Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - 2014 Peter Zemmer Punggl Pinot Bianco

I keep a note in my phone with a run-on list of restaurants by neighborhood that I want to try.  It seems like every time I cross one off, another is added, there's a never-ending supply!  I recently made it to Gato, which has been on my list for quite some time now.  

Over dinner we enjoyed a bottle of the 2014 Punggl Pinot Bianco by Peter Zemmer.  Located in the Alto Adige region in Italy, the family has been producing wine since 1928.  This particular Pinot Bianco is harvested from some of the winery's best vineyards located on the valley floor of the region.  The wine is fermented in a mix of stainless steel and oak, but does not pick up that overly oaky or buttery flavor.  Instead, it remains extremely clean and bright, a result of the cooler growing climate and stony soil.  It drank very similar to a Chablis, one that balances tart green apple, fresh acidity and minerality, and a smooth medium-bodied finish.   

The menu wasn't what I had expected, I thought it was more tapas/small plates focused.  But it was overwhelmingly delicious!  We started with their version of tapas or a "bar sampler" where you can choose 3 small bites from the top section of the menu.  Fair warning, these are literally 1-2 bite morsels and would be hard to share with more than 1 other person.  In that sense, I would suggest skipping this section of the menu and focusing elsewhere to get more bang for your buck.
From front to back:  piquillo filled with raw tuna, beef crudo, and eleven layer potato.
Next we split the charred carrots and roasted octopus.  The carrots may have been my favorite dish of the night.

We ended with the kale a mushroom paella, not your typical paella, this was not a large-format dish but was fine for sharing with 1 other person.  After watching Bobby Flay recreate this dish on my favorite TV show The Chew I plan to try this one at home!

We skipped dessert in favor of a walk around the block to Morgenstern's Ice Cream, but I think I'll have to come back to try their famous cheesecake!

Wine:  2014 Peter Zemmer Punggl Pinot Bianco
Purchased:  Gato NYC
Price:  $17 retail

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - 2014 McCall Wines Marjorie's Rose

Is there anything better than drinking rose on a beautiful summer day?  Perhaps drinking rose on a beautiful summer day on a boat!  I was lucky enough to enjoy a rose from McCall Wines while cruising from the Northfork over to Sunset Beach on Shelter Island.  

I tend to shy away from darker roses, although in my head I know that color is no indication of whether a rose is "sweet" or not, I still somehow have that stigma that I just don't enjoy roses that aren't the perfect light shade of Provencal pink.  This wine definitely proved my preconceived stigma wrong.  

The 2014 Marjorie's Rose was made with predominately Merlot grapes.  The nose was rather earthy with a bit of spice vs. bold and fruity.  The mouth was a bit more red-fruit driven but that earthiness carried through all the way to the finish.  This was an easy afternoon-sipper but I think it would be a great rose to pair with a meal as it had a bit more weight to it that could stand up nicely to food.   

Wine:  2014 McCall Wines Marjorie's Rose
*2015 Vintage is currently available
Purchased:  Friend's Cellar
Price:  $18

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Eating and Drinking Champagne in Champagne

One more post to round out my France travelogue!  I wanted to highlight some of the amazing food and wine we enjoyed in and around the Champagne region outside of our visits to Henri Giraud and Moet & Chandon.  

While I wouldn't necessarily go back to Champagne, I did enjoy the 24 hours we spent there.  I just felt that Epernay and Reims were lacking the small town charm of other wine villages in France, and they felt like more industrial, working cities.  That combined with an overall lack in hospitality and ease of wine tasting makes it rank a bit lower on my France favorite places list.  

That being said, we ate some fabulous wine and drank some delicious Champagne.  For dinner in Epernay we went to the top-rated Chez Max.  I'm pretty sure we ordered half the menu because we wanted to taste it all!  Highlights were the steak tartare made tableside (the owner makes over 1000 steak tartares per year), roasted duck breast, and a cheese plate with local cheeses.  They also have a great selection of wines by the half bottle, so we were able to course our meal with a self-selected wine pairing.  We started with the Cuvee du Cinquantenaire Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) from Veuve J. Lanaud.

Our other wine choices for the evening included the 2014 Sancerre Les Charmes from Domaine Andre Vatan and a Cabernet Franc from Les Echaillons in the Loire Valley.

