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Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, Sangiovese. The names of these grapes inspire images of red hues ranging from autumn auburn to vibrant vermilion; tastes of smoke, berries, cherries, and chocolate; textures ranging from tongue gripping to smooth satin. Yet we owe these sensory impressions largely to the skin of these grapes, and the time the juice of each grape spends fermenting in contact with its skin.

We are familiar with the practice of making a white wine from a traditionally red-wine grape when it comes to Champagne, which frequently is made at least in part from Pinot Noir. Outside of this, though, the idea of a white wine with any of the names above seems counter intuitive, or just plain odd.

We have on our shelves, however, two exceptional examples of the white vinification of red wine grapes that may convince you to become color-blind.

Rainoldi’s Zapel is mostly Nebbiolo with a bit of Sauvignon Blanc. Fermented at low temperatures – to enhance the aromatic, fresh characteristics that the grapes naturally lend to the wine – and aged for a few months in stainless steel tanks, this wine is lightly yeasty and lemony on the nose. In your mouth, it feels like biting into a ripe Granny Smith apple – both crisp and full with a good acidity. Just a little basil and sage on the finish make this a wonderful wine to enjoy with meal of simple, delicate flavors.

The 100% Pinot Noir grapes for Hexamer’s Spätburgunder Weißherbst (Spätburgunder is the German name for Pinot Noir) are hand-picked and vinified at very cold temperatures using only natural yeasts. Just a blush of peach in color, with gentle aromas of almonds, this wine is slightly frizzante, bittersweet orange in flavor, and finishes with a tingly bite. While this would be a perfect aperitif, it also would also stunningly compliment some richer desserts – think custards and buttercream-filled pastries.

For a fun experiment – pair one of these head-to-head with its red vinified counterpart and see if you can tease out components of flavor, properties of texture, or other characteristics that are indicative of the juice of the grape and transcend its skin and the winemaking process.

Rainoldi Zapel and Hexamer Spätburgunder Weissherbst 2013 are both available at Formaggio Kitchen South End, or for pick-up at Formaggio Kitchen Camrbidge with one day’s notice.

 

Marianne Staniunas is a cheesemonger and a member of the Wine Department at Formaggio Kitchen South End, Boston.

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Saint-Amour Cote de Besset

Château des Rontets Saint-Amour Côte de Besset, from Fabio Montrasi and Claire Gazeau.

As the holiday dedicated to love and lovers approaches, Saint-Amour, the northernmost Beaujolais Cru, attracts some attention that it perhaps does not receive at other times of year, for obvious reasons; however, Château des Rontets Saint-Amour Côte de Besset is a bit of a love story in its own right.

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A High Score for Wine Point Scoring

Today, it’s common for people to choose wines the same way they choose movies: by consulting what they consider to be an expert opinion. While it takes the two thumbs of a film critic held way way up to fill seats at the local cineplex, it takes a score of 90 points or better to generate real enthusiasm for a wine.

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decant-1024x768

The simple secret to a hard decant: the visual cues are in the blur and the foam.

Decanting wine conjures visions of cobwebby bottles, flickering candles, crystal goblets, and white-gloved butlers. Performed primarily to relieve wines of sediment, the technique that’s known as the soft decant once involved all this and a good deal of practiced skill to boot.

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ruinart

Ruinart Champagnes on display at Formaggio Cambridge.

We’ve long been enamored with grower Champagnes – those wonderful bubblies that are made and bottled by the very same people who cultivate and harvest the grapes. So trendy have these Champagnes become that it can easily be forgotten that the oldest winemaking tradition in this part of the world involves a relatively small group of specialty establishments who have a different approach to making the world’s premier sparkling wine. Known as the Grandes Marques, these houses rely mainly (but not solely) on grapes and wine purchased from select growers. What they contribute is artful sourcing and blending. These establishments bear some of the most recognizable names in Champagne: among them, Taitinger, Bollinger, Pol Roger, Moët & Chandon, and – the original – Ruinart.

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Three Vintages from Gigondas

Our three-pack of fantastic vintages from Domaine la Bouïssière Gigondas, France

Brothers Gilles and Thierry Faravel make wine in some of the most weirdly beautiful geography in all of France: in Gigondas, one of the crû villages of the southern Rhone Valley and in the very shadow of the rocky outcropping known as the Dentelles of Montmirail.

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Asti Spumante and Panettone

Asti Spumante and Panettone – A perfect pair!

Why does food and wine matching seem so difficult, so fraught with opportunity to miss the mark? It’s simple really: we insist on reinventing the wheel, overlooking time-tested pairings that are always spot-on in favor of hit-or-miss improvisations.

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