The Great Beer Region Experiment Part 2: Kosher New York

The Back Story:

The Saratoga Race Course is the lifeblood of the Saratoga area

Funny story… I was actually in Saratoga Springs, home of today’s featured brewing company, Shmaltz, just a few weeks ago, and I had no clue that a brewery even existed in that city. I was much more focused on the foodie aspect of the trip, experiencing the fantastic cuisine in restaurants that sprung up around the horse-racing industry.

If you consider the alcohol-related industry, beer brewing doesn’t rate terribly high on the list of attractions. The Finger Lakes dominate discussion of New York, which makes sense considering New York is one of the “big four” states in the wine industry. A New York Riesling holds much more sway over the average consumer than a New York beer…

Which is really not fair at all. New York has a thriving craft beer industry; it’s just that these beers fail to find their way to most of the beer drinkers in America. In fact, some of the best Belgian-style ales I’ve had come from the area. There are some recognizable brewers in the area, Ommegang, Brooklyn, Adirondack, but I’ve yet to see close to 95% of them in any specialty beer shops in the South. Only the biggest will make it out alive, which is a shame, because the general rule of craft beer is the bigger they come, the harder they fall. And thus, we come to Shmaltz’s He’Brew Messiah Bold.

You know how Hollywood summer blockbusters go, right? High expectations, budgets bigger than the GDP of a Caribbean island nation, big names attached, movie posters everywhere, and more TV face time than all your state senators combined, all are symptoms of an overhyped movie that ends up being entirely forgettable. We fall for it every time, of course, hearing the goofy one-liners recited by everyone a month before the movie comes out, memorizing the best scenes of the movie compressed into a 30 second assault on the senses.

Such is the fate of He’Brew, which has a clever name, marketing scheme, and label, all things that immediately contribute to my wariness of a brand. I only decided to try it nearly a year after I’d first encountered it on store shelves. One thing I didn’t know until I actively set out to try this beer was that the beer is certified Kosher. Though this doesn’t particularly matter to me, not being of the Jewish faith, it is an interesting aspect that, quite frankly, I never considered applying to beer.

The Results:

He'Brew Messiah Bold Bottle and Pour ReviewThe appearance of the beer is very dark, almost black at first glance, but it has a very pure red translucency. Very brilliant color, and head retention is respectably long. Carbonation is very fine and calm.

The nose of the beer is surprisingly fruity with notes of a jam-like cherry, chocolate, coconut, and hops.

The mouthfeel of the beer is very smooth, somewhat full, and it coats the mouth rather decently. The carbonation is aggressive as it hits the tongue, but it’s not unpleasant, suiting the fullness very well.

The flavor of the beer is slightly strong with notes of carmel, hops, grass, and mocha. It has a very pleasant bitterness that persists through a finish of strong coffee. The finish, unfortunately, doesn’t want to stick around. It’s gone faster than (insert Randal-Graves-style Jewish joke here, then censor it).

This is a fairly strong beer that demands a more hefty meal: steak, pork, something marinated and savory. Anything less would crumble under the brunt of this beer’s flavors.

For the Casual Drinker:

The nose will definitely through you off, leading you to believe it might be lighter than its color would suggest. Make no mistake, this beer has the characteristics of a typical brown ale, which might be a bit unsavory for someone used to lighter beers. For someone used to the brown ale style, this might be a little lighter than you’re expecting. I wouldn’t say it’s terrible… just unimpressive.

The Conclusion:

It’s not quite at the level that you’d expect from a craft beer at this price point. It’s still a pleasant, agreeable brown ale that should at least demonstrate that the phrase “kosher beer” isn’t quite as scary as it would seem. 5/10

In Case You Missed It:

Beer: He’Brew Messiah Bold

Producer: Shmaltz Brewing Company

Region: Saratoga Springs, New York

Vintage: n/a

Alcohol: 5.6%

pH: unknown

Price: $1.60 per 12 oz bottle

Purchased at: Total Wine

The Great U.S. Beer Region Experiment Part 1: Vietnam

We will be visiting 5 regions, 4 of which are in the US, to find out what exactly is going on outside the normal beer world. I’ll also try to give a little bit of background and history for each region and style in the back story.

