Wine of the Week: 2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard

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 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard.

Winery

Phillips Hill Winery is a small boutique (~1,000 cases/yr) winery focused on producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer from cool climate vineyards located in Anderson Valley. Phillips Hill Winery is located on Greenwood Ridge above Anderson Valley, in the Mendocino Ridge appellation.  I was introduced to Phillips Hill when the winery was recommended to me while I was tasting at Toulouse Vineyards earlier this year.

Phillips Hill

Toby Hill, a native California is the Owner/Winemaker of Phillips Hill. He was formally trained in the Arts.  With a BFA from California College of the Arts, Toby attributes his artistic talent to the Phillips side of the family.  His intense study and mastery of composition in the abstract has been translated into the delicate balance of making wine. From immersion as a practicing artist in New York, followed by later experience as an Architectural Color and Plaster business owner in San Francisco. In 1997 he purchased some land in the Mendocino Ridge Appellation overlooking the Anderson Valley. He built a house and adjacent art studio and kicked back for a time.

He got his start in winemaking after a local winemaker decided not to begin a brand and offered him four barrels of an unfinished 2002 vintage from Oppenlander Vineyard in Comptche in Mendocino County. Ultimately that led him to his new passion and personal re-invention in wine country.

What started as an opportunity to express his work on a wine label became a new artistic obsession for an expression not only on the bottle, but in the bottle as well – a transformation from the art of the visual to that of the sensory.

Phillips Hill wines strive for “old meets new world” style with elegance, finesse, and lower alcohol levels.  The day I visited, only reds were available for tasting. They were sold out of their Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer.  I was very impressed by the wines I tried.

All the Phillips Hill Wine bottles labels features the artwork of Owner/Winemaker Toby Hill.

The Wine

The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Toulouse Vineyard. The wine was aged 11 months in French oak (33% new, 33% 1 year, 33% seasoned).  The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered.

2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard

2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard

My tasting notes follow:

Ruby color with aromatic dark cherry, red plum, brown sugar, spice, damp earth aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied silky smooth and well-balanced with cherry, wild raspberry, and spice flavors. Long finish; 14.2% alcohol, 275 cases produced, $40 SRP

Rating: A-: This is an outstanding wine that is a great expression of the grape.  I wish I’d purchased more, and I can guaran-damn-tee you next time I’m in Anderson Valley I will!

Pair with: Lobster bisque, paella, or coq-au-vin come to mind!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

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 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week: 2010 Carlisle Sonoma Valley “Monte Rosso” Zinfandel

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 2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard.

Winery

Carlisle Winery & Vineyards is a small Sonoma County based winery  based in Santa Rosa. According their website they specialize in the..

…production of old-vine, vineyard designated Zinfandels and red Rhone varieties (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Petite Sirah).

Mike Officer is the Owner/Winemaker.  He caught the wine “bug” early – at age 19 – when he tasted a late-harvest Riesling (It seems like we all start with sweet wines doesn’t it?) After graduating from college, he worked in software development for five years, but realized that was not his passion.  He knew the answer would involve wine, but he wasn’t sure in what capacity.

He decided to try winemaking,  starting with making 5 gallons of Zinfandel in his kitchen.  Some years later, he  and his wife Kendall found themselves making 300 cases of “garage” wine.  They decided to jump in with both feet and established Carlisle Winery & Vineyards in 1998.  They’ve focused on old-vine Zinfandel, and red Rhône blends, until the 2010 vintage, when they made their first white wines.

In addition to their own estate vineyard, they source grapes from Sonoma County, primarily the Russian River, and Dry Creek AVAs.  Officer always been a fan of old-vine vineyards.   In fact, of the 16 vineyard sources listed on their website, half ( Gold Mine RanchMartinelli Road VineyardMontafi RanchPagani Ranch VineyardPapera Ranch, Rossi Ranch Vineyard, Saitone Ranch, and Two Acres) are considered historic vineyards by the Historic Vineyard Society .

Carlisle wines are available via a mailing list.  The mailing list is currently closed, but if you would like to be added to the waiting list, click here.

The Wine

Fruit for this wine is from the legendary Monte Rosso Vineyard located in the Mayacamas Mountains. Monte Rosso has a reputation for producing wines of high acidity across all varieties (The vineyard is also planted to Cabernet Sauvignon) and producers. Wines are incredibly long lived.

The Monte Rosso Vineyard has a special place in my heart.  While a Zinfandel was my epiphany wine, it was Rosenblum Monte Rosso Zinfandel that blew my mind many moons ago. This one is better than that!

The wine is aged in 20% new French oak and bottle unfiltered, but given a light egg white fining to polish the mountain tannins.

2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard

2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard

My tasting notes follow:

Nearly opaque purple color with black fruit, bittersweet chocolate, earth, and slight roast meat aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, but the mouthwatering acidity keeps it deftly balanced. It shows blackberry blueberry, black raspberry, mineral and a hint of bittersweet chocolate and a long finish 96% Zinfandel; 4% Grand Noir 15.8% alcohol; 410 cases produced

Rating: A-This is an outstanding Zinfandel! While it was a bit hot on the nose on day 1, that wasn’t the case on day 2.  Additionally, I made sure it was served at the appropriate temperature on day 2, and the heat wasn’t there. Perhaps a not so gentle reminder to serve reds at the appropriate temperature, especially as the weather warms up!

Pair with: A full-bodied wine such as this would pair well with robust dishes such as roast lamb, meat stews, hearty pastas, or barbequed dishes.  And this Zinfandel is more food friendly than most because of its lively acidity!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

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 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Best Wines to Pair with Paella?

