“Wine should embody the true character of the grape, the people and the land where they are grown”

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This blog is named Wine and Meaning. Meaning is finding the connection between things. I admire Tarallucci e Vino’s philosophy of wine : “it should embody the true character of the grape, the people and the land where they are grown”. This philosophy fits right in with the heart of this blog. I enjoy learning about places, the people and their passions, the climate, the geography, the food and wines of the world. In psychological terms, this gives me a connection to the world: a common ground with others of hobby, passion, and community. Wine is the bridge.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lorenzo Baricca (Wine Director and Partner at Tarallucci e Vino (4 locations in New York City). His professionalism and extreme knowledge is highlighted in our conversation as you will read below. Many vineyards he works with in Italy are  small batch, family-run and biodynamic. Some of the grapes he offers cannot be found anywhere else in the US except on the wine list at Tarallucci e Vino. Terroir is a way to talk about the connection between food or wine and the place from where it’s grown. Terroir is a way of adding meaning to the food and wine we enjoy. At Tarallucci e Vino, Chef Ben Lee has announced that each week, Tarallucci will feature a farm from which they get fresh produce at the New York City Green Markets. Lorenzo discussed Chef Ben Lee’s long time cooperation with the GREEN MARKET FARM and Chef maintains close relationships with many of the farmers. Tarallucci e Vino has a special selection in their menu called DALLA FATTORIA. This consists of dishes created based on ingredients from two selected farms for that week. Chef creates one appetizer and one entree from products that come only from the week’s chosen farms(s).

Photo courtesy of The James Collective

Lorenzo Baricca- photo courtesy of The James Collective

Tarallucci e Vino
Abruzzese restaurateur Luca Di Pietro founded Tarallucci e Vino to capture the authentic taste and casual elegance of Italy’s dining culture. The culinary philosophy at Tarallucci e Vino adheres to the Italian ideal of high quality, sustainable, seasonal food, sourced locally and prepared to highlight the natural beauty of the products. The menus rotate with the seasons, using crops from the neighboring farmer’s market and from a network of local purveyors.

Recent two-time Ospitalità Italiana Award winners for authentic Italian cuisine, Tarallucci e Vino is rated “the best and the most true to the Italian way” by Vanity Fair and lauded as “satisfying in every way” by The New York Times.

Lorenzo grew up in in Vezzano sul Crostolo, Emilia Romagna watching his grandfather make wine. He owned and opened wine bars in Italy before moving to New York. He joined the Tarallucci e Vino team in 2007, becoming a partner in 2013, and has made it his mission to fill the wine list with unique, small-batch producers. He takes frequent trips back to Italy to see his family and to discover new winemakers. (Bio courtesy of The James Collective)

Lorenzo and I had a fantastico conversation about the wine list at Tarallucci e Vino in New York City.

W & M: What is your wine for every day?

LORENZO: ONE OF MY FAVORITE WINES FOR EVERY DAY IS LAMBRUSCO, EASY TO DRINK, LIGHT AND REFRESHING. YOU CAN HAVE IT AS AAPERITIVO, WITH PASTA, MEAT OR EVEN FISH. IT IS VERY VERSATILE. I GREW UP DRINKING LAMBRUSCO AS A LITTLE BOY. MY MOM MIXED IT WITH WATER FOR ME WHEN I WAS LITTLE. IN THE AREA WHERE I GREW UP, EVERY FAMILY HAS A BOTTLE OF LAMBRUSCO READY FOR EVERY LUNCH AND DINNER.
 

W & M: What is your special occasion wine?

LORENZO: AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA ( I CONSIDER IT TO BE MEDITATION WINE MOST SUITABLE TO DRINK IN FRONT OF THE FIREPLACE) AND WINES WITH THE NEBBIOLO GRAPE, LIKE BAROLO OR BARBARESCO IF IT IS FOR A SPECIAL OCCASION DINNER.

W & M: Do you have a favorite wine quote?

