My Latest Michiganuncorked.com Article

I invite you to read my latest article “Field of Dreams” which was just published by michiganuncorked.com. It is about starting a vineyard and winery from scratch. It can be viewed by going to their website and clicking the “Read all about it” link under the “Winter Collaboration” heading. It will take you to their flip-page magazine https://issuu.com/userg123/docs/mu_-_winter_2022. It begins on page 8 or scroll down the page below the viewer window and it is also featured as an individual story just click on it. I hope you enjoy it. 

I wouldn’t have been able to write this story without the help of three successful winemakers that somehow found time to share their priceless advice on this subject. To Jim Baker Chateau Niagara, Jean Manspeaker, former owner of Briar Valley Vineyards & Winery, and Dan Matthies Chateau Fontaíne, I am truly grateful for your kindness and generosity. 

Frescobali Remole Toscana Rosso 2020

Frescobaldi Remole Toscana Rosso 2020

This Toscana is produced in Tuscany, Italy. It is a blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a lighter wine than many of the more complex and pricey Toscana bottlings from Tuscany.

Frescobali Rèmole Toscana Rosso 2020 is a balanced wine with its “middle of the road” approach when it comes to body, acidity, and flavor profile. With an approachable 12.5% ABV and bewitching scarlet red color in the glass, the faint aroma of berries leads you into the muted flavors of cherry and raspberry on your palate. It pairs well with lean red meat and pasta dishes with red sauce. Priced at less than $10 it is an excellent choice for a “weekday wine”

IL Burchino Toscana 2015

Tenuta di Burchino IL Burchino Toscana 2015 is a red blend of 85% Sangiovese 10% Cabernet Sauvignon & 5% Merlot from the hills of Pisa in Tuscany, Italy. 

James Suckling gave it 92 points saying it was “Perfumed with dark fruits, orange blossoms, and cherries following through to a medium body. Integrated tannins and just a hint of vanilla. Long and linear.” 

Quoted initially at $40 it is now available at P.L.C.B. stores in Pennsylvania as a “Chairman’s Selection” for $12.99. This is a bargain price for a wine of this quality. IL Burchino Toscana 2015 pairs perfectly with grilled red meat and pasta in a red sauce.

Days of Wine and Cheeses: Finale

Parmigiano-Reggiano is called by some “The finest cheese in the world.” Parmigiano-Reggiano is made in Italy from raw cow milk under strict adherence to a prescribed procedure. To harden the young cheese’s rind, it is left in brine for three weeks or more before being allowed to age from twelve months to three years. A wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano weighs eighty-five pounds and goes from an ivory paste color when young to an amber gold when mature. Don’t cut this cheese, use a blunt knife that will break it into chunks thus preserving its signature texture. You will need a medium to full-bodied red to pair with this cheese. Brunello di Montalcino, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Zinfandel would be a great pairing.

Original Blue is a raw cow milk aged blue cheese made by the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company and is the only blue cheese made in California. The morning milk is taken directly from the milking parlor to the cheesemaker where it is cultured, coagulated with rennet, and inoculated with Penicillium roqueforti. As the cheese ages, it develops the characteristic blue-gray veins that give blue cheese its name and distinctive taste. Pair a French Pinot Gris or dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes of New York. I have also found Champagne is an excellent pairing because it cleanses your palate. 

Manchego is Spain’s most famous cheese. It is made from raw or pasteurized sheep milk but most of Manchego today is made on an industrial scale using pasteurized sheep milk. You can find year-old Manchego at cheese shops in the U.S.  This aged version of Manchego has a firm dry interior that is ivory to light yellow in color. It is best served with something sweet to contrast its tangy salty bite. Quince paste is usually served as the sweet accompaniment. Manchego pairs well with a Rioja from its homeland of Spain. Think tapas on a beautiful evening in Barcelona when selecting a wine.   

I hope you enjoyed my posts on pairing wine and cheese as much as I enjoyed writing them. Cheers!