Every cuisine has at least one – a one-pot meal, a dish of humble origins that is the quintessential definition of that place and people. There’s Gumbo, Cassoulet, Risotto, Irish Stew and Pad Thai to name a few. And the Spanish? Well, they have paella.  March 27th is National Paella Day.

Paella originated Valencia region of Spain. According to The Paella Company

Paella was originally farmers’ and farm labourers’ food, cooked by the workers over a wood fire for the lunchtime meal.  It was made with rice, plus whatever was to hand around the rice fields and countryside: tomatoes, onions and snails, with a few beans added for flavour and texture. Rabbit or duck might also have been added, and for special occasions, chicken plus a touch of saffron for an extra special colour and flavour. Paella was also traditionally eaten straight from the pan in which it was cooked with each person using his own wooden spoon.

There are three main types of paella; Valencian consists of rice, green vegetables, meat (rabbit, chicken, duck, pork), land snails, beans and seasoning; Seafood replaces meat and snails with seafood  such as prawns, mussels, and clams and omits beans and green vegetables, and Mixed, a combination of meat, seafood, vegetables.

Paella Valenciana (image courtesy of daytondailynews.com

Paella Valenciana (image courtesy of daytondailynews.com

In addition to the three main types of Paella, two other popular variations are Vegetarian, which typically contain vegetables like artichokes, lima beans, red and green peppers,and Paella Negra, which is typically seafood, cooked with squid ink, so it looks black.

Paella Negra (image courtesy of piospaella.com)

My personal favorite – Paella Negra (image courtesy of piospaella.com)

When pairing paella with wine, I recommend keeping a few food and wine pairing guidelines in mind:

  • What grow together, goes together – I prefer to pair with wines from Spain, Portugal, or wine from the neighboring Languedoc-Roussillon region in  Southern France.  Outside of Spain or France, consider Sangiovese or Pinot Noir for red wine.
  • Pair humble with humble, great with great – Paella has humble origins, I generally pair with inexpensive wines unless it’s a special occasion.
  • Sparkling wines go with almost anything – Pair Valencian, Mixed, and Negra paella with  rosé Cava and Seafood and Vegetarian with Brut Cava

Here are my wine paring recommendations by type:

 Valencian, and Mixed 

Pair with a chilled dry rosé. or an inexpensive red Rioja, other Tempranillo or Grenache. Here are a few I like (click on the link for where to buy):

Rosé

Reds

Tip: Avoid high alcohol ‘fruit-bombs’ or overly alcoholic, tannic reds.

Seafood 

Pair with Albarino, white Rhone blend, Brut Cava, or Rueda.  Here are a few to look for (click on the link for where to buy):

Vegetarian 

If vegetables include asparugus and/or artichokes, pair with New World Sauvignon Blanc, otherwise, chilled dry rosé, white Rhone blend, Pinot Gris, or Brut Cava will be nice matches.

Need a recipe? Check out his great recipe for Mixed Paella from The Not So Cheesy Kitchen.

I  hope you’ll join me in celebrating one of world’s most well-known and beloved dishes.  Have your favorite paella and a glass of wine today!

Viva Espana y Buen apetito! 

 

TGIF Bubbly – Bouvet Signature Brut

My wife and I make it a point to drink sparkling wine on a weekly basis.  It’s typically Friday night…thus “T.G.I.F. Bubbly”  It’s a celebration of sort, to the end of the workweek.  She get’s to drink, and enjoy the bubbly, while I get to drink, enjoy and blog about it!  This week’s sparkling wine is the NV Bouvet Signature Brut

The Winery

Bouvet-Ladubay history dates back to 1851, when it was founded by Etienne Bouvet.  It is the second oldest sparkling wine–producing house in Saumur.  By 1890, it had become France’s largest producer of méthode traditionnelle wines. It remains one of France’s greatest producers of méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine using the Loire Valley’s indigenous Chenin Blanc blended with small amounts of Chardonnay.

For Bouvet-Ladubay, wine is a living art that must be practiced with wisdom, uniting tradition, experience and the most finely tuned technology in the creation of refined, handcrafted wines of impeccable quality and consistency.

After the untimely deaths of three of the Bouvet heirs in the early 1900s left Bouvet-Ladubay without a guiding hand, the increasingly troubled firm was purchased by Justin Monmousseau and merged with his own still wine–producing firm in 1933. It is currently run by the fourth generation of the Monmousseau family.  In July 2006, Bouvet was acquired by Dr. Vijay Mallya of the world’s largest group of alcoholic beverages, the UB Group, based in India.

The Wine

Bouvet-Ladubay sources its fruit from more than 100 plots in the Loire Valley.  It has  long-standing relationships with many winegrowers. The limestone subsoil of the Loire Valley is ideal for the cultivation of Chenin Blanc.  The mild climate coupled with excellent drainage of the clay creates the natural acidity needed to produce a balanced sparkling white wine. The grapes are pressed in the vineyards and the juice is delivered directly to their cellars. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel, then the finest wines from each lot are blended and the cuvée is bottled for the second fermentation.  The wine is aged for two years.  It is imported by Kobrand Wine & Spirits.

