Wines At Our Table; May 17th, 2015

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  It features my pick for Wine of the Week – a  wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out; for the week ended May 17th, 2015.

2013 Château La Canorgue Luberon Rosé – Retail – $20
Pink orange color with promising red fruit, lavender, anise and a bit of mineral aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied and fresh with tart cherry, red currant, and spice flavors and a lingering tangy mineral driven finish. 50/50 Blend of Grenache/Syrah Very good; 86-88 pts

Scharffenberger Brut Excellence – Retail – $16
Pale gold color with appealing brioche, soft red fruits, pear, citrus and a kiss of spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with a creamy mousse, and a soft harmonious character. It shows pear, strawberry , mandarin orange, just a bit of plum and cinnamon flavors with a clean satisfying finish. Very good; 86-88 pts

2013 Casa D’Ambra Biancolella Ischia Frassitelli – Retail – $28
Pale golden color with restrained honey, yellow apple, sea breeze and wet stone aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and focused with a wonderful texture and good acidity with apricot, yellow apple, honey, and a bit of almond flavors with a mineral driven lingering finish. Very good; 86-88 pts

2008 Bisceglia Aglianico del Vulture Gudarrà – Retail – $20
Very dark crimson color with a black fruits, tar, dark chocolate, and glimpses of truffle and violet aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with astringent tannins and black currant, black cherry, plum and bittersweet chocolate flavors. Long finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91 pts

Wine of the Week

It was a week of “firsts” for me.  I tried a couple of Italian wines from Campania region for the first time.  One made from Biancolella, a new to me, grape that is usually blended with Forestera for Ischia Bianco.   But my bottle was 100% Biancolella. The other was a  red made from ,arguably, southern Italy’s most important variety Aglianico, (specifically Aglianico del Vulture – a region known as It is one of southern Italy’s greatest wines and has been dubbed the ‘Barolo of the South’)  I enjoyed both, though, I would have enjoyed the Aglianico more had it not been as tannic as it was.

It was also my first time trying a Rose from Luberon region of the France.  Also quite enjoyable.

In fact, I enjoyed all the wines pretty much equally.  In such a situation, I ask myself “Which wine would you buy again?” 

This week, the answer, and my Wine of the Week is the Scharffenberger Brut Excellence.

From the winery…

The history of Scharffenberger Cellars begins in 1981 in the heart of California’s Anderson Valley. Situated only miles from the coastal influences of the Pacific Ocean, Scharffenberger Cellars also enjoys the deep soils and sunshine within the protected valley. Originally founded by John Scharffenberger, the company has gone through many transitions, including a name change when it was formally known as Pacific Echo from 1998 until July 2004. Today, the name has been restored back to Scharffenberger Cellars under the new management of Maisons Marques & Domaines (Champagne Louis Roederer, and Roederer Estate among others).

With the many changes at Scharffenberger Cellars, what has remained consistent is the quality and the original philosophy behind the winemaking. Tex Sawyer, winemaker since 1989 continues to manage the winemaking program and today works with the new ownership to restore the glory of the original brand name.

The Brut Excellence is made from Schraffenberger’s own 120-acre vineyards in the Anderson Valley. In addition, Scharffenberger Cellars has long-term contracts with select vineyards in the greater Mendocino County

The Scharffenberger Brut is blended with two-thirds Pinot Noir and one-third Chardonnay. All the fruit for Scharffenberger Brut undergoes 100% malolactic fermentation.  It is aged two years on lees. 1% RS. 12% alcohol.


It would be interesting to taste this wine blind back to back with its Anderson Valley stable mate the Roederer Estate Brut.  The primary difference between the two are that the Schraffenberger undergoes malolactic fermentation, while the Roederer Estate Brut doesn’t.  The Roederer has slightly higher RS at 1.2% and retails for $4 more.  

We paired this wine with fried chicken, as well a pulled pork sandwich. If you haven’t tried sparkling wine and fried chicken together…you’re missing a treat. That make the Scharffenberg and Fried Chicken my Food and Wine Pairing of the Week!

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

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Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine Pairing Recommendations For Global Street Food #SundaySupper

This week’s #SundaySupper theme is all about Global Street Food. You know – that ready-to-eat food served up at mobile street carts, food trucks, movable market stalls, and food parks.

One of the things I love about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is its diversity.  It’s a (mostly) delightful, if sometimes quirky mash-up of ethnicities, cultures, politics, religions, you name it.  The gastronomic scene reflects that diversity.  Name a cuisine and you can find it in the Bay Area.  And of course

And of course, there are a multitude of opportunities to sample street food in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Off The Grid, SOMA Street Food Park, among many others.

