Chablis:The Spirit of Chardonnay – In The Glass And At The Table

I love minerally, acid-driven white wines. They are refreshing and delicious on their own, and a great companion for a wide variety of foods at the table.

So, I was thrilled when I received four sample bottles of Chablis from Pure Chablis a couple of months back.

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About Chablis

Pure Chablis is a trade organization that promotes and strengthens the image of Chablis wine in the US. Their motto is “Pure Chablis, one grape, one region, one of a kind. Pure Chablis, only from France”

The groups advocacy for Chablis is necessary because here in the US, there are cheap jug wines labeled as either “Chablis” or “White Burgundy”  that are misleading consumers and giving the Chablis “brand” a bad name.

So what, exactly is Chablis? Here’s an overview of the region…

Chablis Map

  • Wine has been made in Chablis for centuries.  The founding of the village of Chablis dates back to Roman times, as do Chablis’ wines.
  • It’s the northernmost subregion of Burgundy.  It located in the Yonne department between Paris and Beaune, a short hop from the Champagne region.
  • Chardonnay is the only grape variety permitted in Chablis
  • Granted AOC (appellation) status in 1938
  • What gives the region its unique “terroir” is a combination of its climate (harsh, cold and wet), and its clay soil referred to as Kimmeridge clay, that is composed of limestone, clay and fossilized oyster shells.

A unique territory and terroir - Image courtesy of Pure Chablis

A unique territory and terroir – Image courtesy of Pure Chablis

  • Chablis has four appellations (in ascending order of quality, power and depth)
    1. Petit Chablis – Represents an entry-level Chablis.  Intended to be consumed young. Vineyards are located on flat ground.
    2. Chablis – The grapes for this level are grown on north and east-facing hills.  These wines tend to show a bit more minerality, due to the high limestone content in the soil of the region.
    3. Chablis Premier Cru – The grapes for this level are grown on south and west-facing hills.  As the name suggests, this level of quality takes it up a notch and produces wine with better aging potential.
    4. Chablis Grand Cru – This is the upper echelon of Chablis, with only about 230 acres situated on one hill, on the north bank of the Serein River.  There are only seven vineyards from which to source the Grand Cru Chablis grapes. This level has the greatest potential for aging.

And in my mind, nowhere in the world does the spirit of Chardonnay manifest itself better than Chablis.  That’s because of its unique terroir and because the wines rarely reveal any oak.   Instead Chablis is strongly influenced by its Kimmeridge soil that was a seabed some 150 million years ago. The result is wines that show a distinct sense of place and a minerality that I love.  I also think most of the wines end to be wonderfully undervalued.  There are plenty of very good to outstanding bottles to be had for under $20, and even the more expense Premier and Grand Cru bottles excellent relative value.

Chablis is Chardonnay, but not every Chardonnay is Chablis“ – Rosemary George,MW

 

Chablis In The Glass And At The Table

In the past I’ve mostly enjoyed Chablis as an aperitif, or with a typical food pairing for such as oysters, snails, light seafood dishes, and poultry.  But with its high acidity, I wanted to try it with some other food.

So, over the course of a couple of months, I paired it with a variety of foods/cuisines.  My tasting notes and the results of the pairings follow:

2014 Domaine Servin Chablis Les Pargues – France, Burgundy, Chablis
Very pale yellow-green color with beautiful hay, white flower, green apple, citrus and wet stone aromas. On the palate, it’s taut, and focused with mouth-watering acidity, and wonderful minerality with green apple, lemon and a hint of peach flavors. Long finish. (90 pts.)  Great QPR at $20 SRP!

The wine paired well with a homemade Salmon Burger.  Pairing the wine with a Chablis rather than a lighter bodied  Petit Chablis was a good choice.  

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A homemade Salmon burger! Yum!

2014 Jean-Marc Brocard Petit Chablis – France, Burgundy, Chablis, Petit Chablis
Very pale yello-green color with restrained apple, citrus and slate aromas. On the palate it’s light-bodied and fresh with apple, lime, a hint of grapefruit and under ripe white peach flavors and a solid satisfying finish. (87 pts.)

The wine was a very good paired with a few sushi rolls from our local favorite Japanese restaurant

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Take out sushi from our favorite Japanese restaurant

2014 Domaine Bernard Defaix Petit Chablis – France, Burgundy, Chablis, Petit Chablis
Very pale green color with wet clay, bruised apple, chalk and lime aromas. On the palate it’s very fresh with an appealing minerality, and green apple, lime and a hint of white peach peeking through. (88 pts.)

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We paired this wine with take out Thai food. It paired especially well with pad Thai and crab fried rice.  And it found what I call “peaceful coexistence” with yellow curry and lemon fish.  This was a bit of an eye-opener. In the past I’ve typically paired Thai food with Riesling, Gewürztraminer or perhaps a Viognier. Chablis is now on my list too!

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Thai take out with Pad Thai, crab-fried rice and lemon fish

2014 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis – France, Burgundy, Chablis
Very pale green color with buttered toast, green apple, lemon, lime and wet stone aromas. On the palate it’s approaches medium-bodied and is very fresh with green apple, mixed citrus and a hint of white peach flavors and an appealing minerality with a lingering finish. (90 pts.) Great QPR at $20!

We paired this with take out savory crepes from a local creperie.  It was an excellent match for both a Greek crepe of grilled eggplant, asparagus and tomatoes with feta cheese in pesto sauce, and a Florentine crepe of spinach and mushroom with mozzarella in pesto sauce

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A Greek crepe – grilled eggplant, asparagus and tomatoes with feta cheese in pesto sauce

My takeaway?  While Chablis has a well deserved reputation for being a great aperitif and an excellent match with fish, shellfish and light poultry dishes, it’s a more than capable partner at the table for a wide variety of dishes.  

For some great tips on matching food and Chablis click here

Check out the video below for more information about Chablis!

Wines provided as a samples for review.  Many thanks to Pure Chablis, the Chablis Commission and the BIVB!

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine Pairing Recommendations For #SundaySupper Regional Specialties

This week, the Sunday Supper taste makers are celebrating regional food specialties. Foodies believe there is no better way to get to know an area than to experience what the “natives” eat.  The Sunday Supper family is sharing more than 40 wonderful dishes they grew up eating or learned to love while visiting or living in a specific area.