Bouvet Sparkling wine

My tasting notes follow:

Pale golden-yellow color with big bubbles and low-key yeast and green apple aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and straight forward with moderately creamy mousse and melon, green apple mineral flavors. Short finish – 85pts

Rating: B -  This is a good bottle of bubble, and a nice alternative to Champagne.  This bottle was gift.  It retails for $16 ($12 ClubBev) at BevMo. But I can think of a few bottles of bubbly I enjoy more for less…

Pair with: This one is an excellent aperitif.  Pair with fried snacks like seasoned popcorn, potato chips, or french fries. Also pair with golden king crab, shrimp and lobster dipped in drawn butter!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 12.5% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork
  • Where it’s from: > FranceLoire Valley
  • Grape varieties: 80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Chardonnay
  • Production method: Traditional Method
  • Dosage: Brut
  • Retail: $12
  • Cases produced: Unknown
  • Drink: Now – 2014
  • >>Find this wine<<

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 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

 

T.G.I.F. Bubbly – Segura Viudas Aria Estate Brut

My wife and I make it a point to drink sparkling wine on a weekly basis.  It’s typically Friday night…thus “T.G.I.F. Bubbly”  It’s a celebration of sort to the end of the workweek.  She get’s to drink, and enjoy the bubbly, while I get to drink, enjoy and blog about it!  This week’s bubbly is Segura Viudas Aria Estate Brut , a Cava from Spain produced by Segura Viudas.

Cava isn’t from a particular region in Spain, rather it’s a term used for Spanish sparklers made in the traditional method (known as Méthode Champenoise) used in France.  While there are some other regions in Spain that also make Cava, about 95% of the production comes from the traditional home of Cava, the Penedes region in Catalunya (a.k.a. Catalonia) The basic rules for making wines that may be called Cava are as follows:

  • Must be made in the traditional method (secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle)
  • Must age on lees in the bottle in which it will be sold for a minimum of 9 months, 18 months for Reservas and 24 months for Gran Reservas.
  • All the grapes used for must be white grapes – the 3 most common being Macabeo (a.k.a. Viura), Parellada (pronounced pa-re-yada), and Xarel.lo (pronounced cha-rel-low) – unless you are making a Rose, in which case certain red grapes are permitted.
  •  Macabeo (a.k.a Viura in Rioja) contributes acidity, freshness, and fruitiness; Xarel-lo brings body, alcohol and depth of flavor, while Parellada adds delicacy, and elegance to the blend.

The producer, Segura Viudas, is part of the Freixenet family of wines that includes Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma.   They use proprietary yeast strains cultivated at their in-house yeast farm, in the secondary fermentation.  This cuvée is composed of 7 different base wines: 3 of Macabeo, 3 of Parellada and1 of Xarel·lo.

I’ve been keen to try this one, but I keep buying the Segura Viudas Brut Reserva which is our ”house” Cava. It’s also a wine that also made my “Top 20 Sparkling Wines Under $20” list last year.  In addition to the two wines noted here, Segura Viudas makes 5 other Cava’s imported here to the U.S. –  Extra Dry, Brut Rose, ARIA Extra Dry, ARIA Sparkling Pinot Noir, and Reserva Heredad, their top of the line Cava (which along with the Brut Rosé is on my wins to try list!).

Segura Viudas Aria

My tasting notes follow:

Very pale green yellow color with fresh bread, stone-fruit, and nutty aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied with a surprisingly explosive moderately soft mousse with apple, pear, and mineral flavors. Medium finish – 86pts

Rating: Recommended!  I prefer the Brut Reserva which has some citrus notes (which I prefer) that I didn’t pick up in this one, and this one is a couple of more bucks, but I’d buy again!

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). I think this one works well as work both as an aperitif (Kettle-style potato chips, and seasoned popcorn are coming to mind), or main courses like pizza, grilled poultry or prawns, sushi, sashimi or lobster mac and cheese. Even pair with a light dessert like shortbread cookies, or fresh fruit!

Looking for more ideas? Segura Viudas USA has one of the cooler websites I’ve seen in terms of pairing their wines with food.  They give you the choice of using their food pairing app (it’ll cost you your email address), or connecting to Facebook, and according to their website…

Using your food-related LIKEs and restaurant check ins on Facebook we can instantly find a wine that is perfectly matched to your tastes!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 12.1% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork
  • Where it’s from: > SpainCatalunya> Cava
  • Varietal(s): 50% Macabeo, 35% Parellada, 15% Xarel-lo
  • Production method: Traditional Method; Aged on lees at least 15 months
  • Dosage: Brut
  • Retail: $11.99 (BevMo), but available for as low as $8.
  • Cases produced: Unknown
  • Drink: Now
  • >>Find this wine<<

Wine purchased for review

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Seafood Gumbo and Wine Pairings for Soul Warming #SundaySupper

This week’s #SundaySupper theme is all about soul warming foods.  You know, those soups, chili, stews, and other soul warming treat we seek when the weather turns cold.

When I first saw the theme, my first thought was of “Soul Food”. I’d  bet that “Soul food” is one of those phrases that if you ask 10 people what it means, you’d get 10 different answers!  Soul Warming foods and Soul food are one in the same to me, and when I think of Soul food, the first dish that comes to mind is Gumbo!  We have a tradition in our family of making Gumbo each New Year’s day, but it’s  a soul-satisfying meal whenever there’s a chill in the air.

Since I’m a Wino with latent foodie tendencies, I decided let my foodie nature rise up, and do a dish, and wine pairings this week!

Here’s my Seafood Gumbo (we …OK make that “I”, call it “Yumbo” – lame right?..but I like it!)

Seafood Gumbo

Seafood Gumbo

For me, there are two things you’ve got to get right to make a gumbo – the “roux” (I prefer mine to be dark brownish), and you must have stock that is chock full of flavors.  Sure you could take a short-cut, and go with store-bought (I’ve done that for a  ” quick and dirty” version of this dish, but the flavors are not as complex and intense for me. If you get those couple of things “right”, it’s clear sailing thereafter!

