Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Pronto Lambrusco

With my frequent trips home, I've had fun exploring new restaurants in San Francisco on my way home from the airport, it's a completely different city than the one I grew up in!  After seeing a post from Miss Gwyneth about dinner at Cotogna, I was intrigued and added it to my list to try.

I remember my first taste of Lambrusco, 9 years ago as a study abroad student in Florence.  We took a wine tasting class and one of the wines poured was a fizzy red wine, I had never heard of such a thing!  I haven't had much interaction with it since, often dismissing it for an alcoholic grape juice.

Cotogna was pouring the Pronto Secco Lambrusco by the glass so I decided to give it another try.  This was different than anything I remembered about those early sips of Lambrusco.  The producer, Paola Rinaldini is something of a "darling" of the Lambrusco crowd, producing a classic wine that aims to demystify the stereotype.  

The color was a rich, inky purple.  The nose was slightly spicy.  The palette was medium bodied, fruity and dry with soft bubbles and a slightly bitter finish.  I immediately wanted another sip!  So THIS is what Lambrusco is supposed to be, dry, crisp, refreshing, rich.  A perfect match to the traditional food of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy from where this wine typically comes from, salty Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciutto di Parma, and dry salumi.  The perfect aperitif wine!    

We had a great dinner at Cotogna despite some service mishaps.  We weren't even done with our starter before our main course came out, a huge pet peeve of mine, we hadn't even been sitting for 20 minutes!  We sent it back to wait for us in the kitchen and stay warm while we enjoyed the last sips of Lambrusco.  While we didn't get any pizza or pasta, I gather that's what this restaurant does best and I would probably stick to those sections of the menu next time.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Kickin' It Old School

One of the things I enjoy most about wine is the opportunity to experience things outside my wheelhouse.  A recent score from Benchmark Wines in Napa yielded two such opportunities for learning and exploration:  a 1980 Barolo from Ceretto and a 1986 Ribera del Duero from Ibernoble. 

Older wines can be a bit of a gamble, as one would expect, but much to our surprise and delight, these wines were still rockin' some 29+ years later.  Sure there was the overtone of strawberry bandaids (the result of Brettanomyces, aroma compounds produced by yeast that makes its way into the wine often from poor winery hygiene), but the wines were still unbelievably smooth.  The tannins had all but dropped off, the workhorses that they are pulling their weight as preservers of the wine, allowing the fruit to shine with balance.    

Another thing I love about wine is the social aspect of bringing friends together to share in the experience of drinking a bottle.  I hosted my first formal dinner party with these wines, 10 people, 8 chairs (figure that one out!), 3 roast chickens, 3 lbs of potatoes, and so.many.laughs. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - 2012 Garnier et Fils "Les Clos" Chablis Grand Cru

It's no secret my propensity for White Burgundy.  So when a recent recipe I was trying out called for a crisp, full bodied white wine like Chablis to pair with the mustard roast chicken, I was happy to oblige.  

Domaine Garnier et Fils is a family run operation, brothers Xavier and Jérôme decided to start making their own wine in 1996 after decades of selling the grapes grown on their 57 acre property.  They offer a range of wine, from an entry price Chablis Village to the Grand Cru I tried.

The 2012 "Les Clos" Grand Cru Chablis was a beautiful golden hue.  The wine was aged for 12 months in neutral oak, giving it an aroma of sweet almonds, fresh baked bread and vanilla.  100% malolactic fermentation provided a perfect rich, roundness in the mouth, which was nicely balanced by an underlying minerality and slightly salty finish.  

Wine:  2012 Garnier et Fils "Les Clos" Grand Cru Chablis
Purchased:  Chelsea Wine Vault
Price:  59.99

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - 2012 André Scherer Pinot Noir

As many of you know, I have a rather big birthday coming up in May.  To kick the celebrations off,  I'm heading to France, and Alsace in particular, this Friday!

To get in the spirit for my upcoming trip, I recently tried an Alsatian Pinot Noir from Vignoble André Scherer.  When I think "Alsace" I think Pinot Blanc and dry, zippy Riesling, not necessarily red wines, so it was fun to try something new to me.  My knowledge of Alsatian reds is minimal, I've even been told to avoid them all together!  But apparently it all comes down to the producer as quality can vary widely.  