I love this theme because I believe, in many ways, you can come to know something about the people of a place through the food and wine of that place.

Here are my general tips for How To Sensibly Pair Food And Wine.

Regional Food and Wine Pairing

Image courtesy of kuvo.org

My wine pairing recommendations follow:

Pair the appetizers, breakfast items, salads, soups, and side dishes below with a glass of sparkling wine. Sparkling wines are the Swiss Army knife of wines in my book.  They are a good match for virtually anything   And enjoying a glass of bubbly will not only elevate your meal, it’s the only wine that’s socially acceptable to enjoy with any meal). Look for Gruet Blanc de Noir. It’s blend of mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with a lovely pale salmon color and an enticing, rich raspberry, baked pear and toasty vanilla character.  

Appetizers:

Beverages:

Breakfast:

Salads:

Sauces:

Side Dishes:

Soups:

Main Dishes:

Pair the dishes below with Pinot Grigio.  I like the Kirkland Pinot Grigio, Friuli.  It’s a Pinot Grigio from the Friuli region in the far north-eastern corner of Italy. I think it’s one of the best regions for Pinot Grigio in Italy.  The Kirkland Pinot Grigio opens with aromas of apple, peach, clarified butter and wet stones.  In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied, fresh and fruity with apple, and pear flavors and an appealing minerality.

Pair the following dishes with Riesling. A perennial favorite of mine is the Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Riesling Eroica.  It offers calamansi, mandarin orange, and tropical fruit aromas. on the palate it’s off-dry (slightly sweet) with mouth-watering acidity and tropical fruit, citrus, and honey flavors.

Pair these dishes with a medium-bodied Chardonnay with good acidity.  Look for the Columbia Crest H3 Chardonnay.  It opens with aromas of spiced pear and freshly sliced apples with a hint of honey.  In the mouth, it shows spiced peach, apple, citrus, tropical fruit, and vanilla flavors.

It’s not hard to imagine myself dining al fresco enjoying a chilled glass of a food friendly Rosé with the dishes below.  A perennial favorite is Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare.  It’s a blend of both red and white Rhone grape varieties with a refreshing, savory Alpine strawberry, and citrus character. 

When I saw these two dishes, the first thought that came to mind is the tried and true food pairing guideline “what grows together, goes together”.  So an Italian wine made from the Barbera grape came to mind.  Barbera tends to be a light-bodied, juicy wine.  Look for the 2012 Terre da Vino “La Luna e I Falò” Barbera d’Asti Superiore from Italy.  It has lush, savory black cherry, plum, and licorice character.

Pair the dishes below with a Malbec. I recently enjoyed the 2013 Catena Malbec from Argentina.  It’s a textbook smooth and supple Malbec with very appealing black cherry, blackberry, plum, dark chocolate and vanilla character. 

Pair the dishes below with a Rioja from Spain. The primary red wine grape in Rioja is Tempranillo. When I look for a value in a food-friendly wine, Spain is at the top of my list. Look for the  2010 Marqués de Murrieta Reserva Rioja.  It’s produced by one of the two oldest, historical bodegas that put Rioja on the map in the mid-19th century.  It’s a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano with a perfumed, spicy, savory red cherry, licorice and vanilla character.  

Pair these dishes with a red wine blend.  Look for the Michael David Petit Petite. It’s an intriguing blend of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot from the 2015 Wine Enthusiast Region of the Year, Lodi. It’s a rich, full-bodied wine with gobs of pure black fruit, cacao and vanilla flavors. 

Desserts:

When it comes to dessert, it’s often best to pair your favorite dessert with a cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk!  But pairing dessert with a dessert wine can make your favorite dessert even better.  Here are three recommendations that I believe will

Here are some guidelines and recommendations for desserts. There are three factors to consider: sweetness (a dessert wine should be sweeter than the dessert itself), acidity (an acidic wine may pair best with a fruit dish, which also has natural acidity), intensity (the more intense the flavors of a dessert, the more intense the wine), and color ( in general the darker the dessert, the darker the dessert wine should be)

For a mild, light, buttery dessert such as custard, meringue or where vanilla plays a prominent role, I recommend a Moscato d’ Asti, a semi-sweet, lightly sparkling, low-alcohol wine from Piedmont, Italy.  Look for the 2015 Saracco Moscato d’Asti.

For desserts featuring pome, or orchard fruit and cinnamon spice, look for a late harvest or ice-wine style Riesling.  Try the Pacific Rim Vin de Glaciere Riesling.

For dark, buttery, caramelized, nutty, and rich desserts try a Port. Look for the Fonseca Bin No. 27 Port from Portugal.

For frosted cakes or cupcakes, pair the wine to the frosting (i.e for chocolate, peanut butter,  or toffee frosting go with a Port, for vanilla, coconut, whipped cream, sugar cream type frosting go with a Moscato d’Asti or late harvest riesling.

Plus Rhubarb Steamed Pudding and Favorite Regional Recipes from Sunday Supper Movement

What are your favorite regional recipes? What about regional wines?

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper

A Taste of Loire; Saumur-Champigny #Winophiles

The French Winophiles is doing a deep-dive into the Loire Valley region.  The Loire Valley is divided in to five distinct regions – Pay Nantais (which we explored last month), Anjou, Saumur, Touraine, and Centre- Loire.  This month we’re exploring the Anjou and Saumur region.  I chose a wine from the Saumur-Champigny sub-region of Saumur. 

I chose Saumur-Champigny because it’s an appellation that specializes in Cabernet Franc, a grape variety I adore.   And Loire Valley Cabernet Franc renown for its inherent lightness and freshness, which makes it versatile at the table.  I’ve also found that un-oaked Cabernet Franc is among the handful of red wines that takes a chill well, furthering its appeal in my eyes.

Note: If you’re  a Cabernet Franc fan, There are four appellations in the Loire Valley that specialize in Cabernet Franc; aside from Saumur-Champigny from the Saumur region,  look for wines with Chinon, Bourgueil, Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil on the label from the Touraine region.

