Pairing with Bubbles – Gloria Ferrer and the amazing Sarah Tracey

The line up of Bubbles from Gloria Ferrer for the Bubbles and Bites Sparkling Pairing Exploration with Sarah Tracey

It’s the season for bubbles and this past October I was able to do an amazing tasting and pairing event with sparkling wines from Gloria Ferrer at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla Washington.

I met Sarah Tracey of The Lush Life the evening before her Bubbles and Bites Seminar at WBC18. At the dinner at Doubleback Winery, we finished with the hors d’ouervres in the winery and headed back into the beautiful tasting room to find a seat for dinner and as luck would have it, I ended up sitting next to Sarah. We had great conversation throughout the evening (we both fell in love with the AMAZING lobster bisque) and at the end of the evening she mentioned that she was hosting Wine Discovery Session “Gloria Ferrer Bubbles and Bites” which I had signed up for.

The Amazing Sarah Tracey of The Lush Life
The Amazing Sarah Tracey of The Lush Life (and no, that’s not her dog, just a friend she made who was happy to pose with her for this shot!)

Sarah has quite the history! She writes a column for Martha Stewart (you can check that out here) . She’s a Somm, a wine educator and is spectacular at putting on events. She loves to travel and loves bubbles! (my kinda girl!).

The Bubbles

Gloria Ferrer

Gloria Ferrer Vineyard View
The view of the Carneros Vineyards from Gloria Ferrer

Before we get started with the pairings, I should probably tell you a little about Gloria Ferrer. This winery is located in the southern part Sonoma County. We visited one early morning and enjoyed glorious views from the patio while doing a seated tasting. I love their sparkling wines. We loved them enough to join the club. When a morning is tough, I just close my eyes and picture myself sitting there on their patio with a glass of their sparkling in hand. It inevitably makes the day better. We wrote about our visit in Bubbles to Start the Day at Gloria Ferrer and give you a little background in Gloria Ferrer – a Little History

The wines of Gloria Ferrer, while always well received, particularly by the critics, have continued to improve over 30 growing seasons. The family legacy of uncompromising quality is passed down through generations. The Pinot Pedigree born of decades nurturing our Sonoma Carneros Estate vineyards. The patience-testing méthode champenoise process of aging and blending is paramount. It’s all coming together in the perfect blend of savor and celebrate. Find them on Facebook, Twitter at @GloriaFerrer, and Instagram.

Source Gloria Ferrer

Pairing Strategies

The Bubbles and Bites Session with Gloria Ferrer, was more than just showing you a pairing…this was meant to get your brain thinking about what makes a good pairing and why. Think of colors. There are complimentary colors and contrasting colors. Food and wine are the same way, you can match or contrast

Sarah laid down 4 pairing strategies

  1. Acid needs Acid
  2. Flavor Match
  3. Contrast Pairing
  4. Texture Match

Within these strategies, she paired a Gloria Ferrer Sparkling wine with a small bite. Let’s walk through these delicious pairings. While we do this, keep in mind the flavor profiles and how you can use these to create your own pairings.

Acid needs Acid

For this strategy Sarah chose the Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut. This wine is 86.5% Pinot Noir and 13.5% Chardonnay. It is aged in stainless steel and then aged en tirage for a year and a half and you can find it for about $22

The pairing Sarah chose for this wine was a Classic Bruschetta with grated parmesan and a balsamic glaze. The acid in the tomatoes and the vinegar call for a high acid wine, a low acid wine would end up tasting flat.

This pairing worked! Keep this in mind when pairing dishes with tomatoes, lemon or vinegar and reach for a wine with higher acid to keep the flavors bright in both the wine and the food.

Bruschetta in the foreground and Turkey pinwheel in the back  Bubbles and Bites
Bruschetta in the foreground and Turkey pinwheel in the back

Flavor Match

The second pairing strategy is one that I often employ. Flavor Matching pulls from the wine and matches the food (or vice versa). I often use this when I picking up a wine I have not tasted. I can read the tasting notes on the shelf talker (or that I have looked up) and pull from that for my pairing. Syrah’s often have blackberry notes and I will pair them with a dish that has blackberries or a blackberry sauce. Spice notes on a wine, can inform the direction of your seasoning.

The wine for this pairing was the Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs. This wine is 91.6% Pinot Noir and 8.4% Chardonnay. (I know, they are so exact with their percentages!). This wine is hand harvested and whole cluster pressed. They blend 5-7% Vin Gris (cold-soaked Pinot Noir juice) into the base wine. This Vin Gris with it’s skin contact gives the wine it’s bit of color. It is again stainless steel aged and a year and a half en tirage.

Sarah paired this with a Turkey pinwheel with Cougar Gold, strawberry preserve, boursin & arugula. Okay…if you are asking, “What is Cougar Gold” you are not alone. When she announced this half the room murmured with smiles on their faces while the rest of us looked about bewildered. Okay here’s the deal.

Cougar Gold

Cougar Gold is a cheese. A canned cheese developed in the 1940s at Washington State University, funded by the US Government. The idea of a canned cheese that would last indefinitely was appealing at this time. It’s a white cheddar. You can find it online at the WSU siteor on Amazon, where a 30 oz can will set you back $64.99. You can watch a quirky fun video called The Making of Cougar Gold Cheese on Vimeo.

Okay, now that that is out of the way…so this pinwheel is turkey with Cougar Gold, which we now know is a white cheddar, plus boursin (a rich crumbly Gournay cheese made of cows milk), strawberry preserves and fresh arugula.

The strawberry notes in the wine match with the strawberry preserves enhancing both the wine and the food.

Contrast Pairing

We head now to pairing the Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé. This wine is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. To get that lovely pink color they macerate half of the Pinot Noir on skin for 36-48 hours. This also developes the nose and flavor. This is aged en tirage for 2 years. This wine runs about $29.

The pairing is Ahi Poke with sunomono cucumbers, sriracha, seaweed salad & pickled ginger. The wine with it’s vibrant fruit sits in contrast to the heat and umami in the dish with the seaweed, sriracha and ginger. For other contrast pairings think, sweet and salty or sweet and tart. Think Thai food and Riesling or lambrusco and chinese food. (somehow I’m always drawn to Asian pairings here, but there are many more!)

Right to left, Ahi Poke with sunomono cucumbers, sriracha, seaweed salad & pickled ginger and Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Meyer lemon aioli
Right to left, Ahi Poke with sunomono cucumbers, sriracha, seaweed salad & pickled ginger and Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Meyer lemon aioli

Texture Match

Wine, most especially sparkling wine, has a definite texture in your mouth. Sarah used this pairing to highlight this. The wine was the 2010 Anniversary Cuvée by Gloria Ferrer 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay this wine only uses the first press of juice. It ferments in stainless steel and spends 5 years en tirage. The growing season for this vintage was very cool. This lovely bottle runs $45.

Gloria Ferrer 2010 Anniversary Cuvée
Gloria Ferrer 2010 Anniversary Cuvée

The pairing here was elevated, as was the wine and was a bacon wrapped scallop with meyer lemon aioli. The creamy texture of the scallop and the creamy texture of the wine are gorgeous together in your mouth. Then you add the fat and salt of the bacon…yep…pretty heavenly.

The wrap up

Gloria Ferrer sparkling wines Sonoma Brut and Blanc de Noirs
Gloria Ferrer sparkling wines Sonoma Brut and Blanc de Noirs

These 4 strategies for pairing wines, work with sparkling as well as still wines and you can use them beyond that, with beers and spirits and even with creating a menu or a dish.

I encourage you to drink bubbles often. They are not all the same! And put them in a wine glass, not a flute, you will be able to enjoy the aromas in the wine even better.

Bubbles are joyful and these bubbles we discussed are affordable. Don’t just hoard your bubbles for an “Occassion”, life is short, make Thursday an Occassion!

Thanks to Gloria Ferrer for sponsoring this seminar and to Sarah Tracey for such an interesting seminar. And of course thanks to the Wine Bloggers Conference (newly rechristened the Wine Media Conference) for making this all possible!

A couple of quick disclaimers. I went to the Wine Bloggers Conference as a Citizen Blogger and this tasting was part of the conference. The conference is offered at an amazing rate for citizen bloggers to entice us to write about the different wineries and areas we visit. So…this great tasting and pairing, cost me next to nothing. BUT, I assure you that had it been crap, I would not have written about it. So there you have it. Second side note, I’ve written about Gloria Ferrer before and enjoy their wines on a regular basis as a paying wineclub member, so yeah, I like their wines.

As always be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep up to date on all of our posts.

Dinner with a view – Cadaretta

The Glasshouse at Southwind Vineyard by Cadaretta

We got in a van not knowing how long the drive might be.  I suppose I could have looked at a map, but I’m not sure that would have helped.  We actually ended up in Oregon.  Walla Walla AVA is a border AVA with part of the AVA in Washington and part in Oregon.

We were headed to Cadaretta’s Glasshouse on their Southwind Vineyard for dinner.  We arrived as the sun was setting to amazing views.  We were greeted with a glass of wine and trays of passed hors d’oeuvres.  The food and wine were lovely, but that view…

Cadaretta

The name comes from the name of the schooner that carried the Anderson & Middleton lumber products to market in the early 20th century.  The family has a history in Washington having been in lumber on the coast since 1898.  That’s 120 years in business in WA this year, which is no small feat.  The timber company was based on the coast in Aberdeen WA (of Nirvana fame).

Getting into Grapes

Issues came up with the decline of old growth and the family, always looking to preserve the land, closed their mill. In the 70’s issues with the spotted owl came up and many companies went out of business. The family bought property in California’s central valley and started growing table grapes.  This led them to Paso Robles where they have been growers of wine grapes at their Red Cedar Vineyard for 30 years.

They started Clayhouse wines in Paso Robles.  Their roots were in Washington though, and they returned to purchase this piece of property in the Walla Walla AVA.

Back to the ship

The Cadaretta carried lumber to San Francisco and LA.  Kris’ father used to ride on the ship as a kid on it’s journeys.  During WWII the ship was requisitioned by the Government.  Family lore tell the tale that on the final trip as the Cadaretta the ship was followed down the coast by a Japanese submarine.  The ship was later renamed Southwind, which is where this particular vineyard derives its name.

