DIY Super Tuscan

I recently received an interesting wine sample from Castello di Amorosa.  The sample included their flagship Super Tuscan – La Castellana, along with three 2012 barrel samples, and a pipette.

photo 1 (1)

I featured the prior 2008 vintage of La Castellan as my Wine of the Week last year, so I’m pretty stoked about trying the 2009!  In the meanwhile, my wife and I eagerly welcomed the chance to create our Super Tuscan blend from the three barrel sample provided by Castello di Amorosa!

If you’re not familiar with a Super-Tuscan, simply put, it’s a blend of Sangiovese and Bordeaux grape varieties (primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot).  There are generally two kinds – those that are dominated by Sangiovese, or those dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (for story behind how the term “Super Tuscan” was created as told by Sebastiano Rosa  of Sassicaia fame, click here).

The term “Super Tuscan” describes any Tuscan red wine that does not adhere to traditional blending laws for the region

The three 2012 barrel samples, all sourced from the Napa Valley, were Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, Carneros Merlot, and Diamond Mountain.

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The first thing I did was taste the wines individually before we started our “blending trials” at “Castello di Redmond”, so I could get a sense of what each wine would add to the blend.  Here are my quick notes on each:

  • 2012 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon – Muted red fruit and vanilla aromas; fruity dark cherry, red currant, and a bit of vanilla flavors. along with some . A bit tannic, fine length and the most pronounced flavor profile especially on the front and mid palate. I got a sense of some Rutherford dust too!
  • 2012 Carneros Merlot – Fresh with black and blue fruit aromas.  Less fruity and surprisingly more tannic than the Cab with a slightly bitter taste on the back palate; plumper than the Sangiovese
  • 2012 Diamond Mountain Sangiovese – Most aromatic of the three with red fruit, leather and earth aromas; Medium+ acidity; candied cherry flavor. My favorite of the three wines on a standalone basis.

photo 3

After tasting through the wines individually, we got busy blending!

The first thing I have to say is that controlling the exact amount of wine released from the pipette can be tricky!  Once I got that down, we created four blends:

  1. 70% Sangiovese/20% Cab/10% MerlotCherry, vanilla, earth aromas that echoed on the palate; medium+ acidity, dusty tannins and fine length. 
  2. 80% Cab/10%Sangiovese/10% MerlotCassis, cherry, earth aromas that echoed on the palate; medium acidity, fine length; less vanilla aroma/flavor than #1
  3. One-third each Cab, Merlot and Sangiovese – Earth, cherry, and vanilla aromas, that echo on the palate; slightly hot on the nose, shortest finish and mid-palate lacking.
  4. 50% Sangiovese/25% each Cab and Merlot - Fruitier, and more tannic than both #1 and #2, cassis, cherry, oak aromas; medium+ acidity, cherry, cassis flavors, shorter finish than #1 and #2

The results

Blend #1 edged out blend #2 for top honors. Initially, my wife favored #2, but eventually came around to saying #1 was her favorite.  Wine number #4 was third and #3 was our least favorite.

My takeaways

Blending is can be big fun (um…once you get control of the pipette;-), but I came away from the experience with a new-found appreciation for the discipline and rigor involved with blending. Like some many other aspects of winemaking, It’s part science, part art.

The benefits of blending we readily apparent to me.  The sample wines blended together tasted better than they did individually.  The blended wines also seemed more balanced.  At least that was the case with blends #1, and #2 for me.  Not so much for #3 and #4.  While still enjoyable, I didn’t find those blends as enjoyable as the Sangiovese or Cab individually.

And finally, from the “actions speak louder than words” perspective, after our blending trials we had some leftovers of all three wines.  The first to disappear was the Sangiovese!

Wine provided as a sample for review.  Many thanks to Castello di Amorosa

Related post you might enjoy:

Wine of the Week; 2008 Castello di Amorosa La Castellana

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 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week: 2009 Castello di Amorosa Sangiovese

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2009 Castello di Amorosa Sangiovese

Winery

Castello di Amorosa is Napa Valley’s own slice of Tuscany.  It’s a winery with its own authentic Tuscan castle (Approximately 121,000 sq. ft., including 107 rooms on 8 levels above and below ground), and one of Napa’s premier “destination” wineries.  While I’m not a huge fan of destination wineries because the wines often take a back seat to whatever the attraction is (they don’t call Napa Valley “adult Disneyland for nothing;-), Castello di Amorosa is an exception.  In addition to a great experience touring an authentic Tuscan castle (complete with a torture chamber), you’ll find moat loads of  ”better” and “best” wines rather than simply ” good” wine.