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About Saumur-Champigny

Saumur-Champigny, created in 1957, is a red wine appellation in the Saumur region. The wines are made predominantly from Cabernet Franc, with a permitted (if rarely used) addition of up to 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon or Pineau d’Aunis (sometimes called Chenin Noir here). They are typically light or medium bodied, and characterized by crisp acidity and forward, slightly spicy, berry fruit flavors. The grapes come from about 3700 acres (1500ha) of vineyards located within the parishes of Saumur and Champigny and six of their immediate neighbors. Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg is the most southerly of these and its vineyards are one of the core sources of Saumur-Champigny wine.

Cabernet Franc is put to some of its best use in Saumur-Champigny, which is the Anjou’s answer to Chinon, and one of the best red wine appellations of the Loire.

The terroir around Champigny is vital to the production of wines in this style and is the reason the area was singled out for its own independent appellation. A low plateau of tuffeau – the yellowish metamorphic rock so distinctive of the central Loire region – rises up at the eastern edge of Saumur town and continues almost uninterrupted for seven miles (11km) to the village of Candes Saint-Martin. This sandy, porous rock is the key to much of the Saumur wine character; it regulates water supply to the vines by immediately absorbing excess water and retaining it for use in the driest periods. Vines growing in tuffeau-rich soils rarely suffer from excess water stress but also benefit from dry, free-draining soils.

The climate around Saumur is moderated by a slight maritime influence from the Atlantic Ocean, albeit reduced by the intervening 100 miles (160km) of low-lying fields and woodland. In summer, however, the slow-moving waters of the Loire do little to combat the high temperatures. According to local folklore, it was this midsummer heat that gave Champigny its original Latin name: Campus Ignis (“Field of Fire”). (Source: winesearcher.com)

In my glass

2012 Château du Hureau Saumur-Champigny Tuffe

The Château du Hureau is located in the small town of Dampierre sur Loire, about four miles east of Saumur and 15 miles west of Chinon. The Château itself is an impressive sight, with its 18th-century Mansard roof and octagonal tower topped by a boar-headed weathercock, from which the domaine takes its name–a hureau is an old, solitary wild boar. Behind the Château sits the winery carved out of the limestone cliffs in the 13th century and overlooking the Loire river. For wine lovers, the cave is even more impressive than the Château, with numerous paths leading to carved out caverns housing stainless steel vinification equipment and lines of barrels…Seventeen hectares (42 acres) including 21 separate vineyard plots are spread around the towns of Dampierre Sur Loire, Souzay, Champigny and Saumur and are planted with Cabernet Franc. What links all of the plots is “tuffeau” (tufa/limestone), a kind of soft chalk from the Cretaceous period (146 to 65 million years ago). In Latin “creta” means chalk. The underlying tuffeau is the overriding factor in Saumur-Champigny’s distinctive quality, it also provides the name for this beautiful red. (Source: K&L Wine Merchants)

Chateau H Loire

This is the Chateau’s “entry-level” wine.  The fruit is from organically farmed vineyard.  It’s fermented on indigenous yeast and is raised in concrete tanks between 10-20 months.  12.6% alcohol.  SRP – $16

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My tasting note:

Ruby-purple colour with appealing cassis, black cherry, and mineral aromas with hint of dried rose and spice. On the palate it’s between light and medium-bodied, pure, fresh, and moreish (it took considerable constraint for my wife and I not to finish the bottle in one evening) with chalky tannins and a core of cassis, black and red cherry flavors and very good length. Wonderful value here, especially for a 100% Cab Franc! Will buy more!

On my plate

I decided I wanted an entree salad for dinner.  Now you may be thinking – a meatless salad and red wine…Noooo!?

Here’s how I made it work. I chose a Roasted Asparagus Salad from MyRecipes.com. Asparagus takes on a dramatically different flavor profile when it is roasted or grilled.(as opposed to steaming or boiling). While steamed asparagus has a grassy character, grilled asparagus takes on a delicious, meaty flavor profile. And I was counting on that transformation when I considered pairing a red wine with my entree salad.

To further increase my odds for a successful meatless salad and red wine pairing, I added some roasted eggplant cubes, which I thought would add further increase the “meatiness” of the salad.  Other modifications I made to the recipe  included grilling the asparagus rather than roasting (I also decided to grill a tri-tip, and since the grill was hot..), substituting blackberry “balsalmic” vinegar for balsamic, and using chopped romaine instead of bibb lettuce – the latter two because that’s what I had on hand.

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The pairing

First,  the salad turned out remarkably well! I was very pleased with the pairing! The salad was dominated by the grilled asparagus and roasted eggplant, which gave the salad a “meaty” qualiyt in terms of texture and to some degree taste because of the charred bits on the asparagus.  Likewise for the roasted eggplant. The wine was a great match for both the salad and the tri-tip steak!

Check out what my fellow French #Winophiles discovered about Anjou and Saumur on their virtual journey through the Loire Valley!

Join us on Saturday, April 16th for a live Twitter Chat at 8 am PST/11 am EST using hashtag #Winophiles to share your favorite wines, food, and travel experiences from the Anjou/Saumur regions.  

Join us for our upcoming tour of the Loire Valley: May 21st – Touraine/Vouvray; June 18th  – Upper Loire – Cheverny, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume/Pouilly-Sur-Loire

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

A Tavel Paired with Spring BBQ #WinePW

We’re pairing fresh, seasonal spring foods with wines from the diverse and fascinating Southern Rhône region of France.

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. Jill Barth of from L’occasion is hosting this month’s Spring Meal Pairings for Southern Rhône Wines theme.  

On my plate

It was a sunny warm day in the Bay Area last weekend. And I was in the mood for smoked meat!  When I’m in such mood, I usually smoke pork ribs in my Weber.  But I was looking for a healthier option and I wanted to try something new.

I decided to smoke some chicken (which I’ve always barbecued).

The wine was no brainer for me.  I adore rosé, which I drink year-round, so that was my choice for my Spring BBQ plate of Smoked chicken, Potato Salad, and Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Chips.

In my glass

Provence was top of mind, but when I think of rose from Provence I think of light-bodied rose with a character that is closer to a white wine than a red wine.  With the smoked chicken, I wanted a more substantial rose that was closer in character to a red wine.

My thoughts then shifted to Bandol and Tavel. Then I learned (I’d not really thought about it before given the the fact that Provence and the Southern Rhone share geographic proximity) that Provence isn’t considered to be part of the Rhone.  And since Bandol is in Provence…Tavel was the last man standing so to speak.  And that was just fine with me! I’m a big fan of Tavel.

