A Taste of Louis Roederer Champagne

I recently attended a private tasting of Louis Roederer Champagne at my favorite wine store – K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City. It was my first taste of Louis Roederer Champagne.

The House

Louis Roederer Champagne is one of the last great independent and family run Champagne houses.  The family has been managing the business since 1833.  Today it is managed by Frédéric Rouzaud, who represents the seventh generation of the Roederer lineage.

According to Gary Westby, the Champagne buyer at K&L Wine Merchants…They are now the largest organic grower in Champagne with 162.5 of their 600 acres farmed bio. They farm these acres as 410 separate little farms, with three full-time vineyard managers and a huge team of workers.Each one of the vintage wines comes from plots that are farmed specifically to make that wine; they farm the plots destined for rose differently than the blanc de blancs and the regular vintage differently than the Cristal plots. Champagne Louis Roederer is doing some of the most serious work in Champagne, and are setting themselves apart from the more marketing driven big houses that they compete with.

Even though it was the first time I’d tasted Champagne Louis Roederer, I was familiar with the brand, primarily because of their prestige tête de cuvée ”Cristal” bottling, which is legend in the hip-hop/rap community as a symbol of success.

The story behind Cristal is interesting.  Louis Roederer II, son of the founder, fashioned an exclusive champagne for the Tsar Alexander II of Russia, and launched a novel concept: the very first Cuvée de Prestige.  It was created in 1876 and named ‘Cristal’ because it was bottled in crystal at the request of the tsar.  It was strictly for the private consumption of the tsar, and wasn’t was made publicly available with the 1945 vintage (for that reason some consider Moët & Chandon’s Dom Pérignon, launched in 1936 with the 1921 vintage the first publicly available prestige cuvée). 

While no longer bottled in crystal, Cristal is still uniquely packaged.  It’s bottled in a flat-bottomed clear, “crystal” bottle, with an anti-UV cellophane wrapper (to protect the wine which would actually age better in a darker bottle).

On the other hand,  I’m very familiar with their U.S. outpost Roederer Estate in Anderson Valley.  Their Anderson Valley property is a great place to visit, and their Estate Brut is a perennial favorite that made my Top 20 Wines Under $20.  And I have a few bottles of their “Tête de Cuvée - L’Ermitage.

The Wines

The tasting featured the Roederer Champagne entry-level multi-vintage (I prefer multi-vintage to non-vintage, it’s more accurate and doesn’t suggest inferiority to “vintage”) wine, a few vintage dated bottling, along with their recently released prestige tête de cuvée, the 2006Cristal“.

My tasting notes follow:

photo 3 (5)

N.V. Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Premier - Pale yellow color with plentiful active tiny bubbles and yeasty, almond, apple, and a hint of smoke aromas. On the palate, it’s refined, clean and fresh with a delicate creamy mousse, and mixed tart apple, and pear flavors with an appealing minerality, and a lingering finish. Rating: A-

A Taste of Louis Roederer Champagne

2008 Louis Roederer Champagne Blanc de Blancs - Pale yellow color with plentiful active tiny bubbles and appealing roasted nut, orchard fruits, citrus and white flower aromas. On the palate it elegant, and fresh with a very creamy texture and refined acidity with apple, lemon , and hazelnut flavors with a chalky minerality. Long finish. Made at a lower pressure, about 4 atmospheres than most Champagne. Rating: A

A Taste of Louis Roederer Champagne

2007 Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Vintage - Pale gold color with plentiful active tiny bubbles and toasty, apple, pear, hazelnut, and vanilla aromas. On the palate, it’s approaches full-bodied with a creamy mousse and apple, pear, subtle citrus, raspberry and vanilla flavors. Long finish. Blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, 30% of which is wine matured in oak without malolactic fermentation. Rating: A

A Taste of Louis Roederer Champagne

 2008 Louis Roederer Champagne Rosé Brut - Beautiful salmon color with plentiful active tiny bubbles and intriguing complex red fruits, orange peel, subtle spice, floral and chalk aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, creamy, well structured, and charming with tart cherry, raspberry, orange peel, a bit of spice flavors complemented by a savory minerality. Long finish. 67% Pinot Noir – colored via saignee method. Rating: A