Seafood Gumbo and Wine Pairings for Soul Warming #SundaySupper
Author: 
Recipe type: Stew
Cuisine: Cajun
Serves: 10-12
 
Adapted from Emeril’s Classic Seafood Gumbo recipe
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups finely chopped onions
  • ¾ cup finely chopped green bell peppers
  • ¾ cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • One 12-ounce bottle amber beer
  • 6 cups Shrimp and Crab Stock
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 small Dungeness crabs
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon Emeril’s Original Essence
  • 2 cups shucked oysters with their liquor
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup chopped tender green onion tops
Instructions
  1. Follow directions for cleaning and prepping crab to be cooked (click here, except remove crab legs and claws. Follow directions for Shrimp and Crab stock, except add crab shell and crab butter (roe) along with shrimp.
  2. Place an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, and add the oil. Allow the oil to heat for about 5 minutes, then add the flour to the pot. Stir the oil and flour together with a wooden spoon to form a roux. Continue to stir the roux for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the color of milk chocolate. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery to the roux and stir to blend. Stir the vegetables for 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds before adding the beer and Shrimp and Crab Stock to the pot. Season the gumbo with the thyme, bay leaves, crabs legs, Worcestershire, salt, and cayenne. Bring the gumbo to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer the gumbo for 1 hour, skimming the foam and any oil that rises to the surface.
  3. Season both the shrimp with 1½ teaspoons Essence. Stir the shrimp into the gumbo and cook for 2 minutes. Add the oysters to the pot and cook, stirring often, for an additional 5 minutes. Taste the gumbo and season if necessary.
  4. Garnish with the parsley and green onions and serve in shallow bowls over white rice.
Notes
Recommended Wine Pairings – I paired this with the Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker, a blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris. It would also pair well with Viognier, a dry Rosé, or White Zinfandel. If you elect to go with a less spicy version try a Pinot Noir!

 

Take a look at the culinary cornucopia the #SundaySupper team has put together for this week’s gathering around the #SundaySupper table! My recommended wine pairings (click on the name of the wine to find out where to purchase) are italicized.

Main Entrees: 

Pair these main dishes with Pinot Noir.  Look for the 2010 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir. It’s a silky smooth Russian River Valley Pinot Noir with a core of raspberry  and spice aromas and flavors, with caramel edge. Why it works: Pinot goes with just about everything.  It’s a white wine, in red wine clothing, which makes it incredibly flexible with dishes and methods of prep.  Pinot is sublime with poultry, and complements foods that are slow roasted, or braised.

I recommend a Chardonnay for these dishes.  Look for the 2009 MacMurray Ranch Chardonnay Sonoma Coast. It’s a medium-full bodied Chardonnay that’s undergone malolactic fermentation, that’s moderately oaked.  The oak aging brings vanilla and caramel notes to the party to go along with its ripe apple, tropical fruit and lemon cream character.  Why it works: The texture, and weight of wine complement the dish, and it has enough acidity to “cut” the dish a bit and prepare the palate for the next mouthwatering bite.

Pair this dish with a Tempranillo from Rioja Spain.  I really like the 2007 Viña Eguia Reserva. It’s shows great balance between oak and fruit with a cherry, dried herb, spice, leather and vanilla character.  Why it works: Tempranillo is an underrated food pairing partner.  It’s tends to be a light-medium bodied earthy red wine. It’s between a Pinot Noir and Cab.  It’s fruity with moderate tannins, and acidity making it a good fit for somewhat spicy fare like Spanish, Mexican and similarly spiced fare.  

Pair this classic Italian dish with Sangiovese.  Try the 2010 La Mozza I Perazzi Morellino di Scansano. It’s a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 5% Syrah, 5% Alicante, plus a couple of other indigenous Italian grape varieties from Tuscany  It shows juicy red and black berries, with some licorice and spice notes supported by soft dusty tannins.  Why it works: The food of a place and the wine of a place is always a good place to start when pairing wine and food.  On top of that, its high acidity, together with its medium-bodied character enable it to stand up to more substantial dishes.  Sangiovese is a wine that loves dished prepared with fresh herbs, rich thick soups, mushrooms and tomato based dishes

Pair this dish with an Edelzwicker, a blend of the “noble” Alsatian varietals of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris.  Look for the 2011 Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker. It’s an aromatic white wine with a stone fruit, spice, and hint of citrus character. Why it works:  The spicy character of the wine, along with some sweetness (spicy likes sweet) and acidity make a great match!

Chili/Stews:

Pair these hearty dishes with Cabernet Sauvignon.  One of my favorites is the 2010 Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon “H3″  It’s from Washington State, and is a bold wine that delivers delightful floral, dark fruit, cocoa aromas followed by plum, black cherry, vanilla and cocoa flavors. Why it works: Cab works well with red meats, dishes with earthy, herbal elements.  This youthful wine has plenty of fruit which make it a nice complement to longer cooked meats and stews.

Try these dishes these with a Cru Beaujolais (not to be confused with Beaujolais Nouveau hitting the store shelfs soon), a wine from France made from the Gamay grape. Look for the 2010 Georges Debœuf Moulin-à-Vent with a wild red fruits, and white pepper character that a juicy easy drinker.  Why it works: Like Pinot Noir, the Gamay grape is naturally high in acidity, and is light-medium bodied with low tannins. It pair well with dishes with veggies,earthy flavors. Great picnic wine too! Er..but I digress;-)

Syrah is a good match for these hearty flavorful dishes.  I like the 2009 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Shiraz from Australia. It’s has a fruity core of black cherries, plums, baking spices, and vanilla that balanced by some oak.  Why it works: Syrah is an ample full-bodied wine that likes thicker, fuller dishes like slow braises, stews (especially tomato-based), and one-dish meals.

