Friday, January 23, 2015

Marc's Wine Reviews: 2010 Château de Villeneuve Saumur Champigny

2010 Château de Villeneuve  Saumur Champigny

Domaine de Villeneuve, Saumur Champigny AOP, Loire Valley, France  

Grapes:  100% Cabernet Franc     13.0% ABV

East of the Muscadet wine region and just west of Chinon lies Saumur Champigny, dominated by red wines made from Cabernet Franc. The Château de Villeneuve was built in 1577, and two centuries later was to be left to a young nobleman who was killed in the U.S. while serving under General Lafayette in the Battle of Yorktown during the American Revolution. His younger brother inherited the property and the family name Villeneuve remained, although another two centuries later in 1969 the chateau was bought by the Chevallier family and restored. Today wine production continues, with modern techniques producing increasingly seductive Cab Franc wines intended for a growing market. Still, appreciation of red wines from the Loire is still in its infancy, yet the wine curious can find remarkable value and ground for exploration in these quality reds.

Marc's Tasting Notes:

The wine shows a pretty nose of wild strawberries and black cherry. Less underbrush and tree bark than some pure Cabernet Francs, it is definitely on the fruitier end of this spectrum. The palate is dominated by tart cherry, bright herbs, and finally a few hints of tree bark, just enough to be reassuring about the varietal content. It finishes very dry and puckery. A wine with these characteristics would accompany barbecue and fatty grilled meats extremely well. The tannins are there but the acidity is the star of the show. Nice wine to continue your exploration of the Loire!

French Wineries Don't ALL Look Like This, Ya Know.

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW

Marc Wine Blog

Tuesday, January 20, 2015's Third Anniversary is TODAY!

Marc Soucy's Wine Blog is Three Years Old Today

Thanks to all my readers from all over the world for keeping me going.
At this moment, there have been 48,350 visitors so far!

I hope to continue providing you with new perspectives on how to enjoy wine more! 

Meanwhile, another fun mention in the press for yours truly:

"Wine tastings are a regular happening at Brookline Liquor Mart as are visits from many wine connoisseurs such as Marc Soucy. Scheduled classes are regularly offered to consumers so they can learn all they can about the fundamentals of wine." -- from an article at prweb published Jan 13 2015, found here:  article

I am getting ready to to begin the next phase of my career in the world of wine. Stay tuned, and please come back to read my next wine review and ongoing mini series, like Wine in a Restaurant, and Learn Wine Tasting. 

Until Next Time!

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW
Marc Wine Blog

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Marc's Wine Reviews: 2013 La Caplana Gavi di Gavi

I'm focussing on wines of the Loire and Piedmont these days.
 Yes I know, life is hard.
2013   La Caplana  Gavi di Gavi

La Caplana / Guido Natalino, Gavi DOCG, Piedmont, Italy 
Grapes:  100% Cortese     12.0% ABV

The perhaps perplexing name “Gavi di Gavi” refers to the traditional name of the regional wine made from the Cortese grape, but as the wine gained in popularity, Cortese grapes grown outside the traditional area--Gavi--began to be used to make similar wines, which they continued to call Gavi. Therefore, it became the common practice recently to specify that this wine is in fact Gavi made in the original zone named Gavi. Therefore: “Gavi di Gavi”.  Discuss…..

Marc's Tasting Notes:

Appearing a rich gold in the glass, the wine gives off aromas of pear and lemon zest. A taste brings a lively acidity and flavors of crisp apple and citrus, with hints of fennel and melon. The wine is medium bodied and attractive for those wanting something richer than the more typical sleek Italian white.

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW

Marc Wine Blog

Monday, January 5, 2015

Marc's Wine Review: NV Baumard Cremant de Loire

I wrote about another of Baumard's wines this past June, their Savenières. 
Experiencing this Crémant after that truly shows their depth as a winery.

NV  Baumard "Carte Turquoise"  Crémant de Loire
Domaine des Baumard, Crémant de Loire AOP, Loire Valley, France  

Grapes:  60% Cabernet Franc - 40% Chenin Blanc  (approx)     12.5% ABV

Crémant is what the French call their own regional sparkling wines that meet the stringent production practices of Champagne, their most prestigious sparkler. Crémants are an excellent choice for anyone wanting to drink authentic French sparkling wine, but also wanting to pay less for that experience. In the Loire Valley, this designation goes to Crémant de Loire, an AOP in its own right. Domaine des Baumard is renowned producer with a broad portfolio of Loire specialties, and their “Carte Turquoise” represents among the finest examples of this Crémant style.  Note the use of the so “non-Champagne” grapes, Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc.

