LUSH: Secret Wine

September 27, 2010 at 9:54 am (Current Events, French Wine, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , , , , , , )

I love contests. I am fairly competitive, and always love a good game and friendly challenges.  And, if wine is involved, all the better.  Thus, when Ms. Cara of Decant Chicago blog mentioned the Secret Wine contest, I just couldn’t resist.  Exhilarating!

http://en.secret-wine.com/Reglement

The simple rules involved registering as one of the first 85 bloggers, eagerly awaiting 3 bottles of blind wine, and then voting.  At stake, a trip to France! Awesome. I am SO in. And game.

The wine arrived, re-bottled, re-corked, and labeled with ‘Secret Wine’ and a number.  Instructions were to guess the appellation. Just the appellation. Not the grapes, or the year, or the producer.  Seems simple, right?  Not so much.

After completing some very brief research into the host company, Clare de Lune, a French wine PR company, I surmised that the wines are most likely from the regions the company represents in France.  However, even with all that narrowing down and focus, it is still extremely difficult to pick just one. And, yes, I am also well aware that making assumptions when blind tasting is involved is risky business.

The contest is still running, but we have been encouraged to share, in detail, our tasting experience and reasoning process.  Much tasting.  Very fun.  And surprising.

One vote only. Apparently, all guesses thus far are not quite correct. So, the waiting continues while the remaining bloggers catch up and vote. Until then…the wines are still secret.

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Introducing Armagnac

June 27, 2010 at 11:12 am (Geek) (, , , , , , , )

by Ms. Christina Fuhrman

Everyone has heard of Cognac. Now it’s time to meet Armagnac the lesser know French brandy. Armagnac is located in South West France. There are three delimited regions, Haut- Armagnac, Bas-Armagnac, and Tenareze. Bas-Armagnac is the lowest elevation area, has sand soil, and some of the best producers. Tenareze is where most of the negociants are from. Haut-Armagnac has the least production, but is said to be the most striking area.
Grapey goodness. Eleven different grapes are approved for Armagnac production. For the most part only three grapes are used, the same basic grapes of Cognac. St. Emilion (Ugni Blanc), Folle Blanche (Picpoul), and Colombard are the fabulous three. The grapes are generally harvested mechanically and then made into very acidic wine. With the use of a continuous still the wine is transformed into brandy. The double distillation does not create a product as pure as gin or vodka, but that is a good thing. This is what you want. You want the flavor and character left behind.
Aging happens in black oak casks. This type of oak is sappy so it matures the Armagnac quicker than Cognac would. The casks are purposely no topped off to allow some oxidation. This creates the signature taste of Armagnac. No caramel or sugar is added. The age is indicated on the bottle. *** is aged for a minimum of two years. VO and VSOP spends a minimum of four and a half years in cask. XO, Vieille Relique, Tres Vieille Reserve, and Napolean spend a minimum of five and a half years in cask. Hors d’age spends a minimum of ten years in cask. Something to consider, Armagnac will not continue to age and improve in the bottle. Once it is bottled it is ready to drink. So there is no reason to wait. Open that puppy up and drink.
No special glassware needed. If you have glasses that taper towards the opening, perfect. If not a champagne flute works well. You can put it in a normal rocks glass, but you won’t be able to enjoy the aromas quite as much. Speaking of aromas…WORDS of WARNING…do not directly inhale. You will burn your nose off. First put the glass up to your chest and inhale. Then bring the glass up to your chin and inhale. This way you can smell all the wonderful aromas without assaulting your nose. Armagnac has wonderful aromas of toast, caramel, vanilla, white flowers, spices and more. There is always something delicious and exciting in every bottle.
So Very nice to meet you Armagnac.

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Mission Vin Jaune: An obsession continues

February 4, 2010 at 10:51 am (Geek, What we are thinking) (, , , , , , , )

So, a few months later and I still have yet to find a Ploussard in Chicago to drink, much less sell.  Alas.  I have hope, though.

Now, however, I am expanding my obsession and thirst to the real quirky wine of Jura…Vin Jaune.  Read the rest of this entry »

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BYOB: Han 202

January 17, 2010 at 9:09 pm (BYOB, What we are eating, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

This Christmas, the three LUSH managers plus our intrepid Employee of the Year[s], Kelly, all decided that in lieu of buying one another gifts, we would spend the money instead on getting together, the four of us, for a shared meal. Read the rest of this entry »

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LUSH: Staff Picks 2009, the Newbies!

