Saturday, November 24, 2007

Tasting Note: 2006 Les Vins de Vienne Côtes du Rhône Les Laurelles

The Story: Tired of eating meat and turkey for the last week, I decided to cook seared scallops with chorizo and lemon juice last night. I had a Gruner Veltliner and a Riesling on hand that probably would have paired decently with the dish, but I thought that a nice buttery Chardonnay would pair best. I had also been meaning to try out a new wine shop near me, Cellar 72, which is supposedly run by former sommeliers at several NYC restaurants (Per Se, Marseille, and Nice Matin). With those two thoughts in mind, I headed to Cellar 72 to pick out white wine that would go with my scallops and chorizo.

Although I my assumption was that a full-bodied Chardonnay would pair nicely with my dinner, I knew that a former sommelier would probably have more knowledge about pairings than this newbie, so I told him what I was cooking and let him take the reins. I patted myself on the back when the sales clerk suggested Chardonnay. The sales clerk gave me two options: a "smoky" California Chardonnay or a white Cotes Du Rhone, that, while not a Chardonnay, had Chardonnay-like characteristics that would pair well with the scallop dish. I have had many smoky California Chardonnays, so for the sake of being adventurous, I selected the 2006 Les Vins de Vienne Côtes du Rhône Les Laurelles, which just under $18. The clerk mentioned that this wine was one of his favorites, so I assumed that I picked well.

The Region: This wine is a Cotes du Rhone from Southern Rhone. Les Vins de Vienne on Google Maps

The Grape: This is a white blend. The back of the bottle tells me that it is composed of 50% Marsanne grapes and 50% Viognier grapes and that the wine has been aged for 10 months in tanks.

The Look: Medium-dark amber.

The Aroma: Apples predominated. I also smelled hints of lemon and fresh-cut grass.

The Swish: I am often disappointed with my first taste whenever I taste a wine. I do not know why this is; the only possible explanation I can think of is that I am thrown off when a wine does not taste as I assumed it would. Rather than becoming more interested in a wine that tastes different from expectations, I tend to be disappointed at first. This wine is no exception. Even though I was well aware that this wine was not Chardonnay, I expected it to taste like a Chardonnay. Instead, I was thrown for a loop when I noticed strong flavors of lychee-- it reminded me of a Gewurztraminer. I have tasted Gewurztraminer only once before, but I did not care for it, so I was disappointed with this wine at first.

As is usually the case with wines that I have high hopes for but disappoint me with the first taste, this wine proved itself after a few more tastes. The lychee transformed itself to pear. I was able to identify apples and lemons as well. This was a very interesting wine.

The Verdict: I really enjoyed this wine. I think the best proof of my enjoyment of this wine would be that I sipped two glasses over the course of almost an hour and a half. I did not take a long time to finish it because it was bad, but because it was so good. I tend to quaff most decent wines, but this one I sipped all the way through because it was such an interesting wine. With each sip, I tried to figure this wine out, to notice all of its nuances. I have never tasted anything quite like it. It paired very nicely with my scallop dish, and I would definitely buy it again.

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