Southwind Vineyard

This vineyard sits just west of Milton-Freewater on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla AVA.  L’Ecole, Doubleback and Sleight of Hand also have vineyards nearby.  The view and the company are impressive, but what makes this place special for wine is the soil.

Soil at Southwind Vineyard

Most of the soil in the surrounding area is loess (blown dust) from the Columbia and Missoula Floods and you find that in the soils on the Northern slope. Those are the relatively young 15 million year old soils.  On the South slope you find fractured basalt soils.  These are ancient soils.  They were just behind the tent we were sitting in.  You find them only on steep hillsides above 1250.

When they bought the property they spent 2 years digging test plots.  After soil analysis they planted 1 acre test plots. Digging into the basalt is difficult, time consuming and expensive.  The vines have to work harder and dig deeper, but the characteristic they were getting in the wines from this soil made it worth it.

They have been working on this for 8 years and only 2 years ago release the first of the Southwind wines. Kris said that as a timber family they have a saying…

“It takes 40 years to grow a tree, we have patience.”

They wanted to get it right.  They find Syrah and Malbec do best in this soil.  There are few other vineyard grown in fractured basalt. These Southwind wines are pretty rare also with just 50 cases of each released.

Sustainability is common sense

The family comes from timber and it was always just common sense to take care of the land.  It’s no different with the vineyard.  Being salmon safe and sustainable isn’t something they advertise, they just do it.  They have falconers from Paso that they used in the vineyard there who come in to help keep the vermin down, as well as owl boxes on the property.  They use arugula for cover crop and have a bee keeper who comes in with the bees.  It just makes sense to be sustainable.

Artifexs

With that idea in mind, they also didn’t see the need for a big showy winery.  Instead they worked with Norm McKibben and  JF Pellet and created Artifex in Walla Walla which is a custom crush facility for small lot, high end wines.  The name comes from a Latin term meaning “Made skillfully” and it is a state of the art facility.  The facility houses multiple wineries and they are customers to themselves.

The Glasshouse

So they had determined that they didn’t need an extravagant tasting room, but her brother still wanted a place to entertain.  The view here from the vineyard was stunning and he wanted to create a place to enjoy that view.  He had seen a building at the Santa Rosa Airport and honed in on the idea of a glass house with garage doors to open to the view.  The timber is recycled, of course.  To keep this a “special” place they limit it to just a few events.  We were lucky to be one of those few events.

The Dinner

Over the course of the evening, Kris spoke to us between courses and we enjoyed dinner from Olive Catering in Walla Walla to compliment the wines.

The 2014 Cadaretta, Windthrow

This wine was paired with Wild Canadian Arctic Char with Yukon potato emulsion, chanterelle mushrooms and plum relish.

The Windthrow is a Columbia Valley Rhone Style Blend (76% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre and 9% Grenache) sourced from Stonetree, Southwind and Monetta’s Vineyards.  Aged 22 month in 50% Hungarian Oak, 40% New French Oak and 10% Neutral French Oak.  Unfined they made just 259 cases.

The 2015 Cadaretta, Southwind Malbec

Paired with maple braised lamb shank with black truffle risotto, foraged mushrooms and dates.

The Southwind Malbec is a Walla Walla Valley wine specifically from the Southwind Vineyard.  2015 was a warm vintage with an early bud break. This was a wine that opened in the glass.

The 2014 Cadaretta, Springboard

Our dessert pairing of petite fours & truffles.

The Springboard is a Columbia Valley wine and is a Bordeaux style blend of 81% Cab Sav, 10% Malbec and 9% Petit Verdot sourced from Obelisco, Southwind, Red Mountain and Alder Ridge Vineyards.  It is aged in 60% new french oak with the remainder in more neutral oak.  Only 249 cases of this wine were made.

The evening was beautiful, the hosting was warm and the wines were truly stunning.  Getting to speak with Kris and being so warmly welcomed to the place that is so special to their family was a wonderful experience.

You can taste them at their tasting room in Downtown Walla Walla at 315 E. Main Street Thursday through Sunday.  Visit there website here for details.

Don’t forget to check back with us here at Crushed Grape Chronicles for more great wine country experiences in Washington, Oregon and beyond. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

 

 

WBC18 in Walla Walla the Sweeping Overview

Owen Roe Vineyard Shot

We returned from WBC18 with so much content on Washington Wines and beyond!  Tons of great photos and footage and stories from amazing people and wineries.  We will break it all down and give you the in-depth stories, but the week was so exciting I wanted to give you the sweeping overview (Complete with lots of photos!) of the stories you will see coming soon!

Michael drove to Portland, you can catch a little of his trip on #WBC18 Crushed Grape Chronicles Travel Log(Day 1) and #WBC18 Crushed Grape Chronicles Travel Log Day 2  We will pick up here where he left off.

So I did make it to the airport in Portland!  While Michael got a couple extra hours of sleep due to our cancelled and re-booked flight, I sadly did not.  Whatever, it’s vacation right?  Sleep is overrated.  We got on our tiny little flight to PASCO the Tri Cities airport that sits between Yakima and Walla Walla and were seated at the back of the plane.  We noticed the plane was pretty empty and inquired about re-seating.  The flight attendant informed us that we were seated to provide ballast.  LOL!

The flight, new friends and Wine!

As it turned out, there were other WBC attendees on the flight, so we made friends!  Jennifer of Beyond the Corkscrew sat with us and we enjoyed complimentary wine from Horizon Air from Sagelands Winery.  They are part of the Precept Wine Portfolio and say Sagelands “embodies Washington State’s wine making legacy by sourcing the finest grapes from the four corners of the Columbia Valley and handcrafting them into wines of outstanding quality and value”.  From what I can gather on their site, they are a larger winery sourcing grapes, but….I appreciated the bits on their winemaker and the vineyards they source from and their soils.  Feel free to use the link and check them out. Michael had the Cabernet, I had the Chardonnay and we toasted with Jennifer to a fine start to what would be a full weekend of wine!

Wine Yakima Valley

We spent a little bit of time at the airport, before our host from Wine Yakima Valley arrived to pick us up.  There was also a Red Mountain Tour leaving from the airport.  I will have a piece or two (or three) on this pre-conference tour.  Barbara with Wine Yakima Valley did a phenomenal job setting this all up.  So you get the overview!  They had snacks for the drive…

Yakima Valley Cheese Plate

Yakima Valley Cheese Plate

…it included some local products, a bit of a tussle to get them out of the plastic wrap but…and then we were off for the hour ten minute drive to Owen Roe Winery for Flavor Camp.  Patrick our driver regaled us with stories and details of the area along the way.

Owen Roe Winery

We arrived early at Owen Roe and were greeted with wine, I managed to get a winery tour with Owner David O’Reilly and then Flavor Camp!  Yeah, you’ll have to wait to hear about that.  The evening ended with Dinner with a spectacular view and many Yakima Valley wines, with Winemakers pouring.

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Elephant Mountain Vineyard

The next morning we were up for breakfast and a fly-over seminar, with Co Dinn of Co Dinn Cellars and Kerry Shiels of Côte Bonneville to give us the layout of the Yakima Valley so we could connect with the landmarks we were passing as we headed to Elephant Mountain Vineyard.  We met Joe Hattrup, who owns the vineyard., tasted some of the varieties fresh from harvest and then tasted an assortment of wines made from the grapes sourced from this vineyard.  Of course they kept us fed, today with a great Mexican food truck to enjoy with the wine and the astounding views.

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Walla Walla pre-conference wine education

We came in hot to Walla Walla, dashing from the van right into our first session which was with Dr. Loosen USA on riesling.  We had a moment to check in and then off to our second session on the Wines of Uruguay (which was really fascinating and delicious).

Cadaretta

Our dinner that night was at Cadaretta’s glass house.  This trip actually took us across the border into Oregon, as the Walla Walla AVA is a cross border AVA.  The views were amazing, dinner and the wines were delicious and Kris Middleton of Cadaretta was kind enough to take some time to speak with us.  (Yeah…more on that later)

And the conference begins!

The conference…well it’s really fast paced.  The Conference Opening ran right into the Introduction to the Walla Walla Valley (and more stories to come from the 4 women winemakers from name the winemakers with links to wineries who introduced us to the region), then a session on Wine Bloggers vs Wine Influencers which took us into lunch sponsored by Cascade Valley Wine Country

Agenda Board for Wine Writers Conference

Agenda Board for Wine Writers Conference

Michael and I then split, Michael did a wine discovery session with Rias Baixas and I did one with Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC.  We met up again for the Keynote speaker and then went right into Live Red Wine Blogging.  What is Live Red Wine Blogging you ask?  It’s like speed dating for wine tasting and it’s chaos. You will get the rundown on that later or feel free to jump onto twitter and check out my notes that I did as we went along, the red tasting starts here.

Mystery Dinner

This is by far my favorite part of the conference, you get a colored tag at the top of the conference that is matched up to a group.  You all get in vans, buses, cars, limos….and they drive you somewhere.  You don’t know where you are going until you arrive.  We arrived at Doubleback Winery and were treated to an amazing dinner by Andrae’s Kitchen with wines from Doubleback Winery and Sleight of Hand Cellars. The winemakers joined us and spoke (we sat with Trey Busch winemaker for Sleight of Hand).  The atmosphere, food, wine and company were wonderful.

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Parties…

The conference is full of post evening parties, some sponsored by wineries, some just gatherings.  I attended one with Fullerton Wines (thanks Matt) and then another wine filled spectacle by the Drunken Cyclist where everyone brought a bottle to share.

Fullerton Pinot Noir

Fullerton Pinot Noir (they also have another brand called Three Otters)

Conference Day 2

The second day of the conference kicked off with the announcement of next years conference which will be held in New South Wales Australia!  Followed by breakout session on writing, media, video etc…

Lunch in Walla Walla

Lunch this day was sponsored by Visit Walla Walla and you signed up for lunch in a downtown tasting room.  We visited Gard Vintners where we sampled wines, enjoyed a box lunch as well as grapes from the vineyard and apples from the property.

