Sunday, September 25, 2011

Grape of the Month - Mourvedre

I'm going to try a new segment here on Journey of a Purple Girl... Grape of the Month and am going to kick it off with the Mourvedre grape.  Mourvedre is a little known grape traditionally from Spain and pronounced "moo-VE-dra".  Although I'm sure the French and Spanish make it sound much more lovely.  I was first introduced to this varietal during my last Enology weekend course in Pullman on the Washington State University campus.  (Side note, a tough trip to make for this die-hard Husky).  After a full day of class and lab work, we went as a group down to Merry Cellars, where we were treated to a personal tour from the winemaker and fellow alum, Patrick Merry.  It was hard to find a wine at Merry Cellars that I didn't like but my personal favorite of the day was their 2007 Mourvedre-Syrah.  What struck me most and what I still remember after three years was the deep, intense purple color of the wine.  It was like nothing I've ever seen before and I'm not sure I've seen it since. The velvety mouthfeel coupled with the plum and mocha flavor made this truly a memorable wine.  The composition of the wine is 50.5% Mourvedre grape and 49.5% Syrah.  And so it got me to thinking, what is so special about the Mourvedre grape and why don't more wine makers use it?

Mourvedre grapes on their own tend to create deep colored wine that is high in tannins and alcohol and have a spicey or gamey aroma.  Not generally characteristics most people enjoy in wine.  Blended with another variety though and the color of the wine is intensified and structure is enhanced.  Some of Mourvedre's favorite partners are Syrah and Grenache.  This grape is gaining appeal and there are nearly 1000 acres of Mourvedre grapes growing in both California and Eastern Washington today.  If only I could get my hands on some to blend with my Syrah.... So next time you see a wine with Mourvedre as part of the composition, give it a try.  You'll be able to share the little known secret of the Mourvedre grape with all of your friends.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Time to Order Grapes

Its that time of year... the days are getting shorter, the leaves are starting to change color and there is a noticeable chill in the air.  That also means that grape harvest is right around the corner. 

Purple Girl doesn't just drink wine... I make it too.  I'm a certified Enologist and dabble in the art of making wine.  I'll admit that I haven't been wildly successful (yet).  And those friends of mine who have politely accepted a bottle of a past vintage - best advice is to leave it in the bottle.  But, after taking a year off, its time to give it a go again.  Mr. Purple wants in on the fun this time too.  So, I need your help and am taking requests...  Should I make Cab Franc, Cab Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, or Syrah? Vote now using the polling buttons on the right hand side of your screen and follow Purple Girl on her wine making adventures this fall.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Big Ol' Bottles of Wine

BBQs at Purple Mom and Purple Dad's house always give a good reason to blog.  The one we had most recently to celebrate the final push of summer provided another great wine topic - wine bottle size.

But first, I must give a shout out to the Sauvignon Blanc of the evening.  As I've said before, not much is better than an ice cold Sauvignon Blanc on a hot summer day. And the same holds true for the Sauvignon Blanc from Cupcake Vineyards. This bottle retails for $9 - $10. The grassy nose leads to a clean, crisp and citrus taste.  A great buy for the money!

I have so much to say about DeLille Cellars as it is one of my favorite Washington wineries.  Trying to stick with the theme of bottle size so I'll keep the D2 tasting notes short and save the topic of DeLille for a future blog.  D2 is a blend of 41% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot.  The 2004 vintage has a nose of oak and berry and cherries and blackberries dominate the lengthy finish.  The velvety Merlot like mouth feel and fruit forward taste put D2 high up in the ranks of Purple Girl's favorites.

Now more about bottles... so, why buy a large-format bottle anyway?  First of all, it certainly makes an impression on those who are lucky enough to share the bottle.  There is something special about seeing a bottle that you can't find in your local grocery store.  But, for Purple Girl and most wine connoisseurs out there, having a large-format bottle is not all about image.  Since the ratio of air to liquid is lower in large-format bottles, these large vessels are superior to their "standard" counterparts in maturing wine as it allows the wine to age more slowly.  This particular bottle (shown above) is a Magnum, which is 1.5 liters of wine and is the equivalent of two standard bottles.

