It’s Game Day and I’m off. This is a rare thing for me, typically I would be working on a Sunday, but in Vegas….the only show that goes on today is the Superb Owl! Michael is working so I have the day to myself. So game day snacks and a wine pairing seemed in order! I had a couple of inspirations today. First was an article by Mark Oldman on Game day snacks and wine pairings 7-pairings-to-supersize-your-big-game-wine-experience. The second was an article on WineFolly (love her!) on How to Improve your wine smarts in one month.
So…I have been delving into French wines this month, researching and learning more about them and I love popcorn. I don’t often indulge, but Mark convinced me. And inspired by Madeline, I will compare a couple wines. And…to up the ante a little (it is game day) we are inspired by the Judgement of Paris. If you haven’t seen Bottleshock, you should rent it. Any way…I am off to find a Chablis from Burgundy and…a Chardonnay from Grgich Hills. In addition to the popcorn…I’ll search for some other lovely Chardonnay Pairings.
Alright…back from shopping. Here’s what we have. a 2012 Pascal Bouchard Chablis Le Classique, a 2010 Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley Chardonnay, and a 2010 Chateau de Rully. My favorite guy at the wine store was in, so while it was crazy, I managed to pick his brain for a moment. He gave a nod to my Chateau de Rully pick and suggested the Pascal Bouchard Chablis. While it is unoaked, it has gone through secondary fermentation so it has a richer mouthfeel while still keeping the acid. I was eyeing the Montrachet, but mentioned that I didn’t think I should invest in that without Michael home and he agreed. So…Montrachet for another day.
I headed to the store and picked up some brie, some fontina cheese, peppered goat cheese, green beans almondine, lobster macaroni, popcorn & butter.
So a little about the Wines…where they come from etc and the pairings.
When Michael and I first visited Napa, Grgich Hills was the second winery we visited. They were warm and friendly and open to educating wine novices, which we were at the time. If you have not yet seen Bottleshock, and want the suspense, you might skip reading this next part. Mike Grgich worked at Chateau Montelena as the winemaker in 1973 when that famous Chardonnay was made that beat out the French whites at the Paris tasting. At 91 he is still active at the winery and in Napa and can be seen sporting his signature beret.
The Grgich Hills 2010 Estate Chardonnay; ($33) Certified Organic and Biodynamically farmed, the 2010 vintage has good acidity with a definite butteriness from 10 month in French Oak (40% new). This sits on the high side at 14.1% alcohol. The butteriness of the wine lent itself to pair nicely with all of the cheeses, adding a depth of richness to the Fontina and Brie and unexpectedly taming the pepper in the peppered goat cheese. It brought out the richness in the sauce in the green beans almondine. But the Piece de resistance was pairing it with the buttered popcorn! Heavenly!
Chablis is the northernmost area in Burgundy and they grow Chardonnay almost exclusively here. Chardonnay’s here you will find unbaked. The soil here is Kimmeridge Clay which is a mixture of limestone, clay and fossilized oyster shells. Chablis is so well known for it’s Chardonnay that when vintners in California fist began growing Chardonnay, they actually called it Chablis.
Pascal Bouchard is a family run winery with an Estate that sits in 4 appellations in Chablis : Chablis Grand Gru, Chablis Premier Cru, Chablish and Petit Chablis. They use no new oak here and only the Grand Crus are aged in 100% oak. The Petit Chablis and Chablis (like the Le Classique that we tasted) are 100% stainless steel.
The Pascal Bouchard 2012 Chablis; ($23) This wine is clean and bright with pear and fresh cut apple on the nose as well a a bit of chalk and dust. This made for a bright clean pairing with all of the cheeses, making them feel lighter. The acid was perfect to cut through the fat. This wine would allow you to enjoy brie outside on a hot summer day and not have it be too heavy. This paired nicely with the beans and with the Lobster macaroni made for a lovely contrast. The alcohol on this sits at 12.5%.
Chateau de Rully is a 12th century medieval fortress located in Cote Chalonnaise. The vineyards here are maintained by Antonin Rodet, who sells these wines all over the world. Cote Chalonnaise is south of Cote d’Or and Cote de Beaune. The wines here are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Chateau de Rully 2010 ($25) 11-14% alcohol; This wine had acid on the nose than the Grgich with a little effervescence. I got butter and creme on the nose and a little dust that was not chalky. Round and mellow on the palate, but with great acid for a wonderful palate cleanser. This wine brought out the nutty character in the Brie and gave me interesting nuances when paired with the Fontina. With the goat cheese? Not so much. But this was my favorite pairing with the Lobster Mac. It compliments nicely the dish nicely making everything more aromatic in my mouth.
These three Chardonnays were all very different. The Chablis was crisp and clean and lighter in color. The Chateau de Rully has a little butter with good acid and lots of nuance and the Grgich Hills was by far the biggest wine in the bunch and really was a piece of heaven with the buttered popcorn.
Oh..and I did watch a little of the game and some of the commercials.