Image source; http://www.goodfoodrevolution.com/tavel-rose-intro/

Image courtesy of goodfoodrevolution.com

About Tavel

Tavel is a tiny, sleepy town of less than 2,000 sandwiched between the Languedoc and Provence in the southern Rhône Valley across the Rhône River from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and just north of Avignon.

Tavel’s vineyards date back to the Greek era and the 5th Century BC.  During the middle ages, wines from the region were a staple of the ancient papal court in nearby Avignon and a favorite of Louis XIV and Philippe le Bel  – so much so that they decreed that nothing else should be produced. To this day, Tavel is synonymous with rosé.  In fact, this AOC created in 1936, has dubbed themselves “Le Roi des Rosés” – “ The King of Roses”.

Gorgeous Tavel dresses in a thousand shades of pink to seduce and captivate the senses. Luminous like no other wine, it inspires the chef, the eater and the eaten. – Christophe Tassan; Sommelier and Rhone Ambassador

It is one of the 18 crus (meaning it truly express their individual ‘terroir’) of Rhone, putting in on par with the likes of the more renown crus such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and Côte-Rôtie. It  is the only communal appellation in France exclusively for rosé wines.

Grenache reigns as the primary varietal for the Tavel blends. Cinsault, Mourvedre, Syrah & a few other Rhone varieties are often used in smaller amounts.  The wines contain a maximum 60% Grenache, and have a maximum alcohol content of 13.5%. The best examples of Tavel – always bone dry – combine freshness with complexity of fruit and intensity.  And most, when cellared correctly, will improve for several years in bottle.

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My tasting notes:

2014 Cave de Tavel Lauzeraies – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Tavel 
Deep pink-red color with strawberry, cherry, and a hint of rose aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with strawberry, cherry, white pepper, spice and a hint of citrus flavors.  Blend of  50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Cinsault, 10% Mourvedre.  A steal for $10 (no doubt because it’s from the 2014 vintage)  Very Good ; 88-89 pts.  Will buy more!

The food and wine pairing

In a word pairing of my Spring BBQ plate of smoked chicken, potato salad, and potato chips was “Scrumdiddlyumptious! It was a great pairing. I love a robust rose with some weight for BBQ. And this Tavel is was great example of the weight of the wine being a match for the weight of the food.  It is truly un vin gastronomique!

Check out the other food and wine pairing put together by the other Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers for this month’s Spring Meal Pairings for Southern Rhône Wines theme.

If you’re up early join us Saturday, April 9th at 11 am EST/8 PST for a live Twitter chatter using #WinePW.  Anyone interested in food and wine pairing is welcome to join the chat.  For a list of past and upcoming #winePW events, visit the Wine Pairing Weekend calendar here. We’d love to have you online with us!

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wines At Our Table; Week of April 2, 2016

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 (WoW) – 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 April 2, 2016

2010 Jordan Vineyard & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley – USA, California, Sonoma County, Alexander Valley  
Violet color with appealing cassis, black cherry aromas with hints of violets and cedar wood. On the palate it’s elegant, with well balanced acidity sweet well integrated tannins and silky texture. It’s all too easy to drink with black cherry, cassis, and vanilla flavors, and a lingering finish. 13.5% 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec. Fruit sourced from 85% Alexander Valley, 12% Mendocino County, 3% Dry Creek Valley.SRP; $65 Very Good to Outstanding; 89-90 pts

2011 Overland Wine Company Petite Sirah Kick Ranch – USA, California, Sonoma County  
Opaque black red color with very appealing black fruit, briar, violet, dark roast coffee and dark chocolate aromas on the palate it’s energetic and surprisingly light on its feet with well integrated dusty tannins with blackberry,blueberry compote, plum, black cherry , vanilla and a hint of dark chocolate flavor and a long sweet slightly spicy mineral laced finish 2 years on French oak. SRP; $36 15% alcohol Outstanding; 91-92 pts.

2014 Cave de Tavel Tavel Lauzeraies – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Tavel 
Deep pink-red color with strawberry, cherry, and a hint of rose aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with strawberry, cherry, white pepper, spice and a hint of citrus flavors.  SRP; $10 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Cinsault, 10% Mourvedre. Very Good ; 88-89 pts

2013 Carlisle Syrah Sierra Mar Santa Lucia Highlands – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands  
Nearly opaque ruby purple color with very appealing blackberry,cassis, , violet, and white pepper aromas with hints of olive tapenade. On the palate it’s leans toward medium-bodied with ample fruit and enough acidity, dusty tannins with a savory edge to keep it in harmony. It shows bright blackberry, blueberry compote, cassis, licorice, vanilla and spice flavors and a long finish. SRP; $43 30% whole cluster. Raised in French Oak, 21% new. 15.7% alcohol Outstanding; 92-93 pts.

-Wine of the Week-

Do you ever come “back” to a wine after years of not having it?  One of two things can happen. You realize you miss the wine.  Or you remember why you don’t. Fortunately, after not having had a Tavel rose for years, I realized I missed them.  Tavel is a wine region is the Southern Rhone that specializes in rose.  I picked up the Cave de Tavel Lauzeraies from K&L Wine Merchants for $10 because it was a 2014.  I’ve already picked up a couple of more bottles!  Keeping with the coming back to a wine theme, It was the same thing with the Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s been years since I’ve had it.  It’s very good to outstanding, but I can think of several Cabs I like as much, if not more, for the $65 SRP (it was a Christmas gift). The Carlisle Syrah Sierra Mar SLH fantastic. We brought a bottle to dinner with friends last weekend.  Unfortunately, I accidentally pulled a ’13 from the cellar instead of a ’11 I intended to pull.  While very approachable now, the wine will get better with time.

My Wine of the Week is the 2011 Overland Petite Sirah.  I actually won this bottle of wine via a raffle at the 2015 Dark and Delicious Petite Sirah event. I was introduced to Overland Wine at that event.  It was one of the very best of the 40-50 Petite Sirahs I tasted!

Sadly, there was no Bay Area edition of event this year.

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More About Overland Wine Company

Dick Keenan and his wife, Kathy McNamara make Overland wines from their Kick Ranch vineyard in Sonoma County.  They grow and sell small lots of ultra premium grapes to select wineries in Sonoma and Napa, California.

