Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Franco-Italian Wine

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Posted by Burke Morton On July - 8 - 2010

I apologize for the infrequency of posting of late, but summer break from school keeps me occupied with my kids, and much as I love writing about wine, they deserve better than an absentee father, which is what I'd be otherwise. However, greater frequency is imminent. Speaking of patriarchs, yesterday I was drinking a lovely glass of '09 Domaine L. Chatelain Chablis when my father, a bottle of '08 La Toledana Gavi in hand, topped up my Chablis, thinking, not unfairly, that Gavi already occupied my glass. I'm game for this kind of thing (there was more Chablis to be had, so it wasn't a big deal), so I drank--with some relish as it turns out--what was roughly a fifty-fifty blend. We were having swordfish steaks (from the USA of course...gotta be sustainable about your fish), and while neither the Gavi nor Chablis had been particularly scintillating with the fish, the combination was, as you have probably guessed, spot-on.

The Chablis on its own was crisp and lively, with a brilliant texture that seemed lighter than usual. The Gavi, conversely, came across as more intense and robust than I consider typical. This combination was singular and really quite fun. It yielded something more akin to a Marsanne from a cooler vintage. A marriage of Chardonnay and Cortese (the two grapes involved in the impromptu blend) cannot be a common one, but the result was enlightening, and in the event that I had forgotten, it would have been a reminder to keep experimenting--even in some unusual ways--with wine and food.

Any experiments and discoveries of your own?

Popularity: 22% [?]

The Importance of Good Glassware

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Posted by Burke Morton On September - 10 - 2009

Wine GlassesI cannot express fully the import of good glassware for wine, because you'd realize that you would rather be a test subject in the NIH Toe Stubbing study than read on. But this website is, in part, about getting "more from your glass" (see above), so breathe easy--and read on!

You may think this some bit of snobbery, but I assure you, it is not. Wine deserves good glassware. This is hardly an original position: I'm just another in a myriad of voices adjuring wine lovers to graduate up. Clearly this is catching on, though, as the 99¢ glass from your local mass-merchandiser has become sufficiently insufficient that Target now carries Riedel crystal stemware in several shapes.

If you drink a wide variety of wines, it is worth investing in more than one glass shape. I have four that I use with regularity: two of these stem shapes are excellent "all-purpose" glasses; two are key for making some wines better, and if you drink the wines suggested below, they will be come important glasses to you, too.

My Stemware of Choice

My all-purpose glass #1:
...is the red wine glass from Riedel's Overture series of glasses. Almost every wine tastes great out of this glass, but another "all-purpose" glass may be even more appropriate (see below for more). More specifically, I would choose this one for:
Whites: Gewurztraminer, richer-styles of Chardonnay, Marsanne, Muscat, Viognier
Reds: Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo

My all-purpose glass #2:
Initially designed by Riedel for Zinfandel, Chianti, or Dry Riesling, I use this one as often as the preceding glass. In addition to the aforementioned wines that inspired this glass, Champagne from this stem is WAY better than out of a traditional flute, and I also us it for the following:
Whites: Albariño, Auxerrois, Chablis (or similarly ringing Chardonnay), Chenin Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Riesling (across the range from dry to sweet), Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Viura
Reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petite, Sirah, Sangiovese, Syrah, Zinfandel

Important Glass #1
The Riedel Vinum Burgundy glass looks like a brandy snifter on a tall stem. If you drink lots of Pinot Noir, Grenache (Côtes-du-Rhône), or Nebbiolo, then you should get this glass. Its shape allows an aromatic wine to bloom and then retain the aromas until you get your nose into the glass. This glass is excellent for:
Whites: Chardonnays of a majestic style (i.e., White Burgundy and the like), Viognier is lovely from this glass as well.
Reds: Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, Grenache, Beaujolais (Gamay), Pinot Meunier, Counoise, among others.

Important Glass #2
The Bordeaux glass from Riedel's Vinum series is a very aggressive glass that is designed to tear through tannic structure so that one can appreciate the wine faster than having to let the wine mature for several years. Wines that perform well from this glass are, as a rule, youthful reds: Bordeaux; Cabernet Sauvignon; Syrah; Merlot; some more strident Cabernets Franc; some stiffer kinds of Malbec; Mourvèdre; gripping, young Tempranillo. I've never enjoyed using this glass for white wine--the wine becomes too diffuse.

What does this have to do with Wine & Food Pairing?


Wines chosen for specific foods are, one hopes, selected to enhance the way a diner experiences the flavors within a dish, as well as between the food and wine. If you really intend to capitalize on this (and if you love food, I suspect you'd agree that one should do this), the way a diner perceives the wine should not be inhibited the glass.

