Our Last Wine with Ms. Yoga

While we were at The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan with Ms. Yoga, they were getting busier, and we were deciding on some wines to take home.  We did not get carried away, as we have a money pit project that I will eventually get to, when it is done.  Ms. Yoga decided that “John’s Store” was a great place to visit and she really liked the last wine that tasted.  So much so, that she insisted that we allow her to treat us to a wine for dinner at home, before she took off the next day.

We had a bottle of Domaine Berthet-Rayne Cuvee Tradition Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone Valley 2019. Raoul Raymond when he was in his twenties, took over his family farm and uprooted parcels of cherry groves to plant vines.  In 1978 with the help of his son-in-law Christian they set up Domaine Berthet-Rayne.  Originally the Domaine Berthet-Rayne created a range of wine to be only sold in France, with property in the Cote du Rhone and Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Between 1995 and 2000, the estate first began exporting wines in Europe and then finally to the United State of America.  The Domaine has twenty-nine hectares in Chateauneuf-du-Pape on diluvium alpin soil and they are on the left side of Rhone between Orange and Avignon and share some of the famed terroirs of Coudoulet and Chapouin with their clay-chalk soils. The wine is a blend of sixty-five percent Grenache, twenty percent Mourvedre, five percent Syrah and ten percent Cinsault. The wine was a nice dark ruby/purple color with notes of black cherries and cassis.  The palate offered dark cherries, and silk tannins with a nice medium finish with terroir.  When we got home and opened a bottle of this wine, it was great before we had dinner and was excellent with our dinner as well.  Just a lovely wine.

The name of the winery rang a bell with me, but the label was rather modern and not what I expect from a classic region as Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  A unique feature about the wines from the region is that the bottles all have the Papal keys designed on the glass, and since I was thinking about the wine, I actually tasted the 2011 and then we had the 2011 vintage with a dinner.  Back in 2014 the final bottle of a grand meal and this was part of my notes the last time we enjoyed Domaine Berthet-Rayne Chateauneuf du Pape 2011. The area is called this because it was the “New Castle of the Pope” in Avignon in the Fourteenth Century, and it is one of the oldest appellations in France. This famed wine from the Rhone Valley is made from Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah varietals. This area is known as the driest area of the Rhone, and in extreme cases, the wineries must ask for special permission from the French Government to water the vines. As I have a natural fondness for Rhone wines, a Chateauneuf du Pape holds even a higher degree to me, as I always find it to offer more richness to the glass.

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Another Round of Tasting with Ms. Yoga

Mame Dennis Burnside was at The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan and she was having fun.  Ms. Yoga has the personality that can be bigger than life, especially when she is having a good time.  She and my Bride have been friends, before I met my Bride.  I was definitely the third wheel that day in the wine shop, as I was taking photos and notes and those two were making the most of the trip. Though my Bride usually pours the balance of her tasting into my glass, unless she gets really excited about the wine. 

We had for our first red wine, Enrico Santini “Poggio Al Moro” Bolgheri 2016.   Enrico Santini grew up in the Bolgheri district of Tuscany, which is one of the newer wine district designations in Italy.  He is also considered a true “garagiste” there, with his small organic estate where he produced his first wine in 1999.  He actually transformed his house and garage into a winery to achieve his dreams and goals and he already received accolades and admiration for what he has accomplished in a short period of time. This wine is a blend of thirty percent Sangiovese, thirty percent Cabernet Sauvignon, thirty percent Merlot and ten percent Syrah.  The wines were all separately macerated in Stainless Steel and then spent three months in small French Oak barrels, with additional aging in the bottle prior to release.  I found the wine to have a dark cherry color with a good nose and a good finish.  It was quite fresh and different from other wines that I have had from the area and very easy to drink, with or without food.

We then had Baron de Montfort Chateau du Mignon Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2016. The property is a family-owned estate and the Baron also owns three estates that he manages with his niece Anne de Foucauld, Countess Bertrand de Sercey; of which they have sixteen hectares in Saint-Emilion Grand Cru and fifty hectares in the Cotes de Castillon.  The wine is a blend of seventy percent Merlot, fifteen percent Cabernet Franc and fifteen percent Cabernet Sauvignon. The average age of the vines are thirty-five years of age, grown using organic techniques and the ground is limestone and clay.  They use machine harvesting and a mix of cement vats, Stainless Steel and oak barrels, of which twenty percent are new.  Black fruits dominate this wine, but with a silkier palate from being predominately Merlot and then a nice medium finish ending with terroir.    