Pair these dishes with the Sangiovese noted above:
Pair these dishes with the Pinot Noir noted above:
Pair this dishes with the Tempranillo from Rioja noted above:

Soups:

Pair these soul-warming soups with a Sauvignon Blanc from the Pouilly-Fumé region of the Loire Valley in France. Look for the 2011 Patient Cottat “Le Grand Caillou” Sauvignon Blanc.  It has a lovely tropical fruit, citrus, spice and mineral character with a tangy acidity.  Why it works: Sauvignon Blanc with its “green” (gooseberries, lime, green olive, papaya character and a mineral component attributable to the terroir of the Loire Valley make this a good match for vegetarian soups, spicy (hot) fare, dishes with acidic ingredients.  It’s a very versatile food pairing partner in that it work nicely as a complement or a contrast.

Pair these satisfying soups with Pinot Gris.  I recommend the 2011 King Estate Pinot Gris Signature Collection from Oregon. It has juicy lemon-lime, stone-fruit, green apple, pineapple and spice character.  Why it works: Pinot Gris likes ethic foods, especially coconut-milk based curries. 

Pair the rest of the soups with the aforementioned wines as noted in parentheses:

Desserts/Beverages:

Pair this Hot Fudge Pudding Cake (That Skinny Chick Can Bake) with the Terra d’Oro Zinfandel “Port”, a dessert wine made for chocolate! I like the what the Wine Enthusiast says about it…”The first duty of a Port-style wine is to be dazzlingly rich and sweet yet balanced in acidity, and this bottling is all that. Waves of blackberry jam, cassis and dark chocolate are brightened with zesty acidity

  • White Hot Chocolate with Orange – GirliChef

Join on us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper.  And join us at 7pm EST, for our live weekly #SundaySupper chat.   All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

And be sure to check out the #SundaySupper Pinterest board. We’d love to feature your Sunday Supper Soul Warming Recipes and share them with all of our followers.

Pairing Wine with #SundaySupper Comfort Food Favorites

When I saw the theme for this week, ”Pairing Wine with #SundaySupper Comfort Food Favorites”, my mind was flooded with thoughts of some of my favorite comfort foods.  The thoughts seemed to come in chronological order.  My first thoughts were of my favorite comfort food when I was a child – Grilled Cheese sandwiches prepared with a ton of butter slathered on the bread, with a couple of sliced of American cheese, and a tomato! Then came my adolescent years and Beef Stroganoff, made with ground beef, popped into my head.  Isn’t it amazing how you connect food to certain memories in your life?

Seafood Gumbo

My favorite comfort food – Seafood Gumbo; Image courtesy of whatdidyoueat.typepad.com

Then I had to ask myself the $64,000 question – If you HAD to pick one favorite comfort food what would it be. After what was a few seconds, but seemed longer, of running through a myriad of possibilities, I ultimately came back to my first thought – Seafood Gumbo.  I make it each year for New Year’s Day.  We invite my folks, kids and friends by to share the deliciousness and good times.  Thinking of it puts a smile on my face.  For me, that’s the essence of the #SundaySupper movement – breaking bread with family, and friends, and making memories!

Check out this week’s dazzling array of comfort foods from the #SundaySupper team!  My recommended wine pairing are italicized.  Cheers!

Comfort Food |Soups

Pair these soups with Chardonnay.  Look the 2010 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, which is widely available. It displays aromatic citrus, pear and hints of floral aromas that are followed by citrus, buttered toast and a hint of honey flavors.

Pair these soups with an Old World Sauvignon Blanc, which tends to have more minerality that New World Sauvignon Blancs. Look for the 2011 Domaine Cherrier Père & Fils Sancerre from France.  It displays a delightful lemon curd, verbena and herbal character.  

Pair these soups with a red Rhone Blend.  I recommend the 2011 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas (the white wine version is recommended for some main dishes below), a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Counoise. The Syrah adds dark fruit, flavors and spice.  The Grenache brightens the flavors and add acidity, while the Mourvèdre adds meatiness,  and the Counoise adds a bit of complexity.

Comfort Food  | Main Dish

Pair these main dishes with a Blanc de Noir style sparkling wine.  A Blanc de Noir is made with dark-skinned grapes used to make red wines like Pinot Noir , Pinot Meunier and/or other grapes.  I recommend the Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir.  It’s made with  90% Pinot Noir, and has wonderful red fruit and vanilla aromas are followed by creamy red fruit and citrus flavors. 

Pair these dishes with a Chardonnay.  Look for one that is moderately oaked such as the 2010 Wild Horse Unbridled Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyards Santa Maria Valley. It has a been aged in French oak for a few months.  It has a creamy lemon, green apple, and creme brulee character accented by fresh acidity and a touch a minerality.

 Pair these dishes with a white Rhone blend.  What’s great about blends is that the combination of grape varietals creates vinous synergy – a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. Look for the 2011 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc.  It’s a blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne.  It’s a crisp and aromatic wine with honeysuckle and stone fruit aromas that follow onto the palate.  It also has very good acidity and an appealing minerality that make it versatile food partner. 

Pair these dishes with Sauvignon Blanc.  Look for the 2011 Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand with enticing grapefruit, and tropical aromas with juicy stone fruit,  and tropical fruit flavors. This one is available at Costco.