The lineup for the week is as follows:

  • Today: Hue Beer (Hue City, Vietnam)
  • Tuesday: Kosher He’Brew Messiah Bold (Saratoga Springs, New York)
  • Wednesday: Great Divide IPA (Boulder, Colorado)
  • Thursday: Highland IPA (North Carolina)
  • Friday: Thomas Creek Deep Water Dopplebock Lager (South Carolina)

As for today, let’s check out Vietnam before we dive into the U.S. beer extravaganza…

Hue Beer BottleThe Back Story:

The beer industry in Vietnam is rather different from that of the U.S. While the vast majority of the beer consumed in the U.S. is from macrobrews in North America and Europe, leaving craft beer to a much smaller market share, Vietnam’s beer industry is centered around local microbrews. There are around 300 microbreweries crafting a local specialty called Bia Hoi, or “fresh beer,” sold by the barrel to cafés and restaurants without preservatives, intended to be consumed the same day they are packaged.

Aside from that, there are a few major producers of bottled beer, one of which is the Hue Brewery. Partially owned by Carlsberg, the Danish brewing company and the 4th largest in the world, the Hue Brewery is basically a large-scale, single-beer producer, though they’ll also occasionally indulge in seasonal fare. That single beer, creatively named Hue Beer, is a pale lager, a similar style to the Budweisers and Millers of the world.

The Results:

Hue Beer PourThe appearance of the beer is a light golden yellow, rather dull, with head retention of only a few seconds. The carbonation is coarse and aggressive, and the foam has a soapy, filmy quality.

The nose of the beer is rather plain, though a bit heftier than a standard lager, with notes of acrylic paint, grass, walnut and green apples.

The mouthfeel of the beer is sharp, though a bit thin, and it fails to reach the mouth in any way. Once it hits the tongue, it dissipates. Pretty much everywhere but the tongue, the feel is fleeting.

The flavor of the beer is not quite as plain or as weak as the nose would suggest, though it’s still a pale lager (read:: comparable to Pilsner). Green apples, straw, and a very light floral, perfumey note as it approaches the finish. The finish itself is mealy, grassy, and bitter, a bit longer than expected but not nearly satisfying enough for a craft-priced beer.

This would be a beer that you’d use to cool down your mouth after a spicy barbecue or hot-wing-style meal… the alcohol barely comes through and is more cooling than warming. I would also give it the okay to sip in warmer weather, so long as it stays ice cold. This beer doesn’t develop in the glass; rather, it begins diminishing immediately, and the flavor becomes unpleasant once it strays from refrigeration temperature.

For the Casual Drinker:

There’s really not much to say here… if you’re a fan of American-style lager, you’ll probably like this beer. Pair it with a barbecue-style meal, something spicy, or anything that you’ll be grilling or eating outside, really. The real question is are you willing to shell out around $2 per bottle for it (that’s about the same price as a Dogfish Head, Clipper City, or a Bell’s craft beer).

The Conclusion:

To be honest, I was expecting something a bit more exotic than the typical American lager experience, especially at that price. I suppose if you want to experience an Eastern beer, you could shell out for it, but I’d just as soon sip on 3 Budweisers at that price. 2/10

In Case You Missed It:

Beer: Hue Beer

Producer: Hue Brewery, LTD

Region: Vietnam

Vintage: n/a

Alcohol: 5.0%

pH: unknown

Price: $2 per 12 oz bottle

Summer’s Almost Over… So Drink Up!

Though it may not feel like it here in the US, it’s almost time for the temperature to start dropping. Whether you’re enjoying a mild heat in New England, suffering through air quality warnings in the humid mid-Atlantic, or staying indoors to avoid the sweltering 110 degrees of the western deserts, all these hot times call for a crisp glass of white wine.

There are, of course, several styles to choose from, from the most aggressive, acidic thirst-quencher to the most pleasant, sugary summer sipper and many in between. If you’re planning to send summer out in style with a glass or two, I have a few recommendations that just might make the season seem less severe. Let’s go to the board:

Sauvignon Blanc: In case you haven’t been reading much of my blog, I can let you know that I swear by this grape. Especially those from New Zealand, the Sauvignon Blanc grape delivers a consistent experience whether it’s grown in France, California, or New Zealand: acidity with citrus flavors, as refreshing as a glass of ice cold lemonade. Very rarely a sweet wine, the Sauvignon Blanc is nevertheless a standard goto for inexperienced wine drinkers. Recommendations under $20: Barker’s Marque, Matua, Kim Crawford