LORENZO: LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO DRINK BAD WINE.

W & M: Please give a brief history of your time in Italy as owner of a wine bar before moving to New York.

LORENZO: MY BAR FOCUSED ON A FEW DRAFT BEERS AND LOCAL WINE FROM SMALL PRODUCERS. WE USED TO PREPARE EVERY DAY, SMALL BITES TO OFFER TO OUR CUSTOMERS DURING HAPPY HOUR. MANY LOCAL PEOPLE, BUT ALSO SOME TOURISTS, BECAUSE WE WERE LOCATED ON THE ROUTE TO THE NATIONAL PARK OF APPENNINO REGGIANO AND CLOSE TO THE CASTLE OF MATILDE DI CANOSSA. WE USED TO ORGANIZE PRIVATE PARTIES AND OUR “CHEFS” WERE ALWAYS MY MOM, HER SISTERS AND SPECIAL SUPERVISION BY OUR GRANDMA. EVERYTHING WAS HOMEMADE AND WHEN POSSIBLE DIRECTLY FROM OUR GARDEN.

W & M: I see that you work with many vineyards that are family-run and biodynamic, and some of the grapes you offer cannot be found anywhere else in the US. Please list one of the wines you have with those grapes and name the grape. How often do you return to Italy to discover new winemakers?

LORENZO: I GO TO ITALY EVERY 3 TO 4 MONTHS. EVEN IF I AM ON VACATION, I CONSIDER MYSELF VERY LUCKY BECAUSE MY WORK IS MY PASSION. I ALWAYS TRY TO VISIT SOME PRODUCERS TO LEARN SOMETHING NEW. TARALLUCCI e VINO IS THE ONLY RESTAURANT IN THE UNITED STATES TO CARRY THIS SPECIAL LAMBRUSCO CALLED LAMBRUSCO BARGHI, L’INCONTRO, CANTINA PUIANELLO– ONLY 2800 BTL AND ONLY ONE PRODUCER . THIS IS A SPECIAL VARIETAL OF LAMBRUSCO. IT WAS CONSIDERED EXTINCT, BUT A FEW YEARS AGO THEY REDISCOVERED A FEW PLANTS IN ONE VINEYARD. THIS WAS A FAMOUS LAMBRUSCO IN THE 1800’s AND IT WAS MENTIONED IN MANY BOOKS OF THAT TIME. I AM SO PROUD OF THIS BECAUSE IT IS FROM MY AREA OF ITALY.

W & M: Let’s talk about a couple of wines of interest to me on your wine list: please tell the readers about each wine.

Frizzante wine (sparkling)– Franciacorta, Ferghettina, Brut (Lombardia) … pronunciation-franchacorta

LORENZO: THIS IS A BLEND OF CHARDONNAY AND PINOT NERO. VERY FINE PERLAGE AND CLEAN AFTERTASTE. STRAWBERRY AND APRICOT ON THE PALATE. LOCATED CLOSE TO LAKE ISEO. IT IS A SMALL PRODUCER WITH VERY HIGH QUALITY PRODUCT. ELEGANT, MEDIUM BODY, PERFECT AS APERITIVO OR WITH OYSTERS.

Bianchi wine (white)– Etna Bianco, Bianco di Caselle, Benanti ’11 (Sicilia)

LORENZO: 100% CARRICANTE HIGH MINERALITY BECAUSE IT IS MADE IN A VOLCANIC SOIL. IT IS DRY WITH A PLEASANT ACIDITY AND NICE AROMATIC PERSISTENCE. TASTE OF ANISE ON THE PALATE. BENANTI IS CONSIDERED ONE OF THE BEST PRODUCERS OF WINE IN ITALY. GOOD PAIRING WITH SEAFOOD.