Bubbles or Bodegas

Michael and I split up again, he attended a session with Bodegas LAN of Rioja and I did a tasting a pairing session with Sarah Tracey of The Lush Life, who I had an opportunity to chat with as I sat next to her the previous evening at dinner.  She set up a pairing seminar with Gloria Ferrer sparkling wines.  Informative, beautiful and delicious, this was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Cheese Please!

When you think of wine, you can’t help but also think of cheese!  Cheeses of Europe gets this and sponsored a session of cheese pairings hosted by the Cheese Twins Michael and Charlie Kalish (you might know them from Chopped or The Great Foodtruck Race.  Entertained and full of cheese we had a break before Lightning Talks and the Live White and Rosé tasting.

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The evening ended with the final dinner, where we met two winemakers Chris Loeliger of Truth Teller Winery and Tim Armstrong of Armstrong Family Winery .  And yes, we look forward to followup conversations with both of these gentlemen and bringing you the stories of their wineries.

The Gorge

We had also set up for a post conference excursion through the Columbia Gorge.  (This is where Michael parking at the Portland Airport comes in).  We traveled to the Columbia Gorge, stopping on the Eastern end at Maryhill Winery where Cassie and Amie had us all set up for a tour, tasting and lunch.  The views here are tremendous and we were really spoiled with the in-depth tour.  We will have plenty of video to share with you on this behind the scenes look.

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After Maryhill were driven west and south to the Oregon side of this AVA for a tasting, tour and dinner at Cathedral Ridge Winery.  This place has spectacular views of Mt. Hood.  We met owner Rob Bell (hmm…is he any relation to me?)

Finally they drove us back to Portland.  Where we picked up “Nuit” our plug-in hybrid Kia Niro and we were off to spend an evening luxuriating at the Hotel Monaco downtown.

The Adventure home

Our adventure continued!  We were up early to head to Voodoo Donuts!

The Oregon Coast and Applegate Valley

Then hit the road to the Oregon Coast.  It was foggy, but we could hear the ocean and explored some lovely seaside towns.

We drove the coast for a bit then headed inland to the Applegate Valley, hoping to catch some vineyard shots before sunset.  While we didn’t catch much, it was quickly made up for by the fabulous YURT we had booked!  Sunset View Yurt is amazing, great views, terrific people, a modern Victrola and a beautiful collection of music. We enjoyed a bottle of Johan Drueskall Pinot Gris which is an orange wine.  We packed this with us especially to enjoy on this evening, giggling over our Johan in a YURT and then soaked in the hot tub under the stars (well, clouds, but it was lovely anyway!).

The Redwoods

Our hosts Kathleen and Richard gave us tips on sites in the Redwoods and we headed southwest again to Jedediah Smith Park to visit the Stout Grove.  Redwood groves are sacred sites, it’s like walking in a Cathedral.  I really think they are Ents (any Tolkien fans out there?). Being among them you are forced to slow down. Their size and age put the universe into a bit better perspective.  After soaking up loads of energy here, we continued to the California Coast where the sun was out!  We traveled a bit of the coast, then back through the Redwood Forest and then finally to the freeway to get to Sacramento for our final evening of our trip.

Redwoods

Redwoods

Tahoe and the drive home

Our last morning had us up before dawn and heading to Lake Tahoe, soaking in the scenery and then on through the outskirts of Yosemite to Mono Lake, through park territory there and finally out into the desert and home to Las Vegas.

It was an epic trip and I can’t wait to get into all the details with you!

We did a little Primer on the area before we left, so feel free to dive into Washington Wines and beyond with #WBC18

So join us back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles  as we continue sharing our amazing trip into Washington Wines and more!  And don’t forget, you can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

Disclaimer:  Michael and I attended the WBC (Wine Bloggers Conference) as Citizen Bloggers at a discounted rate.  All opinions on the conference and related events are my own.

 

Spring Vegetable Frittata to pair with an Alsatian Pinot Blanc

Spring Vegetable Frittata and salad with pickled beets and radishes

I recently had occassion to make a frittata.  We were doing a tasting of Alsatian Pinots with the French Winophiles, with some beautiful samples provided by @AlsaceWines.  When I searched for a pairing to go with the Emile Beyer Pinot Blanc, a suggestion of eggs and spring vegetables came up.  I settled on a pairing of a spring green salad and a spring vegetable frittata.

Frittata

So what is a frittata?  It is an Italian egg dish.  The name loosely translates to “fried”.  Kind of like an omlette, it is a great way to use up leftovers.  You can create a frittata with almost anything.  Use up vegetables, rice, pasta, cheese, meats….you name it.  A frittata ideally cooks in a rod iron skillet and the size of the skillet and number of eggs is the key.  Typically you are looking at a ratio of 1 cup of cheese, 2 cups of filling, 6 eggs and 1/4 cup of milk or…go for it, heavy cream.  Whole milk and richer creme will make a more unctuous frittata with a thick creamy texture.  And the number of eggs?  Use a full dozen for a 10 inch skillet.  And make sure your pan is well seasoned.

Why rod iron?  It heats evenly and you are starting this on the stove and finishing in the oven.

I wanted a light spring vegetable frittata.  Something bright to pair with the Pinot Blanc.  I dug around in the fridge and freezer and here is what I put together.

Spring Vegetable Frittata

  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup green beans
    • (my broccoli and peas were frozen and my beans were fresh)
  • 2 golden beets
  • 3 radishes
  • 1/3 zucchini
  • 1/2 teaspoon Allium Allure spice blend from Spicy Camel Trading Company (or use a seasoning blend that you like)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 11 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/4 cup red onions
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dill

First I got the oven heating to 400 degrees.

Then I needed to cook the broccoli, peas and beans.  Just blanching them and quickly cooling them with cold water (I was too lazy to do an ice bath).  The beans were cut into 3/4 inch pieces (on the diagonal to make them pretty) and I chopped the broccoli into smaller pieces when it was cooked. It’s important to cook your vegetables first so they don’t let go of all their moisture in your frittata and make it soupy.

Blanched broccoli, peas and green beans for the frittata

Blanched broccoli, peas and green beans for the frittata

I then diced the beets, radishes and zucchini and sautéed them in olive oil with a little Allium Allure spice blend from my friends at Spicy Camel Trading Company.  (I’m adding the link ’cause you really should get to know their spice blends!  Amazing blends, handcrafted…and really nice people too).  Allium Allure is all that onion goodness Onion, Shallots, Roasted Garlic, Leeks, Chives and Green Onions.  I tossed in a little salt and pepper (Spicy Camel does not add salt to their spice blends).  Radishes are great this way.  It tones downs their spiciness and gives them a sweetness.  You could also toss all of this in the oven to roast if you wanted.  I was hungry so a sauté seemed quicker.

Sautéed golden beet, radish and zuchini

Sautéed golden beet, radish and zucchini with the Allium Allure spice blend from Spicy Camel Trading Company

Now, on to the frittata!

I lightly whisked my 11 eggs (yes I went 1 short of a dozen on this).  I say lightly whisked.  You want the yolks to be incorporated but you don’t want to get too much air in the mixture, as that will cause the final texture of your frittata to be light, but dry.

I added my milk.  I just used whole milk and with the ricotta, it may have been redundant, but the final product came out perfect, so I’m stickin’ with it. I folded in my ricotta so it would break up a little, but still have chunks that would create pockets of creaminess in the finished frittata.  Then it’s all the rest, the broccoli, peas, beans as well as the sautéed vegetables, a little salt and pepper and some fresh dill.

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I got out my rod iron skillet and started a little olive oil and butter melting in the bottom, then tossed in my red onions to get a beautiful base going.

Once the onions were soft and translucent, I added the egg mixture.  This cooks over medium until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Frittata in pan

Spring vegetable frittata cooking on the stove in it’s rod iron pan

Then toss it in the oven at 400 degrees  for about 10 minutes.  You want to be sure it is set, but not overcooked!  Poke the center with a knife and if egg is still flowing, it’s not quite ready.  When it is ready, pull it out and serve it immediately…OR…you can cut this and store it in the fridge, it is delicious cold!

The finished frittata

Finished Spring vegetable frittata just out of the oven

 

The Pairing

We served our frittata with a salad of spring greens topped with some more of those golden beets and radishes that I quick pickled in honey and white wine vinegar while the frittata cooked and some pine nuts.

Spring Vegetable Frittata and salad with pickled beets and radishes

Spring Vegetable Frittata and salad with pickled beets and radishes with an Emile Beyer Pinot Blanc from Alsace

This did make quite a big frittata for Michael and I.  (8 nice sized slices).  I enjoyed cold frittata happily for lunch for a good part of the week.

Emile Beyer Pinot Blanc and an appetizer of fresh peaches, goat cheese, basil and prosciutto

Emile Beyer Pinot Blanc and an appetizer of fresh peaches, goat cheese, basil and prosciutto

We did need an appetizer to go with this while we waited for the frittata to finish in the oven and we went with fresh peaches (these were still firm) sliced, with a dollop of goat cheese a leaf of basil and then wrapped in prosciutto.  This was pretty perfect with the wine that was so bright.  The peaches were crisp and picked up on the notes of slightly unripe stone fruit in the wine.

The Wine

This Emile Beyer Pinot Blanc Tradition is made in the picturesque village of Eguisheim, just outside of Colmar. The family estate is now run by Christian Beyer who is 14th generation in the family business.

The wine comes from younger vineyards, and the grapes are pressed pneumatically to gently get those juices to drip from the skins.  It’s a slow fermentation and they age the wine on the fine lees for several months.

The soil of these vineyards are made of Chalky marl, sandstone and clay.

It is not 100% Pinot Blanc, they do add some Auxerrois.  What is Auxerrois you ask (I asked that too, it was a variety I was not familiar with).  This grape is grown mostly in Alsace and it adds weight and body to the wine.  If you want to know more, there is a great article on called Auxerrois: A Lesson from Alsace on Wine’s Acidity

This is a beautiful fresh wine for spring time or any time of year when you want to channel a little spring time.  And…Suggested retail price is $15. So run out and find a bottle!

