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Crackling, sparkling wines make for warm weather imbibing

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By Celia Strong

In the world of sparkling wines, there are several levels of quality and many sources for different styles. One detail of sparkling wines that we haven’t covered much is the various degrees of sparkling that are made.

Not all sparkling wines are as sparkling as the others. That means that some have more bubbles than others. And it’s done on purpose.  

Champagne and traditional method sparkling wines have bubbles that are made, in the bottle, from a second fermentation. The CO2 that is a byproduct of the second fermentation, is trapped in the sealed bottles and, with time, absorbed into the wine. 

Less expensive wines can be made with a secondary fermentation done in a sealed tank. Then, the wine is bottled under pressure to preserve the bubbles. 

Even less expensive sparkling wine is gassed. Wines are placed in sealed tanks, a hose of CO2 is placed below the surface of the wine and bubbles are shot into the wine. The quality of the wines and the size of their bubbles are partly how we judge them.  

Beyond these basic methods, though, are others. Minimally sparkling wines can be made by stopping the first fermentation and bottling the wine. Then, when the first (alcoholic) fermentation finishes in the bottle, the CO2 byproduct is caught and held inside. But, the amount of CO2 is less, so the quantity of bubbles in the wine is smaller.  

Despite the fact that we’ve been trained to look for a lot of bubbles, there are advantages to having fewer. These wines are younger and fresher because they have only had one fermentation. And, they are less filling as we drink them. 

Truth be known, Champagne and good sparkling wines will never be replaced. It’s just sometimes that not-so-intense flavors and gasses are lighter and more refreshing.

These wines with less effervescence do have a name: Pétillant. (Pétillant translated from French means crackling and sparkling.) A bottle of Champagne, or a sparkling wine made by the same process, has about 75 pounds of pressure per square inch in it, roughly two times a car tire. Most crémant wines have about 35 pounds per square inch. Pétillant wines drop by about half again. Not a flat tire, but not a full one either. Hence, there is less full feeling and less burbing.  

Is it easier to drink more of? Definitely. 

Our pétillant comes from the Penedès region of Spain, which makes it a Cava – the Spanish wine law name for bubbly wines from this region. 

Ninety percent of all the wines labeled “Cava” come from Penedès. The word “cava” means “cellar” and refers to the place and the length of time needed for a second fermentation.

The main grape varieties for Cavas are Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada. 

Our Cava Pétillant comes from Avinyó, a family-owned winery with almost 100 acres of their own vines. They specialize in using the three main varieites for Cavas. And, they emphasize using estate grown grapes, which is very rare for Cavas. 

Their Pétillant is made from 80 percent Petit Gran Muscat (a distant relation to Moscato) and 20 percent Macabeo (also known as Viura which makes white Rioja wines).  

The vines are up to 50 years old. At Avinyó, they call their Pétillant “vi d’agulla,” the local dialect for “prickly.”  

The grapes are fermented in stainless steel and the bubbles come from a short second tank fermentation. 

It has bright almond and honeysuckle aromas with lemon peel flavors, a faint brininess and a stunning acidity. It is very dry and balanced in your mouth. And, note the bottle seal!   

This is a wine for all seasons, but especially warm weather. For $11.99. Enjoy.  

Celia Strong works at Bill’s Liquor & Fine Wines on Lady’s Island

The unknown Sauvignon Blanc. At least almost.

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By Celia Strong

It’s very interesting. As much Sauvignon Blanc as we drink, it is rarely one from the Bordeaux region of western France. 

We know Bordeaux makes red wines, some of them the very best and most expensive in the world. Like Chateau Pétrus: 100 percent Merlot for $700-$800 a bottle. 

For white wines, Bordeaux is known for its sweet, dessert wines. Made from Semillon grapes that are harvested after “botrytis” (a mold that grows on overripe grapes, still on their vines, and reduces the ratio of liquid to sugar so the wines have more sugar) has grown on them. These also can be very expensive; $300 for a half bottle. (Dry and sweet white Bordeaux wines, together, are only about 7 percent of their total production.) 

Sauvignon Blanc, though, is a legal variety in Bordeaux. And, it is used to make dry white wines, both by itself and blended with Semillon and, sometimes, little bits of Muscadelle. (Muscadelle is a totally separate variety, not related at all to Moscato or Muscadet.)  

Because of the soil and climate of Bordeaux,  their dry white wines are different than elsewhere. In fact, there are two styles. 