Spergola, Pomoria Bianco, Cantina Puianello ’14 (Emilia Romagna)****  this is from his home town 🙂

LORENZO: 100% SPERGOLA MEDIUM HIGH ACIDITY, WITH FLORAL NOSE, THIS WINE IS UNIQUE. SIMILAR TO SAUVIGNON BLANC BUT MORE FULL BODIED AND CRISP, WITH GREEN APPLE ON THE PALATE AND A TOUCH OF TOASTED ALMOND ON THE AFTERTASTE.

Rossi wine (red)– Etna Rosso, Rosso di Verzella, Benanti ’12 (Sicilia)

LORENZO: GRAPES- NERELLO MASCALESE AND NERELLO CAPUCCIO, IT IS A WINE WITH HIGH MINERALITY BECAUSE IT IS MADE ON VOLCANIC SOIL. MEDIUM BODIED, IT IS RICH IN FRUIT ON THE NOSE LIKE RASPBERRY, POMEGRANATE AND PLUM. INTENSE AROMA WITH HINTS OF VANILLA.

By the bottle– Ormeasco Superiore di Pornassio, Guglierame ’11 (Liguria) 100%

LORENZO: ORMEASCO HAS VERY SIMILAR DNA TO DOLCETTO FROM PIEMONTE. MEDIUM-FULL BODIED DRY WINE, RUBY RED COLOR, WITH NOTES OF LICORICE ON THE PALATE. THE PRODUCTION IS VERY LIMITED DUE TO THE TERRAIN. THE VINEYARDS ARE PLACED ON TERRACES, EVERYTHING IS HAND-KEPT. THE WINE IS PERFECT WITH STEW MEAT OR FISH AND WITH MEDIUM AGED CHEESES.

W & M: I’d like to give you my choices for a meal, start to finish. Would you please recommend a wine to pair with each course and briefly describe why you chose that wine to pair with these food choices.

Brushette Course: Baccala 5 which is cod, potato, artichoke, mint

LORENZO: 100% TREBBIAN DI LUGANA, FAMIGLIA OLIVINI, MARKED MINERALITY, MEDIUM LIGHT, WELL BALANCED, FRESH GOOD MINERALITY

Cheese Course: Caciotta del Lazio which is sheep milk served with Chef selected condiments

LORENZO: COULD BE MANY PAIRINGS- BARBARESCO, ALESSANDRO RIVETTO, A BAROLO, TANNINS ARE MORE GENTLE, WITH A NOTE OF MINT AND TOBACCO, IT CAN MATCH PERFECTLY.

Secondi Course: Sogliola which is a pan roasted local sole, saffron sun dried tomato & green olive relish

LORENZO: ETNA BIANCO, PIETRAMARINA. IT IS A COMPLEX WINE, WITH INCREDIBLE ELEGANCE. THIS IS DELICATE, SO IT WON’T OVERWHELM THE TASTE OF THE WHITE FISH.

Dolci: Vin Santo Wine and anise cookies: why do these two pair so well

LORENZO: BECAUSE IT IS SOMETHING TO MAKE YOU HAPPY AND SMILE. USUALLY IT IS SHARING A PLATE OF COOKIES, SOMETHING I LOVE TO SHARE WITH FRIENDS.

On that note W & M says …Lorenzo, you made me smile and this wine list makes me smile. Thank You  for the unique wines and your passion certainly radiates in the wine list at Tarallucci e Vino! 

photo courtesy of The James Collective

photo courtesy of The James Collective

Blizzard Wines

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A while back, I took a poll: “what are you drinking during this Nor’Easter?” Thanks to all who participated, this made it such fun whilst snowed in. Special thanks to Roz for your suggestions and encouragement.

The wines listed below have provided comfort, joy and coziness to some of us in the Boston area during a storm that dropped 3 feet of snow. When one is “cooped up” inside for more than a day, watching the snow fall and drift by for 36+ hours, one has to find something with which to look forward. Maybe it’s a day to cook so here’s that perfect wine to pair, or maybe it’s a day to enjoy the quiet and reflect.  Drinking fine wine provides an occasion for pleasure and opportunity for thought.