In Reims, we had lunch at Le Jardin Brasserie at the Domaine Les Crayeres hotel.  This is the more casual restaurant associated with the 2-star Le Parc also on property.  The room was absolutely gorgeous.  We were a bit rushed to catch our train so we didn't take advantage of the price-fixed lunch, but we enjoyed a beautiful beet carpaccio with prosciutto and Parmesan as well as a grilled fish.  They also served some of the best bread of the trip!

After lunch before our train we quickly toured the Reims Cathedral.  This was worth coming to this town for.  Absolutely gorgeous with Chagall stained glass windows.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Wine Tasting in Champagne Pt. 2 Moet & Chandon

In contrast to our first appointment at smaller producer, Henri Giraud, our second appointment we went back to the OG and arguably the founder of it all, Moët & Chandon.  At first I was hesitant to tour at such a mass-produced domaine, these are typically the wineries I avoid back in Napa.  But it was actually a really great tour that gave us a bit of the history of the region, a refresher on the Champagne-making process, let us tour a portion of the 28km of caves that sit 10-30 meters underground, and ended with a guided tasting.  

After our tasting, we drove a couple of minutes to the next town of Hautvillers where we visited the Abbey where Dom Pérignon is buried.  The village was very charming and provided a beautiful view on our way out of town.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Wine Tasting in Champagne at Henri Giraud

From Alsace, we drove 4 hours west to Epernay in the heart of Champagne.

I have a newfound love for bubbles after our trip.  I always found it too sweet and gave me a headache, but I've explored new to me, drier styles that are the perfect way to begin a meal or as an aperitif.  It feels so celebratory even on the most ordinary of days!    

We arrived in Epernay and after a delicious lunch at La Grillade Gourmande headed to Henri Giraud for a tasting.  The house is currently run by the 12th generation of the family, producing amazing Champagnes from Grand Cru vineyards in the nearby village of Ay.

Just a reminder, a sparkling wine can only be called "Champagne" if it is produced in the designated Champagne region within France!    

The house is known for using a traditional clip closure called an "agrafe" that requires a special tool to open.  The handle of the dégrafeur is made from wood from the Argonne forest, which ties back to much of the oak used for the barrels in the Giraud aging process.

Once we got the bottle open, it was time to taste!  The wines were all delicious.  Crisp, dry, tiny bubbles.  

Their Code Noir Cuvee is made with 100% Pinot Noir grapes, somewhat unusual as most Champagnes are a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier (another red grape).  

If you plan to visit Epernay, I would highly recommend making an appointment for a tasting.

I'll certainly be on the lookout for bottles from Henri Giraud here in the States!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wine Wednesdays - Wine Tasting in Alsace

One highlight of our time in Alsace was our day of wine tasting.  I'll admit I don't have much experience with Riesling, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris, the main grapes grown in this region, so it was fun to try something new.  These wines are mostly dry (not the typical sweet Rieslings from Germany), high in acidity, and great food wines.

We started our day at Domaine Weinbach.  The history of the winery dates back to 1612, in which it was built by Capuchin monks.  It's been run by the Faller family since 1898.  


We took a peak into the cellar at Domaine Weinbach
A selfie in front of the Grand Cru Schlossberg Vineyard
After Weinbach, we drove into the nearby town of Kaysersberg.  

From there we drove a few minutes to the next town over for lunch at Caveau du Vigneron in Turckheim.  While thoroughly "pork'd-out" by this point, we had one more traditional Alsatian meal, and I must say this might be my favorite of the Alsatian cuisine we sampled.  I'm still dreaming about the "cassolette du vigneron" similar to mac n'cheese but with spaetzle and bits of bacon, mmmmmm!  

After lunch and a walk around Turckheim we drove over to Domaine Zind-Humbrecht.  We were welcomed by the lovely Jolene.  Her perfect English made for a wonderful, in-depth tour and tasting.  These wines were FABULOUS.  I can't wait to look for them here at home.

We started the tour in the vineyard before going into the cellar for the tasting.

Our last stop of the day was Domaine Josmeyer.  The Meyer family has been producing wines from Grand Cru vineyards since 1854.  The domaine is now run by daughters Celine and Isabelle.  The labels of Josmeyer wines feature gorgeous works of art.  

This part of France (and the wines) often fly under the radar, but they deserve more attention!  It's incredible how reasonably priced and widely available Grand Cru wines are in Alsace.  I wish the same could be said stateside, but unfortunately the prices rise with importation.

While many Domaine are open for tastings without appointment, it is smart to call ahead, especially in the off-season.  Weinbach and Zind-Humbrecht are open by appointment only.

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