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Archive for June, 2008

This week’s in the kitchen with on design*sponge featured our wonderful friend Kristina (from Three Layer Cake), her recipe for Roman-Style artichokes and her beautiful photography.

I selected the Mas de Bressades Rosé 2007 to pair with the artichokes. Mas des Bressades is considered by many as one of the top estates in Costières de Nîmes, located 35 miles southwest of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, on the western side of the Rhône.

All of their wines are worth seeking out because they are consistently well made and very good values. Their rosé is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 20% Cinsault and is vinified completely in tank. Some people might equate pink wine with sweet, but it is a dry rosé. Raspberry and strawberries come through on the nose. On the palate, it is loaded with lychee and raspberry as well as rose water, wet stone and a hint of white pepper.

Rosé wines are usually great food wines and pair well with most foods. In my opinion, rosés work especially well with dishes that have salty or spicy components or garlic components. I tend to think of artichokes as usually being bit salty or at least tasting best when they are well salted — and the recipe calls for some Italian parsley, basil and garlic.

In my experience, artichokes make wines taste sweeter. So the first tip is to pick something dry. Artichokes are also said to be a challenging pairing. I often consider a rosé with a difficult pairing as it they are considered to be great food wines and pair well with a variety of food (except steaks and heavy, red meat based dishes).

In regards to wine pairings, I read an article that suggested while it is important to compliment, accentuate, and play off the flavors and characteristics of the food — it is also critical to keep in mind that there is a critical third component as well — the people drinking the wine.

A good sommelier or wine merchant, should always ask what types/styles of wine you enjoy as their first question. I would be a bit reluctant to follow their advice if they don’t ask you what wines or types of wines you enjoy. Their first job is to get a sense of your palate. Once they have done that, and only then, can they begin to consider the food and suggestions for a wine pairing.

For example, Sauternes and Foie Gras is one of those classic pairings; however, some people do not like or simply will not eat Foie Gras. People generally understand that and will probably think about their guests and whether or not they would eat Foie Gras before deciding to serve it. But when pairing a wine, people usually are more focused on the food, rather than their audience. Some people don’t like Sauternes, and maybe something like a Chenin Blanc, that usually has just a bit of sweetness might be a better pairing in some situations.

In a forum such as this that isn’t possible, but is something to consider when you selecting wine and suggested pairings, they are only one possibility — your palate and that of your guests need to be taken into account as well. All of this being said, I think it is also always a good idea to try new things and expand your palate — and let your sommelier or wine merchant now that you are open to suggestions that fall outside of your usual preferences — and also to encourage your friends and guests to try new things as well. After all, some of the best memories are often the most unique as well.

Rosé, Rosé, Rosé

I have been a big fan of rosés for quite a while. Summer is a great time to stock up on rosé. In addition to the Mas de Bressades, I will always recommend the Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel, Bonny Doon’s Vin Gris, Robert Kacher Selections always has some great rosés (and great values) in his portfolio. Kacher imports more good French rosé than just about anyone, highlights include:
– Mas de Bressades
– Mas Carlot
– Domaine des Corbillieres
– Domaine de Gournier
– Mas de Guiot
– Domaine de la Petite Cassagne

I also just got a few bottles of Bernard Baudry’s Chinon Rosé that I am very excited about. Bernard Baudry is one of the newer stars of the Chinon scene — he makes outstanding Cabernet Franc and offer tremendous value, like many wines from the Loire.

About the wine pairings with Design*Sponge

I will be providing wine pairings for some of the recipes edited by Kristina on Design*Sponge. The In-the-Kitchen-With column appears every Friday at noon, and features the recipes of design*sponge readers’ favorite designers. Design*Sponge is a daily website dedicated to home and product design run by Brooklyn-based writer, Grace Bonney. Launched in August of 2004, Design*Sponge features store and product reviews, sale and contest announcements, new designer profiles, trend forecasting and store/studio tours.

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The wine is a very light, pale straw color. Grapefruit, limestone, white flowers, salt water, cut grass and some damp basement characteristics on the nose.

On the palate, key lime pie, quince, citrus and wet stone — with lemon rind and jalapeno components. Solid underlying minerality, very crisp with razor-sharp, mouth-tingling acidity.

I have seen the 2007 Casa Marin Sauvignon Blanc priced as low as $20 (Wine Library) to $29 a bottle retail.

The wine is made by Maria Luz Marin, the only woman winemaker & winery owner in Chile.

Wine & Spirits rated this wine 95 points, which I find to be a bit gratuitous. Not to say this isn’t a very good wine. In fact, it is the best white wine I have had from South America, but in my opinion many whites from the Loire offer a better quality to price ratio. That is just my own personal opinion and it seems as though many people agree with the Wine & Spirits rating. I would recommend it, but not with the same enthusiasm — it is certainly worth picking up a few bottles and deciding for yourself. Imported by Domaine Select Imports.

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This is a blend of 90% old-vine Grenache, 8% Syrah and 2% Mourvèdre. It is a Côtes du Rhône, but the vineyard is located very close to Château Rayas and Château Beaucastel. The “Unique” denotes a North Berkeley barrel selection.

