Thursday, October 19, 2017

Strange Partners

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Posted by Burke Morton On May - 23 - 2010

I've been drinking a fairly old wine this evening--middle-aged would be a better description, as it is but 14 years old, in its prime, and not likely to improve further: the Château de Beaucastel 1996 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is really quite beautiful, and as this wine is unlike most Chateauneuf-du-Pape anyway (it is mostly Mourvèdre while the preponderance of Chateauneuf is principally Grenache), its silken expression is not entirely a surprise. It has a lovely and much lighter texture than it did when it was young, but that is not uncommon with mature wine. The aromas and flavors have clarified themselves over the years, simplifying the experience of the wine while showcasing and magnifying its complexities. It has become an open transmitter of the growing season and the efforts of the people making the wine. This wine has entered a fascinating phase: there are some notions that swirl in and out of the overall picture of the wine, while other elements--expressly the gossamer luxury of its red fruit qualities--are constants. Its character is volatile (though not scary volatile) and exuberant, yet mature and graceful. Think Cuba Gooding Jr. as he ages--that'd be this wine.

Matching for Dinner
So I've got an unusual food pairing here, one I chose based on having tasted the wine first. I made grilled butterflied chicken alla Diavola, which was an even better match than I had hoped. That might give you some indication of the "weight" of this wine--it feels like (but does not remotely taste like) a fine Pinot Noir at its peak, and this opened the door to the pairing with the grilled chicken. The essence of lemons inherent to Chicken alla Diavola united the flavors with such succulence that dinner seemed to fly by. It was like a ray of sun through the experience, lifting our spirits, which we needed because...

Matching with Entertainment
...as we ate our late dinner, we watched Children of Men, which isn't necessarily (if you knew nothing about the film) the feel-good movie that the title might imply. I had seen it before, but my wife had not, so I soldiered on. It turns out this wine was an excellent pairing for the movie, too!

Popularity: 11% [?]

Grenache of More than One Hue

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Posted by Burke Morton On April - 9 - 2010

Cincinnati MagazineI have a new article in the April issue of Cincinnati Magazine. This month's topic is Grenache of multiple colors, expressly Grenache (the original Noir) and Grenache Blanc. You can find a link to the article by clicking on the magazine's logo to the left, or by clicking here.

In the article, I barely mentioned the most fascinating of the three varieties, Grenache Gris. If you can lay your hands on some, you'd be lucky. Le Roc des Anges, an estate in Roussillon in southern France, makes an old vine white that is 90% Grenache Gris, and gives off such a seductive aroma that you'll wonder where it has been all your life...or maybe not, but I did!

Popularity: 5% [?]

Wines for Thanksgiving

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Posted by Burke Morton On November - 19 - 2009

Wild Turkey (photo: Alan_Vernon.)There is only a week remaining until one of the most important events on the food/wine pairing calendar! I have always looked forward to this time of year, and when I was a wine retailer it was especially invigorating, because sales were excellent and it was fun to get excited (and get customers excited) about wines for the holidays. Time to spread the joy once more!

Dealing with Thanksgiving Food
The flavors of the foods on the Thanksgiving table are so disjointed that one would almost be better off having a companion drink for each dish rather than a single libation. Or just have water (which is asinine unless alcoholism is a factor, so we'll set THAT idea aside). Back to the food and what's often on the table...turkey (relatively bland); stuffing (rich taste made all the more intense if sausage or oysters are added); green vegetables (green beans are the norm at my house, typically hard on wine); sweet potatoes (rich flavor and welcoming of many wines); cranberry sauce (exuberant flavor, not all that wine friendly); and these are just the basics! Obviously there are too many dishes to even consider multiple wine pairings, so let's look at this a bit more nonchalantly: if you want to taste your drink with your feast, you'll need something with bold flavor. If you want to taste your feast with your drink, you'll need something with some grace. My favorite wines with Thanksgiving are not-necessarily full-bodied, but are somewhat warming, even if normally served cold.

An Opening Consideration
Let's go ahead and eliminate big, fat, oaky wines (this means Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon in their typical guises). Heavy oak treatment generally inhibits a wine's utility with food. There are obviously some Chardonnays and Cabernets Sauvignon that would work fine with Thanksgiving fare, but these will be out of the ordinary. Wines with other stylistic extremes like those with high alcohol levels are fine (as long as they are not too much about themselves (i.e., like the overripe swamp juice out of Australia)), as are those with low alcohol (so long as they still have vivid character). Wines intended for the Thanksgiving table should also have enough zip to pull through the fats in the food, but not so much that your mouth puckers (nor should they be so devoid of "zip" that they seem flabby).

If any of the following suggestions make you think, "What is that wine?", "How can I find that?", or "Now I'm even more confused!", then you should talk to your local retailer. They can help you find the best option for you.

Here are some of my favorite wines for Thanksgiving:

Rosé
How can you go wrong with rosé? The answer is, YOU CAN'T!!!! If you have any left over from summer, now is the time to drink it, and you'll be glad you did. I particularly like rosés made of Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, or Cabernet Sauvignon (here's a good place for Cab Sauv!). Rosés from the Sancerre region of France's Loire Valley are exceptionally good, as are the famous rosés of the Rhone Valley's Tavel region. I just tried a rosé from Oregon--the Big Fire Rosé from R. Stuart that would be perfect.

White
The white wines I am particularly drawn to for Thanksgiving include Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and Grüner Veltliner, but there are many others that I find just as scintillating. Gewürztraminer is a mighty, intensely aromatic wine and it can be like a warm blanket for your palate. In my retail days, I sold more Gewurz at Thanksgiving than at any other time of the year because it is so wonderful with the feast. As for Riesling, if you choose off-dry, I prefer Spätlese or Auslese in ripeness, but there are many Kabinett-level wines that can have just as much depth (this is where you'd ask your retailer). If you want a dry Riesling, a big serious wine from a great growing site works best, and usually these wines get better and better with aeration, so if you don't finish it, drink the rest the next day (there's hardly a more soul-stirring experience than this). Grüner Veltliner is glorious here, and you'll be happy you tried it, because it has the staying power to work with the food (surprisingly seamlessly across the table), and is qualitatively superior to it's peers at a similar price point.

Red
I'll also be drinking some Zinfandel. Skip the White Zinfandel, and go for Red. Some like to point out that this is "America's Grape" and what could be more appropriate than that for Thanksgiving? I like to point out that it is genetically identical to European grapes with names like Plavac Mali and Primitivo, so let's drink it for it's merit, shall we? And it has plenty of merit: this year I'll be drinking the Seghesio Home Ranch Zinfandel, and I drank the 2002 Ravenswood Dickerson Zinfandel last year and loved it. A well-made Red Zin has good balance of acidity and fruit and pulls so much of the food on your plate together that it is in the same league as the whites listed above for harmonious food:wine rapport. Another option--a sensational one at that--is Grenache. I like it in the form that is found in the Rhone Valley regions of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. These velvety wines are so gratifying and emotive that they'll make you think of home, and what could be more appropriate than that for Thanksgiving?

For some other suggestions, go to the Wine Pairing Search and look under "Turkey"

Popularity: 10% [?]

Video Today


You don't need to speak French to know that the iPad can double as a Champagne Sabre.... Happy New Year!

Popularity: 65% [?]

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