A Taste of Louis Roederer Champagne2006 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut - Very pale gold color with plentiful, active, pin prick sized bubbles. On the nose it shows layered aromas. Initially there is lemon, orange and roasted nut aromas, followed by apple, peach, ginger and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s focused, and suave with an exceedingly creamy delicate mousse and pear, apple, citrus zest flavors with spicy top note, and an alluring chalky minerality. Long finish.  It’s a baby now is will only get better! Blend: 55% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay Rating: A

All the wines were fabulous (the Brut Premier offers damn fine value for $40).  The tasting certainly piqued my interest Champagne Roederer.  I’m looking forward to visiting the House of Champagne Louis Roederer in person as part of 2014 Champagne Harvest Media trip tomorrow!

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings. Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Cognitive Dissonance And Champagne

Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors.  I don’t know why, but was the first thing to pop into my head when I was contemplating my first trip to the Champagne region as part of the 2014 Harvest Media Trip (more on that later).

The term perfectly describes my relationship with Champagne, which might also be described as, ”It’s complicated

Let me explain…

I have a bunch ‘o wine (my guess would be a couple of hundred bottles) in my “cellar” (a term admittedly used loosely here for the sake of brevity – the wine is all over the house!).

I adore Champagne. It’s my deathbed wine (a Rosé Champagne to be exact)

Yet I have zero, absolutely none in my cellar.

Clearly there’s a disconnect between my belief that I love Champagne, and my purchasing and laying down of wine behavior, since I don’t have any in my “cellar”.  

Before I proceed further, you should know that in my mind, while Champagne is sparking wine, sparkling wine is not Champagne. And Champagne comes from one place in the world, the Champagne region in France.

Why yes...I will have some Krug Champagne!

Why yes…I will have some Krug Champagne!

I have exactly 2 bottles of sparkling wine that I’m laying down (both are Roederer Estate L’Ermitage)

So, I have to ask myself why?  Why, if you love sparkling wine do you only have two bottles in the cellar?

This is where it gets a bit “complicated” (i.e. excuses for my purchasing behavior vis-a-vis my beliefs) Here are a few excuses…

I like to try before I buy….this one is kinda sorts true…it’s only in the last year or so I’ve made a concerted effort to taste Champagne on a regular basis.  Oh, I’ve had plenty of sparkling wine (blogged about it weekly, and have hit all the wineries on the Napa/Sonoma Sparkling Wine Trail). Still, I’m well aware of the fabulosity that is Champagne and my favorite wine store has got plenty of it…

Got a late start…meaning I’ve been buying  and laying down wines for years (95%  of it reds), and my affection for Champagne is relatively new….hmmm…the reality is that ever since I got “into” wine, I’ve alway considered Champagne (along with Sherry to a lesser degree) to be one of the wonders of the wine world and deserving of my full attention…why haven’t I acted on that knowledge?

It costs too much…I know better.  There are some very good entry level Champagne in the $25-$40 range.  And truth be told,  I’ve got plenty of bottles of red wine in that same price range…

I’m sure I  could come up with more excuses, but you get the gist.

There’s no purely rational reason why I don’t haven’t purchased and laid down more Champagne.  Of course, buying decisions aren’t always purely rational.

Still as a (mostly) logic driven, left-brained kinda guy…I would feel better if I could reconcile my beliefs to my behaviors

That’s why the opportunity to be part of the 2014 Champagne Harvest Media trip is such a blessing to me.

Per the invitation…

The trip to Champagne will be an opportunity for you to learn more about the production of Champagne and its unique qualities…this trip will give you the opportunity to visit select Champagne producers – from large houses to cooperatives and small growers – and learn about the appellation as a whole…As a guest you will also experience firsthand the winemaking process, from picking and crushing grapes to exquisite Champagne pairing dinners.  You will also have the opportunity to speak with officials from the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), the trade association that represents all the houses and grape growers of the Champagne appellation.

Hmmm…I don’t know about you, but I think a week in Champagne and my cognitive dissonance, as it relates to Champagne, will be a thing of the past;-) And as I sit here in my hotel room in Reims ready to embark upon this journey, for the first time in my life therapy…Champagne therapy that is sounds appealing!

Chin, chin…and stay tuned…I let you know how it goes!

Wine of the Week; 2005 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, since today is #CabernetDay my Wine Of The Week is the 2005 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection.

