Fermí Bohigas Rosat Cava, Catalonia, Spain

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.

Bohigas Rosat CavaNV, Fermí Bohigas Rosat Cava, Catalonia, Spain

Two of the most versatile styles of wine, in one – rosé bubbles. Though I’ve been enjoying many variations on this theme so far this summer, this one stands out for its broad appeal, ability to work well with a variety of foods, and affordability (not to be overlooked, since many favorites are well-deserved decadent splurges).

Cava is Spain’s méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine, specifically from the Catalan region. The name “cava” is from the stone cellars in which the wine is matured. The sparkling rosado style, Spanish for rosé, begins its journey in the same was as a still rosado – by extracting color from the skins of dark grapes prior to pressing, leaving the juice tinted and ready for the initial fermentation. Like Champagne, the wine then goes through a secondary fermentation in bottle (this is where the bubbles come from). All Cavas are required to age a minimum of 9 months on their lees.

Fermí Bohigas is a family-owned winery, originally founded in the 13th century. Their farming practices are organic. The Bohigas Rosat Cava is made from Trepat, a local red grape, blended with Pinot Noir. This wine ages in bottle, on its lees, for 9-12 months after the secondary fermentation, prior to disgorging, after which it receives a final dosage of 6 grams per liter, adding an almost-undetectable touch of sweetness (but mostly for a creamy mouthfeel). Up to 6 grams per liter is classified as Extra Brut in Cava production.

The deep, rich berry color of this wine is unusually dark and appealing. Heady aromas of ripe strawberry and almond with a hint of dusty earth and fresh herbs are followed by a delicious, rich berry/cherry flavor that lingers over the crisp acidity and silky mousse. Enjoy this wine as an aperitif, during an afternoon at the park (if that sort of thing is allowed where you live), or with a simple backyard soiree – it goes just as well with an alfresco brunch as it does with homemade grilled pizzas, hearty grain and fresh vegetable salads, or your choice of freshly made tacos.

 

2012 Altos Las Hormigas, Malbec Classico, Mendoza, Argentina

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.

Altos Malbec2012 Altos Las Hormigas, Malbec Classico, Mendoza, Argentina

For those of us who, in the heat of the summer, take a brief vacation from rich reds, turning instead to crisp cool whites and rosés, here’s a wine to lure us back. Keep a bottle (or several) in the fridge until just before serving – the chill will refresh and, unlike most whites, it will get better as it warms a bit in the glass.

Malbec, originally from Cahors in southern France, has become synonymous with Argentine wine over the past decade or so, and is particularly associated with the Mendoza region. This grape is small, dark, and highly influenced by its growing conditions. The Old World expression of this grape tends to be meaty, tannic, and earthy. In Argentina (and other New World regions) the wines are characteristically bright, rich and fruity.

Mendoza is located on the western edge of Argentina along the Andes Mountains. It is the largest wine region in Argentina. Its terroir is influenced, primarily, by its altitude (800-1200 meters above sea level) and rocky, sandy Andean soils. Water for irrigation is abundant from the regions many rivers. Warm days and the cooling effect of the evening mountain winds allow for an extended growing season providing the characteristic ripe fruit aromas and rich, jammy flavors.

Altos Las Hormigas was founded in 1995 by two Tuscan winemakers and their Argentine business partners. The first vintage was in 2007. Their Malbec Classico is produced from 100% Malbec grapes; hand harvested, fermented with indigenous yeasts, and aged 10 months in concrete piletas (“pools”).

This wine has an enticing deep, dense garnet color. Aromas of blackberry, cassis, cocoa, and peppery meatiness seem to jump out of the glass. The mouthfeel is lush and silky; the dark fruit flavors are persistent from first mouthwatering sip to the lingering, dusky finish. The wine is well balanced with juicy acidity and firm, but not aggressive, tannins.

Of course, this wine would be ideal with traditional Argentine grilled meats with bright refreshing chimichurri sauce. Also, try it with more Italian flavors like grilled sausages with sweet caramelized peppers and onions; or fresh pasta with blistered tomatoes, bocconcini and fresh basil.

2013 Forlorn Hope Kumo To Ame 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.

Forlorn Hope rosé2013 Forlorn Hope, Kumo To Ame Rosé, Dewitt Vineyard, Amador County, California

Searching for something rare and different, a rosé perhaps? I’ve got just the thing for you – finding it may be a challenge, but don’t give up hope.

Forlorn Hope is the single-handed creation of winemaker Matthew Rorick. The name refers to an old Dutch term for a troop of volunteer soldiers who “lead the charge directly into enemy defenses” – slim chances, great glory. This concept appeals to Rorick whose winemaking career covers new world wine regions in both hemispheres, reflecting his search for experience, knowledge and a good challenge. In creating his own wine company, he relies on a passion for “longshots” and “lost causes”. So far, that seems to be working out very well for him.

