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Wednesday, 23 October 2019
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Cheers : Understanding Sparkling Wine Categories

Posted by Phil on 2014/11/24 12:50:00 (949 reads)

Understanding Sparkling Wine Categories


One of the most common misunderstandings in the wonderful world of wine is, if it’s got bubbles and a big cork with a wire basket holding the cork in place its Champagne.  The fact is there is a wide variety of sparkling wine but they are not all Champagne. We know it sounds complicated… and it is. So we’ve created this little sparkling wine category list to help you keep them straight. We reviewed a couple of sparkling wines last summer. Check that out here.




Champagne, it’s a French thing

Let’s start with Champagne and get it out of the way. True, real Champagne only comes from one place in the world. Champagne. It’s a place. In France. Like Edina. You can go there. Champagne France is just north and a little bit east of Paris. So if your sparkling wine is not from that exact place, it’s not Champagne. It’s sparkling wine and that’s what the French insist we call it. We understand their desire to protect the name because a great bottle of real Champagne reminds us why we love wine in the first place. The primary grapes allowed in Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Munier. All Champagne is made in the “traditional method” fermenting the wine a second time in the bottle, a process that takes time skill and financial resources.


Cava, it’s a Spanish thing

Cava is the national sparkling wine of Spain. The word, Cava refers to the geographical locations in Spain that are designated for the production of Cava. There are many Cava designated locations throughout Spain and more are added regularly, this keeps supply and demand in balance resulting in quality affordable sparkling wine. By law Cava has to be produced using the same traditional method as “real” champagne (method champenoise). Cava can be created from a multitude of grapes.


Prosecco, it’s an Italian thing

Prosecco is to Italy as Cava is to Spain. Produced in the hills northeast of Venice using the Prosecco grape. Unlike Cava and champagne, the second fermentation takes place in a large tank not the bottle.  The result is a light clean crisp sparkling wine.   In Italy Prosecco is traditionally served at the beginning of a meal, to cleanse the pallet.  Over the holiday season, consider starting your meal with a glass of Prosecco.


Sparkling wine, it’s an everywhere else thing

If you are making sparkling wine outside of Champagne France the correct term is “Sparkling Wine”. Often sparkling wine made outside of France will be made in the traditional method or “Methode Champenoise”. Occasionally however the “Charmant process” is used. The Charmant process is where the second fermentation takes place in a large tank instead of the bottle.

Other Sparkling Wine Terms To Know:

Vintage vs. Non-Vintage (NV)

When a sparkling wine is created entirely from grapes harvested in the same year, that is known as a “Vintage” sparkling wine. Because the climates in the areas where most sparkling wine comes from can be marginal, winemakers will often blend multiple vintages to achieve consistency. Wines labeled NV come from multiple vintages that are assembled into a master blend.


Brut vs. Extra Dry

This one confuses everybody. You would think that extra dry is well, more dry. It isn’t. in fact extra dry champagne or sparkling wine in fact has a touch of sweetness. Here’s how we remember it at Cheers: “Brut is brutally dry”. 


Blanc de Blanc vs. Blanc de noir

Blanc de Blanc translates to, “white from white”, meaning the sparkling wine is created entirely from white crapes often Chardonnay. Blanc de Noirs translates to, “white from blacks”, meaning these sparkling wines are created using both white and red grapes, often chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Blanc de noirs will sometimes have a subtle pink hue.



Cheers : Modest Vodka Chai Martini Recipe

Posted by Phil on 2014/11/20 11:47:00 (1378 reads)

Modest Vodka Chai Martini Recipe

Cheers recently added Modest Vodka to our selection. Distilled and cut in a 90 gallon German-built pot still in Madison Wisconsin, Modest is a 100% corn vodka that is filtered and brought down to proof with reverse osmosis water. Cheers found Modest to be smooth and clean, perfect for sipping or mixing. Recently Cheers featured Modest Vodka at a store tasting.  Our Modest rep whipped up a Chai tea martini and it was a hit!.   

We got lots of requests for the recipe so here it is!  The Modest Vodka  and the Imbue bittersweet vermouth is available at both  Cheers locations. You’ll have to make the Chai syrup*. Don’t worry it’s really easy, but we suggest you do this step first and in order to give the syrup time to cool.  