The Winery

Caymus Vineyards is a part of the Wagner Family of Wine along with Mer Soleil, Conundrum, Belle Glos and the newest label, Emmolo.

The Wagner family has a long history in the Napa Valley that dates back to 1906 when Carl Wagner, an immigrant from Alsace, and grandfather of Chuck Wagner, purchased farmland in Rutherford in the Napa Valley.

Chuck was just 19 when he joined his parents in 1972 to create Caymus Vineyards, and they produced their first Cabernet Sauvignon.  In 1975, the Wagners produced their first Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon (click here for the Caymus timeline).

The Wagners are serious about the ‘family” in the Wagner Family of Wine moniker. Chuck’s children, Charlie II, Joseph, and Jenny perpetuate a proud family tradition of farming and winemaking.

The Wine

This bottle of wine was a gift from my most generous boss – Phil.  Prior to opening the wine last week, it had been in my “cellar” for about 3 years waiting for the right time.  We opened it and it enjoyed it with a friend who is convalescing from knee surgery.

Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon is the only wine in the world twice honored as “Number one wine in the world” by Wine Spectator Magazine….In addition, this wine was honored with the highest average score rating by the same magazine over the last 15 years. – Caymus Vineyards

One of the most allocated and collectible Cabernet Sauvignon in the world, Caymus Vineyards Special Selection is crafted from the outstanding barrels of the vintage. Special Selection is produced only in vintages that proprietor Chuck Wagner feels are suitable for this designation. >>Find this wine<<

The 2011 Vintage of this wine retails for $130. 15.2% alcohol

Wine of the Week; 2005 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Select

 My tasting notes follow:

Garnet color with very appealing plum, cassis, blueberry, a hint of leather, and sweet oak aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, focused, intense and refined with a lush texture and well-integrated oak, and soft sweet tannins. It shows plum, blackberry, mineral and a bit of vanillin spice flavors. Long finish.

Rating: A:  This wine is drinking beautifully now, but it has plenty of years ahead of it! Beautiful now with plenty of years ahead of it.

Pair with: Of course a nice rib-eye comes to mind with a Cab, but other options include Slow-braised beef – or venison, a great burger (Gott’s anyone?), lamb or mushroom stroganoff!

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine of the Week: 2012 Zudugarai “Amats” Getariako Txakolina

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2012 Zudugarai “Amats” Getariako Txakolina.

The Winery

Bodegas Zudugarai  is a winery located in the Basque region in northern Spain, less than 20 miles from the French border.  It was founded in 1989, the same year the Denominación de Origen (DO)  of Getariako Txakolina was founded.  Getariako Txakoli is the oldest, largest, and most important of the three DOs that produced Txakoli.  The others are Arabako Txakolina and Bizkaiko Txakolina.

The Errasti family has been growing grapes and making wine from the region’s vineyards for over 40 years, working with the local varieties of Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Beltza. The vineyards and winery are near the coast line among rolling hills at about 90 meters above sea level.  The sunniest and windiest slopes are the ones planted to vines so that the grapes can get ripe and also remain dry and avoid fungal and rot issues. All work in the vineyards is done by hand including harvest.

The winery produces Txakoli, (pronounced chock-oh-lee) or Txakolina (as far as I can tell the terms are used interchangeably).   Txakoli is a delicious, dry, very fresh, slightly petillant (fizzy), low alcohol wine that is consumed like water in Basque Country.

The Wine

This wine is made with 100% Hondarrabi Zuri, the native grape that dominates plantings in the Basque region. Most of the Txakoli produced is consumed by the local Basque people.

After hand-harvesting the grapes are fermented naturally in stainless steel tanks, then bottled young to retain its natural effervescence.

Amats is both the brand name of the Txakoli as well as one of Zudugarai’s vineyards.

I was introduced to Txacoli by Joe Manekin, the Spanish wine buyer at K&L Wine Merchants a few years ago.  I purchase a few bottles every year because it such a great summer sipper!

I also had the pleasure of spending a few days in San Sebastian last year, and you better believe I had at least one glass of Txakoli daily with a wide variety of pintxos.