Now for the big kahuna of the evening... the Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico.  This Reserve from 2003 made its home in a Double Magnum bottle, which is 3 liters of liquid and the equivalent to four standard bottles of wine.  (As an aside, 3 liters of sparkling wine is called a Jeroboam).  This Chianti is medium bodied and tastes of cherries, vanilla and has hints of smoke flavor.  And the structure of the wine held up nicely in the large format bottle.

In case you are interested, the largest wine bottle is called the Sovereign and is the equivalent of a whopping 34 standard bottles.  Probably would take a fork lift to get it on the table.  Following behind is the Melchior (24 bottles), Nebuchadnezzar (20 bottles and don't ask me how to pronounce it), Balthazar (16 bottles), Salmanazar (12 bottles), Imperial (8 bottles), Jeroboam (6 bottles of still wine), and then the Double Magnum and Magnum discussed above.  No one is really sure why larger format bottles were given biblical names.  The earliest recorded use of a biblical name for these bottles was in 1725 when the Jeroboam was named after the biblical founder of Israel because he was referred to as a "a man of great worth", as were large sized bottles.  The largest bottle I've ever had the privilege to drink out of was an Imperial.  Quite impressive to say the least.

So there you have it, your lesson in wine bottles.  Go for the Magnum next time - you'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

So Many Reasons to Love Purple

Besides being an avid wine connoisseur, I'm also a die hard University of Washington Husky fan.  For those of you not from the Seattle area, UW colors are Purple and Gold... or "Go Purple, Be Gold" as the saying goes.  There's really no better time of year to be a Husky alumni than the fall when Husky football season swings back into full gear.  Especially when you are friends with THE Purple Tailgater... well known for his ability to organize a great tailgate party.  I never imagined having so much fun in a parking lot until I tailgated with the Purple Tailgater.  Needless to say, this Purple Girl is happy when drinking or wearing purple... the two together is darn near perfect.

Seeing as this is a wine blog, I attempted to stay true to form for the tailgate and chose wine as my beverage of choice.  Seattle is experiencing record breaking warm temperatures this September so I opted for some ice cold Sauvignon Blanc - one of my favorites on a hot summer day!

First up, Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010.  This is one of my staples in the summertime.  A bottles retails for around $13 and can be found at most major grocery stores and is often at Costco.

Like many great sauvignon blancs, Kim Crawford is located in New Zealand.  Their early roots trace back to a small cottage in Auckland where they got their start in 1996.  Sauvignon Blanc comes from the French word sauvage (meaning "wild") and blanc (meaning "white").  Most sauvignon blancs are known for their distinct and intense aromas and can range in taste from grassy to fruity.  What I love about Kim Crawford's sauvignon blanc is the ever-present citrus flavors and the fresh and lingering finish.  Taking a sip is almost like taking a little Hawaiian vacation, which is a nice treat while hanging out in a steaming hot parking lot.

Before I review the next wine, I feel compelled to say that we tailgated for SIX hours... hence the reason for the second bottle.  I was with Purple Tailgater and all.  And, I had some help on the second bottle.  No need to send me to rehab.

Okay... next up... Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc 2010.  Also from the Marlborough region of New Zealand (sense a theme here?), this wine pairs well with hot temperatures.  Its strong citrus flavors are similar to Kim Crawford but the Nobilo is drier and crisper in comparison.  Wine Spectator magazine describes it as having a "laser beam of lemon, lime, grapefruit and apricot flavors".  If you aren't sure what a laser beam of flavor tastes like, Nobilo is a must add to your list.  Another great bonus, it retails for around $10 and, if you are lucky, you can find it on sale for even less. 

All in all, it was great to be back at Husky Stadium cheering on my Huskies.  They even eeked out a 30-27 win for the first game of the year.  Hopefully a trend that continues on this season.

Until the next tailgate... Go Dawgs!