First is light and fruity with big flavors and aromas  of citrus, grapefruit, lemon, gooseberry, lime, grass, wet concrete, honey, passionfruit and honeysuckle flowers. This style is usually made with a bigger portion of Sauvignon Blanc. 

The other is a rich and creamy style with a more oily texture in your mouth and baked apple and pear, crème brulée, caramelized grapefruit, orange zest, ginger, figs, lemon butter and chamomile aromas and flavors. 

Compared to Sauvignon Blanc wines from around the world, white Bordeaux lean more to citrus and floral, not grassy and herby. They are less tropical and peachy than California, and way less citrusy than New Zealand. The appellation on these wines is Bordeaux Blanc. 

When pairing a white Bordeaux with food, some acidity will work. But, too much will overshadow the wine. Basil, lime, avocado and garlic all do well with these wines. White fishes like halibut and cod, crab and lobster, cream sauces and butter sauces, pesto, arugula salad with lemon and Parmesan, asparagus risotto, sushi with avocado also pair well. (Hungry yet? Or thirsty?)

Our dry white Bordeaux wine is from Chateau Saint-Suplice. The chateau is owned by the Dubergé family. They have produced wines in Bordeaux for 300 years. 

There are 100 acres at the chateau, which is located in a village with the same name in the northern end of the Entre-Deux-Mers region.   

They make mostly red wine, a bit of rosé and their white, Esprit de Saint-Sulpice Bordeaux Blanc, the spirit of Saint-Sulpice. This wine is made from 80 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 20 percent Semillon. The grapes are all sustainably grown. Fermentation is done at a cooler temperature to maintain the wine’s freshness, vivaciousness and natural delicacy. It is dry and full flavored with a minerality and a long finish. Intense aromas and flavors of green grapes, honeysuckle, pineapples and mangos make it delicious. 

So, now we have a new Sauvignon Blanc. New source. New style and flavors. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. It could become your new best friend. For $12.99. Enjoy. 

Celia Strong works at Bill’s Liquor & Fine Wines on Lady’s Island.

A rosé by any other name is not just any rosé

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By Celia Strong

Just as there are many Chardonnays, or any other variety or category of wine, there are many rosés. 

They come from different countries, from different sources within one country, from different grape varieties, different winemakers and oOn and on. 

So, just because we just recently found a new rosé, doesn’t mean we can’t have another new one, one that is totally different, but still delicious. 

Our new rosé comes from a brand new wine area (for us, anyhow): the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. 

Formerly, this small area was part of Provence.  It is located in very Southeastern France, with part of its eastern border being Italy. It is an area of plateaus, valleys and hills with tourism (skiing) as its main industry. 

The area’s population is under 200,000 with most living on the valley floors. But, a third of the housing is second homes. 

It’s great for skiing in the winter, but summers are warm with thunderstorms and wind. White rocks are scattered all over the area in a thin layer of topsoil.  Some mountain flowers grow and there are some stunted trees. Deforestation and flooding has resulted in minimum of fertile soil. Small quantities of wine are made, but it is good wine.

Most French wines we’ve had have had AC designations, the top legal level of this country’s wines. A second level is IGP, or Indication Geographique Protégée. This level was known as Vin de Pays before the EU. 

These wines come from designated areas with slightly fewer restrictions and controls that the AC wines.  

Our wine this week is an IGP from the official Alpes de Haute Provence designation. It is called Les Hautes Palteaux and is made from 40 percent Syrah, 40 percent Grenache and 20 percent Cinsault. These are all typical varieties for this part of France and all grown in the designated area for the IGP.  

A quick look at these pieces of our wine might help us enjoy it more. 

Syrah rosés are usually deeper colored wines. They are bolder wines and can be served a bit warmer to enhance the style. 

They have white pepper, green olive, strawberry, cherry and peach aromas and flavors, and they tend to pair well with slightly spicy foods.  

Grenache rosés are more brilliant rose in their color. These have more acidity so they do well served more cold to add zip and freshness. They have ripe strawberry, orange, hibiscus and baking spice (allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon) notes. These wines pair well with traditional Greek food and flavors. Think feta cheese!  

Cinsault rosés are more pale colored with coral tones, and they are fuller bodied, heavier wines. They have floral notes (violets, roses) with cherries, plums and herbs. Grilled meats and seafoods go well with them. Each of these varieties brings their share to our rosé. 