Castello di Amorosa (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Castello di Amorosa (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The story is how the castle came to be is fascinating (click here for history of the project). When Dario Sattui who also owns and operates the V. Sattui Winery, conceived the idea his thought was…

 I would specialize in making small lots of primarily Italian-style wines, showcase them in an authentic, medieval castle setting and sell them directly to the public, not in stores or restaurants.

Castello di Amorosa offers a wide array of wines.  In addition to the wines one would expect to find at a Napa Valley winery, (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel) they also offer three Gewüztraminers (dry, slightly sweet, and late harvest), various Red, Rosé, and White Italian varietals, a Super-Tuscan,  a Muscato Canelli port, and a slightly sweet, sparkling Rosé!

Castello di Amorosa produces about 8,000 cases a year.  The wines are only available at the winery, through its wine club, or online (www.castellodiamorosa.com).

Wine

The fruit for this wine is primarily from the Castello di Amorosa estate.  In addition to Sangiovese, this wine also includes a bit of Merlot.

2009 Castello di Amorosa Sangiovese

2009 Castello di Amorosa Sangiovese

My tasting notes follow:

Carmine color with cherry, mushroom. and dried rose petal aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with a smooth texture and sour cherry, strawberry, vanilla flavors with a savory undertone and a lengthy finish

Rating: A- (90pts): I really enjoyed this wine.  It has a nice balance of fruit, oak and earthiness.

Pair with: I enjoyed this wine with lasagna (if it grows together, it goes together after all;-), but don’t limit your pairings to pizza and red-sauced pasta. Pair with caprese salad with fresh basil, Italian bread soup, wild mushroom risotto, rustic paella, grilled fare, and a variety of cheeses. For example consider pairing with mild blue-veined cheeses like Gorgonzola or Cambozola.

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 14.5%
  • Closure: Cork
  • AVA:> CaliforniaNapa ValleySt. Helena
  • Grape Varieties: 90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot
  • Cooperage: 18 months in French oak
  • Retail: $30
  • Cases produced: 3,531
  • Drink: Now – 2016
  • >>Find this wine<<

Wine provided as a sample for review.  Many thanks to Castello di Amorosa

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

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff!  Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Seafood Gumbo and Wine Pairings for Soul Warming #SundaySupper

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

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

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

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

Seafood Gumbo

Seafood Gumbo

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

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

 

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

Main Entrees: 

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

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

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

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

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

Chili/Stews:

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

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

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

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

Soups:

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

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

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

Desserts/Beverages:

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

  • White Hot Chocolate with Orange – GirliChef

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

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

2006 Seghesio Omaggio-Wine Of The Week

My Wine of the Week (“WoW”) for August 12th-August 18th  is the 2006 Seghesio Omaggio

The Winery

Seghesio Family Vineyards is a Sonoma County winery located in Healdsburg.   It was founded in 1895 by Italian immigrants Edoardo and Angela Seghesio.   They purchased  a 4 acre vineyard and built a winery in 1902.   Today, Seghesio owns a collection of estate vineyards composed 160 acres located in Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley.   The winery is run by the 3rd and 4th generation Seghesio family members.  It was sold to Napa-based Crimson Wine Group last year.  CEO Peter Seghesio, and his cousin, winemaker Ted Seghesio , stayed on after the acquisition.  They produce approximately 100,000 cases annually.  They are best known for their Zinfandel, but they also produce Pinot Noir, and various Italian varietals including, Sangiovese, Arneis, Barbera, and Pinot Grigio.

I was introduced to Seghesio several years ago, when my wife and I were to Healdsburg a few times a year.   We purchased this wine in 2009.  Frankly, I’m surprised we were able to hold on to it for 3 years!

I must say that Seghesio puts on some great events. My wife and I attended the 2010 Chef’s Harvest event.  It was a great event where learned the about the versatility of Zinfandel with a variety of world cuisines.  And last year when we attended Passport to Dry Creek Valley, it was one of our favorite stop. If you’re in Healdsburg, you must drop in!

