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WBW68 Domaine Ruet Chiroubles – Cru Beaujolais

Domaine Ruet Chiroubles - Cru Beaujolais

Domaine Ruet Chiroubles - Cru Beaujolais

I had mixed emotions when I saw Frank from Drink What You Like announce that Wine Blogging Wednesday 68′s topic would be “Got Gamay”! While I am a huge fan of Wine Blogging Wednesday, an idea started in 2004 by Lenn Thompson from New York Cork Report to help bring wine bloggers together on one united topic monthly, Gamay really is not my favorite grape. However, I approached the topic from an educational standpoint, hoping to help at least one person understand not only what wines Gamay will produce, but help them identify where it can come from and what to expect. To do so, I popped open a bottle of Cru Beaujolais from Domaine Ruet ($17), and did this short wine tasting and discussion.

As I pointed out in my Gamay discussion, the grape is most commonly recognized when it comes from Beaujolais, an AOC or appellation in France. There are several different areas within Beaujolais that produce wines of varying quality. The first level,  Beaujolais, produces the most Gamay wine, most which is bottled as Beaujolais Nouveau. Beaujolais Nouveau is that marketing ploy developed in the 1980s, where young Gamay is bottled and distributed quickly as a light, overy fruity, almost fake wine. I’ve not tried the past three vintage of BN, and really don’t feel like I’m missing out. Beaujolais usually cost around $12. That brings us to the second tier of vineyards, or Beaujolais-Villages. That isn’t pronunced Village like like Village People. It’s Vih-lah-zges, Anyway, these wines are still light and fruity, but typically a tad more intense and structured. You can find these for about $15. Finally,  the third and highest tier of Beaujolais, Cru Beaujolais, which may cost around $17.

Cru Beaujolais, which is made up of 10 distinct areas as discussed in that other post, and produces a but more refined and intense wine. While Beaujolais is is typically consumed within the year after bottling, and Beaujolais-Villages perhaps within 2 years, Cru Beaujolais often needs a year of aging to be approachable, and can age for 5 to 10 years, depending on the vintage. That brings us to the topic of the post, the Cru Beaujolais from Domaine Ruet – Chiroubles.

The video above touches on the 84 year old Ruet Family estate, which is located on the remarkable terroir of Voujoin in Cercie-en-Beaujolais, at the foot of Mount Brouilly. They produce wines from 6 of the 12 Beaojolais appellations, Brouilly, Morgon, Côte de Brouilly, Régnié,Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages. I’ll leave you to the short video for tasting notes on the wine. I will say two followup comments – it was very nice with the roast chicken, though I found it a tad more dry and tannic than I expected. Finally, it opened up nicely over night, showing a bit more cherry on the nose, and on the palate. I would probably grab another bottle of this and give it a bit to decant, and see how it compares to the pop-and-pour I did in the video.

In retrospect, I owe Frank a big thank you for his Wine Blogging Wednesday 68 topic. While I am not much fonder of Gamay, I enjoyed reviewing, discussing, and trying this wine. It’s piqued my curiosity to try their other Cru’s, and perhaps a few other Beaujolais in comparison. It’s been quite a while, perhaps two years, since I seriously considered Gamay.  Well done Frank!

Wine 101 – Introduction to Gamay

Gamay Grapes

Gamay Grapes

The Gamay grape has a history dating back to approximately 1360, and it is thought to have first appeared in the Village of Gamay, it’s namesake. It’s nearly synonymous with Beaujolais, the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) in which it is most abundantly produced. What does all that mean? Well, The short two minute video here tries to explain a little bit about the grape, the styles of wine you can expect from Gamay grapes, and the main geography it is produced in.

There are several regions, or appellations, of Beaujolais, and each produces a different style and quality of wine made from Gamay grapes. The Beaujolais AOC is considered the first quality tier, and is likely what you think of when you have Beaujolais Nouveau each November. Beaujolais wines are meant to drink soon after bottling, and are typically fruit forward and easy drinking. They also, perhaps, have a bad reputation of being too simple and barely a step up from sweetened fruit juice. While masterful marketing in the 1980s has made Beaujolais Nouveau a wine people anticipate each year, it has also perhaps hurt the reputation of a grape that could produce great wines.