Les Hautes Plateaux (which translates to mean the high plains) is salmon colored. It has an intense nose, with gooseberry and tart red fruits in the front. It shows purity and freshness with vibrant red fruit flavors, floral notes, a racy minerality and acidity. It is mouthwatering and juicy. Totally delicious, but still structured and food friendly. 

Usually it’s about $10. But Bill’s Liquor has it for only $7.99. Enjoy!

Rose brings thoughts of warm, sunny days

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By Celia Strong

Spring is here, so we all sort of shift gears and start thinking sunnier thoughts. And that includes our wine thoughts. And, of course, we’ll need a new wine to keep our happy thoughts. 

This is the very first time our wine for this week has ever been made. It’s a new rosé from California. 

Most of us have heard of Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa, and its “second label,” Decoy. (Second labels are used by wineries as sources for wines that may cost less than their main label, may use grape varieties and grape sources that are different from their main label, may let them sell grapes that are not as good in a any one year as they like to use for their main label. For Duckhorn, Decoy was established as a more affordable line of everyday wines.) 

The first Decoy wine was released more than 25 years ago. Today, Decoy has six wines, all from Sonoma County. 

The grapes for Decoy wines come from many vineyards that they own. Some from vineyards Duckhorn owns. And some are from special growers. 

Each vineyard’s grapes are fermented separately. In some vintages, they do up to 150 separate wines. It’s only after the fermentation that they decide which batches to use. 

Decoy has its own winery and its own winemakers. But everyone in the Duckhorn-Decoy family works together to make their wines the best they can be. Attention to detail in the vineyard as well as in the winery make Decoy wines as good as they are. 

Decoy Rosé 2016 was inspired by the great rosé wines of Provence.  Many rosé wines are made, in the beginning at least, by crushing red grapes and removing the juice before too much color is achieved.  

Decoy purposely harvests their rosé grapes at a lower Brix (ratio of sugar to juice inside the grapes). This lets them preserve their wine’s beautiful aromatics, pure fruit flavors and crisp, dry, refreshing mouth-feel. 

The 2016 growing season had plenty of winter rains followed by spring and summer moderate temperatures with lots of sun. The harvest in 2016 was a bit early (Aug. 6 to Sept. 5) and had an average yield. The grapes were excellent quality with richness and complexity and superb acidity. Perfect for Decoy’s new rosé. 

Decoy Rosé 2016 is made from 58 percent Syrah (a new variety for them) and 42 percent Pinot Noir. The grapes were from three different vineyards. They were all fermented in stainless steel for 21 days at 54 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The wine, our wine, is a lively pale pink color. It is packed with strawberry aromas mixed with watermelon, as well as hints of lemon zest and wildflowers. In your mouth it feels bright and exhilarating and elegant. 

The flavors are these red fruits along with tart cherry and red currant, and a tiny hint of herbs. Its acidity is refreshing and helps define the wine’s flavors. 

All of which sounds about perfect for a new pink for this spring. And happy thoughts.  For  $17.99. Enjoy. 

Los Miradores is a great Malbec from Argentina

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By Celia Strong

In Argentina, wine is a part of their everyday lives, just like in many European countries. 

Argentina country has a population of 42 million and is four times bigger than France. This population is a blend of Spanish, Italian and native Indians. And their culture is a blend as well. Music styles all mixed together. Language, in some parts of the country, is totally unique. European foods are mixed with local ones. We know it’s the land of beef, but fresh vegetables and fruits are always served, as are lots of pastas and fresh fish. 

And, of course, the wines.

Over five centuries, Argentina has developed a special and distinct viticulture. Partly it’s the altitude of most of their vineyards, partly it’s their climate, partly it’s the assorted soil types that are dry and fertile, partly it’s the pureness of melted snow for irrigation. And, not the least, it’s the sharing and enjoying of wine in their everyday lives.

For our wine, we are going to visit the Arizu family. Four generations of them have been dedicated to wine. 

Originally, the family came from the Basque area, between France and Spain, in the 18th century. In 1890, Leoncio Arizu went to Argentina. In 1901, he founded a winery in Mendoza. He met and partnered with the Bosca family who had come to Mendoza from the Piedmont area of Italy. 

Today, 114 years later, their partnership, and the source of our wine for this week, is still called Bodega Luigi Bosca-Arizu Family. It’s still run by Leoncio’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And, it’s very definitely, a leader in the local wine business. 

