31 May 2010

8 Top Picks to Pour & Sip

With summer in the air, and the grilling game going on, here's a list of 8 refreshments we're pouring with friends, family and whoever else happens to drop by this week...

For each selection, you'll find a review or winemaker description we found useful, followed by what we're pairing in the way of food to serve.  Note that many of the pairings suggested are also listed in this week's Good Food Gatherings, along with their recipes and sources.

(1) Crispin Cider 
Always true to the apple, Crispin Hard Ciders are naturally fermented using apple juice, never from apple juice concentrate, from a premium blend of US West Coast apples, with no added malt, grape wine or spirit alcohol. Crispin’s unique flavors are smoothed with pure apple juice or from natural sugar sources like oragnic honey or organic maple syrup, and contain no added colorants, sorbate or benzoate preservatives and are filtered cold for crisp refreshment.

~ Elegant Original is crisp over ice
 (and invigorating)!
~ Light with only 110 calories is bright over ice
~ Refined Brut is a European-Style Extra-Dry over ice.
~ New Crispin Honey Crisp Artisanal Reserve™ is a small batch, hand crafted, super-premium hard apple cider smoothed with real organic honey for a rich, creamy, full-bodied crisp taste. Smooth over ice.
~ The Saint is a uniquely debonair & elegant cider, a cider to convert skeptics (prepare to be converted).
Pairing with? The Savvy Host suggests serving these as an option to beer with your hamburgers, grilled sausages and hot dogs. Great refreshment for day and evening outdoor entertaining!

(2) McLaren Vale's d'Arenberg d'Arrys Original Shiraz/Grenache (~$16/bottle) 
In its youth d'Arry's Original display a bright magenta like brick red colour. The nose invariably attacks with lifted spicy cinnamon plum, mulberry & prune aromas. Typically cherry, wild strawberry & lolly-like musk smells also, as well as tighter liquorice, spice, rosemary & fennel smells. Hints of coffee & caramel on the nose are usually quite evident on the palate; a backdrop for cherry-raspberry & richer mulberry-blackberry primary fruit. The palate is typically d'Arenberg & McLaren Vale, soft & rich in the middle, rolling on to a soft but slightly piquant acid/tannin finish.

Pairing with? Full and luscious, The Savvy Host finds this stands up well to grilled Elk Steaks in Red Wine Marinade, Tuscan style ribeyes, or BBQ brisket.   

(3) Jigsaw Pinot Noir (~$18/bottle)
Since 2001, a high value Oregon Pinot Noir made by Tad Seestedt of Ransom Wines & Spirits.

Offering more wine and less hype, the Jigsaw style can be described as cerebral punk. "We want aggressive aromas of red fruits, flowers, earth and spice. The flavors should be intense and rich with a juicy mouth feel and supple texture. But balance is key. There must be harmony of ripe fruit, refreshing acidity, and supportive tannins. We strive for complexity, layers of flavor, and a long finish every vintage."

Pairing with? An all-time favorite Pinot Noir for The Savvy Host, serve this with savory flank steak, My Favorite Roasted Chicken, or a fresh basil, mozzarella & tomato pasta (Pasta con Salsa Cruda).

(4) Pine Ridge Dijon Clones Carneros Chardonnay (~$25/bottle)
Tropical fruit aromas of peach and nectarine are delicately woven with lemon zest, vanilla and toast on the nose. This medium to full-bodied Chardonnay is teeming with a vibrant array of citrus flavors, bright acidity and a creamy, silky texture that gives way to a subtle toasty component. 

The finish of stone fruits and lemon peel lingers on the palate, complementing the excellent balance that has become a hallmark of the Dijon clones bottling. This wine may be enjoyed now or cellared for up to five years. 
Pairing with? The Savvy Host enjoys this chardonnay with chargrilled Salmon with Mustard Cream Sauce, or grilled halibut with lemon herb vinaigrette.   

(5) Leth Grüner Veltliner Steinagrund (~$17/bottle)

Grüner Veltliner is usually a full-bodied dry wine (up to 14% alcohol) with a firm mineral backbone, giving it the strength of character to work well with many cuisines. It is especially well suited to modern cooking that focuses on the fresh flavor of local ingredients and the variety is eagerly being embraced by creative chefs and innovative sommeliers around the world.
In the Leth version, the nose combines spice with a reductive fruit; the palate displays peppery notes; a classic Veltliner from loess terraces.  Varietal flavors of lentil, white pepper and anise lend this wine richness, underlined by prominent acidity and minerality. It’s big in body but balanced well, finishing with fragrant length.

Pairing with? An interesting match to cuisine with an Asian influence, The Savvy Host pairs this with Daikon Radish Slaw Spring Rolls and Rice Noodles with Cilantro.

(6) Rosa Regale (~$20/bottle)
On its own Rosa Regale is an elegant aperitif. Its fruity character beguiles the heat of spicy Asian and Latino fare, and its gentle acidity is an ideal foil to the piquant richness of goat cheese, especially in a spring mix salad with almonds and cranberries. Quiches, glazed hams, beets, vichyssoise, gazpacho, chowders and even the myriad of flavors at Thanksgiving dinner, all traditionally challenging wine matches, are enchanted by Rosa Regale. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, trifles and hazelnut tortes are all elevated by this frothy wine.

Pairing with? As an aperitif, The Savvy Host serves this with fresh market fare appetizers including Crostini with Ramps and Pea Shoots, as well as Beet, Watercress and Fennel Salad with Pink Peppercorn Vinaigrette.  Following the main meal, we're also sipping ours with double-chocolate hazelnut biscotti and with Champagne Mangoes with crushed amarettini.

(7) Fontana Candida Frascati (~$12/bottle)
Frascati is actually a blended combination of grapes, Malvasia and Trebbiano, and has been around since about 4 BC. The dry, clean taste of Fontana Candida Frascati makes it an easy wine to enjoy by itself or with salads, pasta, veal, chicken and mild seafood dishesDelicate fragrance of wildflower and fruit, especially hawthorn and Golden Delicious apples.  Refreshing and lively in character with a dry, elegant, soft and fruity taste.

Pairing with? Light and refreshing during a warm afternoon, try sipping this ultra-chilled alongside Shaved Baby Artichokes with Lemon, Arugula (or any mixed greens) and Parmigiano.  The Savvy Host also recommends this as another perfect aperitif option to sip with Garbanzo Green Garlic Hummus. 

(8) Matsu Tempranillo ($42/bottle)
The purple-colored 2006 Matsu was sourced from a biodynamically farmed Tinta de Toro vineyard with vines over 100 years of age. It went through malolactic fermentation in barrel followed by 16 months of aging in new French oak. It delivers a superb aromatic array of pain grille, pencil lead, spice box, lavender, and black cherry. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, powerful, smooth-textured and still a bit tightly wound. Give it 5-7 years of additional cellaring and drink it from 2015 to 2025.

Note: Winery follows biodynamic farming practices.
2nd  note: The old man on the label of MATSU actually works at the winery, and is 91 years old.
3rd note: The winery donates 0.7% of all revenues to eco-friendly charities.

Pairing with?  Though The Savvy Host truly enjoye sipping this throughout the evening, it pairs deliciously with Grilled Tuna with Olive Vinaigrette, as well as the Grilled Elk Tenderloin.  


Anonymous said...

This and all of your posts will certainly come in handy when we decide to entertain. Now with your helpful knowledge, we may do it in style. Cheers!

the savvy host said...

thanks for the kind words ~ and for stopping by! Let's us know your entertaining adventures as they unfold ;-)

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