Several months ago, after attending the Pasternak Wine Imports Prestige Event, I received a few bottles to sample from their impressive portfolio. At the time, it was still rather chilly here in Philadelphia, so I held off sampling these wines until the temperatures climbed a bit. Well, with mid-90’s forecast for today and tomorrow here in the Delaware Valley, I figured I had waited long enough.
There are few things that I enjoy more than a good sparkling wine and while my heart stays firmly rooted in Champagne, my wife won’t let me drink it every day. There are countless less expensive alternatives out there and near the top of the heap are the Crémants from Alsace. I consider Alsace my second home of sorts since I studied there while in college and have led several bike trips there since. It really is one of the more remarkable regions in France, no matter what your fancy (food, history, architecture, cycling, and of course wine).
Thus, the first two wines I tried from the Pasternak portfolio were, of course, the two Crémants from Lucien Albrecht, a brand that has been around since 1425 (yes, 1425!). While both were very nice sparklers, for me, the clear choice would be the rosé, since the Pinot Noir seems to give it an added dimension of depth.
NV Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut: Retail $21. 50% Pinot Blanc, 25% Pinot Gris & 25% Riesling. Lemony and nutty nose. Good sparkle. Nice acidity with a touch of creaminess. Ample finish. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
NV Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé: Retail $22. 100% Pinot Noir. Pale salmon. Strawberry and citrus nose. Great red berry fruit on the palate. A bit nutty on the finish. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
The next wine on the docket came from the South of France, from Tavel in the Rhône Wine Region. Although I have never been to Tavel (but would love to go), Tavel rosés have always been near the top of the list of my favorites:
2013 Prieuré de Montézargues Tavel Rosé: Retail $19. 55% Grenaches (red & white), 30% Cinsault, 13% Clairette, 2% Others (Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Bourboulenc). Much lighter than most Tavels I have had in the past–more of a pale salmon than a crimson. A bit too clod to start, but as it warmed slightly, I picked up some red berries (strawberry and cranberry) and even some citrus. On the palate, this was perfectly fine: some fruit, a bit of depth, and plenty of acid. It might have fallen a bit short on the first two, however. Still Very Good. 86-88 Points.
I visited Sancerre for the first time a couple of summers past and I was smitten. It is a delightful little town perched on the top of a hill and produces what is for some (including me) some of the finest Sauvignon Blancs in the world. Sure, you could argue that recently some producers in Sancerre have relied a little too heavily on the reputation, but it remains the standard-bearer nonetheless.
2013 Guy Saget Sauvignon Blanc Vin de France La Petite Perrière: Retail $10. This is not a Sancerre, nor is it a complex Sauvignon Blanc, but I really enjoyed it. Bright citrus flavors with equally impressive tartness. Not much finish to speak of but on a hot day, before or during dinner, this is a great (and inexpensive) option. Very Good. 85-87 Points.
2013 Domaine de la Perrière Sancerre: Retail $24. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. I normally don’t pop a Sancerre until several years in the bottle have passed, so this was the first time that I have had one this young. Initially, quite tart and flinty with an acidity that I could feel ripping off my tooth enamel. As time wore on and the wine warmed along with some air getting in, the wine mellowed considerably. Citrus fruit and more minerality came to the front, and the acidity (finally) moved to the background, at least a bit. I still think this needs a bit of time to calm down, but there is no doubt this has the stuffing of a fine Sancerre. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
The last wine I received from the fine people of Pasternak Wine Imports was from New Zealand. I have never been West of Hawaii (no, not even to Korea, where many of my wife’s relatives still live–a bit of a sore spot in the Drunken Home), but I have tasted more than my share of New Zealand wines.
2013 Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc Dashwood: Retail $??. In my mind this is what a NZ Sauvignon Blanc should be. Yes there is citrus, yes there is grass, yes, there is tartness, but (and this is the key) each compliments the other and none stand out ahead. To top it all off, the finish is long lasting and wonderful. Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
So there you have it, another half a dozen wines to consider for your next foray into the summer heat. Thanks to Donna at Pasternak for her persistence in getting the samples to me.