Wines At Our Table; July 5th, 2015

Over the course of  the last several weeks (I have fallen woefully behind to due my usual weekly post due to work and travel. I’ll catch up next week) my wife and I drank a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Here’s a recap of the most memorable (wines I particularly enjoyed, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out) wines we’ve enjoyed over the last several weeks.

2013 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc - Retail – $20

From the winery – The Tablas Creek Vineyard Patelin de Tablas Blanc is a blend of four white Rhône varietals: Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne. The wine incorporates fruit from eleven top Rhone vineyards in Paso Robles, each vineyard selected for its quality. Like many white wines from the Southern Rhône, it is based on the crisp acids and rich mouthfeel of Grenache Blanc, with Viognier added for floral, tropical aromatics, and small additions of Roussanne and Marsanne for structure.

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Pale yellow color with appealing stone fruit, melon, white flowers and a bit a mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and well structured with zesty acidity, and a wonderful texture. It shows apricot, peach, and lemon zest flavors with a lingering mineral laced finish. Blend of 54% Grenache Blanc,25% Viognier,13% Roussanne
and 8% Marsanne Superb value at $20! Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

2014 Bedrock Wine Co. Mourvedre Ode to Lulu Old Vine Rosé - Retail – $19

From the wineryLike the last few years, this rosé comes from vines planted prior to 1940 (or perhaps we should say prior to FDR’s third term). Picked specifically for rosé, at lower potential alcohol and whole-cluster pressed, this pale and perfumed rosé belies its lighter color and has plenty of density.  The backbone of the wine is the ancient Mourvedre—with all of its coniferous perfume and spice—with dashes of Cemetary Vineyard Carignane… and Evangelho…

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Pink copper color with savory strawberry, blood orange, spice and a hints of mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh and focused with a very appealing hint of tannins. It shows tart, strawberry, tangerine, blood orange, mineral and spice flavors, with a very giving savory finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

2013 Casale Della Ioria Cesanese del Piglio Tenuta Della Ioria - Retail – $24.99

Cesanese (“chae-sah-NAE-say”) is an ancient red wine grape indigenous to Lazio.  It’s quite possible that Cesanse was local wine of ancient Rome because the grape existed in the region during pre-Roman times. Cesanese del Piglio DOCG is considered the best Cesanese wine, made with 100% Cesanese grapes from the Frosinone Province.  The wine reminds me of a cross between Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.  Among the many things I enjoyed about this wine is that takes a chill quite well. I’ll be adding it to my (short) list of chillable reds.

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The wine is a dark ruby color with promising red fruit, juniper, and forest floor aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied and fresh with a very smooth texture, and a subtle savory character. It shows distinctive Morello cherry, red mulberry, hints of red currant, black olive and vanilla flavors with an earthy undertone. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

I paired this wine with Sausage, Pepper and Mushroom Spiedini with Grilled Truffled Polenta. It was a fantastic pairing!

2012 Turley Zinfandel Sadie Upton - Retail ~$40

From the winery – We are honored to be working with this jewel of a vineyard in Amador County, whose story is almost as compelling as the wine itself. In 1922, smack-dab in the middle of Prohibition and while her husband was away working for the railroad, a then 21-year-old Sadie Upton decided she was going to plant herself a vineyard near their home at 1500 feet near Plymouth, CA. Now, 92 years later, the vines are still kicking, in the gumption-riddled tradition of their creator.

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Dark ruby color with black cherry, rose petals, violets, with hints of eucalyptus, and graphite aromas. A bit hot on the nose, but it blew off after a couple of minutes. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with dusty well-integrated tannins, and a supple texture with dried cherry, pomegranate, raspberry, spice, and mineral flavors. Long finish. Outstanding; 92-95 pts

2014 Wind Gap Wines Rosé North Coast - Retail – $19

Wind Gap is one of three labels of Pax Mahle.  After being very impressed with his Syrah at this year’s Rhone Ranger tasting, I was eager to try his Wind Gap wines.  We tasted through quite a few of his wine a couple of month’s ago.  We picked up this wine.  Wish I’d purchased more!

From the winery -Whole-Cluster pressed Nebbiolo and Dolcetto from the Fox Hill Vineyard give this wine a wild, flamboyant personality. Explosive fruit and delicious acidity make this one hard to put down. The Nebbiolo gives the wine a bit of tannin that elevates this from being a simple wine to one that will compliment most foods. 55% Nebbiolo 35% Dolcetto 10% Pinot Noir/Grenache/Syrah. 70% Concrete Fermentation; 30% Stainless Steel Fermentation. 3-Month élevage in Neutral French Oak and Stainless Steel; Finished in Stainless Steel for 8 weeks

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Pink orange color with appealing red fruit, and rose petal aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied with a wonderful mouth-watering acidity and a nice grip courtesy of the Nebbiolo with tart strawberry and cherry flavors and a lingering finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts . This wine was fantastic with Paella Mixta!

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 Taste of Lazio #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 Lazio!

Lazio, which is also goes by it Latin name, Latium, is located central Italy.  Its neighbors include  Tuscany to the north, Campania to the south, Abruzzo to the east and Umbria to the northeast.

It’s home to the ancient capital city of Rome with its art, historic sites, and of course, a plethora of gustatory delights.

Understandably, with Rome as the crown jewel of the region, it’s easy to overlook other places to see, and things to do.  But, should you want to take the road less traveled, consider a visit to Tivoli, home to two Unesco World Heritage Sites: Villa Adriana, the sprawling country estate of Emperor Hadrian, and the 16th-century Villa d’Este, a Renaissance villa famous for its landscaped gardens and lavish fountains.  Or perhaps Viterbo, which despite sustaining heavy bomb damage in WWII, is the region’s best preserved medieval town.

Both are easy day trips from Rome.

Lazio

Source: http://italianwinecentral.com

Lazio Wine

Before we received this month’s theme, I’d never heard of Lazio. The region’s vinous reputation is primarily based on its white wines.  Among the 30 DOCs, there are three white wine DOCs that stand out – Castelli Romani (the most important), Frascati (the more renowned and traditional) and Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone.  The region has three DOCGs -  Cannellino di Frascati,  Frascati Superiore and Cesanese del Piglio, which produce a dessert wine, a blended white wine and a red wine respectively.