The Wine

“Omaggio,” is Italian for homage.  The wine is a tribute to the founders.  This “Super-Tuscan” blend was initially released in 1995 for Seghesio’s centennial harvest.  It’s been produced annually since, with the exception of the 2000 vintage.

This a flagship wine produced from their best blocks of estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese grapes grown on their Home Ranch Vineyard in Alexander Valley.  The grapes were hand-harvested, and each lot went through the “saignée” (pronounced “sonyay”) process, whereby some grape juice is bled off prior to fermentation.  The level of tannins and color is intensified in the remaining juice.  The wine is aged 18 months in French oak barrels, a third fo which are new.

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My tasting notes follow:

Dark garnet color with dark fruit, anise, vanilla, cedarwood, and a hint of dark chocolate aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, well-balanced with very good acidity and black cherry, black currant, vanilla, and clove flavors. Medium-long finish. When I tasted at the winery a couple of years ago, it was a little hot, but it’s drinking very nicely now! - 90pts

Recommendation: This was an outstanding wine.  It’s definitely ready to drink now. Pair with Shepherd’s Pie, Veal Parmesan, Osso Buco, or a steak!

Details: 

Alcohol: 15%

Closure: Cork

AVA:  CaliforniaSonoma CountySonoma Valley

Varietal(s): Cabernet Sauvignon (~60%) and Sangiovese (~40%).

Production: 500 cases

Suggested Retail: $60 USD

What Are The Most Food Friendly Wines?

It’s my pleasure to share this post of mine recently published by 12most.

12 Most Food-Friendly Wines

In my recent post entitled “12 Most Practical Wine and Food Pairing Guidelines”, one my recommendations for sensibly pairing food and wine is to get to know “food-friendly” wines. Food-friendly wines have three primary characteristics 1) Palate-cleansing acidity, 2) Lots of fruitiness with low tannins, and 3) Balanced components (i.e. fruit, acidity, and tannins).

Try these wines for those times you don’t want to put a lot of thought into what wine you’re having with weeknight meals, or more casual gatherings. There’s something here for everyone — Whites, Reds, Sparkling and Rosé. Keep in mind that each of the wines come in broad range of styles. Let your palate be your guide for the style you prefer.

Reds

1. Beaujolais

This wine, made from the Gamay grape is named for the region from which it hails. Think Beaujolais when you want a red that you’d normally have with a white wine. Many top crus go for around $20
Recommended Region(s): France – Cru Beaujolais (non-Nouveau)
Profile: Light-bodied with moderate to high acidity, and low tannins with aromatic red plum, cherry, raspberry, hints of black pepper aromas/flavors.

2. Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the most well-known food friendly red wine.
Recommended Region(s): France – Burgundy, California, Oregon, and New Zealand
Profile: Light/medium-bodied with high to very high acidity with aromatic with floral, cherry, red currant, raspberry, and sometimes gamey aromas/flavors when young, aging to vegetal and mushroom when mature

3. Sangiovese (san-jo-veh-zeh)

Generally speaking, Italy makes a plethora of food friendly wines, especially reds. Sangiovese is the most planted red grape in Italy, and the most important grape used in the great wines of Tuscany. It is one of the wine world’s great gifts to the culinary world! It’s a natural for dishes containing tomatoes, or acidic tomato sauces
Recommended Region(s): Italy (Tuscany), California
Profile: Light/medium-bodied with high to very high acidity with black cherry, spice, smoky, herbal savory aromas/flavors.

4. Zinfandel

Zinfandel can go far beyond burgers and BBQ. I’ve enjoyed with Mexican, and Pakistani dishes. The style of Zinfandel is crucial for matching it with food. Look for lighter “Beaujolais” style Zinfandel at around 14% a.b.v, and “Claret” style between 14% and 15% a.b.v. for maximum food pairing versatility. If prefer “bigger” Zinfandels, then opt for pairing with richer foods.
Recommended Region(s): California
Profile: Medium/Full bodied moderate to high acidity, and strawberry, raspberry, plum, blackberry, pepper, bramble, and spice aromas/flavors