Voltaire said ” Taste invites reflection.” So here are some  of our favorites for you to try.

Roz2012 Chasse Gardee, Fitou. Fitou is a red-wine appellation at the heart of the southern France’s Languedoc-Roussillon wine region. The ‘Fitou’ from which the wine (and the appellation) gets its name is a small village just a few miles from the Mediterranean coast. Blend: 45 % Cargnan, 35 % Grenache, 20% Syrah.

Erika and Jo-Ann in London to each receive WSET Achievement Awards-  Celebrating with Tio Pepe. Tío Pepe is a brand of Sherry. It is best known for its fino style of dry sherry made from the palomino grape.

KarinMoet Chandon Impèrial Rosè Champagne  paired with Davio’s Rueben Spring Rolls with Russian dressing dipping sauce. Brut Impèrial Rosè is a blend of the three wine varieties, with an emphasis on Pinot Noir, embodying a fruity character. Rosè with shades of copper, good intensity.

Shareen2009 Muga Reserva Rioja paired with chicken quesadillas. Brilliant ruby color. Black raspberry and smoky oak scents, mineral and spicecake notes. Dense with intense flavors of black raspberry, mocha and vanilla. Very full, velvety wine, finishing with smooth, ripe tannins and a vibrant red berry quality.

Lori and Ray2006 Conn Valley Vineyards Eloge. The 2009 Eloge offers glorious aromas of cedar or cigar box wood notes, a creme de cassis core of concentrated dark fruits, red currents, violets, spice and toast from the oak. Blend: 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot, 8% Merlot.

Anne MarieHard Cider, the choice of the Patriots Team

Tres2003 St Supery Elu. Napa Red. Aromas of dark fruit, blackberry and black plum combine with elements of espresso, vanillin and molasses.  Notes of smoky oak and dusty terroir, flavors of dark plum and cassis with anise and toasted barrel attributes. This red blend offers a finely textured silky structure.

Lasha2010 Chateau Coufran. Haut-Medoc appellation. The French vineyard of Chateau Coufran plants 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Haut-Médoc is a land of red wine,  not too powerful with a delicate bouquet of vanilla and black fruits.

MikeChianti Classico Riserva, he’s visiting Florida of all places during our epic snowstorm! The Chianti Classico region is central to the region and arguably the most famous. In 1996 it was awarded DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) status, to raise its perceived quality. All Italian DOCG wines are actually tasted and analyzed in a lab to meet government approval. If the wine passes, it will receive an individually numbered governmental seal across the cap or cork. Chianti Classico’s are also the wines that you will see bearing a black rooster on the neck of the bottle.  Blend: at least 80% Sangiovese grape,  other red grapes permitted to make up the rest of the blend.

Jonathan2011 Guigal Cote du Rhone. Deep, dark red. Aromas of red berries and spices. Rounded and smooth tannins. A full-bodied, rich and intensely aromatic wine. Or maybe  2014 Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc depending on dinner. Santa Rita’s internationally popular, best-selling “120” Series of varietal wines recalls the heroes of a pivotal event in Chile’s successful 19th century struggle to overthrow Spanish rule. History relates that in the early 1800s Doña Paula Jaraquemada, then proprietor of the Santa Rita manor house and estate near the Chilean capital of Santiago, famously gave refuge in the cellars of her property to 120 Chilean patriots. When a brigade of Spanish soldiers arrived at the expansive one-story ranch house in search the band of rebels, the feisty matriarch stated she would rather see the Spanish burn the property to the ground, with her inside, then let them step foot within her family home. Thus it was that band of 120 men that lived on to fight another day, and the dwelling, now the site of Santa Rita’s highly acclaimed Doña Paula Restaurant, occupies a unique place in Chilean national history. Blend: 100 % Sauvignon Blanc. Pale straw color, bouquet of citrus blossoms and peaches, rounded out by appealing herbaceous notes. Nuances of citrus fruit and white peach, supported by a zesty acidity and smooth texture that lingers on the palate.