Kick Ranch Vineyard

Image courtesy of Overland Wine

From the winery…Overland’s mission is to make bold, flavorful wines that show why the Kick Ranch vineyard is a source for extraordinary wines.

Overland’s name and labels honor the spirit of discovery and risk taking that marked the Nineteenth Century Westward Migration in America.  Kick Ranch was first settled by a pioneer family that walked overland almost 2000 miles on the western trails that began on the Missouri River near Omaha, Nebraska.  They walked across America to start a new life, and they bought the land we now farm.  By 1875, those pioneers had planted 25 acres of vineyards.  Over the years, whether due to Prohibition or changes in fortune, the vines disappeared.  As it turns out, we didn’t plant Kick Ranch, we restored it to a purpose and focus first set over 125 years earlier.

Ten years after our first harvest, we released our first Overland wines.  In creating a label and the Overland brand, we wanted to honor not only the pioneers who journeyed so far but all who work hard at whatever they do and bring effort and optimism to all that they do.  

So we make “Wines of Effort, Promise and Optimism.”  We make our wines for wine enthusiasts and in particular those interested in a unique Sonoma County wine experience – by offering visits to Kick Ranch for unique tastings and events and by also promoting the talented winemakers who also make Kick Ranch vineyard designated wines.

Over the years, I’ve had many Kick Ranch designated wines. First from Rosenblum, then Carica, and most recently Bedrock Wine Co.  All the wines are been fantastic!  As the saying goes…”great wine starts in the vineyard”!

My Food and Wine Pairing of the Week was the Tavel Lauzeraies paired with Smoked Chicken!  Scrumdiddlyumptious!

 What was your Wine of the Week?

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wines At Our Table; Week of March 20, 2016

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 (WoW) – 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 March 20th, 2016

2013 Tablas Creek Syrah – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
Violet color with promising dark fruit, white pepper, olive tapenade, and a hint of cedar wood aromas. On the palate it’s smooth, harmonious, and fresh with blackberry, black raspberry, cassis, and spice flavors with subtle minerality, and a long finish Outstanding; 90-91 ptspts.

2009 E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Deep dark nearly opaque garnet color with plum, tobacco, spice, garrigue, and a hint of smoke aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied, savory, and fresh with well-integrated round tannins with plum, black raspberry, kirsch, and spice flavors with an appealing streak of minerality, and a lingering finish.  Outstanding; 90-91 ptspts.

2009 Knez Winery Pinot Noir Cerise Vineyard – California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
Ruby color. Initially tight on the nose, but after a bit of air it opened up very nicely showing mixed red berry liqueur (cherry, raspberry), cardamom, sassafras and damp earth aromas. On the palate it’s lush, focused and lively with a gorgeous mouth feel sporting velvety well-integrated tannins with cherry and raspberry liqueur, spice flavors with an attractive lingering floral and spicy finish.  Outstanding; 91-92 pts

2007 Scharffenberger Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs – California, North Coast, Mendocino County
Pale straw color with plenty of active pin prick bubbles and hazelnut, pear, and citrus flavors. On the palate it’s show a moderately creamy mousse with green apple, pear and a lemon flavors. Medium finish. $20 great value for a BdB. Very Good ; 88-89 pts

-Wine of the Week-

Some weeks it seems fairly easy to pick my Wine of the Week because one clearly stand out because it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out. Then there are other weeks, such as this, when it’s more challenging. What made this week more challenging is that I considered three of the four wines outstanding.  And the fourth was an outstanding value.

My wife and I took the Tablas Creek Syrah  to a Northern Rhone tasting.  While it wasn’t my favorite wine that night (it’s young, and I believe it would have improved with further aging), it represented a California quite well.  It was varietally correct, well-balanced, and had that bit of minerality I cherish in wine.  The Guigal CdP was a Christmas gift from my father.  He doesn’t really know wine, but he picked up a winner! Guigal is an iconic producer in France.  And their CdP was wonderful (though like me,  it took some time to open up, but once it did it was easy to love;-) It’s definitely a bottle I would love to would enjoy drinking again. And I would especially love to try an older vintage!  In the end, I chose to feature a  perhaps lesser-known producer whose wines I highly recommend. So my Wine of the Week was the Knez Pinot Noir.  The 2009 Knez Winery Pinot Noir Cerise Vineyard is a fantastic example of what thoughtful winemaking from grapes planted in the right place can yield in California!  Knez is a producer you need to check out!

Wines At Our Table; Week of March 20, 2016

Knez is a winery whose wines I tasted for the first time when I attended the San Francisco In Pursuit of Balance tasting last year.  So, when my wife and I visited the Anderson Valley Thanksgiving weekend last year, I wanted to make sure she had the opportunity to taste Knez wines.

But they weren’t open on Saturday.  Fortunately, we spent the night in Fort Bragg, and returned on Sunday.  Viola! The tasting room was open and disappointment turned to delight!

We’re big fans of Anderson Valley wines (especially the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir). And we’re now big fans of Knez!

More About Knez

Single vineyard wines crafted by the alchemy of ocean, fog, soil and patience.

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At Knez Winery, we believe that the deeper and more extensive our knowledge, the better our wine will be. We start with an Anderson Valley location that is epic in its richness—with maritime influences, complex soil, a near perfect amount of sun exposure and heritage clones like Martini, Pommard, David Bruce, Wädenswil and Wente. To this, we add the beauty of science—detailed analytics and painstaking research that help us make the most of our land’s bounty. We consider ourselves stewards of the land and our farming practices are sustainable and progressive. In our winemaking, we are hands-on in the vineyard and hands-off in the barrel room. Through careful stewardship of our land and attention to detail in every phase of winemaking, we are producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir every bit as complex, expressive and ageworthy as our compatriots in Burgundy, France.

My Food and Wine Pairing of the Week was the Scharffenberger BdB paired with Chicken Salad Croissant Sandwiches.

 What was your Wine of the Week?

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

Pays Nantais And Taste of Contemporary Muscadet #Winophiles

Long dismissed as an innocuous companion to oysters, Muscadet is stepping out as a white wine serious enough to nip at the heels of white Burgundy – Jon Bonné

This month the French #Winophiles continues its virtual tour of Frances with a visit to Pay Nantais. When I first saw Pay Nantais was our region, I wasn’t familiar with the name. Then I realized it was the region I’ve always known as simply “Muscadet”.