December 31, 2009 at 7:12 pm (Current Events, Geek, Our Favorite Things) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Get your GEEK on: LUSH Staff Picks – The Newbies
Our favorite wines of the year are a moment captured by a sip, a sigh, a wisp of pure delight…these wines are what we crave, what excites us right now. In an ever evolving world of imbibing, this is the snapshot of the best hits of 2009.

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LUSH: Staff Picks 2009, Veterans

December 23, 2009 at 10:53 am (Current Events, Geek, Our Favorite Things) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Get your GEEK on: LUSH Staff Picks – The Veterans
Our favorite wines of the year are a moment captured by a sip, a sigh, a wisp of pure delight…these wines are what we crave, what excites us right now. In an ever evolving world of imbibing, this is the snapshot of the best hits of 2009. Read the rest of this entry »

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Geek: Tocai, Tokay, Tokaji

November 12, 2009 at 10:18 am (Geek, Our Favorite Things, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Tokaji, Tocai, Tokay

These all sound the same, so they must be the same, right?  Well, not so fast there.  While these wines are all pronounced relatively similar, they share hardly any similarities at all.
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Things I heart, take 5

October 7, 2009 at 5:28 pm (Our Favorite Things, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , , , )

2005 Domain Guiberateau Chenin Blanc, Samur, Loire Valley, France
Oh Guiberateau, how I heart thee!  Now that I’ve conquered the correct pronunciation of your name (well, by my American standards anyway), I can completely, whole-heartedly love you.  I’ve loved you, sweet, sweet bottle, since we met a few months ago, and just had the chance to try you again for a tasting we were doing.  Yep, I still heart you, wonderful wine, even more so!  So wierd yet so delicious.  The nose is so great and beautiful and smells like rocks with a touch of honey.  The palate shows a soft fruit, graphite and slate with a lingering minerally finish that has a hint of lime.  It paired great with the talipa I did not cook but did enjoy last night.  Suprisingly, there is still some left for me tonight, so while I’m hard at work, I’ll be dreaming of that half-full bottle of this delightful wine.

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BYOB: Ciao Amore

October 2, 2009 at 9:45 am (BYOB, Current Events, What we are eating) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Dear reader, I cannot express to you how lovely it is for me to discover a new BYOB restaurant–particularly when it is right between the store and my house. And so it is with a fair bit of enthusiasm that I left Ciao Amore last night. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mission Ploussard: Drink it.

September 8, 2009 at 4:32 pm (Current Events, Our Favorite Things, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

by Rachel

Get your WINE GEEK on: Grape of mystery… Ploussard is on my mind. One of the lushes has requested a number of specific bottles, from a specific producer…a bottle she drank at a restaurant in New York City. So, I consider it a personal mission to track this wine down.

2007 Philippe Bornard ‘Point Barre’, Arbois Pupillin, Jura, France

So, I do know that Jura, France is a fairly small wine region 80 kilometers east of Burgundy, tucked into the Alps, just outside of Switzerland. Other than that, I have sipped on Chardonnay from Arbois, the town on the north side of the Jura wine region, and we currently offer a bottling by Rijckaert. Super tasty. But, I digress. This intriguing and complex little place apparently only grows Chardonnay and Savagnin as the official white grapes and Ploussard/Poulsard, Trousseau, and Pinot Noir as the official red grapes. And, vin Jaune, a wine very similar to Sherry, is another bizarro traditional libation. Wha? Labeling is a bit wonky, too, but I will not accost you with nitty gritty details, but do inquire if you would like more details.

Every so often, us Lushes will stumble upon a grape that we have never previously tasted, and very rarely something we have not heard of, but it’s not everyday that the complete trifecta of obscure, and tiny, wine region jumps us on knowing the grapes and style of wines, too. Back to my focus, the elusive Ploussard…red wines, vinified as such, are often pale enough and labeled as if they were pink. Yep, confusing. The soils range from limestone to clay and marl, the gently rolling Jura hills begin reaching taller into the Alps. The cool climate produces bouncy, lightly tinted, but fairly high acid, tannic reds. The reds are aged in large, old oak foudres and often bottled and released prior to the whites. Ploussard, although I have never tasted and therefore can’t really personally attest to this, but trust the tasting notes of those familiar with the region and the grape, tends to taste of raspberry or red currant, and smoke, and may show oxidized characteristics. And, apparently, the wine pairs smashingly well with charcuterie and smoked sausage. Basically, I have now discovered that at least one bottling of Ploussard from Arbois lurks in Chicago, but not the label I am searching for and I still have yet to taste this curious beast. So, bring it on! I want.

Cheers, rd

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