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Archive for the ‘Pairings’ Category

Domaine de la Pépière Château-Thébaud Clos des Morines 2009 Muscadet Sur Lie with Valençay Affiné

It’s springtime, and you can just begin to smell it in the air as the damp ground warms up and the bulbs start pushing through. In the cheese world, there is similar rejoicing, because kidding season (when goats have their babies!) has just passed and the best of springtime chèvres are appearing in the cheese case. Paired with a mineral-driven white, these little goat cheeses make a perfect afternoon snack or appetizer to welcome in spring! (more…)

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Ekiola Sheep in the Pyrenees Mountains

Ekiola Sheep in the Pyrénées Mountains

A trip through the French Basque country is one of distinct sights, scents, and flavors. Rolling hills of green pastures are punctuated by craggy mountain peaks and deep valleys, and sheep are everywhere! When Ihsan, Valerie and I traveled through the area in the fall, we tasted a huge array of sheep milk cheeses and an assortment of intense but beautiful wines. Here, we’re featuring a few of our favorite tastes: Ardi Gasnas from Fromagerie Pardou and Ekiola, and a killer red wine from Domaine Ilarria of Irouléguy. Ardi Gasna (or gazna) is Basque for “sheep cheese,” and these smooth, rich sheep cheeses are a specialty in the Pyrénées mountains.

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Clos Centeilles Côtes du Brian Blanc

Patricia Domergue is the leading lady behind the delightful wines of Clos Centeilles, a 14 hectare estate located in the La Livinière cru of Minervois. Minervois is an appellation in the westernmost part of the Languedoc in southern France. Before purchasing this property in 1990, Patricia studied oenology and worked in the Bordeaux region, but she was ultimately drawn to the Languedoc for its rich viticultural history and unique terroir.

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Beaujolais, France

The Rolling Hills of Beaujolais

If we had our way, every other wine article would feature Beaujolais. That’s why this post features three Beaujolais from three different cru villages, just in time for holiday sipping! All are made from organically grown Gamay grapes and pair well with a wide variety of cheeses and appetizers. We especially like to pair Beaujolais with Comté and our exclusive import Pyrénées brebis. Here are our top three picks: (more…)

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Venturini Baldini Lambrusco dell'EmiliaOne of our favorite fizzy reds, Lambrusco, hails from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Emilia-Romagna is also the home of culinary heavy-hitters Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and balsamic vinegar. Lambrusco suffered for decades from a bad reputation after mass production of less than quality vino in the 1970s and 80s. But, during the past few years, we’ve seen Lambrusco sales jump as folks begin to import better quality, delicious wines made by careful and conscientious winemakers. Here are two examples we’ve been enjoying this season:

Venturini Baldini Lambrusco dell’Emilia
The organic grapes for this very popular Lambrusco are grown on hills overlooking fields of grazing cows whose milk will become Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses. We like it for its dry earthiness and its affinity for cured meats like culatello as well as Prosciutto di Parma. This is ultimate pizza wine. (more…)

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Cocchi VermouthIn my house, no gathering with friends and food is complete without vermouth. On hot summer days, I love an Americano on ice to cool off and prepare my palate for cooking and eating. On chilly winter evenings at the end of a long meal, I love a darker style vermouth to settle a full stomach. Even as a wine lover, vermouths are some of my favorite drinks. Their complex, layered herbaceousness have just the right balance of bitter and sweet. Today, I wanted to talk about two of my favorite Italian vermouths: a classic dark vermouth from the House of Cocchi, one of the original Torino vermouth makers; and the other, a limited production white vermouth from chemist-turned-vermouth producer Mauro Vergano. (more…)

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Rosés

Ahh, rosé season… Every March, I wait expectantly for the release of the year’s rosés like a puppy waits for a treat. I feel a special giddiness the moment we fill our wine shelves with pretty pink and peach-hued bottles that beautifully catch and reflect the sunlight. Rosés are the much-anticipated first release of the spring season, they are a litmus test of a vintage, and a tease of what their more robust, red brothers will deliver later in the year. (more…)

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Quinta do Infantado Tawny PortPorto, or “port” as it is known in English, is made in the Douro Valley of northern Portugal. There are many grapes port-makers are allowed to use, but the most common are Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Touriga Francesca and Touriga Nacional.

Port was a byproduct of the ongoing wars between France and England. Without wines from France, the English were forced to look elsewhere to satisfy demand. Portugal provided a good alternative, but the long boat trip from Portugal often resulted in spoiled wine. To combat spoilage, winemakers began adding high-alcohol aguardente to their wines to stop fermentation, leaving a more sturdy, higher alcohol wine with some residual sugar. These new fortified wines could make the trip no problem! (more…)

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El Maestro Sierra Amontillado SherrySherry (“Xerez” in Spanish) is made in the region of the same name on the southern tip of Spain near Gibraltar. There, Palomino grapes are grown on chalky soils called albariza. The grapes are fermented into dry wines, then fortified and placed into large, 500L oak barrels. Some of these barrels develop a thick layer of yeast called flor (literally “flower”).

Flor is naturally occurring, unpredictable, and can’t be induced or controlled once it occurs! When it does form, the wine ages underneath without oxidizing, resulting in what is known as a fino Sherry. If the flor forms, but then dies off or doesn’t develop, the wine, if deemed rich and robust enough, is fortified a bit more and then allowed to slowly oxidize and become an amontillado. If a flor does not form at all, the wine will be fortified further and will be aged in wooden barrels to become a richer and darker oloroso Sherry. In the case of amontillado and oloroso styles of Sherry, exposure to oxygen turns the wine a coppery color, and encourages the development of toasty, nutty aromas. Yum. (more…)

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Thanksgiving Cheese Spread

We love Thanksgiving. It may mean a variety of things to a variety of people but there are many common threads – turkey, family, friends, cranberries, football, a full stomach and, in many cases, an afternoon nap or walk. This year, we checked in with our domestic cheese buyer, Tripp, who has put together a wonderful Thanksgiving cheese board, incorporating a cross-section of milk types and textures. He draws on some old favorites but also includes a couple of newer cheeses that we think are destined to become classics in their own right! (more…)

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