What I Have Been Drinking–In Europe

I have been in Europe the better part of a month now, and I thought I would highlight a few of the wines that I have had at meals thus far. The next five days I will be in the heart of Burgundy (I am writing this in the shadow of the Hospices de Beaune), but I am reserving those wines for another post.

BELGIUM

IMG_29572011 Chateau les Fontenelles Bergerac: During the first week, I took my eight Aussie clients to this little neighborhood bar/restaurant that I had discovered the last time I was in Gent. It was technically my “night off” but the group was so much fun, I said what the heck? They restaurant only had one red wine on the menu, but it was fantastic. Not overly complex, but really good fruit and a great pairing with the steak (and a nice change of gears after all that beer). Very Good. 86-88 Points.

LOIRE VALLEY

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2009 Château La Grille Chinon Vielles Vignes: We were wandering around Blois one night, looking for a restaurant. Normally, I have the spot picked out and reserved well ahead of time, but I was out on my bike and we know how that goes. I found a tiny little restaurant off the main drag, and had one of the best meals I’ve ever had in the town (and I have had many meals in Blois). The four of us put away five bottles that night, but this was the best of the bunch–meaty and fruity with “mmmm” inducing depth. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.

RHONE VALLEY

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2006 Château Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc: I was driving through Châteauneuf-du-Pape carrying about 30 bikes in a van and had a 8 hour drive ahead of me. What do I do? Take the 30 minute detour into town, walk around, and have lunch, naturally. When I saw this wine on the “by the glass” list, I almost passed out. And only 8€? I was tempted to have two. Perhaps the best CdP Blanc I have ever had–it did not hurt drinking it in town with incredible views. Sorry, no bottle shot. Outstanding. 93-95 Points.

BASQUE COUNTRY

IMG_30872012 Gorri Irouleguy: I do not drink a lot of Irouleguy (ee-ROO-le-gay) since it is rather difficult to find and, more importantly, I find it a rather stinky Brett-y mess most of the time. Not this one–no Brett, great fruit, and inexpensive, this wine was a pleasant surprise. Very Good 87-89 Points.

IMG_31082010 Marqués de Riscal Rioja Riserva: It was our first night out in San Sebasatian and the large group of 19 split up and I was left in charge of 10 thirsty and hungry cyclists. And I don’t speak any Spanish whatsoever. Well, through body gestures, some French, and a little Italian, I was able to Keep the Customer(s) Satisfied. This bottle of Riscal Riserva went a long way to doing just that–a step up from the more basic Riojas we had been drinking, this had much more complexity and interest, while maintaining juicy fruit. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.

IMG_31372012 Bengoexte Txakloina: No trip to the Basque region would be complete without sucking down enough Txakoli to rip the enamel off your teeth. While not particularly thought-provoking, it is refreshing and fun to watch the showmanship when pouring. Very Good. 86-88 Points.

IMG_31502013 Bodegas El Coto Rioja Blanco: You do not see a whole lot of white Rioja (made from the Viura grape) outside of Spain, so I jumped at this when I once again had a large portion of the group on my own. My Spanish was not getting any better, but no one was dying of thirst either. Nice stone fruit here, with just the right amount of acidity. Very Good. 87-89 Points.

PARIS

2000 Mailly Grand Cru Les Echansons Champagne: Whoa. I left Spain and took a bit of a hellish trip back to Paris where a great friend, a tasty meal, and this were waiting for me. Whoa again. Given the context, this was incredible. Hell, without the context this is incredible wine. Toast, brioche, biscuits–all were present and in harmony with the delicate citrus and pear. Wow. What a treat. Out-friggin’-standing. 95-97 Points.

MaillyWine of the Week(s): Is there any doubt? The Chinon was great, the white Châteauneuf-du-Pape was ethereal, but the top of the line cuvée from one of my favorite champagne producers with over a decade of age on it? It was the winner at the “pop” of the cork. Yes, the 2000 Mailly Grand Cru Les Echansons Champagne is the wine of the week. Not only was it an Outstanding wine, but drinking it with a great friend at the end of a hard day (and week) made it extra-special.

What Was Your Wine Of The Week?

 

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About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Champagne, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Tannat, Tempranillo, Txakoli, Viura, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What I Have Been Drinking–In Europe

  1. Sounds like you’ve been drinking well! I didn’t drink too much good wine while in Spain because I was in an area known for sidra, but it sounds like I was missing out!

    Like

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