While traveling through the Piedmont region of Italy as a guest of Ricossa Winery, producers of affordable, delicious, varietally correct wine of Piedmont, it was hard not to have a few pinch me moments. Piedmont is one of the most beautiful regions of the world. Dotted from one end to the other with vineyards and hazelnut trees, surrounding ornate palaces and summer castles that date back to the 1400′s, including the palace in Turin, Italy’s first capital city.
Each of these summer castles are lovely with unique and intricate paintings decorating their interior beauty, while enhancing the lush vineyard dotted landscapes just outside floor to ceiling windows. Continue reading "What To Drink Now: Wines from Ricossa – Part 2, Pairing with Piedmontese Food"
I recently returned from a week in the Piedmont region of Italy as a guest of Ricossa Winery, a part of the MGM Mondo del Vino family of wines. Having never been to the region, my anticipation was overwhelming as I have had a love of Barolo since I started drinking red wine, and I was finally venturing to it’s home. The region, located at the foot of the Alps and literally meaning “mountain foot” in Italian, is known for their high quality, approachable wine that is usually paired with tasty Italian dishes equally as distinct. As I traveled through the picturesque valleys and villages of Piedmont, tasting the wine, enjoying the food and soaking in the culture of Italy, I found this area had much more to offer than just delicious wine. The history, tradition and pride in the land shines bright throughout Piedmont with gracious people and a welcoming atmosphere. But first, the wine.
Perhaps the most exciting variety for red lovers from Greece is the Xinomavro (Ksee no’ ma vro.) While traveling through Greece as a guest of New Wines of Greece we went north to the area of Naoussa, thought to be the home of Dionysus’s mother, Semele, is planted completely with Xinomavro (meaning acid-black in Greek), and we are lucky for it. The deep black grapes flourish in the semi-mountainous area known for its full-bodied, intense wine that need time to age to truly let their flavors shine, but when they do the well-aged Xinomavro could be easily mistaken for an earthy Barolo or Nero d’Avola. Also almost exclusively planted with Xinomavro is the region of Amyndeo, just over Mount Vermion. The Xinomavro from Amyndeo tends to be slightly lighter, more fruit forward and approachable early than those from Naoussa, helped by the regions cooler climate and higher elevation. Though I think the most traditional (and delicious) representations of the grape came from Naoussa, I did find a few good every day type options from Amyndeo if you don’t want to wait 5-7 years to open the bottle. Continue reading "What To Drink Now: New Wines of Greece…Xinomavro from Naoussa and Amyndeo"2 Comments »
Traveling as a guest of New Wines of Greece with All About Greek Wine founders Sofia Perpera and George Athanas a few weeks ago we had a chance to really taste the terroir of this pre-historic land and understand why wine has been made and exported in the country for thousands and thousands of years. Heading out of the islands of Santorini and Crete I found that the wines tend to be more complex and well rounded, pairing better with the heartier fare of the north like roast lamb, braised beef, baked fish with lots of roasted root veggies and wild greens. Continue reading "What To Drink Now: New Wines of Greece…Northern Greece and Beyond"2 Comments »
It is easy to get confused about the wines of Greece, mainly the varieties are hard to pronounce and if you don’t know where the wines comes from is you might get disappointed, as a Xinomavro (Ksee no’ ma vro) from the Naoussa region of the north tastes different than one from Amynedo, also in the north, but just on the other side of Mt. Vermion which divided the two regions, sitting at higher, cooler altitudes. Or an Assyrtico (A seer’ tee ko) from Santorini, made in stainless steel is completely different than one from Drama, often aged in oak for months. These are intriguing wines values for the price and the quality, made in traditional and more modern styles in the place where the Zeus, Dionysus, Athena and the Gods of mythology once reigned.
Part two of my Grecian tour with All About Greek Wines, as a guest of New Wines of Greece goes beyond the beautiful beaches of Santorini to taste and understand the wine that has been a part of the country since 4500B.C, starting in Crete. We have to remember that Greece, and her islands, was the heart of Western Civilization. They gave the world astronomy and philosophy, literature and music, painting and sculpture… and the art of winemaking. This is truly “old world” wine, as the country boasts the longest vine cultivation and wine production on an uninterrupted basis in the world.
The first known wine press was discovered on the island of Crete, thought to be used by the Minoan civilization in 2400 B.C., and with it artifacts that showed olive oil production with thriving exportation around the islands and throughout the Mediterranean. Continue reading "What To Drink Now: New Wines of Greece From Crete"
Just when you think you know a little bit about wine you travel to Greece and you realize there is so much more to learn. I recently returned from Greece, attending the 3rd annual New Wines of Greece Symposium and traveling throughout the country and the Aegean Islands as a guest of New Wines of Greece, traveling with All About Greek Wines founder Sofia Perpera and her husband George Athanas. The duo started their wine and spirit consulting company almost 10 years ago to help promote the wines of Greece to the international market, partnering with some of the best wineries in the country, many of whom follow the classic traditions handed down for generations while embracing modern techniques and operations.
Can a rum be good enough to sip on its own like you might a scotch or tequila?