The next step up in quality is Beaujolais-Villages (Vill-ah-zche). While the wines produced here are also meant to be consumed young, like Beaujolais, they typically have lower yields, or smaller crops, which in turn produce more intense grapes and a smaller amount of more intense wines. There is not, typically, a tremendous price difference between wines from Beaujolais vineyards versus Beaujolais-Villages, and trying wines from each area will help understand the differences and similarities.

Finally, there are the ten Cru Beaujolais regions, each with it’s own characteristics that are imparted upon the wine, and can be broken into three categories. The Cru’s that make the lightest style of wine includes Brouilly, the largest Cru, Regnie, which was upgraded from a Beajolais-Villages are in 1988, and Chiroubles. The Cru Beaujolais producing medium bodied wine, which some experts recommend at least a year of bottle aging before approaching, include Cote de Brouilly, Fleuire, and Saint-Amour. Finally, the four Cru’s that typically produce the fullest bodied wines are Chenas, Juliénas, Morgon, and Moulin-a-Vent.It’s difficult to summarize each of the Cru’s, so I’ll expand on them in future posts.

Now you have an opportunity to add your thoughts! While I mentioned cheeses like Munster, Emmental, and Brie, as well as chicken or turkey, I barely covered foods that pair well with Gamay, or Beaujolais. What are some of your favorite food and Gamay wine pairings? After watching the video and reading the post, leave a comment below. I’m curious your take on Gamay, Beaujolais, and related topics.

Delicious White Wines From France

As the weather warms up, I wanted to highlight three cool, crisp wines that you can enjoy all spring and summer long. Often, my friends avoid wines from France, for fear of butchering the pronunciation of their names. While the names are often difficult to pronounce, a little information will have you ordering delicious French wines in no time.

Chardonnay from Chablis, France

The first wine we tried was Gilbert Picq (gill-bay peek) Chablis (sha-blee). It’s made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, and has a crisp minerality that isn’t typical of New World Chardonnay. I enjoy sipping on Chablis with oysters and other fish and shellfish. I also enjoy it very much with goat cheese.

Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux, France

Next, we enjoyed Chateau la Rame Sauvignon Blanc. A blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Semillion grapes, this is a delicious French white wine. Flavors of pink grapefruit and lemon are followed by a big wave of acidity on the finish that makes this a great food wine. Pair it with fish and shellfish, grilled chicken, or cheeses, especially goat!

Chenin Blanc from Vouvray, France

Chenin Blanc is the predominant grape grown in the Vouvray region of France. The La Craie Vouvray is a slightly sweet medium bodied wine with tame floral aromas and a thick, honeyed fruit or even honeydew palate. It’s great to sip on around the pool, or with a cheese and fruit plate at a party. It pairs with charcuterie, and goes well with a host of cheeses like Camembert, Crottin, Derby, Aged Gouda, Havarti, Monterey Jack, Saint-Nectaire, and you can even try Cheesecake!

What’s your take on white wines from France? Leave a comment below, and let me know if you’ve had any of the wines I’ve discussed, or similar ones. And, as always, I love constructive criticism of the blog and tv segments. How can I make it a good time with wine for you?

Cheers!

Grilled Buffalo Burgers and Shiraz Food and Wine Pairing


The video has all the information about making the grilled buffalo burger, as well as the tasting notes on the wine. Let me know what you think of it, by leaving a comment below, or rating it on YouTube!

What are we drinking?

I’ve made a lot of great friends on Twitter, and quite a few have asked for food and wine pairing advice. I recently started collaborating with Robyn Medlin from Grill Grrrl, a website all about grilling some fantastic meals. We’ve discussed quite a few projects, which we’ll be rolling them out to you in the next few weeks. Robyn and I got on the topic of her grilled buffalo burgers, and I decided to make them for lunch and pair with a nice shiraz, the 2007 Vinaceous Snake Charmer.

Where does the wine come from?