In My Glass And On My Plate

I wanted to try both a white and a red wine from the region.  I was able to track down a couple of the DOCG wines – a Frascati Superiore (K&L Wine Merchants) for my white and Cesanese del Piglio (Beltramo’s) for my red.

Let’s begin with the white…

Frascati  is named after  a tiny, ancient town in the hills just south-east of Rome. Grapes have been cultivated for wine in the area since the 5th century B.C.!

Several grape varieties may be used to make Frascati wines, but the core is formed by the classic central Italian white-wine blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia.

The wine doesn’t have the best reputation.  It’s an easy-going, often the innocuous, dull wine that’s served as “house wine” all across Rome.

Casale Marchese Frascati Superiore ($14, 13%) Imported by Oliver McCrum Wines

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The Casale Marchese property dates back to the middle ages.  It’s been owned by the Carlettie family since 1713.  The grapes for this wine are sourced from 40 year old vines.  It is a blend of Malvasia del Lazio, Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia di Candia, Bonvino and Bellone.  The wine is raised in stainless steel and sees no malolactic fermentation.

The wine pours a very pale yellow color.  It shows aromas of peach, apple, dried herb, almond and a bit of lemon aromas.  On the palate it’s medium-bodied and zesty with peach, green apple, nectarine, and lemon flavors underscored with an appealing vein of minerality

This is a delicious, delightful every day white wine that I’d buy again. Very Good (86-88 pts) >>Find this wine<<

I paired the wine with Spicy Linguine with Clams and Mussels.  It was a wonderful pairing. The shellfish seemed to bring out the lemony acidity of the wine, and the minerality of the wine was a satisfying complement to the dish.

A Taste of Lazio - Spicy Linguine with clams and mussels

Spicy Linguine with Clams and Mussels

2013 Casale Della Ioria Cesanese del Piglio Tenuta Della Ioria  ($24.99, 14%) Imported by Oliver McCrum Wines

Cesanese (“chae-sah-NAE-say”) is an ancient red wine grape indigenous to Lazio.  It’s quite possible that Cesanse was local wine of ancient Rome because the grape existed in the region during pre-Roman times.

Cesanese gives credibility to Lazio’s growing wine culture. Produced near the hilltop hamlet of Piglio, Cesanese del Piglio…boasts winemaking roots that date back to 133 B.C. and the ancient Romans who first recognized the favorable position…Soils are red and dark in color, and volcanic tufa stone is common in the Colli Albani area.- Wine Enthusiast

There are two different genetically unique Cesanese species. One is called “Cesanese Comune” or “Local Cesanese” and the other is called “Cesanese d’Affile. Cesanese d’Affile is considered the finer of the two grapes.

Cesanese del Piglio DOCG is considered the best Cesanese wine, made with 100% Cesanese grapes from the Frosinone Province.

IMG_3048Casale della Ioria is ‘Lazio’s best producer of Cesanese’ according to Italian wine expert Ian d’Agata.

Fruit for this wine is grown in Ciociaria.  The wine is made from Cesanse di Affile.  It is aged in French barriques.

The wine is a dark ruby color with promising red fruit, juniper, and forest floor aromas.  On the palate it’s medium-bodied  and fresh with a very smooth texture, and a subtle savory character.  It shows distinctive Morello cherry, red mulberry, hints of red currant, black olive and vanilla flavors with an earthy undertone.  

The wine reminds me of a cross between Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.  Among the many things I enjoyed about this wine is that takes a chill quite well. I’ll be adding it to my (short) list of chillable reds.  Very Good to Outstanding (89-91pts) >>Find this wine<<  

I paired this wine with Sausage, Pepper and Mushroom Spiedini with Grilled Truffled Polenta.

A Taste of Lazio

My grill marks didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked, but the truffled polenta was flat-out delicious!

And what a  harmonious food and wine pairing it was!  Cesanese is a very versatile wine at the table. Will buy more!

Sausage, Pepper and Mushroom Spiedini with Grilled Truffled Polenta
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1¾ cups yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp of truffle oil
  • 5 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 pound basil garlic sausage
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 (10-inch) skewers
Instructions
  1. Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in heavy large saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the butter, and truffle oil. Stir until butter melted.
  2. Pour the cooked polenta into the baking pan and smooth the top. Let cool until firm, about 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. When the polenta is cool, invert it onto a cutting board and slice it into 12 squares. Brush the squares with a little canola oil and grill until they are heated through and have nice grill marks, about 2 minutes per side.
  4. Meanwhile, if you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes or while you prepare the sausage and peppers.
  5. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium heat. Arrange the sausages on the grill and cook for 8 to 10 minutes giving them a ¼ turn every couple of minutes. Remove them to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes, then cut them into ½-inch thick pieces. The sausage will not be completely cooked through. It will finish cooking on the skewers with the peppers and onions.
  6. While sausage is cooking, core and slice the peppers. Cut them and the onion into 1 by 1-inch pieces.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons canola oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning and mustard.
  8. When you are ready, heat the grill or grill pan over medium heat. Thread each skewer with 3 pieces of the sausage, 4 pieces of onion and green pepper and 2 pieces of the red pepper making sure to alternate the ingredients. Brush them with the oil and vinegar mixture and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill the skewers on both sides until they are hot and sizzling, about 6 to 8 minutes. Arrange them on a serving platter and serve with the grilled polenta

I really enjoyed both these wines.  Both were wonderful expressions of the grapes and a taste of Lazio!

The first Saturday of each month, the #ItalianFWT bloggers visit a region of Italy. Check out the other posts about Lazio:

If you’re seeing this early enough make sure to join us live on twitter at 8am PST. Follow #ItalianFWT. Tell us your food, wine or travel stories of Lazio. We look forward to chatting with you.  Next month on Saturday August 1st we’ll feature the island of Sardegna in Italy. Feel free to join us! Ciao!