10.5% alcohol. Retail – $13 

Amats Txakolina

My tasting notes follow:

Very pale green color with green apple, lime rind and a bit of mineral aromas.  On the palate, it’s light-bodied, dry and slightly fizzy with easy tart green apple, and lime rind flavors underscored by an appealing minerality. A serving note: The tiny, fleeting bubbles disappear quickly if you let your Txakoli sit out too long – which is why small, frequent pours is how this wine should be served. 

Rating: B+: This hard to pronounce, but easy drinking wine is a fabulous summer sipper – dry,fresh, fizzy, and low in alcohol.  It could be a challenge to find, but it’s definitely worth seeking out! 

Pair with: A classic pairing in Spain is marinated white anchovies (boquerones), we had it with a dish called Kokotxas (the cheeks of hake). What a great pairing!  Enjoy with raw oysters, grilled seafood, hard cheeses, or deep fried bites!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

The Best of the 9th Annual Urban Wine Xperience

I attended the sold-out East Bay Vintner’s Alliance (“EBVA”) 9th Annual Urban Wine Xperience held on August 2nd on the Ferry Lawn at vibrant Jack London Square in Oakland.   EBVA,  is an association representing more than 20 East Bay (primarily Alameda, Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland) Urban wineries.  It’s a great opportunity to taste all the best artisanal wines made in the East Bay all at the same time.  I attended the event as a guest of EBVA.

The event featured 20 member wineries pouring a diverse range of wines (and even some mead) paired with local eateries and food purveyors, and well as live music!

The waterside tasting venue was adjacent to the Ferry Terminal.  The wineries and food vendors were stationed in white tents around the perimeter of the Ferry Lawn.  Basking in the warmth of the sun, with gorgeous blue sky above and green grass under foot…..I got to tasting!

Relying on the excellent tasting sheet provided by EBVA, which included a handy 5 star rating scale for each of the wine, I set out taste as many of the 59 available wines as possible.

My plan was to taste the sparkling wines, then whites and rosé before tasting reds.  But long lines at some of the wineries and some poor signage (or lack thereof) conspired against me (there was one winery I never did find)  I did manage to taste 45 wines and sample some delicious bites along the way!

UWX 14 Gary of Campovida

Gary Breen of Campovida busts out a magnum of his delicious Zinfandel

UWX 14 Venga Paella

There was a long line for this delectable squid ink paella from Venga – And it was worth the wait!

UWX 14 Nido

Nido served up their delightful Esquite Placero – Roasted Sweet Corn, Cherry Tomatoes, serrano, queso cotija and lemon aioli

The Best of the 9th Annual Urban Wine Xperience

Nom, nom, nom! Bacon Caramel Popcorn from the Chunky PIg!

Favorite Wines

In terms of my favorite wines, there were a handful of “All-Stars” – wineries where I was able to taste at all three of their wines, and rated all at least 4 of 5 stars.  They included:

Campovida

  • 2013 Arneis
  • 2012 Viognier
  • 2012 Campo di Rossa

Carica Wines

  • 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County
  • 2010 Rhone-style Red Blend, Sonoma County
  • 2009 Syrah “Kick Ranch” Sonoma County

Dashe Cellars

  • 2013 Dry Riesling, McFadden Farm, Potter Valley
  • 2011 Zinfandel Todd Brothers Ranch Old Vines, Alexander Valley
  • 2013 Grenache, Dry Creek Valley

Stage Left Cellars

  • 2011 Grenache
  • 2010 The Day Job
  • 2011 The Stakeholder

Urban Legend

  • 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Windrem Ranch, Lake County, Organic Grapes
  • 2011 Barbera, Cooper Ranch, Sierra Foothills
  • 2010 Teroldego, Holland Landing Vineyard, Clarksburg

Other favorites included:

  • Ehrenberg Cellars – 2011 Petite Sirah Lodi
  • Eno Wines – 2010 Eno Pinot Noir “The Proposition”
  • Jeff Cohn Cellars – 2011 El Diablo Grenache and 2012 The Imposter Red Blend
  • Lusu Cellars – 2011 Zinfandel, El Dorado
  • Two Mile Wines – 2008 Dry Creek Sangiovese

The surprise of the day was tasting mead.  My previous experience with mead had been at Ethiopian restaurants, and I went in expecting a sweet wine. I tried the Orange-Ginger Mead and the Simcoe Mead from the Mead Kitchen and both were dry and brought to mind beer more so than wine.  While neither made my list of favorite it was an experience that’s piqued my interest in mead.  It’s a beverage I’d like to try again!

