The White Wine Trifecta – Muscat Ottonel, Riesling and Pinot Gris
When I thought about creating the white blend for Le Bec Fin, I choose three varietals in tribute to my birth region in France - Alsace.
These particular three grapes are all close to my heart and are considered to be “Noble grapes” within the region of Alsace. The term Noble Grape refers to recognizable varieties that reliably produce high-quality wine.
Within Alsace - Muscat Ottonel, Riesling and Pinto Gris - are also used within a blend named “Gentil”. Which is a particular assemblage and reserved for AOC Alsace wines fulfilling the superior-quality blending standards. Nobel, Gentil, Special - but there were also additional reasons I brought these grapes together.
Muscat brings the floral notes, Riesling provides elegance and finesse and Pinot Gris enhances the body and richness.
Blending these grapes together makes the wine attractive, showing flattering bouquet, some aromatic, floral and fruity notes and harmony.
On the palate the wine is generous, soft and supple with a hint of shyness and subtlety.
This white blend really pairs well with almost anything, but my favorites are pairing with a big plate of Oysters with lemon or shallots vinaigrette or a wonderful dish of scallops with white asparagus and Hollandaise sauce.
If you are used to drinking your wine in a cup, let me tell you that you missed out on fully enjoying the wine. The quality of the wine counts, but the quality of the glass too. The container influences the content in many ways.
-Enhancement of the bouquet - When you pour the wine in your glass it evaporates little by little. The wine’s aromas fill different parts of the glass according to their density.
The upper part of the glass is occupied by the lighter aromas (flowers and fruits)The middle part is occupied by the vegetable and mineral aromas (earth and mushrooms)The bottom of the glass is occupied by the heavier aromas such as alcohol and oak.Two wine glasses of different shapes will offer a different distribution of these aromas. As these aromas do not mix, unless you shake your glass, the objective is to find the glass that best brings out the bouquet of your wine.
-Enhancement of taste - Did you notice that the position of your head is different depending on the wine glass you use. A narrow glass like a Champagne flute or a white wine glass, forces us to tilt our head backwards. Conversely a large glass (Burgundy or Bordeaux) requires us to lower our head to drink the wine without it overflowing.
The shape of the wine glass therefore conditions the position of our head during the tasting. This has the effect of influencing the arrival of the wine on the sensory points of the mouth (the tongue and the palate) as any food or drink, the taste of the wine can be broken down into several basic flavors. Sugar, acidity, bitterness and salt. By conditioning the arrival of the wine on our tongue, the wine glass makes it possible to bring out this or that flavors of the wine. For example, a glass for light and fruity white wines with strong acidity such a Riesling, should guide the wine on the edge of the tongue to accentuate the fruity sugar and reduce the acidic character.
Certainly, a glass is not going to turn a bad wine into a good one, but it can enhance it.The same wine can be perceived differently according to the glass in which it is consumed.
The right glass can bring out the quality of your wine, namely its taste and bouquet and, of course, the color. The wine glass should be considered an essential instrument in the tasting of wine.
When I was in France I had my own custom wine glass made from Baccarat with a logo engraved. It was in the form of a tulip, with a larger balloon and the edge smaller and looking outside. This design gave room for the wine to breath and at the same time enhance the aromas.
One of my favorite wine glass manufacturers is Riedel. I meet Herr Riedel several times, back in Europe, when I was judging at wine competitions. Riedel designs are known for how they enhance different types of wine.
Eastern Washington is an exceptional place to grow grapes - it has the right terroir. The word Terrior is a French word that refers to the soli – the land. (pronounced tear-wa )
True winemakers have a belief that the land where the grapes are grown impart unique characteristics into the grape that could not be imparted by any other region of the world.
The grape derives its personality not only from the soil in a region, but also from the climate, the weather, the aspect of the vineyards and the terrain.
Eastern Washington contains a mosaic of different soils due to glacier movement thousands of years ago. Sand, chalk, granite, volcanic and more are all aspects of the land.
These unique characteristics add diversity into the wines.