One of my favorites is Sanguchon, a Peruvian Food Truck that serves a killer pulled pork sandwich. I usually get it with yucca fries.

Many local wineries have gotten in on the act, none more so that Rock Wall Wine Company, which regularly hosts “Food Truck Frenzy” with 6-8 gourmet food trucks, a DJ, and plenty of their award-winning wines.

Yes…wine goes with damn near anything.

Especially street foods from around the world.

Global Street Food #SundaySupper

Rock Wall Wine Food Truck Frenzy – Image courtesy of Rock Wall Wine Company

Global street food deserves a global wine selection.  My wine pairing recommendations include wines from Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, and California

My wine pairing recommendations  and this weeks slate of scrumptious #SundaySupper street eats follow (click on the name of the wine to find):

Pair these dishes with sparkling wine.  One of my favorites is Scharffenberger Brut Excellence.  It’s a great value that’s a blend of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay with a full-bodied golden apple, ginger and honey character.  And remember sparkling wines are one of the most friendly wines there is!

Pair these dishes with a Pinot Blanc, a white grape variety that is a mutation of Pinot Noir. The first time I had it with food prepared with typical Indian food spices I was skeptical, but Pinot Blanc and such dishes rock! Look for the 2011 Paul Black Pinot Blanc d’Alsace from France.  It opens up with appealing apple, lemon and ginger aromas that follow on the palate with a lively mouthfeel, a kiss of tropical fruit and mineral undertone.

Pair these dishes with a wine made from the Torrontés grape variety, Argentina’s only indigenous grape.  Look for the 2011 Bodegas Colomé “Estate” Torrontés Valle Calchaquí Salta.

One of the tried, tested and mostly found true tenets of wine and food pairing is that “Riesling goes with anything”.  Arguably Riesling is the most versatile white wine at the table. That’s certainly the case this week.  Pair this diverse range of dishes with an off-dry Riesling.  I like the 2011 Von Hovel Oberemmeier Hutte Riesling Kabinett (is that a mouthful or what?).  It has a stone fruit, tropical fruit, sweet lime, and spice character and racy acidity.

Pair these dishes with a dry Rosé, a very versatile partner at the table.  Look for the 2012 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare. This an atypical Rosé in that it’s a blend of  both red and white Rhône grape varieties.  A typical Rosé is composed of solely red grape varieties.  It has an appealing strawberry, white peach, melon, spice and mineral character.

Pair these dishes with Chianti, the classic Italian red wine. Look for the 2011 Coltibuono Cetamura Chianti.  It’s a blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo with a beautiful black cherry, spice, and licorice character with a kiss of rusticity.

Pair these dishes with Malbec, or more specifically, a blend of Malbec and Tannat, a little known grape variety, that today is best known as the national red grape variety of Uruguay.  Look for the 2011 Domingo Molina Hermanos Malbec-Tannat from Argentina. It’s a dark and delicious full-bodied wine with a blackberry, plum, and chocolate character with soft texture and a mineral undertone.

Pair these sweet treats with Banyuls, a lighter style fortified wine made in France.  It’s a Port-style wine made from Grenache, and is a great match for chocolate.  Look for the 2009 Les Clos de Paulilles Banyuls Rimage.  It has rich, dense blackberry, plum, caramel, and vanilla aromas and flavors. 

Pair sweet treats with Moscato d’ Asti. I like the 2012 Vietti Cascinetta Moscato d’Asti.  It has a lovely rose, and peach character with a soft effervescence.

Pair these sweet treats with the 2011 von Hovel Riesling noted above:

Let’s hit the pavement this Sunday in search of the best street food from around the globe!  Join us for a #SundaySupper event featuring Global Street Food that we’ve made in our own kitchens, in honor of our favorites and/or those we would love to try! We’ll also be holding our live #SundaySupper twitter chat at 7pm (ET) on Sunday evening.  We’d love to have you join us as we discuss the best and the worst of Global Street Food!

Top 20 Sparkling Wines Under $20!

Over the past couple of years I’ve made it a point to blog about sparkling wines. For a time I blogged about a different sparkling wine on a weekly basis (At one point I tried 30 different sparkling wines over a 30 week period!).  Though I’ve gotten away from it in recent months, it’s not because I stopped drinking sparkling wines (I still drink bubbly pretty much on a weekly basis; I don’t wait for a special occasion and neither should you!), rather it’s because after a year and a half of trying more than my fair share of sparkling wines from around the world, I’ve found many I enjoy that have become repeat purchases.

