrete vats, is from one of the original blocks of Evening Land's Seven Springs Vineyard, planted in 1983.

2012 Division Wine Co. Gamay Noir ($24)
Using the classic winemaking techniques they learned in Beaujolais, Tom and Kate Monroe produce just 63 cases of this cranberry-scented wine.

2010 Willakenzie Estate Gamay Noir ($26)
Burgundy-born Bernard Lacroute's winery specializes in wines from that region—Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and this fragrant, floral Gamay.

2011 Brick House Gamay Noir ($28)
Doug Tunnell has made Gamay in Oregon's Willamette Valley since 1994. His vibrant, organic bottling is from a four-acre plot on Ribbon Ridge.

Related: Where to Buy Wine Online
Portland Travel Guide
Wine Pairings

Tasting Room

Best Bourbons To Drink Now

W.L. Weller Special Reserve Bourbon

This fall got me thinking about an elderly fellow I once knew, a friend of my father’s father and a veteran of World War One. He was 85 at the time, and blind as a bat—used to watch TV from the couch through a pair of binoculars perched on a stick, sipping what he referred to as “bourbon and branch.” That simply means bourbon and water (technically water from a small stream; it’s an old Southern term), as opposed to bourbon and soda, but it has an antique resonance to it that’s awfully appealing, I think.

Anyway, he’s gone now—has been for years—but there’s still plenty of good bourbon out there, and since it’s officially “a distinctive product of the United States” (by a 1964 Congressional resolution, no less), why not pour a glass? RAY'S BOURBON RECOMMENDATIONS >>

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Tasting Room

Burgundy Wine Bargains

Red wine and charcuterie at Montreal's Joe Beef.

We all know hail. It always seems kind of fun, or at least surprising, those little pellets of ice dropping from the sky and bipping off the pavement. “Huh,” you think, “look at that—hail! What the heck.”

People in Burgundy don’t feel quite the same way about hail. I was made aware of this one time a few years back when I went to meet a Burgundian winemaker at his estate. I pulled in and parked next to his car, and did a kind of double take: It looked like someone had attacked the thing with a ball-peen hammer. The hood, roof, trunk, everything was covered in quarter- to half dollar–size divots. “What happened to your car?” I asked him.

“Hail,” he said, in a tone that would have made Eeyore seem cheery.

Unfortunately, the Burgundians were all fairly despondent this summer, when a severe hailstorm hit the region. Hailstones the size of ping-pong balls decimated vineyards in the Côte de Beaune, with some growers losing up to 90 percent of their crop. This is particularly disheartening because the region also had to deal with major hailstorms last year as well—for a small-scale grape grower, losing two vintages in a row is financially catastrophic. So, why not help out by picking up a bottle or two of Burgundy? Here are a handful of the best values from the region, both white and red:

2011 Jean-Marc Brocard Petit Chablis ($15) This white is a great, affordable introduction to the fruity-chalky nature of Chardonnay when it’s grown in the limestone soils of Chablis.

2010 Laroche Bourgogne Chardonnay Tête de Cuvée ($18) A range of growers, mostly in the Mâcon, provide the fruit for this pear-inflected, surprisingly complex Bourgogne white. (The 2011 will likely be arriving soon, but for the moment the 2010 is also available.)

2011 Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Sétilles ($20) Although the label simply says Bourgogne Blanc, most of the fruit for this apple-accented, minerally white comes from vineyards in the prestigious communes of Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault.

2011 Maison Joseph Drouhin Laforet Bourgogne Rouge ($16) Grapes from a dozen different appellations throughout Burgundy go into this fragrant, red-fruited Bourgogne Rouge (which is made from Pinot Noir, as are all red Burgundies). And, a sign of change in a very traditional region: It’s sealed with a screw cap.

2010 Maison Roche de Bellene Bourgogne Pinot Noir ($19) Roche de Bellene is the new négociant company from the well-respected producer Nicolas Potel (who, confusingly, is no longer associated with his old company, Maison Nicolas Potel). Old vines that are farmed either sustainably or organically supply the fruit for this nuanced, aromatic red.