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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.

First to Sip Villa Maria #NZSauvBlanc Tasting

Earlier this week I was invited to participate in the First To Sip 2015 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Twitter virtual tasting. The “Tweet-Up” was a precursor to events happening throughout the U.S. this summer celebrating the stateside release of two wine the 2015 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, and the 2014 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc. The celebration includes a sweepstakes for an opportunity to win an 8-day/7-night trip to New Zealand.  Entries are available where the wines are sold or click here for a chance to win.

Wait…What? A 2015 wine. How is that possible?  Remember New Zealand is in the Southern hemisphere where the harvest is in the February to April time frame.

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 My tasting notes follow:

2015 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin Retail – $14.99
Very pale green color with pleasingly pungent gooseberry, passion fruit, and grassy aromas. On the palate it’s light-bodied, dry, clean and crisp with mouth-watering acidity and gooseberry, passion fruit, lime and grapefruit flavors. Lingering finish. Very good (86-88 pts)

Specifications:
Vineyards: Awatere and Wairu Valleys, Marlborough
Variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Alcohol: 13.0%
pH: 3.30
Total Acidity: 7.0 g/l
Residual Sugar: 4.0 g/l

2014 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Cellar Selection Retail – $19.99
Very pale green color with lifted gooseberry, passion fruit, citrus and floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, dry and fresh with an appealing intensity. It shows gooseberry, passion fruit, lime cream, melon flavors with a lemongrass undertone and a very giving finish. Very Good to Outstanding (89-91 pts)

The Wine Geek Stuff:
Vineyards: Awatere (50%) and Wairu Valleys (50%), Marlborough
Variety: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Alcohol: 13%
pH: 3.25
Total Acidity: 6.8 g/l
Residual Sugar: 3.3 g/l

Both the wines offer wonderful value.  The 2015 is a lighter style I think would be great as an aperitif or with appetizers – especially on a warm day.  It takes a chill quite well and delivers an abundance of refreshment.  On the other hand, when I consider the 2014, it has more weight and pairing it with an entrée comes to mind. I’d let it warm up more than the 2015 to maximize its more complex aromas and flavors.

>>Click here to find these wines<<

Food Pairing

I paired with Steamed Mussels in White Wine in which I used the 2014 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc as my white wine.  It was an outstanding pairing with both wines.  I happened to have some leftover Garlic Shrimp Poke.  Both wines were wonderful with that too. Click here for many other great food pairing suggestions.

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About Villa Maria

From the Villa Maria website - In 1961, at just 21 years of age, George leased five acres of land from his father in Mangere, Auckland and started off with just an acre of vines. He harvested his first grapes in 1962 and made his first wine under the name Villa Maria.

Throughout the 1960s Villa Maria was a one-man band, with George’s wife, Gail, supporting him in his venture. He made dry red and white wines, sourcing grapes from the greater Auckland regions. In the early 1970s he started to employ staff and the company began to expand rapidly.

Sir George Fistonich

Today, Villa Maria employs more than 250 permanent staff and exports wine to over 50 countries worldwide.

They maintain vineyards in both New Zealand’s North Island and South Island including vineyards in Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne and Auckland.

As a family owned business, Villa Maria is focused on sustainability, including organically certified vineyards in Auckland, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough.

First to Sip Villa Maria #NZSauvBlanc Tasting

The Villa Maria Awatere Marlborough vineyards. Image courtesy of Villa Maria Wine

I very much enjoyed both of these wines.  And I think you will too!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received these wines free from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Villa Maria as part of their First to Sip Twitter Tasting. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are entirely my own

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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.

No Reservations Wine Tasting – Heitz Wine Cellars

My wife and I do more than our fair share of wine tasting.  We’ve hit all the major wine regions in California (and a few minor ones too;-), along with some tasting in Oregon, Spain and Champagne.  From time to time we have a wine tasting experience that stands above the rest, and is everything we’re looking for – great wine and commendable service in a relaxed unpretentious environment. It’s those such experiences that are the focus of this “No Reservations” series.  Why “No Reservations”? Because I can honesty say I have “No Reservations”  about recommending the winery anyone who is looking for a great wine tasting experience.

The latest in this series features Napa Valley icon Heitz Wine Cellars.  My complete review of Heitz Cellar, including history, a recap of the tasting experience, reviews of wines tasted, and insider tipes may be found on the American Winery Guide’s website

Here are a five things to you need to know about Heitz

1. Believe it or not…The tasting is free…gratis..nada..zip…zero!

heitz pic_trade_tall

© Bill Tucker; Heitz Wine Cellars

2. It all starts at Gallo

Joe Heitz got his start in industrial winemaking. During World War II, he was an army mechanic at a base near Fresno, and he got a part-time job at Italian Swiss Colony, a maker of bulk wines. He then went to UC Davis and got bachelor’s and master’s degrees in winemaking, which scored him a job at E&J Gallo. In 1951, he moved to California’s best-regarded quality winery, Beaulieu Vineyards, working for André Tchelistcheff. “They wanted Joe to replace Tchelistcheff when he retired,” his daughter Kathleen Heitz Myers says. “Joe realized that wasn’t going to happen for a while.” (Tchelistcheff didn’t retire until 1973.) Heitz left to set up the enology program at Fresno State until he got restless to make wine again. (Source)

Heitz Tasting Room Food and wine

Image courtesy of FoodandWine.com

3. A piece of the dream

In 1961, Heitz bought an eight-acre (3.25-ha) vineyard south of St. Helena on Napa Valley’s main drag, State Route 29. That land is incredibly valuable now, but then it was planted mostly to Grignolino and Heitz estimated he could earn $4500 a year from it. Joe and his wife Alice put in a lot of sweat equity in the small winery on the property, where Heitz’s tasting room is today. The winery still makes a red wine and a rosé from the Grignolino. Alice Heitz, now 90, loves the rosé. “It’s my mother’s favorite,” says Myers, now president and chief executive. “Sure, we’d make more money if we replanted with Cabernet. But if we just produced Cabernet, life wouldn’t be as interesting. It’s not all driven by the money. It’s keeping a variety alive.” (Source)

Heitz Winery

© Heitz Wine Cellars; Bill Tucker

4. Underselling the dust

Heitz is quietly one of the largest certified organic grapegrowers in Napa Valley. “Three-quarters of our vineyards are certified organic,” Myers says. But the labels don’t reflect that, nor do they all reflect prestigious sub-appellations. Trailside Vineyard, for example, is in Rutherford, but the label just says “Napa Valley”. (Source)

David Heitz is the winemaker; the tasting room is at the original Heitz vineyard on Highway 29.