Brugal Rum thinks so, and I spent the past week in the Dominican Republic, home of Brugal, experiencing how. I say experience instead of simply saying I tasted or learned about Brugal, because to be a part of Brugal, tasting the product, meeting the people (many who are 4th and 5th generation, or have been with the company 30+ years), and understanding the process is so much more than simply seeing how their product is made. It was the joyful culmination of the Dominican Republic spirit, as the country, the culture, the tradition, the people, the plentiful sugar cane, and the stunning waters of the Caribbean are as much a part of Brugal as the rum. As they say, “it is a country where conversations start with a bottle in hand and not a cell phone.” I was an invited guest of the company to see first hand how this spirit is made, traveling from one end of the country to the other to experience Brugal. Continue reading "What To Drink Now: Brugal Rum"5 Comments »
In simplest terms, the ideal way to enjoy a glass of wine is paired with the cuisine of the region the wine is from. In early days of wine making, wine was intended to be the drink enjoyed with food during the daily meals; even before you could safely drink water there was wine. If you ask most winemakers, they will agree their wine is made with thoughts of the food pairing in mind,. Think about how “California Cuisine” was created in the heart of Napa in the 1980′s and early 1990′s by chefs like Alice Waters, Michael Chiarello, Thomas Keller and Cindy Pawlcyn who focused on local products meant to highlight the flavors of the area and pairing well with wine coming from the valley; it is also why you enjoy a hearty, beefy Malbec in Argentina while feasting on smoky, barbecued meat, pork and lamb at an afternoon Asado; why tomatoes are one of the hardest things to pair, yet Chianti is always the ideal match for pasta with marinara sauce; and why artichokes and asparagus can give a Sommelier a headache when they see them on a pairing menu except in Spain, where the ideal pairing can range from a crisp, acidic yet still fruit forward Cava or racy, dry Fino Sherry.
The idea of eating and drinking regionally is fully embraced by the Spanish culture, as was evident on my recent trip as a guest of Segura Viudas. Wine lists were filled with selections from throughout Spain’s diverse regions paired with menus containing lavish selections of seasonal veggies, fresh seafood and shellfish, lots of pork and locally produced olive oil flavoring everything. Continue reading "What To Drink, and Eat, Now: Regional Pairings of Wine and Food Through Spanish Eyes"1 Comment »
As I continued on with the Cava assemblage experience, as an invited guest of Segura Viudas in the Penedes region of Spain, my traveling companions and I were introduced to Winemaker Gabriel Suberviola, who is hands on throughout this whole Cava making process for Segura Viudas. We spent day two with Gabriel, introducing himself to each of us, his students, with a warm handshake and glint of excitement in his generous eyes. Eyes that exuded wisdom….the kind of wisdom that only comes through dedication and experience. For Gabriel, this encompasses decades of experience, three of them with the Freixenet group, owner of Segura Viudas.
Spain is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, confirmed last week by the plane loads of spring breakers traveling to the country out of DFW. I’ve just returned from a week in the Catalan region in and around Barcelona for an in depth look into the world of making Cava in the classic Methode Champanoise style from great Spanish grapes. I was an invited guest of Segura Viudas Cava which makes approximately 400,000 cases of the bubbly a year ranging in price from around $8 a bottle to $20 a bottle; but to simply say that this is an $8 bottle of bubbly would be a severe injustice to the product that is created with dedication, respect and intense passion.
Over several days my traveling companions and I had an “assemblage” experience, learning the art of making Cava from vine to glass. The French term “assemblage” is simply blending of several fine wines, generally from different grape-varieties, independently vinified. However, much goes into the process before you get to the actual blend. So the next few posts will take you through the same experience I had in learning the art of making this artisanal product in the heart of the Penedes region of Spain. Continue reading "What To Drink Now: Making and Drinking Cava with Segura Viudas, Part 1"
Last night, I schmoozed with some Dallas media people at Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck for a complimentary sampling of its Chinese New Year’s menu. Big D foodies like Teresa Gubbins, Steven Doyle, Jennifer (RealPoshMom), and the nice lady from foodbitch (I swear you said your name was “Katie,” but your blog says “Rachel.”) busted out their phone cameras the second after Executive Chef Patton Robertson finished introducing each course. Photos of the five courses happily lodging inside my intestines have already been posted on several different blogs, so there’s no point rehashing all the deets. I’d just like to add this little bit: the lobster dumpling had a thicker skin than I’m used to, yet the golden pineapple sticky cake made the whole elevator ride up to Five Sixty completely worth it for someone with baby acrophobia.
Jump because you’re hungry and you know it.
For a debutante, last weekend’s Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival (featuring, among others, local boy Tim Love of Lonesome Dove and Love Shack) was both a figurative and literal hottie. From searing grills to humidity that felt like getting a big wet one from Mother Nature, heat was both constant companion and inspiration as foodies from all over the world tripped between the Fairmont, George Washington House, and the tony, tony Sandy Lane for demos and tastings by chefs Tim Love, Tom Colicchio, Ming Tsai, Marcus Samuelsson, Anthony Giglio, and Rob Feenie.
Luckily, I took the good camera with me. Jump here for the awesome photo gallery. Continue reading "Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival Wraps Up With Tim Love’s Grilled Pickles, Fergus Henderson’s Bone Marrow, and a Nearly Perfect Fish Sandwich"
If we Americans are known for anything it’s for not knowing when to quit — which is how I’ve come to be inside a hotel room on a perfectly decent sunny day in Barbados, where I’ve come to watch Dallas/Fort Worth’s own cowboy chef Tim Love impress the hell out of the global community during the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival (which, incidentally, kicks off in a mere eight hours).
The island is crawling with Brits, Aussies, Canadians, and a significant contingent from good-old Texas — all here to get a first-person peek at cooking demos by Love, Craft’s Tom Colicchio, Ming Tsai, tail-to-snout pioneer Fergus Henderson, and more. If the number of metal-cased knife sets on the baggage carousel at 1 am was any indication, the volume of both serious tips and fancy flourish will keep me bouncing between Sandy Lane, Whispers on the Bay, The Cliffs, and The Hilton for the next 72 hours.
But for right now, I do know when it’s time to quit (typing, that is). To prove my point, I’ll devote the next eight hours to recovering from yesterday’s 17-hour travel day with a shady chair, Sherlock Holmes, and a cabana boy late-morning cocktail.
With a schedule like this, it may be the last chance I get.