The event was a wonderful  showcase for what I love about urban wineries –  you can get chance to taste diverse wines beyond the usual vinous suspects like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvigon, and Zinfandel; such as Arneis, Chenin Blanc, Barbera, or Teroldego; from diverse wine regions throughout California like Anderson ValleySonoma CountyNapaSanta Cruz MountainsPaso Robles, the Sierra Foothills and Amador County without all the driving!

And the East Bay features some of California’s finest urban wineries.  If you missed this event or otherwise haven’t had a chance to check out the East Bay’s urban wineries. What are you waiting for?  Take a sip of Urban Wine Country!

__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; 2012 Vrinioti Iama White

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2012 Vrinioti Iama White

The Winery

Vrinioti Wines, located on the island of Evia.  The business was founded in 2002 on family lands that Konstantinos Vrinioti’s ancestors planted to grapes in the area, and upon which they built an old traditional stone winery.  The old stone wine press from that winery was incorporated into a new facility whose construction started in 2007 and completed in 2008.

Their 45 acre estate vineyard is farmed organically and planted to Syrah, the Greek red Vradiano and the white grapes –  Roditis, Savvatiano, Assyrtiko and Malagouzia.

The Wine

Iama stands for something that fosters good health and metaphorically, something special.  That it is.  It’s a a fascinating blend of two distinctly different native Greek wine grapes – 60% Malagouzia and 40% Assyrtiko.  

Malagouzia is an ancient grape variety indigenous to Greece that  has only been identified in recent decades.  It produces a wine with floral and stone fruit aromatics and a slight honeyed character on the palate.

Assyrtiko, which I’d had before and really enjoyed, is the renown grape of the island of Santorini, where it usually makes bracing, dry whites with mouth-watering acidity and pronounced minerality.

The interplay of the two grape varieties is almost sequential, with the aromatics and fruit of the Malagouzia dominating the palate initially, and with the acidity and the minerality of the of the Assyrtiko providing the frame.  

As a point of reference for more well-known grape varieties, the wine reminded me of the combination of the aromatic and fruit profile of  both Viognier and   Gewürztraminer with the acidity of a Riesling.

photo (81)

My tasting notes follow:

Rich yellow gold color with appealing stone fruit, bergamot, honey, spice, wet stone and citrus blossom aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and approaches off-dry on the front palate with vibrant acidity and peach, apricot, a bit of fresh melon, spice, honey followed by a refreshing, bright lemony acidity on the back palate all underscored with wonderful Chablis-like minerality. Lingering finish. >>Find this wine<<

Rating: A-: The acidity in this wine make it a terrific partner at the table.  It’s the most enjoyable white wine I’ve had this summer!

Pair with: Grilled Paiche, Salads featuring Feta cheese, Chile Rellenos, Grilled Octopus, Fried Calamari, or Herb-crusted lamb or port or Tuna Tartare.

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Grilled Paiche with a White Greek Blend

Wine Pairing Weekend is a monthly collaborative event for wine/food bloggers started by David Crowley of Cooking Chat.  It’s a great way to find food and wine pairings that work; along with tips on how to create your own food and wine pairing magic.

The theme for this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend is “Wine for Summer’s Bounty“, and it’s all about taking advantage of the season’s best vegetables and fruits which are peaking right about now.

With the tried, tested, and found true food and wine pairing tenet of “What grows together, goes together” in mind, I knew I wanted to grill some fish since I had a wine from Greece in mind.

The Food

Taking inspiration from a Tilapia with Fresh Corn and Hatch Pepper recipe featuring a couple of the season’s bounty - fresh corn and hatch chiles, I decided to substitute Paiche, for tilapia  And off to my local Whole Paycheck..er Foods I went.  Alas, there wasn’t a hatch chile anywhere to be found.  I decided to substitute a Poblano pepper for the hatch chile.

Image courtesy of divebuddy.com

Image courtesy of divebuddy.com

For the uninitiated, Paiche (PIE-chay) which is also known as the arapaima or pirarucu, is a one of the largest freshwater fish in the world and can grow to almost 500 lbs. in size

It’s native to the Amazonian regions of Brazil and Peru in South American where it’s considered a delicacy ,and was almost fished to extinction.

