If you are coming over for dinner or to watch a football game at our house, you can pretty much bet on enjoying a charcuterie plate. I love to swing by Belcampo Meat Co. and pick up some delicious meats for guests to feast upon. When it comes to wine pairing, I often uncork a bottle of cool climate Syrah. One of my favorites for under $20 is Yves Cuilleron Les Vignes d’à Côté Syrah. The naturally made wine from Northern Rhone is an excellent companion for charcuterie!
The nose of Yves Cuilleron Les Vignes d’à Côté Syrah offers aromas of pepper, savory herbs, and red & dark fruit. The palate is not overly complex but it delivers with notes of violets, black currants, plums, pepper, and smoked meat. Bright, savory, and delicious…definitely give this bottle a little bit of time to open up! (12%, alcohol, $18)
I was looking through some of my recent tasting notes and realized that I rarely sip Syrah from outside the Rhone and Languedoc-Roussillon regions in France. I think this has a lot to do with value; often I spend $20-$40 for domestic bottle and feel like I don’t get a lot of drinking pleasure for the buck. However, my palate was awakened when I poured a glass of La Clarine Farm Syrah “Sumu Kaw” last weekend.
La Clarine Farm is located in the Sierra Nevada Foothills and they make all of their wines as naturally as possible. The grapes hail from the Sierra Foothills “Sumu Kaw” Vineyard, which is known for its volcanic loam soils. 100% whole cluster fermentation, foot-stomping, and native yeast fermentation are all part of the process that makes this unfined and unfiltered Syrah.
We opened it a couple of hours before dinner but the wine was still tight. We decided to wait until the next evening and it was beautiful! The nose draws you in with its smoky, herbal aromas. The palate is complex, balanced, and nicely structured. Notes of dark fruit, olives, and smoke are woven with abundant minerality. Savory and delightful…I am absolutely in love with this Syrah! (13.5% alcohol, $26)
This past week, I attended Rhone Rangers at the Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles. As I made my way through the winery booths, I stopped to taste at Kale Wines out of Napa; a winery that was totally new to me. Kale Wines is the personal project of winemaker Kale Anderson, Director of Winemaking for Pahlmeyer. The small production winery features well-made, terroir-driven wines. I tried their 2013 Napa Valley Rosé and their 2010 Alder Springs Vineyard Syrah. Both wines are outstanding and ended up being among the best wines at the event.
Kale Wines 2013 Napa Valley Rosé
Bright, red fruit abounds in this crisp, refreshing wine. There are also tastes of white pepper and hints of citrus. The lengthy finish allows nuances of minerals to shine through. A seriously good Rosé! ($22)
Kale Wines 2010 Adler Springs Vineyard Spirit Rock Syrah
This cool climate, Mendocino County Syrah is outstanding. Soft notes of blackberries and blueberries are coupled with earthy undertones. At second sip, I noticed a subtle spiciness. Great flavors yet restrained and elegant. With bright acidity, this wine should improve a bit with a couple of years. ($45)
During the Wine Bloggers Conference a couple of weeks ago, our palates were bombarded with 100s of wines. Over the course of the weekend, a few wines really stood out from the rest; one of them being 2008 Thralls Syrah Alder Springs Vineyards.
Thralls Family Cellars is the project of winemaker and owner Ed Thralls. Ed has a really cool story surrounding his journey to become a winemaker. After being a bit unfulfilled by a successful career in financial technology, he began pursuing his passion for wine by making it in his garage in Atlanta. Ed followed his passion cross-country to Sonoma and now produces both Pinot Noir and Syrah for Thralls Family Cellars.
100% Syrah from Alder Springs Vineyard in Mendocino County. The wine was aged 19 months in a 50% new/50% 1 year old (Zebra) barrel before bottling in May 2010. There was minimal intervention in the winemaking process. 13.8% alcohol and a retail price of $34.
Thralls Syrah pours an intense blackish-purple color in the glass. The nose offers rich, enticing aromas of blackberries, smoke, and lavender. The palate is smooth and nicely structured with tastes of ripe blackberries, plum, black pepper, and sweet tobacco. Well-made, sophisticated, and balanced!
Want a rich and delicious Rhone blend to pair with your summer BBQ for under $12? If so, look no farther than Les Terrasses d’Eole 2012 Ventoux. Domaine Terrasses d’Eole is located in the heart of Provence, along the path of the Tour de France. The family run winery produces some excellent values, with Les Terrasses d’Eole Ventoux being one of them.
A blend of Grenache and Syrah from the Ventoux region on Rhone. 14.5% alcohol. Retails for around $11.
Pouring an inky, dark purple in the glass, Les Terrasses d’Eole 2012 Ventoux begins with aromas of dark fruit, violets, and minerals. The palate is rich with indulgent flavors of blackberries, violets, and anise. The palate also offers earthy undertones that balance the ripeness of the fruit. Smooth, fruit-forward, and full of flavor! Pair with roasted duck or grilled beef.
It’s getting warmer every week and that means it’s time to stock up on lighter wines. Last week, I discovered 2013 Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rosé at Domaine LA and it will likely be taking up several spots in my wine cooler throughout the summer!
