Posts Tagged ‘grenache’

Seafood + Wine = Perfect Pairing

July 25, 2010

Summer has arrived in Vancouver. Although the sun has not shown up as much as we would love it to, temperature is creeping up and with it comes the need for lighter, fresher meals to keep the heat at bay. And when it comes to light, cold dishes, nothing like seafood! Lucky for us, we live right on one of the cleanest maritime areas of the world and the quality and diversity of our fruits de mer is second to none. Seafood is still a bit of terra incognita for a large proportion of consumers and when it comes to choosing the best wines to pair with a fish or shellfish dish, the subject can be outright obscure. “White wine with seafood, red wine with meat” goes the old saying, and for the most part it is a solid guideline. Having been raised sea side in Lima, and having worked for my family’s ceviche restaurant, my diet relies heavily on seafood. After moving to Canada, and being a wine apasionado, I have had no alternative but to test and try wines and local seafood in my adoptive homeland, findings that I now share with Everything Wine blog readers.

First of all, and before the season is over, get your hands on some spot prawns, sustainably harvested off the coast of British Columbia. Garlic butter is one of the most popular sauces to accompany this beautifully tender, naturally sweet tasting crustacean. A classic match is a lush, full flavored Pinot Gris, like New Zealand’s Sileni (15.99), Argentina’s Lurton (13.99) or Hungary’s Dunavar, which, at 9.99 offers tremendous value. More adventurous seafood lovers may like to add some wasabi and soy sauce to their garlic butter, which results in a delicious mélange. The cooking temperature takes away some of the wasabi’s aggressive heat but keeps its flavors. In this case a wine with more weight on the palate is in order. Kettle Valley’s Pinot Gris (24.99) is a good call. Even better, try Alsace’s Hartenberger (23.99) or Pierre Sparr Reserve, which at 29.99 has a massive presence on the palate and abundant, flavor-packed fruit that stands up to the spot prawn challenge.
 

Oysters deserve a post of their own. The mind boggling diversity and their aptitude to reflect the “sea-rroir” make the bivalves analogous to wine. East and West coasters taste different, and within the West Coast, they will have different taste and texture depending on whether they come from farms in Washington, Oregon or British Columbia. Keep in mind that in the case of oysters, farmed is better than wild for a number of reasons that would take too long to discuss here. Suffice to say that environmentally farmed oysters take the pressure off natural stocks, besides the fact that they are fed only clean ocean water and nothing else, no vitamins, hormones, antibiotics or dyes. Although Chablis (the real thing, from France, not the spurious sweet plonk made in California) is the classic match, we will look here at the best pairing for West Coast slimes: Sauvignon Blanc. Effingham oysters have a distinct savory taste, which calls for a wine that reflects that character. Wither Hills Rarangi, from Marlborough (26.99) comes immediately to mind. For the budget minded, Southern France’s Tariquet (15.99) will rise up to the job. Kumamotos and Kusshis have a sweeter, fruitier profile. Riper fruit is what you should look for in your Sauv Blanc. Napa Valley’s St Supery (37.99) is an excellent choice. A bit pricey, point taken, but then you are slurping the aristocracy of mollusks. Not convinced? Go for Argentina’s Mapema (20.99) or Paula (16.99). If you are rooting for Chile and not Argentina in the World Cup and don’t want to buy a Tango wine, then grab Casas del Bosque (17.99), a delicious Sauvignon of high fruit profile and persistent acidity.

Dungeness crab is another critter that British Columbians love to have on their table. The white, firm meat is packed in both legs and body. It is so tasty that for the most part all you need to do is cook it in boiling water (crustaceans have well developed nervous systems so please put them to “sleep” in the freezer for 20 or 25 minutes before you scald them). Dungeness, like King Crab, has a distinct touch of sweetness sparkling over the rich flavor and texture. Find a wine of analogous fat character, like a good Chardonnay. Los Alamos (14.99), Liberty School (23.99) or Oyster Bay (19.99) will do the job. For those who don’t mind a touch of sweetness in their wine, the Madrone (which is blended with 8% Muscat) should be the perfect match at 18.99.

Before closing this note, how can you write about West Coast seafood without mentioning the king of our waters, the mighty salmon? Here is when you can bend the white-for-fish-red-for-meat rule. Barbequed or poached salmon will be enriched by a fleshy Chardonnay but it has enough flavor to stand up to lighter reds. First in line, C’est la Vie, an idiosyncratic Southern French blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah is a great candidate at 16.99. A soft Pinot Noir, like the Tabali Reserva (29.99) or the Coldstream Hills (33.99) are also great picks. For the budget minded, the J.P. Chenet Limited Release (1.99) or the Morande Pionero (15.99) are the ones to look for. Look for troll caught salmon, as it is the tastiest and the fishing method is environmentally responsible.

 Grenache (aka Garnacha) is another red that enhances strong flavored fish. Seared Albacore tuna, which is harvested sustainably in British Columbia (barbless hooks minimize bycatch of other species) pairs wonderfully with a light Grenache like Vive La Revolution or Spain’s No Time Garnacha (both at 15.99). Not into light reds? No worries. You would still have a good pairing with something like the Wallace Shiraz Grenache (29.99).