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“Let’s Go to John’s Store”

“Let’s go to John’s store” was the rallying cry, Ms. Yoga was calling out.  Now in the old days, that meant that they wanted to go to the store where I was the manager, so they could get some quality clothes to add to their wardrobe or to buy as gifts.  That day, Ms. Yoga wanted to do some wine tasting.  So, off we went to The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan and Ms. Yoga was quite animated, and she had been to the shop before.  This time I had introduced her to the owner of the shop, and she called the establishment “John’s Store” and without missing a beat, he looked at her and said that if I signed a blank check, he would fill in the amount and then it would be “John’s Store.”

We started out with a couple of white wines and the first was Domaine Louis Michel & Fils Petit Chablis 2019.  Domaine Louis Michel & Fils is a Burgundian wine producer located in Chablis.  They produce three Chablis Grand Cru wines, eight Chablis Premier Cru wines, several village-level and Petit Chablis wines.  The Michel family has had the Domaine since 1850 and it is a twenty-five-hectare estate on slopes that were originally cultivated by Cistercian monks in the Eleventh Century. They produce about thirteen thousand bottles just in their Grand Crus alone. Back some forty years ago, they switched over completely from the fermentation and aging of their wines from wooden barrels to Stainless Steel.  Petit Chablis is an appellation created in 1944 for dry white wines made from Chardonnay in Chablis and surrounding communes. The major difference between Petit Chablis and Chablis is in the soil, and topographically the soils of Petit Chablis are on a higher plateau to Chablis.  The vineyards are on shallow limestone soil with full sun exposure. The wine was matured on the lees for around eight months and only using indigenous yeasts.  The wine offered citrus and floral notes, and was a rather fruit-forward wine with a nice terroir finish.  People that are used to popular priced California Chardonnay wines, might not even recognize this wine as a Chardonnay and it would be a great wine to pour for the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) crowd.     

We then went with a Favia Winery “Carbone” Chardonnay Coombsville, Napa Valley 2018.  The Carbone family, one of the earliest Italian immigrants in Napa Valley purchased one-hundred-twenty-five acres in Coombsville and eventually formed the Antonio Carbone Wine Cellar and Italian Garden.  They were very successful right up to the time of the Prohibition, as they were averaging three to four carloads of wine each month.  In 1886 they built an Italianate stone cellar and residence which is still standing today and the residence is being prepared to be used again by the new owners, Annie Favia and Andy Erikson, who bought the property in 2003. Their Italianate stone cellar and residence, constructed in 1886, continues to stand today – prepared again to be a family home and winery. It is here that Annie Favia and Andy Erickson have chosen to set up shop.  The “Carbone” Chardonnay is made from thirty-two-year-old vines, that are organically farmed and hand harvested. The wine is produced by whole cluster pressing, and the juice is barrel fermented, with a small percentage of new French Oak and aged on the lees for ten months.  A pale colored wine with notes of citrus and almonds, with a rich mouthful of flavors including lemongrass, vanilla and other spices with a nice finish of terroir (slate). A very rich and understated California Chardonnay, that could also fool the ABC crowd.

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Dinner at Hyde Park

With Ms. Yoga in attendance, my Bride and I celebrated our wedding anniversary.  It was rather convoluted as we were trying to figure out where to dine.  Ms. Yoga was also going to meet one of her brothers where ever we decided on.  My Bride was going for a very casual venue, and I was leaning towards something more elegant, I guess with the able assistance of Ms. Yoga, we went fancier. She made arrangements to meet her brother and was trying to figure out, how to get him to sit down and eat, Big Sisters sometimes take on the roll of Mother Hen.