. wine bottles in snow

Synergy= cooperation between food and wine

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fog over nebbiolo vines

Fog over Nebbiolo vines

Hello readers, take a minute here. Really take a minute!

How often do you take just a minute to stop, remember and savor an experience using sound, sight, touch, smell and taste? Some refer to this as mindfulness. Think back to an experience that created a feeling of “all is right in the moment.”

I recently had a wine and food experience that was one of those moments where things just came together, effortlessly, perfectly and it made me pause. There was a synergy happening, a cooperation between food and wine: and synergy makes me feel happy.

Here’s that food and wine pairing, easily recreated in your own kitchen. Sirloin steak with truffle butter (available at most grocery stores) paired with 2009 Barolo red wine from winemaker Damilano Lecinquevigne. The vines range from 30-50 years old. The wine is from the Nebbiolo grape which is grown in five vineyards (Lecinquevigne) with calcareous-clay soils. This Barolo has undertones of truffles, rose, violet and leather.  The Nebbiolo heartland is the tiny Barolo region in Italy, in fog-prone hills just south-west of the truffle town of Alba. Nebbiolo takes its name from nebbia, Italian for the fogs that characteristically envelop these hills in autumn.

Each wine from these various terroirs retains the key qualities which define the classic Barolo style. This means the  “tar and roses” aroma, a bright ruby color, structured tannins, high acidity and high alcohol.

The name Barolo means the consumer knows that the wines have a minimum of 38 months aging prior to commercial release.

It’s a gem of a wine to enjoy right away but also can age really well.

Photo on 1-27-15 at 12.19 PM

 

 

Hostess Gift, Holiday Gift: Grange Des Dames 2013 Ventoux: An affordable wine great for gift giving

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This wine is under $15 in the Boston area and is made from grapes that will impress both the novice and the connoisseur. It’s a likable wine that is a safe bet for gift giving season, won’t break the bank and is different than most wines known to the average person.  Its full body and rich mouthfeel is a crowd pleaser.

Here are some facts about the wine and 3 grapes that were new to me on the crazy and fun journey to becoming a Wine Century Club member.

🙂 🙂 🙂

Grange Des Dames 2013 Ventoux, a white Southern Rhône wine. Grapes are Clairette (40%), Grenache Blanc (40%), Bourboulenc (20%). This wine is delicious and can be enjoyed through the entire meal. I paired it with lemon risotto topped with asparagus and grilled scallops. The second day, I did not pair with any food and it was equally as enjoyable on its own. It has moderate acidity, peach, citrus and floral bouquet with a full body mouth feel, making it a satisfying but easy wine to drink.  It’s 13% alcohol and  I paid $10 for the bottle.

Clairette Blanche is a white wine grape variety most widely grown in the wine regions of Provence, Rhône and Languedoc in France. Clairette Blanche was often used to make vermouth, as it produces wine high in alcohol and low in acidity, yielding wines that are sometimes described as “flabby” and which tend to oxidize easily. These problems have been partially overcome by blending it with high-acid varieties.

Grenache Blanc is the fourth most widely planted white grape in France. It produces rich, full wines with bright flavors and crisp acidity. Grenache Blanc originated in Spain, and still plays a role in the wines of Rioja and Navarre. From Spain, it spread to France and has thrived in the vineyards of the Rhône valley and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Bourboulenc is rare, but is allowed into a number of white wine appellations of southern France. The variety is found in the regions Southern Rhône, Provence and Languedoc. Bourboulenc has been grown in southern France for centuries, and has been proposed to be of Greek origin. It has high acidity.

The appellation of Ventoux reflects higher altitudes and  cooler climate than most  Côtes du Rhône. Listed as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1990, the Mont Ventoux site is the privileged setting for vineyards working with respect for the region’s natural environment and for its historic and cultural heritage. Ventoux wines were served at the table of the kings of France. On the slopes of Mont Ventoux, amid holm oak, white oak, cedar, beech, larch and pine, the Mediterranean and Alpine worlds meet. The area is home to many rare or endemic plant species. This vitality and profusion of scents is a potent influence on the wide range of AOC Ventoux wines.

grange-des-dames75-blanc

Quotes- Did they really say that?

