2013 Livon, Pinot Grigio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Collio DOC

The Wine of the Week
 by Annette Tomei

Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to EatSomethingSexy.com.

2013 Livon, Pinot Grigio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Collio DOC2013 Livon, Pinot Grigio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Collio DOC, Italy

Friuli-Venezia Giulia is located at the northeastern edge of Italy where it borders Austria and Slovenia. The Livon property is at the eastern edge of this region in the Collio DOC.

Pinot Grigio is one of the most popular grapes of this region. One of the things most people do not know about this grape is that the skins are not the green-yellow of most white wine grapes – “grigio” means gray – the fruit itself is actually a grayish purple color.

In the US, Pinot Grigio wine has become almost synonymous with light, simple bar-poured white wine of little character. Though this may describe many of the mass produced products available, there are plenty of Pinot Grigio wines that express more character both of the grape and of the terroir.

This particular wine has a pale butter-yellow color and aromas of freshly sliced apples and steely minerality. It is much rounder and more supple on the palate than most would expect. The ripe apple flavor carries through with a touch of lemon and a bit of creaminess to the minerally-astringent finish. As with many Pinot Grigio wines, this is a good choice for sipping on its own, but it will also transition nicely to the table – especially with seared scallops, lobster, Dungeness crab, and other rich treats from the sea, as well as roast chicken, pasta with delicate creamy sauces, or lighter flavored risottos.

Mulderbosch, Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé

The Wine of the Week
 by Annette Tomei

Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to EatSomethingSexy.com.

Mulderbosch Rosé2014, Mulderbosch, Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Coastal Region, South Africa

Although wine has been made in South Africa since the late 17th century, the region did not have a measurable presence in the international wine market until the 1990s. In the early years, South Africa was known for Pinotage, a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Cinsault that produces a red wine with a reputation that is still suffering from poor quality products thrust on the market in the region’s early years. Unlike the Pinotage, South Africa’s Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc have both earned accolades

Today, the South African wine industry reflects a developing blend of influences. Grape varieties are French-influenced, but in a truly New World manner, the industry is increasingly international in flavor – Europeans, Australians, and Americans (north and south) have set up shop in this new and minimally regulated region where land is inexpensive (in comparison) and creativity is welcome.

Mulderbosch is one of the most recognized names in South African wine, yet it has only been around since 1989 with its first vintage in 1994. Although wine making is in the hands of a South African with strong roots in the local industry as well as international training, Mulderbosch was acquired by a California wine company (Terroir Capital) in 2011.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the predominant grape in South Africa’s Coastal Region, though typically found with Merlot in Bordeaux-style blends, it does make a lovely rosé. This particular wine has a deep garnet-pink color. Aromas of tart grapefruit and graphite/pencil shavings open to hints of peppery berries; on the palate, juicy sun-ripened strawberries with a black pepper bite. Ever-so-slightly sweet, this wine is a great match for the international table – especially one that is heavily influenced by the aromatic spicy dishes of India and Southeast Asia. You may also notice a refreshing bite of effervescence, similar to the style of Vinho Verde (a result of bottling when still very young) – this crisp, palate-cleansing tingle just adds to the appeal and food-friendly character.

 

 

Bodegas Franco-Españolas, Rioja Bordón, Rioja Reserva

The Wine of the Week
 by Annette Tomei

Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to EatSomethingSexy.com.

2008 Rioja Bordon Reserva2008, Bodegas Franco-Españolas, Rioja Bordón, Rioja Reserva, Spain

Wine has been produced in Spain for over 3,000 years and in the Rioja region for pretty much all of that time. Rioja began its climb to popularity in the 19th century when phylloxera overcame the vineyards of Bordeaux and many French vignerons moved to the region to start anew. When it came time for Spain to codify wine production standards and designate regions, Rioja was the first to be recognized in 1933, then again in 1991 with an upgrade to the more rigorous DOCa designation.

Bodegas Franco-Españolas has been producing wines in Rioja for over 125 years. The name of the Rioja Bordón is a reference to the company’s French roots (the “Franco” part of the original partnership were from Bordeaux).

Tempranillo is the most common red wine grape in Rioja, followed by Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuelo (Carignan). It is a thick-skinned grape that is native to Spain but has adapted well to other parts of the world. Berry and cherry flavors found in youthful wines give way to chocolate, tobacco, and earthier flavors as the wines age. Aging in oak barrels is integral to the production of Rioja with the various sub-designations relating directly to aging processes. For example, to be labeled Reserva, the wine must be aged for a minimum of 3 years, 12 months of which must be in barrel.

The 2008 vintage of the Rioja Bordón Reserva is ripe with red berries and cassis along with graphite, and rich leather overtones. On the palate, fruity dark cherry flavors are deepened with bitter cocoa and black pepper. Moderate, balanced tannins and refreshingly tart edges make this a most enjoyable wine for the present, and hint at potential for longer-term deliciousness as well. For the price (average $16 as of Dec 2014), this is a great value wine, especially for holiday entertaining. As for sharing the table, think roasted game meats, stews and braises – not just red meats but game birds, duck (duck confit over lentil salad?), or even a hearty roast chicken preparation.