Give this frittata a try, or come up with your own combination and let us know how it goes!  Oh, and don’t forget to let us know what wine you choose to pair with it!

You can check out all of our Pinot Pairings from Alsace in our piece A Palette of Pinots; the hues of Alsace

And of course to keep up with all of our posts and wine adventures, you can find us here at Crushed Grape Chronicles . You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Croquettes de Brandade

Croquettes, golden brown

As I prepared for our picpoul blanc tasting I was searching for some perfect pairings.  Picpoul-de-Pinet is from the south of France, the Languedoc-Roussillon region along the Mediterranean Sea, so I was searching for dishes that spoke of place.  Briny oysters were definitely on the list.  I headed to the Picpoul-de-Pinet web site and was able to find a recipe for Croquettes de Brandade  These are salt cod croquettes that are a specialty in Languedoc and Provençe. This recipe turned out to just be the starting point as it called for “400 g de brandade de morue”, and that of course, was not something I knew how to find.  I search a little more and found a recipe I could work with.

I was unfamiliar with salt cod, so I did a little research.  Salt cod is a dried and salted fish that originated from the Basque region.  It was originally Atlantic cod, but due to over fishing, you now find pollock, haddock and other fish being used.  This method of salting and then drying the fish, originally on wooden racks in the sun, preserved the nutrients in the fish and made it tastier.  In this way you could keep the fish for several years.  With “meatless” Friday’s for Catholics during lent, salt cod became a staple for many families.  While originating in Europe, sea trade took salt cod to Brazil, West Africa, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.  I came across another name for salt cod, “bacalhau” which is a Portuguese word.  Now I had a way to track some down.  I am lucky to work with several beautiful Brazilians who gave me in depth details on how to work with salt cod.  I ended up tracking some down at the International Market here in Las Vegas.  I was expecting it to be dried, but the “bacalao” (that’s the spanish spelling) that they carried was in the refrigerated section.

Salted Codfish

Salted Codfish

I followed the instructions for soaking it overnight in water in the refrigerator with at least 3 water changes.  This is to get rid of the extra salt that is used to preserve the fish.  So this recipe, you need to start a day in advance.

Also in advance I made the garlic confit for the dish.  Confit usually refers to a meat cooked in it’s own fat, but really the french word means “preserved” and can be anything that is slow cooked and preserved in fat.  So we did this with the garlic.

Garlic Confit

  • 2 to 3 heads of garlic, cloves peeled
  • enough olive oil to cover

Peel the garlic, place it in a small oven proof dish and cover in olive oil.  Put this in a preheated oven at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Let it cool a bit and pour all of it into a glass jar.  You can keep this in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Now to get down to cooking the croquettes.  I had an event in the afternoon so I needed to prep the croquettes in the morning and then cook them in the evening.  This actually worked out well, because setting the mixture in the refrigerator allowed it to set up and be easier to handle.

The ingredients for Croquettes de Brandade

Croquettes de brandade

  • 1 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Sea Salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole milk
  • 1/2 lb salt cod
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves or thyme
  • Garlic confit
  • oil from confit
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon zest
  • 2 cups of bread crumbs
  • 2 to 3 cups of frying oil
  • Flaky sea salt

 

 

As I was peeling the beautiful Yukon Gold potatoes with a paring knife, I was feeling bad about wasting the peels.  So I searched on the net and found a quick chip recipe.  I lined a sheet pan with parchment, tossed the skins with olive oil and salt and roasted them for 15 to 20 minutes at 400 and snacked on them while I cooked! I don’t know that I would do this with all potato’s but these Yukon Golds were so beautiful and their skins were smooth and didn’t look like they had even been in the ground.

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Cook the potato in salted water until tender.  Drain it and let it dry briefly and then put it through a ricer.  Okay, I know everyone doesn’t have a ricer.  I am lucky that I inherited by Grandmother’s and I love pulling it out when I’m cooking.

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If you don’t have a ricer mash the potato up with a potato masher or a fork.

Crack the eggs and add a pinch of salt and mix, then add to the potato, stir and set the mixture aside. (I skipped this step and dropped them right in the potatos, but it will incorporate more easily if you mix it separately first).

Drain the salt cod from it’s soaking water and place it in a pot add your bay leaves or sprigs of thyme (I used fresh thyme) and cover in milk.  Bring it to a simmer and cook until the fish is flaky.  Remove the fish from the milk and set it aside to cool.

Add 1/2 cup of the warm milk to the potatoes and mix (be careful with this, and maybe add a little less at first then increase.  My mixture ended up being a little loose and I think if I had added just a little less milk it would have been easier to work with.  That said, my end croquettes were perfect, so….)

Mash 8-12 cloves of the garlic confit to a paste and add to the potatoes.

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil that was with the garlic and the lemon zest and mix with the potato until smooth.

Check to see if the cod is cool enough to handle and then break it up with your fingers and add it to the potato and mix.  Now you can season with salt and garlic to taste.  I tossed in some dried thyme at this point also.

Line a sheet pan with parchment and roll the mixture into golf ball size pieces.  I did one pan (the mixture was loose and hard to work with) then put it in the refrigerator with the remainder of the mixture still in the bowl.  I figured it could set up while I was gone, and it did.  I think I would recommend refrigerating for an hour or so before making the balls.  When I returned, the balls on the pan were firmer and the mixture in the bowl was easier to work with.

I heated my oil in a fry pan (or sautuese) until I could see a shimmer, then added my first croquette.  I cooked 5 at a time, waiting until they were a deep golden brown, before removing them to a paper towel lined plate to drain.  They came out crunchy and delicious on the outside and soft and creamy inside.  Really delicious.  We thought we would need a sauce with them, but didn’t.  They were perfect with the wine.

You can reheat them, if needed in the oven.  This recipe made about 2 1/2 dozen croquettes.

Croquettes & Picpoul Tasting

Croquettes & Picpoul Tasting

On the third Saturday of each month, The French #Winophiles convene and share posts about a particular grape or region. On April 21st we are focusing on the Picpoul varietal hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures.   We will be posting a piece about the two picpouls you see in the photo above, a little on the history of picpoul and the pairings.

If you’re reading this soon enough, hop on the Twitter chat on Saturday, April 21st at 8am Pacific time. Search for the hashtag #Winophiles to follow along or peruse the tweets later, and be sure to check out all the articles prepared by some amazing writers on their take on picpoul!

 

You can find more information on all things wine, on Crushed Grape Chronicles  .  You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Chef’s Tasting Menu at Masso Osteria

squid ink rigatoni served with spicy king crab and a calamari ragu with tomatoes at Masso Osteria

Masso Osteria is Chef Scott Conant’s new restaurant at the Red Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  The property is off strip, near Red Rock National Park and is a stunning facility.  Masso Osteria just opened in February.  Their website describes their goal as “to create unforgettable dining experiences rooted in soulful cooking and generous hospitality.”  I cannot describe it more perfectly.  The service was impeccable.  Our waiter Nick took great care with us, explaining courses and making sure we had an amazing experience.

Six course Chef’s Tasting Menu at Masso Osteria

We chose the Chef’s Tasting Menu, which is a 6 course menu served family style.  The portions are generous and most of the courses include 2 dishes, so come hungry.  When we asked about wine pairings they offered to put together pairings for each course for us.  This is not yet on the menu, but may be added in the future.

First course – Recco Style Garlic Bread with Gambino Prosecco

Recco Style Garlic Bread Masso Osteria

Recco Style Garlic Bread

They started us off with a glass of Gambino Prosecco, Extra Dry from Veneto, to accompany the Recco Style Garlic Bread (think of an Italian quesadilla).  It is wood fired and filled with stracchino cheese.  Don’t try to eat it all, there is so much more food coming. The Prosecco, while made in the Charmant method, has fine and persistent bubbles and was a great palate cleanser with the cheese.

Second Course Kale Salad & Tuno Crudo with 2015 Pio Cesare Cortese de Gavi

 

Kale salad Masso Osteria

Kale salad with almonds and an avocado vinaigrette

Tuna Crudo at Masso Osteria

Tuna Crudo with red leaf greens, lemon and pickled fresno chilies

The second course of Kale salad (baby kale) with parmesan, almonds and green onions in an avocado vinaigrette and the Tuna Crudo with red leaf greens, lemon and pickled fresno chilies (those are a little warm, so beware) was paired with a 2015 Pio Cesare Cortese di Gavi. This is 100% Cortese (the grape variety) from hillside vineyards in the Gavi DOCG in the Piedmont region of Italy.  The wine was bright and clean, with a great depth of flavor and notes that reminded me of a Sauvignon Blanc, it paired beautifully with both dishes.

We return to “service here”  it wasn’t until researching later that I realized that the gentleman who came by to pour this wine for us and patiently spell the name so that I could note it, was indeed the restaurant GM Rudy Aguas.

Third Course – Creamy Polenta & Wood Roasted Octopus with 2016 Tormaresca Chardonnay di Puglia

Creamy Polenta with bacon truffles and mushrooms at Masso Osteria

Creamy Polenta with bacon, truffles and mushrooms at Masso Osteria

Wood roasted octopus at Masso Osteria

Wood roasted octopus

The third course was their signature Creamy Polenta with bacon, truffles and mushrooms.  It is rich, I mean RICH, and decadent.  The other dish in this course was the Wood roasted octopus.  I typically don’t eat octopus, (they are just too smart, and they like to decorate, how can you eat someone who likes to decorate), but since he had already given his life and was sitting before me on the table…it was delicious, perfectly cooked with grape tomatoes, greens, onions and a potato aioli.  This paired with the 2016 Tormaresca Chardonnay di Puglia.  This Chardonnay from Puglia in the “boot” of Italy, is a little heavier in body than the Cortese allowing it to stand up to the polenta.  This is a stainless steel Chard with grapes pulled from two Tormaresca estates in San Pietro Vernotico and Minervino Murge. The nose is rounded citrus and flowers.

