November 20, 2013

Natural Wine with M. Lapierre, Raisins Gaulois, Beaujolais, France, 2011 (and Northern Style Jambalaya)

If you don't know the story behind this wine it is a doozy. In the lagte 1980's importer and raconteur, Kermit Lynch was handed a bottle of Marcel Lapierre, Morgon vineyard, Beaujolais. The purity and the style knocked the man over and sparked a revolution in the wine industry. Natural wine; late picked, organically grown grapes pressed into low (or no) sulfur added, unfidded with wines. Yes, unfiddled is an industry term that I just made up. Sadly, Marcel Lapierre died in 2010, but his son Mathieu carries on the natural tradition.

If you want to do more reading on this wine and it's history, head over to:
Remembering Marcel Laperrier
Kermit Lynch's Bio on Marcel
Sommier Journal's interview with Mathieu

As for the wine, it is light, clean an persistent. The closest thing to alcoholic, dry grape juice that you can get. It floats on the palate with a cleansing finish. I don't know how many times I can repeat the same tasting note. It's paring very well with my Northern Style Jambalaya. Keep it away from the sweet cranberry sauce and desert, but find some for Thanksgiving!

Northern Style Jambalaya: 

1 Thyme Sprig
1 Diced clove of garlic
3 Stalks of Celery
2 Bell Peppers
4 Carrots
1 Spanish onion
1/4 cup of chives.
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes (or fresh)
3 Fresh Roma tomatoes.
1 bay leaf
4 Tbs butter
Roughly 3 Tbs four
Chicken Stock
Red Wine (Light red wine, like a Pinot Noir or Gammay.)
20 oz of Aborio Rice.
1lb Bratwurst sausages.
2 Cans of beer

Corseley chop the vegetables and put in bowl. Set aside.

In a 4 quart pot pour your beer, fill with water and bring to a boil. Add Brats and cook 3/4 of the way through.

When the sausage is about 1/4 of the way cooked, melt 4 tbs of butter in a large pot add enough four to make a mush. This is your roux, let it turn golden brown and add the chopped veggies (minus the tomatoes) and cook until they sweat out. Drain tomatoes and add them along with enough wine to replace the liquid drained from the can. Bring mixture to a simmer. When the sausage is 3/4 of the way done cut it up into discs and brown in an 8 in omelet pan.

After a few minuets and add the rice and sausage. Stir and add chicken stock to the top of the mixture. Wait, when the rice absorbs all the liquid, add some more chicken stock. Continue to add stock until rice is done. You can add wine if you want. When the rice is done so is your Northern Rice dish. Salt and pepper to taste. 

November 16, 2013

Yak Pairing: Experiment #1 Chateau L'Argilus du Roi, St. Estephe, Bordeaux, 2009

When you think of a Yak, what is it that you imagine? A large furry animal with horns, right? Mastodonal this beast is not. Look at the tenderloin to the right, it's tiny. On the other side look at that color. Grass fed and beautiful. The game you would expect is  absent from this tiny harry cow.

I was thinking of putting it up against a funky natural Rhone, but when I talked to Cayce over at MI Yakkers she said that Yak wasn't gamey at all. I had a bottle of L'Argilus du Roi, a great wine from an ex-regissuer of Mouton-Rothschild (who I cant seem to remember) Yes it was $37, however it looks like all the money was put into the wine. I've had worse Chilean wines with more expensive looking labels, capsules bottles and corks. Anyway, the match went together beautifully, structured tannin and complex dark fruit notes. This is a good place to start, I don't think that I'm going to go over 14% abv for this meat.  55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc

ABV: 13%
Price: $37
Cases Made: Looked high and low, couldn't find the count.
If I can find it in the Lansing area you can get it in your neck of the woods.

November 6, 2013

Domanie de la Tourade, Gigondas, Southern Rhone Valley, France, Red Blend, 2010

Gigondas is located near the center of the Southern Rhone Valley. When you look at the map of France you will see that Rhone is on the eastern side of the south of France. Because of the Rhone's geography, its climate is more Mediterranean than Atlantic. Simply, the winters are more mild and the summers are warmer than the harsher winters of the northern Rhone Valley. With those hot summers brings ripeness and large flavors, much like Napa. What sets the Rhone Valley apart from the Napa Valley is the Mistral, multifaceted bedrock that is close to the surface, rain patterns and latitude. So I guess the only real similarity is that both places get a lot of sunlight.

The style of wine in Gigondas is nice and unique, but not in a bad way. Jeeze I can't think. Here, I'll hand it over to James Moleworth:
Gigondas is defined by the Dentelles de Montmirail (literally, "lace of Montmirail"), the jagged, limestone formations that jut above the small town and reach 2,600 feet at their peak. The Dentelles have crumbled for millions of years, creating pockets of limestone-rich soils on its slopes while mixing with alluvial fans on the plateau below. 
This terroir combines with the significant elevation and predominantly northern and northwestern exposures to produce wines that, at their best, have more finesse and perfume than their cousins from Châteauneuf. As Louis Barruol, owner of Château St.-Cosme points out, "Gigondas has more in common with Burgundy than it does with Châteauneuf."