Marc's Tasting Notes:

Pretty silver wine with a slight reddish glimmer. Faint aromas of citrus and tart cherry lead to a more pronounced palate of quince, lemon, lime, and sour cherry. Nice smooth acidity and frothy bubbles make this an attractive sparkling experience. The contribution of the Cab Franc provides for a drier and more tannic profile than most Crémants outside of the Loire. The Chenin Blanc provides richness and smoothness.

Another shot of the domaine's facade (previous one in my June post)

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW
Marc Wine Blog

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Excerpts from Marc Soucy's "Stress Free Wine": Ordering Wine in a Restaurant Part 1

This is part of a series of quotes from a booklet I wrote a few years ago entitled 
"Stress Free Wine".  
I've grown since then but many of the ideas are still relevant, and I hope useful for you.   

Ordering Wine in a Restaurant  Part 1

When you order wine in a restaurant--especially by the bottle--the server brings the bottle over and asks you to confirm that it is the correct one that you ordered. Pay attention when you order the wine, so that you can correctly identify it or not. That is the last chance you will have to turn it down. If the server opens the bottle, you have accepted responsibility for your choice. From that point, your only escape path (with some decorum anyway), is if the bottle is flawed somehow. True, some establishments will accommodate you to a degree. It is usually best to try to avoid putting them and yourself in that situation though.

So how should you behave during this situation? Without getting too strict about it, it is worthwhile to know a few of the expected behaviors. It will enhance your relationship with wine, and the enjoyment of your meals. You're paying a big premium on that bottle. You may as well have the best possible experience, right?

More Next Time in this mini series about wine in restaurants.

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW

Marc Wine Blog

Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year from Marc Soucy and

Happy New Year
from Marc Soucy and

I took a break from blogging during the holidays, and will resume soon. A series of wine reviews is on its way with my own tasting notes, and I thought I would republish a few wine tips and little ditties from my previous blog that I worked on from 2009 to 2011 called Stress Free Wine (, no longer in existence)  I think it shows some useful wine information and ways to approach wine from someone who was say, less educated and yet idealistic and excited about my new mission in life back then.

I hope you will continue to visit and read them as well as my new material I am working on.

My mission continues to be to help people better appreciate wine through understanding the role it can play in your life, the role it has played in history and society, and the heightened sensory awareness that it facilitates...  ...if only you give it a chance. It really can make your life better, and I thoroughly enjoy helping you do that. 

Happy New Year.

With Kindest Regards,

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW

Marc Wine Blog

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Learn Wine Tasting: Part 4 - Wine with Food

Learn Wine Tasting - Pairing Food and Wine
Why Wine is Not a Cocktail (at least not usually)

Wine tasting is based on a few basic truths that are easily overlooked, and we should try to address these right up front. First, what makes wine special is its ability to merge with certain foods, so that the food's textures and flavors intermingle with that of the wine. In order to best appreciate this, the taster must develop a method of getting both food and wine in their mouths at the same time. Anyone who has had some soda with a bite of their fries already know how to do this. Keep in mind that it is the sum of the parts of both wine and food that makes the whole you are after. Wine can play a similar role to sauce, spices, or other condiments with your food. Approaching it with that in mind can help a lot in choosing a good wine to go with any dish. 

Another perspective: Because combining wine with food is the goal here, it is possible that some wines do not leave much room for the food to express itself on your palate. Full bodied, assertive wines can crowd out the aromatic character of food, washing over it and possibly making the food a moot point. If the wine's aromas and flavors are too big, it doesn't much matter what food you're eating. It will get overwhelmed with the flavor of the wine. This is why you should pay attention to the wine you choose, and why wine and food pairing is considered difficult by many. 

Not sure why I put this here.... seemed funny.

