1 October, 2018
Best Wines (and Armagnac!) of the APVSA Once Upon a Wine TourPosted in : Brandy, Red Wine, Spirits, Tempranillo, Vermentino, White Wine, Wine on by : The Gourmez
Early this year, I attended the San Francisco leg of the Association for the Promotion of Wines and Spirits in North America (APVSA) tour of the USA. The Once Upon a Wine tour was this year’s chance for the European labels represented by the APVSA to introduce their wares to potential distributors and importers.
Attending wine shows like these as media is a chance to try wines I’ve never come across before and hunt for ones that strike me as unique or extraordinary—sometimes both at the same time! This was my second time attending an APVSA event (my thoughts on the first one here). Obligatory disclaimer: All that explanation means the products mentioned in this post were free to me to taste as a media member.
And taste I did! Here are my notable finds:
The Armagnacs of Domaine de Joy
Look, when you’re sampling thirty or more wines in a day, any time there’s something non-wine to drink, it stands out. The Armagnac line from Domaine de Joy certainly did for me.
Armagnac is in the brandy family of spirits, produced from wine that’s been distilled just once into a spirit and then aged in oak barrels. It’s made only in the Gascony region of France. The Armagnac color is a beautiful, deeply rich amber with strong red tones. I tried the Domaine de Joy VSOP, aged 5 years; XO, aged 8 years; and XOP, aged 25 years.
Unsurprisingly, the XOP was the tastiest, offering plentiful notes of almond butter and dreams of fig trees surrounded by iris stalks swaying in the wind. The XO also had a strong nut presence and plenty of flavor, though not quite as developed.
But the most interesting of Domaine de Joy’s offerings was the Floc de Gascogne, a fortified aperitif that’s one part Armagnac, two parts fresh grape juice – Domaine de Joy uses juice from Colombard, Ugni blanc and Gros Manseng grapes.
Of course, there were also plenty of memorable wines at the APVSA Once Upon a Wine tour. My palate was suffering a bit of fatigue, by which I mean I’d been tasting too much wine recently, rendering my tongue less able to differentiate between tannic red wine notes and less able to find fruit notes under the bubbles of Champagne. Thus, the white wines stood out most for me as they were more soothing and refreshing. Here are my choices:
Château Haut-Blanville Solal Vermentino 2016 – Drinking it felt like jumping rock to rock in a creek, with lots of minerality and acidity and notes of golden apple. This wine comes from the Languedoc region, where Château Haut-Blanville is located in the village of Pézenas.
Domaine du Vistre Cuvée Gladiateur Blanc – I enjoyed tasting my way through all Domaine du Vistre’s offerings on the APVSA tour, and I admired the label for their Cuvée Gladiateur wines the most. It’s inspired by the Roman ruins that can be found in the nearby town of Nimes, part of the same wine region as Vauvert, where Domaine du Vistre is located. Of the blanc, I thought it a lovely seafood wine whose variety of grapes had the audacity to be heard and not just blend in.
Bloralix Rioja 2016 – Not all my favorites were white this day! Somehow, the Bloralix Rioja, mostly Tempranillo, managed to get past my palate fatigue to charm me with its loads of personality and floral layers waving hello. It’s a very friendly wine. Perhaps the attraction can be attributed to Tempranillo being my first wine love. Arriezu Vineyards is a new winery to watch in the Rueda region.
But my final love of this day was again, not wine.
Another nice break for my palate came by way of Dujardin’s Brut Cidre Brouché de Normandie. I am well known for bemoaning the sweet ciders that reign this side of the Atlantic, so any time I can try European ciders, I do. It offered a strong nose of apples and flowers and a mouth full of dry bubbles, just like I like it. What’s more, those bubbles are not added but the result of fermentation during the production process. How cool! Dujardin’s ciders are made with a blend of four cider apples picked from their orchards in Normandy—and yes, they make sweet and fruit flavors, too, if that’s the way you swing.
Those are the highlights of the APVSA Once Upon a Wine Tour for me! I hope I’ve introduced you to a few new products worth seeking out for you.
Attended 5 February 2018.