Picpoul: Possessing an acidity and body similar to a Sauvignon Blanc, but with a lighter citrus (think lemon-lime) and more tropical flavor profile, the Picpoul is an underrepresented varietal wine here in the US. Typically from the Picpoul de Pinet region in Languedoc, France, this wine provides the same consistency as the Sauvignon Blanc. Also an aggressively dry wine, it’s still a very pleasant sipping wine. Recommendations under $20: Hugues de Beauvignac, Chateau Petit Roubie, Hugues Beaulieau La Petite Frog (3 liter box)

yellow and blue torrontes cartonTorrontes: Torrontes is a varietal wine that grows extraordinarily well on the western coast of South America. The combination of high altitude, long days, consistently mild seasons, and volcanic soil all create the conditions for a unique, fuller-bodied dry white wine to shine. Torrontes will have a floral and citrus profile, offering perfumey aromas that combine with a decent sweetness and acidity for a very soft, creamy experience. Novice drinkers will especially appreciate the straightforward flavors this wine offers. Torrontes is also a natural complement to most seafood dishes. Recommendations under $20: Gouguenheim, Yellow + Blue (1 Liter Tetrapak), Susana Balbo

Riesling: Riesling is a varietal wine that varies very greatly depending on its region and its winemaker. You can get syrupy sweet dessert wines, bone-dry, acidic tongue-tinglers, and everything in between with flavors across the fruit and floral spectrum. Depending on the terroir, you can also get a good dose of mineral or metal.  Recommendations under $20: Cono Sur, Dr. Loosen, Jacob’s Creek

What do you guys think? Any other recommendations for beating the summer heat? Need to know where to find some wines in your area? Leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to help!

Organic, Delicious, and from Washington State

Yesterday, Josh Wade at Drink Nectar lamented, to an extent, the growing pains of the wine industry in Washington. Among his highlights, he noted that Washington’s QPR is generally extremely agreeable, albeit more select, and that Washington State’s boutique wineries would have a hard time matching the production and pricing of California, as selling under $30 would necessarily cut into their profits necessary to survive. He also laments the lack of Washington wine available across the country. Lower volumes attract less interest in larger distributors, leaving the massive of the massive in California to take over the world. Shops have to actually put in some effort to invest in Washington wines.

Per Josh, Washington's production pales in comparison to California's, 150,000 tons annually to 4 million tons

Lucky for you and me both, some of Washington’s wines still make it across the country, although it’s typically the lower-end fare. Regardless, finding Washington State is always a fun challenge, and if you can find a palatable wine, such as Badger Mountain‘s Organic Riesling, for the typical California-level bargain prices, well, it just gives me hope for the future of the region.

The Results:

The appearance of the wine is a fairly deep straw color and a fairly full viscosity.

The nose of the wine is an orchard-like blend of flowers, pear, and citrus, accompanied by a very light minerality and baking spices scent.

The mouth feel of the wine is very smooth and tangy, with a delightfully active acidity that dances on the tongue.

The flavor of the wine is not quite as full as the nose would suggest, with underripe clementines, tart pear, and green apple on the finish. There’s a hint of minerality, and it comes with a delightful baking spice that really matches the light fruit flavors extremely well. Very dry, and everything about this wine is crisp and pure. When paired with havarti cheese, the fruit flavors intensify and the sweetness comes forward even more.

For the Casual Drinker:

This is a good entry-level wine if you’re trying to explore the Pacific Northwest. Different from the Finger Lakes and California, this Riesling has a more Alsatian style, offering very little sweetness, and instead being bolder and more nuanced. Don’t expect a dessert wine, I guess is what I’m saying. Pair with light seafood or chicken dishes… spice will overwhelm this, and heavier meats will utterly clash with the flavors.

Conclusion:

At a price of $11, this wine is definitely worth a try. It’s not representative of the best that Washington has to offer… not even close… but you’d be hard-pressed to find many wines of this quality at this price. Oh, and it’s organic, which is certainly a plus! 6/10

In Case You Missed It:

Wine: N-S-A Organic Columbia Valley Riesling

Producer: Badger Mountain Vineyards / Powers Winery

Region: Columbia Valley, Washington, United States

Varietal(s): 100% Riesling

Vintage: 2008

Residual Sugar: 1.7 g/l

Alcohol: 13%

pH: 3.08

Price: $11

Purchased at: Weaver Street Market, Hillsborough, North Carolina

Gewurztraminer: Yes, I Enjoyed This One

The Back Story:

Gewurztraminer GrapesSometimes a wine has to be forced onto me for me to have to try it. That doesn’t mean that someone is holding me down and forcing me to sip from a glass, of course, just that I wouldn’t have ever spent the money on it myself.