Ah, the beauty of wine…it’s a life-long journey of learning!

About Pay Nantais

Pay Nantais is sub-region of the larger Loire Valley. It is located on the Atlantic coast of Brittany, near the city of Nantes. Wine has been produced in the region since the Roman era.  The region is renowned for Muscadet, a crisp white wine from the Melon de Bourgogne grape.

Muscadet wines are produced under several different appellations, of which the most famous (and most prolific) is Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine.

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Photo courtesy of waywardwine.com

I was introduced to Muscadet years ago when I was searching for a wine that would pair well with raw oysters. Since I adore raw oysters, I’ve enjoyed quite a few very good bottles of Muscadet over the years.

But Muscadet has a bit of a reputation.  And it’s (mostly) not been good. That’s because the Melon de Bourgogne grape is widely considered to produce bland and uninteresting wines.  As a result, after peaking in the 80s, Muscadet lost its way and fell on hard times.

More recently though, thanks to innovative and passionate producers committed to elevating the quality and standing of Muscadet, the regions has proven that Melon de Bourgogne can make outstanding wines with a minerally, intense  character that offer great value.  And whose food pairing potential extends well beyond raw oysters.

In my glass

Over the years, I’ve had some good Muscadet (the Michel Delhommeau “Harmonie” Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie has been my go-to for years), but the 2009 Chéreau-Carré Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Le Clos du Chateau l’Oiseliniere is unlike any Muscadet I’ve ever had.  It was made from 80 year-old vines.  And  this wine spent an amazing 31 months on the lees in cement vats. Muscadet are often compared to Chablis, but this one brings to mind White Burgundy (at a fraction of the price).

Though it turned out the be the best Muscadet I’ve had thus far, initially I almost didn’t purchase it because it was from the 2009 vintage.  I’d never purchased a Muscadet  that more than a year or two old before thinking all such wines were best enjoyed while young and still “fresh”.

Well, the truth  of the matter is that the best Muscadet can age beautifully for decades.

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My tasting notes follow:

Pours very pale yellow tinged green color with enticing yellow apple, mixed citrus (lemon, grapefruit and a hint of lime) wet stone aromas with hints of white flower, honey and lees. On the palate its dense, focused and fresh with great texture. It shows apple, lemon, subtly spiced mandarin orange, and honey flavors with an appealing vein of minerality, and a long finish.  Outstanding; 90-91 pts.

From the winery: The House of Chéreau Carré occupies the most privileged position in the Loire-Atlantique department of France. This family-owned property dates back to the 15th century. The vines here are some of the most prized in the region of the Sèvre-et-Maine. The property is managed by Bernard Chéreau, whose family origins date back to the eleventh century. Bernard’s passion for Melon de Bourgogone is evident in the quality of his wines. Château l’Oiselinière, meaning “owl’s nest,” comes from a very privileged site located on the northern bank of the Sèvre, near the confluence of the Sèvre and Maine rivers. It is 10 hectares of 40 to 80-year-old vines facing Southeast, enclosed by the two rivers and surrounded by forests. The soils here are schist and orthogneiss. Two wines are sourced from this vineyard site and both are fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged on the lees in cement tanks… the Le Clos de Château l’Oiselinière, sourced from a two hectare plot of the older vines within the vineyard, is aged for 31 months

On my plate

I prepared Cat Cora’s (seared) Sea Scallops for dinner and planned to pair the wine with that dish.

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But my wife decided to whipped up a Yellow Salmon Curry for lunch, and after having shared a bit of the wine before lunch, I thought it would play well with the Salmon Curry.

I was spot on. The wine paired beautifully with both dishes!

Be sure to check out what my fellow #winophiles discovered on their plates, and in their glasses!

Join us on Saturday, March 19th for a live Twitter Chat at 8 am PST/11 am EST using hashtag #Winophiles to share your favorite wines, food, and travel experiences from Pays Nantais.

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wines At Our Table; March 6 2016

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 (WoW) – 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 March 6th 2016

2011 Di Majo Norante Molise Ramitello – Italy, Molise
The wine is a deep black red color with appealing black fruit and lavender aromas. On the palate it medium-bodied, and fresh with a rustic edge, showing blackberry, plum, black cherry, black currant, spice and a hint of bittersweet chocolate flavors, and a lingering satisfying finish. Very Good ; 88-89 pts

2012 JC Cellars The Imposter – USA, California, Central Coast
Opaque ruby/purple-color with smoky black and red fruit aromas with a bit of floral aromas. On the palate it full-bodied, and lush with fruity plum, black cherry, and black raspberry flavors. A bit to plump for my palate, but tasty! Blend of 54% Zinfandel/19% Syrah/13% Petite Sirah/6% Alicante Bouschet/4% Grenache/3% Carignane/ 1% Viognier. Very Good ; 87-88 pts

2014 Bedrock Wine Co. Mourvedre Ode to Lulu Old Vine Rosé – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
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; 89-90 pts

2009 Pierre Brigandat Champagne Cuvée Dentelles et Crinolines – France, Champagne
Very pale yellow color with abundant active tiny bubbles. On the nose it show pear, green apple, brioche, sea shell and a hint of citrus aromas. On the palate, it’s bone-dry with a creamy mousse, and crisp mineral driven acidity. This is a harmonious wine with green apple, pear, lemon and a hint of spice flavors. Blend of 30% Chardonnay, and 70% Pinot Noir 12.5 alcohol Very Good to Outstanding; 89-90 pts

2013 Ridge Zinfandel Jimsomare – USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Garnet color with very appealing red fruit – raspberry, red currant, damp earth and wood spice aromas. On the palate this wine is all about harmony. It shows balanced acidity, well-integrated velvety tannins and focused red fruit flavors that follow the aromas. Lingering finish. It reminds me very much of the Ridge Lytton Springs in terms of balance and food friendliness. It was great paired with Stuffed Shells! Outstanding; 91-92 pts

– Wine of the Week

I’ve been loving my exploration of Italy with the #ItalianFWT group. Last week we visited Molise, an obscure region, a.k.a. the “belly button” of Italy.  I very much enjoyed the Molise I had.  And it was fabulous paired with  Portobello Parmesan recipe by Giada De Laurentiis (but then again, it seems like Italian wines go with everything!), The Champagne from Pierre Brigandat was part of a half-case special I picked from this producer via Cruzu.com (think crowd funding for wine).  It’s the best bottling. It was bone dry, and for my palate it needed food. Nonetheless, it was a crisp, well-balanced Champagne that showed the minerality I love about Champagne.