© Heitz Wine Cellars; Bill Tucker | David Heitz is the winemaker; the tasting room is at the original Heitz vineyard on Highway 29.

5. Buy an instant vertical!

Heitz Cabernets are older than others in the market. “Joe always wanted it to be a finished product, so you can see what it is,” Myers says. Most wineries introduce a vintage, sell it until it’s gone, then sell the next vintage. Heitz keeps five vintages on sale at one time for Martha’s Vineyard and Trailside Vineyard Cabernet. The most recent vintage of both wines is 2009, but restaurants and wine shops can also buy the previous four vintages. “Restaurants love it because they can have an instant vertical,” Myers says. Heitz raises the price for older vintages, but seemingly not enough to make up for the cost of storage. “I don’t care, because it builds the brand,” Myers says. “It’s our belief that wines age.” (Source)

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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.

 

Tale Of A Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé At The Table #Winophiles

Welcome to the launch of French Winophiles!  It’s a group a food and wine bloggers started 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 Loire Valley.

About the Loire Valley

The Loire Valley, two hours southwest of Paris is known as “the Garden of France” due its abundance of fertile farmland that include vineyards along with fruit and vegetable farms which line the banks of both sides of the Loire River. The Loire is the longest river in France.
It’s also known as the Land Of A Thousand Chateau. The region has a rich heritage featuring historic towns of AmboiseAngersBloisChinonNantesOrléansSaumur, and Tours.

“The Loire is a garden, a mosaic of tastes and flavors with 45 appellations that attract curious wine lovers.” - Jean-Pierre Gouvazé

From a vinous perspective, the Loire Valley is one of the largest wine regions of France.  It covers fifteen departments and 52,000 hectares (128,000 acres) of vines shared between 7000 growers, who produce nearly 400 million bottles of wines annually.  It’s so large it is there are three large areas – The Western (home of Muscadet - home of my favorite still wine for oysters!), Middle (Vouvray, Tourraine and Chinon) and the Upper Loire (includes, arguably the regions most well-known appellations Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume). It’s France’s most diverse wine region producing red, white, rosé, sweet and sparkling wines.

Tale Of A Crémant de Loire Brut Rose At The Table #Winophiles

Source: http://jacksonvillemag.com

There once was a wine blogger with latent foodie tendencies.

His family and friends called him “M”. He had a beautiful, and wise wife named “G”.

Image courtesy of SeriousEats.com

It was a sunny warm Sunday afternoon in their town.

But M and G weren’t enjoying the day together as they usually do. That’s because “G” toiled away at her computer for her boss.

She, for ions it seemed, had been asking him to make Argentine Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce.  But M hadn’t gotten around to it.

On this sunny day, M had been drinking magic grape juice, relaxing, and dreaming of his Golden State Warriors winning the NBA championship.

Then out of nowhere a thought popped into his head…

A happy wife, makes a happy life

M was also wise (though it seemed, never as wise as G). So he decided to make G’s request come to be.

He went to the store, fired up the Weber  and got to choppin’, marinatin’ and grillin’.

As the skirt steak was marinating, another thought popped into M’s head.

Why not take advantage of the magic fire, and make something else too?

For that would make them both happy.

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M decided to make Grilled Spatchcock Chicken too!

After M grilled the meats over the magic fire, G made a green salad and they sat down to partake of the Skirt Steak with Chimichurri.

They needed magic grape juice that would play well with the steak.

M chose a tasty Rioja Reserva.  At first M and G were happy with how the Rioja played the steak.

Then they put the supernatural and spicy Chimichurri sauce on the steak.  But the Rioja clashed with the Chimichurri.

This made M and G a little  sad.

But then G reminded M that their favorite sparking rosé the Deligeroy Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé was in the refrigerator.

She though it could bring joy to the table.

They tried the salmon colored sparkling wine with the steak with Chimichurri sauce.  The two played well together.  And this brought them joy.

Excited, they also tried the sparkling wine with the salad. And it brought them more joy that the Rioja could not.

Finally they tried the sparkling wine with the Grilled Spatchcock Chicken.

That too brought them joy! For they had found the perfect wine to enjoy with their meal of red and white meats cooked over the magic fire and their salad too!

The End

We always have a bottle or three of this Crémant on hand.  It’s our go-to “everyday” Sparkling Rosé..It retails for $12.99 at our favorite wine store, and offers fantastic value.   We’re also fans of the Deligeroy Crémant de Loire Brut  which made my Top 20 Sparkling Wines Under $20 list.

Tale Of A Crémant de Loire Brut Rose At The Table #Winophiles

The wine is produced by the Robert and Marcel co-op using the méthode traditionnelleIt’s a blend of 90% Cabernet Franc and 10% Grolleau Noir from the Saumur region of the Loire Valley. 

It’s a pale salmon color with persistent stream of bubbles,  with appealing strawberry, peach, and a bit of floral aromas. On the palate shows a moderately creamy mousse, crisp acidity, and a surprising depth at this price point with strawberry, cherry, peach, blood orange and a hint of savory spice flavors with a streak of herbaceousness.  The fruit comes from 20- to 30-year-old vines. 12.5% alcohol

Sparkling rose offers tremendous versatility at the table, but I think the streak of herbaceousness from the Cab Franc in this wine really helped it pair so well with the Chimichurri sauce.