 

Fourth Course Pasta al Pomodoro and Squid Ink Rigatoni with 2015 Chianti Castiglioni

Pasta al Pomodoro at Masso Osteria

Pasta al Pomodoro at Masso Osteria

squid ink rigatoni served with spicy king crab and a calamari ragu with tomatoes at Masso Osteria

Squid ink rigatoni served with spicy king crab and a calamari ragu with tomatoes at Masso Osteria

The fourth course was our Pasta Course.  It included the house specialty Pasta al Pomodoro.  It is a simple dish, but this is so deftly crafted, with butter enriching the sauce, it is no wonder that it is a signature dish.  The other pasta was a beautiful squid ink rigatoni.  These gorgeous black rigatoni are served with spicy king crab and a calamari ragu with tomatoes.  Both pasta’s of course are made fresh in-house and were perfectly cooked al dente.  These are pasta’s that cause you to be quiet while you eat, savoring each bite, typically with your eyes closed.  They paired this with a 2015 Chianti Castiglioni from Marchese de Frescobaldi in Tuscany.  (Here’s the geeky tech sheet details:  This is a sangiovese, merlot blend that sits at 13% alcohol. It spent 11 days with skin contact and did malolactic fermentation immediately following the alcoholic fermentation.  It aged in Stainless steel for 6 months with microxygenation.).  I especially liked this with the squid ink pasta.

Fifth Course – Wood Roasted Chicken & Cedar Roasted Sea Bass with a Ronchi di Pietro Schioppettino

Wood Roasted Chicken with lemon and vegetables at Masso Osteria

Wood Roasted Chicken with lemon and vegetables at Masso Osteria

Cedar Roasted Sea Bass with a medley of roasted vegetables at Masso Osteria

Cedar Roasted Sea Bass with a medley of roasted vegetables at Masso Osteria

Onto the fifth course.  Our waiter had earlier told us that two of his favorite dishes on the menu were the Pasta al Pomodor and the Wood Roasted Chicken.  He said he always felt funny saying that, because he didn’t want people to think he had a pedestrian palate, but that these simple dishes were so extraordinarily well done that they really were exceptional.  The Wood Roasted Chicken with lemon and vegetables really was perfection, this dish had roasted carrots that were tender, sweet and infused with wood smoke from the grill.  We also had the Cedar Roasted Sea Bass which came with a medley of roasted vegetables, that included whole baby onions, radishes, baby zucchini and multicolored cauliflower.  These dishes were paired with a Ronchi di Pietro Schioppettino.  “Schioppettino?  I asked?”  They sent a wine specialist to explain. It is a clone of Ribolla Nera and is best compared to Carménère.  2nd thought was…Red wine with chicken and fish?  Yes…the spices in the Sea Bass and the Wood smoke in the wood roasted chicken made this pairing work.  This wine, by the way, is not listed on their wine list currently.  Perhaps it is an addition they are entertaining.

Ronchi di Pietro Schioppettino at Masso Osteria

Ronchi di Pietro Schioppettino at Masso Osteria

We can’t just let “Schippettino go by without a little background on this variety that was new to me.  So this grape comes from Friuli and was almost completely wiped out by the phylloxera in the early 1900’s.  It evidently was found on the Slovenian border where it was recorded being used for wedding ceremonies as early as 1282, so it had been around a while before almost disappearing.  Paulo Rapuzzi, the founder of Ronchi di Cialla has been credited with searching out old Schioppettino vines that he read about in books.  You can read a great piece on this wine on Vinepair by Courtney Schiessl “This Italian Grape is Back from near-Extinction, Thanks to one Winemaker” 

Sixth Course – Dessert!  Mascarpone Cheese cake & Sticky Toffee Banana Pudding..oh and a Cleto Chiarli Ambile Lambrusco on the side

Mascarpone Cheesecake with huckleberries & spiced streusel at Masso Osteria

Mascarpone Cheesecake with huckleberries & spiced streusel at Masso Osteria

Sticky Toffee Banana Pudding with a cookie crunch and coffee cardamon gelato at Masso Osteria

Sticky Toffee Banana Pudding with a cookie crunch and coffee cardamom gelato at Masso Osteria

Stuffed as we were (with a bag of leftovers growing for a fabulous lunch to follow) we pressed on to dessert.  Our waiter Nick, said they didn’t have a dessert pairing prepared, so he poured us 2 coupes of Lambrusco.  (if you read the blog, you remember I had recently tried to find a Lambrusco to pair with some Chinese food and sadly failed in my search).  I had been eyeing the Lambrusco on the menu at the top of the night and felt like we had come full circle with having it with dessert.  The Lambrusco was from Cleto Chiarli Ambile in Emiglia-Romagna. Dessert, was yet again 2 plates, we did not have the Salted Caramel Budino for which Chef Conant received multiple awards.  No worries, we will be back for that.  Instead we enjoyed the Mascarpone Cheesecake with huckleberries & spiced streusel. This dessert was perfection after our filling meal.  It was light and creamy and each bite left me feeling lighter and less heavy from my meal.  It was another eyes closed moment.  The other dish was the Sticky Toffee Banana Pudding with a cookie crunch and coffee cardamom gelato.  This dish was delicious but a bit heavy after all the food we had eaten.  None-the-less, I took one for the team and cleaned the plate.  How was the Lambrusco with dessert you ask?  Meh.  But I didn’t mind, this didn’t feel like a pairing, but rather an additional celebratory glass to end this spectacular meal.

I must mention the fantastic price on this dinner.  The Chef’s Tasting menu is $65 per person.  We tasted 11 dishes, with most plates big enough that after sharing, we had them pack the rest of the plate to take home.  As I mentioned the wine pairings were kind of, off the cuff that night.  They put together the pairings for us for $35 per person and the pours were generous, not full glasses of course, but more than small sips, and plenty to accompany the course.  They are still developing the wine pairing menu, so it is likely to change and develop.

A couple of great stories of a young foodie…

Our waiter Nick, regaled us with a couple of stories that I will remember forever and have to share with you.  His young son is a big fan of “Chopped” and he told us he walked in on his son at his toy kitchen and his son being a little frenetic.  “What’s up?” he asked, his son replied “I need help plating!  I only have 30 seconds left!”  I could see a new Chopped Pre-school segment coming here! 

His son is growing up tasting all sorts of food and has an unusual palate for a child so small.  They (like us) often shop at Trader Joe’s.  I had no idea that Trader Joe’s has a hidden stuffed animal at every store.  It gives the kids something to search for while their parents shop, they get a lollipop if they can find it.  On one trip, Sally Seashell (the stuffed animal) was evidently right in sight lines of front door when you walk in.  His son went to get his lollipop and let them know that Sally Seashell was not very well hidden.  The guy at the service counter agreed then told him “I’m all out of lollipops, all I have are frozen peas or brussel sprouts”.  Without missing a beat his son said “Brussel sprouts please.”  which surprised the TJ’s staff, who had been kidding with him.  When offered the lollipop, that they did have in stock, he still preferred the brussel sprouts. 

I suggest going early in the evening (we had a 5:15 reservation).  The restaurant filled quickly and it was nice to get in and started on our meal before the crowd descended and the wait staff got busier.  Hospitality was at the forefront here.  Our waiter Nicholas was training someone through out the evening, which you might think would impede your experience.  It did not, and she was getting exceptional training watching and learning from his interaction with the patrons. Each course brought new plates and carefully laid out silverware.  The precision and elegance of this, with the arrival of the new silver at the table in a wooden box, then carefully laid out piece by piece, elevated the experience, adding a sense of dining ritual, a quiet solemnity to preparing for the next course.  I can recommend dinner here any time, but when you are able, treat yourself to the full experience and get the Chef’s Tasting Menu.

Masso Osteria (inside Red Rock Hotel & Casino)

11011 W Charleston Blvd

Las Vegas, NV 89135

702.797.7097

Sunday – Thursday | 5pm – 10pm

Friday & Saturday | 5pm – 11pm

Social Hour | Sun – Fri |  4pm – 6pm at the bar

You can find more information on restaurants and on wine country and wines on Crushed Grape Chronicles  .  You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Comparing Rhône blends from California’s Central Coast

2011 Pateline de Tablas & 2013 Le Cigare Volant Rhône Blends with cheese pairings

I love Rhône wines.  Wait…let me classify.  I love Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Viognier, Tannat, Roussanne, Marsanne, Terret Noir, Picpoul Blanc….I love the varieties and the blends of said varieties.  My experience with these wines is mostly from those Rhône Rangers in California.  I am just beginning to explore further into French wines and Rhône Blends.   In France the wine or blend is named by the area in which it is grown, the AOC , which is a completely different way of learning about the wines.

So as I learn about these wines, I start with comparing a couple of Rhône Blends from two of my favorite California wineries for Rhônes, Tablas Creek and Bonny Doon.  We chose the 2011 Patelin de Tablas from Tablas Creek and the 2013 Le Cigare Volant reserve from Bonny Doon.

The Wines

These two wines differ in where the grapes were grown, the makeup of the blends, the vintage and the wine-making techniques.  So first lets look at the wines themselves.

2011 Patelin de Tablas

 

2011 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas

2011 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas

https://tablascreek.com/wines/2011_patelin_de_tablasHere you can find all the geeky details.

This wine comes from Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles, but this is not an estate wine.  This wine comes from multiple vineyards that they source from.

“Patelin” means neighborhood in French, so these are grapes not from the estate, but from the neighborhood.  The list of vineyards is long (16 different vineyards across 4 different AVA’s in the Paso Robles Region).  The AVA’s range from Adelaida Hills (higher elevation and warmer), to Templeton Gap (cooler with a coastal influence) to El Pomar (which is more moderate in climate) and then Estrella which is warmer.  The soils differ in these AVA’s also, Adelaida Hills, Templeton Gap and El Pomar tend to be limestone, where as Estrella is sandy loam.

Tablas Creek first produced this wine in 2010 after having a very light harvest in 2009.  This was second vintage of the Patelin de Tablas in 2011.