Beautiful dark ruby in color. Reticent black cherries with violets, some pepper and earthiness on the nose. On the palate, classic kirsch, licorice, some cranberry and pomegranate with white pepper. Great elegance (and I do truly mean elegance, it is not thin), purity, balance — and the finish is pronounced, but refined with lingering notes of pepper, earth and graphite.

I think I got this a few years back at under $20 a bottle, it now retails for about $25. It really is starting to open and is showing very well. This is really a lot of wine for $20, I would stock up on this if I had the opportunity to buy this again today at under $20 a bottle. Imported by North Berkeley Wine Imports.

Strongly recommended.

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McPrice Myers began his career working for specialty food retailers and grocery stores, giving him the opportunity to taste a lot of wine. In wine he found a passion and started dreaming of the day when he would make his own wine.

He started working harvests in Paso Robles, learning the trade and making the contacts that would lay the groundwork for the point at which he would eventually make his own wine. In 2002, Myers contracted enough fruit to make 250 cases of Santa Barbara County Syrah.

His 2005 grenache is black cherry in color. Dark fruit with a bit of pine and pepper on the nose. On the palate, lush, full bodied and loaded with fruit — black cherry and raspberry reduction with some white pepper — and notes of toasted vanilla, espresso, plum and graphite. The white pepper and graphite really persist on a slightly heady finish.

The wine weighs in at 15.4% alcohol. A wee bit over the top for my tastes, I would prefer that things would be dialed back a bit, but I can certainly appreciate the wine and must admit that the alcohol is surprisingly well integrated. I also thought it showed better the day after I opened it as it seemed to mellow and some of the heat burned off.

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This wine is a blend of 84% petite sirah and 16% zinfandel from the Lytton Estate. The blend’s zinfandel is from hundred-year-old vines and the petite from younger wines. This was the first petite sirah table table wine produced from the estate, producing 38 barrels in 2002.

Stunning black purple in color with serious legs in the glass. On the nose, there is a stewed rhubard component, tarry black fruits, violets with slight hint of brandy (and a touch of heat). On the palate, chewy black cherry, plum, black currant and a touch of leather and bubble gum. Great mouthfeel, full-bodied, very lush but dry with a solid finish.

This is showing very well right now (and was even better the day after it was opened) and I expect it will still be drinking young for another 4-5 more years at a minimum. I was surprised to see that the vineyard still has this in stock. It was not a very difficult decision to pick up a couple more bottles.

It retails at $30 a bottle, not a value wine but a very high quality and memorable wine. Recommended.

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This is 100 percent mourvedre from Bonny Doon Vineyard. I worked at Bonny Doon during my last year and a half of college. Old Telegram and Le Sophiste were the first wines I started to stockpile in the late 1980s. I depleted all of my reserves a few years back. I had a magnum of an 88 Telegram that I opened 4 years ago, and though it might have been in its twilight, it still showed beautifully.

The 2004 is dark cherry in color. Not a lot of fruit on the nose, but some pepper, tree bark and wet basement components. Solid tannins and some spice, leather and white pepper on the palate — again not a lot of fruit, (actually a little hollow). A bit austere, very dry and maybe a bit of a bully, making little if any attempt to temper its masculinity. This might not be a crowd pleaser, but I would be quite happy to share a quiet evening with a glass of the Old Telegram and a hearty, charred piece of meat.

They shipped this wine to me as part of my DEWN membership (which I finally gave up this year). The wine retails for $30 a bottle. Certainly much better values in the market place, but at least in my case, this wine does stir up some memories — and I still have a soft spot for Bonny Doon.

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Beautiful golden straw in color. Very aromatic with pronounced notes of apricot, apple and peach. On the palate, peaches, pear and stone fruit with a touch of hay and honey. Fleshy, nice creaminess and great viscosity. This is a sec, or dry wine, but it seems closer to off dry.

Really a lovely wine, that I would probably opt to serve with a cheese plate with some creamy and slightly salty cheeses. The slight sweetness of the wine will play off any salty characteristics and the fleshiness will pair well with the creaminess of the cheese.

The wine assembled from all the young vines (less than 50 years old) in the Jasnières. Jasnières is comprised of two appellations delimited in 1938 and 1948 which have never developed the same sort of reputation as Vouvray and Montlouis further south. Jasnières is further north than any other appellation in the Loire Valley — and the cool, damp weather can present some challenges.

Les Rosiers is chenin blanc from the Loire produced by Eric Nicolas. He was a city kid who didn’t have any experience in the region or agriculture. He developed a passion for vines and wines, and after studying oenology, he looked in the Loire to acquire vineyards, as he had been impressed and admired some of the region’s winemakers. Seven years ago, Eric and his wife Christine found an estate with some vines, but mostly grazing fields, trees and grains. They nurtured the existing old vines and did a lot of planting, to get to their current 9 hectares, scattered over the territory of 6 villages. This year, they converted the whole estate to Biodynamic agriculture.

I think this runs at about $24 a bottle, perhaps not the greatest value — but I would not hesitate to recommend it at that price. Imported by Louis/Dressner.

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