In 1989, Bodega Bosca was instrumental in the formation of Argentina’s first legal appellation: Lujan de Cuyo Controlled Denomination of Origin. CDO. (And, yes, we have the Bosca DCO Malbec.) 

The winery is in Lujan de Cuyo, built where an old mill used to be. And, the Don Bosca School of Viticulture is there too.

One goal of the Bosca company has always been to find and use the best terroirs for each of their wines. A terroir is a specific site where the chemical and physical condition of the soil and the climate come together to make unique grapes and wines. 

The altitude, the angle the vines to the sun, the slope of the vineyard, the drainage of rain, number of hours of sunlight are many little things that together make a big difference. 

In addition, biodynamic farming is seen as the best way to optimize what nature has started. 

Our wine is the result of one of these locations: Los Miradores.

Los Miradores is the name of a specific vineyard in Lujan de Cuyo, at an elevation of 3,772 feet. In fact, it is the highest vineyard owned by the Arizu family and it is planted with 100 percent Malbec vines that are 10 years old.

The Los Miradores Malbec wine has an intense violet red color with black rims. Its aromas are ripe berries, dark fruits, dried figs and quince, all mingled with some cedar notes. The flavors are almost endless. Clove and nutmeg, plums, raspberries, berries and cherries. Violets. Chocolate.

Eucalyptus, cedar and mint. 

In your mouth this is a powerful wine, with a roundness and sturdy structure. And it has slightly sweet tannins. As powerful and intense as it is, Los Miradores is also fresh and lively. 

And there are only 1,000 cases made every year. So, it’s not a big vineyard. Really. And, get this. Los Miradores costs less in Beaufort than it does in Mendoza. 

For $26.99. Enjoy.

This wine is, going, going, gone

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By Celia Strong

Greetings. And happy wine drinking. I hope everyone has been doing well.

And drinking well. 

Today, we have a chance to learn about, and try, a pretty unique wine. 

Its appellation, Priorat, isn’t that unique, especially if you’ve been staying connected with popular Spanish red wines from the last decade or so. Whether you have or not, we’ll learn about Priorat today.

Unique is “the” Priorat we have. There was an extremely small production from the winery, and only five cases are in South Carolina.

Priorat is a Spanish DOQ located in the southwestern part of the Catalonia wine region. The appellation is located just south of Barcelona. 

Priorat is one of just two wine regions in Spain with this higher legal status. (Rioja is the other.) Priorat can also be called Priorato – no difference except for Spanish dialect. 

Wines have been made in the Priorat area since the 12th century. Carthusian monks from Provence, France, tended the vineyards for 700 years. In 1835, the lands were claimed by the state. Toward the end of the 19th century, phylloxera infected the vineyards and Priorat wines mostly disappeared. They did get their original, and legally lower, designation in 1954, but an upgrade to DOQ in 1989 established them.

Like we’ve learned with other wines, this upgrade brought money into the Priorat wine business, better winemakers, better winemaking techniques and lots of new fans. 

Today, the area covers almost 5,000 acres with over 550 vineyards and 100-plus wineries.

There are two main varieties used in red Priorat wines – Ganarcha (Gremache) and Cariñena (Carignan). There is no minimum or maximum amount in Spanish wine laws for either of them. Each Priorat producer, though, focuses on his own style of this appellation. 

Other varieties are allowed in these wines, too. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and even Pinot Noir can all be used. 

The more Garnacha and Cariñena in a producer’s blend, the more we taste red fruit flavors. The more of the Bordeaux varieties that are used, the more we taste black fruit flavors. 

Wines laws for Priora also include some aging times. “Criança” wines have to be aged for at least six months in barrels and 18 months in bottles. “Reserva” are barrel aged for 12 months in barrels and 24 months in bottles. And, “Gran Reserva” stay in barrels for 24 months and bottles for two years. Yes, you can assume the price goes up as the aging gets longer and longer.

Within the Priorat area, there is a village called Falset. It has one castle and two palaces. And it’s one of the best sites for growing Priorat grapes. 

Our Priorat comes from this village, from Clos Pissarra, a winery founded in 2005 and named for the Catalon word for “slate.” It’s one of the things that make the area wines taste like they do. 

Aristan is a 5-acre vineyard next to the winery.  This wine is a blend of Garnacha, from 10-year-old vines, and Syrah. (Syrah is becoming more popular than Cabernet Sauvignon for Priorat wines.) 

The soils for both varieties are slate and clay and the production is cut back to 1 ton per acre, a very meager amount.

