Monday, June 18, 2012

Red Hot...or Not?

 During a recent sun-drenched, sweat-inducing gathering the talk was, yet again, the "red is best but it's too hot to drink it" conundrum. You can stand the heat to grill a burger. A robust red wine is the perfect accompaniment. But your parched throat wants cold, wet...what? Beer? Well sure, but that's not the answer. Just chill...your wine. We've long heard the axiom, "red wine is to be drunk at room temperature." Where does that come from? Think Cistercian and Benedictine monks in their chilly Burgundian Abbeys bringing their wines upstairs from the 50 degree cellars. There's your room temp. So just chill your red! Put it in the refrigerator or on ice for about 30 minutes. Then load up the burger and enjoy.

One caveat - choose a red that is not high in tannin.  That's the slightly chewy aspect of a red wine, when you take a sip and it's like little sweaters on your teeth.  Tannins come from the skin, seeds, and stems of grapes.  Have you ever brewed a cup of tea too long and it seemed astringent, kind of bitter?  That's tannins from the tea leaves.  When you chill a red wine the tannins will seem more pronounced. 

Great candidates for this summer pleasure include the Dolcetto grape from Italy.  Look for a Dolcetto d'Alba from the Piedmont region. Great producers include Luciano Sandrone, Renato Ratti, Paolo Scavino and many more.

Light Pinot Noirs are perfect for chilling. If you can find one from Sancerre in the Loire Valley they tend toward soft tannin and bright mouthwatering acidity. Henri Bourgeois and Nicolas & Pascal Reverdy are two reliable producers. Almost any regional Burgundy (Bourgogne) will work. Also, most New Zealand Pinot Noir meets the light and fruitful requirement.
And finally, a personal favorite any time of year, are the wines of Beaujolais.  These are made from the Gamay grape, low tannin, cherry-like fruit.  Do not confuse a good Beaujolais with Beaujolais Nouveau. Look for one with a named sub-region on the label.  There are 10 "Cru" Beaujolais to choose from. (Cru roughly translating as special growth.)  Any of the 10 are wonderful chilled, but Fleurie, Julienas and Chiroubles are the most amenable.  A recent article by Wall Street Journal contributor and renowned author Jay McInerney delves deeper into the subject of Beaujolais.  Mr. McInerney refers to Beaujolais' surge in popularity as "a kind of contrarian geek revival—as if Beaujolais were the Hush Puppies of the wine world."  But then aren't most wine lovers a bit on the geeky side?.. Subject for another time.

Look for the wines of Daniel Bouland, Domaine Joel Rochette, and Domaine Emile Cheysson, to name only a few.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Still Pink

There is so much excellent pink available right now!  Here's one from Rousseau Frères in the Loire Valley of France. 
Their 2011 Touraine Noble Joué is a combination of three of the pinot grapes; Pinot Meunier, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. It was a  perfect beginning to the evening with the simple addition of a dish of pistachios.

This is a gently aromatic wine, suggesting spring flowers and fresh strawberries.  Then the flavorful punch of cherries, pomegranate and white peach kicks in.  Do not be fooled by the delicate hue of this wine.  It's a multi-layered mouthful. 

The Rousseau family has been making their wines in the beautiful Touraine area of the Loire for four generations.  It's a hands-on operation with everyone participating.  Their wines illustrate this shared passion with their depth and precision. 

If you are traveling in the Loire this summer and find yourself near the city of Tours, be sure to put this winery on your itinerary
Combine it with a visit to the beautiful Château Villandry and your holiday will be complete.