If you choose to have a glass of wine as a cocktail (and I certainly recommend it), the most immediately satisfying wine for your particular taste is automatically the right choice. Unfortunately, many people have decided that that should be the end of the story, choosing to be part of the "drink what you like" school of thought. What happens, though, is that many wines adversely interfere with the enjoyment of many foods, and there are biochemical reasons for most of these interactions. I have touched upon some of these in previous posts, like this one about red meat and seafood.

European wine (aka old world wine) has evolved over many centuries to accommodate the presence of the local cuisine. It is a safe assumption that Europeans rarely ever just drink wine for the fun of it. Wine is a part of the meal, and is considered pretty inseparable, unless one is choosing to avoid alcohol. The wines have a drier character than new world wines (like California, Argentina, etc), usually a shorter tarter finish, and are less full bodied overall. I see these as wines that leave room for the food's own traits. Drunk on their own, especially the ones at lower price points, they can come across as less immediately satisfying to the new world wine drinker. In the interest of keeping this brief:  This is largely because of longer hang times in a climate with more sunlight, plus the relatively brief history of new world wine production. In the absence of a true wine culture in America for example, we are only now taking baby steps in pairing our wine with food, whereas the French, the Italians, the Spanish, etc.. have been doing it for many centuries.

That's the Stuff.

So the short of it is, when I want to have a glass of wine as a cocktail, I often choose something from the new world, like a wine from the United States, New Zealand, or Australia. If I'm having wine with dinner--which is 3/4 of the time I drink wine--I tend to look at French wines first because of their enormous diversity and flexibility, as well as their nature as wines that evolved primarily to be paired with food. If I'm eating Italian cooking, I never even consider French wine. The Italians have been doing it for far too long, and there is simply no comparison between the sublime experience of an expertly prepared Italian meal made from fresh ingredients paired with a great Italian wine, ... ...and anything else. The almost built in self pairing is a part of that equation.

The wine has already left room for the food, and vice versa. You just have to make minor adjustments.

Pay attention, and enjoy it.  Life is good.

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW

Marc Wine Blog

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wines from South Africa and Greece : Emerging from Under the Radar

Two Wine Producing Countries Rapidly Growing in Stature - Part 1

Greece and South Africa

Within the last few weeks, I've had the chance to taste a pretty broad sampling of high quality wines from two countries that have had--for different reasons--spotty histories within the modern global wine trade. Wines from Greece fall into various levels of quality and usually sport the names of unfamiliar grapes on the label. Be aware that some of these grapes are in fact ancestors or precursors to grapes we use today in very popular wines. Also, don't fall into the trap of thinking that Greek wines are sweet, funky, or resin flavored. Sure a few are, but there are many tasty and interesting dry wines being produced in Greece today. Certain producers put a great deal of effort into creating world class wines that many wine lovers would appreciate ...if given the chance

Greece Has a Number of Varied and Unique Wine Producing Regions
Greece of course was producing wine long before today's more famous wine producing countries, having inspired and instructed the southern Italians, Sicilians, the Gauls, and areas of the Iberian peninsula during their Mediterranean colonial endeavors. As such, the Greeks can be credited with spreading winemaking throughout western Europe, and therefore ultimately, the new world as well. 

I think it's safe to say that South Africa brings a certain set of mixed emotions to American consumers. Some of it is based on lack of familiarity, some on skepticism, and some on politics from the past. The Republic of South Africa went through a very dark period called apartheid, and simultaneously operated its wine industry as a virtual monopoly for some time. Even though South African wine had been produced for a very long time, most of the world never saw any, and the trade embargoes that resulted as protest against the apartheid regime extended this condition for a while longer. 

South Africa's Dominant Wine Producing Area, the Western Cape
Grapes that are quite familiar to American and other New World consumers are widely grown in South Africa, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah (Shiraz), Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc. There is also a uniquely South African cross called Pinotage. These wines have character and generally speaking, boldness in style. Many Americans would probably appreciate some of these wines easily, again ...if given the chance. I especially enjoy some of the red blends often combining Cabernet Sauvignon with Shiraz, as well as many of their celebrated white wines. 

I'll write more about these two countries in upcoming posts. I hope you'll give both these countries a closer examination. They both really deserve it. And don't be afraid to ask your trusted wine consultant to recommend the best quality examples. 

'Till Next Time

 -- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW

Marc Wine Blog
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