In 2006 a group of Peruvian businessmen began The Amazone Project to develop the sustainable farming of paiche, and in 2011 it began to appear on the menus of adventurous chefs in the United States.

Some consider it an Amazonian “superfood”.  It packs an amazing 20 grams of protein per 100 grams of fish,is high in Omega-3s, low in fat, and free of antibiotics or mercury. It has firm white fleshed white-fish that has the meatiness of halibut for gently sweet flavor of sea bass or dover sole.  It’s perfect for grilling, pan-searing, roasting or smoking.

To date, I’ve only seen it a Whole Foods.  It’s farm-raised, but responsibly so.

Paiche grilled to perfection in a corn husk has a Latin inspired flavor profile

Despite the challenge of getting the paiche into the corn husk (I can see how a thinner fish like tilapia would be easier to work with and cook faster), the dish turn out well given my shall we say “unsophisicated” cooking skills!

Grilled Paiche with Fresh Corn and Poblano Peppers
Author: 
Recipe type: Main entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 2 ears of fresh corn
  • ¼ cup poblano chiles, chopped (more or less, depending on your desired heat level)
  • ¼ cup green onions, sliced
  • ½ lime
  • 2 Paiche fillets
  • Chipotle powder, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350 to 450 degrees)
  2. Carefully peel back the husk from each corn cob. You will use it for roasting the fish on the grill.
  3. Cut the ear of corn off the stem just above the end of the cob, leaving the husk intact. Set the husk aside. Cut the corn off the cob and combine with poblano chiles, green onions and the juice of a quarter of a lime and a dash of chipotle chili powder.
  4. Rinse the fish and pat dry. Place one fillet inside each of the corn husks. Top each with one-half of the corn mixture and close the husks over the fish, overlapping slightly.
  5. Place on the heated grill with the lid closed for 25-35 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily or reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Cut the remaining lime lengthwise into 2 wedges. Serve the fish in the husk with a lime wedge on top.

 The Wine

My wine choice for this dish is the 2012 Vrinioti Iama White.  It’s a fascinating blend of two distinctly different native Greek wine grapes – 60% Malagouzia and 40% Assyrtiko from the island of Evia.

Malagouzia is an ancient grape variety indigenous to Greece that  has only been identified in recent decades.  It produces a wine with floral and stone fruit aromatics and a slight honeyed character on the palate.  Assyrtiko, which I’d had before and really enjoyed, is the renown grape of the island of Santorini, where it usually makes bracing, dry whites with mouth-watering acidity and pronounced minerality.

The interplay of the two grape varieties is almost sequential, with the aromatics and fruit of the Malagouzia dominating the palate initially, and with the acidity and the minerality of the of the Assyrtiko providing the frame.  

As a point of reference for more well-known grape varieties, the wine reminded me of the combination of the aromatic and fruit profile of  both Viognier and   Gewürztraminer with the acidity of a Riesling.

Grilled Paiche with Fresh Corn and Poblano Peppers #winePW

Have you ever seen a black bottle closure before? But I digress, the wine is pure deliciousness. Highly recommended!

My tasting notes follow:

Rich yellow gold color with appealing stone fruit, bergamot, honey, spice, wet stone and citrus blossom aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and approaches off-dry on the front palate with vibrant acidity and peach, apricot, a bit of fresh melon, spice, honey followed by a refreshing, bright lemony acidity on the back palate all underscored with wonderful Chablis-like minerality. Lingering finish.

The mouth-watering acidity of this wine makes it a versatile wine at table. Consider pairing it with salads featuring Feta cheese, Chile Rellenos, Grilled Octopus, Fried Calamari, or Herb-crusted lamb or port or Tuna Tartare.

DSC_0940

The Food and Wine Pairing

It was a fantastic pairing!  The the combination of spice and minerality of the wine was a great complement the spice of the corn/pepper mixture, and the slightly sweet, ever so slightly smoky flavor profile of the dish. And the great acidity of the wine cleansed the palate and prepared it for the next bite of deliciousness!
Wine Pairing Weekend # 3 Bloggers: Be sure to check out what my fellow bloggers have come up with for the August Wine Pairing Weekend!

Pull That Cork shared “Wine for Summer’s Bounty. Will Garnacha Do the Trick?

