Elegant Bubbles Maxime Blin Champagne Pure Seduction

Maxime Blin Carte Blanche NV – Pure Seduction

According to Maxime Blin, the independent vigneron, “our wines are made with both a gentle touch and passion, so that the most unexpected aromas can develop, giving you the utmost pleasure.” Champagne is such an under-appreciated wine. In France, it is served very regularly as a before dinner drink and with food. It is enjoyed not just on special occasions but everyday. My husband and I always have a bottle on hand. champagne is not just for special occasions, where is the joy in life if you cannot celebrate the small things in life? A project successfully finished, a nagging problem finally solved or even just a great haircut. Champagne is a wine like any other and should be enjoyed often and gleefully with friends and family.

These days, there is an embarrassment of riches among sparkling wines. In Italy Prosecco, Franciacorta, Trento Doc Spumante, In Spain Cava, California sparkling wines as well – as a range of Crémants from other regions of France. Each has its own charms and with the market growing, the quality of sparkling wines is also rising. But there is something about Champagne that is unique, that has a certain”je ne sais quoi” its magic, and this is most especially true of the small producers for whom each bottle is  hand-turned, an individually nurtured labor of love.

Indeed, this grower Champagne is fabulous. The vineyard is located just outside Reims, the heart of the Champagne region. It comprises 13 hectares (or about 32 acres) of prime south and south-east facing slopes that optimize the sunshine and exposure for the grapes. Because Maxime remains a small, independent producer, he produces “mono-cru” wines with estate grown fruit that is carefully and sustainably farmed and in Conversion Bio. This high-quality fruit is then vinified with equal care – very gently pressed to get the clearest juice, fermented at cool temperatures to retain all the delicacy inherent in the grapes and then aged for a minimum of months on the fermenting yeasts or “lees.” This careful handling creates a wine that has a wonderful fine mousse, fresh aromas of apple, a hint of cherry and wide open fields, creamy mouthfeel and a bread-y finish that is the hallmark of all the finest Champagnes.

For this wine, Maxime uses only red grapes – 80% Pinot Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir – to make a blanc de noir. It is smooth and round and is perfect for either drinking on its own as an aperitif or pairing with almost any course of any meal.


Borgo La Caccia Scudiero

Borgo la Caccia Scudiero Merlot 2016

When I hear about Lake Garda, I think of the evocative, bucolic paintings of Gustav Klimt and the stunning alpine lake with dramatic mountains all around the northern borders. I think of glamorous Italians with their dark good looks in white shirts sailing the deep blue waters under glorious light blue skies. And of course, the post-card perfect fortified hilltop towns and mellow stone castellos dotting the lush, green foothills of the Italian Alps.

But the big secret of the enchantment of Lake Garda lies in its wines. Little known outside Italy, the Lombard coast of Lake Garda is the source of a wonderful little find that we import – Borgo la Caccia’s Scudiero Merlot.

I had the same reaction, Merlot? From Northern Italy? But I am blown away because the standard of his wine is so high! There is no sign of the overly grippy Italian wines of the past that had you immediately reaching for a shot of olive oil. And, it is not the rounded plummy, jammy Merlot so maligned in the movie, Sideways. This is Merlot at its best. One understands why it is such an integral part of the great wines of St. Emilion and Pomerol like Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Angelus, both costing hundreds of dollars.

The Scudiero Merlot 2016, at $X, is a gorgeous wine. On the nose, you start with an enticing mix of black plums, black cherries, tobacco and baking spice. On the palate, it balances perfectly on the tongue with the right amounts of fruit, acid, velvety, textural tannins. And the finish is a lingering fruity, savory flavor that cries out for the next sip.

This wine would pair beautifully with lasagna or baked ziti with fresh tomato sauce laden with basil and garlic and sprinkled generously with parmigiano cheese.

Cin cin!

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