Wines At Our Table; Week of August 2nd 2015

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  It features my pick for Wine of the Week – a  wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out; plus my Food and Wine pairing of the Week for the week ended August 2nd 2015.

2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine – Retail $19
Garnet color with dried cherry, black raspberry, and sweet spice aromas. On the palate it’s between light and medium-bodied, and well structured with soft well-integrated tannins and wonderful acidity with cherry, black raspberry, sweet spice, a hint of strawberry and very appealing spice. Medium-long finish. Great value at $20! Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2014 La Bastide Blanche Bandol Rosé – Retail $22
Salmon color with lifted red berry, melon, blood orange, wet stone, ocean breeze and a hint of damp dusty earth aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, layered and fresh with fine concentration and mixed melon, stone fruit, red berry, flavors with and herbal note and a very giving mineral driven dry finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2010 Carlisle Syrah Papa’s Block – Retail – about $60 now, but purchased for $38
Opaque violet-purple color with very appealing bacon fat, mixed blackberry and blueberry compote with a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and focused, with ample fruit deftly counter-balanced with very good acidity and a supple texture and well integrated tannins. It shows blackberry, blueberry, vanilla, peppery spice flavors with hints of red currant, bittersweet chocolate and plum. Long finish. 95%
Syrah, 4% Mourvèdre. 1% Viognier. 15.5% alcohol Outstanding; 92-95 pts

2014 Bedrock Wine Co. Albariño Abrente – Retail $22
Pale yellow color with appealing green apple, lime, cantaloupe, ocean breeze aromas complemented by hints of tropical fruit and orange blossom. On the palate, it approaches medium bodied, and persistent with crackling acidity, and a wonderful texture. It shows green apple, lime a bit of stone fruit and a bit of melon flavors with a giving finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Premier – Retail $47
Pale yellow color with plentiful active tiny bubbles and fresh bread, almond, apple, subtle citrus and a hint of smoke aromas. On the palate, it’s refined, lively and fresh with a delicate creamy mousse. Mixed tart apples, pear and lemon curd flavors dominate but hints of grapefruit, black currant and an appealing smoky minerality play in the background. Long finish.Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2001 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova – Retail about $90 per Cellar Tracker
Very dark red brick violet color with very appealing, mature, dried cherry, cherry liqueur, leather, and vanilla with a hint of balsamic aromas. On the palate it’s light-bodied, complex and, elegant with a silky texture. It shows dried mixed red berries, leather, and spice flavor. Long finish. A distinguished beautiful wine! Outstanding; 92-95 pts

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Wine of the Week (WoW)It was a wonderful week for wine. I tend to drink a lot of California wines because that’s what I have the most of (I like to try before I buy), but since I’ve been participating in a few food and wine pairing groups, I’ve been tasting more Italian and French wines.

Not a dud in the bunch this week.  The Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel offers remarkable value at $19. Likewise for the La Bastide Blanche Rosé, and the Bedrock Wine Co. Albariño Abrente. Both are offer a lot of bang for the buck.  I’m glad I’ve got a couple of more bottles of the Albariño, and I’ve already purchased more of the Bandol, which I think is comparable to the Domaine Tempier Bandol at about half the price!  The Carlisle Papa’s Block Syrah is such a delicious and well structured wine.  I wish I had more.

Ultimately though my WoW is the 2001 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova.  My good friend Enrique and his wife brought the bottle for a very memorable brunch with my wife and I at Nopa in San Francisco last weekend.

The 2001 is its best Tenuta Nuova ever, delivering the depth, richness, freshness and unique character expected of such a great vintage—Wine Spectator

While we went to brunch, ostensibly, to see if their burger lived up to the hype (it did), Enrique brought this fabulous bottle of wine (#1 on  the 2006 Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines) kick off my birthday month celebration (not my idea – I’m cool with a day;-).  I won’t be able to think of this bottle of wine without thinking of the remarkable day shared with good friends, or vice-versa.  And isn’t that what makes wine such a beautiful thing?

For my Food and Wine Pairing of the week, we paired the Bedrock Albariño with Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas from our favorite local taqueria.  Just a remarkable pairing!  And the Albariño has great acid making it a very versatile wine at the table.

What was your Wine of the Week?  Any killer Food and Wine pairings?

Follow my reviews on Vivino and Delectable

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

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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. 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Sardinia Style Seafood Paella and Cantina Di Gallura Canayli Vermentino #ItalianFWT

One of the things I love most about food and wine is their ability to transport one to a different place.  And a  place’s people, culture, and customs are reflected in its food and wine.  In that sense, one can virtually travel the world through food and wine.  And that is exactly what we are doing through Italian Food Wine and Travel (#ItalianFWT).  We taking a virtual tour of Italy by exploring its food and wines.  This month we’re exploring Sardinia (known as Sardegna to its Italian-speaking inhabitants)!

About Sardinia

Sardinia,  located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, is 150 miles off the west coast of mainland Italy. It is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and only marginally smaller than Sicily.  The island has belonged to various empires and kingdoms over the centuries. This is reflected in its place names, architecture, languages and dialects, along with its unique portfolio of wine grapes.

I love how author Kerry Christiani describes her love of the island…

Sardinia was love at first sight for me. No matter how often I return, I find new coastal trails to explore and mountains to climb, hidden bays to kayak to and little-known agriturismi tucked away in the silent hinterland. The island is deceptive – it looks small on paper, but unravel it and it is huge. It’s like a continent in miniature, shaped by its own language and fierce traditions, its own cuisine and culture, its own history and the mystery that hangs over it like a shroud. Sardinians are proud of their island, and so they should be.

The island is, of course, most renown for its beaches and coastline including Costa Smeralda.  But there is much more to see including the recently unveiled stone sculptures of Giants of Monte Prama.

Nowhere does slow food like Sardinia. Throw in views of mountains and sea, some fine home-produced Vermentino or Cannonau wine and fresh farm produce and you are looking at a great culinary experience — simple but great. (Source)

On My Plate

I adapted a recipe for Shellfish Paella with Fregola for my Sardian Style Seafood Paella. Food and Wine magazine describes the recipe as follows:

Fregola replaces rice in this Sardinian paella; the chewy, dot-shaped semolina pasta comes from the western part of Sardinia, near Oristano, where more than four centuries of Spanish occupation left Catalan influences that are still prominent today. In another change from the traditional Spanish recipe, this version is made with only seafood (no chorizo).