2 cups sugar

3 cups water

One bag of Chai tea

Modest Vodka

Imbue bittersweet vermouth




*Chai Syrup:

1) In a medium sauce pan, simmer (not boil) 2 cups sugar and 3 cups water.

2) Stir until sugar is dissolved completely then remove from heat

3) Add one bag of your favorite chai tea and let steep for 7-10min. Remove tea and let cool.


For the Martini:

2 oz modest vodka

1 oz imbue bittersweet vermouth

.5oz chai simple syrup

Stir over ice for 5-10 seconds and strain into martini glass or build in lowball glass and add ice and allow to dilute slightly.



Cheers : The Results are In! Best in Show Cheers Holiday Wine Tasting events!

Posted by Phil on 2014/11/7 14:50:00 (1213 reads)

Ladies and Gentlemen We Have Our Winners!

Thursday, November 6th and Thursday November 13th 2014   Cheers hosted  our two annual holiday wine tasting events.  They were very fun evenings with six vendors on hand, each with six wines available to sample. You can see the wines we tasted here. As always, the event was well attended and a good time was had by all. This year we asked our guests to vote on their favorite white and red wines.  They did, and the results are in! Here are the best in show:




As promised, we put all ballots into a bag, shook 'em up and selected our random winners.  The winners receive one bottle each of the best in show wines. Our winners have been contacted, and have picked up thier wines.Thank you to everyone that voted.


Best In Show Bloomington

Best In Show White


This was a close race!

This crisp, lively white wine from northern Italy edged out its closest competitor by three votes. Thank you Aaron Barger from Rootstock Wines for this gem. Ca’ Lojera Laguna is a personal favorite of Cheers' very own Kristi and she was really happy to see it win best of show!

Best In Show Red

It wasn't even close.

Smith & Hook Cabernet Sauvignon ran away with it, receiving 15 more votes than its closest competitor! None of us were very surprised; this has been a Cheers favorite for a long time. Thank you Bill Anderson from Paustis Wine Company for featuring our best of show red.


Best In Show Chanhassen

We had two ties in Chanhassen! Thats right our top red AND top white wines got the exact number of votes! We considered having a "sip off" but instead decided to declare a tie and double the winners!

Best in Show White (s)

Hook and Ladder Gewürztraminer 

An elegant mix of lychee, peach and fig flavors pair up with a crisp structure that is the perfect foil to the slightest note of sweetness.

Centorri Moscato

Pale yellow with a slight frizzante.  Aromas of peaches and pears with a delicate sweetness on the palate.  Bright and fragrant with a honeycomb scented sweetness, this wine is lightly floral with a fine textured and gently creamy mousse from the delicate bubbles.  Great complexity and balance with flavors of apricot on the finish.  Makes a great addition to brunch!

Best in Show Red (s)

Smith & Hook Cabernet

Richly textured on the palate, this wine’s robust tannins provide a frame for black cherry flavors and spicy notes of vanilla and cloves.

Black Ink Red Wine

Black Ink is a blend featuring flavors of juicy blackberry, smoky licorice, with a hint of spice.


Thank you again and we look forward to seeing you soon.



Cheers :  Thanksgiving Wine Dinner Pairing Ideas

Posted by Phil on 2014/10/31 3:50:00 (1357 reads)

Appetizers, white meat, dark meat, mashed potatoes yams, cranberries, pecan pie, Oh my goodness what am I going to serve with all this?


It’s enough to make your head swim! The good news is there are some really easy ways to get your wine pairing right.


 Beginning with white wine, sparkling wine is a great accompaniment to a complex menu. Sparkling wines are elegant, versatile and very food friendly. We visited some sparkling wines last summer check them out here.

Chardonnay is a traditional favorite and an excellent choice if you want to add complex wine flavors to the complex meal. Don’t over look viognier  ( VEE OH NYAY) they offer an excellent full bodied alternative to Chardonnay. On the lighter side of the flavor spectrum consider Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, or Albarino from Spain.



When it comes to reds, Pinot Noirs are the traditional favorite and an excellent choice. The light flavors of cherry and earthiness are a perfect pairing with turkey and/or ham. If big bold complex reds are your thing, consider a syrah, petite sirah or Zinfandel.