 

 

Andegavia, Lundfelt Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California

The Wine of the Week
 by Annette Tomei

Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to EatSomethingSexy.com.

Andegavia Sauvignon Blanc2013, Andegavia, Lundfelt Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma, California

Yes, that photo is exactly what you think it is – a box of wine – or, as Europeans and the producer of this particular wine prefer to call it, a CASK of wine. I’ve long been a fan of “bag in a box” technology – there’s no better way for open wine to stay fresh longer. In this format, wine is protected from the deteriorating effects of oxygen and light. Flavor and brightness are maintained for weeks longer than they are with any other closure (but you still have to care for the temperature issue – heat is still a destructive influence, no way around that yet). This packaging format is also better for the environment (the world’s and our kitchens’) – 4 bottles fit into a cask that’s smaller than a gallon of milk and they weigh about the same, which makes them significantly lighter than when packaged in glass. Andegavia’s packaging is 100% recyclable and breaks down flat to take up very little space in the bin too.

All that means nothing, however, if the wine that is being preserved is better suited for the bin than for your enjoyment. As long as I’ve been a fan of the idea of “cask” wine, I’ve also been highly critical of the wines they hold. But, in recent years, there’s been a movement to change that – a few courageous producers (mostly French) have started putting delicious wines in those hidden bags, and a few adventurous consumers have enjoyed them immensely.

Andegavia, despite its Italian sounding name, is a California brand based in Napa Valley. In the timeless tradition of the négociant, a French term for a business that purchases unused grapes and/or juice from growers and producers (often well-known in their own right), making their own wine from the assemblage; Andegavia produces AVA designated wines from fruit otherwise destined for high-end Napa and Sonoma brands.

The Andegavia Sauvignon Blanc carries the Dry Creek Valley AVA designation. This region is home to some of the most highly regarded American Sauvignon Blancs. True to its roots, this wine has ripe aromas of melons and pears, and a hint of passion fruit. On the palate it has a burst of peppery acidity and a green herbal finish. Though easy to enjoy on its own, this wine is even better at the table. Go for the classic Sauvignon Blanc and goat cheese combination, either on baguette with fresh tomatoes and herbs, in a salad with dark leafy greens, or in a less-classic riff on risotto. The cask format provides the equivalent of 4 bottles, so this is a perfect party wine, and it goes great with party foods – veggies and dips, shrimp cocktail, and crab feeds or clam bakes (depending on which coast your leaning toward).

 

Disclosure: I am now the brand ambassador for Andegavia cask wines in New York City. I was not asked to write this article, nor was I (or will I be) compensated in any way for writing it.

2012 Angelini Pergola Rosso

The Wine of the Week
 by Annette Tomei

Annette is the founder of VinEducation, where she is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to EatSomethingSexy.com.

Angelini Pergola Rosso

2012, Angelini, Pergola Rosso DOC, Marche, Italy

Thousands of grape varieties grow in obscurity on the Italian peninsula, many are only found in small quantities growing in very limited regions. This makes it all the more interesting to explore the wines of Italy – the chance of tasting something you’ve never experienced before is greater, and often so rewarding.

The Marche is situated on the central eastern coast of Italy along the Adriatic Sea, bound on the west by the Apennine Mountains. The regions winemaking history dates back to the Etruscans. Today, most wine made here is destined to be Vino di Tavola (table wine), but there is growing interest in the handful of DOC and DOCG designated areas as well. Though most wines of note from Marche are white wines, the reds are also drawing attention and there are many surprises (and even bargains) to be had.

Pergola is a DOC in the central part of the Marche that only produces red wines. The grape of the region is the somewhat obscure Aleatico, also known regionally as Pergola Rosso or Vernaccia Rosso (not Vernaccia Nera, which is another grape all together). This grape is known for effusive sweet floral aromatics and bright red fruit. It is occasionally made into a sweet dessert wine, but is even more appealing when vinified to a dry, tart, aromatic table wine.

After an initial layer of yeasty bready aromas pass, the sweet floral scents of rosewater, tart blood-orange, and red cherry prevail. This wine is mouthwateringly aromatic with flavors of rose petals and cherry Lifesavers, and hints of spice and graphite. There is a pleasant chalky dryness from tight (but not overwhelming) tannins. The finish is average in length on the palate, but there is a lingering haunting aroma reminiscent of Persian desserts – rosewater, saffron, and honey. This wine is lovely at “cellar temperature” but also does well with a slight chill; it’s meant to be enjoyed while young and fresh.

At this time of year, I’m on the constant lookout for “Thanksgiving” wines, and this one fits the bill perfectly. It’s substantial enough to stand up to rich autumn flavors, as well as grilled lighter meats in other seasons. It will also go well with pasta carbonara, or other dishes that have flavorful pork products (bacon?) in a starring role. For meatless moments, turn to the flavorful, aromatic dishes of the Middle East.