The primary changes I made to the recipe were mostly driven by ingredients I wan’t able to find, including fregola and fava beans.  Instead I substituted pearl couscous and baby lima beans respectively.  But I also changed up the seafood a bit, substituting scallops for the monkfish in the recipe.

Sardinian Seafood Paella and Cantina Di Gallura Canayli Vermentino #ItalianFWT

My wife and I adore paella!  We’ve had it in Spain, and cooked it a home, including cooking it on our Weber grill. We mostly prefer Paella Mixta, but we were eagerly anticipating this all seafood version.

While I was a little disappointed I wasn’t able to find any fregola (a.k.a. fregula), the recipe turned out fabulously. It was a very nice change of pace from rice based paella.

Sardinia Style Seafood Paella
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • INGREDIENTS
  • 1 quart fish stock or bottled clam juice
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 c frozen baby lima beans (thawed)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups pearl couscous (11 ounces)
  • 16 littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed
  • 16 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 plum tomatoes—halved, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup drained sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 4 ounces medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 4 ounces squid, bodies cut crosswise into 1-inch rings, tentacles left whole
  • 4 ounces bay scallops
  • 3 tablespoons chopped dill
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the fish stock to a simmer. Transfer 1 cup of the hot cooking liquid to a measuring cup and crumble in the saffron. Cover the remaining stock; keep warm over low heat.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the pearl couscous and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until it is well coated with the oil, about 2 minutes. Add the clams, mussels and 1 cup of the hot stock and stir constantly until the shellfish start to open, about 4 minutes; discard any clams or mussels that don't open.
  3. Add the sherry and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Stir in the baby lima beans, sliced red and green bell peppers, plum tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves and rosemary. Add the remaining 2 cups of hot fish stock and the saffron-infused stock to the pearl couscous. Lower the heat to moderate and cook, stirring frequently, until the couscous is just tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp, squid and bay scallops to the couscous and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the seafood is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme and rosemary sprigs. Stir in the dill and season with salt and pepper. Serve the paella immediately in shallow bowls.
  5. NOTES
  6. The original recipe called for Fregola, a toasted pearl-size Sardinian pasta that is quite similar to couscous. It's available at specialty food shops and some supermarkets. Since I was unable to find I subbed pearl couscous

 In My Glass

2013 Cantina di Gallura Vermentino di Gallura Canayli – Retail $18

Sardinian Seafood Paella and Cantina Di Gallura Canayli Vermentino #ItalianFWT

As I usually do, I picked my wine first. Then I chose a dish I thought it make for a harmonious pairing.  When I saw that this wine was described as “one of the most popular Italian whites” at my favorite wine shop K&L Wine Merchants I was sold. So far during our virtual tour of Italy I’m finding the Italian white more interesting and appealing than the reds for the most part.

It’s from Sardinia’s only DOCG appellation – DOCG Vermentino di Gallura. It’s produced in the province of Olbia-Tempio, which is a large area at the northern end of the island that’s incessantly swept by the salty Mediterranean air.

The origins of the Vermentino grape variety are not clear. It commonly thought to be native to Spain, then brought to the Ligurian coast of northwest Italy during the Middle Ages. It is also possible that a variant of Malvasia migrated from the island of Madeira to Spain and then to Corsica. Italians would tell you the grape has been cultivated in Gallura, often under the name Arratelau, since the fourteenth century.  My tasting notes follow:

Very pale yellow green color stone fruit, lemon thyme, wet stone and a hint of green pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s dry medium-bodied and fresh with an abundance of mixed stone fruit, clove, and a hint of almond flavors with a lingering saline minerality.

The wine was a very harmonious pairing with the Sardian Seafood Paella.  The saline minerality of the wine was a nice compliment to the paella, while at the same time the citrus notes of the wine was a refreshing contrast…sort of like a spritz of lemon on seafood!

Wait……there’s more!  My fellow bloggers have lots more to share with you so check out their blogs below.  If you’re reading this in time also you can join us live on Twitter at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT and tell us all about your experiences with the island of Sardegna or come and learn something new about this region.

If you’re seeing this early enough make sure to join us live on twitter at 8am PDT. Follow #ItalianFWTTell us your food, wine or travel stories of Sardegna. We look forward to chatting with you. Next month September 5th we’ll feature the region of Abruzzo.  Let me know if you’d like to join our group.  Ciao ciao for now!

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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. 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.




A Taste of Ferrari-Carano #FCSummerReds

Last week I participated in an online tasting featuring three summer red wines from Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery.  The virtual tasting featured Rebecka Deike, associate winemaker for all red wines at Ferrari-Carano, moderator Chelsea Kurnick of McCue Communications, and a select group of wine bloggers.

As winemaker for our red wines, I love the seasonal experiences and connection between seeing the vines develop in the vineyards, the grapes ripening and witnessing the transformation of grapes into wine. Our wines are reflective of the terroir they come from.” – Rebecka Deike

The virtual tasting featured three summer reds from Ferrari-Carano:

  • 2013 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Noir Anderson Valley
  • 2012 Ferrari-Carano Siena Sonoma County Red Wine
  • 2012 Ferrari-Carano Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley

Recommended serving temperature for the wines was between 62-68 degrees F.   It was a nice reminder that serving wines at the correct temperature makes a world of difference to its taste.  While not an exact science (and personal preference is always a factor) chilling a bottle of red wine down for 10-15 minutes in a bucket of ice (especially during summer when much warmer) will help you maximize your enjoyment of  wine.

I always enjoy such virtual tastings because they are informative (for example, there are always great suggestions for foods that pair well with the wines being tasted) and fun (it’s a virtual hangout with fellow wine enthusiast all tasting the same wines and sharing their thoughts about the wines)

And hey…there’s free wine!