And now for the off the beaten track pick of the year, PLEASE consider a rose from either France or California. Rose offers subtle notes of berry and the crispness of a clean white wine and are an excellent choice for a complex meal.  We are featuring a couple roses at our tastings PLEASE be sure and spend some time with them. We think they are an excellent “best of both worlds” pick!



As you plan your feast,  we’d like to share a bit of advice from Julia Child that  is perfect for every aspect of the Thanksgiving meal. Julia always said, “Serve with confidence, if it comes out of the oven on fire… you are serving Flambé!”



Cheers : Holiday Wine Tasting Event Preview

Posted by Phil on 2014/10/29 11:53:57 (2383 reads)

Below you will find the preview of this year’s annual Holiday wine tasting event and sale to be held Thursday November 6th from 6:00- 8:00 p.m. at Cheers Bloomington, and Thursday November 13th from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Cheers Chanhassen



Cheers entire wine inventory* Will be discounted 15% all day both days at both Cheers locations!

(*excludes closeout items or anything marked no further discount)

The staff at Cheers personally selected these wines; they are a combination of some new and exciting discoveries that have been recently added to Cheers’ vast selection, as well as some old favorites. These selections have a focus on holiday meals and entertaining. We’ve selected some robust reds as well as some whimsical whites, roses, sparklers, and “oddities”.  We hope to see you on either Thursday November 6th in Bloomington or Thursday November 13th in Chanhassen!


Here's the Preview For the Bloomington event:

Thursday November 6th 2014, 6:00-8:00 Cheers Bloomington

Rolf Moe from New France Wines will be pouring the following selections

Feudi de Romans Pinot Grigio

Handpicked estate fruit from one of the best regions in the world for this grape

Pacific Peak Dry Riesling

Truly dry Washington Riesling that kills with any spicy food.

Saurine Rose

Strawberry fruit, good acidity, and a dry finish. Southern French value.

Sori di Mori 

Unpacked Barbera from Piedmont that is all about purity of fruit.

Anarkos Red

Primitivo based blend with dark almost sweet tones. 

Shannon cab

Big bold Lake County Cab at a bargain. Organic and sustainable agriculture.

Bill Anderson from Paustis Wine Company will feature the following selections

Au Contraire Chardonnay

 Pronounced lemon citrus core with tree fruits of pear and crisp apple lined with a floral note of jasmine.

Smith & Hook Cabernet

Richly textured on the palate, this wine’s robust tannins provide a frame for black cherry flavors and spicy notes of vanilla and cloves.

Amado Sur Chardonnay

 Lush, sun ripened pear with notes of tropical fruits like pineapple, white peach and apricot.

Santa Rita Secret Reserve

This red blend has aromas of red fruits such as plums, cherries, and raspberries which are complemented by elegant and subtle notes of violets, vanilla, cloves and a touch of cocoa.

Banfi Chianti Superiore

An intense ruby red wine with fruit-forward aromas and floral notes.


Aaron Barger from Rootstock Wines will feature the following selections

Primaterra Pinot Grigio

A well balanced, crisp, fresh, very lively fruity wine showing hints of apples and fresh flowers on the palate and a very clean, medium lasting soft finish.

Ca Lojera Lugana

An unoaked full, melon,citrusy, off-dry wine balanced by an intriguing salinity and finish. Ca Lojera Lugana hails from Northern Italy and is one not miss.

Unoaked, stainless steel fermentation, 100% Trebbiano di Lugana/Verdicchio

Haut Rian Bordeaux Blanc

Haut Rian Blanc is a fantastic example of the style, with great aromatics of hay and fresh lemon zest. On the palette, a dry, zesty wonderfully balanced citrus acidity gives way to a pleasant, lingering mineral finish.

Unoaked, stainless steel fermentation, 65% Semillon 35% Sauvignon Blanc

Matello Lazarus Pinot Noir

An elegant, Willamette Valley, Oregon Pinot Noir. This wine has an herbacious and earthy aroma, with bright red fruit flavors of cherry and fresh raspberry.  A fantastic Pinot Noir that should drink well for years to come. Only 500 cases produced this Vintage.