Pair these dishes with Pinot Noir.  I recommend the 2011 Hahn Winery California Pinot Noir. It has wonderful cherry, lavender, and spice aromatics, that follow onto the palate.
Pair these dishes with a Sangiovese. Look for the 2009 Ninety+ Cellars Reserve Lot 57 Rosso Toscana.  It’s a blend of mostly Sangiovese (80%) with the balance split between Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  Therefore it’s a what’s referred to as a “Super Tuscan”.  It’s loaded with blackberry, black cherry, and spice character.
Pair these hearty dishes with a hearty wine.  I recommend the 2010 Bonny Doon Vineyard Contra Old Vine Field Blend.  It’s a rich blend of Carigane, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah loaded with dark fruit, spice, and a bit of smoke aromas and flavors.
Pair these dishes with a hearty Zinfandel.  Look for the 2009 Artezin Mendocino County Zinfandel.  It’s a well-balanced Zinfandel with plum, clove and spice aromas, followed by raspberry, plum, black cherry, and spice flavors. 

Comfort Food | Desserts

Pair these desserts with a sweet Moscato wine.  Try the 2011 Ecco Domani Moscato with its slightly spritzy mandarine orange, nectarine and honeysuckle character.

Pair this dessert with the 2011 Frisk Prickly Riesling a blend of 89% Riesling and 11% Muscat Gordo. It’s a slightly fizzy wine with very fresh acidity, that displays pear, guava, citrus and floral aromas, followed by peach, pear and a hint of mango flavors.  Available at Costco. 

Pair these wine delightful desserts (except the Smores Hot Cocao which will be just fine on its own!) with Graham’s “Six Grapes” Port

We have a very special guest this week, Lee Woodruff, wife, mother of four, author, CBS This Morning contributor and  founder of ReMIND.org.  We would be honored to have you join us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper.  We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 pm(Eastern) for our weekly #SundaySupper  live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite Comfort Food Recipes.

All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

We’d also love to feature your easy go to recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers, too.

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Wine of the Week: Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay Reserve

The 2010 Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay Reserve is my Wine of the Week (“WoW”) for September 22-September 28.

The Winery

The Robert Mondavi Winery was established in 1966 by Robert Mondavi, one of the most influential and esteemed winemakers in California history (Click here for his story).  It was the first major winery built in Napa Valley. For decades it was California’s most famous winery.  It was acquired by Constellation Brands in 2004.

It’s a beautiful property with classic California mission-style architecture, with an expansive archway and bell tower.  I must confess I haven’t been in a long time.  I recall visiting on one of my first trips to Napa.  Nowadays, I tend to visit the smaller wineries.  But, I’ve been impressed with their reserve wines.  I’ve also been impressed with a few of their entry-level wines  In particular the Napa Valley Merlot, and the Private Selection Meritage provide very good to great price quality performance.

The Wine

The grapes for this wine were sourced from the Hyde Vineyard in cool climate Carneros AVA in the southernmost part of the Napa Valley.  The grapes are pressed as whole clusters, then fermented on native yeasts in French oak where the wine undergoes partial malolactic fermentation.

What struck me most about this wine is how balanced it is.

2010 Robert Mondavi Reserve Chardonnay, Carneros

My tasting notes follow:

Pale golden-yellow color with beguiling apple, butter, floral along with hints of honey, oak and tropical aromas. On the palate it’s med-bodied and impeccably balanced, with a creamy texture, very good acidity, with apple, tropical fruits and a bit of honey flavors. Med long finish. – 91pts

 

Chardonnay is not top of mind for me when it comes to wine and food pairing, but this is a very food friendly Chardonnay.  There is a judicious use of oak, and very good acidity. It was fantastic with a Five Spice Chicken and Asian Style Noodle salad!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Alcohol: 14.5% alcohol.

Closure: Cork.

AVA:  > California > Napa / SonomaCarneros

Varietal(s): 100% Chardonnay

Cooperage: Aged in French Oak (68% new) for 8 months, neutral barrels for 7 months

Retail: $40

Cases produced: 704

Media Sample

Many thanks to Folsom & Associates for providing the wine.

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Five Most Food Friendly Wines For #SundaySupper

When I saw the theme for this week’s #SundaySupper - Dishes in 5 Ingredients or Less – my first thought was “Wow, that’s going to be a challenge”,  because I’ve seen the creativity and passion my  BFFs (Best Foodie Friends;-) bring to the #SundaySupper table. Then I thought, why not try to pair the undoubtedly diverse menu with only 5 five wines?  As I’m sure it was a challenge to use only 5 ingredients and still get great flavor, it’s challenge for me to limit myself to a list of the 5 most food friendly wines. Ah, but in challenge lies opportunity!

As I contemplated the five most food friendly wines, I kept coming back to wines that are flexible in structure and in style. By structure, I mean all the wines have a great backbone of acidity, a core of succulent fruit, lower alcohol, and modest or no tannins.  What I mean by style is that the grape produces wines in a wide range of styles from light to full-bodied.  That diversity of style makes these wines versatile pairing partners with a broad range of foods.

Sparkling Wines

Champagne and other sparkling wines like Cava, and Prosecco have an incredible affinity for a wide range of foods.  Aside from the aforementioned high acidity and lower alcohol, there’s the bubbly effervescence!  I always have a chilled bottle of bubbly on hand!  Unfortunately, most folks only drink bubbly when it’s a special occasion or as a cocktail without food.  But now you know better. Right?!