Note: Click here to see a video of the live tasting

A Taste of Ferrari-Carano Summer Reds

My tasting notes follow:

2013 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Noir Anderson Valley
Ruby color with appealing cherry, pomegranate, warm spice, damp earth and sandalwood aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied and fresh with cherry, raspberry, pomegranate and spice flavors. Medium finish Aged 10 months in 37% new French oak, and 63% older French oak. 14.4 alcohol. Approachable now, would benefit from further aging SRP $36 Very Good; 86-88 pts

2012 Ferrari-Carano Siena 
Dark ruby color with earthy mixed black and red fruit, dark chocolate and spice aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied with mouth-watering acidity,and fine well-integrated tannins with sour cherry,plum, black currant and spice flavors. Medium long finish. Blend of Sangiovese, Malbec, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Sauvignon Aged in new Hungarian puncheons and older French oak barrels for 12 months. 14.5 alcohol SRP $23 Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2012 Ferrari-Carano Zinfandel
Violet color with appealing roasted black and red fruit, bacon fat, and melange of spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and well-structured with a smooth texture and good acidity with black cherry, blackberry, a bit of plum and vanilla flavors. Lingering finish. Blend of 97% Zinfandel, 3% Petite Sirah. Aged in French Oak (33% new) for 16 months. 14.7% alcohol. SRP $28 Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

It’s been a while since I’ve had these wines, and the tasting was a nice reminder of how very good they are.  My favorites from this tasting were the Siena and the Zinfandel.

Other favorites from Ferrari-Carano I’ve had over the years include the Fumé Blanc, along with  Trésor, and the PreVail Back West Face.  And I bet if you taste the wines you’ll find a favorite or three too!

A Taste of Ferrari-Carano Summer Reds

About Ferrari-Carano

The owners of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery are Don and Rhonda Carano. Don and Rhonda are natives of Reno,Nevada, and second generation Italian Americans.

Don graduated from the School of Law at the University of San Francisco. In 1959, upon returning to Reno, Don joined the law firm of Bible & McDonald and soon thereafter became partner in what today is known as McDonald, Carano & Wilson, LLC. In 1973, Don established the Eldorado Resort and Casino in downtown Reno.

Don and Rhonda were introduced to the beauty of Northern Sonoma County in 1979 while searching for wines to enhance the wine lists at the Eldorado. They eventually purchased a 60-acre parcel of land in the Alexander Valley. The vineyards that were a part of that property piqued their curiosity about winemaking, and so they began taking classes in enology and viticulture at the University of California,Davis. They made wine in their barn, bottling it under the label Carano Cellars, and gave it to friends and family. Carano Cellars appeared on wine lists at the Eldorado.  Realizing the potential that this area held, the Caranos began to acquire additional vineyard land and in 1981, founded Ferrari-Carano
Vineyards and Winery.

The Ferrari in Ferrari-Carano is in honor of Emelia Ferrari, Don’s paternal grandmother. She helped raise him, taught him about cooking, gardening, his Italian heritage, etc. She never saw the winery, but it’s named in part to honor her.

Ground was broken for the production facility in 1985 and the first wines bearing the Ferrari-Carano label were released in 1987. Those first wines were a 1986 Fumé Blanc and a 1985 Alexander Valley Chardonnay.

Today, Ferrari-Carano produces those wines as well as a variety of other white and red wines, including Pinot Grigio; single vineyard chardonnays from Russian River Valley; Reserve Chardonnay from Napa Carneros; Siena (a sangiovese-based blend); Russian River Valley Pinot Noir; Sky High Ranch Pinot Noir from Mendocino Ridge; Merlot; Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley; Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley; Trésor (a Bordeaux-style blend); two mountain vineyard cabernet sauvignons from Alexander Valley, PreVail Back Forty and West Face; and three dessert wines, Eldorado Gold (a semillon based wine), Eldorado Noir (from black muscat), and Baci (a zinfandel wine infused with chocolate).

Don and Rhonda Carano own 24 estate vineyards in five different appellations of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties.  Grape source and terroir are emphasized in all Ferrari-Carano wines. Don Carano says “Great wine begins in the vineyard.” Ferrari-Carano received its designation as a Certified California Sustainable Winery from the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA) on March 1, 2015.

The property features five acres of breathtakingly beautiful gardens. The gardens were planned in 1997 by Rhonda Carano and completed 16 months later.  The gardens attract nearly as many visitors as Ferrari-Carano wines. In spring, more than 10,000 tulips grow on the property inspiring a Tulip Hotline to alert tulip tourists when they are in bloom. Guests are free to explore the grounds on their own or guided winery tours may be arranged.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received these wines free from Ferrari-Caranoas part of their #FCSummerRedsTwitter Tasting. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are entirely my own

_________________________________________________________________

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. 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

WINEAPAWLOOZA 2015- A Napa Valley Cause For Paws

I attended, as a media guest, the 2nd annual WINEAPAWLOOZA on July 18th at Gamble Family Vineyards in Oakville. WINEAPAWLOOZA is a fundraiser for Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch (“JARR”).

The Cause

Founded in 2014 by Monica and David Stevens, JARR is a non-profit no-kill rescue and refuge for companion and farm animals in the Napa Valley.  They provide transitional and permanent shelter, adoption and rescue services, food for the pets of seniors, the homeless and low-income families as well as humane education, animal advocacy and a commitment to ending animal cruelty and overpopulation. The memory of the Stevens’ beloved dog Jameson, an adopted Great Pyrenees who lived to the age of 14, inspires the spirit and mission of JARR, which is named after him. “Jameson brought immeasurable companionship and love into our lives. We are so lucky to have known him,” Monica Stevens explains.

The Event

Under azure skies, and seemingly made to order perfect Napa Valley weather, we arrived at Gamble Family Vineyards.

I found myself filled with a curious mixture of excitement and trepidation.

No doubt I was excited by the opportunity to taste wine from an amazing lineup of 60 or so of Napa Valley finest boutique wineries.  Funny thing though…I was doing a bit of homework on the wineries that would be pouring, and I only recognized a handful of names.  I decided to check five of the wineries whose names I didn’t recognize.  Four were mailing list only, and the fifth was $75/person to taste.  As I said, some of Napa Valley’s finest boutique wineries….all the more reason to be excited about tasting wine I’d be unlikely to taste otherwise.

On the other hand, it was my first live auction and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Would I, could I, possibly bid and win something? My inquiring mind wanted to know.

The event schedule was:

  • 5:00-7:00 Walk around wine and food tasting
  • 7:15-8:00 – WINEAPAWLOOZA Auction
  • 8:00-10:00 Wristrocket Concert and Party + more wine and food!

Moments after we checked and picked up our auction paddles and the excellent auction brochure, just off (literally) the red carpet, we were greeted by one of the four-legged guest hosts (if you were expecting bacon to be served you’d have been disappointed!).