The blend is 52% Syrah, 29% Grenache, 18% Mourvedre and 1% Counoise, and sits at 13.7% Alcohol.

As to the winemaking techniques:  the grapes were de-stemmed and fermented in a mix of Open-top and closed stainless steel fermenters as well at 1500-gallon upright oak casks. As usual for Tablas Creek it was only native yeasts that were used.  After blending they were aged in stainless steel and 1200 gallon oak foudres.  So, kind of a variety (I think some of that may be due to available space).  They made 8460 cases of this wine.  That’s alot compared to the Côtes de Tablas of which they made 1560 cases.

2013 Le Cigare Volant Réserve “en bonbonne”

2013 Le Cigare Volant reserve from Bonny Doon

2013 Le Cigare Volant reserve from Bonny Doon

Randall Grahm has been making this homage to Châteauneuf-du-Pape since 1984.  The name comes from a weird wine law in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The story goes that a railway worker in northern France claimed he saw two Martians on his property who had landed in a cigar-like machine.  Soon the reports spread and the French were all worried about these “flying cigars” or Cigare Volant.  The Mayor of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region put a law into place banning these “Cigare Volants” from landing or even flying over the area or vineyards.  And…it worked, there have been no alien sitings in the region since then.  Randall came across this law and in his own inimitable fashion, names his homage to Châteauneuf-du-Pape “Le Cigare Volante”.

This wine is from the Central Coast.  This wine comes from multiple vineyards that are not necessarily close to each other.  It is a bit more diverse in soils and climates that they Tablas, which at least sources from the same region.

When you talk about wine-making techniques…well in Randall’s own words

“The idea of “raising” the wine in glass demijohns was also a bit of a fever dream, occasioned in part by the many hours I spent in deep contemplation of the mysteries of redox chemistry; there was something dream-like (à la Carlos Castaneda and Don Juan) about the many hours driving around southern France with Patrick Ducournau, deep thinker about oxygen and wine (and inventor of microbullage, or micro-oxygenation). I’ve already written quite a bit about the nature of the esoteric élevage en bonbonne—bâtonage magnetique, etc., the opportunity for the wine to digest a substantial volume of yeast lees, and the extraordinary texture and savoriness this protocol engenders.”  From his Production Notes

When you visit the tasting room you can see one of the demijohns (or carboys)

Carboy or Demijohn at Bonny Doon

A “Carboy” or demijohn on the counter at Bonny Doon Vineyards. This is used for élevage (the progression of a wine between fermentation and bottling)

This wine is 55% Grenache, 25% Syrah, $16% Mourvedre and 4% Cinsault and it sits a little bigger than the Tablas with Alcohol at 14.3%.

This wine’s production was only 554 cases.

What to Pair with these Rhône Blends?

I took inspiration from Randall’s suggestions.

“All manner of cute creatures: rabbit, tiny birds, etc. Rabbit in Mustard Sauce (We suggest our Cigare Blanc mustard for this dish). Beef Kidneys. Stilton. Braised Oxtail.”

Well I have a thing about eating cute creatures, so we settled on the Stilton as well as a Cambozola (a triple creme chees with the flavor of a bleu cheese).

Tablas Creek suggested Grilled Steaks, rich beef stews and spicy sausages with the Patelin.

We set off and got some sweet italian sausage, a shepard’s pie and steak and stout pie.

So here is the spread:  Sweet Italian Sausage with a brown mustard, Shepherds pie, a steak and stout pie, some zuchinni noodles sautéd with spices, black olives, a fig jam, the Stilton, Cambonzola, some manchego and aged gouda.

Eccelctic pairings for 2011 Patelin de Tablas and 2013 Le Cigare Volant Rhône Blends

Eccelctic pairings for 2011 Patelin de Tablas and 2013 Le Cigare Volant

Tasting the Rhône Blends

In general, the Patelin was more fruit forward, with a bit of wet hay on the nose (I love that funkiness), and you get a little mineral. The fruit is red and bright, but then there is spice and a bit of anise.  The tannins here are light, but the wine still has great structure.  It has developed, but still will be great for further cellaring.

The Le Cigare Volant was mellower on the nose,  But when it hit your mouth, it was richer than you expected from the nose.  My first impression was Thyme in cooked strawberries with hints of smoked spices (like a sweet smoked paprika that is very mellow)

Pairing the Rhône Blends with Food

Both of the wines were fantastic with the sausage, but each brought out something different in the wine.  The Steak and stout pie was also good with both, when paired with the Patelin, brought the fruit forward, with the Cigare Volant it highlighted the more savory notes.  Michael liked the aged gouda best with both wines (mostly because he’s not so into the Bleu cheeses).  The Bleu cheese with fig jam and the Patelin de Tablas was a big hit for me.  We got less scientific as we tasted on savoring every bite and pondering on it.  We pondered quite a bit and I forgot to write down all the notes, job hazard.  Regardless, we enjoyed both wines thoroughly and I am inspired to dive further into Rhône blends, from California as well as digging in deeper to the history of the AOC’s of the Rhône Valley in France.

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A Trio of Syrahs from California’s Central Coast

Syrah bottles Tablas Creek Carhartt Larner

I started out with a plan.  It actually wasn’t Syrah. The plan was dinner and a Roussanne.  We have spent a couple weeks doing research on Syrah and were almost complete.  Our next varietal to focus on is Roussanne and we were going to start with that tonight.  But…it got a little cloudy out and it was feeling a little cold and rather than the seafood companion to the Roussanne, we wanted something a little warmer and cozier.

I came across a post on my Twitter from Bonny Doon of two of their Syrah’s the 2013 Bien Nacido and the 2013 Le Pousseur.  I was inspired and pretty sure I had a Le Pousseur in the cellar, so I did a little pairing research on the Bonny Doon site, and Randall Grahm their winemaker, suggests lamb chops with chimichurri.  I don’t do lamb, (can’t eat baby animals) so I look a little further on the web for pairing advice and see sirloin as a pairing.  Off we go to shop for dinner.  We pick up a marinated sirloin with a chimichurri sauce!  Upon arriving at home, I head down to grab the wine, only to find, well, to not find, the Le Pousseur.  We must have already enjoyed that bottle!  Luckily, we have a few other Syrahs (that’s kind of an understatement).  So I debate between a 2013 Carhartt and a 2014 Larner Transverse.  Both are from Santa Barbara County.  Finally I decide that with a Tablas Creek 2014 Syrah already open, we might as well do a side by side with all 3.

Grilled sirloin & Syrah Tablas Creek 2014, Carhartt 2013 and Larner Transverse 2014

Grilled Sirloin with a chimichurri sauce, grilled eggplant and a salad to pair with our Trio of Syrahs.

The Syrahs

 

2014 Tablas Creek Syrah

The Tablas Creek Vineyard 2014 Syrah

The Tablas Creek Vineyard 2014 Syrah

At Tablas Creek in Paso Robles they have 4 clones of Syrah that were brought from France, from Chateau du Beaucastel. They planted these in 1994, so the vines are almost in their mid 20’s.  The 2014 is the tenth bottling of this single varietal that they have done.  This was fermented in open-top fermenters and was aged in a mix of smaller newer barrels (note that they are “newer” not “New”) and Neutral 1200- gallon foudres for 20 months.  It is 100% Syrah and sits at 14.6% alcohol. If you are familiar with Rhône Syrahs, they say this wine is “more Cote Rotie than Cornas,”.  Only 800 cases were produced.  Visit https://tablascreek.com/ for all the details.

You will also find Vintage Charts (I love these) on their site, to let you know where their wines are at drinkability wise.  Many of the Tablas Creek Wines are meant to age. They taste through their wines and update the vintage chart annually.  The chart will let you know if the wine needs more aging, is drinking well but is youthful, is mature, is in a closed phase, if it’s time to drink it now, before it passes it’s prime or if you have waited too long.  It will also tell you if they currently recommend decanting the wine.

2013 Carhartt Syrah

Carhartt 2013 Syrah.

Carhartt 2013 Syrah.

This Syrah comes from Rancho Santa Ynez in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County.  Carhartt prints all the good geeky details right on the back label and I love them for that!  This vineyard is just 10 acres and sits on a mesa in the Santa Ynez Valley.  The wine is 100% Syrah from clones 470 & 174 on 1103p Rootstock and 877 & Estrella clones on 5c rootstock. It is grown on vertical trellis.  It is sustainably farmed, and fermented in small lots with a cold soak, punch downs and pump overs & gently pressed.  It spends 17 months in barrel (35% new french oak).  It sits at 13.5% alcohol.  This wine is unfined and unfiltered and only 435 cases were made.

To learn a little more about Carhartt head to their website http://carharttvineyard.com  On the home page you will find a digital magazine, written by Chase Carhartt.  He will tell you the history of this small family business, where they produce only 5000 cases of wine per year and are dedicated making quality wine and treating customers like family.  Their tasting room in Los Olivos is only 99 square feet, making it the tiniest tasting room, but then there is the back patio, which is the best place to be a 5 pm in Los Olivos.

2014 Larner Transverse

Larner 2014 Transverse Syrah

Larner 2014 Transverse Syrah

Michael Larner has a background as a Geologist, so his labels and names for his wine stem from this background.  Transverse is the name for his Syrah that is not an estate wine.

“Transverse:  A geologic structure lying or extending across an area, in a cross direction to other distinguishing local features” From his blog post on this wine

This wine is a blend of Syrah from across Santa Barbara County.  The grapes come from 4 estates spread across the area: Verna’s vineyard is on the east side of the Los Alamos Valley, Coquelicot vineyard sits in the southern part of the Santa Ynez AVA east of Solvang,  Rodney’s vineyard is in the Northern part of the Santa Ynez Valley AVA on Foxen Canyon Road (at Fess Parker) and Star Lane vineyard is in the Eastern most part of the Santa Ynez Valley in the Happy Canyon AVA. So these vineyards span the area and all sit outside the Ballard Canyon AVA, where Larner Vineyard is located.

The grapes for this wine were harvested between October 1st and November 10th, 2014.  It was aged for 14 months in 100% neutral french oak puncheons and then spent 4 months in bottle before it was released.  It sits at 14.7% Alcohol.