L'agnostique Rouge

A fresh, fruit forward blend from Languedoc, this wine is a blend of two french varietals seldom combined, Gamay (of Beaujolais Fame) and Syrah. Silky and a hint spicy, this is a versatile crowd pleasing red.

Primaterra Sangiovese

True to variety with Sangiovese’s signtature cherry aromas, pronounced yet balanced acidity. The finish is clean and quite gentle with a lovely lingering note of spice.

Eamon Dillon of Southern Wine & Spirits Wine Division will feature the following selections

Erath Pinot Noir. 

The "Oregon" Pinot Noir is the cornerstone of the Erath wine portfolio. A blend of different vineyard sites in Oregon, this wine is a fruit forward, ready-to-drink style of Pinot Noir designed to highlight the variety's best characteristics.

Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling Harvest Select

Offers beautiful crisp Washington Riesling character with rich flavors of ripe peaches. This wine is like a bowl of fruit in a glass! The fresh fruit and decadent character is balanced with crisp acidity to keep the wine in harmony. This is a perfect patio sipping wine or would be a great match with Thai food.

Charles Krug Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

90pts Wine Enthusiast.  “A classic Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, buzzing in margarita-ready lime, grapefruit pith and sweet jasmine, with a nuance of grassy underbrush. Creamy in vanilla-bean flavor on the midpalate, it finishes dry and crisp.”

Chateau St. Jean Bijou Chardonnay

The wine is driven by a core of forward fruit flavors; peach, pineapple and passion fruit hold center stage with nuances of French oak

Jacobs Creek Reserve Shiraz

Full depth crimson red. A lifted nose with ripe, concentrated blackberry and fruitcake aromas, hints of chocolate, black pepper and spice, seasoned with a sprinkling of nicely integrated sweet vanillin oak.

Sandeman Founders Port

Intense ruby red color, brilliant and clean. Rich red fruit aromas with a touch of age create an elegant reflection of powerful flavors, the fruit and fire characteristic of young classic Porto balanced with the finesse of age.

Mark Nordstrom from The Wine Company will feature the following selections

Graziano Chenin Blanc 

Aromas show peaches and pear, a rich creamy feel on the palate, pairs with seafood and grilled chicken

 Elsa Torrontes

Complex nose of grapefruit, spice and orange blossom, in the mouth you get crisp, refreshing flavors similar to the aromas, a bright, lingering finish

Monte Volpe Primo Rosso

 A blend of Italian grapes from Mendocino County, fruity aromas of plums and spice, rich full flavors that show hints of toasty oak, pairs with pasta, pork, and lamb chops

Cline “Sonoma Coast” Merlot

Dark rich fruity aromas, this wine has great balance and structure, flavors of black cherry and coffee, finishes with some herbal spiciness, match with grilled steak or teriyaki chicken

3 Rings Shiraz

 Purple-black color, the nose is dark fruit and a hint of cedar and tobacco, the palate shows some black olive, anise, and black fruit, a very long finish, great steak wine

La Vieille Ferme Rose

Pale pink in color, the nose shows rose petals and citrus fruit, flavors of bright strawberry with a hint of grapefruit, pairs with tomato salads and a great match with ham

Derek Lindquist of Wine Merchants will feature the following selections

A to Z Chardonnay Oregon  

Opens with bright fruit like kiwi and tangerine, pear and stone fruits then deepens to richer aromas of honey toast, rose and wet stones.  Palate is juicy and round with well-balanced freshness, minerality and structure. Zesty, crisp, and clean finish.

Hanna Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley  

Vibrant aromas of Guava, Rangpur lime and mineral aromas evolve into ripe Passion Fruit.  In the mouth it is juicy yet crisp, with grapefruit, stone fruit, and guava flavors, and a spicy ginger finish.

Astoria Prosecco Italy

Very fine and persistent bubbles with straw yellow and greenish reflections. The floral aromas, with generous amounts of pear and Golden Delicious apple accents, linger on the harmonious and creamy palate

Villa Cafaggio Chianti Classico Italy

 Rich and full bodied with ruby red color.  Intense fruity aroma with notes of spicy cloves and a wonderfully refined black cherry and plum fruitiness on the finish

Guenoc Cabernet California

 Classic red and black cherry are surrounded by cushiony tannins.  Finishes with a whisper of vanilla oak.