WINEAPAWLOOZA - A Napa Valley Cause For Paws

After we finished our stroll down the red carpet and posed for a photograph (Doh! We forgot to go back and check out the photo), we headed over to the area where the wines were poured. There we were promptly given a glass of the very refreshing, well structured 2013 Gamble Family Vineyards Heart Block Sauvignon, a wine which brought to mind White Bordeaux more than California.

WINEAPAWLOOZA - A Napa Valley Cause For Paws

Winemakers and vintners scheduled to pour for the event included  from Adler Deutsch, Aiken, Aloft, Anomaly, Arietta, Arns, Arrow & Branch, Barbour, Behrens Family Winery, Bevan Cellars, Boich, Cabaud, Casa Piena, Charles Woodson Wines, Clark Claudon,  Continuum, Crocker & Starr, Dakota Shy, Dana Estates, Drinkward Peschon, Dunstan Wines, Fairchild Wines, Gamble Family Vineyards, Gandona Estate, Harumph, Herb Lamb Vineyards, Hourglass, Keplinger, Lail, Lorenza, M. Etain, Mad Fritz, Mascot Wines, Marston, Massican, Mayacamas, Meander, Memento Mori, Moone-Tsai, Nine Suns, Piper Cellars, Pott Wines, Pulido-Walker, QTR, Raen, Rarecat, Realm Cellars, Robert Foley, Saintsbury, SBR, Spottswoode, St. Helena Winery, Staglin, Teeter Totter, The Grade Cellars, Tor, Tuck Beckstoffer, Tusk, Venge, Vine Hill Ranch, Vineyard 29, Vineyard 7 & 8, Vivier and Zeitgeist.

We decided to taste through the white and rosé wines before diving into the reds(which on this day, would turn out to be a rookie mistake…more later)

And of course we, began sampling delectable small bites provided by a variety of local restaurants.

WINEAPAWLOOZA - A Napa Valley Cause For Paws

We tasted some amazing wines. And there was something for everyone.

Do you like your wines big, ripe, and apologetically hedonistic? Check!

Do you prefer a more restrained Old World style? Check!

Here are a couple of  the more memorable wines (at least the ones I took photos of)

WINEAPAWLOOZA - A Napa Valley Cause For Paws

My Wine of the Day was the 2010 Rarecat Cabernet Sauvignon Old Toll Hillside Vineyard – a distinguished blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot with a harmonious black currant, blackberry, leather character that showed a very appealing minerality.

WINEAPAWLOOZA - A Napa Valley Cause For Paws

As for the previously mentioned rookie mistake? One of the dozen or so names I recognized when saw the list of wineries pouring was Continuum.  But by the time I made it back around to the spot from which they were pouring they’d run out of wine.

Damn…Oh well…you live and learn!

Next up was the main event…the live auction!

A fast-paced, wine country lifestyle auction filled with travel experiences and one-of-a-kind treasures

As we took a seat at our assigned table, there on the table were several more bottles of wine for our drinking pleasure including a magnum of the 2012 Gamble Family Vineyards Cairo Cabernet Sauvignon and one of my favorite Rosé Champagne!

WINEAPAWLOOZA - A Napa Valley Cause For Paws

Yep…my kind of party…er auction!

Filled with excitement, my wife and I perused the auction brochure and found a lot that was at the intersection of our dreams and what would we’d be willing to pay for said dream.

Lot 10 – Four nights accommodations in Saint Emillion, plus 2 days of hosted touring through the vineyards of St. Émilion and Pomerol with Wendy Narby including a dinner with Michel Rolland and accommodations in St. Émilion

It not only offered an amazing experience, it was little personal for us because we’d met Sharon Harris of Rarecat Wines, whose Chateau des Amis was accommodations in the package. Her wine was our favorite and we’d had a wonderful chat with her.

We agreed upon a max bid.

WINEAPAWLOOZA - A Napa Valley Cause For Paws

Auctioneer Fritz Hatton presided over the bidding. It was fast, furious and fun.

I was amazed at the amounts of some of the winning bids!

It was all fun and games until lot 9 was auctioned off. Lot 10 was next…and things got real.

Butterflies set in….

Eager to jump into the bidding fray,  and with sweaty palms, I warily grasped my auction paddle…prepared to thrust it into the air…

With fingers and toes crossed, we awaited the opening bid.. Would we have a chance?

Um…No..we were done before we got started…

The opening bid was 2x our max and went up from there…

Oh well, as Napoleon once said “Champagne! In victory one deserves it, in defeat one needs it.”

Now I know why there was Champagne on each table!

The top five lots were:

  1. The Golden Rolodex – Eighty Magnificent Magnums – A collection of 80 magnums: $107,500
  2. One Sweet, Wine-Soaked World – An evening with Russell and Victoria Bevan of Bevan Cellars and a Dave Matthews Band concert: $70,000
  3. “Remember To LIve” Hollywood VIP Package – Dinners, tastings and vineyard walks with the proprietors of Fairchild, Fait Main, Memento Mori and Pulido-Walker, $65,000
  4. (The True) French Connection – 2 days of hosted touring through the vineyards of St. Émilion and Pomerol with Wendy Narby including a dinner with Michel Rolland and accommodations in St. Émilion, $60,000
  5. Legendary Napa – Beautiful and Historic Andy Beckstoffer Heritage Vineyards – Dinner with Andy Beckstoffer and 8 ToKalon vintners, 2 days of additional vintner tastings in the respective heritage vineyards and more: $52,000.

But wait…there was more! After the thrill of the auction, there was music, dancing, and more food and wine to be had! 

JARR Concert Emma K Morris
Wristrocket, rocking the WAP stage! Photo by Emma K. Morris. Image courtesy of Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch

When I found out the event raised $750,000 (compared to $430,000 in the prior year), it also brought to this thought to mind…

Napa doesn’t get enough credit for the charity work it does!

We had an awesome time! This was our first wine auction, which was amazing in and of itself.  And that coupled with the world-class wine, delectable food and terrific music made for such a memorable experience!

Well done JARR, well done!

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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. 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wines At Our Table; Week of July 26th, 2015

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  It features my pick for Wine of the Week – a  wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out; plus my Food and Wine pairing of the Week for the week ended July 26th,2015.