Seafood and wine pairings are a bit tricky but when you find the right match, they are so terroir oriented that the synergy is rarely found in other pairings. And when you go seafood shopping, don’t forget to look for sustainable harvested fish and shellfish. That is the only way to keep the bounty of our oceans healthy and available for us and for future generations.

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Chateau de Montfaucon

March 18, 2010

Baron Louis 2006

Cotes du Rhone

750ml. $32.99.

Blend : Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvedre, Counoise 

The 2006 Baron Louis presents a very intense nose with mineral, flinty scents underpinning the dark fruit, green pepper aromas. This is Grenache turf and the variety flexes it muscle: an alcoholic waft blows off the glass, without being impertinent or over the top. The texture is mercurial, runny, playful, with the nose tones reverberating on the palate. Extremely fine tannins lead the lips into a slight pucker with gusto. Medium body, elegance and finesse define this Southern Rhone wine. The finish is long, subtle, with touches of pepper, mint and other herbs crushed on a stone mortar. Delicious.

 

 

Laurent Miquel Bardou 2005 Syrah

March 15, 2010

From the St. Chinian appellation, one of the least known of the French Languedoc region, comes this delicious offering by young winemaker Laurent Miquel. The Languedoc wine wizard has us used to excellent quality vs price wines, all the way from his entry level syrah grenache and chardonnay viognier (both 11.99 in Vancouver) passing through his rich, ripe fruited Nord Sud Viognier (24.99) to this intriguing Bardou, which, besides the wine itself, comes in a beautiful, elegant, classic style packaging.

This Syrah starts with a textbook Languedoc nose, that is, the scents of the Garrigue scrubland that so well define the area. St. Chinian may be said to be no more than a slope covered with vineyards; the appellation is small and the wineries there established, crank out the good stuff. Herbal and wild flower fragrances come off the glass. Lavender, rosemary, mint, pine, rock, muddy stream shore. This is not a monster body Syrah but rather an elegant, sober medium body beauty. Coffeeish notes from the new oak are enmeshed with the full-flavored, dark fruit and closed up by a lingering finish. Tannins are abundant and soft. A lovely Syrah and surprisingly, its price varies wildly in Vancouver. At some locations I found it for 28 dollars; in others you have to pay up to 40. I paid the former. Grin. *_*

My wine mate was making a seafood cioppino. After sipping the first glass we figured the Bardou needed something with more meat -figuratively speaking- so we turned the cioppino into a clam tomato sauce linguini*. It paired beautifully with the wine, each enhancing the other. Another great wine from beautiful Languedoc.

Salut.

*enrich it with anchovy paste….

Ivan Alfonso

ps. Photos, Le Guide de Sud France, Laurent Miquel website

Bronzinelle, Rhone Style Blend

June 16, 2009

A French man told me once “we know something about winemaking that the rest of the world doesn’t”. bronxinelleAlthough it sounded arrogant at the time, many times I have pondered –holding a glass in my hand- if after all he was right. One of those times was tasting this juicy Rhone-style blend led by Syrah. Dark ruby red with a flash of purple, the nose brings licorice, dust, spice and “Grenachey” aromas of stewed, sweet red fruit. A lot of very fine tannins in this broth, coating the mouth with a drying –yet pleasing- sensation. Good body with red fruit, old wood and spice and a long, satisfying finish.

Product: Bronzinelle

Variety: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignan

Vintage:2006

Winery: Chateau Saint Martin de la Garrigue

Origin: Languedoc, France

Alcohol: 13.5%

Price: 20.99 (Everything Wine)
Best in Class

La Galiniere, a Delicate Rosé

June 15, 2009

Love this rosé from Bouches-de-Rhone, the mouth of the famous river, not too far from the Mediterranean. Chateau de la Galiniere rose 2007 255A simple yet classic label, with an appealing salmon pink color, that seems to whisper “summer is here”. The nose is very subtle, no outbursts of fruit but rather light brushstrokes of meadow flowers and a hint of nuts. The palate is bone dry and equally delicate, very light but full of character. Roses and red pamplemousse predominate. Acidity high and very refreshing, reverberates on the tongue in a good, lasting finish with blood orange rind. This rose stands really well on its own or accompanying a plate of seafood salad.

Product: Vendanges Manuelles, Rose

Variety: unknown, probably Grenache and Cinsault

Vintage: 2008

Winery: Chateau de la Galiniere

Origin: Bouches-de-Rhone, Provence, France

Alcohol: 13.0%

Price: 18.99 (Everything Wine)

Gratitude, affordable Cotes du Rhone Blend

May 22, 2009

inca-white “Gratitude” is a blend of Grenache, Syrah Mouverdre, made from grapes grown in Plan de Dieu soils, stony and well drained, with lots of sunshine. It shows a dark purple color and a rich nose of stewed red fruit and spice. Earthy notes and black pepper in the medium plus palate, with smooth tannins and good acidity. The finish is long and persistent, with more black pepper and stewed red berries. Excellent to drink now or keep for a few years.

Product: Gratitude

Variety: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre

Vintage: 2007

Winery: Chateau La Couranconne

Origin: Plan de Dieu, Cotes du Rhone, France

Alcohol: 13.5%

Price: 23.99 (Everything Wine)