Related: Where to Buy Wine Online
Burgundy Pairings Slideshow
Burgundy Wine Producers We Love

Tasting Room

Affordable Summer Wines: Chillable Reds

Palacios Remondo La Vendimia

Photo courtesy of CellarTracker.com

Pair with grilled chicken, burgers, lamb and ribs.

2012 Herencia Altés Terra Alta Garnatxa Negra ($11) Importer Eric Solomon has teamed up with Spanish winemaker Nuria Altés to make this exceptional Grenache value.

2011 Palacios Remondo La Vendimia ($16) The high percentage of Grenache in the blend of this Rioja red creates a silkiness that works very well when chilled.

2012 Pierre Chermette Beaujolais ($16) Native yeasts, 
minimal filtration and little added sulfur give this basic Beaujolais astounding freshness and flavor intensity.

2009 Boroli Madonna di Como Dolcetto D’Alba ($17) Light-bodied yet full of flavor, Italy’s Dolcetto is an excellent summertime red—especially when it’s as good as this.

2010 Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot 
Noir ($20) This 
New Zealand Pinot
is so bright and juicy 
that the wine almost tastes better cold than 
at room temperature.

Related: Summer Wines
Great Grilling Wines
Summer Wine Tips from Experts
Summer Drinks

Tasting Room

Affordable Summer Wines: Dry Rosés

Vera Vinho Verde Rosé

Pair with grilled vegetables, turkey burgers, hot dogs and pasta salads.

2012 Vera Vinho Verde Rosé ($11) From a region known for its white wines, this low-alcohol Portuguese rosé (11.5 percent) 
is ultra-tangy—serve it very cold on a hot day.

2012 Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese ($12) Scarlet-hued and full of citrusy acidity, this is a Washington-state interpretation of one of Tuscany’s classic grape varieties.

2012 Librandi Cirò Rosato ($12) Italy’s Librandi has a loyal following for its Cirò red. The rosé version is 
just as appealing, with 
ripe cherry fruit and 
a touch of smokiness.

2012 Penya Rosé ($12) The local wine cooperative in the tiny French village of Cases-de-Pène, about 30 miles north of Spain, makes this watermelon-scented, lively rosé.

2012 Domaine de Malavieille Charmille ($17) Organically grown grapes (mostly Syrah) from southern France’s Pays d’Oc region produce this minerally rosé.

Related: Summer Wines
Summer Wine Tips from Experts
Grilling Wines
Summer Drinks

Tasting Room

Exercise Your Beer Know-How

Organized roughly from least to most intense—from mild Hefeweizen all the way to robustly sweet and bitter Imperial Stout—this chart gives a general sense of beer style so you can train yourself to be a better taster. Dave McLean also rates hops flavor from one dot (peppery or citrusy) to five (full of “green” tastes, like pine needles) and malt flavor from last to most toasty.

Beer Chart

 

Related:
Train Yourself to be a Better Beer Taster

Awesome Canned Craft Beer
Cooking with Beer

Ray Isle's Tasting Room

Wineries Not to Miss: Piedmont Picks

Wineries Not to Miss: Piedmont Picks

Photo © Martin Morrell

Piedmont, in northern Italy, is known for two things: wine and truffles. Traditionally, when people make pilgrimages to Piedmont, that’s why they come. They visit the vineyards and the wineries, they drink Barolo and Barbaresco, they eat pasta buried under snowdrifts of white truffle shavings and they laugh as they listen to that eerie whistling sound a bank account makes as it deflates, which is what happens when they pay for all those truffles. Here, wineries not to miss.

Giacomo Borgogno e Figli
At Borgogno, one of Piedmont’s oldest wineries (founded in 1761), a shop sells current bottles of its elegant Barolos, plus vintages going back to the 1960s. Cellar tours are just five euros. Via Gioberti 1, Barolo; borgogno.com.