2013 Relic Wines Ritual – Retail $50

Violet color with appealing mixed black and blue fruit, dried herb, vanilla, chocolate, and spice aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied, and concentrated with an oh-so supple texture and good acidity. It shows baked blueberry, blackberry, vanilla, chocolate, and cardamom flavor and a lingering finish. Approachable now, but would benefit from further aging. Delicious blend of 41% Mourvedre, 19% Grenache, 19% Syrah, 19% Carignane, 2% Petite Sirah old-vine Carignane and Petite Sirah from Alfred Frediani Vineyard. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2013 Cantina di Gallura Vermentino di Gallura Canayli – Retail $18

Very pale yellow green color stone fruit, lemon thyme, wet stone and a hint of green pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s dry medium-bodied and fresh with mixed stone fruit, clove, and a hint of almond flavors with a lingering saline minerality. Very Good; 86-88 pts

Drappier Champagne Brut Carte d’Or – Retail $40

Pale gold color with abundant bubbles and a persistent tiny bead with pear red berry, citrus, pie crust and a subtle smoky mineral note. On the palate its light bodied and fresh with a soft creamy mousse. When cold, it shows pear, and yellow apple, but as it warms up red berries come to the fore accompanied by mixed citrus flavors and a subtle minerality. Better as it warmed up…Delicious!  Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

Wine of the Week

For a change, my selection for Wine of the Week was a no-brainer!

While I very much enjoyed the Rhone-inspired 2013 Relic Wines Ritual, and a delightful Vermentino from Sardinia, I’m a Champagne whore, and the Champagne Drappier Carte d’Or is my Wine of the Week.

Champagne Drappier is located in the tiny village of Urville (pop. 151). The history of the house dates back to 1808. But the history of the cellars and vineyards dates back to the 12th century when Saint Bernard had an annex built to Clairvaux Abbey in Urville in 1152! . Part of those cellars still exist and are in use today.

The Drappier vineyard covers 100 hectares and constitutes the House’s essential trump card. Since 1808 our family has used its skill to select parcels of land which are particularly well exposed and extremely rich in limestone. For the most part they are located around Urville, where Pinot Noir, the predominant grape variety, finds its loveliest expression and allows the production of very elegant, aromatic wines.

The Carte d’Or cuvée is the very expression of the Drappier style. With its very high proportion of Pinot Noir, one is almost tasting a Blanc de Noirs

This entry level cuvee is a blend of 75% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay and 10% Meunier with about 5% barrel aged reserve wines in the blend.  It went through malolactic fermentation, and with minimal use of sulphur.  7g/L dosage.  

Wines At Our Table; Week of July 26th, 2015Last year I had the privilege of traveling to the Champagne region in France as a guest ofthe U.S. Champagne Bureau for the 2014 Champagne Harvest Media Trip.  On our last day, we visited the Côte des Bar  in the Aube department of the Champagne region

It’s about a two-hour drive south of main Champagne towns of Reims, Epernay, and Aÿ. Our visit included a tour and tasting at Champagne Drappier, which was the highlight of the day for me. 

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My Food and Wine Pairing of the Week is the 2013 Cantina di Gallura Vermentino di Gallura Canayli with Sardinian Seafood Paella

Seafood Paella

The recipe called for Fregola a chewy, dot-shaped semolina pasta comes from the western part of Sardinia, near Oristano.  I substituted pearl couscous.  This version is     made with only seafood (no chorizo).

What was your Wine of the Week?  Any killer Food and Wine pairings?

Follow my reviews on Vivino and Delectable

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

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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. 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Five Year Blogiversary!

Today marks five years since I started sharing my vinous adventures with you here on ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.  What an wonderful and exciting five years it’s been!  I have written 630 posts and tasted thousands of wines.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful folks along  the way including many wonderful people in the wine industry, as well as fellow wine enthusiasts.  Not to mention the many “virtual”  friends who are also writer/bloggers.  While we’ve not met yet in real life we share my passion for great wine and food. I sincerely hope we get a chance to share a glass or three of wine and a meal one day!

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Over these last five years I’ve welcomed many opportunities I’ve had to expand my palate and taste wines from all around the world through private tastings with the Pacific Pointe Wine Club, a multitude of virtual tastings, samples tastings, trade tastings, and other events.

There are many highlights but top of mind for me are:

  • Media trip to Champagne
  • Being included in the The 103 Best Wine Blogs That You Can’t Miss
  • I was a the top of Google search results for “Best Wines To Pair with Paella” until Google changed their algorithm to reward mobile friendly sites a few months ago. It’s hands-down my most popular post.
  • Became a correspondent for the American Winery Guide.

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A few thanks:

First and foremost to my wife who has supported my passion for wine and writing. She’s has been with me every step of the way. She’s offered some great advice, an occasional kick in the butt.  She’s also been my photographer and food stylist.  Te amo mi corazon!

Also, I owe a debt of gratitude to the incomparable Richard Jennings who has inspired and encouraged me more than he knows.

And of course…Thank you so much to all of my readers!  I love wine and love sharing that passion with you through this blog.  I am humbled that you care to read what I write.

Here’s to another great wine-filled year together!

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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, yoga, hiking, 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. 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! Follow my reviews on Vivino and Delectable

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

#WineWednesday Review; Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon

From time to time, I receive wines samples from wineries or their public relations agencies for review.  I feature such samples on here on #WineWednesday Review. This week I’m featuring the Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Winery

Barefoot Wine is the most awarded wine brand in US competitions. Barefoot’s California wines are attractively priced and can be found in bottles bearing the fun, iconic footprint label. Barefoot’s still wine portfolio includes 16 offerings and is available for a suggested retail price of $7 for 750-ml bottles, $12 for 1.5-liter bottles. Barefoot Bubbly ($10) is available in 11 offerings, including NEW Barefoot Bubbly Fusions, and is the most awarded Sparkling Wine in US competitions. 

I’m familiar with this seemingly ubiquitous brand (they’re hard to miss) owned by E.J. Gallo because a Barefoot Bubbly won our wine tasting club’s blind tasting of sparkling wines under $20 a few years back.

The Wine

The wine is a blend of (mostly) Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouschet.  Retail – $7; 13.1% alcohol; Residual Sugar: .8%

#WineWednesday Review; Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon

My review notes follow:

Violet color with low-key black fruit, vanilla and a hint of oak aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied,  with low acidity.  It’s soft and fruity with straight-forward but tasty black cherry, blackberry, black currant, plum and spicy vanilla flavors with a medium finish and firm tannins.  Note: I popped and poured upon my arrival home on an unusually warm day. Initially, the wine tasted thin. But I popped the bottle in the fridge for 15-20 minutes and the flavors and  texture improved dramatically.  It was a great reminder that serving temperature matters!