And speaking of Chimchurri here’s the recipe I used…

Argentine Skirt Steak with Chimichurri
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Agrentenian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 3 oz flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped (about 1 bunch)
  • ½ cu olive oil
  • 3 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 4 cloves of garlic coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 lb. skirt or flap steak, trimmed
Instructions
  1. Place parsley, oil, vinegar, garlic and red pepper flakes in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Season with salt and pepper. Puree until mixture is almost smooth, about 1 minute.
  2. Set aside half of the marinade in an airtight container, reserve in the refrigerator to serve along side the finished meat.
  3. Place other half in non-reactive container with skirt steak making sure the steak is well covered. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 or 3 hours
  4. Heat grill to high. Remove steak from marinade and discard marinade. Place steak over medium-hot area of the grill and cook for about 5 minutes each side. Serve on platter with reserved marinade on top
Notes
I recommend doubling the amount of Chimichurri marinade/sauce. It's delicious!

Don’t stop here! Check out the food and wines my fellow #Winophile-s have in store for you!

  • Jeff from from foodwineclickindulges in “Saint-Jacques Poêlées & Sancerre”
  • Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere brings us “Grilled Salmon with Beurre Blanc and Loire Valley Muscadet”
  • Wendy from A Day in the Life on a Farm tempts us with “Vouvray Poached Pineapple with Rosemary Whipped Cream featuring Bardon and Guestier aka CIC meets French Winophiles”
  • David from Cooking Chat shares “Grilled Shrimp with Pouilly-Fumé
  • Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla brings us “Gravlax, Goat Cheese, & French Sorrel Stuffed Squash Blossoms + Patient Cottat Sancerre 2010″
  • Anna from Anna Dishes is still whipping up her culinary creation
  • Tammy from Telling Stories from Chez Nous is sharing “Lemon Garlic Chicken with Pan Sauce paired with Oisly & Thesse Sauvignon”
  • Christy at Confessions of a Culinary Diva is sharing “Chard Roasted Salmon with 2013 Pouilly Fume and 2014 Sancerre Rosé”

Join the #Winophile conversation: Follow the #Winophile conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you’re reading this early enough, you can join us today for a live Twitter chat on our theme Loire Valley on Saturday, June 20th, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m Pacific Time.

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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 Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc #DCVSauvBlanc

Last month, I was invited to participate in a virtual wine tasting on Twitter featuring three premium Sauvignon Blanc from Dry Creek Valley. The tasting featured winemakers Tim Bell of Dry Creek Vineyard, Emmett Reed of Gustafson Family Vineyards, and Ed Sbragia of Sbragia Family Vineyards. It was moderated by Michelle McCue, president of McCue Communications

I was delighted to receive the invitation because I’m a fan of Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc.  My wife and I have attended the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley’s annual Passport to Dry Creek Valley a handful of times, and we always find a few standout Sauvignon Blanc when we make the round of wineries.  A couple of perennial favorites that come to mind are produced by Quivira Vineyards and Mauritson.

Dry Creek Valley is most renown for Zinfandel, but what you may not realize is that Sauvignon Blanc is the most planted white grape in Dry Creek Valley. More than 25 wineries in the area produce wines from it, and it is widely recognized as a Dry Creek Valley signature white wine.

From the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley…

Around 1970, David Stare was the first to plant sauvignon blanc in Dry Creek Valley. He first purchased a prune farm, then took out the prune trees to start the winery project that is nowDry Creek Vineyard. When Stare settled in Sonoma County, there wasn’t much enthusiasm for sauvignon blanc in the state of California. In neighboring Napa Valley, Robert Mondavi had begun marketing a dry-style sauvignon blanc by the name of Fume Blanc in 1968. Stare was quick to follow suit, adopting this name for his first Dry Creek Vineyard release, in 1972.

Images courtesy of Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley

Stare’s interest caught the attention of others arriving in Dry Creek Valley. While taking classes at UC Davis, he became friends with fellow student, Lou Preston.  Their vineyard instructor, James Cook, stressed how important it is to match the grape variety to the land and climate on which it grows. Though many harbored doubts about sauvignon blanc’s potential for success, Stare prevailed. He convinced Preston to plant sauvignon blanc in his vineyard. Stare and Preston’s success growing the grape gradually led to national attention and their wines garnered awards.

The three wines were tasted represented the wonderful possibilities for vinifying Sauvignon Blanc,  One wine was 100% Sauvignon Blanc, another was a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvigon Musque (a more aromatic clone of Sauvignon Blanc), and 100 % Sauvignon Musque.  Some of the wine were fermented in stainless steel, others in oak, or a combination thereof.

DCVSauvBlancTrio

You can check out a recording of the live feed of the #DCVSauvBlanc tasting below:

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2013 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc DCV3
    Very pale yellow-green color and nicely aromatic with grapefruit, passionfruit, and hints of grass and pineapple aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied and between dry and off-dry with very good acidity and a wonderful texture. It shows grapefruit, lime, mandarin orange, and a kiss pineapple flavors with an appealing minerality. Medium finish. 100% Sauvignon Musque. 417 cases produced. Retail – $25 Very good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts
  • 2013 Gustafson Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Estate Heritage Tree Vineyard 
    Yellow gold color with low-key stone fruit, passionfruit, pineapple and a hint of grassy aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied, and fresh with a wonderful texture, and peach, passionfruit, honeydew, vanilla flavors. Medium + finish. Field blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc; 20% Sauvignon Musque 14.1% alcohol 350 cases produced Retail – $22 Very good; 86-88 pts
  • 2014 Sbragia Family Sauvignon Blanc Home Ranch 
    Pale yellow-green color with pungent gooseberry, grapefruit, green apple and a hint of grassy aromas. On the palate, it light to medium-bodied with bright acidity and grapefruit, passionfruit and lemongrass flavors. Medium finish 100% Sauvignon Blanc. 13.7% alcohol 200 cases produced Retail – $22 Very good; 86-88 pts

It was a delightful tasting!  Though I didn’t have time to enjoy any food during the tasting, Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most food friendly wines.  We always have a bottle on hand!