5. Syrah

Syrah and Syrah based blends do a great job of striking a balance between finesse and power. It can be full-bodied and complex like Cabernet Sauvignon, but tend to be less tannic. Cool climate Syrah is especially food friendly. And many very good examples can be found for less than $20.
Recommended Region(s): France (Rhône), California, Washington, and Australia
Profile: Medium/full-bodied with moderate to high acidity, with blackcurrant, plum, blackberry, earthy, herbal, chocolate, and violet aromas/flavors

Whites

6. Riesling

Riesling is the most well-known white food friendly wine. Thanks to its food loving nature, it’s on the upswing. If you’re looking for one wine to serve with many dishes, Riesling is an excellent choice, especially if you’re not into red wine. Look for dry and off-dry styles
Recommended Region(s): Germany, France (Alsace) Washington, New York, California
Profile: Light-bodied with high to very high acidity, and Intensely aromatic with floral, green apples, light spice aromas/flavors when you ageing to petrol and honey when mature

7. Sauvignon Blanc

Stylistically, Sauvignon Blanc tends to be the opposite of Chardonnay. That’s because it tends not to see as much oak as Chardonnay and its acidity is more apparent. It’s very versatile food wine, especially with dishes emphasizing, or enhanced with fresh herbs. Try it with guacamole!
Recommended Region(s): France (Loire, and Bordeaux), U.S., New Zealand,
Profile: Light-bodied with high to very high acidity, and aromatic, grassy, herbaceous, tropical, citrus, and gooseberries aromas/flavors

8. Grüner Vetliner

Grüner Vetliner (GROO-ner FELT-leen-ner) is indigenous to Austria, where it accounts for about a third Austria grape production. It’s a favorite of many sommeliers because of its versatility with foods. Here in the US we often reach for red wine to accompany meat dishes, but in Austria, Grüner is served with game, beef, pork, poultry and veal. Looking for a wine for tough food matches like asparagus, and artichokes? Try Grüner. And it’s great with fried chicken!
Recommended Region(s): Austria
Profile: Light/medium-bodied with high to very high acidity, with vanilla-dipped peach, grapefruit, and aromas/flavors with a distinctive spicy finish.

9. Chardonnay

This most popular wine has very good “foodability” if it is not overly oaked. In fact, more unoaked Chardonnay is being produced these days. While unoaked Chardonnay may be a bit more versatile food partner, oaked (used judiciously) Chardonnay typically makes a more full-bodied wine.
Recommended Region(s): France (Chablis, and Burgundy), California, Australia, Chile, and Argentina
Profile: Light/Medium-bodied with high to very high acidity, and floral, ripe apple, pineapple, butterscotch, lemon, vanilla, and custard aromas/flavors.

10. Sherry

Hear me out on this one. I’m not referring to your grandmother’s Cream Sherry. I’m referring to dry Sherry. And thanks to adventurous wine geeks, and passionate sherry lovers, this fortified wine is gaining in popularity because of its food friendly nature and exceptional quality/price ratio.
True Sherry, is only produced in Spain’s “Sherry Triangle”. It’s a singularly unique beverage because of its terroir, and the method by which it is produced. With its unique tangy, sometimes oxidative and saline flavors, it can be polarizing. It was a bit of an acquired taste for me, but I think it’s fabulous with food!

The principles of pairing Sherry with food are like other wines, according to weight and texture. For Fino and Manzanillo think appetizers, seafood, and sushi, and sashimi. Pair Amontillado, with its rich nuttiness, with stronger flavored foods (including spicy foods) like oily fishes and chicken dishes. Serve chilled.

Recommended Region: Spain

Profile: The main styles of Sherry are light-bodied, straw colored, dry Fino, and fuller bodied darker Oloroso. Between Fino and Oloroso in body, and dryness are Manzanillo, and Amontillado.  Typical aromas and flavors of Finos are yeasty, toasted almond, green apples, and slightly oxidative.  Oloroso tend to be more aromatic with fresh mixed nuts, dried fruit, and citrus peel.