We hadn’t been to Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse, since the lockdown began and now, we were there with them still not a full capacity, but they survived and that is great.  Unfortunately, it was very difficult for us to get carryout meals from most of the restaurants, because by the time that we would get home, we would have to reheat them like leftovers and that was not exciting, especially at top dollar. Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse is based out of Ohio, and it is a nice comfortable restaurant that fits in between the macho old-school Morton’s and the loud feminine Capital Grille (at least the one in Detroit is, which is in a shopping mall). My Bride and I both had a bowl of Lobster Bisque with Sherry Poached Lobster.  My Bride had a Salmon Filet with Sauteed Spinach, Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes and a Lemon Crystal Citrus Sauce, while I had Twin Filet Mignon Medallions, with Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes, Crispy Onion Straws and Bearnaise Sauce. Ms. Yoga had the kitchen create a version of Sirloin Tips in a Zip Sauce with a side of Sauteed Brussels Sprouts to make sure that her brother would actually sit down with us and have more than a cocktail.  To honor us for our anniversary, there was a card signed by the entire staff, which was a nice touch. 

For dinner, the three of us shared a bottle of Alexander Valley Vineyards Merlot, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County Wetzel Family Estate 2018.  The winery was originally called the Wetzel Family Estate and was established in 1962, when the Wetzel’s purchased the original homestead of Cyrus Alexander and their first vintage was a Cabernet Sauvignon in 1968.  In 1993, an outbreak of phylloxera, had the estate refocus and they had to plant vines better suited for the region, so they went with Chardonnay, Merlot and Zinfandel.  In 2016, we had a bottle of their 1997 vintage and it was excellent. This wine spent fourteen months in a mix of French and American Oak.  A beautiful deep color, with a nose promising black fruit and spice, and a balanced wine even being so young with mellow tannins and black cherry, ending with a nice medium length finish.  It was an excellent wine and an excellent meal and we were all sated and happy.

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Having Some Wine in a Department Store

Ms. Yoga was in town for a few days and like a Swirling Dervish, all things came to a halt, so that we could have some fun and a change of pace.  There will be a few stories and of course, some wine.  One of the days, we were going to meet some others at a restaurant and it was going to be a dry dinner, and there are dinners like that.  The restaurant that we were all going to end up meeting at has a stellar reputation for good quality food, and they do have a bar, but in deference, we refrained that evening for the other couple. The restaurant is also famed for not taking reservations and of course, we still are experiencing limited seating unless, we were dining with the governor.  We had a two hour wait to get a table, and being at a major shopping mall, that could be dangerous, especially when Ms. Yoga and my Bride get together. 

Fear not, they both were on a shopping moratorium and we went to one of the anchor stores at the mall.  This anchor store was a real powerhouse, until the state attempted to kill retail, and it was rather sad to see how sparse the racks were, for such a large store.  I grew up in retail, I guess you can say, as I did it from high school, then retail paid for college (I had to pay the difference of what my scholastic scholarship didn’t cover; of course, back then, it was expected that if you went to college, you paid for your college.  When I got out of college, there was a huge economic plunge and I figured that I had a job, and a diploma would be useless collecting unemployment checks, and back then, unemployment was odious to the working middle class that I was brought up in. All of this is to say that when I was in retail, there was an old adage “that you can’t sell from an empty wagon.” Anyways, I remember the glory days when department stores were like J. L. Hudson’s and were grandiose, alas, this was not the way it is now.  I mention this, because we went and got a table at this department store in their restaurant, and we were going to kill some time until the restaurant called us for a table.

We decided that the three of us were going to share a bottle of wine, before we had dinner.  We ended up having a bottle of Simi Winery Sonoma County Chardonnay 2019. Simi Winery is located in Sonoma County and it is one of the longest continuously running wineries in California.  It was founded in 1876 by the brothers Giuseppe and Pietro Simi and they started off being known for their Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines.  With their long existence they had some influence about wine not only in Sonoma, but in California.  Isabelle Simi (Giuseppe’s daughter) took over the winery in 1904 and was able to keep the winery intact during the first of the Federal governments attempts to create a Nanny State, when they tried to ruin the country with the Volstead Act or usually referred to as Prohibition.  While she had to sell some of the property, she was able to keep roughly five-hundred-thousand cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel wines during Prohibition.  Simi Winery was also operational during all this time by producing wine for sacramental and “medicinal purposes,” and the Volstead Act all but ruined most of the wineries, breweries and distilleries in the country.  And by being allowed to maintain the wine in barrels, it gave Simi Winery a running start when smarter heads prevailed and decided that the government should not dictate social mores. In 1946, Isabelle founded the Sonoma Grape Growers Association, and she eventually sold Simi Winery in 1970, but continued an association with the new management. In 1981, Simi Winery was bought by Moet Hennessey and since then it is now owned by Constellation Brands.  The Simi Winery Sonoma County Chardonnay 2019 that we had was a blend of ninety-nine percent Chardonnay and one percent other.  I will venture to say that this wine was fermented in Stainless Steel for a short period of time.  The nose offered baked apples and some citrus, and on the palate, it was well balanced with a touch of tangerine and shortbread with a short finish.  It was an easy drinking wine for the three of us to enjoy, by itself while we had a lively conversation.

