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

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