11. Rosé

Rosés (in particular dry Rosé) combine the best of white and red wines, while maintaining their own unique charm. They possess the crisp acidity, delicacy and freshness of white wines, and the body, and flavors of red wines. Rosés are diverse bunch, produced from a wide range of grapes, in various styles ranging from simple quaffable wines to complex gems in a wide palette of colors. Don’t relegate these babies to warm weather months. Because of their versatility they’re wonderful year-round!
Recommended Region(s): France, Spain, Italy, and U.S.
Profile: Light/medium bodied with strawberry, melon, and cherry aroma/flavors

Sparkling

12. Sparkling Wines

Sparkling wines are very versatile and food friendly because of their innately high acidity levels, and their palate cleansing “scrubbing bubbles” effect. They can be served throughout the day, and throughout a meal too. The driest ones are excellent as an aperitif and with shellfish and caviar. Off-dry bubbly is suitable for brunch, lunch, salads, and many dinner entrees. The sweeter ones pair nicely with fruit- based desserts.
Recommended Region(s): France, US, Spain (Cava), Italy (Prosecco)

Profile: Light to medium-full bodied, and bone-dry Extra Brut to sweet “doux”.  Typical aromas and flavors are yeast, apple, citrus, stone fruit, and cherry depending on the blend of grape varieties used

With these 12 wines in your vinous arsenal, you’ll overcome many a gastronomic challenge! Are there any favorites of yours that I left out?

Featured image courtesy of jinhai via Creative Commons.

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like – 2006 Korbel BdN Reserve

This week’s T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like is the 2006 Korbel Blanc de Noirs, Reserve.  It’s an interesting blend of Pinot Noir, which is typical in Champagne, and Sangiovese, which is not.

2006 Korbel Blanc de Noirs

2006 Korbel Blanc de Noirs, Reserve

Appellation: Sonoma County (68% Sangiovese-Dry Creek, 32% Pinot Noir- Russian River Valley)

Dosage .75%

$25, 12% abv

Production method: Méthode Champenoise; Aged 24 months in Stainless Steel

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Light golden yellow color with persistent intermittent bead of tiny bubbles.

Aromas: Citrus, and dried bread notes.

Body: Dry with a good balance of fruit, bracing acidity, and somewhat creamy mousse  that dissipated a bit too quickly.

Taste: Raspberry, red apples, with a touch of spice from the Sangiovese, and hint of citrus.

Finish: Medium

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food.  It was Friday night, and after a long week, it was left-0vers for dinner. We enjoyed this with both White Chicken Chili, and Panko-Crusted Cod.  It would also play well with shellfish (A crab or shrimp salad comes to mind), sushi, sashimi, or fruit/dried fruit salad such as an Apple & Cranberry Salad.

This was a very pleasant bubbly. I  enjoyed the Sangiovese component.  It’s my first experience with a non-Rosé sparkling wine made entirely from red grapes.  However, I didn’t think it was a good value at $25.

In Vino Veritas

Pacific Pointe Wine Tasting Club Blind Tasting – Chianti

It was our wine club’s first time tasting a wine produced solely outside the US.  We tasted a nice variety of Chiantis – three from Chianti Classico, reputed to be the best Chianti, and one each from Rufina, and Chianti (the grapes were sourced from various subzones within the Chianti DOCG).  There was also a variety of vintages. Additionally, there were three “Riserva” level wines, which were aged a minimum of 24 months.  All wines were between$10 – $20.

We tasted the following five wines:

  1. 2005  Incanto Chianti Classico Riserva – $10/100% Sangiovese /13% ABV
  2. 2006 Frescobaldi Nipozzano Rufina Chianti Riserva – $17/ Blend of Sangiovese, Malavasia, Canaiolo, Merlot, and Cab/ 13.5% ABV
  3. 2007 Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva – $17/Almost exclusively Sangiovese/13% ABV
  4. 2007  Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico – $13; At least 80% Sangiovese plus Canaiolo, and Merlot/13% ABV
  5. 2008 Malenchini Chianti – $11/100% Sangiovese/14% ABV

Chianti Night Blind Tasting - The Wines

And the winner was…

2005 Malenchini Chianti (purchased at Whole Foods). Click here for Cellartracker reviews.

Malenchini Chianti - The Winner!

As always seems to be the case…”The last shall be first”.  While the winner wasn’t the least expensive (It was the second least expensive), it was the least in that it was neither produced in the most prestigious Chianti Classic0 DOCG, nor was it a “Riserva” aged for at least 24 months in oak barrels.  In fact, it wasn’t even aged in oak. It was aged in stainless steel!

So if you’re looking for a good Chianti, at a good price….try a bottle!