Trapiche Broquel Malbec Argentina  

Intense purple red color with ruby hues.  Aromas of fresh red and black fruits, floral notes, earthy minerals, with an elegant touch of smoke.  Rich and spicy on the finish.

Here's the Preview For the Chanhassen Event:

Thursday November 13th 2014 Cheers Chanhassen

Jon Pojar from Johnson Brothers will feature the following selections

Wild Horse Cabernet

Aroma: Dark Cherry, vanilla and cocoa with hints of sage.

Taste:  Dark cherry, currants and chocolate.

Pair with: Beef ribs, steak, pasta with red sauce.

Dreaming Tree Chardonnay

Aroma: Crisp fresh citrus, honey and peach.

Taste:  Roasted pear, baked apple fruit with brown spices.

Pair with:  Cream sauce pasta, baked salmon, mushrooms.

Estancia Merlot

Aroma:  Dark fruit, blueberry pie, blackberry and mocha.

Taste:  Black fruit, Bing cherries, toasty vanilla.

Pair with:  Smoked salmon, poultry, goat cheese.

Jailbreak Malbec

Aroma:  Violet and raspberry with hints of nutmeg and cherry.

Taste:  Ripe blackberries and spice.

Pair with:  Beef, Pork, BBQ, pasta with red sauce.

Jailbreak Pinot Grigio

Aroma:  Citrus, pear and grapefruit.

Taste:  Melon, orange blossom and lemon.

Pair with:  Seafood, tuna, pork.

Ruffino Prosecco

Aroma:  Clean notes of citrus, pears and apples.

Taste:  Fine Bubbles caress the palate with flavors of apples and peaches.

Pair with:  Pizza, fish, white meat dishes.


Bill Anderson from Paustis Wine Company will feature the following selections

Smith & Hook Cabernet

Richly textured on the palate, this wine’s robust tannins provide a frame for black cherry flavors and spicy notes of vanilla and cloves.

Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay

Enjoy aromas and flavors of green apple and tropical fruits, balanced by subtle oak, cinnamon and vanilla from barrel aging.

Trivento Cab/Malbec Blend

Deep ruby red in color with powerful plum and red fruit aromas upfront which combine harmoniously with hints of vanilla from the oak aging.

Banfi Centine

 Intense ruby red in color, medium bodied with black cherry and plum flavors and hints of spice.

Zaccagnini Pinot Grigio

Fragrant and fresh with well-balanced flavors and a crisp and elegant finish.


Forefathers Sauvignon Blanc

Light, crisp and refreshing with lemon, peach, and grassy notes in the nose and ripe tropical flavors on the palate.

Dave Richardson from Phillips Wine & Spirits will feature the following selections

Markham Merlot, Napa Valley

Wonderful flavors of black cherry, plum, and cassis, balanced with a hint of oak.

Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc, California

Bursting with lemon and lime notes.  Tropical aromas of pineapple and guava.  Excellent minerality and balanced acidity. 

Chloe Red No 249, North Coast California

Created from tasting 249 wine lots to achieve just the right intensity of flavor.  Espresso, dark fruits and spice deliver a rich, balanced flavor.

Conquista Oak Cask Malbec, Argentina

Aromas of plum and dark cherry fruit.  Layers of cocoa and smoke.

Seaglass Riesling, Monterey County

Floral aromas, rich flavors of juicy peaches, with a hint of honeysuckle.  Lingering off-dry finish.

Joel Gott Chardonnay, Northern California

Unoaked, crisp, and flavorful.  Grapefruit nose, with an ultra clean finish.

Jon Olson  from Tradition Wine & Spirits will feature the following selections

Illahe Pinot Gris, Oregon

Aromas of preserved lemon and kefir lime open to a steely minerality and stone fruit under currents.  Succulent with streamlined acidity that seamlessly carries the flavor from the front of the palate to the back.  This wine has a verve and tension that creates a mouthwatering sensation begging for another sip.

One Last Kiss, California

Made in a full-bodied style with mouth watering balance, the wine is full of spicy cloves and blackberry fruit. This is a wine that will go well with a cigar on a summer evening. It will also go well with pastas or barbequed dishes.

