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

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


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









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

RuBen Permel – Act2Art – Wine Inspired Art

Crushed Grapes & Open Minds with Act2Art.com

RuBen Permel of Act2Art is an accomplished artist.  He’s actually quite the renaissance man, he is an actor and dancer, a puppeteer, a costumer, a painter, a writer, a film maker….and lucky for me, my friend.

Last year we worked together on a project called “Crushed Grapes and Open Minds”.  I had this idea of finding wine that would pair with some of RuBen’s beautiful art.  RuBen, ever the overachiever, decided he would paint a piece for each wine we chose.  We chose 5 wines and he painted a piece to pair with each.

We spent an afternoon with RuBen while he painted, actually priming a canvas for what became the signature piece for the event.

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

Aglianico (don’t try to say it on your own!)

On our last trip to Paso Robles, Michael and I stopped into the Kenneth Volk tasting room that is next to Lone Madrone and tasted his 2008 Aglianico.  Okay don’t try to pronounce this without assistance or you will butcher it like I did.  Let Bruno de Conciliis teach you how to correctly pronounce it.  (ah-L’YEE’AH-nee-koh)

I was doing research on Aglianico to figure out how long I should cellar this and found lots all kinds of interesting information on this variety.

In many places you will hear that this grape came from Greece in the 6th century and was used to make Falernum (it’s latin name) or Falerian wine.  Falerian wine was a favorite of the Romans and was said to be made with Aglianico and sometimes Grecco grapes.  These grapes were grown on the slopes of Mt. Falernus and is mentioned in Roman literature.  This wine was a white wine that was at 15% alcohol.  The grapes were a late harvest grape harvested after a freeze (like eiswein?).  The wine was aged in an amphorae for 15 to 20 years so the wine became amber to dark brown before drinking.  The area these vines were grown in is now the vineyards of Rocca de Mondragone and Monte Massico.  The name was thought to be a version of the word Hellenic or Ellenico the Italian word for Greek.

Okay now that I’ve given you all that rich history…DNA research shows that Aglianico is not related to the Greek varieties that were used to make Falernum.  Still…great story huh?

This grape was almost completely wiped out by phylloxera in the 19th century.  It is a late ripening variety that has strong tannins a deep black color and a firm structure.  It is said that these wines can be harsh in their youth and 5-10 years in the bottle allows the fruit profile to emerge and the tannis to soften.  These wines exhibit a smooth, rich texture with aromas of coffee, leather, smoke, dark chocolate, black fruits and mineral and tend to be complex.

Jancis Robinson has a beautiful speaks of this wine which she describes as “exuding class”.

The variety is grown in Campania where it is made into Taurasi.  Taurasi is mostly Aglianico, but may have up to 15% of other grapes, such as Piedirosso which is a fresher and more aromatic local grape or the Primitivo of Puglia. The addition of these grapes makes this wine mature earlier and leans toward fruity.  It buds early and harvests late.  In high altitudes in Taurasi it has been harvested into late November.

In Basilicata they turn this grape into Aglianico del Vulture (Vul-tur-e not like the bird!)  This wine is 100% Aglianco.  Both Campania and Basilicata are located in Southern Italy.

This variety is slowly being grown outside of Italy, thus my Kenneth Volk ’08 Aglianico!  Seghesio is also growing it in the Alexander Valley and it is now being grown in Australia in the inland wine regions.  It has been discussed that this grape could be a great alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon in California as it is more suited to the warmer climate.  By the looks of the multiple vineyards that popped up on my search for “California Aglianico”, it is finding a foothold.

So after all my research I was still wondering…should I cellar this for another 5 years?  So…I e-mailed Kenneth Volk and received a wonderful personal response.  His Paso Aglianico is grown in Pomar Junction and as it often does not have the opportunity to be as late ripening as traditional Italian Aglianico it tends to not cellar by typical Italian standards.  He suggested that the ’08 was drinking well now and will probably drink well for a few more years.  Since it was drinking well now I asked for his suggestions on pairings.  He did tell me that this was a food wine and suggested something protein rich like lamb, waterfowl or a rustic pasta.

Well…now my day was complete.  I had two correspondences from Kenneth Volk (who I have a bit of a wine crush on) and determined what I was having with Thanksgiving dinner.  Michael and I started a new tradition last year in that, since it is just the two of us, rather than cooking a whole turkey, we indulge in a duck.  So….that will be my waterfowl.

And I have to say a huge thank you to Mr. Volk for personally answering my questions so thoroughly about his wine.  Not only is he a genius, he’s a nice genius!  Now to figure out what to pair with the duck!

Wine adventures at home

Tasting at Pippen Hill

A recent post on Wine Folly reminded me of how much I love finding new wines!  At heart I am a winery girl.

I love to find new wineries, meet the people in the tasting room and get to know the spirit and passion behind the label.  But…living in Las Vegas means that my opportunities for these occasions come only on weekends or vacations.  So…while landlocked and vineyard deprived finding new wines at the local wine shop is another invigorating way to feed my wine habit.

There are two ways to go about this and it depends on your circumstances.  If you have a great local wine shop with a knowlegeable staff that are fun to talk to then perhaps you wander in, tell them what you like and ask for interesting wines that might fit that profile.  If you are a geek like me you find something online or research areas and wines and then head to the wine shop with a list in tow, often to be disappointed by what the giant wine distributor has decided to carry.  I unfortunately don’t have a great little wineshop in my neck of the woods.  There is one in town that I love but it is a drive!  Most often due to lack of resources I head to the giant wine store and try to track down James if he is there because he never steers me wrong!

If you, like me, love trying new varieties and wines, you should pick up Mark Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine.  I have it on my Kindle and take a larger than usual purse with me to the wineshop so I have room for it and can whip it out to look up his recommendations. (Maybe I should download it to my phone and skip the bigger purse?).  Unfortunately more often than not the all the rage new wine from several years ago in New York is not to be found at the giant wine store in Las Vegas.  You would think in a town with sooooo many great chefs that we would have more variety.  Turns out, what they bring in for the restaurants and what they bring in for Joe wine drinker are two different things.  I usually get kinda grumpy and look for someone to complain to.  Then James talks me down and finds me a great alternative.


So try something new and have a wine adventure!  Find a perfect pairing, or search for one.  I tend to do the research at our house and then try to shop to match the wine.  Michael is much more freeform picking up all sorts of things and then pairing to see what it does.  He’s a rebel that way, sometime with great results, sometimes with disasters.  Another thought…inspired by the Mayo Family Reserve room (read my post on them here) is to buy two bottles, pop one open and drink it and find out what you crave to go with it.  Then you can shop and pop the 2nd bottle to enjoy with the pairing!  Or…go the full science route and pick up Francois Chartier’s Taste Buds & Molecules.

Regardless of how you approach it, get out of your wine slump and tickle your tastebuds with something new.  Often you’ll find a new favorite that is easy on the wallet too.  So this weekend…will it be a Cannonau from Sardinia? A Montefalco Rosso from Umbria?  Or Maybe a Negroamaro from Puglia. Thanks Madeline for the inspiration!  I’m on my way to the wine shop and another adventure!