Someone said fall started a couple of days ago. They obviously don’t live where I do. The days are hotter than they should be and the nights have me looking for my favorite sweater and some matches to start a blazing fire. Guess that’s just nature’s way of warning us to get ready for the big chill… without really throwing us into the middle of it. What’s a Wine Chix to do when Indian Summer weather hits? Clearly it’s time to pick some great wines that run the gamut of fresh and crisp to mellow and smooth.
Our Wine Council met this week to review six wines that ranged from $9-$125. Stop rolling your eyes and assuming you know the “obvious” winners, because this group doesn’t go with price point, we go with what works with food, makes us smile and sigh, and is just a knock out in value.
We initiated the “Big Pause” this time. I’ve talked a bit about it in previous articles but today I’ve got a name and a definition. The “Big Pause” = the “Big Wine.” The Kahuna of the tasting. The best of the best. It quiets the room at first swirl. It causes us to glance quickly at each other. At first sip we hear an ooh, an ahh, a shout out for who provided the sample. There are hands on the bottle to keep it in front of us to make sure we get seconds and thirds. It definitely takes us off task. We simply pause, we enjoy, we celebrate…and ultimately it reminds us why we started this Wine Council and agree to carve out time from busy schedules and family to come back each month. Wine holds a special place in our lives. It is meant to be enjoyed with great food and fun friends. And boy what a coup when we find “the one” and can share it with you!
Camelot Pinot Grigio $10 NV – Nose shows soft white fruit. It’s a surprisingly good cool-climate wine for the price. On the palate you’ll find gentle sweet fruit, light overtones of honey and some juicy tropical fruit. Nice acidity. Works well with food. The finish moves up in tone (hurrah!) with some citrus notes on the back end. Pairs VERY well with Thai spring rolls with peanut sauce. In fact the peanut sauce was a real hit with many of the wines. Who would have known?
Pepi Sav Blanc, $10 2012 – Notes of vibrant grapefruit, and is loaded with other citrus notes as well. Medium-bodied and crisp, this wine has a lovely palate with lingering lime and orange flavors. It is a wonderful complement to melon wrapped in prosciutto and Thai spring rolls with peanut sauce.
Kendal Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay 2011, $13 -This is a very different kind of Chardonnay. You are either going to love it or hate it. There was a split decision amongst the Wine Council members. I found the tropical flavors such as pineapple, mango, and papaya with citrus notes to be quite flirty. Flavors delicately shake hands with aromas of vanilla and honey to create depth and balance throughout. A hint of toasted oak rounds out the long finish. Made with 100% Chardonnay. Matched well with Carmen’s scallops, Trader Joe’s triple cream cheese on crackers, and the spring rolls with that amazing peanut sauce from Aiyara Thai Restaurant in Temecula, CA. An excellent wine to share with hesitant Chardonnay drinkers.
Pasqual Toso Malbec 2012 $9 – This 100% Malbec came in second in favored wines. The black Malbec grapes created an earthy, full-flavored, medium-bodied wine. The nose held hints of coffee, violets and blackberry. It’s a tight spicy and rich offering with a long finish and smoky twangs of vanilla and lingering oak. Enjoy with most anything you can think of. It is a great food wine and hostess gift….and for $9… seriously, why are you not at your favorite wine store purchasing it? It was superb with Marc’s beef skewers dipped in chimichurri sauce. We were almost pouring that sauce down our throats. If I can wrangle the recipe from Marc, I’ll post it later.
Overture NV -$80 – $125 – If there was a better award than first place, I’d gladly give it to this wine. This was our “Big Pause” moment. We spent about an hour just sipping and commenting and conversing. Sometimes we have extra wine left over at the end of the evening. Not this one.
Recommend by the owners of District Wine in Long Beach, it is a second label from Opus One Winery. Overture is comprised of the same five varietals that go into Opus One. This is a non-vintage wine that may be blended from different years, and is only available at the winery, select wine shops, or the Opus website. Aged in new French oak, Overture is composed of the classic varietals of Bordeaux: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Less structured than Opus One and more approachable in its youth, Overture is full of generous fruit and a soft, supple mid-palate. Karsten was tasked with finding a dish that would complement the Overture. He came up with a dual dish or pork ragout and beef stroganoff that was divine. Both he and the wine can visit us any time they like. Just sayin’.
Buena Vista Cream Sherry -$50 –Cream Sherry was one of the first wines produced at Buena Vista and this is their first release in over a decade. On the nose you’ll enjoy aromas of almonds, hazelnut, honey and maple. It’s Rich on the palate with a full body and flavors of hazelnut, caramel, crème brûleé and a hint of toasted marshmallow. This is a great holiday wine. It goes well with pumpkin pie. We had it with an Indian Summer pumpkin chocolate chip bread. YUM!
I must say, at the end of this tasting you could have stuck a fork in me and declared me “done” for the fall season.
You can buy many of the wine selections at http://www.winechateau.com/