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WineSpeed | Chateau de Chantegrive

Weekly insights from veteran wine writer Karen MacNeil.

BY Karen Macneil | Life | Feb 5, 2018

CHATEAU de CHANTEGRIVE | Blanc 2015

(Graves, Bordeaux, France) $19

White Bordeaux continues—inexplicablyto fly under the radar. But the wines can be sensational and some (like Chantegrive) are steals. This wine rides on a wave of richness yet isn’t heavy, fat or ponderous. The classic candlewax and botanical aromas and flavors of white Bordeaux are all there (a must-try if you haven’t experienced them). Plus a long, lovely finish. This vintage is 50 percent semillon and 50 percent sauvignon blanc, and comes from precious 60-year old vines. And don’t forget to see this week’s WineSpeed blog. (13% abv)

90 points KM

Available at Northampton Wine and Dine

Royal fever is rampant this spring in the run-up to the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, as well as the Queen’s 90th birthday. To test your knowledge about all things gastronomic chez Buckingham, we have a question. The Queen’s preferred beverages—sweet German wines and gin with Dubonnet—are palace fixtures. But what food do you suppose she has banned from the palace? 

A. Raw Oysters

B. Olive Oil

C. Garlic

D. Chilis

Scroll down for the answer!

Pyrazines

More correctly known by their long name methoxypyrazines, pyrazines are the compounds in grapes that can cause a powerful green bell pepper aroma and flavor. Pyrazines (PEER-a-zeens) are especially prevalent in sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon. They can be greatly reduced by exposing grapes to more sunlight as they ripen. Unripe sauvignon blanc or cabernet can have pyrazine levels off the charts. Extreme pyrazine levels are generally considered a defect in a wine, although moderate pyrazines are a hallmark of some types of wine—New Zealand sauvignon blanc for example.

“In Europe then we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also as a great giver of 10 and well-being and delight. Drinking wine was not snobbism nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me, as necessary.”

—Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), A Moveable Feast

Let’s See—Crème Brûlée or Chocolate?

There are 10 styles of Port, but luckily they all fall into one of two major categories, which I’ve come to think of as those that are like crème brûlée and those that are more like chocolate cake. The “crème brûlée” Ports are the ones that have been aged in wood a long time. These Ports have brown sugar, almost creme brûlée-like flavors. Tawny Port is the best example. (And in fact, it tastes delicious with crème brûlée). The “chocolate” Ports have been aged a long time in bottle, with very little exposure to air. They are darker red in color, and have a dense almost cocoa-like or chocolatey flavor. Vintage Port is a perfect example of a bottle aged Port. (Not surprisingly, it tastes phenomenal with chocolate).

“Karen, is wine OK if you’re vegan?”

—Pam M., Boulder CO

Pam, “vegan wine” is usually defined as wine that hasn’t been in contact with any animal or dairy products. Lots of wines in the world meet this criterion. The key issue is whether or not the wine has been fined. Fining is a process whereby protein coagulants (often from milk, eggs or fish) are added to red or white wine to bind with compounds (such as tannin), which can then be removed. For example, historically, lots of red Bordeaux wines were fined with egg whites to make them taste less tannic and more smooth. I should add that fining is optional; a winemaker doesn’t have to do it. Also, even when a wine is fined, no detectable amount of dairy or animal product is left behind, since the fined wine will be racked off the protein into a new barrel. Despite this, some strict vegans abstain from such wines; other vegans are more liberal on the issue. It’s an individual call. 

Send your questions/comments to AskKaren@winespeed.com.

The Best Kept Secret White You Must Taste

White Bordeaux is not as buxom as chardonnay, not as fruity as riesling, not as mindless as pinot grigio, not as simple as albariño. I could go on. The fact is that white Bordeaux (a surprisingly well kept secret) is a terrific wine—richly flavorful but not overwrought, and with just the right crispness to keep it energetic. It is usually a blend of semillon and sauvignon blanc, although it doesn’t taste quite like either (more on which in a moment).

This week, at the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting in San Francisco, dozens of Continue Reading…

C. Chef John Higgins, a former chef at Buckingham Palace who cooked for the Queen (and is now a chef in Toronto) reports that the Queen never allowed garlic in any dish served at the palace. She apparently also frowned on lumpy custard. Among her favorite foods: chocolate mousse, mangoes, and anything with citrus.   

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