While I love Champagne, it’s more expensive (entry-level examples start at around $30) than its sparkling wine brethren (I did find one for under $19.99, but didn’t care for it enough to purchase it again).  There are just too many other sparkling wines i enjoy more (especially since I’m footing the bill;-)…

Please allow me a moment on the Sparkling Wine soapbox..

  • Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne, the real stuff only comes from the Champagne region of France
  • Sparking wines are great wines – drink as you would other wines (i.e. don’t limit your consumption to special occasions), including trying different styles (White, Rosé, Red, Blanc-de-blancs, Blanc-de-noirs, Brut, Extra-Dry, etc.)
  • Sparkling wines are under-appreciated food friendly wines – If I’m not sure about a food a wine pairing, you can bet I’ll reach for a bottle of bubbly!  Besides being the only wine that’s socially acceptable to have with any meal, sparkling wine is one of the few wines that can take you from appetizers to dessert!

Ok…now that that’s off my chest…

Champagne Glasses

Image couresy of Grape Sense – Glass Half Full

Your best bets for finding quality for the price sparkling wines under $20 are to:

  • Here in the U.S. – look for sales on most major California labels, Chandon, Gloria Ferrer, Mumm, and Roederer are in wide distribution and frequently significantly discounted. At least one of those brands is on sale at my local grocery store every week for less than $20 ( and often less than $15…)
  • If you prefer sparkling wine with as Champagne-like character, look for Cava from Spain, or  Crémant from France (Crémant de Bourgogne, Limoux, Alsace, and Loire). They’re produced using the same method as Champagne, so you’ll get a more yeasty character,and save some coin.
  • If you prefer sparkling wine with fruitier aromas and flavors, and you’re not hung up on the method of production, look for Prosecco from Italy.
  • Sparkling wine is made the world over, so you can find good value in sparkling wines from South Africa, Australia and even South America.

Here are my Top 20 sparkling wines under $20 (click on the bold italicized links for my more detailed blog posts from my T.G.I.F. series of weekly sparkling wine tastings) It’s a diverse list geographically, and stylistically. There is with bubbly from Argentina, Australia, California, Spain, Italy, and South Africa. And there is Brut, Rose, Blanc de Noir, and even a dessert sparkling wine. Many can be found at grocery stores, or large beverage retailers like BevMo, and Costco. Others may be more challenging to find, but are definitely worth seeking out.