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Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age. Pope John XXIII

We are born at a given moment, in a given place and, like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season of which we are born. Carl Jung

I’d rather see you drink a glass of wine than a glass of milk or soft drinks with sugar. Jack LaLanne

Hide our ignorance, as we will, an evening of wine soon reveals it. Heraclitus

The simple act of tasting a glass of wine is its own event. David Hyde Pierce

If you go back to the Greeks and Romans, they talk about wine, food and art as a way of enhancing life. Robert Mondavi

If I could drink only one wine, it would be Champagne. Gary Vaynerchuck

Every December I host a tree-trimming party with chile, cornbread and lots of good wine. It shows how much adults like to play. Maya Angelou 

I would say that a good shoe is exactly like a good wine. These shoes are going to stay and last for a very long time. Christian Louboutin

Wine is wonderful stuff but many people are put off by the snobbery of it. John Cleese

Wine, like food is emotional. There’s a built-in romance to wine. Padma Lakshmi

I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food. W.C.Fields

There are thousands of wines that can take over our minds. Don’t think all ecstasies are the same. Rumi

Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant. Andre Simon

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What wine would you serve with this Autumn dish?

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What wine might you pair with this salad full of Autumn delights including pomegranate, beets and lentils?  Leave a comment here or find us at one of these social media sites and leave your ideas:

Twitter  @karinobrien434

Facebook   http://Facebook.com/karinobrien.wineandmeaning

Considerations when pairing a wine with many ingredients can be complicated but is also an adventure. They say drink what you like but in all honesty, I’ve had food that absolutely ruined my wine experience. I might try a Gewürztraminer with this dish because the floral bouquet in the wine would compliment the earthy sweetness of the lentils and beets. I think a wine with a lot of bright fruit would pair well with the pomegranate. Pinot noir might be a consideration too. If beef or lamb is added to the recipe, Malbec is a safe bet.

Let’s hear your ideas!

 

This delicious recipe by Farideh Sadeghin was seen in Saveur email I get almost every day:

Lentil,pomegranate and beet salad

 

Packed full of glowing winter produce—sweet roasted beets, tart pomegranate seeds—this lentil salad makes a colorful addition to the winter table. Pair it with chicken, beef, lamb, or fish, or serve it as a vegetarian main; it’s hearty enough to stand on its own. —Farideh Sadeghin, test kitchen director

SERVES 4
Ingredients
3 tbsp. champagne vinegar
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 1⁄2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Zest of 1 orange, plus 2 tbsp. juice
11 oz. French lentils, rinsed
1⁄2 cup torn mint leaves, plus 1⁄4 cup finely chopped
1⁄3 cup pomegranate seeds
8 roasted baby red and golden beets, halved and sliced 1⁄4″ thick
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
Mix vinegar, oil, horseradish, Dijon, and orange juice together in a bowl. Bring lentils and 8 cups water to a boil in a 6-qt. saucepan; cook, uncovered, about 20 minutes, or until tender, and strain. Add to bowl with vinaigrette; toss with mint, pomegranate seeds, beets, onion, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with orange zest.

Here’s to your health!

Pairing Gruet Sparkling Wine-Blanc de Noirs

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Always keep a bottle of Sparkling wine in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes, the special occasion is that you’ve got a bottle of Sparkling wine in the fridge.

It’s a rainy Saturday here in Boston, cold outside and gray : a blunt reminder of winter days soon to arrive.

With a leg of lamb cooking in the oven, a small fire going, an episode of Columbo on the TV and my dogs lying at my feet- I treated myself to this delightful pairing.

glass-gruet

 

This wine from New Mexico is strikingly delicious paired with pâté made from duck liver and foie gras purchased at the Concord Cheese Shop in Concord, Ma. I’m pretty sure they make this pâté in-house.