Last, but not least my Wine of the Week is the 2013 Ridge Jimsomare Zinfandel.  It’s a wine from the iconic Monte Bello Vineyard.

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We enjoyed the wine at a casual dinner with friends last weekend.  My friend picked it up last year.  As we were enjoying the wine with some delicious Stuffed Pasta Shells, I was reminded of a popular myth that’s worth addressing here.  The myth is that Zinfandels are not food friendly wines.

Simply not true!  Of course much depends on how it’s made. And I’ve had many that fall into the “claret” style such as this one, which show moderate levels of acidity and are very food friendly. Don’t ever let anybody tell you Zins are just cocktail wines. If they do remind that the Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel blend has been on the wine list at Alice Water’s iconic Chez Panisse for 40+ years!  I can guaran-damn-tee you it wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t food friendly.  

For more on the 2013 Ridge Jimsomare Zinfandel, check out this video…

-About Ridge Vineyards-

From Ridge Vineyards: Since 1962, Ridge has championed single-vineyard winemaking, searching California for those rare sites where climate, soil, and varietal are ideally matched.    Our aim is to guide the natural process; using traditional methods, we strive to produce exceptional wines from distinctive fruit.

Ridge Vineyards  has two estates, Monte Bello in Cupertino, and Lytton Springs in Healdsburg.  They are best known for producing single-vineyard premium Bordeaux style Cabernet Sauvignon Blend (“Monte Bello”), Zinfandels, and Chardonnay.  Ridge was established by three engineers from nearby Stanford Research Institute (SRI).

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

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

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

 What was your Wine of the Week?

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

A Taste of Molise: Authentic Italy

One of the things I love most about food and wine is their ability to transport one to a different place.  I think 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 are taking a virtual tour of Italy by exploring its food and wines.  This month we’re exploring Molise!

The thing I love about the “Old World” is its rich history.  Much of it unfolds before us like an epic drama rife with  epic battles for territories, assassinations, and self-proclaimed kingdoms.

For example, take Molise.  It’s the ancestral home of the Samnites – fierce gladiators would regularly take on, and defeat Roman legions.  But after the fall of the Roman Empire, Goths and Lombards invaded the territory, which was part of Abruzzo. But it’s also been part of Campania, and Puglia (Apulia) neighbors to the South.  It’s as if no one wanted the place.  It was eventually absorbed with Abruzzo to create the overarching Abruzzi region. It remained part of this combined region until 1963.

molise map

Image courtesy of http://www.e-rcps.com/

It’s a mountainous and sparsely populated region sandwiched between the Apennine ridge to the west and the Adriatic Sea to the east. It’s Italy’s second smallest region after the Aosta Valley, and certainly not top of mind for visitors to Italy.

It’s a remote land of immense natural beauty, history, art and age-old traditions that will take you on a journey off the beaten path to experience another kind of Italy – a largely undiscovered Italy.  Though its cities lack the luster of Italy’s more renowned areas, they possess a humble authenticity and charm that provide a window into old-fashioned Italian life and culture.

Wine has been made in Molise as far back as 500 BC with influences coming from the Samnites, Etruscans and Romans.  In the 18th and 19th century Molise’s boasted the most extensive vineyards in the Kingdom of Naples.  But the region extremely mountainous terrain discourage production of quality wine (I’m sure WWII didn’t help either) Today there are approximately 7,700 hectares under vine, including a mix of native and international grapes. The most common red varieties are Montepulciano and Sangiovese, but Aglianico, Barbera, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon grow too. White grapes include Trebbiano Abruzzese (and Bombino Bianco, with which it was long confused), Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia Bianca Lunga, Malvasia Bianca di Candia, Falanghina, Greco, Chardonnay, and Pinot Bianco. About 10% of the region’s total wine production is of DOC wines ( Biferno, Molise and Pentro di Isernia).  Of the three Biferno is the most well-known.

In my glass

From producer Di Majo Norante comes the 2011 Di Majo Norante Molise Biferno Ramitello.   It’s a  wine made from a selection of the best Montepulciano (80%) and Aglianico (20%) grapes grown in the Ramitello vineyard. After fermentation in stainless steel, the wine was aged in a combination of stainless steel tank s and barriques for eighteen months.  It was ranked #74 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2014.

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My tasting notes follow:

The wine is a deep black red color with appealing black fruit and floral aromas.  On the palate it medium-bodied, and fresh with a rustic edge, showing blackberry, plum, black cherry, black currant, spice and a hint of bittersweet chocolate flavors, and a lingering satisfying finish.

On my plate

As I was checking out the cuisine of Molise, quite naturally given its agricultural tradition, I keep coming across either pork or lamb dishes. Or seafood dishes.  I’ve been limiting my intake of meat since last year, so I wanted something vegetarian that would pair well with the red wine.  These days eating less (or no) meat is motivated by healthy lifestyle choices.  It hasn’t always been that way.  Molise has historically tended to be less prosperous than Abruzzo.  As a result, the currency in Molise was not money, but livestock. Because of this, the livestock that was raised was more valuable to sell in Abruzzo than it was to eat. This is why many of the dishes typically served in Molise were vegetarian.  I don’t know if it’s still that way today, but certainly there was a time when la cucina povera (“cooking of the poor”) was born of out of necessity rather choice.

With that in mind, I opted for Portobello Parmesan recipe by Giada De Laurentiis.

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Portobello Parmesan

The dish was a perfect weeknight vegetarian meal.  It’s definitely one I will make again. Portobello mushrooms have an inherently meaty quality.  The addition of Parmigiano Reggiano and Mozzarella cheese up the umami quotient which made for a wonderful pairing with the wine!

Check out more Molisan food and wine delight from my fellow bloggers:

If you’re up early enough, join us live on Twitter Saturday March 5th at 8am PST @ #ItalianFWT to chat about Molise.  Next month we travel to Puglia on April 2nd!