McLaren Vale Australia

McLaren Vale Australia

McLaren Vale, one of Australia’s renowned wine regions, is located in Southern Australia. It’s famous for Shiraz, which accounts for 50% or more of it’s production annually. Vinaceous does not have it’s own vineyards, but rather sources it’s fruit from various vineyards in the area.

What does the wine taste like?

The video has all of the tasting notes you’ll need, but there’s definitely some nice berry fruit coupled with a great peppery finish. It’s a wine that changed from the time I opened it, until we finished the meal. I preferred it after 20 to 30 minutes of air, as you’ll see in the video.

What to pair it with?

If you saw my short writeup about the Syrah/Shiraz grape, you’ve seen some of the things that can pair with the Vinaceous Snake Charmer Shiraz. Grilled meats, whether lamb, beef, sausage, or obviously buffalo, are a natural food and Shiraz wine pairing. It does well with aged and hard cheeses such as Gouda and Parmesan.

Recap

Coming in at around $20, the Vinaceous Snake Charmer 2007 Shiraz is everything you’d expect from a McLaren Vale wine. Big fruit flavors with an aggressive pepper finish out of the bottle, it mellows nicely with air, and compliments almost anything you throw on the grill. However, don’t take my word for it! Grab a bottle of the Snake Charmer, pop the .. screw top .. and come back and comment on it below! And as always, Cheers!

Introducing you to organic and biodynamic wines

I am not naive enough that you hadn’t been introduced to organic wines or biodynamic wines before we (digitally) met. I’d like to think that after watching my short segment from CBS Daybreak above, and reading the information here, you’ll go forward into the wine world a tad more enlightened about the methods the grapes are grown, and wines are made. Three minutes was hardly enough to scratch the surface of this topic, plus tell you about the three fantastic wines I brought on the show, so please read on.

I tend to shy away from marketing hype, and feel all too often people will toss words on labels to influence your buying habits. Make it “Eco Friendly” and suddenly you switch everything from vegetables to dish washing soap, regardless of it being a better product or not. I shied away from organic wines for that reasons, and one other; historically organic wines were lousy.  Whether it was just poor choices on my part, the lack of sulfites to qualify for the organic labeling, or my disposition to the hype, up until a few years ago, I wouldn’t consider recommending an organic wine.  Actually, I still rarely recommend organic wines, but rather recommend wines made from organically grown grapes.

For a wine to be labeled an “Organic Wine”, it must be made from grapes that are grown organically and have no added sulfites. The sulfites act as a preservative, prohibit fermentation in the bottle, and allow for production of consistent wines over time. The Organic Wine label doesn’t mean sulfite free, however.  In fact, all wines contain sulfites, and though most people tell me they have “Red Wine Headaches” from sulfites, white wine contains a slightly higher amount of sulfite than red. It’s a natural byproduct of the fermentation process, and can’t be eliminated (practically) from wine. Speaking of wine, lets cover those first, then the details on the growing practices.

Seresin Estate 2008 Sauvignon Blanc

Seresin Estate 2008 Sauvignon Blanc

In Marlborough, New Zealand there is a winery making wines via organic and biodynamic principles that rock. The Seresin Estate 2008 Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from their two certified organic vineyards, Home and Tatou, and is made from 95% Sauvignon Blanc and 5% Semillon. I positively disagree with the winemakers tasting notes, who says it displays grass on the nose with chalky mineral complexity. This wine is quite straightforward, taking a tangerine, and sprinkling it with lemon juice. It’s bright, flavorful, with a bursting bouquet to match the palate. I think of sunshine in a bottle, and promise you a bottle of this on your spring and summer table, with a few different types of goat cheese will have your guests thinking you’re a wine guru! The Seresin Estate 08 Sauvignon Blanc is about $21.

Montinore Estate 2008 Almost Dry Riesling

Montinore Estate 2008 Almost Dry Riesling

Globe trotting over to the US from New Zealand, we land in Oregon, where we are enjoying Montinore Estate 2008 Almost Dry Riesling. Labeled as grapes organically certified by Stellar Certification Services as well as Demeter Certified Biodynamic grapes, this bottle delivers a wide range of wine experiences. The nose has an incredible petrol scent, laced with sweet apricots. The palate is semi-sweet stone fruit, but crisp, not cloying. It has a medium mouth feel, and also sings when paired with goat cheese, but this wine can be paired with salads, seafood, or drank on it’s own quite nicely. This delicious white wine is available for under $15.