Gewurztraminer is one like that. From the first time I was ever burned by a flabby, rotten, saccharine-sweet Gewurz, sitting so innocently, so golden-deliciously pretty in its glass, I’ve been wary of its devilish charms. It really is like the succubus of the wine world, if there were occasionally good-hearted succubi (or whatever fan-fiction plot twist there exists that would make this metaphor come together in a non-M. Night Shyamalan sense).

Fortunately, I have people around me who take the risks with this grape, weeding out the delightful from the gut-churning and rewarding me with the fruits of their labor. The Durkheimer Feuerberg Gewurztraminer Kabinett is one such wine. From Vier Jahreszeiten, which, from what I can gather on the Google, is more famous as a hotel than a winery, this Gewurztraminer that managed to intrigue me is, of course, from the heart of Germany.

The Results:

The appearance of the wine is a deep gold, though it has a very light green tint at its depth. Swirl suggests a medium viscosity.

The nose of the wine is almost exclusively floral with notes of jasmine and rose. There is a very slight apricot as well as a citrus scent. The alcohol is basically nonexistent on the nose.

The mouth feel of the wine is somewhat full and creamy, though the acidity feels just a bit low.

The flavor of the wine is fairly typical, albeit more intense, for a Gewürztraminer. It has an exclusively floral attack, giving way to overripe tropical fruits on the mid-palate. The finish is a fantastically bright lavender. There’s a minor sweetness to this wine, and it almost tastes like it needs a bit higher acidity to counter it. The alcohol, at 11.5%, supports the flavor very well.

For the Casual Drinker:

This is one of those sweeter whites that really suits a beginner’s palate. It’s got a beautiful floral characteristic as well as ripe fruits combined with just enough residual sugar to give the whole thing a full, pungent flavor. If you’ve got a friend who’s more into red wines, this won’t please their palate, but anyone who is a fan of off-dry whites and dessert wines should enjoy this, at least unless Gewurztraminer simply isn’t your thing.

The Conclusion:

If you were ready to write off Gewurztraminer as a hopeless grape destined for the White Zin crowd, this one might keep you around a bit longer. 6/10

In Case You Missed It:

Wine: Durkheimer Feuerberg Gewurztraminer Kabinett

Producer: Vier Jahreszeiten

Region: Pfalz, Germany

Varietal(s): 100% Gewurztraminer

Vintage: 2007

Residual Sugar: unknown

Alcohol: 11.5%

pH: unknown

Price: $17

Purchased at: A Southern Season, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Exploring an Utter Mystery in the Yadkin Valley

From the first moment that I saw the name of the winery, “Cellar 4201,” on the North Carolina map, I was intrigued. The name reminded me, strangely, of the vaults from Fallout, and I half-expected to come across some sort of bomb-shelteresque hole in the ground a la Vault 101:

Fallout Vault 101 Door

Instead, you’re greeted by an elegant wooden door surrounded by sub-tropical plants and set in a cottage-like tasting room that seems yanked directly from Italy’s Piedmont countryside:

Cellar 4201 Entrance

Words cannot convey how intrigued I was by this winery simply because of the name. Mysterious, entirely non-descriptive, and surrounded geographically by quirky names like Divine Llama and Rag Apple Lassie and old standbys like Shelton Vineyards and Flint Hill, Cellar 4201 provoked every curious bone I had in my body (206 I believe is the current scientific count). Looking at the pictures from their website only made me even more intrigued.

Oh, and by the way, that pour they put in the montage on the home page? That’s actually about the pour you get if you pay for a glass of wine. All their wines are only $5 by the glass, and you get to keep the glass as a souvenir every single glass you buy. They, uh, they take care of their customers.

The owner, Greg, was out straightening up the patio when we arrived; he gave us a friendly welcoming, and we started conversing. He gave us a rundown of the history of the vineyard, about how he and his wife, Donna, developed their passion for wine through traveling and decided to bring their favorite varietals from France and Italy to North Carolina. While they’ve been growing the grapes since 2003, their tasting room has only been open for a year. They took plenty of time to ensure their wines were top quality before they invited the public in. He also explained the name and the label; rather than gussy up the winery’s name, they wanted to quite simply describe what they were, a wine cellar located at 4201 Apperson Road. All their labels feature an arrowhead, an homage to Donna’s Cherokee heritage. The vibrant orange that runs through their label, their logo, and the flora on-site stems from Donna’s affinity for that color.