Sparkling wines work especially well:

  • To accompany raw fish (sushi, sashimi, oysters, etc.),
  • Tart foods: citrus, vinegars, pomegranate, dill, capers, and tomatoes
  • As a counterpoint for foods that are salty, moderately spicy, rich and creamy, or deep-fried. (For example, a classic pairing is buttered popcorn with sparkling wine)
  • With many Latin dishes (empanadas ceviche and mole), Asian cuisines (Tempura, gyoza, Chinese deep-fried dishes, fish cakes, Indian Samosas, etc.), Middle Eastern dishes (hummus, baba ghanoush)
  • To accompany dishes that are challenging to pair with other wines like egg dishes and soups.
  • To pair with dishes that are inherently toasty like canapes or puff-pastry dishes.

Riesling

Riesling is widely regarded as the most food friendly white wine.  It’s among the most versatile wines because it’s made in a wide range of sweetness, from bone-dry to very sweet dessert style wines.

Riesling goes well:

  • Almost any fatty poultry like goose, duck and other gamy birds.
  • Rich, salty meats such as ham, sausages, and charcuterie. LIkewise for mildly salty cheeses such as Gorgonzola.
  • Sweet shellfish such as crab, lobster, and prawns.
  • Dishes seasoned with exotic spices, such as curries, cardamom, clove, mace, star anise, etc.
  • Quiche and other egg-based dishes.

Sauvignon Blanc

You know how a squeeze of lemon seems to enhance almost anything?  I think of Sauvignon Blanc as a vinous equivalent.  It can be a polarizing wine. It’s a bit like cilantro – people tend to either love it or hate it.  But since this a wine that is made in a diverse range of style, I believe there is something for virtually everyone.  It’s a matter of finding the style that suites you!

Sauvignon Blanc goes well:

  • With dishes emphasizing fresh herbs, or dressed with a  vinaigrette dressing.
  • With dishes prepared with a variety of cooking methods, from low-impact such as steamy to high-impact such as smoking, and grilling.
  • With most vegetarian soups.
  • As a counterbalance to rich dishes made with light-cream or butter-based sauces.
  • With acidic or sharp ingredients such as citrus, dairy (yogurt, sour cream,etc) dill, capers, olives, and tomatoes.
  • With spicy hot dishes – the acidity and generally lower alcohol level refreshes the palate.
  • With a wide variety of cheeses. Goat cheese is the classic pairing, but try it with Brie, Gruyere, Neufchatel, or sharp cheddar.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is known as the Chef’s wine  because its affinity for such a broad range of foods. It’s also the wine most often described in sensual terms! Depending on the vintner’s choices, it can be delicate and light-bodied, or bold and full-bodied!

Pinot Noir pairs well with:

  • Damn near everything (which is why it’s often the first choice for a food-a-palooza like Thanksgiving) because it’s so flexible.
  • Dishes that complement its inherently spicy flavors such as dishes spiced with coriander, cumin, cinnamon, or ginger.
  • With foods that are smoked, lightly charred, or grilled, especially if you’re serving one with a more oak-driven style.
  • Many fish – especially Salmon, tuna or swordfish.
  • With veggies (especially mushrooms) and dishes with earthier flavors such as cooked beans, greens, lentils, or dishes seasoned with Dijon mustard.
  • A multitude of Asian cuisines – Indian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean foods.  That’s because these cuisines often have sweet-salt flavor combinations with which Pinot Noir plays well.

Sangiovese

Sangiovese is produced  in diverse range of styles.  In Italy, where the wines are named after geographical regions rather than the grape varietal, there is, of course, Chianti, but there’s also Brunello, Montepulciano, and “Super Tuscan” variations of Sangiovese.

Sangiovese goes well:

  • With dishes with tomato-based sauces.
  • Dishes  that are slow braised, grilled, or lightly smoked.
  • With dishes featuring fresh herbs such as basil, thyme or sage.
  • Richer, full-bodied soups such a bean soup, or minestrone.
There you have it, my short-list of the 5 most food friendly wines (for a more comprehensive list click here)!  Equipped with these five wines, and spirit of exploration to find what works for your palate, pairing food and wine will go from daunting to delightful!  I’ve added a new feature this week.  Click on the hyperlinked name of the wine to find where you can buy. Also, since I’m limiting my wine recommendations to five, no dessert pairing this week:-(

Here is this week’s great #SundaySupper menu:

Breakfast, Starters, Butters and Jams:

Pair these dishes with Korbel Natural, a “California Champagne” made of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay.  It’s a crisp, dry sparkler with cherry, raspberry and apple character.

Main Dishes:

Pair these main dishes with the Korbel Natural mentioned above:

Pair these dishes with Sauvignon Blanc.  Look for the 2011 Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc Te Muna Road Vineyard. It’s from New Zealand and it’s full of citrus, gooseberry and tropical fruit character:

Pair these dishes with a Riesling.  One of my favorites is the 2010 Trimbach Riesling.  It’s dry wine from the Alsace region with delicate aromas that belie its rich, fruity tropical fruit, peach and citrus flavors:
Pair these dishes with Pinot Noir.  Look for the 2009 Dashwood Marlborough Pinot Noir from New Zealand.  This one has a fruity cherry, raspberry, herb, and spice character. 
Pair these dishes with a Sangiovese. Look for the 2009 Ninety+ Cellars Reserve Lot 57 Rosso Toscana.  It’s a blend of mostly Sangiovese (80%) with the balance split between Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  Therefore it’s a what’s referred to as a “Super Tuscan”.  It’s loaded with blackberry, black cherry, and spice character.

Desserts:

Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 pm(Eastern) for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite 5 Ingredient Recipes! All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat!

