Chateau Moulin de L’Espérance 2015

Recently, I found myself buying wine that I am familiar with. I think I have just been in the mood for things I know and trust to be good. Wines such as Peju Merlot and Nick Goldschmidt’s Embankment Cabernet have been a staple in my collection for many years and I found myself defaulting to them. So I was walking through my local wine store the other day and decided to branch out and do something new, something fun, when this bottle of Chateau Moulin de L’Espérance jumped off the shelf at me. It is similar enough in name to a Bordeaux that I very much enjoyed and reviewed here and I knew this was the next bottle for review.

moulin de lespThe bottle itself is nicely designed with the picturesque windmill scene that the Moulin wines are known for on the front and a pleasant, simple font that doesn’t scream “California” at you. I went for an easy meal with this wine and paired it with a black pepper cast iron chicken breast with vegetables. I let it decant for 45 minutes before drinking.

The color is a beautiful, deep ruby-black and it has well defined legs. The nose is rich with plum and currant with some vanilla bringing up the end. The first taste is well rounded: more plum and stewed berries hit you first, followed by vanilla and toasty oak. It’s not too oaky though. Sometimes wine makers will over oak wine and it is, in many cases, in an attempt to hide a flaw in the wine. This is not the case here. Just enough oak to finish the drink and drops right into a black pepper finish.

On a normal occasion I would pair this with grilled vegetables and a hardy red meat but the black pepper chicken tonight was a great pairing as well. Just enough pepper in both to play off their own flavors without overpowering each other.

Overall, this is a great wine for a great price. I expected nothing but a nice, drinkable wine and it delivered. If you can find this in an older vintage, it would be even better with age. For $15.00 USD, I’m giving this 8.5/10.

Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon

The Hess Collection Cab is a bottle I see on the shelf of my local wine store every time I go in. It is hard to miss the deep purple label and almost Coat of Arms logo it sports. I did some research into the wine and decided to pick up a bottle for this review. The bottle is priced in what I would call the lower end of mid-range at $30.

Right off the bat you get a nose full of blackberry and oak. You get a hint of plum for an instant before it dissipates. I find it quite pleasing compared to some other cabs I have tried in this price range. The wine has legs that stick around for your entire glass, which is around a half hour in my case.

 

hess

The first sip is surprising. Very acidic and spicy; not at all what I anticipated with the aroma coming from the glass. There are tannins but not an overpowering amount. A lot of the flavor is muddled due to the big flavor of the oak and spice mixing with the acidity but there is a definite taste of berry on the finish.

 

After the first glass the acidity dulls and the flavor finally starts to come through. This leaves me to recommend airing the wine for around 45 minutes before drinking.

Once the flavor comes through the wine becomes fairly complex. There is still a spice and oak flavor up front with a bit of tobacco or tar mixed in with it. This gives way to dark cherry and plum flavors that creeps up and hits you boldly in the tongue to remind you of the diversity of wine. It finishes with the oak and spice coming back into the mix of plum and lingers just long enough to make you remember its complexities.

The Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold wine that can show you how rich flavors can mix well with berries and other lighter notes when done correctly. This wine is surprising and complex when let to air and is a testament to what can be achieved with 80 years of experience to build upon. A very nice wine that I will purchase again. 8.5/10.

Horin Gekkeikan Sake

I have never considered myself a sake drinker. I have tried several different variants and haven’t found one I enjoy. Until now. Enter Horin Gekkeikan. Classified as a Junmai Daiginjo sake, it stands as the top 1% of all sake. While a lot of Gekkeikan sake is made in California, Horin is still made and exported from Kyoto, Japan. Coming in around the $15 mark for a 300ml bottle, this sake is quite a bit more expensive than a lot of it’s counterparts.

I could go into all of the details about the rice rolling and it’s special spring water but Gekkeikan-Horin-Junmai-Daiginjo-Sakeinstead, I’ll just tell you how it tastes. I chilled this sake for around two hours in the fridge and then poured it into ceramic sake cups. Sake has a very particular smell right off the nose. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, imagine a honeydew melon that was left out overnight and you wouldn’t be far off.

The first thing you notice when you drink it is a creamy, smooth texture. Some honeydew and cantaloupe melon on the front end and a nice pear and lychee finish. I paired this wine with some stove-top pork chops and broccoli and they complimented each other very well. I imagine any lightly seasoned white meat or salad would go well with Horin as well as slightly sweet fruit such as apples or berries.

Horin Gekkeikan sake has changed my mind about sake. From it’s refreshing nose to it’s smooth texture, there was nothing about this sake that I didn’t like. While it’s price was a little high, the experience made it worth it. While I won’t have a constant supply of sake in my collection, when I do it will be Horin. I give this a solid 9.5 out of 10. A truly enjoyable drink no matter how you look at it.