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Special occasion wines for a week of celebration

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We decided in our home this year to celebrate September 10 with a whole week of rather special wines as it was on that day in 1977 that a young lady arrived here to see whether we were meant to be together.

Obviously we were!

It is also the beginning of lobster season and at a small grocery store that is within a hundred yards of our new home, the owners appear to have an excellent relationship with local fisher folk. We have enjoyed white water snapper, wahoo, rock fish and tuna recently.

Last week when I asked if they ever had lobsters, the reply was: “What size would you like? We also have guinea chicks.”

With wahoo we paired 2019 Drouhin Chablis Vaudon. This lightly oaked (no new oak used) style of chardonnay is one that my wife thoroughly enjoys. In the 1960s the vineyards surrounding the town of Chablis were all but abandoned, but the Drouhin family have restored much and have farmed organically since 1990 and biodynamically since 1999. I love the fact that they literally use horsepower rather than a tractor, just so important in these environmentally important times. The colour is pale gold with greenish hues. It is very fresh with aromas reminiscent of citrus (lemon or grapefruit); small, pleasant touches of fern or coriander are found as well. On the palate, dry and fruity, with mineral notes.

Wilfred Wong of Wine.com rates it 92/100 and writes: “The 2019 Drouhin Vaudon chablis is a bright and focused wine. Tasting notes: This wine offers a racy yet rewarding experience on the palate. Enjoy its aromas and flavours of ripe apple and chalk with linguine and clams.” It was lovely with wahoo.

Wine Spectator feels this way: “This white strikes a nice balance between peach, apple and lemon fruit and light herb and earth accents. The vibrant structure keeps it defined and extends the finish. Drink now through 2024.” $31 (Stock #8181).

We had lobster twice during this past week and although I try to be modest, I do accept my wife’s opinion that I prepare the best lobster that she has ever had. Just remember that old “KISS” principle of “Keep It Simple Stupid”. The meat is so flavourful that, in my opinion, it does not have to be stuffed like a goose or turkey and highly seasoned! For the first bout we paired with 2018 Sbragia Home Ranch Sonoma Chardonnay. We thought of when we enjoyed wines with Ed Sbragia in New York, at his winery and even in our home in Bermuda. He is an immensely talented winemaker. It was as if this wine and our lobster were destined to be together. I heartily agree with Robert Parker who wrote: “[He] displays a Midas touch with chardonnay.”

In Ed’s own words: “Farmed by our family for decades, Home Ranch vineyards is located at the south east end of Dry Creek Valley, with temperatures cooler than most of the appellation, closer to typical Russian River temperatures than Dry Creek Valley ones.

“The long, ideal 2018 growing season created a textbook Sonoma chardonnay – aromas of ripe green apples and apricots, ripe fruit flavours with notes of pineapple, grapefruit and lemon oil, and finishing with a kiss of vanilla, sweet oak and cloves.” $35 (Stock #6337).

For the second meal – of panulirus argus to be scientifically correct – we tried for the first time, the 2019 Frank Family Carneros Napa Chardonnay. Eyeing it up in the glass I commented to my wife that it “looked like her type of chardonnay” as the colour was a little lighter than the Sbragia, which bode for a “gentler offering”.

Again, it was lovely. Critic Jeb Dunnuck had this to say about this small production wine: “Classic, juicy, medium-bodied style as well as pretty notes of melon, white peach and honeyed flowers. Beautifully balanced with nicely integrated acidity and a clean, lengthy finish ideal for drinking over the coming two or three years.” $47 (Stock #6335).

As I write this on Monday, September 13 we still have not had the fourth chardonnay, which happens to be one of our go-to wines for special occasions. I will not forget my wife blind tasting me with a previous vintage and, after swirling, sniffing and tasting, I had guessed puligny or chassagne montrachet. I was perplexed when she showed me the bottle but felt a little vindicated when I discovered that the winemaker, Christophe Paubert, was French. It was Stags’ Leap Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay! We have the 2018 waiting in our fridge.

It receives 93 points and this from James Suckling: “A beautiful, complex chardonnay with sliced apples and pears, as well as hints of cream and matchstick. Full body. Stone fruit. Long and flavourful.”

As described by the Wine Advocate: “This 2018 chardonnay comes strolling out of the glass with nonchalant notions of Golden Delicious apples, green guava and ripe peaches plus hints of paraffin wax, baking bread, marzipan and cedar. Medium-bodied, the palate has great intensity and purity with a satiny texture and zippy backbone, finishing long with loads of brightness.” $48.45 (Stock #6340).

Maybe, if the fates are kind to us, we will finish up with a burgundy and lobster feast next spring. I am thinking the 2017 Drouhin Chassagne Montrachet at $74.90; the 2018 Drouhin Puligny Montrachet for $77.50; the 2018 Butterfield Meursault from Bermudian David Butterfield for $76.

We could end it with the 2017 Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches that burgundy critic John Gilman comments about in this way: “ … an absolute classic in the making. The bouquet wafts from the glass in a complex and pristine blend of apple, lemon, beeswax, chalky soil tones, citrus peel, dried flowers and vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and beautifully reserved in personality, with a rock-solid core, excellent structure and grip, bright zesty acids and lovely focus and grip on the very long finish.” $147.85 (Stock #8089).

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

Ed Sbragia (right), of Sbragia Family Vineyards, with his son Adam (Photograph supplied)
Michael Robinson loves that they use horsepower rather than a tractor at Domaine Drouhin. The family has farmed organically since 1990 and biodynamically since 1999 (Photograph supplied)

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Published September 17, 2021 at 7:58 am (Updated September 17, 2021 at 7:55 am)

Special occasion wines for a week of celebration

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