Montevicor Cava, Spain

70% Chardonnay & 30% Macabeo, this wine hailing from Calatayud is a pale yellow color, crystalline with bright hues. Its froth is elegant and permanent.  In the nose, beautiful fruit aromas with leesy characters.  In the palate the carbonic from the second fermentation is perfectly integrated into the mouth, being soft and well balanced. This outstanding Cava is a great match for fish, shell fish and white meat.

Nightfall Pinot Noir, California

This lighter-bodied Lodi Pinot is very fragrant with discernible and appealing fruit including cherry and currants.

Gambellara Soave I Basalti, Italy

The color is a brilliant straw yellow with fresh fruit perfumes, especially apple and pear, and floral notes such as elder and bloom.  The taste is fresh and light, with a very interesting acidity.  There is an important presence of mineral salts due to the volcanic origin of the soil.

Modest Vodka, Wisconsin

Handmade, distilled from 100% corn in a copper still, each batch created the “heads” and the “tails" are removed, leaving the “heart” containing the highest levels of purity, which not only taste better, but helps you avoid impurity induced headaches. 

Jason Helseth from Vinocopia will feature the following selections 

Piattelli Torrontes

With cool nights at 5500 feet elevation, this wine shows floral notes of lavender, honey suckle, and rose petals on the nose.    Completely dry, but soft and elegant on the finish.

Hook and Ladder Gewürztraminer 

An elegant mix of lychee, peach and fig flavors pair up with a crisp structure that is the perfect foil to the slightest note of sweetness.

Deloach California Pinot Noir

The California Pinot Noir is an elegant, well balanced wine offering mouth watering flavors of cherry and cranberry accented beautifully with just a touch of spice.


Lyeth, Fleur de Lyeth

A blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and other Bordeaux varietals, this wine provides harmony and balance.   The wine coats the palate with rich flavors of blueberry and plum accented by subtle red fruit notes of strawberry and Bing cherry.

Hook and Ladder Cabernet

Aromas of cassis, black currant, leather and pipe tobacco leads into a mix of dark fruit flavors with prominent sweet herb, mint and mocha.

Tippy Cow Vanilla and Mint

The most interesting and unique creams created, from the makers of Rum Chata, using real cream from Wisconsin.

Andrew Hardgrove  from Wirtz Beverage will feature the following selections

Black Ink Red Wine

Black Ink is an ode to fantasy through the arts, portraying elegance with an edge. In a celebration of decadence, juicy blackberry cobbler meets smoky licorice with a hint of spice. The capsule is marked with the allusive squid in a nod to the deep dark red hues within the bottle.

King Estate Pinot Gris

Our Pinot Gris style emphasizes fruit forward aromas boasting citrus and tropical fruits, without excess residual sugar levels. This wine is designed to drink exceptionally well both on its own and when paired with food.


King Estate Pinot Noir

Rich ruby color.  On the nose, aromas of black cherry, beet root, cinnamon, cigar box, caramel, oak, leather, plum, strawberry, and forest floor. On the palate, flavors of tobacco leaf, black pepper, plum, toasted oak, clove, cinnamon, leather, mushroom, and strawberry.   A complex, elegant, and balanced wine with round tannins and mellow acidity.

Rodney Strong Sonoma County Merlot

Plum and blueberry flavors with a touch of dried herb predominate in this soft, rich, mouth filling Merlot, and are enhanced by aging in small oak barrels for a toasty, spicy vanilla character, and a lingering berry-cream finish.  Drink this satisfying Merlot over the next two to four years.

Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages

Fresh red fruits on the nose with a hint of dark cherry.  Slightly spicy with a touch of grey pepper, licorice, and a touch of rose flower. The whole wine is very well balanced with a nice acidity and the tannins presence on the finish invites food pairings such as grilled red meat, white fish, cheese or simply as the sole wine of a meal.

Dry Creek Dry Chenin Blanc

A classic summertime sipper, our wonderfully crisp and refreshing Dry Chenin Blanc perfectly represents our love for this classic grape variety. In the glass, fragrant aromatics such as white peach, melon and citrus are immediately appealing. This vintage displays the classic Loire character of earth and crushed minerals that give the wine depth and nuance. There is an underlying chalky quality with some spicy undertones that really make this wine shine.