The expansive lawn of Cellar 4201 (yes that's a cornhole set out there)

While we talked, Greg began to pour a tasting for us. He described the intent behind each wine, each vintage, explaining why things tasted the way they did. Far from a hands-off owner, Greg planted himself firmly in the winemaking, though he defers to the knowledge of Sean McRitchie, a second-generation winemaker from McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks, whom he recruited to lead the process.

Halfway through the tasting, Greg had to leave to attend to his other business, but his tasting room partner and best friend Aaron continued the customer service. With a sleeveless shirt, tribal bicep tattoo, and a deep tan, Aaron struck me more as a rugged, outdoorsy type than a tasting room attendant, but he quickly demonstrated his passion for and knowledge of Cellar 4201’s wares as he poured the last wines. Aaron described how, after a long friendship spanning decades (“We’ve never had cross words for each other,” he proudly told us), Greg recruited him to help follow his dream and create the vineyard. They attended classes together, conducted blind tastings, and otherwise educated themselves on the varieties they planted. Now, they harvest the grapes, make the wine, and pour the wines together as a seamless duo.

Gotta stop before I write too much again. How about the wines? None are over $15, and all are absolutely fantastic. Small lots are maintained from 5 total acres of vines, and their wines are 100% estate-grown, meaning all the wine gets plenty of attention throughout the process.

Cellar 4201 is a winery after my girlfriend’s heart. She’s a big red drinker, lover of Bordeaux, and very particular about her white wines. Completely flying in the face of the typical North Carolinian palate, Cellar 4201 offers only two whites (neither of them sweet), and the rest of their wines are classic left-bank Bordeaux reds and an Italian red and off-dry Rosé, both single varietal Sangiovese.

09 Stainless Steel Chardonnay – Offers a bright nose of citrus, primarily pineapple, with a surprisingly full flavor of citrus and tropical notes and a very light perceived sweetness balanced by a superb, soft acidity. Finish is medium-long and tastes like lemons. 7/10

06 Barrel-aged Chardonnay - Spent 9 months in older French and American oak, imparting a very light oak on the nose and flavor. Tropical notes still come through on the nose, and the flavor introduces a slightly buttery characteristic as well as tropical and spices. The wine has a beautiful mouth-soaking texture, incredibly smooth and firm. 7/10

Cellar 4201 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Cellar 4201 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

NV Sangiovese – A quick note about the non-vintageness of this wine, straight from Greg: in 2007, frost killed almost all of their Sangiovese, leaving them with just 100 gallons after winemaking. Rather than bottle this as is, Greg decided to barrel-age the whole lot for an additional year, 2 years total, blending it with the 2008 Sangiovese after it had aged for a year.

The result is, in my opinion, the best wine they currently offer. A deep reddish-purple color like the skin of a black cherry, offering a light pepper and smoke that gives way to a rich black cherry flavor. The oak provides an incredibly nuanced, velvety texture while hardly encroaching on the pure flavor of the grapes. The tannins are chalky and delicate, offering a surprisingly smooth red wine that was perfect for sipping out in the sun. 8/10

Also, why Sangiovese? From the about us section: “After traveling to Italy, Donna developed a passion for Sangiovese. While admitting it is difficult to grow, it is currently our signature wine.” Simple.

2006 Merlot - With a nose of brisk cherry and black pepper, the Merlot hardly exhibits the 10 months it spent in French oak. It has a great structure, perhaps a bit lighter than a typical Merlot, but the flavors and texture are simply delightful. 7/10

2006 Reserve Merlot - With their Merlot, they split the vintage, oaking one twice as long as the other. Thus, the Reserve Merlot has all the characteristics of its purer brother, but with a palpable, pleasant oak characteristic. The flavor is fuller, darker, with cherries and pepper just bursting onto the palate. The texture is fuller as well, coating the mouth very nicely. Both styles are equally delicious and affordable, so choosing a Merlot is as simple as figuring out how full you prefer your reds to be. 7/10

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon - Very smoky nose. Complex flavor of dark fruits, tobacco, and wood with a smoky finish. Beautiful full flavor and texture. 10 months in French oak softened it without masking the flavor. 7/10

2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - With a fuller dark fruit flavor, light oak on the nose and palate, remnants of the smoky and woody character of its lighter brother, and a raisin quality on the finish, the 2006 Reserve Cabernet takes 20 months in French oak in stride. Great texture on this one. 7/10

2006 Sweet Native - The one concession Cellar 4201 has made to the sweet-drinking crowd, the Sweet Native is an off-dry Rosé from 100% Sangiovese with 3% sugar. The flavor is an array of citrus and red fruits, with a pleasantly crisp acidity and a decidedly non-syrupy texture. As Mr. Drink Pink, I approve. 7/10

This post accompanied by a bottle of the Cellar 4201 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. I made it almost 4 days without opening it.

Yet Another Summer Wine Value

The Back Story:

As you may have gathered by now, I’m a big promoter of two trends in wine: local production and organic and sustainable winemaking. Usually I discover these facts about a winery before I try their wares, as I actively seek out local and organic wines. This time, however, I didn’t figure out this particular wine was organic until the second bottle around, after I’d already taken my notes on it.

Which wine? Chateau Petit Roubié‘s 2009 Picpoul de Pinet. An impulse buy as I dashed through my local organic food shop (Weaver Street Market), the Picpoul was a varietal I hadn’t had in some time, and I wanted to rectify it in a hurry. I was pleasantly surprised by its complexity and crispness. As you also may have gathered, I love a high, aggressive acidity in my white wines despite my propensity for getting heartburn. When this shop gets in a new wine, I’m always eager to try it.

Certified organic since 2001, Chateau Petit Roubié embraces a poetically simple organic attitude:

Feed the soil to feed the plant, stimulate the biological activity of the soil, help the plant to resist disease and pests without contaminating the environment, avoid trace residue, maintain as far as possible an integrity with regard to the natural surroundings. These are the basic objectives of biological farming.

Petit Roubié claims Picpoul as their AOC. While they offer their red varietals of Alicante, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Merlot, and Syrah and white varietals of Carignan Blanc, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Sèmillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Terret Bourret, and Viognier as vin de pays in the spirit of their region, their wine proudly contributes to the 2000 year old Picpoul tradition as a village wine in the area.

You can explore all the producers in the Picpoul de Pinet region here. For now, let’s focus on the wine at hand…

The Results:

Chateau Petit Roubie Picpoul GlassThe appearance of the wine is a light golden color with a medium viscosity and a slight green tint.

The nose of the wine is comprised largely of citrus and orchard fruits, though there’s a floral component. Lemon and pear are largely featured, as is a slightly sweet honeyed scent.

The mouth feel of the wine is on the heavier side of medium-bodied, with a tangy, full, creamy texture.

The flavor of the wine is very full, very crisp, very dry, with massive fruit forwardness, primarily citrus. Green apple and lemon match a puckering acidity very well on the attack, and pineapple and mineral flavors persist through the finish, which is moderate. The wine is bone dry but well-balanced. They say “drink it young at 8°C”, or under 50°F, and this is assuredly a drink-now affair; it’ll do just fine practically right out of the fridge tomorrow. The wine’s flavor did suffer heavily as it warmed, so make sure you keep this one on ice.

For the Casual Drinker:

This is yet another strong, refreshing white wine built for the summer days. It’s a value buy, not just a bargain, at $11, as my mate Steve Paulo at Notes From The Cellar will gladly and bluntly differentiate. It delivers a beautiful balance, a full-bodied flavor, and a complexity beyond the typical Sauvignon Blanc-esque summer fare. With pleasant, agreeable citrus flavors and a palpable acidity, it’ll make a good pairing for any of your spicy seafood endeavors. Just make sure you keep it cool… the wine begins to lose its crispness and takes on a bitter flavor as it gets warmer.

The Conclusion:

This might be one of those wines where a subjective concept of balance comes into play. Personally, I love the acidity on this wine, though it might  be offputting or overwhelming to some palates. I believe it sustains the flavor very well without contributing a sour or bitter undertone. If acidic wines are your thing, Picpoul is a varietal for you, and this particular one is a great value look at a very focused, up-and-coming wine-making region in Languedoc. 7/10

In Case You Missed It:

Wine: Picpoul de Pinet

Producer: Chateau Petit Roubie

Region: Picpoul de Pinet, Languedoc, France

Varietal(s): 100% Picpoul

Vintage: 2009

Residual Sugar: unknown

Alcohol: 12.5%

pH: unknown

Price: $11

Purchased at: Weaver Street Market (Hillsborough, NC)

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