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WineSpeed | Chêne Bleu

Weekly insights from veteran wine writer Karen MacNeil.

CHÊNE BLEU |  Rosé 2017

(Vaucluse, France) $27

I hope you aren’t rosé-ed out, because you don’t want to miss this dry sophisticated rosé from an enchanting high-altitude property in southern France, the site of a priory in the Middle Ages. Unlike so many (innocuous) modern rosés, Chêne Bleu (the name means Blue Oak) is an old-style, artisanal French rosé—full-bodied, full-flavored, and full of personality. Even the blend that makes it up is interesting—grenache, syrah, rolle, cinsault and mourvèdre. I first had Chêne Bleu on a 105-degree day in the Napa Valley, and it was pure heaven. This is the kind of rosé that’s great all-year-round. (14% abv)

89+ points KM

Available at Vivino.com

More Wines to Know…

Which country below is the only major wine producing country in the world not to have been seriously affected by the lethal insect phylloxera?

A.  New Zealand
B.  Chile
C.  South Africa
D.  Portugal 

Here’s the answer…

One Cheese Pairing to Rule Them All

It’s hard to think of anything more magical than when an exquisite wine is paired with a scrumptious cheese. Which got us to thinking: Is there one cheese that pairs well with most wines? We asked our cheese guru colleagues and our Facebook friends. The consensus—some cheeses really are super wine-friendly. These four cheeses were especially popular.

Dry Jack: Mild and nutty. Pasteurized cow’s milk cheese with a firm, crumbly texture.
Comté: Fruity, nutty, salty, savory, smokey. A supple cow’s milk cheese from the Jura region of France.
Brebirousse d’Argental: A sheep’s milk cheese from France’s Rhone-Alps region. Buttery, creamy, mushroomy, sweet, and tangy.
Manchego: Nutty, fruity, sweet, tangy. A sheep’s milk cheese from the La Mancha region of Spain. 

Biodynamic farming, a practice that views a vineyard as a regenerative and living organism, was first practiced in vineyards in California.

Answer: False. The first well known winery to practice biodynamic farming was in France, in the Loire Valley. It’s name: Coulée de Serrant. As developed by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s, and later expanded on by his followers, biodymanics is a holistic system of living agriculture whereby the soil and plants growing in it are nurtured through natural forces. Biodynamics envisions soils and plants as living in a sort of middle world influenced from below by the forces of the earth, and influenced from above by the cosmos. So for example, vines are fertilized using compost created on the farm and are pruned according to the movement of the moon through the twelve houses of the zodiac—all in order to achieve ultimate harmony with the forces of Nature.

Steals under $20

PONZI VINEYARDS Pinot Gris 2017 (Willamette Valley, Oregon) $16
If you drizzled cold lime juice over a fresh pear and magically turned it into a dry crisp wine, it would be this great quencher. 
88 points KM

ODDITY Dry Tokaji 2015 (Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary) $17 
A wonderful dry, fresh, minerally wine made from furmint grapes. Furmint is so plain likeable. Dry Tokaji (toe-KIGH)—you’re new favorite white maybe? 89 points KM

APALTAGUA “Envero” Gran Reserva Carménère 2016 (Colchagua Valley, Chile) $16
Sleek, vivid, and waiting for a crusty grilled steak. Lots of green peppercorn and tobacco flavors. Delicious. 
89 points KM


The word crémant is used to describe a French sparkling wine that is made outside the Champagne district but made according to the Champagne method of secondary (bubble-causing) fermentation inside each individual bottle. Crémants come from all over France; some of the best known include Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Loire, and Crémant de Limoux. Crémants are rarely as expensive as Champagne. In summer, chilled cold, they are refreshing and fun. 

“Dear Karen, we live in Florida and wondered if there are red wines that you would chill?” – Don M., Orlando, FL

Don, there absolutely are. In hot and often humid places like Florida, red wines can taste especially dull and lifeless when they are served a bit too warm. A good rule of thumb is to serve all red wines at the temperature of an air-conditioned movie theater. That’s in the high 60s Fahrenheit, not the 70s (which is the temperature in many people’s homes.) In particular, pinot noir and Tuscan reds (sangioveses) taste much better when served on the cool side. (Put the bottle in the refrigerator for 10 minutes). Beyond that, I would serve Beaujolais even cooler—almost as cool as white wine.


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