Five cases of the 2010 Aristan came into South Carolina. Clos Pissarra only made 399. More than one of the five has been sold. 

So going, going, gone is the issue. For $20.99. Enjoy.

Chardonnays don’t have to come from California

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By Celia Strong

There are Chardonnays and there are Chardonnays. All of us have tried our share of them. And, hopefully, we’ve learned some of the different styles that are available and which style or styles we prefer.

Unfortunately, if all we ever try is California Chardonnay, we can easily end up with an incomplete view of what these wines are like, which is what happened with a friend recently.

Chardonnays were not their favorite white wine because they had only ever tasted certain California styles. One taste of a French Chardonnay, though, and bingo! Now they like Chardonnay.

Over our many lessons, we’ve become familiar with ways of describing some of the different styles of Chardonnay wines: oaked and unoaked,  New World and Old World, barrel-fermented and stainless steel-tank fermented, tropical fruity and austere minerality.

The range of differences is huge. Some of the best are truly “in the middle,” which takes us to our wine for this week, a Mâcon-Villages.

Mâcon-Villages is an appellation from the southern end of the Burgundy region in eastern France. There are 26 communes in the Mâcon area that can supply grapes for wines labeled Mâcon-Villages. All these wines are white. Legally. (There are some red wines made here, but they have another appellation.)

Mâcon-Villages wines are pale yellow-gold in color. When young, they have a hint of silvery green highlights. Their aromas and flavors include honeysuckle, white roses, clean straw, ferns, verbena, lemongrass, grapefruits and tangerines, pine, quince and fennel.

Further, these wines have well balanced fruitiness and acidity and complexities. They are also able to age for several years. (Oops, sorry. I know we don’t do that very often.)

Our Mâcon-Villages is from Joseph Drouhin, who founded his company in 1880.

He came from the town of Chablis, located at the very northern tip of the Burgundy region, but chose the city of Beaune, further south in the Côte d’Or part of the region, as the home for his company.

Over the years, his company acquired some very good parcels of land and a reputation for excellence and high standards in grape growing and winemaking.

The company was always run by a family member, and their land holdings and reputations both grew.

Maison Drouhin, as the company is known, adopted biological and biodynamic practices. They are popular now, but the Drouhins chose these practices because they helped make the best wines.

Their house style, for all their wines – red and white, very expensive and everyday priced – combines balance, harmony and character.

Their Mâcon-Villages is 100 percent Chardonnay.

Most of the grapes for it come from vineyards that are very close to the villages of Pouilly and Fuissé, with clay and chalk soils that date back to the Jurassic era.

Maison Drouhin limits itself to about 2,800 vines per acre and keeps the yields low in order to extract as many nuances as possible from the soil.

After harvest, the grapes are slow pressed and no artificial yeasts or enzymes are used. The wine is aged in stainless steel for six to eight months with its lees.

This wine is always fresh and bright and clean. It has fruity aromas, floral notes and a zing of freshness. It’s not your everyday California Chardonnay. But it could be your everyday French Chardonnay. Makin’ Chardonnay. For $15.99. Enjoy.

Scarlet is not just a letter anymore

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By Celia Strong

Happy 2017 to everyone!

Like we usually do, or try to do, we’re going to start the new year with a new wine, along with new diet plans, new living plans, blah, blah, blah. That way our drinking is connected with all our resolutions. Kept or not. I suspect we’ll keep the wine even if we lose our resolutions.

Steele Wines is our producer of this week. Our wine comes under their Shooting Star label.

Jed Steele has been in the California wine business for decades. In the 1980s, he was head winemaker at Kendall Jackson, which gives him a lot of the credit for several things.

Many Americans learned to like and drink wine every day thanks to Kendall Jackson Chardonnay. Its style reflected one of Jed’s biggest talents: blending different grapes from different sources in order to make a wine that tasted consistently the same in a style that was hugely appealing. And, for a price that large numbers of new American wine drinkers could afford on a regular basis.

In the early 1990s, Jed went out on his own and founded Steele Winery, which is located in Lake County in Mendocino.

The Steele label wines, especially the highly rated Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Zinfandels, established Jed’s name and reputation with the public. So, he launched the Shooting Star wines.

The grapes for Shooting Star come from many of the same vineyards as Jed’s higher-priced wines. Some of them are blends of one variety from several appellations, some are very close to the actual Steele wines but aged less time in barrels, or not at all, and some are lesser known varieties that Jed likes to play with – Tempranillo, Viognier, Counoise, Aligoté – you get the idea.