Odfjell - Orzada - Malbec

Odfjell - Orzada - Malbec

The last leg of our World Wine tasting takes us to Chile, which I’ve written about often. I firmly believe South America offers some fantastic values on great wines, and think Chile leads that charge. Dan Odfjell, a Norwegian shipping magnate, settled in Chile after falling in love with it, and began planning vineyards about 15 years ago. Odfjell makes a number of different lines on their 85 hectacres, and have vineyards in the Colchagua and Maipo Valley where their Carmenere comes from, as well as organically farmed vineyards in Cauquenes and Curico, where the Orzada Malbec comes from.

Malbec is typically an Argentine grape, but Odfjell does a great job with it. This wine has a bouquet of violets, and a palate of berries with the violets coming through as well. It’s a medium mouth feel and dry, while being delightful to just sip as the tannins aren’t too firm. Pair the Odfjell Orzada Malbec with some roasted or grilled meats, steaks or lamb chops for example, and it is fantastic. Definitely give this wine a good 30 minutes to decant and open up, or it’s a bit jammy on the palate and not it’s true potential. You can find the Odfjell Orzada Malbec for about $20.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, lets talk about the three types of “green” winemaking, sustainable, organic, and biodynamic.

Kris O’Connor, Executive Director of the Central Coast Vineyard Team pointed out that Sustainable farm practices “look at the whole farm – energy, water quality, habitat, water conservation, integrated pest management & people. Several of these issues aren’t necessarily specifically addressed in organic or biodynamic certification standards.” Some Central Coast Vineyard Team member vineyards are “Sustainability in Practice” certified, who’s wines I’ve enjoyed and written about such as Hahn Estates, Baileyana-Tangent, and Paraiso Vineyards.

Sustainable winemaking means that growers don’t use man-made chemicals to fertilize the vineyards to improve crop results. The growers will use natural fertilizers, composting and other cultivation methods to attract beneficial insects to the vines while feeding the plant. Additionally, sustainable farming practices will enrich the surrounding habitat, such as providing grazing areas for animals away from the vineyards so they don’t eat the crops, or restoring  nearby streams or rivers to enhance the entire local ecosystem. There are of course standards to be met, and upheld, to be certified sustainable by organizations such as SIP, much like in organic wine making.

Organic winemaking takes the basic premise of sustainable farming, and goes a step further. Organic vineyard management eliminates the use of not only chemical fertilizer, but any chemical pesticide, herbicide, or fungicide in the growing process. The vineyard will employ natural methods of controlling pests and vine threatening diseases, as well as promoting vine growth and health. However, just because the grapes are grown organically does not allow a wine to be labeled as organic. As I mentioned previously, the wine can have no added sulfites in addition to having organically farmed grapes to earn the “Organic Wine” label. Additionally, many wines will be produced organically, but not mention it on the label. Rather, they just let the quality of their wine speak for itself. There was an interesting piece on wines labeled as Organic, or Eco-Friendly, which sell for less.

Biodynamic winemaking takes sustainable, and organic farming to the next level. That next level does include a little bit of voodoo and witchcraft, with burying a cow horn full of cow manure on the Autumn equinox, and digging it up six months later on the Spring equinox to spread the contents in the vineyard. No, really. Biodynamic farming has it’s roots back in the lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. Quite a complex science and way of thinking, I can only summarize the biodynamic farming ideology by saying that it takes into account the spiritual forces of earth, animal, plants and brings them in line through a holistic, and natural approach to keeping them all healthy and in sync.

The crux of the methodology is the vineyard is a living system that is closed, and self-sustaining. It shares many of the attributes of organic farming; no pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers or other chemical preparations in the earth or vine.  Grapes are harvested by hand, and much if not all of the vineyard work is done manually without the use of powered machines. It then takes into account the rhythm of the universe, such as the use nine types of preparations to dynamize soil quality and stimulate plant life. The preparations are a mixture of extracts from minerals, plants, or animal manure. Furthermore, the farmers only sow and reap harvests according to principles they believe control the cosmos. For instance, wine is only racked under a new moon because sediment is at its most compact at this time. The tidal pull of a full moon causes it to puff up, insiders say. I could go on forever, talking about wines that are Demeter certified Biodynamic and what that means, but I think we’ve gotten the jist of it all.