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Wine Pairings For A Mexican Fiesta #SundaySupper

Aside

I was excited when I saw the theme for this week’s Mexican Fiesta #SundaySupper in honor of Mexican Independence Day.  Mexican food is one of my favorites.  I think it’s underrated as a cuisine.  You know how the remembrance of a meal can take you to a time and place?  One of the best meals I’ve ever had was in Los Cabos, Mexico at Mi Casa Restaurant.  It was probably ten years ago and I can still vividly recall the complex and nuanced flavors I experienced that meal.  I had Chile Relleños, but it was not like any Chile Relleños I’d had before…or since.  It was also my first experience with Tres Leches, one of my favorite desserts to this day!

Time for a confession. Um…I thought Cinco de Mayo was the celebration of Mexican Independence…in part because it such a huge celebration, and in part because I haven’t been paying enough attention…Doh!

Mexican Independence Day, celebrated annually on September 16th, celebrates the beginning of Mexico’s revolt against Spanish rule in 1808.  Cinco De Mayo celebrates Mexico defeating French invaders 50 years later at the battle of Puebla. Well at least now I know!

flying_reader02

Image courtesy of austincc.edu

One of the guidelines that makes food and wine pairing easier is to pair the foods of a place with the wines of that place (Italian food with Italian wine, Spanish food with Spanish wine,etc.)  The challenge with pairing Mexican food with Mexican wine is that Mexican wines are just now starting to come into their own.  Mexico is the land of beer and margaritas.  But one of the things I love about wine is that its agnostic, in the sense that it can be paired with virtually any cuisine.

The two bits of advice I would offer when it comes to pairing Mexican food and wine, 1.) Pair the “weight” of the dish with the “weight” of the wine (i.e. light dishes with light-bodied wines, and full-bodied dishes with full bodied wines, and 2.) Pair to the sauce on the dish, rather than meat of vegetable. For more info, check out this guide to classic Mexican wine and food pairing.

This week’s #SundaySupper Mexican Fiesta lineup will have your taste buds doing a happy dance, mariachis in hand!

My wine pairing recommendations are italicized. Since, I can’t vouch for Mexican wines yet, it’s an international coalition of wines to the rescue this week with wines from Australia, Argentina, Chile, France, Spain and the U.S. Viva Mexico!

Sopas (Soups), Ensaladas (Salads), and Entremeses (Starters)

Pair these soups, salads, and starters with Vinho Verde, a wine made in Portugal from indigenous grapes, mostly Alvarinho, the Portuguese version of Spain’s Albariño.  Verde (green) actually refers to the youthfulness of the wine, not the color.  Vinho Verde can be a white, rose, or red wine. Many are also slightly fizzy.  Regardless of the style, Vinho Verde is a fresh, food friendly wine that’s perfect both as a quaffer and for the first course. Look for 2011 Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde.  It’s slightly fizzy, with floral, tropical fruit and citrus aromas and flavors.

La Comida (the food)

Pair these dishes with Riesling…from France! I think of Riesling as the chef’s white wine because it’s so food friendly.  I recommend the 2010 Trimbach Riesling.  It’s dry wine from the Alsace region with delicate aromas that belie its rich, fruity tropical fruit, peach and citrus flavors.

Pair these dishes with Sauvignon Blanc, a white wine with a forthright and bold personality that pairs well seafood (including grilled seafood), and is also a match for the fresh herbs, spices, and vegetables used in these dishes. Try the 2011 Veramonte Ritual Sauvignon Blanc with its tropical fruit, floral and citrus characteristics.

Pair these dishes with Rosé, which is a very versatile food wine. One of my favorites is the 2011 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigar, a welterweight wine that should pair nicely with “weight” of the dishes below.  It’s a bit unusual in that it made from both red wine and white wine grapes, rather than solely red wine grapes.  It’s a tasty blend of Grenache, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, and Mourvèdre that is chock full of strawberry, stone fruit, watermelon, and citrus flavors.

Pair these dishes with Tempranillo from Spain. Tempranillo is a wine that is often overlooked for its food friendliness, but the Spanish are bona fide food-lovers and Tempranillo is their primary red wine. Look for the 2010 Campo Viejo Rioja Tempranillo. It’s a medium-full bodied wine that will stand up to these more substantial dishes. It’s exudes spicy red plum,and cherry characteristics with hint of tobacco.  

There are some bold flavors like chipotle, and roasted tomatoes in the following dishes.  Pair these with Malbec, a wine with plenty of succulent dark fruit that also possesses spicy, earthy, and smoky qualities that will complement the bold flavors in these dishes.  Look for 2010 Ninety Plus Cellars Lot 23 Old Vine Malbec from Argentina.

Pair these full-flavored dishes with a full-bodied with Shiraz from Australia. Look for the 2008 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Shiraz  with it jammy dark fruit, spice and vanilla flavors. 

Postres (desserts)

Pair these desserts with 2010 Quady Elysium Black Muscat, a opulent dessert wine made from black-skinned muscat grapes with rose and lychee characteristics accompanied by an acidic backbone which keeps it from being too cloying.

Pair these desserts with 2010 Cecchetti Wine Company Redtree Moscato, a slightly spritzy sweet wine with rose petal, juicy peach, vanilla, honey and hint of citrus flavors, and good acidity.

Bebidas (beverages)

Please be sure you join us for #SundaySupper on Twitter throughout the day, Sunday September 16th – as we celebrate Mexican Independence Day. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 pm (Eastern) for our weekly #SundaySupper  live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite recipes for a Mexican Fiesta! All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat!  We’d also love to feature your Mexican Fiesta recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers!