Lush Life Productions was in Chicago recently to promote the delicious wines of France.
Cavorting through towns in the Midwest and South, you could find them: giddy, vagabond fans in tow, traveling in a shiny, chrome Airstream trailer, generally adjacent to upscale restaurants, hotels, parking lots, and local festival venues.
A handful of events you could find Wines of France at were a popup in Kansas City, a dinner at Ludivine in Oklahoma City, a progressive dinner at Off the Grid in Dallas, a trade luncheon at Underbelly in Houston, and a Pop Up Bistro at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans. The event organizers-a wine blogger hired to share commentary on social media, a photographer snapping photos, and a videographer-all appeared to be having the time of their life promoting these great wines across the country.
To kickoff the “Wines of France” Road Trip, as it was officially termed, in Chicago, a private dinner was held at Urban Union.
The next day, a picnic spread upon the front lawn (sod was actually laid for the occasion, as this city can be a cement jungle!) of Prairie Production, followed by a mixer at a loft setting in the ‘very chic’ West Loop, complete with entertainment for the night. A variety of French wines and Champagne were served along with some small plates.
During the picnic festivities, I had the privilege to host a VIP tasting of reserve wines for a few friends and colleagues. Mais, oui!!
We were given a lovely room, with high ceilings, comfy chairs, an outside balcony area, and a large harvest table upon which cheeses, sandwiches, cupcakes, and plenty of wine were available to share. Kudos most certainly goes to Patrick, our bartender, who served all of the wines with style!
Wines at the VIP Reserve Tasting:
Nicolas Feuillate Brut Champagne – 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Petit Meunier, and 20% Chardonnay combined to give this bubbly the aromas and tastes of flowers, honeysuckle, pear, and sweet citrus fruits. I loved its delicate and creamy feel.
Champagne Besserat de Bellefon Brut – This Champagne was 45% Petit Meunier, 35% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Noir and showed white peaches, plums, hazelnut, apricot, and pineapple on the palate. Wow!
Champagne Besserat de Bellefon Brut Rosé – A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Petit Meunier created this dry, wonderful wine with aromas of red berries and tastes of red and black currants! Its crisp acidity was a great way to start the evening!
2009 Lucien Albrecht Cuvee Henri Riesling – From the region of Alsace, everyone enjoyed the dry 100% Riesling. Aromas of sage and raspberries gave way to tastes of herbs and red fruits. If you would like to try a Riesling which is not sweet, the Lucien Albrecht may be for you.
Domaine des Gerbeaux Pouilly Fuisse – I was so happy to see this wine on the table because I love white wines from the Burgundy region, this being from Macon AOC. With ripe juicy fruits, a touch of spice from the oak, and minerality on the nose and palate, this 100% Chardonnay was delicious!
2009 Baron de Rothschild Reserve Speciale Pauillac – This Bordeaux red was from the Left Bank and blended were 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. I loved the aromas of cinnamon and vanilla and with the soft tannins, and this wine had a soft, silky finish.
2004 Chateau Pas de l’Ane Grand Cru St. Emilion – From the Right Bank in Bordeaux, this wine was 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc. Its medium body with smooth tannins created something quite delicious. There were aromas of crushed berries, not too much tobacco, and coffee. Very nice!
2009 Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge – The last wine on the table was from the Southern Rhone Valley. Mostly Grenache and Syrah were in the blend and aromas of charcoal, black and red raspberries, and spice helped make this wine a keeper!
We loved all of the wines at the tasting, but after taking a poll with the group, we chose two as our hands down favorites:the Domaine des Gerbeaux Pouilly Fuisse for its fruit, minerality, and elegance, and the 2009 Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge for its sultry dark berry and spice tastes.
Merci to the Wines of France, Lush Life Productions, and to my wonderful friends who helped make this latest “grape experience” one which was magnifique! I can’t wait to see what that Airstream trailer might bring to Chicago next visit.
Photo credits: Lush Life Productions
Cindy Rynning is a WSET 3 advanced wine educator in Chicago, Illinois. She hosts wine tastings and seminars on a monthly basis, and writes about wine on her blog, Grape Experiences. This is her first article for Crave Local.