What do you think about organic, biodynamic and sustainable wines? Do they impact your buying decisions? Now that you know about the differences, will it impact your buying decisions? Leave a comment below, I’ll be sure to reply, and possibly follow up via email! Cheers!

Pork and Pinot – A Perfect Pairing


Leave a comment on the video and let me know what you want to see next!

There are some days you just don’t want to slave over a hot stove, yet yearn for a delicious, home cooked meal. Managing your time between meal prep and other tasks, work, play, whatever, couldn’t be easier once you master the art of the crock pot! Toss four ingredients in the pot, let it cook for half the day while your attention is elsewhere, and the end result is a perfectly prepared, hot meal that’s delicious. All that you have to do is pop the cork on a nice wine to make this meal fabulous. That’s where I come in, taking this crock pot pork loin recipe and pairing a delicious red wine with it, a Pinot Noir from California.

As you saw in the short video, placing a 2-3 pound pork loin in the crock pot with about 3 cups of beef broth, eight thyme sprigs, and 4 or 5 whole cloves of garlic makes an amazing meal. While we cooked it, on a low setting, for 10 hours, it would have been ready after 6-8. The meal was positively delicious, but what really set it off was the wine pairing.  Pork goes famously with white wines, like Riesling or Gewurztraminer, but we really enjoy this dish with a Pinot Noir. I selected the $30 offering from Russian Hill, their Russian River Valley 2006.

Russian Hill has been family owned and operated since 1997, and produces a number of estate Syrah offerings in addition to their estate Pinot Noir wine and an estate grown Viognier. They also offer a Chardonnay sourced from a neighboring Dutton Ranch vineyard, numerous Pinot Noirs sourced from individual neighboring vineyards, and of course, the RRV Pinot Noir discussed in the video. Winemaker Patrick Melley, who is the nephew of proprietor Ed Gomez, is largely a self taught winemaker. His online biography mentions that mouthfeel is what he loves about wine most, and that indeed translates to his wines. Silky and soft, they dance on the palate.

The Russian Hill RRV Pinot Noir is sourced from multiple vineyards, selected from several small hands-on growers who offer fruit the team at Russian Hill feel creates a wine that represents the appellation as a whole. The summer fog provides moderate temperature during the day and cool nights, which results in wines with a bright acidity and full fruit flavor as the fruit ripens slowly. I thought this wine had great fruit that was beautifully balanced with smokey and earthy notes and a wonderful acidity that finishes softly.  This Pinot Noir is aged for 10 months in 100% French oak, 25% of which was new, which contributes those toasty, earthy notes. There were 2,000 cases of this wine produced, up from 1,370 in 2005. The wine has a velvety mouth feel, rich and supple, without being flabby. While it’s wonderful to sip on it’s own, it’s great with food. The video captures the tasting notes perfectly when this wine is paired with the right meal.

Do you have a recipe you’d like for me to prepare, then pair with the perfect wine? You can email me at matt @ mmwine.me or leave a comment below and we can collaborate. I’d love to feature your recipe on the blog!

Chillin with Chili and Pairing wine

Best Spicy Chili and Wine Pairing

Best Spicy Chili and Wine Pairing

I have been on a quest to find really good chili for quite some time. I remember, as a child, my mom made a decent chili, but nothing to brag about.  Friends would rant and rave about their secret recipes, but never seemed to produce anything of quality. I’m not a chili afficionado, mind you, I just wanted something other than Sloppy Joes and Hot Sauce. Thankfully, my friend Karen, came through with her award winning chili recipe, which I’ll cook for you in the below video. It’s meaty, spicy, flavorful, and goes well with a host of wines.

Chillin with Chili and Pairing wine from Matthew Scott Horbund on Vimeo.