This 2012 Pinot Noir From André Scherer was apparently an exception to the rule of Alsatian reds.  The domain is owned and operated by the 9th generation of the Scherer family in the village of Husseren-les-Chateaux.  The wine was characteristic of Pinot Noir, ripe, juicy, red berries and cherries with a subtle spice undertone.  Alsatian wines are known for being great food wines and this was no exception.  I paired it with a simple roast chicken and roasted potatoes with goat cheese.     

I hope to return much better acquainted with Alsatian wines ;-)      

Wine:  2012 André Scherer Pinot Noir
Purchased:  Chelsea Wine Vault
Price:  $18.99

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - 2014 Verget Terres De Pierres Mácon-Village

One more from my weekend in the Berkshires.  I was lucky to spend valentine's day with my mama.  We celebrated at the Prairie Whale, a lovely restaurant from the same group that runs Diner, Marlow & Sons, Reynard etc. in Brooklyn.

As you may have guessed, Mom is a white wine only drinker, which obviously impacts my choices when dining with her.  Lucky for us, I've grown to love and appreciate similar wine and style (she does joke that she almost named me Chardonnay, that was a joke, right Mom?).  I know she's reading this.....

For dinner we chose a 2014 Mácon-Village from Verget.  Mácon-Village wines are one of my back-pocket secrets for finding value on a restaurant wine list (past Mácon wine here).  These wines are 100% Chardonnay, unoaked, and carry the same flavor profiles I love in white Burgundies but for typically much lower prices than more prestigious names/vineyards from the same region.

This wine was a very classic expression of Mácon.  With a nose of white flowers, a little citrus, stone fruit and honey.  It was rich yet balanced in the mouth, with a mineral, chalky finish and a nice acidity.  

We paired the wine with a delicious charcuterie board and a perfectly roasted chicken.  

Wine:  2014 Verget Terres De Pierres Mácon-Village
Purchased:  Prairie Whale, Great Barrington, MA
Price:  $15-$18 retail

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Domaine Marc Morey Rully White Burgundy

A definite highlight of our dinner at Allium in Great Barrington was the truffled popcorn appetizer paired with a White Burgundy from Domaine Marc Morey.  Located in Chassagne-Montrachet in the Cote de Beaune, the domaine was first established in 1919 and is now under the direction of the 4th generation of the Morey family.  This wine comes from a premiere cru parcel in Rully.  

White Burgundy from this region is almost always 100% Chardonnay.  This wine underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged in 15% new French oak barrels, giving it the round, slightly buttery, creamy finish on the palette, but not overly oaky in any way; a great compliment to the buttery popcorn with a salty Parmesan dusting. 

Wine:  Domaine Marc Morey Rully White Burgundy
Purchased:  Allium Restaurant, Great Barrington, MA
Price:  $27 retail

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - 2014 Division Gamine Grenache Rosé Pétillant

In honor of the 75 degree day today in NYC, I have a new and different rosé to kick off the spring season!  This 2014 Grenache rosé is a pétillant (Pet Nat for short), meaning "naturally sparkling".  This method was a precursor to Champagne and quite possibly was born out of ignorance.  Basically wine is capped before fermentation is entirely complete, leaving a wine with soft bubbles and a sometimes cloudy appearance.  These wines often have a tiny bit of residual sugar as the yeasts die off before they are able to convert all the sugar to alcohol.  Find a good one and it's the perfect balance of fruity, off-dry, and thirst-quenching.

Division Wine Company is based in Portland, Oregon and makes a wide range of wines.  Gamine, by definition, means girl with mischievous charm, a fitting description for this charming and mischievous wine!  The grapes were pressed after 6 hours of skin contact, giving the wine the perfect blush color.  The nose was full of fruit:  strawberries and melon.  The palette had a nice acidity, more fruit, and a soft effervescence that had me reaching for another sip.

This is what all the cool-kid somms are drinking these days, you'll be sure to impress your wine-geek friends if you bring a bottle to your next soiree!

Wine:  2014 Division Gamine Grenache Rosé Pétillant
Purchased:  Backlabel Wines
Price:  $30

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