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Raventós i Blanc Blanc de Blancs

I have been making asides about changes at the chateau, but more about that when the time comes.  In case you are wondering, my Bride hasn’t come to her senses, so I am not being thrown out with the bath water.  Needless to say, that I have been living in Wonderland, or has everything had a price explosion in the last year?  I will get into all of this at some point, as everyone knows that I tend to ramble, especially when I am having a good time.  Suffice it to say at the moment, that we have been scurrying around to find some replacement cabinet hardware, and we finally found part of our search, and the store did not have some of the pieces, but they went online and found us what we were looking, and we thought that they were going to order from their warehouse, but they actually searched some third-party distributors and printed us off a sheet with all the information, for us to order when we got back home.  That was great service, so we decided that while we were out, we would stop and have dinner.  Eight hinges and two cabinet latches to replace our old set, ended up costing more than our dinner and a bottle of wine.

We decided to dine, not far from our first stop and ended up at Diamond Jim Brady’s Bistro Bar.  I am not sure if I can actually determine which of the “Jim Brady’s” is the original, without getting a Boston barrister involved.  I guess there must have been a breakdown among family ties, as my Bride and I can remember going to such establishments on opposite sides of the Detroit area, before we ever met.  We lucked out and got there before the dinner crowd got there and they offered us either dining indoors or outdoors, and while we opted for indoors, we could observe the outdoors which was basically an enclosed and heated patio, that they must have created to survive the draconian rules levied towards restaurants, but I am happy to say that they survived.  My Bride had a special of Pistachio encrusted Walleye with Shaved Brussels Sprouts with bacon and Balsamic and their “best in Michigan since 1954” Caesar Salad (you knew that she was going to go with that) and she said that it was one of the best salads excluding her own house-made dressing, which is high praise.  I was going to get a burger, which they are known for, but they had a Lobster BLT on the menu with house-made chips, and I had to try it.  It was not a Lobster Roll; it was a Lobster Salad tossed in a Lemon Mayonnaise dressing.  I thought I was going to need a box, the sandwich was that big, but it was delicious and it disappeared and my Bride even enjoyed the chips as well. 

They had a nice collection of wines on their carte, most were available by the glass, so I had to act quickly and I found a nice sparkling wine from Spain, and those are two “buzzwords” that attracted my Bride’s attention.  We ordered a bottle of Raventos i Blanc Blanc de Blancs Conca del Riu Anoia 2017.  The Raventos family has a wine making history going back since 1497, five centuries of working ninety hectares of vines and twenty-one generations of winemaking. In 1872, Josep Raventos Fatio went to Champagne and then made his first sparkling wine with secondary fermentation in the bottle, using only native estate grapes.  Josep Maria Raventos i Blanc, was the promoter and creator of the Cava DO, and in 1986, he produces the first estate Cava.  They are striving to have the region Conca del Riu Anoia, classified, it is a small geographical area centered around the River Anoia Basin, between the Catalan Pre-Coastal and Costal Ranges.  The wine is a blend of thirty-eight percent Xarel-lo, thirty percent Macabeo, twenty-six percent Parellada and six percent Monastrell.  The wine was made in the classic traditional method with the disgorgement (secondary fermentation in the bottle) done in October 2020.  A delightful bottle of wine, that just made it through the dinner, with its tiny bubbles in a pretty gold color.  I find sparkling wines harder to describe especially since I am not partial to descriptors, but this wine was fresh with a youthful excitement, for a lack of better words.  It was slightly sweet, as I am not partial to bone-dry sparkling wines and we both enjoyed it, and it would be very easy to order it again, it was that nice.    

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Les Allies

It was my Bride’s birthday, a day for celebration and after reading about how I stretch the celebration out, she is very low key.  She would have been happy with making a dinner at home, even for her birthday.  I had a couple of ideas where she would want to celebrate, but as I have mentioned often, she is a creature of habit and once she has decided that she likes a location, it is like pulling teeth to get her to try somewhere new.  She is also the Royal Exchequer and she has decided on a new project that will not only be expensive, but it will be hours of manual labor, but that is for a future story, if I survive to tell you about it. 

We were going up north, at least in feeling, as we were going to see the Kodiak bear, no we weren’t going to the Detroit Zoo, but only a couple of miles away to Rocky’s.  As I have also mentioned, that we started going to Rocky’s before it was Rocky’s and it was Northville Charley’s and it had the feel of a hunting lodge up in Traverse City or other points in the northern part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Rocky was the chef there and he eventually took over the establishment and we have been frequenting Rocky’s ever since, and we even supported him during the longest fifteen days of lockdown that destroyed many restaurants in the state, but Rocky’s survived.  My Bride went true to form and had the Black Bean Soup for starters and then she had the Potato Encrusted Whitefish with Pilaf and Fresh Vegetables.  I veered a little bit and had the Crock of Onion Soup and had the Tenderloin Tips in a Wine Reduction Sauce with Smashed Red Skin Potatoes.  And to celebrate the annual event, she went with the Detroit classic dessert, a Sander’s Hot Fudge Cream Puff with Vanilla Ice Cream and two spoons. 

My Bride wanted something bubbly and festive and we looked at the carte and finally found a wine that we had not had before.  I mean how many times should I write about the same wine?   Well, we found a bottle of wine that was very affordable even in a restaurant.  We had Les Allies Sparkling Brut Rosé France NV and that which is on the label is all that can be ascertained from this enigma of a bottle of wine.  It is from France.  Grapes are not listed, and I can readily state that this sparkling wine has been produced by the bulk Charmat method.  It was a pretty pink/coral color with surprisingly consistent rather small bubbles.  A nice nose of strawberries and raspberries, which continued on the palate, with a short finish of fruit.  For a very affordable bottle of sparkling wine, it was quite agreeable, and I have to say that I have had worst sparkling wines over the years, and I would have this wine again. 

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Three Big Reds from Ixsir

We were coming down to the wire and a much-appreciated surprise was tossed into the mix, at The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, as we were tasting wines from Ixsir Winery.  Our guest host was Etienne Debbanne the Co-founder and Chairman of the winery and a pleasure to hear him talk about the wines.  I also got to meet the distributor of his wines in Michigan, that I had learned about him from another winery in France.  The world is not that large and it was a pleasure to be able to talk and taste wines in a casual setting.  We are not talking about a large group with a sit down and a speaker at a podium; it was a man, our host, at a wine barrel converted to a table just pouring wines and talking about the wines, without losing a beat, as new people would show up.  It was more of a family affair, instead of a cold-sterile environment.  It was fun, as someone would say “should I get six?” and the response was “no, get twelve, they won’t be here long.”

The penultimate wine of the tasting was Ixsir Winery Grand Reserve Red Batroun, Lebanon 2013.  The wine is a blend of fifty percent Syrah, thirty-nine percent Cabernet Sauvignon and eleven percent Arinarnoa.  The wine has been aged for twelve months in French Oak, one third new, one third used once and one third used twice.  I had to research the grape Arinarnoa, it was created in Bordeaux in 1956 and was originally thought to be a cross between Merlot and Petit Verdot, but further DNA testing has proven it to be a cross between Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is found in the Languedoc and now in Lebanon, it is being used.  This wine was already aging and it was quite mellow, with a fine nose of dark fruit and spices, and the taste has already matured, layered and textured and still offering fruit and a nice finish of terroir.

