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A Night of Riches


One Way to Arrange a Birthday Celebration

A friend just had a birthday, and we went to celebrate the same weekend another friend was getting ready to leave town. We decided to focus on a selection of some of our favorite rich-flavored French wines to acknowledge both occasions.

Following are the three wines chosen by a small group of wine lovers to indulge in the cool weather fullness of Northern Hemisphere January weather, and celebrate a special occasion with ease.

Rene’ Geoffroy Rose’ de Saigne’e Brut Premier Cru Champagne

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I’ve reviewed this champagne before. It’s a wonderfully full bodied, pleasantly spiced, red berry driven sparkling wine with lovely rose scents. The Rene’ Geoffroy is made beautifully via the Saigne’e method–the first portion of the wine making process keeps the juice in contact with the skins adding color, body, and extra flavor to the juice. A lovely way to open the palate, and begin a celebration.

Chapoutier “La Bernardine” 2005 Chateauneuf de Pape

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Years ago I was friends with a woman that after a glass or two of wine would start talking about going home and putting on her 3/4-length mink coat inside out to wait for her husband to get back from work. It was her expression of feeling good, ready for a luscious sensory experience.

A glass into Chapoutier’s “La Bernardine” I found myself explaining to Katherine, the birthday girl, that if I owned fur I’d be heading home to put it on inside out myself, even without a husband to wait for. This Chateauneuf-du-Pape has that sort of luscious texture, and sensuous balance of flavors with structure.

This is a rich, red wine perfect for the January weather of the Northern Hemisphere. It carries the elusive umami quality offered by aged wine, described as a sort of completeness of flavor–a savory deliciousness when the structure and flavors of a wine come together in balance, feeling full in the mouth. This fullness is expressed through dried red fruits in concert with dried herbs, hints of coffee, and black truffle.

2006 Domaine Tempier Bandol “La Migoua”

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The Domaine Tempier is considered a wine geek dream. The wine suits such a mention both because of the incredible complexity of flavors dancing through the glass, and because of the unique location from which it originates.

The rich chalk and clay soils of this vineyard show themselves in the balanced dryness of this wine. The minerals are subtle but layer in a nice lightness and grounding to the red fruits and earth elements. I was impressed by the very many layers of this wine–the finish offering cedar, and cigar box notes after the richly polished tannins. The acidity in no way dominates here but brings a nice balance to the dry features of the wine.

Happy Birthday again, Katherine!


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  1. Happy Birthday Katherine! It sounds like this was an amazing night. I hope you both ate some of the delicious food paired in these comics, wore inside-out fur somehow close to your skin, and laughed a lot.

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