Rating: Good – 85 pts; This is great casual everyday wine that’s hard to beat for the price.

Pair with: Gouda cheese, hearty appetizers, burgers, grilled steak, or hearty pasta dishes.

Other thoughts:

For many years my perception of non-vintage (really multi-vintage; produced from more than one harvest) wines is that all were plonk. I’ve recently had a few non-vintage wines, including this one, that have changed my perception. I’ve realized there is an opportunity to for the winemaker to choose the best fruit at based on quality and price.

Follow my wine reviews on Vivino and Delectable

Wine provided as a sample for review.  Many thanks to Barefoot Wine and Hunter Public Relations

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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. 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll 

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Wines At Our Table; Week of July 19th, 2015

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  It features my pick for Wine of the Week – a  wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out; plus my Food and Wine pairing of the Week for the week ended July 19th, 2015.

2008 Louise Brison Champagne Brut – Retail $30 – Pale golden-yellow color persistent tiny stream of bubbles and appealing spicy quince, earthy, pear, baguette and a hint of honey aromas. On the palate it shows a vibrant acidity, and a soft creamy mousse with golden raspberry, pear, and a hint of tangerine flavors with a nice minerality. The lingering finish brings to mind tangerine Alka Seltzer. Produced from 50% barrel fermented Chardonnay and 50% stainless steel, skin-contact fermented Pinot Noir from organic estate vineyard in the Aube Very Good; 86-88 pts

2010 JC Cellars Pinot Noir Lancel Creek – Retail $38 – Ruby color with kirsch, pomegranate and spice and a bit of earth aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied, and a bit flabby with black cherry, and spice flavors with a hint of minerality. 14.5 alcohol Very Good; 86-88 pts

2012 La Bastide Blanche Bandol – Retail $25 – Dark red violet color with baked black fruit, graphite, licorice, spice and hints of roast meat aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh, and expressive with a supple texture blackberry, black cherry, spice flavors and an appealing minerality. Long finish. 14.5 alcohol. Organic fruit. Mostly mourvedre with a bit of grenache and cinsault  Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2012 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis – Retail $24 – Pretty golden-yellow color with sea breeze, stone-fruit, melon bergamot zest, honey and white flower aromas. On the palate, this is a wine about great texture and acidity working in harmony with peach, melon, spiced and orange zest flavors and a satisfying oily finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2014 Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé – Retail $22 – Pretty salmon color with strawberry, white peach, white flower and a hint of honey aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh, persistent and well structured with strawberry, peach, sweet citrus and spice flavors with a very giving finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

Wine of the Week

This was the most challenging week to pick a wine of the week in a while.  Let’s start with the 2008 Louise Brison Champagne Brut. Vintage Champagne for $30!  I couldn’t believe it either! It was very good.  After waiting a week or so to taste it, I went back to order more from K&L Wine Merchant, but they were sold out and have been ever since.  Bummer. My three most highly rated wine this week were all from Provence.  I’m participating in a “virtual tour” of France with the French Winophiles (#Winophiles), and our theme this month was Provence.  I love the region’s food and wines.

After a less than stellar experience with a Rose from Provence last week, it was Brangelina to the rescue this week.  Forget the celebrity stuff.  Their Chateau Miraval Rose is seriously well crafted rosé that nearly disappeared the night we opened it. I’ve enjoyed it the last few years, and it seems to get better every year. The price decreased to $22 this year (thanks to the strength of the dollar I believe), so that makes it even better. Will buy more!

While the archetypal Provence wine is a Cotes de Provence rosé, it is the smaller, more peripheral appellations that really make the region interesting to wine enthusiasts.The two most famous individual names from the region are located right on the Mediterranean coast between Marseille and Toulon. Here, the deeply colored, richly flavored reds of Bandol are produced just 12 miles (19km) from the herby, full-bodied whites of Cassis (source).

Both the Bandol and the Cassis were outstanding, but the 2012 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis get the nod for my Wine of the Week

Wines At Our Table; July 19th 2015

The wine is an intriguing blend of Marsanne (51%), Clairette Blanc (31%) and Ugni Blanc (18%)  I highly recommend the wine. It’s very food friendly especially with seafood!

From the importer…Owner Jean-Louis Genovesi , a native of Cassis who had departed for Paris and made his fame (and a few centimes as well) in the capital.  Jean-Louis and his son, Sébastien, have revived the domaine and the wines, both blanc and rosé, are more compelling than ever.  The domaine sits just beneath the imposing limestone outcropping of Cap Canaille and is a mere 200 meters distance from the shores of the Mediterranean.  Thus situated, the Domaine du Bagnol is the beneficiary of the cooling winds from the north, northwest and northeast (Tramontane, Mistral and grégal) as well as the gentle sea breezes that come ashore.

My Food and Wine Pairing of the Week is the 2012 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis paired with Chicken Pan Bagnat

Pan Bagnat which literally means “bathed bread,” in the ancient dialect of Provence is a specialty of the region of Nice. It’s a popular lunchtime dish made of favorite Provençal ingredients: tomatoes, local bell peppers, black niçoise olives, anchovies and tuna, salt, and pepper—a salade niçoise, effectively, between slices of crusty bread. It’s the perfect picnic sandwich!

What was your Wine of the Week?  Any killer Food and Wine pairings?

Follow my reviews on Vivino and Delectable

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

_________________________________________________________________

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. 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

A Tipple And Taste of Provence #Winophiles

Welcome to this month’s French Winophiles!  We’re group a food and wine bloggers pulled together by Christy of Adventures of a Culinary Diva.  We’re taking a virtual tour of France region by region and learning about French cuisine, wine and travel.  This month we’re exploring the Provence.

About Provence

Whenever I think about France, three places promptly come to mind – Paris, Champagne and Provence.  I’ve been blessed to have been able to spend at least a week in both Paris and Champagne.  That leaves Provence at the top of my “Places to Visit in France”

Provence is located in Southern France bordering the Mediterranean.  For me, Provence evokes day dreams of a warm sunny days enjoying a glass of rosé at a sidewalk cafe in Nice, people watching in Cannes, touring the idyllic countryside in a convertible, strolling through perfumed fields of lavender, hiking in Haute Provence or maybe playing a game of pétanque in a town square with the locals.  There seems to be an almost endless list of things to do in Provence.