It pairs well with soft goat cheeses, grilled fish, shellfish, poultry, dishes accented, or dominated by green herbs such as dill, chives, or fennel, olive oil or cream-based pasta dishes (Seafood lasagna anyone?), a wide range of vegetarian fare and challenging to pair spring vegetables like asparagus and artichokes.

Discloure of Material Connection:  I received these wines free from the wineries and Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley as part of #DCVSauvBlanc Twitter 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.

Shrimp and Cheese Grits with Vietti Arneis #winePW

Wine Pairing Weekend is a monthly collaborative event for wine/food bloggers started by David Crowley of Cooking Chat.  It’s a great way to find food and wine pairings that work (or learn from the ones that don’t); along with tips on how to create your own food and wine pairing magic.  Valerie Quintanilla of GirlsGottaDrink.com is hosting this month’s #SummerofArneis theme featuring summer recipes that pair with Arneis.

On My Plate

Have you ever gotten a feeling that a certain type of wine would pair well with a certain dish?

I don’t exactly know why, but last month when the #SummerofArneis theme was announced, Shrimp and Grits popped into my head.  A couple of weeks thereafter, I was at a local winery that has an Arneis.  I took a sip.  Shrimp and Grits popped into my head again.

I knew I had to try the pairing!

For the uninitiated, Shrimp and Grits is classic dish of the American South with Native and African-American roots.  It was elevated from a humble and simple breakfast dish to haute cuisine in the 1980′s.

I used this recipe for Shrimp and Grits.

Except, when I went to my local grocery store, the only grits they had were instant.  I’m a grits purist from way back.  And instant grits just won’t do.

What’s the difference between grits and polenta? Not much it turns out…but enough to know there’s a difference. At least in texture, if not in flavor.

I used cornmeal instead, thinking it would be a solid substitution.  Alas, my “grits” turned out more like polenta than grits.  Ha! I suppose my recipe could be referred to as Shrimp and Cheese Polenta.  Let’s consider it a bridge between the American South and Italy!

Shrimp and Cheese Grits with Vietti Arneis #winePW

I’m afraid my “grits” may be polenta! Oh well…Buon Appetito!

In My Glass

Arneis (literally “little rascal” in Piemontese) is a white Italian grape varietal originating from Piemonte, Italy. It is most commonly found in the hills of the Roero, northwest of Alba. Arneis  is referred to as “little rascal” because it has a reputation for being somewhat difficult grape variety to grow. so-called because it is regarded as a somewhat difficult varietal to grow.  It is low-yielding, and susceptible to powdery mildew.

For centuries, the white Arneis grape has been added, in small quantities, to Nebbiolo wines soften the tannins and harshness of Barolo.  Traditionally Arneis vines were planted next to Nebbiolo vines largely as a form of protection; the Arneis grapes’ stronger fragrance distracted hungry birds and insects away from the more highly prized Nebbiolo vines..

The grape was approaching extinction until 1967, when the late Alfredo Currado, a member of the well-regarded Vietti wine family, took it upon himself to invest time and effort into rediscovering and understanding the grape.

Luca’s father Alfredo practically invented dry Arneis in 1967 and was responsible for rescuing the variety from extinction; previously Arneis had been vinified sweet. Another name for the variety is White Nebbiolo, suggesting that Arneis could have been an early mutation of the red variety.” – Stephen Tanzer

Today, the grape is more commonly seen as a varietal wine.  In fact, I’ve tried several Arneis from California wineries that I’ve very much enjoyed.

But, once I learned a bit about the history of the grape,  the Vietti family, and saw that it was available at my favorite wine shop, I knew I wanted to try the  Vietti Arneis Roero.

IMG_2867-001

My tasting notes follow:

Very pale green color with pretty stone fruit, white flower, citrus and a hint of hazelnut aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, crisp, persistent, moderately complex, and well structured. It shows peach, apricot, and bit of melon flavors with a complementary mineral note and wonderful length

The Pairing

Overall, this was good pairing – one I would categorize as somewhere between “peaceful co-existence” and “each one makes the other taste better”.  The Arneis was a wonderful complement to the flavors of the shrimp and vice-versa.  I think the issue was the strong cheddar cheese flavor in the grits/polenta. It overpowered the wine at times.  Had I used mild cheddar, or another milder cheese(s) or less of the sharp cheddar, I’m  sure this would have been a better pairing.

Next time!

Don’t stop here! Check more Summer Arneis Food Pairing Recipes!

Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you’re reading this early enough, you can join us today for a live Twitter chat on our theme #SummerofArneis on Saturday, June 13th, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m Pacific Time. You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later!

Wine Pairing Weekend July: Join us next month!

In July Americans celebrate Independence Day and the French celebrate Bastille Day. July’s Wine Pairing Weekend will take place on Saturday, July 11, led by Michelle Williams of Rockin Red Blog. The group will explore food and wine pairings from the United States and France. From Michelle, Get creative and make your favorite all American food and wine meal, your favorite all French food and wine meal, one of each or a combination of both! With these two regions the sky is the limit!

Wines At Our Table; Week of June 7th, 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; for the week ended June 7th, 2015.

2013 Sandlands Trousseau Noir - Retail – $28
Bing cherry color with appealing and lifted pomegranate, cherry aromas and floral aromas complemented by hints of clay, and mint. On the palate it’s light-bodied,refreshing and well structured with an elegant, savory, and alluring character. It shows pomegranate, cherry, a bit of spice flavor and very giving finish. Outstanding; 92-95 pts

2011 Carlisle Three Birds - Retail $23
Ruby color with smokey kirsch, baked plum, raspberry and a hint of white pepper aromas. On the palate, it medium-bodied with a supple texture, and dusty well-integrated tannins. It shows cherry, raspberry and sweet spice flavors with an appealing minerality, and a lengthy finish. Blend of 78% grenache, 16% mourvedre and 6% syrah, from 5 different sites. 14.9% alcohol. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

