Northwood Country Club setting for Rhone wine tasting
Jan. 24, 2001
Northwood Country Club will be the new home of our monthly wine tastings effective tomorrow.
Princeton's is remodeling and changing the personality of the restaurant. Unfortunately, they failed to notify me in advance so we have been unable to contact many of the people who regularly come to this monthly event until now. Letters have gone out to names on our list for whom we have addresses. We can only hope fellow wine tasters not receiving notice by mail will read this today.
Nothing else will change. Northwood is anxious to welcome these tastings and you will be able to dine after the tasting. You do not have to be a member of Northwood to attend. A member of Northwood will be co-sponsor of the event so the general public is invited and will be admitted. Start time will be 6:30 p.m. as usual and the price remains $20 per seat for the tasting.
We have obtained several remarkable wines for tomorrow's Rhone tasting. The Rhone Valley in France makes outstanding wines, even if some of them are lesser known in this country. We will present two whites and four reds.
The featured wine of the evening is Chateau La Nerth, a Chateneuf-du-Pape which Edna at Edna's Wine Store on Poplar Springs Drive has obtained for us. We will drink the 1997. To give you an idea of the quality represented by this world famous producer, their 1998 vintage has been rated a 96 on the 100 point scale by the Wine Spectator magazine. It is coming out at $75 per bottle. Tasting notes include these: "Rich opulent and ripe, with mocha, toast and spice. With blackberry and cassis, leads to a long fruit-and-oak finish." While the 1997 vintage is not rated as highly as the great 98s, it will be a memorable wine, I'm certain.
The name of this area, Chateneuf-du-Pape, literally means the home of the Pope. In the 1400s the Pope decided Italy in the summertime was too warm for his taste so he had a summer home constructed in the Rhone Valley of France. He was a wine lover. The particular grapes that were planted at his direction and the blends that were made created big, powerful, darkly colored wines with long life and full, intense flavors. The district from which they came was named in his honor and so were the wines thus Chateneuf-du-Pape is both a style and a portion of France in one.
Another outstanding wine on tomorrow's list is the Domaine de Thalabert Crozee Hermitage blended by Paul Jaboulet. The Paul Jaboulet family has made wines since 1834. Their Crozee Hermitage is a dry, full-bodied wine with a distinctive black current flavor. It is made from Syrah grapes and is lovely although not as powerful as the La Nerth. I first tasted it in France about 10 years ago and have enjoyed it ever since.
Also on tomorrow's list is Le Pigboulet, a wine discovered by importer Kermit Lynch. Lynch searches France for little known wines with quality which can be sold in America at reasonable prices. His wines are consistently outstanding values. It is likely Le Pigboulet will be likewise.
Another red to be served is a second wine of Chateau de Beaucastel, the most famous wine producer in the Chateneuf de Pape area. Called Perrin Reserve Cotes Du Rhone, it is rich and full bodied made from a blend of four different grapes selected from some of the best vineyards in the appellation. It has peppery aromas, flavors of cassis, black cherry and spice.
We have two whites with which to start the evening. One is the Perrin Reserve white, made by the same Chateau de Beaucastle winemaker who produces the Perrin Reserve red wine. This is a golden hued, peach scented intensely flavored dry white wine which is an ideal accompaniment to spicy cuisines, shellfish and Mediterranean dishes.
The other white is La Vielle Ferme, an elegant and fruity wine that comes from noble vines grown high on the slopes of the Luberon Mountains in Provence. It can be served chilled as an aperitif or with grilled fish or chicken. It is blended by Jean Pieri and Francois Perrin of de Beaucastel.
Rhone wines as a group are great values, greatly under appreciated by wine lovers world wide who tend to think of bordeaux and burgundy wines when they think of France. This tasting tomorrow night at Northwood should change your thinking.
Stan Torgerson, a longtime Meridian resident, has written a wine column for several years.