 For me, the pleasure of Provence is its diversity. In just a single day you can have a whole holiday’s worth of experiences: breakfast on the beach, a morning exploring Nice’s old town, lunch at a country auberge, an afternoon touring the hills, a vineyard visit, an early-evening shot of pastis, a game of pétanque and then an unforgettable sunset over the foothills of the Alps. Oliver Berry, Author

Wow!  And I haven’t even  talked about the food or wine yet!

The fresh, and delectable cuisine of Provence more resembles Italian, Greek, or Spanish cuisine than typical French fare.  The region is the birthplace of three world-renowned dishes: salade Nicoise, bouillabaisse and ratatouille. Other well-known Provençal foods include tapenade & anchoïade, Daube Provençale (Provençal stew), Aioli, Pissaladiere, black truffles and Pan Bagnat (hope you’re not reading this while you’re hungry).

While the archetypal Provence wine is a Cotes de Provence rosé, it is the smaller, more peripheral appellations that really make the region interesting to wine enthusiasts.The two most famous individual names from the region are located right on the Mediterranean coast between Marseille and Toulon. Here, the deeply colored, richly flavored reds of Bandol are produced just 12 miles (19km) from the herby, full-bodied whites of Cassis (source).

A Tipple and Taste of Provence

Image courtesy of Wine Folly. Click to enlarge

Provençal Food and Wines

I decided to go for the Provençal trifecta (hey, it’s a the top  of my list; right?) and chose three wines –  a white from Cassis, a rosé from Cotes de Provence, and a red from Bandol.

Once chose the wines, I chose a dish I thought would pair well with each.  Here are my food and wine pairings:

2014 Château du Rouët Cuvée Réservée Tradition paired Provence-inspired Courgette & Goat Cheese Ciabatta

I prepared this dish on a lazy Sunday afternoon as an appetizer.  It’s essentially goat cheese slathered on sliced toasted Ciabatta topped with thin slices of pan-fried zucchini (courgette) lightly dressed with a simple lemon vinaigrette  Goat cheese and zucchini are staples in the Provençal cuisine.

Man was this delicious!  And if you’ve ever had goat cheese and rosé, then you know  they go together peanut butter and jelly.  It was an excellent pairing!

What was intended to be an appetizer turned into a semi-meal because we gobbled down so many!.

A Tipple and Taste of Provence

My tasting notes on the wine follow:

Pale salmon color with peach skin, strawberry and cherry aromas. On the palate it’s fresh with peach, tart strawberry, and cherry flavors with a bit of minerality and a solid finish. Nice value at $16

2012 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis paired with Chicken Pan Bagnat

Pan Bagnat which literally means “bathed bread,” in the ancient dialect of Provence is a specialty of the region of Nice. It’s a popular lunchtime dish made of favorite Provençal ingredients: tomatoes, local bell peppers, black niçoise olives, anchovies and tuna, salt, and pepper—a salade niçoise, effectively, between slices of crusty bread. I decided to substitute chicken because I thought tuna would take the sandwich more toward a rosé pairing.

Another hit! My wife – not a sandwich fan – even loved it.  It will be a staple in our picnic basket.  And it’s versatile too! I’m already looking forward to trying it with salmon or a Toasted Pan Bagnat with Mozzarella.

And pairing it with the Cassis was a winner too! The crispness, and weight of the wine accentuated the fresh flavors of the sandwich.

A Tipple and Taste of Provence

My tasting notes on the wine follow:

Pretty golden-yellow color with sea breeze, stone-fruit, melon bergamot zest, honey and white flower aromas. On the palate, this is a wine about great texture and acidity working in harmony with peach, melon, spiced and orange zest flavors and a satisfying oily finish. Blend of Marsanne (51%), Clairette Blanc (31%) and Ugni Blanc (18%).

 2012 La Bastide Blanche Bandol paired with Daube de Boeuf Provencal(Provençal-Style Beef Stew)

Daube de Boeuf Provencal is a classic Provençal (or more broadly, French) stew made with inexpensive beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de Provence, and traditionally cooked in a daubière, a braising pan.

The I used a Cooking Light version of this French Classic. It was lower in fat and calories, but full of flavor. The recipe is a winner in my book.

What can I say? I’m three for three this week! The Bandol was a luscious wine pairing for this dish.

A Tipple and Taste of Provence

Trust me, the dish was much better than my photo of said dish!

My tasting notes on the wine follow:

Dark red violet color with baked black fruit, graphite, licorice, spice and hints of roast meat aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh, and expressive with a supple texture blackberry, black cherry, spice flavors and an appealing minerality. Long finish. 14.5% alcohol. Organic fruit. Mostly mourvedre with a bit of grenache and cinsault

My favorite wine? The Cassis get the nod by a hair over the Bandol (thought I suspect it would depend on which day you ask me;)  My favorite food?  Cop out time – all of the above!

I’m more in love with Provence than ever! Whose with me?

And there’s plenty more Provençal food and wine delicousness.  Check out what my fellow French #winophiles have in store for you!

Join us Saturday, July 18th at 11 am EST/8 am PCT for a live Twitter Chat sharing wine, food and travel stories from Provence. Find us at  #winophiles.

Next month we explore the wine and cuisine of  the Southwest Region of France on Saturday, August 15th.

Discover Beaujolais at Pabu Japanese; A Food And Wine Pairing Revelation

Last month I received an invitation to attend a Beaujolais Wines & Japanese Cuisine Pairing Dinner.  My first thought was “Huh”?

That’s because pairing red Beaujolais and Japanese cuisine had ever occurred to me.

On the other hand, having recently tried a Beaujolais Blanc for the first time on Chardonnay Day, I knew that would have an affinity for traditional Japanese fare such as sushi, sashimi, and perhaps tempura.

Nevertheless, I was eagerly anticipating  the dinner with a “I can wait to see how they pull this off” sense of excitement.

It’s not like I didn’t know about Beaujolais’ affinity for a wide variety of foods.  In fact, it was the first wine I listed in a previously posted “What Are The Most Food Friendly Wines?” piece.

The dinner was held at Pabu San Francisco, a Japanese restaurant that  presents a modern take on traditional Izakaya-style dining (think seasonal small plates, composed entrees, and grilled skewers along with sushi, sashimi, fresh tofu and tempura). 

