It was a gorgeous day in early summer when I visited the small wine producer Chêne Bleu, based on the edge of the southern Rhône and the Côteaux de Provence in the south of France. Getting to the winery at La Verrière, located atop a mountain amongst the trees of the Dentelles de Montmirail, is easier said than done: Our GPS couldn’t find the address, so we had to do it the old-fashioned way, winding along narrow roads above the town of Crestet, eyes open for small signs and roadside markers, praying we were going in the right direction as we passed by forests and hiking trails until we finally came upon the beautifully restored ninth-century estate, high above the Rhône river valley. Continue reading
I had the good fortune of meeting and having lunch with Nicole Rolet of Chêne Bleu (“Blue Oak” in French) on her recent trip to New York. I didn’t know much about the wines before we met, but I was immediately taken away by her story. She and her husband had renovated La Verrière, a Medieval property in Provence, high in the mountains above the Gigondas region in the Southern Rhône.
A visit to the French region of Champagne, visiting houses and growers, caves and restaurants, offers a little glimpse into the places that make these very specific wines. With their somber countenance and chic looks, the Champenois embody the seriousness with which Champagne is produced and marketed. No region in world is known so much for such internationally acclaimed brands, whose producers seek to create the same quality and style of wine year in and year out. They painstakingly blend grapes and vintages for the perfect base wine, and then they wait. The patience that is required to make these wines, letting some age for up to ten years, is the ultimate expression of refinement. Continue reading
Sweet wines have a bad reputation in the United States as cheap, watered-down alternatives to the more refined, dry styles. Keep your sticky white zins to yourself, I thought when I began getting interested in wine. I’ll drink my zippy sauvignon blancs and tannic cabernets. Continue reading
A sparkling wine made by the méthode traditionelle in the Loire Valley, this 100% Chenin Blanc has a pleasant, musty nose with a hint of lemon from its extended lees contact during the aging process.
The wine is medium-bodied (13% alcohol) – weighty, but the bubbles offer a delicious, refreshing bite. Rich hints of chamomile honey are cut off by its sharp, acidic finish.
An excellent pairing for creamier dishes like risotto alla milanese.
4 out of 5 stars
Imported by Louis/Dressner