Another precious point is the extremely good weather conditions. It has 300 hundred days of sunshine controlled by the Cascade Mountains which stop the clouds coming from the Pacific Ocean and allow Eastern Washington to be a desert type of region.
Temperatures can easily get into the upper 90’s during the summer days, but it will go back to cooler temperatures at night also controlled by the Cascades (Mt Rainier, Mt Hood, Mt baker, Mt Adams etc….) I call them the AC mountains.
An important part of any good growing region is access to water and we are fortunate to have the Columbia river as an irrigation source
Terroir, Sun and water are the three major elements that make the grapes grow in such a unique way in Washington and help us to make world class level wines.
Watch for upcoming blogs with recommendations on trips and best places to visit in Eastern Washington.
My father has given me many things over my lifetime – love, support and knowledge.
His philosophy on winemaking is in my head each day. He has a gift with the vine - an instinct I admire.
His technique was to choose your vines carefully.
Cultivate the vine with your horse.
When you do this remember that you also cultivate peace and harmony
Harvest the fruit at the right time and make a good wine
And distill “une eau de vie” ( water of life )
That’s my dad, 95 young and still solid like a Rock
Bon fête papa
Happy fathers day
(that is me in the first picture peeking around my papa)
I am very conservative about wine and packaging. It took me over 30 years to change my mind about corks versus screwcaps. I always liked the old fashion way of using cork, because of the gesture to open a bottle of wine using the elegance of the cork opener. I also used to collect corkscrews.
On the other hand there is scientific research behind the screwcap and today they’re technically on top, very safe and clean. I changed my mind and am more and more supportive for this new tool to close a bottle of wine.
First of all you avoid many bad odors in your wine, secondly it’s easy to open, and you don’t have to deal with an opener any more. It is easier to reseal the bottle with the screw caps, and a wine bottle fits better in the fridge with caps.
I just love it. I am breaking from tradition, for a change in a different and more efficient way, only idiots never change their mind.
From corks to screwcaps! And yes today I am a huge fan of screwcaps and I am thinking that somehow I have made your life easier.
Salut and cheers
As we were developing the marketing materials for Le Bec Fin I discovered that the position of the crows was very important to me.
Partly because each crow represented a one of the wine varietals, but also because the seemed to represent members of my family.
I see my father as the Vin Blanc crow – distinguished, important and the lead. I see myself in the Rose Crow – offering my heart to friends and family. Most importantly I see my mother as the Vin Rouge Crow – beautiful, commanding and delicate at the same time.
When all three are together, the Blanc Crow and the Rose Crow look slightly up to the Rouge Crow – as I did to my mother with respect and admiration.
May is my favorite month of the year and I believe the most beautiful.
It is a holiday in France - Labor day/May Day (fete du travail) - that celebrates the worker.
I had my own May 1st tradition as a child. I would go early in the morning to the forest, to my own secret little place and pick muguet (lily of the valley). When I came back to the village with my bouquet, I would make many stops to family and friends to give them a sprig of lily of the valley (un brin de muguet).
This beautiful white flower is a sign of luck, love and friendship.
I feel all of those things today – as my new brand launches – Le Bec Fin.
Coming from a family winery in Alsace France, I grew up around vineyards and worked in the family wine business. I moved to the states 17 years ago and began making wines for several wineries in California and Washington. Over th years, friends and fmaily have always asked me - when are you going to create your own brand in the U.S.?
It was always in the back of my brain, create my own label and feature my two favorite’s wines, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. The inspiration came to me recently one day when I discovered a painting of a beautiful crow, an expressive picture. In that second, I immediately saw a wine label, something different, something that I deeply loved.
A new project, a new wine project was born, Et Voila!!!
Why a crow? They are several things that come into consideration; the intelligence of this bird, the beauty with this mysterious dark blue night color, his elegance and his loyalty.
When you are in the vineyards you are always surrounded by animals of all kinds, including crows. I spent my whole life observing them while in the vineyards. They were my companion and ever since then loved them without knowing it.
Harvest season they are my indicator when the grapes are ripe, when they start to pick before me the berries and enjoying them... then it’s “le temps pour les vendanges”
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