At our VINO Restaurant, Chef/Partner Keith Endo has been churning out alot of small plates specials every night, just to have fun (& our customers greatly appreciate his work). This also gives us an opportunity to have fun pairing wines to the onslaught of these new dishes.
Fresh Razor Clams–with white wine, lemon, Italian parsley & a little butter
California certainly has been producing world class wines, which has steadily risen in perceived quality since the 1976 Paris Wine Exhibition. Take Napa Valley grown & produced Cabernet for instance. The critics’ scores & accolades rival, & in some cases exceed, the very best from France’s iconic Bordeaux region.
One could certainly make a similar case for Chardonnay & Pinot Noir as well.
California is also making great strides in raising the quality & the awareness of their wines made from Rhone grape varietals as well. It has taken some time, but as time goes on, the very best are finally getting recognition, culminating with the selection of the 2007 Saxum “James Berry Vineyard” Red Wine by the Wine Spectator as the numer one wine of their Top 100 Wines issue a few years ago.
Certainly one of the highly regarded estates of Chianti, with vineyard holdings just over 65 hectares at between 1000 & 1700 feet in elevation….with calcareous clay, pebble rich soils. The 2006 was rated 92 points by The Wine Advocate. It certainly displays the dried cherry/red fruit & autumn leaves nuances, one would expect from Tuscan Sangiovese with the pedigree & character would one expect from such a top estate. We were also glad to see the 2006 open up again, eventhough only slightly. The big question is…….is this wine worth $42 retail?
Italian Lambrusco is yet another wine, which I would list under the “Ugly Duckling” category. It is sad that too many wine drinkers have some preconceived notion that sparkling (or fizzy) red wines are not “cool” to drink…..OR….that the rage of inexpensive, sweeter styled Lambrusco in the 70′s & 80′s has forever tarnished the wine.
I can readily understand. I, quite candidly, at one time thought the same. Then, I had my first glass of the Ermete DeMedici Lambrusco “Concerto”….back in the early 90′s…..well chilled…..with an assortment of salumi & cheese. I am now an avid fan of good Lambrusco.
Santorini is an ancient, very picturesque Greek island, with remarkable blue waters & breathtaking, panoramic views.
This is also the home of one of Greece’s finest white wines, which is produced from the indigenous Assyrtiko grape variety.
The vines are planted in volcanic soils, which have very little clay, resulting in wines of a distinct minerality. Furthermore, these soils, interestingly, are inhospitable to the phylloxera louse, which is why there is still a remarkable amount of VERY old vines scattered throughout the wild countryside.
Here are some very interesting pairings we did with some of VINO Chef Keith Endo recent specials.
Monterey Sardines with San Marzano tomato sauce
2012 My Essential Rose–With tomato sauce, we look to pair really tasty, more ethereal styles of PINK wines. Because this dish specifically is about sardines, a more oily fish, we wanted something that was grown in more calcareous kinds of soil & done via very light direct press, which keeps the palate fresh & alive between bites. If you haven’t yet experienced this rose, we recommend you really keep an eye out for it. Grown in Aix down in Provence, France & produced from several grape varieties such as Cinsault & Grenache, it is remarkably fresh, delicious, light & completely refreshing.
The winery is state of the art & I would say….truly a dream come true for most winemakers. These vessels can be programmed to do pump overs by themselves & as many times & when you want. No more late nights?
In the afternoon, we decided to stop by & see Neyers Vineyards located on Sage Canyon Road. Because things were so hectic, as the looming harvest meant cleaning all of the equipment, bottling wine to make room for the new harvest & visiting vineyards, we did not ask to see any vineyards with winemaker Tadeo on this visit. Just, way too much going on & we were appreciative for any time he & they could spend with us.
We recently had an opportunity to visit and spend two days in the Napa Valley of California. We were fortunate that this year the harvest look to start early because of some severe heat spikes which happened in May & June. As is normally the case whenever we go to a winegrowing region we endeavor to walk vineyards with some of our favorite winemakers. In this case because of the early harvest, were also able to taste nearly ripe grapes as well.
As I have noted many times before, especially recently after a tasting with Bruce Neyers, he is truly one of the most brilliant ”wine minds” I have run across in my years of doing wine. He is able to combine theory with practicality. Furthermore, because of his dual “hats” of acting as the National Sales Manager for Kermit Lynch Wine merchants in addition to having his own Napa Valley winery, the insight he speaks about is very comprehensive & worldly. It is for these kinds of reasons, I truly relish my conversations with him over the years.