“100% Syrah, 10% Whole Cluster. All vineyard lots were fermented individually, macerated for a total of 15 days, initiated fermentation using native yeast, later inoculated with BM 45 yeast and pumped over 1x per day plus punched down 3x per day. Peak Temp averaged 86˚F.”

All these details can be found on the Larner site at http://www.larnerwine.com/product/2014-Transverse

The Tasting

2014 Tablas Creek Syrah

As you pour this wine you immediately notice how dark and opaque it is.  The first thing I got when I stuck my nose in the glass was leather and earth, followed by dark fruit like black currants, folloowed by pepper and savory herbs.  When I went back to it later, I was struck by the salinity and minerality that it gave off as it opened up.  In my mouth it was tart blackberries with a bit of cranberry, you know that extra tartness and tannin you get from cranberries.  It made my mouth water and my teeth dry just a little.  It was mellow and the most food friendly of the wines.

2013 Carhartt Syrah

This wine was decidedly lighter as I poured it, and more translucent in the glass.  The first thing I smelled here was wet straw and barnyard, followed by cranberries, red currants and brighter spices like white pepper.  There were also light floral notes like violets.  In my mouth it was a much lighter wine than the others and tasted of tart red apple skin and dark red berries.  It numbed my gums a little without drying them.  It had a strong medium finish.  It heightened the spice in the chimichurri sauce without making it too hot.

2014 Larner Transverse

This wine was darker, like the Tablas Creek.  Was this due to the 2014 Harvest?  It also sits at 14.7 alcohol (the Tablas is 14.6 and the Carhartt 13.5), so perhaps the depth of color has something to do with the hang time?  The nose was pepper and spice immediately followed by Eucalyptus, black currants and leather.  In my mouth it was all rich red and black fruit with spice and bright bold pepper.  The bright red fruit really hits you mid palate.  It was tangy on the sides of my tougue and had a sweetness on the finish.

After tasting the wines, I was fascinated by the differences.  Were the differences due to wine making techniques, the location of the vineyards, the vintage year and it’s weather?  So I did a little digging and here is what I found out about the harvests.

About the Vintages

Paso Robles 2014 Harvest

2014 was the 3rd year of drought in Paso Robles.  The yields across the area were down, although Tablas Creek’s Syrah Harvest yields were up by 13% over 2013.  The year was noted for depth and concentration in the berries.

Santa Barbara County 2013 Harvest

While 2013 was the 2nd year of drought it was also the 2nd year of ideal growing conditions.  It was a warm, dry growing season without any considerable heat spikes.  It was an early harvest, starting on August 14th and like 2014 it was a fast harvest.  A typical harvest is spread out over 3 months, 2013’s harvest lasted only 7 weeks.  Yields were above average, with an early bud break and large fruit set.

Santa Barbara County 2014 Harvest

In Santa Barbara they had a shorter growing season.  The winter was mild and harvest for many was the earliest ever.  Harvest was also fast, with vineyards bringing in lots of fruit at the same time putting wineries into quite the scramble.  For all intents and purposes it was a solid crop and the fruit had good intensity.

The Regions

Map of California's Central Coast with Paso Robles and Santa Barbara Highlighted

Paso Roble and Santa Barbara Regions in California’s Central Coast  Map by GoogleMaps

The areas that these wines come from spans around a hundred miles on California’s Central Coast.  Tablas Creek is in the Paso Robles Region, while the Carhartt and Larner Syrahs are from the Santa Barbara Region.

Tablas Creek, Paso Robles, Adelaida AVA

Tablas Creek Vineyards is located in the Western Portion of the Paso Robles wine region in the Adelaida AVA.  The elevations in this AVA are between 900 and 1200 feet for planted vineyards.  Because they are the closest AVA to the Ocean, hot summer days are typically tempered by the Maritime influences.  Warm days and cool nights are an ideal growing condition.

For more on the Adelaida AVA you can watch our interview with Jason Haas.

Carhartt Vineyard, Rancho Santa Ynez, Santa Ynez AVA

Carhartt Vineyard is located in Santa Barbara County.  It is in the Santa Ynez Valley AVA, which is a larger AVA encompassing most of the southern part of Santa Barbara County.  Within this AVA you find the Sta. Rita Hills AVA to the West, Ballard Canyon AVA in the Central part of the area and the Happy Canyon AVA to the East.  Carhartt Vineyard sits in Rancho Santa Ynez on a hill top.

Larner Wines Transverse, Santa Barbara County

This wine is called Transverse because it comes from 4 estate vineyards that span the Transverse Valley of the Santa Barbara Area.  So…as you can see from the Map above it takes in multiple regions.

Verna’s Vineyard is in Los Alamos off of Cat Canyon Road.  The vineyard was planted in 1999 by the Melville family and is now owned by Cat Canyon / Shokrian Vineyards.  It is a or 100 acre parcel east of the 101 with warm winds and cool nights.

Rodney’s Vineyard is on the Fess Parker Ranch which is on the east side of Foxen Canyon Road. It is included in the Santa Ynez Valley AVA in it’s Northernmost region.  Fess Parker, so well known as “Daniel Boone” bought the property in 1988.  The vineyard is named after his late son-in-law.

Coquelicot Vineyard is in the Santa Ynez Valley, just east of Solvang.  It is one of the Southern most vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley AVA. This 58 Acre vineyard is Certified Organic.

Star Lane Vineyard is located in the Happy Canyon AVA which is the furthest West region of the Santa Barbara area and as such the warmest.  It sits north of Happy Canyon Road.

So, the differences in the wines?   It could be the growing season and the fact that it was just the 2nd year of drought was part of what made the Carhartt a bit lighter.  Or perhaps it was the wine making style.  Or the type of soil in the vineyards (we didn’t even really talk about that variable!)  And don’t get me wrong, the fact that it was lighter than the other two was not a bad thing.  It was lighter on my palate, but it was still full of flavor and nuance.  This whole side by side tasting is about finding the nuanced differences in the wines and enjoying each for their uniqueness.  There are differences in soils, in weather, in the clones, in the yeasts…Michael mentions inoculating with BM 35 yeast after the initial fermentation was started with native yeasts.  Tablas Creek is all native yeast and I actually don’t have the details on the yeasts used on the Carhartt, as this is one of the few details that they don’t include on this label.  The choice of when to harvest is dependent on the winemakers preference for ripeness typically, but for Michael Larner was harvesting from 4 vineyards that were not his own, which often can mean that you are subject to being harvested a little earlier or later than your preference depending on who else the vineyard is harvesting for at the time.  Then there are the subtle differences of where the block is located within the vineyard and what time of sunlight and wind it gets.  Really, there are just so many variables.

And that is what makes this beverage so fascinating. The variables all add up to a complex story in the glass.  It’s a story of the place, of the soil, of the season, of the people… and it’s a delicious story.

Keep up to date on all of our posts by following us on Crushed Grape Chronicles  .  You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

What is Terret Noir?

Wine & Cheese Pairing with Tablas Creek Terret Noir 2105

Terret Noir

Terret Noir is a Rhône Valley Grape that is dark but thinned skinned and produces a light colored wine. It is one of the 13 grapes permitted for blending in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, although it totals just 2 acres of vineyard in the region. Like Grenache you will also find Terret Blanc and Terret Gris the other color variations in the grape. Terret Noir is thought to be originally from Languedoc where Terret Gris was once grown widely and used in the production of vermouth.

This grape buds late (which is great, so you don’t have as much frost worry with it), produces abundantly and brings a freshness to other varieties when blended.

Terret Noir in Paso Robles

Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles brought this grape in with their program to bring all 13 of the Châteauneuf-de-Pape grapes to their vineyard.  We had the opportunity to taste a single varietal of Terret Noir in their tasting room and took a bottle of the 2015 with us. (They made this as a single varietal in 2013, 2014 & 2015)

It was indeed a light colored wine, transparent cranberry red, leaning more toward orange than purple in my glass.  On the nose you get bright red fruit and spice with dried strawberries and brambles, like a walk in a meadow in summer after rain as you get all the lush green grasses drying in the sun.

In your mouth it is pomegranate and bright spices and the flesh of a bright red plum.

We paired it with a cheese and charcuterie plate and found it made the parmesan cheese taste sharper and less salty.  The dry Italian salami brightened the fruit in the wine while the wine brought out the savory tones in the salami.

Tablas Creek plans to use this as a blending grape. Watch for it to appear with Syrah and Grenache in a 2016 blend.

I always enjoy exploring those underappreciated grape varieties.  It widens your palate and reminds you that there is so much more out there than Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

This wine pairs well with braised vegetables, grilled eggplant and salty meats and cheeses.

Come back and see what other great wine varieties we are tasting. Keep up to date on all of our posts by following us on Crushed Grape Chronicles  .  You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Corner 103 – more than just wine tasting in Sonoma

Corner 103 wine glasses

Just across the street from Sonoma Plaza in beautiful downtown Sonoma sits Corner 103. Appropriately it is on the Corner and the address is 103 West Napa Street. It’s an understated name. If you go by early in the day you are likely to see a man outside sweeping the sidewalk in front of the establishment. That man would be the founder and owner Lloyd Davis. Understated is a word that describes Lloyd well, he is soft spoken and mild mannered, and his tasting room, which is much more than a tasting room, like the man himself, is sparkling and spotless.

Corner 103 Sonoma

Corner 103 on the Sonoma Square

We had a 2 pm appointment for a Cheese Experience. Brent welcomed us and then Lloyd joined us at the table which was glistening with glasses of wine and plates of cheese and something more. Lloyd intends this to be an experience, and an educational one. This is not just educational in that you learn about wine, but that you learn about what you like and don’t like in wine. Every palate is different and the intention is for you to experience how you can find things that speak to your taste buds.

The table is beautiful with the glasses, and I realize that there are many different styles of glasses before me, each specific to the wine that it holds. While you can drink wine from any sort of container or glass, the right shape of glass can greatly enhance the experience, bringing out the aromas in a wine and channeling them in just the right way for you to be able to most appreciate them.