  1. Taltarni Brut Tache – (Australia)  Lovely pale salmon color with floral, stone fruit (peaches/apricots), and fresh-baked scone aromas. On the palate, approaching medium-bodied, with a creamy mousse with watermelon, red berry, and a bit of hazelnut flavors. Dry with a light fruitiness, good acidity, and a clean medium long finish. >>Find this wine<<
  2. Schramsberg Mirabelle North Coast Brut Rosé – (California) Delicate pink color with strawberry and bread dough aromas.  On the palate, moderately creamy mousse, good acidity, focused, fruity, yet dry, and lively, with strawberries, raspberries and a touch of citrus, and spice flavors. Medium finish. >>Find this wine<<
  3. 2011 Raventos i Blanc L’Heure Blanc Brut Reserva – (Spain)  Very light straw yellow color with plenty of tiny bubbles, white flower, yeast, apple aromas. On the palate, a wonderful creamy mousse uncommon at this price point, dry, and approaching medium-bodied with apple, and a hint on citrus flavors. Medium finish >>Find this wine<<
  4. Törley Doux Tokaji – (Hungary) The only dessert bubbly in the bunch – Pale straw yellow color with lots of pin prick sized bubbles and brioche, apricot, mineral and vanilla aromas. On the palate, it shows a creamy mousse, and is sweet but nicely balanced very good acidity with apricot, peach, and vanilla flavors. Made from Furmint grapes. 11% alcohol >>Find this wine<<
  5. Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley – (California) – Light golden straw color with plentiful, persistent stream of tiny bubbles, and sweet yeast, fresh-cut green apples aromas. On the palate, medium-bodied with soft texture, zippy acidity, between dry and off-dry with sweet green apples, a bit of pear, hazelnut and vanilla flavors.
  6. El Xamfra Cava Mercat Brut Nature – (Spain) – Pale straw yellow color with lot of bubbles, and floral, stone fruit, citrus and slight sweet yeast aromas. On the palate, it has a surprisingly explosive mousse, and approached medium-bodied with stone fruit, citrus, and toasted nut flavors. Medium finish. 11.5% alcohol. Zero dosage. A great value! >>Find this wine<<
  7. Mumm Napa Brut Prestige – (California) – Light golden tinged straw color with biscuit, sweet citrus, red fruit and subtle floral aromas. In the glass it displays lots of tiny bubbles. On the palate it is medium-bodied with fairly creamy mousse and cherry, vanilla, and citrus flavors. >>Find this wine<<
  8. Vinos de Terrunos German Gilabert Penedès Brut Nature Rosat – (Spain) Cherry red color with a frothy mousse showing tiny dispersed bubbles with yeast and red fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s dry owing to zero dosage (no added sugar) with fresh cherry, raspberry, and a hint of mineral flavors. This Rosé is a blend of Trepat and Garnacha. >>Find this wine<<
  9. 2012 Antech “Cuvée Eugénie” Crémant de Limoux – (France) Light straw color with brioche, Fuji apple, and floral aromas.  On the palate, crisp with zippy acidity, a moderately creamy mousse, and sweet green apple, pear, and a bit of citrus flavors.  Medium finish. >>Find this wine<<
  10. François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Brut (France) Light straw yellow color with lots of tiny bubbles, and brioche, and apple aromas. On the palate, it has a delicate mousse, is off-dry with apple and mineral flavors. 100% Chenin Blanc >>Find this wine<<
  11. Graham Beck Brut Rosé – (South Africa) Watermelon pink color with a hint of silver with aromas of yeast, and raspberries.  On the palate, a creamy mousse, fruity, yet dry, with crisp acidity and raspberries, cherries flavors, with a slight mineral overtone, and a hint of citrus on the back palate.  Short-medium finish. Great QPR! >>Find this wine<<
  12. La Marca Prosecco – (Italy) Very pale straw yellow color with white flowers, stone fruit, and a whiff of tangerine aromas. It shows an active stream of tiny bubbles. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and fresh with a creamy mousse and peach, and tangerine flavors. Medium finish. >>Find this wine<<
  13. Deligeroy Crémant de Loire Brut – (France) Pale yellow color with a bit of bronze tinge and brioche pear, raspberry, and mineral aromas. On the palate it was light-bodied,and between dry, and off-dry with good acidity, and a prickly mousse with pear, raspberry, and mineral flavors. A Blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc. >>Find this wine<<
  14. Scharffenberger Brut Excellence – (California) Pale yellow-bold color with tiny bead of bubbles that dissipated somewhat quickly, and bread dough, faint apple aromas. On the palate it’s light-medium bodied, with a moderately creamy mousse, and sweet fruity sweet apple, and lemon-lime flavors. >>Find this wine<<
  15. Gruet Blanc de Noirs – (New Mexico)  Salmon color with an abundance of dispersed tiny bubbles with brioche and apple aromas. On the palate approaching medium bodied with a moderately aggressive mousse, balanced with pear, sweet baking spice, vanilla, and nuanced citrus flavors. >>Find this wine<<
  16. Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut – (California) – Very light straw color with persistent bead of smallish bubbles, and fresh bread, apple, citrus,and a bit of ginger aromas.  On the palate, it shows a moderately creamy mousse, with apple, pear, and citrus flavors. >>Find this wine<<
  17. Reginato “Celestina” Rosé of Malbec – (Argentina) – Intense strawberry red color with intermittent stream of tiny bubbles with baked bread and ripe cherry aromas. On the palate, fruity, yet pleasingly more dry, than off-dry with an explosive, creamy mousse, and with delicate almost imperceptible tannins, with flavors of cherries, raspberries, and a hint of spice. >>Find this wine<<
  18. Segura Viudas Brut Reserva – (Spain) Light straw color with fine bead of bubbles with bread dough and lemon-lime citrus aromas.  On the palate, light bodied, with moderately creamy mousse with green apple, and tart citrus flavors. Short finish. This one is “everyday” sparkler for me.  It’s a great value at $9/bottle! >>Find this wine<<
  19.  Blason de Bourgogne Crémant de Bourgogne Cuvée Brut – (France) Very pale straw yellow color with toasty pear, citrus and hint of spice aromas and tiny bubbles. On the palate it’s fresh and fruity with pear, fuji apple, a vanilla, and sweet baking spice flavors.  Wonderful QPR @$10! Available at Trader Joe’s
  20. Korbel Natural – (California) Pale golden-yellow color with yeast ,red fruit, and apple aromas.  On the palate light bodied, crisp, between dry and off-dry.  Straight-forward with cherry, apple, minerals, and a touch of honey flavors.  Short-medium finish. >>Find this wine<< 

What are your favorite sparkling wines under $20? I’d love to give them a try!

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