Soutiran Grand Cru Brut NV Champagne, France
Soutiran is not one of the old houses
of Champagne; until the 70s they sold their grapes to
the local cooperative. Nonetheless, the Brut has all
the virtues of classic bubbly: smooth, medium-to-full-bodied,
and a nose of croissant, honey, quince, and ginger.
Serve with: Sushi
Heaven “Vogelzang Vineyard” Viognier 2005,
Santa Ynez Valley, California West
Coast winemakers specializing in Rhône varietals
have garnered a lot of attention for their Syrahs and
other reds, but only a few have focused on the white
winegrapes of the Rhône. Viognier is the mainstay
of Cold Heaven’s production, and winemaker Morgan
Clendenen makes wines from several different vineyards.
The Vogelzang Vineyard 2005 has lots of floral aromas
overlaying rich tropical fruits. It’s fairly full,
with a silky mouthfeel, and the acidity is well-balanced
– a notable achievement for a Viognier.
Serve with: Butternut squash
de Montille Volnay 1er Cru “Mitans” 2003,
It’s common knowledge that the heat of 2003 was
difficult for winemakers. However, the best came through
with wines that drink well young and still preserve
much of their typicity. This Volnay has the cherry aroma
you expect, along with notes of spice and dark raspberry.
It’s pretty big, but still round and silky.
Serve with: Wild salmon
Goutte d’Or 2001, Walker Bay, South Africa
This blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc shows a
great balance of weight, sweetness, and acidity. There’s
good fruit there – lots of dried apricot, quince
paste, and orange zest – but what really makes
it stand out are the touches of spice, especially cinnamon
Serve with: A soft blue cheese
This was a favorite of mine when I lived in Holland,
made at the Westmalle Abbey, one of only seven Trappist
monasteries with a brewery. The dubbel is their darkest
brew. The nose is on the fruitier side, with touches
of banana and fig, but on the palate it turns on the
malt and notes of caramel, anise, and espresso emerge.
The dark color suggests sweetness and weight, but it’s
actually fairly dry and aims for balance.
Serve with: Roast beef
Spirits Gold Vodka, Vermont
Ideally, whether it’s made from grains, potatoes,
or even grapes, vodka is supposed to be neutral, without
much flavor. The nose on this smooth vodka, however,
shows a clear touch of…maple syrup? Is that wrong?
Well, it reflects its origins – 100% maple sap,
what else would you expect from Vermont – and
makes for a very enjoyable sipping vodka. Unlike many
vodkas, it’s not a blank slate for fruity cocktails;
instead serve it on the rocks or up, with a simple garnish
at best, and enjoy the vodka itself without help from
fruit juice, triple sec, or other mixers.
Serve with: Pancakes?