Because they are less expensive than their Steele label cousins, Shooting Stars are value wines meant to be easily enjoyed, often and by many of us.

Our wine is a brand new member of the Shooting Star family: Scarlet.

As it is explained at the winery, don’t let this wine’s name bring puritanical thoughts to mind. It is less than a puritanical red blend of several varieties: 40 percent Cabernet Franc, 20 percent Syrah, 10 percent Pinot Noir with 20 percent other grapes. It’s a great example of Jed’s playing!

The grapes for this wine are all harvested separately, sometimes even at different days and times. Then, at the winery, they are crushed and allowed to soak for one to two days before being inoculated with yeast. Then, each variety is fermented separately and aged in neutral American, old Hungarian and French barrels. Typically, barrel aging lasts 8 to 18 months. But, that also depends on each variety.

The wine is very balanced, with fresh cherry and dark fruit notes and a dark chocolate overcoat on all the fruit favors. The tannins are mild and smooth, and a crisp touch of acidity keeps the wine fresh.

Truly, it is one of those wines that make you keep topping off your glass!

But, if we’re going to keep filling our glasses, we’re back to the price issue. We did say Shooting Star wines were priced for every day. Further, in deference to it being the beginning of a new year, our wine is not expensive. After the stress and agony of the whole holiday season, less expensive makes it much easier to enjoy more of Scarlet.  Red wine but no red letter.

For $9.99, we really can keep our glasses full. Enjoy!

This wine is worth celebrating

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By Celia Strong

It seems we have to be flexible this holiday. What was going to be our lesson for this week has just been changed.

Why? Because it would not be nice to not let everyone know about a new deal. Luckily, though, our new deal wine will still be usable for our holiday dinners.

For this wine, we are going to be going back in time a bit, to the last time we had one on deal: a Pouilly-Fuissé from the Burgundy region of France.

Unfortunately, over the years, the wines from Pouilly-Fuissé have crept up and up in price, which is probably why we only talk about them when they’re on deal. But, let’s review some more so we can all really appreciate what we have here.

Pouilly-Fuissé is an appellation from the southern part of its region, the Mâcon area. It received AC status in 1936.

Unlike most of the rest of Burgundy and its appellations, when the specifications for the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation were being written, the local producers and growers did not apply for any Premier Cru or Grand Cru status. Oh, well.

Despite there not being any designated better sites known for producing better grapes, there are some recognized higher quality acres. Still, without higher legal status, the wines from Pouilly-Fuissé cannot sell for the higher prices. Up though these prices are, they’re just not as up as white wines from northern Burgundy.

The appellation laws of Pouilly-Fuissé say these wines have to be 100 percent Chardonnay.

They are allowed to make about 528 gallons for about every acre of vines and the wines must have a minimum of 11 percent alcohol.

The soils of the Mâcon area are limestone, with lots of calcium and calcereous clay, soils that Chardonnay loves.

The landscape is known for the rock of Solutré. Centuries ago, an ancient tribe that lived in Burgundy would run wild horses up to the top of this rock and make them crash onto the ground below. Gruesome, for sure, but it helps explain all the limestone and calcium in the soil.

A confusing part of this appellation is there is no town called Pouiily-Fuissé. There are four smaller communes (Chaintré with 1.28 square miles of vineyards, Vergisson with 2.23 square miles, Fuissé with 1.86 and Solutré-Pouilly with 2.38) that can all label their wines with this appellation. There are 1,871 acres of vines here, the largest of any Burgundy appellation.

The flavors of Pouilly-Fuissé include smoky yellow fruits with exotic spices and nuts.

Our Pouilly-Fuissé comes from a small family grower and producer. Domaine Sangouard-Guyot. Pierre-Emmanuel Sangouard took over his grandfather’s wine estate in 1997. His wife is Catherine Guyot. They work their land by hand. Actually, some of their vineyards are in Solutré and Vergisson, but they are not looking to get too big because they would lose their ability to work all their vines by hand.

Harvest is by hand and the grapes are fermented separately by where they come from.

Wines are blended, sometimes, and bottled about two years after harvest.

They make several different Pouilly-Fuissés. Ours is called Terroirs.

This wine is made from grapes from several plots in Vergisson, where the grapes are known for ripe fruit flavors and minerality. It is made from vines that are an average of 40 years old.

