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.

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.

Sweet Sticky Things…Unique Dessert Wines From Around The World Tasting

In the world of dessert wines (a.k.a. “stickies”) Ports from Portugal, and Sauternes from Bordeaux rule. When I saw that my favorite wine shop, K&L Wine Merchants, was doing a tasting called “Unique Dessert Wines From Around The World“, I was eager to see what other regions of the world have to offer. Not only was the wine geek in me curious, it’s also been my experience that lesser known wine regions often offer outstanding Quality-Price Ratio (“QPR”) wines.

The tasting was not only geographically diverse (Austria, Hungary, Canada, Greece, and lesser known regions of France – Loire, Languedoc, and Alsace), it also offered a variety of both late harvest, and fortified stickies made from both white and red grapes. There was also a variety of treats to pair with the wines including various cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, and chocolates from The Chocolate Garage.

Unique Dessert Wines From Around The World - The Lineup

My tasting notes follow:

2009 Weiss Grüner Veltliner Fahrenheit 19 Ice Wine – Austria, Burgenland

Light yellow with gold tinged color with pear, brown sugar, and faint floral aromas. On the palate approaching medium bodied with very good acidity, and nectarine, spice flavors. Medium finish. (88 pts).

2008 Union of Winemaking Cooperatives of Samos Muscat Samos Vin Doux, Vin de liqueur – Greece, Aegean, Samos

This is a fortified vin doux Muscat.  Yellow gold color with peach liqueur, apricot, and spice aromas. On the palate medium light bodied with honeyed citrus, spiced apricot jam flavors. Medium-long finish. (88 pts).

2008 Château Pierre-Bise Coteaux du Layon-Beaulieu Les Rouannieres – France, Loire Valley, Anjou-Saumur, Coteaux du Layon-Beaulieu

Minimally  botrytised Chenin Blanc.  Light yellow gold color with muted candied apple,and almond aromas. On the palate medium bodied with tropical, apple, and pear flavors with a hint of nutty savoriness. Long finish (90 pts).

2007 Beck-Hartweg Gewurztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobles – France, Alsace, Dambach-la-Ville, Alsace AOC

Sélection de Grains Nobles (“SGN”) are  botrytised wines from Alsace, France.  Light yellow color with nutty, peach, mineral aromas. On the palate medium bodied, well balanced with very good acidity and peach, spice, and slight mineral flavors. Long finish. (91 pts).

2006 Royal Tokaji Wine Co. Tokaji 5 Puttonyos – Hungary, Hegyalja, Tokaji

Botrytised Furmint Blend.  Golden honey color with aromas of apricot, honey, alcohol. On the palate viscous, with apricot, honey and faint mineral notes. Long finish. (91 pts).

2001 Tokaj Hétszőlő Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos – Hungary, Hegyalja, Tokaji

Botrytised Furmint Blend.  Golden yellow color with vivid aromas of apricot and orange peel. On the palate viscous, balanced with harmonious streak of acidity, and intense apricot and orange flavors with a hint of minerality. Long finish. (94 pts).

2008 Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc Icewine – Canada, Ontario, Niagara Peninsula, Short Hills Bench VQA

Pretty rosy dark pink color with sweet red fruit aromas. Palate follows with vibrant cherry and raspberry flavors; medium bodied with light tannins and medium-long finish (89 pts).

2007 Domaine Mas de Lavail Maury Expression – France, Languedoc Roussillon, Roussillon, Maury

This is a Vins doux naturels fortified wine from the south of France made from Grenache grapes ; very dark garnet almost inky color with aromas of cherry liquer, sweet tobacco,spice and floral notes. On the palate red fruit, and spice with good acidity and a touch of fine grained tannins. Medium long finish.  (89 pts).

After taking care of business tasting this group of outstanding dessert wines, it was time to enjoy a few different food pairings.  Hands down my favorite pairing was the Henry of Pelham Cabernet Franc Ice Wine and Pralus Madagascar 75% Dark Chocolate. It was simply a sublime pairing!  I also enjoyed the classic Roquefort cheese and Tokaji pairing, though I must confess I’ve never had cheese for my dessert course.

I always look forward to furthering my wine education, and this was a very good opportunity.  I tasted Tokaji for the first time, which I’ve been eager to do, and I now have a better understanding of which types of dessert wines to pair with which types of desserts,  and which might be better on a stand-alone basis for dessert.  All in all, a sweet start to the weekend!

Muscadet in Tomales Bay

(Click on the images below to enlarge)

It’s always fun for me to try new wines, especially after hearing about this, or that wine pairing well with food I enjoy!

Such was the case with Muscadet (pronounced mew-skuh-Day), a French wine made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. The wine originates from the Loire Valley in France, more specifically the Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine appellation, which is on the western most part of the Loire bordering the Atlantic.  Curiously, Muscadet is the name of the wine, rather the name of a place, which is typical in France.

I’ve read that Muscadet was excellent with shellfish, and specifically with oysters, which I love, so I picked up a bottle of 2009 Michel Delhommeau Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie Cuvee Harmonie (89 pts – $13), but the wine has been sitting in my refrigerator since August 2010!, awaiting the right opportunity.  The opportunity arose recently when we took a road trip to Tomales Bay near Point Reyes for a picnic.  We went to Tomales Bay Oyster Company.  It was a gorgeous day, and we quickly found a prime spot near the edge of the Bay, and bought oysters, mussels, and clams.  Additionally, we brought along marinated baby-back ribs and corn on the cob to grill, and potato salad.  In addition to the Muscadet, we brought along a sparkling wine; NV Mumm Prestige Cuvee Sparkling Wine, and a Rosé; 2009 Silver Mountain Rose of Pinot Noir.

We ended up buying 100 oysters for seven of us!  The vast majority of the oysters were consumed raw.  The mussels, and claims were grilled.  As advertised, the Muscadet paired with mollusks exceptionally well, with the citrusy and minerally flavors of the wine, playing off the brininess of the mollusks, brightening and enlivening their flavors (especially the raw oysters), and vice-versa.   It didn’t seem to matter much whether the raw oysters were consumed naked, or dressed with the typical Tabasco/lemon juice or the mignonette sauce of rice vinegar, cilantro, Vidalia onions my wife prepared.  I also tried the oysters with the Mumm sparkler, because oysters and sparkling wine is also a good pairing.   I enjoyed that pairing as well, though not quite as much.  As for the Rosé, that also worked with the oysters and was the wine of choice with the BBQ ribs, and potato salad.

It was a fun day with family, friends,  wine, and food that brought to mind one of my favorite quotations…

“Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.”— Michael Broadbent

And trying a new wine that I really enjoyed was part of a memorable afternoon.  I will be buying more Muscadet to keep on hand for our next oyster orgy!  If you’re a fan of mollusks, and seafood, it’s a nice change of pace from Sauvignon Blanc.  Give it try!

What’s your favorite wine to pair with raw oysters? Leave a comment and let me know….