A blend of 55% Syrah and 45% Grenache from Languedoc. Organically farmed and fermented in stainless steel. 12% alcohol with a retail price of around $10.
Pouring a pretty coral color in the glass, 2013 Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rosé opens with aromas of red berries and citrus. The palate is light and refreshing with flavors of strawberries, raspberries, and red cherries along with healthy acidity. Bright, crisp, and super food-friendly. I could (and will!) drink this all summer long!
With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner, many of us will be indulging in delicious Mexican food. One of my favorite things to eat on Cinco de Mayo (and pretty much any other day of the year) is a fresh, grilled fish taco. While a nice IPA is always a great pairing, I really enjoy finding a great wine to pair with tacos as well. Here are a few of my favorite combos:
Grüner Veltliner with Mahi Mahi and Guacamole Tacos
Grüner and fish tacos generally go perfectly together…especially when guacamole is involved. The acid in the Grüner cuts the fat in the avocado and brings the Mahi to another level! I suggest a bottle of 2012 Bernhard Ott “Am Berg” Grüner Veltliner Wagram. Fresh and crisp with notes of green apple and peach! ($18)
Sparkling Wine with an Ahi Taco topped with Papaya Salsa
One of my favorite taco spots seasonally features a grilled ahi taco topped with fresh papaya salsa. The salsa is a bit spicy and full of vibrant, tropical flavors. I think sparkling wine pairs best with this fruit salsa style of taco. It really complements the fruit without overpowering it. Try a bottle of Fermi Bohigas Galda Finca Mas Macia Brut Cava. With notes of stonefruit and pear, this Cava really is a nice match with fruit salsa! ($10)
Cool Climate Syrah and Braised Pork Tacos
Braised pork tacos need a wine that has some depth yet not too big of a personality. I love pairing cool climate Syrah to bring out the flavors and spice in the braised meat. Look for something without new oak and low in alcohol so it won’t overpower the pork. Grab a glass of 2012 Yves Cuilleron “Les Vignes d’à Côté” Syrah. Good acid with earthy notes of black currents and pepper for under $20!
It is finally spring and the weather is getting warmer. This only means one thing…time to light up the grill and throw on the burgers! While a lot of people tend to pair burgers with Cabernet, I want to give a few other options for your BBQ. Keep in mind, the toppings you put on your burger also play a big part in which wine will pair the best. Here are some awesome burger, topping, and wine pairings that I think you will enjoy!
Burgers and Syrah
A cool-climate Syrah is one of my go-to pairings for a simply dressed burger or a burger with sautéed mushrooms and onions. The wine really elevates the meaty flavors and even works well if your burger is made from something other than beef (think lamb or pork). Try Red Car Sonoma Coast Syrah. Notes of earth, spice, smoke, dark fruit, and tobacco make it a great pairing!
Burgers and Champagne
I love pairing burgers with Champagne. The acid and fresh flavors in the wine really enliven the palate when paired with a rich, fatty burger. This pairing is especially nice when your burger is topped with cheese or a runny egg. I like J. Lassalle “Cachet d’Or” 1er Cru Brut Champagne. It is rich yet bright so it stands up to the burger while elevating the flavors with its acidity.
Burgers and Malbec
Another burger and wine pairing I have recently fallen in love with is Malbec from Cahors. I definitely suggest exploring what Cahors has to offer because the Malbec tends to have a bit more acidity than those found in Argentina. It works really well with pungent cheese along with most other savory toppings. Try Clos La Coutale Cahors. Rustic, rich, and spicy…a match made in heaven!
Last week, I joined in on a BrandLive and Twitter tasting of 4 different Lodi wines paired with 4 cheeses. I have mentioned before how cool the BrandLive tastings are because you have a chance to interact with winemakers (and also the cheesemonger in this instance) and ask them questions. I really don’t drink many wines from Lodi so it was a great opportunity to learn what is going on with wine in the region. Overall, I found that most of the wines we tasted were a little outside of what I tend to enjoy. However, the 2011 Fields Family Wines Estate Syrah was definitely an exception.
100% Syrah from Lodi. The Syrah is grown in the Fields Family Estate Vineyard, which is certified organic. Aged in French barrels (less than 25% new). Native yeasts, 14.2% alcohol, and a retail price of around $22/bottle.
Enticing aromas of violet surrounded with exotic spices. The bright palate has notes of earth, currants, anise, and black pepper. Smooth tannins and healthy acidity (yet a little hotter than I would prefer). Overall, this Syrah is well worth uncorking!
We took some time over the holidays to open several bottles of wine we picked up a couple of years ago in Sonoma. One of the wines opened was a 2009 Syrah from Unti Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley. Unti Vineyards was founded by the Unti family in 1997. Over time, they have come to naturally produce beautiful wines, including a Syrah and Grenache that I really enjoy. 2009 was a great growing season for Unti and their Syrah really reflects these optimal conditions.
100% Syrah. Whole cluster fermentation with native yeasts. Aged in 100% French Oak (30% new) for 14 months. 13.7% alcohol with a retail price of around $25/bottle.
Rich aromas of earth, anise, and dark fruit. The palate is full of intense, dark fruit along with spicy notes of anise. Pure flavors and a smooth, long finish. A very nice example of Dry Creek Valley Syrah.