Under each glass sits a coaster size card giving you the wine, the area the grapes came from, the Vintage and any awards that the wine has garnered. Flip the card over and you are treated to even more information. This begins with a short description from Lloyd and then includes a map of the Sonoma Valley, with the specific area that the grapes for this wine were pulled from highlighted. It goes on to give you the Blend, the Total Production, Alcohol, the Appropriate glass style to drink it from, the Harvest and Bottling Dates, how it was aged, the appropriate serving temperature and the price. It’s quite a bit of information I know, but for a wine geek like me…heaven.

In addition there was a card specific to our tasting with each wine and the cheese and other other small bits.

As we chatted and Lloyd explained a little about Corner 103, he invited us to enjoy some of the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc. This allowed us to prime our palates and get into discussing the wine and what we tasted. He asked each of us and explained that we were likely to experience the wine differently, our taste buds and experiences are unique to each of us and affect how we interpret flavors.

Corner 103 cheese Experience Sonoma

The Cheese Experience at Corner 103 in Sonoma

We moved on to the 2014 Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast which was paired with and Italian Style table cheese as well as crushed roasted hazelnuts. The process went as follows; taste the wine, taste the cheese, taste the wine with the cheese and finally taste the wine with the cheese and the hazelnuts. The idea is to identify what you are tasting separately with the wine, then the cheese and then how they are different when they are together. Adding the hazelnuts at the end change what you experience yet again. Depending on what you enjoyed or disliked about each bite, Lloyd can suggest a pairing. If you enjoyed the wine with the cheese, try a darker meat chicken, if you didn’t like it with the cheese try it with white meat chicken (adjusting the fat content). If you liked the addition of hazelnuts, perhaps try adding something earth to the dish like mushrooms. The possibilities are endless, but this small pairing can give you direction for planning an entire meal.

We continued on moving into the red wines:

2013 Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley with California Daisy Cheddar & Dried Cherries

2012 Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley with Asiago & Dried Herbs

2012 Merlot from the Alexander Valley with Oro Secco & Bacon Bits

2012 Red Blend (Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel & Petite Sirah with Romanello Dolce & Green Peppercorns

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Sonoma Valley with Mezzo Secco & Blackberry Preserve.

Each time the sequence was the same; wine, cheese, wine & cheese, wine & cheese & the added flavor. Michael and I surprised ourselves with some of the differences in our tastes. Throughout the experience Lloyd encouraged us to not worry about what was right or wrong. We are each experts on what we are tasting. His quiet and thoughtful demeanor allowed us to open up to our own thoughts and interpretations.

With Corner 103 Lloyd is committed to creating a safe space for everyone to learn and embrace the wine expert inside each of us. He finds that too many people are intimidated by wines. His wines strive to be approachable.

The experience is really extraordinary and you are treated as an honored guest from the moment that you walk in the door. While we were there, the beautiful park was right across the street, people and cars were going by, people came and went, at least I think they did, I was completely absorbed in the experience.

You can visit the Corner 103 website to schedule one of these amazing tastings.

Keep up to date on all of our posts by following us on Crushed Grape Chronicles . You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

a Corner 103 Photo Gallery

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Crushed Grapes & Open Minds – The Event

Crushed Grapes & Open Minds

an interactive experience

Last August we held an event entitled “Crushed Grapes and Open Minds”. My friend RuBen with Act2Art by RuBen is an accomplished artist and created some works specifically for this event. The idea connected scent memory and art, both in the creation of the pieces and peoples reactions to them.

We chose 5 wines, a Champagne (A.J. de Margerie a Bouzy Grand Cru), a Sauvignon Blanc (Starborough Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand) a Syrah (Carhartt 2013 Estate Syrah Santa Barbara), 2 Zinfandels (Tobin James 2010 Fat Boy & French Camp Zin) and a Dessert wine (Chateau Megyer Tokaji Aszu 2010)

There was a station for each wine, with a pairing, aroma jars, the wine and of course the associated work of art. Cards to explain the pairings were located at each station.

Individuals bring their personal experiences and memories as they interpret a work of art. Scent memories are similar, an aroma can trigger a very personal memory. Mixing the two and stirring in a little wine and good food can make for a powerful experience.

We asked guests to smell the aroma jars, taste the wine, and look at the art, then jot down a word, a phrase or a memory that came to them.

A.J. de Margerie a Bouzy Grand Cru

 

We chose this Champagne for the bread on the nose. When we were sampling Champagnes, Cremants and Sparkling wines, we dipped our nose in this glass and got hamburger buns. Yep, hamburger buns. That yeasty smell of bread came across in a very approachable way that we thought would make this wine less intimidating for those new to finding aromas in wine, so it made a great start. This Champagne is mostly Pinot Noir so you also get berries on the nose and so there were scent jars of hamburger buns and berries for people to smell. For a food pairing we matched it with Salty potato chips. The salt and fat are a perfect pairing, the salt making you crave another sip of the champagne and the champagne’s bubbles and acid clean the fat off of your palate after each bite, making every bit as delicious as the first.

 

The Art – Champagne

Champagne Painting by Act2Art

Champagne

Some of the responses to this piece:  “A perfect first date” “Crisp pears – a cool spring afternoon” “Happy – like a picnic at an apple orchard” “Fields of dandelions – fresh grass” “A beautiful sun shower in late April or Early May”

 

 

Starborough Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand

Crushed Grapes & Open Minds w/ Crushed Grape Chronicles.com

Starborough Sauvignon Blanc w/ Crushed Grape Chronicles.com

We had a bunch of Sav Blancs to choose from, but the nose on this one was just captivating! This wine, is not fancy, you can find it in your local grocery store. We had jars of lime, grapefruit, cut grass, stone fruit, and lemongrass and everyone found something different in the wine. We paired this with Guacamole and chips. The avocado is fatty which is nice with the acid in the wine and goes well with the lime and fresh greenness of the wine.

 

The Art – Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc Painting by Act2Art Ruben Permel

Sauvignon Blanc Painting by Act2Art Ruben Permel

“Blowing out candles on your birthday cake” “Very content and peaceful – smells like our smoothie day” “Blood splatter on the grass from when I split my lip” (I love this childhood memory)

 

Carhartt 2013 Estate Syrah Santa Barbara

We love the wines from this Winery and Syrah from Santa Barbara is almost always wonderful. These are the same “Carhartts” that make the work clothes. They owned a cattle farm in Santa Barbara that Mike Carhartt turned into a vineyard. His wife Brooke and their son Chase now make the wines and they have my favorite tasting room on the planet in Los Olivos.

Carhartt Syrah at Crushed Grapes & Open Minds

Carhartt Syrah

This wine has quite a bit going on with aromas of Black berries, dirt, allspice, tobacco, vanilla bean and beef jerky and we had scent jars with all of these. As to a pairing? Well there is a pig on the label, so bacon was the perfect pairing.

 

The Art – Syrah

Carhartt Syrah Painting by Act2Art.com Ruben Permel

Carhartt Syrah Painting by Act2Art.com Ruben Permel

“The calm after a winter storm – perfect tranquility” Dark – cosmos – blanketing” “Thirsty – the kind of thirst when flying” “A very tempestuous sunset”

 

Tobin James 2010 Fat Boy and French Camp Zinfandels

Tobin James Zin at Crushed Grape Open Minds Event

Tobin James Zin at Crushed Grape Open Minds Event

We were members of Tobin James for a while and pulled these two older Zinfandels from the cellar to try. Tobin James is in Paso Robles California and their wines tend to be pretty big. The aromas on these were earth, pepper, fruit jam, leather and chocolate. We paired them with chocolate fountain mini cup cakes from Retro Bakery.

 

The Art – Zin

Zinfandel Painting by Act2Art.com Ruben Permel

Zinfandel Painting by Act2Art.com Ruben Permel

“Making a picnic lunch for the family” “Costy – like a warm blanket wrapped around me during the winter” “tobacco warmth – a little earthy – comfortable”

 

Chateau Megyer Tokaji Aszu 2010

Chateau Megyer Tokaji at Crushed Grape Open Minds Event

Chateau Megyer Tokaji at Crushed Grape Open Minds Event

Tokaj is an area in Hungary and this wine is made from a grape called “furmint”. This is a wine made through “noble rot” or “botrytis cinerea” a fungus that shrivels the grapes like raisins. The raisins are then made into a paste which is added to a dry base wine. This is a sweet wine with citrus, apricot and honey on the nose. We paired it with Brie and Comte cheese.

 

The Art – Tokaji

Chateau Megyer Tokaji Painting by Act2ARt.com Ruben Permel

Chateau Megyer Tokaji Painting by Act2ARt.com Ruben Permel

“Oceanside Cliffs on a summer evening” “My first visit to Montreal – wonder and excitement – Christmas eve” “Tending to my fathers garden”

 

In addition to the wine stations, there was more to eat with a table filled with delicious things with notes to suggest pairings to try with the wine as well as more of RuBen’s beautiful art around the space.

Perfect pairings with wine at Crushed Grapes Open Minds Event

Perfect pairings with wine at Crushed Grapes Open Minds Event

This was an evening of exploration, discovery and animated conversations.

Check back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles for more on wine and the people behind the wines!   You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

And you can find RuBen and his gorgeous art at Act2Art or on Facebook

To have an evening like this created for you, contact 42Aspens Productions at…. 702.463.4242

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The Art Installation – Crushed Grapes and Open Minds

Crushed Grapes & Open Minds, with Crushed Grape Chronicles and Act2Art

A few days before the “Crushed Grapes and Open Minds” event.  The Artist RuBen Permel came by to install the art works.  He brought the 5 paintings inspired by the wine, as well as a selection of other pieces.  Including his Upland Flight series, “Three Angles Walking”, “Landscape Series 6” parts of the “Whispering Goliath Series” and the beautiful “Open Minds”.  We spent the morning finding just the right spot for each work.

Check back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles for more on the details on our Crushed Grapes and Open Minds Event!   You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

And you can find RuBen and his gorgeous art at Act2Art or on Facebook