Dark cherry almost tart palate, with a long finish of mint/eucalyptus, lavender and rosemary.  Pungent in the first 1/2 hour of decanting, really started to show around hour 2. 2010 is a big year in the Rhone and it shows. At 14.5% ABV this is no little wine. With that high alcohol percentage you have to have some new oak to scrape off the edges lest you make jet fuel.

Since it is so young and drinks better with some decanting, I paired it with a five day fridge aged Porterhouse. The match was beautiful. The alcohol held the texture of the meat and the finesse of the wine kept the nutty flavor of the "dry" age in the for front. Don't worry about the color, in the beginning, beef begins to lose color from oxidization.

For the wine I would like to conclude by paraphrasing Rajit Parr, "You can be balanced at 12% and you can be balanced at 15% it isn't the alcohol, it's the balance."

ABV: 14.5%
Cases Made: less than 2,000
Price: $

Good links for Gigondas:
James Molesworth, "Gigondas"
When you see the tasting note 'girrigue'
This wine on Wine Searcher

October 28, 2013

Qupe: Marssane, Roussane.

After the Gewurtz didn't work, I still wanted to work with an aromatic white. When Bob Linquest was on "I'll Drink to That" he mentioned his Northern Rhone varietals Roussane and Marssane, I knew where to go next. 

Qupe, Bein Nacido Hillside Estate Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbra, California, Roussane 2008

Sinus cleaning, at 14.5% this boy doesn't mess around. The alcohol is quite subdued by the oak but it is really rich. Pineapple and lemon. Not a huge fan, the price point is a bit high, but I can see this being a crowd pleaser. Would go well with a heavy sauced chicken. Think about a big Napa Chardonnay in texture with a more aromatic nose. 

Price: $27
Cases Made: about 25,000
ABV: 14.5% 

Qupe, Santa Barbra County, California, Marsanne 2012

Diggin it. Honeycrisp apple with a small amount of old herb and minnerality. A little of new oak, but it isn’t the first thing you take away from the wine. It is light and not astringent in the acidity. The 25% roussane in this, rounds out any rough edges that could have been present,think about wax paper bent around a sandstone. Really feels like this is hands off wine making. This is a very drinkable wine for good price.

Price: $20
Cases Made: Roughly 13,000
ABV: 12.5%
Blend: 75% Marsanne, 25% Roussanne 

October 7, 2013

Gewürztraminer and Porchetta (Porketta) Sandwiches.

I've been wanting, waiting to attempt another U.P. wine pairing. It had to be a main dish regularly consumed by the traditional families from all heritages. After Pasties, its Porketta sandwiches. Porchetta is a pork tender loin wrapped in pork belly tied and thoroughly coated with an herb paste. With a long list of work to do outside,  I decided to purchase a roast from Econo Foods in Iron Mountain.  To cook the porchetta, put the roast in a cooking bag, set the oven to 350 and wait for 2-4 hours (depending if you want to shred your pork or slice it).  The sandwich is a toasted hardroll with butter lettuce and extra virgin olive oil. 

Chateau Grand Traverse, Old Mission Peninsula, Traverse City, Michigan, Gewürztraminer 2011

Medium, bordering on light body.  There is lemon on the nose, but more of the processed lemon smell. It smells like a lemon the same way that a “Lemon Drop” candy tastes like a lemon. I like that aspect of this wine; it reminds me of eating candy during recess.  Along with the lemon, there is a strong presence of white flowers. Usually I like a floral nose, but this is over powering.  The label lists a lot of flavors, “Lychee, citronella, ginger… apricot, pear, nectar and starfruit.”  Sure if you break it down, all those flavors could be picked out one by one, but it’s easier just to lump them together as “white flowers.”

Paired with the prochetta alone, the two are disjointed. The perfume washes away the spice to leave one with the taste of the meat. Not only do you left with the pork flavor, you are also subjected to the perfume of those white flowers.  With the addition of the butter lettuce, olive oil and toasted hard roll, the pairing gets better. I had a bit of the lettuce, olive oil and salt on the side. When paired with the wine, the whole mixture takes on an earthy quality that outshines the pork pairing.

André Scherer, Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France, Gewürztraminer, 2010

Light body, bone dry. Medium high acid. Medium-short finish. The lemon that was in the Michigan is replaced by, juicy ripe pear. It doesn’t try too much, this wine feels more structured and less mucked with. I have less to say, because I like wine better.

As a food wine it works better with the porchetta alone than with the sandwich. Including the green, olive oil and bread seems to muddle the experience. We are already presented with everything in the spice rub, pork belly and pork loin. It’s a lot to process. I like this wine, with just the porchetta and rice, maybe a vegetable side. 

The Alsatian wine, standing alone, won the day. The one place where Michigan did better was when the olive oil and crispy bread were introduced. Coming in at noon, after putting up a fence and wolfing down a sandwich, I liked the Chateau Grand Traverse better. There are bold and big flavors that can hold you until supper. If I was sitting down to supper, after a quick shower and a few episodes of Newhart, the Andre Scherer would be the Gewürztraminer on the table.  

With this all said, I think that my initial impulse to pair Porchetta with Gewürztraminer was a little hasty. Somewhere out there is a wine that doesn't hit so hard on the nose, has a little bit of sweetness and less body. Looks like I'm going to have to try this experiment again with Riesling.