Meal Diva paired “Summer Vegetable Red Sauce with Amarone

Culinary Adventures with Camilla posted “Pan-Seared Padròns with DeRose Vineyards’ Négrette

Vino Travels — An Italian Wine Blog shared “Tomato, toe-mah-toe: Summer’s bounty with Sicilian wine Donnafugata

Grape Experiences paired “Cecchi Chianti Classico 2010 and Vegetable Lasagna

Curious Cuisiniere shared “Chipotle Garden Salsa with Wild Hare Petite Sirah

ENOFYLZ Wine Blog posted “Grilled Paiche with a White Greek Blend

Take a Bite Out of Boca shared “Quinoa-Crusted Eggplant and Heirloom Tomato Stacks paired with Monrosso Chianti

foodwineclick shared “Summers’ Bounty or Attack of the Killer Turnips?

Confessions of a Culinary Diva blogged about “Lobster Paella and Albarino

Tasting Pour shared “Summertime and the Cooking is Easy

Cooking Chat paired “Linguine with Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes and a Sauvignon Blanc

Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you’re reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme “Wine for Summer’s Bounty” on Saturday, August 9, from 11 a.m. to noon Eastern Time. Questions for the chat are posted here on the #winePW site. You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the September Wine Pairing Weekend, which will focus on “Regional Food and Wine Pairings” on Saturday, September 13.

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Rosé of the Week; 2013 Waterkloof Circumstance Cape Coral

Summer is officially here!  Rosé season is in full bloom, although truth be told, it’s Rosé season for me pretty much year-round for me!  With that in mind, I’m cranking up my annual series of weekly “Drink Pink!“ Rosé tastings.  It’s my quest for the best Pink Porch Pounders! This week’s rosé is the 2013 Waterkloof Circumstance Cape Coral.

The Winery

Waterkloof Wines is a winery based in the Helderberg wine-producing area, a sub-region in the Western Cape of South Africa, just south of Stellenbosch.  Paul Boutinot, an Englishmen of French descent is the “Custodian”.  He learned the wine trade from the ground up, and launched his own successful wine import business in 1980.  It evolved into one of the UK’s biggest and most important wine distribution companies, which he subsequently sold in 2013.  In 1993 he commenced a search for a vineyard site that had the potential to produce truly fine with a defining sense of place.   It took ten years to narrow the search down to a small area on the south-facing slopes of the Schapenberg, overlooking False Bay in the Cape. As soon as he was led up a steep ravine opening out into a hidden amphitheatre of potential, all his experience and intuition told him: THIS IS IT! Waterkloof was born.  He took over the property just before the 2004 harvest.  The first vintage bottled under the Waterkloof name was from the 2005 harvest.

In 2009 a state-of-the-art gravitational cellar, tasting room and The Restaurant at Waterkloof were constructed

Waterkloof’s wines are shaped by an amphitheatre of select, high-altitude vineyards, famed as one of the finest cool climate vineyard sites in South Africa.

The Wine

The wine is made from 100% Mourvedre.  The  grapes were hand harvested and whole cluster pressed.  No further maceration of the juice with the skins was allowed.

Following in the footsteps of the great rosés of Bandol, the Waterkloof’s Circumstance Cape Coral rosé is made entirely from Mourvedre sourced from some incredible old vines in Stellenbosch

The juice was fermented on native yeast at temperatures of 16 to 18 degrees Celsius, which took 5 months to complete. The wine was then left on the primary lees for another 2 months to add further complexity before bottling. 13.5% alcohol.  Retail – $16.99

Rosé of the Week; 2013 Waterkloof Mourvedre Circumstance Cape Coral

My tasting notes follow:

Pale salmon color with damp earth, peach and spice aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with a great mouth feel, and strawberry, peach and spice flavors. Lingering finish

Rating: A-:  This is a very good rosé! It can be a challenge to find a 100% Mourvedre-based rosé for under $20 and this one offers a very good quality to price ratio!

Pair with: What I like about Mourvedre dominant rosés is that they, unlike many light-bodied rosé, can be paired with more substantial fare.  Consider Pulled Pork sandwiches, or Barbecue Chicken Sloppy Joes!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; 2009 Ridge Zinfandel Carmichael Ranch

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2009 Ridge Zinfandel Carmichael Ranch.