2011 Azienda Agricola Tenuta San Francesco Costa d’Amalfi Quattrospine Riserva Tramonti - Retail – $35
Garnet color with intriguing smoke, leather, baked mixed berry, white pepper, roast anise and a hint of balsamic. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and well structured with mouth-watering acidity, wonderful depth and richness with firm tannins owing to the Aglianico. It shows, black cherry, raspberry, licorice, peppery spice and bittersweet chocolate flavors and a very giving finish. A blend of Aglianico, Tintore and Piedirosso from pre-phylloxera 100 year-old vines. Outstanding; 92-95 pts

2013 Vietti Roero Arneis - Retail $23
Very pale yellow-green color with pretty stone fruit, white flower, citrus and a hint of hazelnut aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, crisp, persistent, moderately complex, and well structured. It shows peach, apricot, and bit of melon flavors with a complementary mineral note and wonderful length. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

Wine of the Week

It was a wonderful week for wine.  I always enjoy trying new to me grapes/wines.  I tried a couple from Italy that we winners.  The first was a white made from the Arneis grape.  I’ve enjoyed Arneis before, but this was my first from Italy, home of the grape!  The second was a red wine produced (mostly) from a grape I’ve enjoyed before Aglianico, but with a a couple of other new to me grapes(Tintore and Piedirosso) in the blend.  It never ceases to amaze me how many different grape varieties Italy has!  

The Carlisle Three Birds Rhone blend is a perennial favorite, and it offers very good value.

My Wine of the Week is the 2013 Sandlands Trousseau Noir.  If you’ve not had Trousseau (aka Bastardo – how’s that for a name!) The grape is indigenous to the Jura region of France.  The wines it can produce can be highly alcoholic, but this one was only 12.8% alcohol.  In terms of texture, it reminded me of Pinot Noir.  Fruit for this wine was sourced from the  Bohan Vineyard in Cazadero on the Sonoma Coast.  The vineyard is planted at 1400 feet and is about 3 miles from the Pacific Ocean.  The Trousseau sits in gravelly loam soils derived from sandstone and shale. 5 barrels produced.

Sandlands is the personal project of Tegan and Olivia Passalacqua. The line-up encompasses the forgotten classic California varieties, primarily grown in decomposed granite (sand), from regions and vineyards that have been farmed for many generations but have remained the outliers of California viticulture. 

Primarily head-trained, dry-farmed and own rooted, the vineyards we work with harken back to California’s roots of exploration, wonder, and hard work.

Wines At Our Table; June 7th, 2015

Passalacqua’s “day job” is winemaker and viticulturist  for Turley Wine Cellars. He, along with Morgan Twain-Peterson of Bedrock Wine Co., were just honored as Winemakers of the Year by San Francisco Chronicle Wine Editor, Jon Bonné.  He was also featured prominently in Bonné’sThe New California Wine – A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste. 

They don’t make much wine.  But what they do make that I’ve been able to try has been fantastic stuff.  Highly recommended.

Sandlands wines are available via a mailing list

My Food and Wine Pairing of the Week is the Tenuta San Francesco Quattrospine Riserva Tramonti with Polenta and Sausage Ragu.

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 Taste of Campania #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 Campania!

A Taste of Campania

Source: www.ravello.com

The region of Campania stretches over a wonderfully varied area of Italy, covering coastal areas as well as fertile and beautiful plains further inland, embracing the peace and picturesque tranquility of CapriIschia the Amalfi coast, the city and province of Naples including Pompeii, with the furies and glories of Vesuvio. - www.italyguides

This month I decided to try both, a white and red wine from Campania.  Both the wines have coastal origins. The white wine is from Ischia D.O.C. on the eponymous island in the Bay of Naples. The red wine is from the Costa d’Amalfi D.O.C.

Let’s start with the white. The 2013 Casa d’Ambra “Frassitelli” is made from 100 % Biancolella.   

Not familiar with the Biancolella grape? Me neither!

Casa d’Ambra is one of the great estates of Italy and represents a gem of viticulture found on the tiny island of Ischia off the coast of Naples. The D’Ambra family has accepted the most difficult conditions for growing and harvested their wide array of indigenous grapes. Vineyards are located on the volcanic cliffs of the island that rise up to a dramatic 600 meters above sea level. The scenery is absolutely stunning with trellised vines overlooking an azure seascape – Wine Advocate

It’s a grape believed to be of Greek origin that has been grown in Campania for hundreds of years. It reaches its purest expression on the Island of Ischia grows where it grows in terraced vineyards on volcanic soils and is produced as varietal wine with plenty of character.

A Taste of Campania

My tasting notes follow:

Pale golden color with restrained honey, yellow apple, sea breeze and wet stone aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and focused with a wonderful texture and good acidity with apricot, yellow apple, lemon oil, honey, and a bit of almond flavors with a mineral driven lingering finish.  Very good to outstanding (89-91pts)

I paired this wine with a Campanian cheese – Paglierino.  It’s a Pecorino (hard Italian cheese made from 100% sheeps milk) produced by Casa Madaio, a fourth generation cheesemaker and affineur situated in the stunning National Park of Cilento, near the Amalfi coast.

I topped the cheese with quince paste I happened to have on hand.  The cheese has a slightly sweet, nutty,subtle brown butter, and low-key grassy sheepyness that; together with the quince paste and a sip of the wine was an amazing pairing!  This is a wine that I’d love to try with seafood or mixed paella!

DSCN1223

Can you imagine starting the day overlooking azure waters of the Gulf of Salerno, then going wine tasting and sight-seeing in the ancient village of Tramonti?  That’s my kind of day!

A Taste of Campania

The Amalfi Coast is perched on the coastline of the southern coast of Sorrentine Peninsula in the Province of Salerno; Source: www.truthsimplified.com

There you’ll find Tenuta San Francesco, the producer of the 2011 Costa d’Amalfi Tramonti Riserva Quattro Spine.  Tenuta San Francesco vineyards  are planted to indigenous red and white varietals including the Aglianico, Tintore and Piedirosso that make up the Quattrospine or “4 Spine.”  The 100-year-old pre-phylloxera vines grown in a unique pergola system are like nothing you’ve seen before.