The last wine of the tasting was the Ixsir Winery EL Ixsir Red Batroun, Lebanon 2016. This is a big wine and a blend of forty-five percent Syrah, forty-five percent Cabernet Sauvignon and ten percent Merlot.  This wine was aged for twenty-four months in French Oak of which fifty percent was new and fifty percent were used once.  It was an elegant deep purple/red wine with a nose of red and black fruits, with some spice and cedar.  The palate is velvety and textured with a nice long finish of terroir that can be laid down in the cellar for some time.  I thought I was done and then they added another wine to the tasting.  We had a chance to compare it to the Ixsir Winery EL Ixsir Red Batroun, Lebanon 2014 and the technical information was the same.  With the two additional years under its belt, the wine had an extra richness that only comes with age, and unfortunately most wines are consumed young, especially in a restaurant setting.  The great news was that this wine was priced the same as the 2014 vintage and it was a real winner to me, that it could be enjoyed sooner. 

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A Rosé and a Red from Ixsir

We were up to the middle two wines of a flight of six, poured and discussed by Etienne Debbanne the Co-founder and Chairman of Ixsir Winery of Lebanon at my local wine shop, The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan.  For a winery that was founded in 2009 in the mountainous region of Batroun in Lebanon, they have embraced sustainability and a sense of green, being recognized by three awards including the “greenest building in the world.” They started from the beginning, doing it the new way, so they didn’t have to change any bad habits.

The Ixsir Winery Grand Reserve Rosé Batroun, Lebanon 2020 was a wine that made Etienne Debbanne extremely happy to pour for us.  It was selected as the best Rosé by the Robb Report.  The wine is a blend of Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah and was created in Stainless Steel tanks with almost no aging time to create a fresh and lively wine.  A pretty color with floral notes and a crisp, fresh and balanced wine that offered a nice finish with terroir.  It was big, and in hindsight, I now understand why this wine was tasted after the whites and before the reds, as I might have wanted to start off with this wine. 

We then had the Ixsir Winery Altitudes Red Batroun, Lebanon 2016.  The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Caladoc and Tempranillo.  I will mention Caladoc, first produced in 1958 and is a cross between Malbec and Grenache.  It is not sanctioned in the AOC regions of France, but it is being used for blending in several areas quite successfully, for the richness of color and with flavors and nose of wild berries, balsamic and eucalyptus.  This wine was aged in French Oak for six months, with fifteen percent new.  The wine had a nose of black fruit and oak, and offered flavors of black fruit and currants with a silky finish.  It was a very easy drinking wine. 

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Two Whites from Ixsir Winery

It was a delightful experience to be regaled by Etienne Debbanne, the Co-founder and Chairman of Ixsir Winery at my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan.  Ixsir Winery is considered to have the finest terroirs in Lebanon from Batroun to Jezzine, and it is a mountain wine that culminates at 1,800 meters and is the highest mountain winery in the Northern Hemisphere.  The grounds are clay and limestone soil, old respected lands only recently discovered and utilized again.  The total area of the estate is one-hundred-twenty-hectares, and the winery also has contracts with other immediate vineyards, which they oversee all aspects of the lands and pays them to allow Ixsir total control of the vines for their vision and products.

The first wine that we tasted was Ixsir Winery Altitudes White Batroun, Lebanon 2019.  The wine is a blend of Obaideh, Muscat and Viognier and was aged for three months in Stainless Steel.  Obaideh is a Lebanese grape that has been used in blends, now being done as a varietal and traditionally used in the production of Arak, the famed Anise liqueur of Lebanon.  Obaideh is high in sugar, low acidity with a creamy texture with notes of honey and lemons.  This wine offered floral notes, subtle flavor of grapefruit with some spice, balanced and a moderate finish.  A very fresh wine, that would be perfect to start off a meal or just nibbling on mezza.    

The other white wine that we tasted was Ixsir “EL Ixsir” White Batroun, Lebanon 2016.  This wine is a blend of seventy percent Viognier and thirty percent Chardonnay and was aged on the lees for twelve months in French Oak, of which a third were new.  This was an elegant white wine with floral notes, a full bodied dry white offering white fruits and spices, and a nice long finish of terroir. A wine that would hold its own with opening courses or pairing with dinner as a stand-alone.  It offered depth and complexity, that one expects from a good white, and I have been finding that Viognier is great for cellaring as this five-year-old was totally fresh.   

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