As far as I know, the recipe for this chili only exists here, and in Karen’s home. I don’t think her blog, GeoFooding, even lists it. Therefore, I’m honored to have the pleasure of sharing it with you. The recipe is rather involved, and takes a tad of work. The video is 13 minutes long, but tries to cover all of the steps taken to make this great dish. And of course, at the end, we talk wine.

There are many wines that could have been paired with this chili. Robin wished I went with a Riesling, similar to my Wine and Wings pairing, to cut the spice. She felt the fruit and slight sweetness would have been a welcome offset to the heat in the chili.  And you may have noticed I mentioned Twisted Oak in the video. While I confused The Spaniard’s Tempranillo with Grenache, I think it would have been a welcome wine pairing. The earthy, peppery flavors would really kick the chili up a notch! I selected a more round, fruit driven red wine, however, to pair with this spicy dish. I’m sure Jeff would call me a wimp!

Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2008

Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2008

Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel is a wine that I’ve discussed previously. It’s an easy drinking, fruit driven wine that is made from vines that range in age from 80 to 100 years old.  These vines produce a grape that has a very concentrated flavor, and offers a taste of plums and raisins, along with nice berry flavors. The high alcohol, 15%, doesn’t impact the flavors of the chili, and the wine compliments it nicely.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know what you think! Did you kick up the heat a bit with some Cabot Jalepeno or Hot Habenero Cheese? Or did you just go with the Seriously Sharp Cheddar, because the chili was already smokin?  Leave a comment below! And without further ado…

Karen’s Amazing Chili Recipe

The International Chili Society prohibits beans, rice or pasta in chili.  If you want beans, I use black beans cooked separately and mixed in at the end.  Slow cook them with smoky bacon.

4 slices, smoky bacon, finely chopped

1 lb fresh ground chuck

½ lb ground pork

½ lb ground lamb

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic minced

2 roasted, peeled poblano chilis, diced (I removed the seeds!)

1 small (2.6-3 oz) can chipotle peppers w/adobo sauce, minced

1 bell pepper roasted, peeled and seeded, diced

2 16 oz cans diced or stewed tomatoes, chopped

1 8oz can v-8 juice

2 tsp epazote or oregano

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chili powder

½ tsp ground coriander seed

½ tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp ground fennel seed

3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 cup dry sherry (not cooking Sherry, go to a store like Total Wine and buy dry sherry)

1 bunch chopped cilantro

½ carrot grated (optional)

Preparation

In a large pot, brown meats, over medium heat, together until it has a nice brown color.  Pour off any accumulated fat and return to heat.  Add diced onion and garlic and stir until onion is translucent being careful not to burn the garlic.  If garlic starts to brown turn the heat down. Burnt garlic will ruin the dish and there is no saving it after that!

Add sherry and simmer until it is reduced by 1/3rd.  Turn heat to low and add spices, stir well and simmer for about 5 minutes so the meat can absorb some of the spice flavor.  Add all peppers and stir well.  Add, tomatoes, worcestershire sauce and ½ of the v-8 juice.  If you don’t want a very spicy chili, add the shredded carrot at this point to add sweetness.

Simmer, partially covered over low heat, stirring occasionally for about 2 hours to fully develop flavors. Tomatoes should practically be disintegrated.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the V-8 will add salt and the mixture will become saltier and spicier as it cooks down. Add V-8 juice as needed to keep the mixture moist. Stir in cilantro at the end, reserving some for garnish.

Mix with beans of serve over rice, top with shredded cheddar cheese (I like the Cabot habanera or jalapeño), cilantro and sour cream if desired.  It is also nice with a spoonful of queso fresco instead of the cheese and sour cream.

New Year New Grape – Viognier from Lange Twins

Lange Twins Viognier 2008

Lange Twins Viognier 2008

My mission this year is to help you discover new and fun wines to try, as well as continuing to make wine less intimidating, more approachable, and ultimately, more enjoyable! You’ve given me some great feedback on the first post of 2010, where I introduced some of you to Albarino and Carmenere. Today, we take a trip to Clarksburg, CA and talk about a white wine from Lange Twins, their 2008 Viognier.