A Taste of Campania

2011 Azienda Agricola Tenuta San Francesco Costa d’Amalfi Quattrospine Riserva Tramonti

My tasting notes follow:

Garnet color with intriguing smoke, leather, baked mixed berry, white pepper, roast anise and a hint of balsamic. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and well structured with mouth-watering acidity, wonderful depth and richness with firm tannins owing to the Aglianico. It shows candied black cherry, raspberry, licorice, peppery spice and bittersweet chocolate flavors and a very giving finish. Outstanding (92-95 pts)

I paired the wine with a specialty of the Campania region – Spaghetti alla Puttanesca (Note: I didn’t have any anchovies on hand, so I substituted anchovy paste).

DSCN1246

According to Rachel Ray…This sauce is named for ladies of the night. They would place pots of it in their windows to tempt men into the bordellos. I like it because it’s spicy, fast and easy (no disrespect to the ladies).  But it seems as though story behind the origins of Puttanesca sauce is situation where one doesn’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. Check out food historian Jeremy Parzen’s well researched post on the etymology of “sugo alla puttanesca” (“whoreish sauce”) for the most likely origin of spaghetti Puttanesca, which it turns out likely to have originated on the island of Ischia!

The wine was a very good pairing with the dish, but I couldn’t help but feel it would have been an even better pairing with grilled meats, heartier tomato based pasta dishes, roasts, grilled and braised meats such as lamb, or stews of game and beef.  Even veal and pork dishes, if accented with rustic spices, would  pair very well with this wine.

The first Saturday of each month, the #ItalianFWT bloggers visit a region of Italy. Check out the other posts about Campania:

We’d love to have you join our Twitter Chat Saturday, June 6, at 11 a.m Eastern time/ 5 p.m. Italian time. Some of our bloggers had last minute computer troubles so we may be a bit quieter than usual! Blogs that were posted as of Saturday 6/6, 7 a.m. ET have live links to their posts in the list above; check back as the others will be sharing their posts soon!

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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 May 31st, 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; for the week ended May 31st, 2015.

2011 Carlisle The Derivative White - Retail $28
Consistent with prior review – Lemon yellow color with intriguing pear, lychee, lemon oil, grapefruit pith, and a subtle bergamot leaf aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied, and wonderfully textured with very good acidity and charming apricot, orange,and grapefruit and mineral flavors. and fl Blend of 66% Semillon, 24% Muscadelle, and 10% Chaselas (aka Palomino); It’s a modern-day version of Hock, a white blend that was popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s 13.7% alcohol Outstanding; 92-95 pts

2009 Copain Pinot Noir Les Voisins - Retail $42
Dark ruby color fading toward tawny at the rim with appealing earthy, savory cardamom laced red fruits, plum, and sandalwood aromas on the palate it’s medium bodied and harmonious fruit.acidity and velvety tannins with bing cherry, plum, raspberry spice and a pleasing minerality. Lingering finish.Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

2011 Buehler Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Papa’s Knoll - Retail $45
Garnet color, and nicely aromatic with black fruit, leather, spice and toasty oak aromas and just touch of heat. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with a supple texture, very good acidity and soft well-integrated tannins. It shows black currant, blackberry, black cherry, cassis and a bit of spice flavors.  Very good; 86-88 pts

2013 Kosta Browne Chardonnay One Sixteen - Retail $58
Pale golden color with appealing apple, melon, mandarin orange, key lime zest, and a bit of orange blossom aromas. On the palate, it’s rich, round, and shows generous acidity with ample melon, mandarin orange, key lime zest, vanilla and a bit of brown spice flavors. Flat out delicious! Long finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

Wine of the Week

It was a delightful week for wine!  That was due to both the quality of the wines, and the location in which a couple of them were consumed…Kauai!

This is the second time we’ve brought Carlisle’s Derivative on a trip with us.  It’s a food friendly delicious white blend that pairs well with seafood, and I knew there would be plenty of that to be had.  Likewise, if you’re in BYOB mode for travel, you Pinot Noir is always a good choice, and Copain Pinot Noir is a great choice IMHO!  If you’re looking to get off the well-worn and beaten path in Napa Valley, they’ve got some very good wines, and great property, and you’ll get a great tour…for free (well the wines is not free)!

My Wine of the Week is the 2013 Kosta Browne Chardonnay One Sixteen. Sebastopol-based Kosta Browne Winery makes some of California’s most in-demand wines.  The winery has made a name for itself by offering high-end pinot noir sold on a direct-to-consumer model, accounting for about 90 percent of sales. The other 10 percent of its wine is sold in restaurants.  They opened a new winery was in 2013 at The Barlow in Sebastopol, occupying three buildings that are customized to suit the winery’s needs. The winery is not open to the public.  The winery is operations are run by original partners Dan Kosta, Michael Browne and Chris Costello.

How in demand are the wines?

According to Kosta Browne...”Generally, the wait for the Appellation wines is 2-3 years and the wait for the Single Vineyard wines is another 3-5 years beyond that”  But we spent about 4.5 years on the wait list before we were able to order the Appellation wines (two Pinot Noirs; one each from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast, and this wine)

We spent about 4.5 years on the waiting list before we were able to order our first wines

Flavorful, intense wines – that is our goal. We believe every wine should be bursting with flavor. This intensity should be part of a greater balance. We find that each of our vineyards has its own “sweet spot” of balance. It is our charge to guide each vineyard to its optimum flavor potential. – Kosta Browne

The wine is named after the Gravenstein Highway 116 which cuts through the town of Sebastapol.  Grapes for this wine were sourced from  various vineyard sites in Russian River Valley including, Boudreaux, Charles Ranch, El Diablo, Keefer, Ritchie, Ulises Valdez and Zio Tony vineyards. Multiple clones are utilized depending on the vineyard. It’s  95% barrel fermented and aged in 39% new French oak for 15 months, 5% concrete fermented. ·

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This wine paired very well with Spicy Tuna Poke!

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

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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, 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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.