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As 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 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wines At Our Table; February 28th 2016 #OTBN16

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 (WoW) – 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 February 28th 2016

2013 Bedrock Wine Co. Godello AbrenteRetail; $22 USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley
Pale yellow gold color with a green tinge with aromatically complex and appealing chalk, ocean spray, quince lemon peel, stone fruit and a hint of floral aromas. In the mouth, the wine is medium-bodied, fresh, dry, textured, and focused with enticing apricot, quince, and Meyer lemon flavors that give way to white peach, lemon peel and a saline minerality, and complementary nutty sort of savoriness, and a very giving finish Outstanding; 91-92 pts

Germano Ettore Langhe Nebbiolo Rosanna Rosé BrutRetail; $30 Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
Pale pink color with bread crust, raspberry, strawberry, and a hint of dried rose aromas. On the palate it’s very dry with a creamy mousse, and an elegant, fresh, round character with raspberry, strawberry, and lemon flavors with a satisfying clean crisp finish. 100% NebbioloVery Good; 88-89 pts

2001 Conterno Fantino Barolo Sorì GinestraRetail; $129 Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
Medium-red color with enticing aromas of dried cherries, plum, mushroom, cedar wood, tobacco, and a bit of spice. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, very concentrated, yet harmonious, with great texture and dried cherry, plum, and spice flavors with an appealing minerality, and velvety tannins that build with time in the mouth. Long finish.Outstanding; 93-94 pts

2014 Saracco Moscato d’AstiRetail; $13 Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Moscato d’Asti
My first Moscato d’Asti! And it was very good. It’s a pretty golden-yellow color with perfumed, peach, apricot, white flower and a hint of citrus aromas. On the palate, it’s smooth, clean and fresh with a light fizziness. It’s sweet, but nicely balanced with candied peach, pear and a bit of citrus flavors. I purchased on a hunch hoping it would pair well with Crack Pie. And I was right! Twas a very good pairing! Very Good; 88-89 pts

– Wine of the Week

For my wine loving friend, you know last weekend was “Open That Bottle Night”.  It’s night meant for gathering with friends and finally opening that bottle you never seem to get around to (find out more here).  We did just that with 10 friends when we hosted an Italian themed dinner for OTBN.  I contributed 3 bottles to the evening (there were 11 in all).  And those are the second, third, and fourth bottles listed above.  I’ll come back to those.

The first bottle is an outstanding Godello from Sonoma County.  Abrente is a joint project between Michael Havens and Bedrock Wine Company’s Morgan Twain-Peterson. It turns out that Godello is also known as Verdelho (which I didn’t know). No matter what you call it, the Abrente is an outstanding wine! And it was definitely a strong contender for Wine of the Week.  The Germano Ettore Langhe Nebbiolo Rosanna Rosé Brut is a rosé of 100% Nebbiolo. Trying a sparkling Nebbiolo has been on my list of wines to try for the last year of so.  And this one didn’t disappoint.  The 2014 Saracco Moscato d’Asti was also another first for me.  My first Moscato d’Asti.  Now Moscato d’Asti isn’t my jam because it’s too sweet for my palate.  But I purchased the wine to pair with Crack Pie (if you haven’t had Crack Pie, you MUST – It lives up to the name). And indeed it turned out to be a great pairing with the Crack Pie.  It also turned out to be very good.  It wasn’t overly sweet, and it was balanced and clean.  Definitely a wine I would purchase again. Especially for my friends who like their wine on the sweeter side.

Wines At Our Table; Feb 28, 2016

Last, but not least is the Conterno Fantino Barolo Sorì Ginestra. It’s an awesome Barolo and my Wine of the Week.  It hails from the famous Ginestra cru in Monforte d’Alba, one of Barolo’s finest and most historical.  Barolo, is one of my favorite wines, though I don’t drink it often. I need to change that! This one had been in my cellar for five years! I’m delighted we broke it out of jail and shared with friends!

More about Conterno Fantino

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Conterno Fantino stands for two families, the Fantinos and Conternos. At the same time, it is virtually a single family – the “Conterno Fantinos”, whose energies and vision seamlessly come together on the estate. It was founded in 1982 by two friends, Guido Fantino and Claudio Conterno, whose own fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers had all earned their livelihood in the vineyard, making wine they sold in bulk.

Guido and Claudio were little more than toddlers when they were charged with weeding between the vine rows. Their studies in agronomy and winemaking completed, they set out on their own and determined to invest in top quality and estate-grown, estate-bottled wine. The very high reputation they have built for themselves has never diminished the characteristic, grass-roots simplicity and sincerity that goes into everything they do. Their vineyard management, like them, foregrounds authenticity and respect for the soil.
Like Claudio and Guido themselves, tradition and innovation are close friends at Conterno Fantino. French oak barriques and new wood marry Piedmont’s own, blockbuster structure, opulent, tightly knit texture, magnificent tannins and rich, layered flavors. 
It is in the vineyards, under Claudio’s careful tutelage, that the quality cycle truly begins. The estate’s original nucleus is cru Ginestra: a historical one for Barolo, documented as far back as the 1800s.

Conterno Fantino via Vinoitaliano

In 1989, Guido and Claudio acquired terrain from the nearby area of Bricco Bastia, within the commune of Monforte d’Alba, where they eventually built a state-of-the-art new winery. This new location is scenically set, dominating the most ancient section of Monforte and overlooked by the majestic sweep of the Alps all around. 

The subsequent years continued in the same vein: cru by cru, with an aim towards expressing the individual terroirs fully and faithfully.  Two such crus are Parussi (a Barolo terroir from Castiglione Falletto rather than Monforte d’Alba), renowned for its elegance; and Mosconi. The Mosconi cru is exactly parallel to Sorì Ginestra, higher in altitude (averaging 400 meters, i.e. 1,312 feet), on a ridge running alongside the estate’s historic Ginestra nucleus, less than a mile away. Mosconi soil endows the grapes with extremely high levels of polyphenols, particularly anthocyans: hence Barolos of extraordinary structure and longevity. 

The newest generation has joined the winery in the form of Guido’s children. Fabio Fantino, an enologist, works side by side with his father styling the wines while Elisa handles PR and marketing. (Courtesy of Importer Empson USA)

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Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

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