Technically, and by French law, it can be labeled “Old Vine.”

The grapes are fermented and one third of the wine is aged for 10 months in temperature controlled tanks. This gives the finished wine liveliness and freshness.

The other two-thirds is aged in 7- to 8-year-old barrels for eight months, which gives the finished wine a generous roundness and fullness. And then bottling is in April.

Terroirs is straightforward, rich and complex; silky and crisp at the same time. Its nose is fruity with mineral fragrances. And its flavors are baked golden delicious apples, stewed pears, herbs, almonds, nutmeg and more. Layers and layers of flavors, more each sip you take. That’s a sign of complexity, which is why this wine costs more. Usually. But, a deal is a deal.

For $16.97, this wine is less than its usual wholesale price. Less than wholesale!

Worth celebrating. And delicious for a special holiday meal. Enjoy.

Time again for turkey wines

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By Celia Strong

Every year, as the holiday season gets closer and closer, we all have to make a plethora of decisions. There are three big “family and friends” meals between now and Jan. 1, 2017.

We have to decide which meals we’ll cook, what we’ll cook, who will come, what time, and, the biggest decision of all, what we’ll drink. Many plans tend to include separate wines for the kitchen crew.

As usual, finding the right wines for the meal is very important. Thanksgiving dinner, being the first of the three meals, is maybe the biggest deal.

The thing about most traditional Thanksgiving dinners is they have such a huge range of flavors and textures. Turkey itself is white and dark meat, but then there’s ham. Pink meat. And sauces. And seasonings. The list of what a wine might be expected to pair with is limitless. And, yet, we keep trying.

For turkey, both white and red wines can be good. Both can go well with the food, and people like both. Personally, I like to do a red and a white from the same winery. Matching labels has its appeal.

This year we have a new pair: Rascal Pinot Noir and Rascal Pinot Gris. These wines are from Oregon. The Pinot Noir is amazing, dark ruby colored with raspberry and black cherry flavors, hints of herbs and soft tannins. The Pinot Gris has apple, peach and citrus notes, some minerality and crisp acids.

For $14.99 they are both bargains. So you can enjoy more bottles!

For more adventurous white drinkers, some less-often-used wines are good. The fun of new grapes even adds to the holiday mood.

Viognier is a white variety that features peaches and nectarines, almonds and flowers, with enough body to hold up to the big meal.

Try the Fairview Viognier from South Africa. It has pear and jasmine aromas followed by baked pear, nutmeg and perfume flavors. For $18.99.

From the Alsace region of northeastern France, a blended “Eidelswicker” is perfect. Hugel’s is lovely, refreshing and clean. All the Alsatian grapes are in it and yet no one variety stands out in its flavors, much like all the foods mixed together on our plates. For $13.99

A white Torrontes from Argentina is a third option. It is fruity and musky, aromatic and dry.

Terrazas Reserve Torrontes is stylish, refreshing and well suited to the whole meal … and cocktails before. At $14.99.

For red wines, Zinfandel has always stood out as a good choice. It is, after all, an American wine. And Thanksgiving is an American holiday. Synergy!

Zins can vary in style from lighter to heavier; they can be fruity, spicy and even higher in alcohol. High Valley Zinfandel from Mendocino is a bit of all these styles. For $16.99.

The last red that stands out as an obvious choice is Nouveau Beaujolais. This is a light, crisp French red, made from Gamay grapes, that is the first wine of their 2017 harvest.

It is legally released for sale on the third Thursday of November, just in time for the fourth Thursday, which is Thanksgiving Day.

Nouveau is fruity and grapey and is considered the red wine for white wine drinkers.

These wines are always ordered months before they arrive, so supply is limited. It’s always nice to include them on holidays because they are a celebratory wine. They are usually between $12 and $15.

If your dinner includes a ham, just think pink. Pink wine for pink meat. The right balance of weights between the two, the right amount of acidity (helps with the saltiness), a lovely color (if that matters), and it’s served at a temperature between reds and whites.

Jolivet Sancerre Rosé, a Pinot Noir from the Loire Valley in western France, is a winner.Also, a rarer wine, because Sancerres are usually white, so a treat for a holiday table. With red fruit flavors, like raspberries and cherries and cranberries, hints of white pepper, medium bodied, and a long finish. At $17.99.

So, a wine for all of our food. And friends. Hope it’s a great time and dinner and a glass for everyone! Enjoy.

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