Boroli
After tasting Boroli’s impressive Barolos and Barberas (make sure to try the single-vineyard Fagiani Barbera), travelers can eat at owner Achille Boroli’s nearby Michelin-starred restaurant, Locanda del Pilone. Fraz. Madonna di Como 34, Alba; boroli.it.

Michele Chiarlo
In 2011, this top producer opened the gorgeous Palas Cerequio resort adjacent to the renowned Cerequio vineyard. Guests can try excellent wines from the region, as well as Chiarlo’s own bottlings, in the on-site tasting room. Palas Cerequio, Borgata Cerequio, La Morra; palascerequio.com.

Elvio Cogno
Stop by this hilltop winery (tastings by appointment) for superb single-cru Barolos and a remarkable Barbera made from vines planted in the 1800s. Località Ravera 2, Novello; elviocogno.com.

Ceretto
Every wine made by this producer outside the town of Alba is impressive. So is the estate itself, which has a translucent, hemispherical tasting room that extends out over the vines, and a colorful chapel designed by artists Sol LeWitt and David Tremlett. Località San Cassiano 34, Alba; ceretto.com.

Fontanafredda
Unusual for top European wineries, the tasting room and shop here are open daily with no appointment necessary. Visitors can also take nature walks on the estate, originally a hunting retreat for King Vittoro Emanuele II. Via Alba 15, Serralunga d’Alba; fontanafredda.it.

Related: Bold Beers in the Land of Barolo

Ray Isle's Tasting Room

I ♥ Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc

Illustration © Alex Nabaum

I don’t understand why Cabernet Franc is less popular than its offspring, Cabernet Sauvignon—I love its herbal, tea-leaf scent, its lighter body and its vivid acidity. It grows well in a wide range of places, like France’s Loire Valley, northern Italy and Tuscany, California, Chile, even New York’s Finger Lakes. Here are three to try.

2010 Russiz Superiore Collio Cabernet Franc ($26) Friuli, in Italy, makes aromatic, medium-bodied, herbal Cabernet Francs. This one is a great example.

2010 Lang & Reed North Coast Cabernet Franc ($24) Bright berry flavors are the hallmark of this red from California Cabernet Franc specialist John Skupny.

2008 Arcanum Toscana ($100) A layered, complex Cab Franc blend from the vast Tenuta di Arceno estate in Tuscany; it more than rivals super-Tuscan bottlings of the same price.

Related: Ultimate Guide to Wine Pairings
French Wine Regions: The Loire Valley
F&W's Wine Tasting & Travel Guide

At-Home Sommelier

Almost-Extinct Grapes to Try Now

Winemakers across Europe have worked to save indigenous grape varieties from extinction, often bringing them back from a few surviving vines. Here are four to try.

Almost-Extinct Grapes

Illustration © Alex Nabaum

Malagousia
In the late 1970s, winemaker Vangelis Gerovassiliou of Greece helped rescue this silky variety from one remaining vine. Now, wineries around the country make wines with it. Bottle to Try: 2011 Zafeirakis Malagousia ($16)

Nascetta
Native to Italy’s Piedmont region, citrusy Nascetta was virtually gone when winemaker Valter Fissore of Elvio Cogno first started experimenting with it in the mid-1990s. Bottle to Try: 2011 Elvio Cogno Anas-Cëtta ($33)

Godello
Only a few hundred vines of this crisp, minerally white variety were left when Spanish vintners revived it; now there are more than 3,000 acres. Bottle to Try: 2011 Gaba do Xil Godello ($17)

Pecorino
A full-bodied white variety, Pecorino was thought to be extinct when a few final vines were found in the 1980s. Now it’s grown in much of central Italy. Bottle to Try: 2011 Velenosi Villa Angela ($15)

Related: More from F&W's May Issue: 5 Promising New Wine Regions
F&W's Wine Tasting & Travel Guide

Ray Isle's Tasting Room

Superb Easter Wines under $15

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

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