This is a full-bodied sparkling wine with a delicate mousse and a creamy texture: bouquet includes raspberry and pear with a hint of vanilla. The wine is balanced, full bodied, complex and has a super nice crisp acidity that balances the rich mouthfeel of the pâté but still compliments the mild sweetness also present in the pâté.

gruet

I paid $18 for this bottle. Expect to pay between $15 – $18 per bottle. Gruet also makes these sparkling wines:

Blanc de Blanc: lighter body and drier than Blanc de Noirs

Rosé- typically more fruity

Demi Sec- sweet

Brut- dry

Winemaking Notes from Gruet website:
Varietal Blend: 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay
pH: 3.12
RS: 1% g/l
Alcohol: 12%
Vineyards: American
Oak: Bottle Aged
Fining: Sterile Pads
Aging: Aged en Tirage for a minimum of 24 months

Bottoms Up 🙂

 

Rooftop Harvest Dinner at The Copley Plaza Hotel’s Bee Garden in Boston

A lovely evening of wine and food pairings held on the exclusive rooftop at The Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston where they grow an herb garden and host bee hives.  As always, the night has been an opportunity to meet great people who love wine and food. It was a small group of about 11 people. More posts to follow on the 4 course dinner with special commentary on the wine pairings.

Thank you Chef Laurent Poulain for hosting this intimate gathering beneath the stars at Copley Plaza’s Rooftop Bee Garden.

 

 

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Dinner Menu: the wines are in Italics under each course

Champagne Widows

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The two women I’ve written about below changed Champagne from a typical pale flat red wine to the clear sparkling white wine we know today. Both women upon their deaths bequeathed the companies to men.  Each woman had a daughter but left no part in management for their daughters.

Barbe-Nicole Clicquot (of the French Champagne house Veuve Clicquot) lived during the French revolution era. The widow Clicquot understood the need to differentiate her product and brand distinction, using the well recognized yellow/orange label so consumers then and now immediately identify her bottles. She also invented riddling. Bottles of new Champagne are stored on their sides in deep cellars in Champagne, France. This wine is now stored sur lie, or “on the lees” (the dead yeast cells and sediments trapped in the bottle). This aging process creates Champagne’s texture and the complexity of its bouquet. The amount of time Champagne spends sur lie bears a direct correlation to its quality: the longer the aging, the more complex the bubbly.

Riddling racks are critical to the process of making Champagne. After the sparkling wine has aged on the lees, it is ready to be finished. Riddling is the process that collects the yeast and sediment in a bottle and concentrate it near the mouth of the bottle. After initial fermentation in the bottle, the bottles are inclined at a 45-degree angle on a riddling rack, which is made up of two simple rectangular boards hinged at the top. Each side consists of bored holes able to hold the neck of a Champagne bottle. The riddler puts the neck of a bottle of Champagne in each of the holes. A mark placed on the bottom of each bottle acts as a reference marker, with all markers on all bottles in the rack pointing in the same direction. Over the next few weeks on a daily basis, the riddler rotates every bottle a few degrees which is an art unto itself. At the same time he raises the bottle’s bottom slightly, lowering the neck maybe a centimeter or two each week. After a few weeks bottles that started at a 45-degree angle are now slanted to a 60-degree angle and are neck-down in their holes. Manual riddling is still done for Prestige Cuvées in Champagne, but has otherwise been replaced by mechanised riddling equipment.

Madame Pommery revolutionized champagne in 1870 by developing Brut Champagne. She kept prices of her Champagne high so as to identify it as luxury item and refused to drop prices to gain entry as an import into other countries. Champagne Pommery is a French Champagne house located in Reims. The house was founded in 1858. Under the guidance of the widow, Louise Pommery, the firm became dedicated solely to Champagne production and soon became one of the region’s largest Champagne brands.