Some of this sounds fussy, I know, but it really isn't much trouble, and it can make a huge difference. If one goes to the trouble of getting a good companion wine for their food, then--unless financial considerations preclude the purchase of new glassware--it would be a shame to be half-assed about its presentation.

Other Choices

As far as good values go, and I'm all for good values where something as fragile as a wine glass is concerned, you might also try Riedel's 'O' series, stemless tumblers (great glasses that also do fine in the dishwasher) that are inexpensive and come in bargain-priced sets. If it turns out that you were wronged in a previous life by a Riedel ancestor, or if you simply want to try something different, you might try Spiegelau, another excellent crystal company whose stemware I own and admire (it's just less easy to get). I shouldn't forget another crystal maker I'm partial to, as well: Schott Zwiesel makes some wonderful, sturdy glasses out of titanium crystal, which I have used in a restaurant setting with excellent results.

Popularity: 22% [?]

Excellent & versatile wines from the Northern Rhone

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Posted by Burke Morton On July - 16 - 2009

Chapoutier Crozes-HermitageYesterday I tasted two wines from venerable Rhône Valley producer M. Chapoutier: Crozes-Hermitage Petite Ruche rouge and blanc, both from 2007 vintage. Crozes-Hermitage is the neighborhood/family harlot of the northern Rhône: it is the region's largest appellation, yielding an ocean of wine, most of it relatively easy to get into. Crozes-Hermitage doesn't have the prime real estate of its famous neighbors, as it is situated below and around the hillside that gives us unhyphenated Hermitage, but there are enough producers now who make their wine seriously that there is ample evidence that Syrah from Crozes-Hermitage can be beautiful indeed, and incredibly useful with food.

About 10% of Crozes-Hermitages made each year is white--most of it from Marsanne. The reds are Syrah (and can contain up to 15% white wine, though this is generally not done), and tend to be more approachable than those of Hermitage. Excellent vintages can mature beautifully over a decade or more (especially in the case of the reds), but usually they are best drunk within the first seven years of the vintage.

And for those who care....Tasting Notes:

M. Chapoutier 2007 Crozes-Hermitage Petite Ruche White
100% Marsanne. Aroma of saffron, mint, a slight smokiness, blanched almonds, quartz. Vivid fleshiness and acidity that suggests Roussanne as a minority partner, but it is without Roussanne's unique mineral expression. Brothy and pear- and plum-toned, long, pure finish where the saffron notion returns.
Food Pairings: Lobster (steamed, not too buttery), Pork, chicken, curry (but milder), risotto (sweeter), smoked trout

M. Chapoutier 2007 Crozes-Hermitage Petite RucheRed
100% Syrah. Stiff, tannin influenced aroma of black raspberries and allspice. Flavors of black raspberry a streak of tannin that doesn't release immediately, but with air it opens up nicely with excellent length, spice, and even a touch of meatiness. Finish has an attractive chalk texture, which will soften with some time, which this wine could use...at least five years, or a decanter and a few hours.
Food Pairings: Cheese (hard or aged), Eggplant, Osso Bucco, Venison, ratatouille, smoked meats.

Popularity: 12% [?]


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Posted by Burke Morton On July - 16 - 2009

MarsanneMarsanne is the source of some of the Rhône Valley's greatest white wines, but is (perhaps owing to the rarity of white wine from this region) a relatively obscure white wine grape as far as the wine-buying public at large is concerned. It is the Falstaff of white wine grapes: its wine is fat, deeply colored, easy to enjoy, and high in alcohol so it might get in you Falstaffian trouble if you drink too much of it.

Marsanne is likely native to the northern Rhône Valley, but is planted widely across southern France. It is increasing in acreage under vine in the United States, and is revered in Australia, where some of the world's oldest Marsanne vines are still producing grapes.

It has aromatic elements that can include almonds, caramel, honeysuckle, unroasted hazelnuts, and pineapple; flavors include caramel, honey, marzipan, pineapples, plums, saffron. Marsanne is a high-yielding vine, whose grapes possess naturally high grape sugar and relatively low acidity. It is traditionally blended with Roussanne, which has pronounced acidity, to achieve more depth (and to broaden Roussanne...). It is also commonly blended with Viognier and Vermentino (which is known in southern France as Rolle).

Marsanne with Food
Chicken, lobster, pork, smoked trout, pâté, risotto, braised endive, fennel, curry, rich-ish cheese.

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: 83% [?]


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