About Beaujolais

The event was sponsored by InterBeaujolais, the official wine-trade organization of the region

Located north of Lyon in eastern France, Beaujolais overlaps Burgundy (of which it is sometimes considered to be a part) in the north and Rhône in the south. The picturesque Beaujolais vineyards run along the Saône River, where winemakers have crafted deliciously supple and fruity wines since the days of Ancient Rome.

The Gamay grape, a cross between Pinot Noir and Gouais, is used to make  ninety-nine percent with Beaujolais wines. The exception is Beaujolais Blanc, which is made of Chardonnay grapes.

The “Beaujolais” winemaking is unique and original.  Grapes are hand-picked then subjected to semi-carbonic maceration. There are 2600 winegrowers producing red, white and rosé  wines.  There are 12 appellations including 10 crus, which are considered to produces the best Beaujolais wines.

Discover Beaujolais at Pabu Japanese; A Food And Wine Revelation

These wines – all under $20 – delivered amazing QPR!

Check out the fun and informative Discover Beaujolais website, including the Top 3 reasons to try Beaujolais for more information.

Discover Beaujolais at Pabu Japanese; A Food And Wine Revelation

The Food and Wine

Upon arrival we were treated to a glass of the 2014 Château De Raousset, Cuvée Marquise de Robien Beaujolais Villages Blanc (Retail $16), an unoaked Chardonnay. It was paired with two delightful appetizers, “Happy Spoon” with Kushi oyster, Ponzu Crème fraîche, and uni-tobiko ikura, and Poke served on a crispy wonton chip.  The fresh green apple, pear,citrus and chalk character of the wine was wonderful complement to the flavors of both apps, but especially the crème fraîche and raw oyster in the “Happy Spoon”

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After a bit of socializing, we were seated for dinner.  Check out the menu!

Discover Beaujolais at Pabu Japanese; A Food And Wine Revelation

The Beaujolais Villages Blanc was also paired with the first course of Sashimi: O Toro (Fatty Bluefin Tuna), Umimasu (Ocean Trout) and Hamashi (Yellowtail). It was also a superb accompaniment to the sashimi with its citrusy acidity and mineral note.

The second, hot plate course, featured we had the Tender braised pork belly, asparagus, snow peas, onsen tamago (soft quail egg), and sesame .  It was paired with the 2011 Pascal Granger, Les Viallières, Chénas (the smallest of the 10 Beaujolais crus) (Retail $18). The wine has an earthy, floral pomegranate, cherry, graphite character with well-integrated soft tannins.  I’m a sucker for pork belly, and Pabu’s was showed a harmonious interplay between the crispness of the pork belly with the soft creaminess of the egg.  And the egg brought the minerality of the wine to the fore.

It should be noted (and this is a small but important detail) the wine was perfectly chilled. It would be the many impressive displays of attention to detail manifest by the Pabu team and sommeliers during our experience. 

Our third course was Skewers: Chicken meatball/Tsukune, Togarashi, Jidori egg; Trumpet mushroom/Eringi, Furikake and Beef tongue/Gyutan, sesame, lemon, scallion. It was paired with 2011 Domaine Bel Avenir, Laura, Saint-Amor (Retail $18), which has a raspberry, dark cherry, spice and subtle brambly character.  The wine from this cru, which sell 20-25% of its production on Valentine’s Day is the wonderful companion for the skewer course.

By now it was pretty obvious to me that Pabu was in serious contention for a scrumptious sweep – delectable food, beautifully presented from start to finish….

Discover Beaujolais at Pabu Japanese; A Food And Wine Revelation

L-R Clockwise; The Sashimi, Hot Plate, Skewers, Dueling Foie Gras, and entreé courses

On to the fourth gastronomic delight – a Duo of Foie Gras. Seared Sonoma Foie Gras of duck with grilled Nori rice, pickled stone fruit and Hatcho miso and Ankimo ‘Ocean Foie Gras’ of monkfish liver, wakame, momiji, scallion, and ponzu . My Lord this was delicious!  It was paired with the 2013 Dominique Piron, Domaine De Combiaty, Brouilly (Retail $18; The largest and most southerly of the Beaujolais crus) This wine showed an elegant, fresh, cherry, raspberry, plum, spice and wet stone character with an appealing savoriness that was a wonderful compliment to the foie gras. In turn the foie gras accentuated the earthy/savory component in the wine.  I appreciated the little slices of cherry on the plate which was a delightful bridge between the wine and food. tour de force for detail

Our entreé course was American Wagyu NY Strip with charred squash, summer beans, porcini, and ume shiso. Two wines were served with the entreé – the 2010 Domaine Bel Avenir, Les Capitans, Juliénas (Retail $17) and the 2011 Domaine Pierre Savoye, CôteDu Py, Morgon (Retail – $19; and my Wine of the Day!)

The Juliénas showed low-key cherry and earthy aromas with ample red fruit and spice flavors. The Morgon showed lifted cherry, wild strawberry, pomegranate, spice and mineral profile with an appealing tannic grip.  I preferred Morgon with the entreé, but both wines were played very well with the tender, succulent beef.

We capped off our dining experience with a dessert course of Milk Chocolate Namelaka, black sesame sponge, cocoa nibs, red bean Gelato.  It was the 2011 George Duboeuf, Beaujolais Villages.  The surprising pairing worked thanks to the ample cherry, strawberry fruit flavors of the wine, and the fact that the delectable dessert was moderately sweet.  It was a good pairing.

My takeaways from the experience were many:

  • That scrumptious sweep? Mission accomplished! What a memorable food and wine pairing experience.  I highly recommend Pabu!
  • Cru Beaujolais is a great alternative to under $30 Pinot
  • If you’re looking to try some Cru Beaujolais, consider wine from the glorious 2009, 2010, and 2011 vintages
  • If you’re considering an unconventional pairing of a particular cuisine, go with wine that’s a flexible at the table  The experience reminded me  that Beaujolais should be in the Top 5 most food friendly wines along with  Sparkling Wine, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Rosé in my book.
  • Beaujolais make for great chillable summer red
  • Keep an open mind when it comes to wine and food pairing, and have fun!

Many thanks to InterBeaujolais, Sodexa USA, and Pabu San Francisco for an amazing and memorable Beaujolais Wines & Japanese Cuisine Pairing Dinner! 

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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, yoga, hiking, 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. 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! Follow my reviews on Vivino and Delectable

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.