The Winery

Ridge Vineyards  is a California winery with two estates, Monte Bello in Cupertino, and Lytton Springs in Healdsburg.  They are best known for producing single-vineyard premium Bordeaux style Cabernet Sauvignon Blend (“Monte Bello”), Zinfandels, and Chardonnay.  Ridge was established by three engineers from nearby Stanford Research Institute (SRI).  They produced its first commercial wine in 1962 after purchasing the winery in 1960.

Great wines have always been determined by their site – by nature, not by man – Paul Draper

It wasn’t too long after that, that Ridge gained an international  rep when the  Ridge Monte Bello, under the direction of winemaker Paul Draper , took fifth place in the “Judgment of Paris” in 1976 against nine other French and California wines.  Here’s what’s really cool though, the 1976 Monte Bello unanimously took first place in The Judgment of Paris 30th Anniversary when it was tasted against the same wines thirty years later!

And speaking of anniversaries - 2014 marks our 50th year of producing fine, site-specific zinfandels sourced primarily from pre-Prohibition old vine vineyards.

Ridge has four estate vineyards, Monte Bello (first commercial release was in 1962), Geyserville (first release 1966), Lytton Springs (first release 1972), and their newest property East Bench.

The Wine

Carmichael Ranch is located on the western side of the Alexander Valley, south of Geyserville.  Originally a part of the Rancho Sotoyomi land grant, these hundred acres were purchased in the mid-1800s by Archibald Carmichael. Ridge began farming the western half in 2000. Ridge first pro

It’s a blend of 96% Zinfandel, 4% Petite Sirah. Here’s how Ridge, a leader in wine industry when it come to labeling describes the winemaking process…

All Estate grown grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed and
crushed. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full
malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. Minimum
effective sulfur (35 ppm at crush, 120 ppm over the course
of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our
philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our
actions

It was aged 13 months in 100% air-dried american oak: (15 % new, 85% two to four years old).  Retail – $28; Alcohol – 14.2%

Ridge Carmichael 09

My tasting notes follow:

Crimson color with appealing ripe mixed black and red fruits, spice, bramble and a hint of leather aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with soft well-integrated sweet tannins, , very good acidity and plum, blackberry, black cherry, and spice finish and a lingering satisfying finish. 

Rating: A-: This relative newcomer to is a delicious addition to Ridge’s formidable lineup of Zinfandels! And it’s drinking very well now!

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; 2012 Michel Gassier Cercius Blanc

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2012 Michel Gassier Cercius Blanc.

The Winery

Michel Gassier is the fourth generation of his family to make wine.  He organically farms his 70-hectare vineyard, Château de Nage, located on the southern edge of the Rhone Valley in the Costieres de Nimes near the ancient city of Nimes.

We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.

They are one of the leading estate in the region, and have been one of Wine Spectator’s Top 10 French Wineries for Value every year since 2007, and nominee for the 2014 European Winery of the Year Wine Enthusiast Star Award.

The Wine

I picked up this wine from K&L Wine Merchants a couple of weeks ago.  The wine is a project of partners Michel  Gassier, Philippe Cambie and importer Eric Solomon bottled under the name Michel Gassier.

The wine is named for the legendary mistral winds of Provence  that sweep over the vines and out to the Mediterranean Sea. The Latin name for these north-northwest winds is Cercius.

It’s a blend of 70% Grenache Blanc and 30% Sauvignon Blanc from vines with an average age of 25 years.  It was aged on lees in concrete to maintain freshness.

This is the fifth (see “Related Posts” below) such custom cuvee put together for Solomon that’s been a winner in my book.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence – Solomon has a knack for wonderful every day wines that dramatically over deliver for the price.

12.5% alcohol; Retail – $12.99

photo (53)

My tasting notes follow:

Straw yellow color with appealing white peach, lychee and citrus aromas. It’s between medium and full-bodied, fresh and focused with a lovely texture. It shows stone fruits, mandarin orange, lime and a bit of spice flavors underscored by an alluring minerality, and a clean lingering finish.

Rating: A-  A refreshing summer time porch pounder! It’s a stunning value at 12.99!  Will buy more! >>Find this wine<<

Pair with: Roasted paiche or monkfish, paprika grilled game hen, or goat cheeses.

Sample purchased for review

Related posts:

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.