Rorick calls his wines Rare Creatures – and indeed they are. The 2013 Kumo To Ame rosé production was a whopping 407 cases (up from approximately 200 in 2012). The other aspect of rarity is the choice of grape varieties; this particular wine is made from a field blend of Portuguese grapes (Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, and Trincadeira) grown in Amador County (best known for its Zinfandels). Rorick’s wines are as pure an expression of grape and place as possible. Fermentation relies on indigenous yeasts on the grapes themselves, each process being different; only neutral barrels, if any at all. The only addition along the way is the modest use of sulfur as a preservative, though there are some bottlings available “sans soufre” (not this particular one though).

Aromas of fresh berries, papaya and tarragon are carried by a mouthwateringly crisp cranberry tartness with a bit of green tea-like minerality; a medium body wine with a lingering finish. This is an age-able rosé – but, as delicious as it is, it probably wouldn’t last that long. As for pairings, I tried the wine with a couple types of cuisine – garden-fresh Mexican and exotic flavors of Singapore. It was fantastic with both, especially the Southeast Asian flavors, which were bright with herbs and ginger and a touch of lively acidity of their own.

2013 Villa Mattielli Pinot Grigio del Veneto

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.

Villa Mattielli Pinot Grigio2013 Villa Mattielli, Pinot Grigio del Veneto (IGT), Verona, Italy

Usually, “value priced” Pinot Grigio is not remarkable, and that’s usually what it’s purchased for – to quaff without distraction. Unfortunately, some can be so bland that their lack of character is, in itself, a distraction. The Villa Mattielli Pinot Grigio del Veneto is a refreshing alternative.

Pinot Grigio is at home in northeastern Italy, including the Veneto, most commonly from Trentino-Alto Adige. What makes this particular bottling slightly unusual and requiring the IGT designation is that it is produced in the DOC region of Soave. DOC/G designated Soaves are made, predominantly, of the Garganega grape. Pinot Grigio is not even on the list of potential blending grapes. The IGT designation allows for non-traditional grapes to be grown and vinified in an area while protecting the integrity of the classic DOC/G wines produced there.

Villa Mattielli is a family estate in the heart of Soave and Valpolicella (think Amarone). Two young sisters have taken on the work begun by their father to create a modern winemaking estate in a region steeped in tradition. The sunny hills and limestone soils that provide ideal growing conditions for the Garganega also provide a unique opportunity for Pinot Grigio – here it may ripen evenly and develop more complexity than in many other parts of northeastern Italy.

Aromas of delicate white flowers, citrus and stony minerality offer more intensity that a typical value priced Pinot Grigio (this is around $10 per bottle). The biggest surprise was on the palate – this wine has more body and fruity flavors than one may expect; mostly peach and stone fruit with a grapefruity bitterness on the finish. The texture is almost silky, which leads me to believe there’s a touch of residual sugar in this 12% ABV wine – not enough to detect it as sweetness, though just enough to make this a viable choice with spicier foods. Try it with fish tacos, falafel, or better yet – this would be a fun match for a variety of aromatic, even fruity, Middle Eastern dishes (time to break in the new Persian, Moorish, and Lebanese cookbooks).

2011 Davis Family Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel

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.

Davis Family Zinfandel2011 Davis Family Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California

Despite genetic links to Italy via the grape Primitivo, and Croatia via the grapes Tribidrag and Crljenak Kastelanski, Zinfandel is still beloved as the closest thing to an All-American vinifera grape that we have. It was one of the first grape varieties to sweep California. In the late 19th-century it was the most planted grape in the state; it still makes up approximately 10% of wine grapes grown in California.

Because of the varietal’s heartiness and the number of vines in existence, many Zinfandel vineyards managed to survive the ravages of both Prohibition and phylloxera – hence, the number of “old vines” still producing today. The “Old Vine” designation has no direct regulations for use, yet. However, in the case of most reputable producers, this designation typically refers to vines that are over 100 years old. The reason these vines are so special is because of their deep and still growing root systems (30 feet-plus), and the fact that, though they produce the smallest fraction of fruit compared to more vigorous, youthful vines, the fruit produced is so concentrated and dense with complex aromatic properties that the wines are often exceptional.

The Davis Family Vineyards are located in Sonoma County in the Russian River Valley. The property has been under vine since the mid-1890s. The Davis Family purchased the property in 1995. At that time, the Zinfandel vines were so overgrown that they were not producing fruit – after years of loving care, these 115+ year old vines are producing 3-4 clusters per vine and yielding (for the 2011 vintage) only 567 cases of wine.

The Davis Family wines are indeed a family affair – Founders Guy and Judy Davis, with their sons, oversee their wines from vine to bottle. Traditional methods are augmented with science and technology without compromising their hands-on philosophy.

Their 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel reflects the cool temperatures and extended growing season of the vintage. Don’t expect a big, burly fruit-bomb. This is a wine with refined intensity – aromas of bright red berries and hint of anise, and a zippy acidity that keeps the fruit flavors lively. Red cherries and raspberries give way to peppery plum flavors to the finish. This is a great summertime red that’s meant to be savored over good food with great company. Try it with hard cheeses (especially the local Vella Dry Jack), grilled salmon, lamb, and Provençal vegetables, or even a hearty kale salad with toasted nuts and dried berries.