Photo Credit: Gourmetfoodstore.com, PointReyesCheese.com, and almagourmet.com

Days of Wine And Cheeses Part 2

Miles and Lillian Cahn bought an abandoned dairy farm north of New York City in the early 1980’s. Two years later they sold Coach Leatherware and became full-time goat farmers. A curious turn of events for the Cahans but a blessing for the cheese world. Coach Farm makes several kinds of goat cheese, both fresh and aged but is best known for its Green Peppercorn Cone. Green Peppercorn Cone is a bloomy rind pasteurized goat milk cheese with a soft interior that is impregnated with fresh green peppercorns. Bloomy rind cheeses ripen from the outside in as the cheese develops. Coach Farm Green Peppercorn Cone is soft, off-white, and creamy with flavors of pepper and lemon curd. 

Since this is a delicate cheese it calls for a light, crisp and clean wine that won’t dominate your palate. A couple of good choices are a dry Rosé like Chateau ď Esclan Whispering Angel Rosé 2020 or a dry Traminette from the Hudson Valley of New York, as they say, “What grows together goes together”. I asked Russell Moss, General Manager at Milea Family Wines Staatsburg, New York if he thought their 2021 Milea Estate Traminette would pair well with this cheese. Russ said, “The 2021 Traminette will pair excellently with the cheese. The spicy character of the wine will compliment the peppercorn well and the fat in the cheese will harmonize with the structure of the wine.” www.mileaestatevineyard.com 

When you talk about cheese from the American Heartland you must feature a cheese from Wisconsin and that cheese is Pleasant Ridge Reserve from the Uplands Cheese Company. http://www.uplandscheese.com

Pleasant Ridge Reserve is made in a style of French alpine cheese. It is a rarity among American cheese because it is made with unpasteurized milk from a single herd of cows only during pasture season. Pleasant Ridge Reserve is made to very exacting standards so if the pasture conditions produce milk that doesn’t meet the cheesemakers’ expectations no cheese is made and the milk is sold. Pleasant Ridge Reserve has a hard thin rind over a smooth firm golden body with savory nutty flavors and light saltiness that lingers on your tongue.

Pleasant Valley Reserve has enough character to pair well with a Gruner Veltliner or Chateau Niagara DuMonde 2021, a Chardonnay/Riesling blend from the Niagara Plain near Lake Ontario in New York. http://www.chateauniagarawinery.com If you are looking to try a red any Cune (CVNE) Gran Reserva is an intriguing option.

My next post will be on a pair of popular types of cheese and the wine I serve with them.

Days of Wine and Cheeses

You may have surmised from the name of this blog and my social media handle (wpawinepirate) that I am a Jimmy Buffett fan, a Parrothead, if you will. I have been a member of the Phlock for a long time, making some good friends and beautiful memories along the way. Jimmy’s lyrics “Warm summer breezes and French wine and cheeses” from his song “He went to Paris” was the inspiration for a series of posts I will be writing about wine and cheese pairing

I will never forget the first time I tasted Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam. It was at their shop in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Mt. Tam is a triple cream bloomy rind American recipe cheese made from pasteurized organic pasture-based cow milk that is produced by farm partners using sustainable farming practices. Mt. Tam is made in Marin County near San Francisco, as if you had any doubt it was a California product after that lead-in. Cowgirl Creamery describes their Mt. Tam as “At room temperature, features a dense fudgy core enveloped in an evolving pudgy creamline.” This cheese is both creamy and buttery but also displays earthy flavors. http://cowgirlcreamery.com Mt. Tam pairs well with sparklers like Prosecco and Cava or a California Chardonnay that will cleanse your palate. Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava Brut or Trefethen Family Vineyards 2018 Chardonnay Oak Hill District Napa Valley work nicely with Mt. Tam.

Staying on the coast of California, my next cheese is Humboldt Fog from Cypress Grove Chevre in rural Humboldt County. Humboldt Fog is a unique soft-ripened goat cheese. It is made from high-quality goat milk sourced from local farms. This is a pasteurized goat milk cheese. The quality of the milk used in the making of Humboldt Fog is reflected in its clean and balanced flavors while muted acidity and salt levels prevent the potent goaty taste that turns some people off to goat cheese. http://cypressgrovecheese.com Enjoy Humboldt Fog with the iconic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Cloudy Bay, or Sokol Blosser Redland Cuvee Estate Willamette Valley 2018, a medium-bodied Pinot Noir from Oregon.           

I will be exploring cheeses from America’s Heartland and the East Coast in my next post.                                  

Review: Bogle Merlot 2018

Are you looking for an “Everyday” Merlot that won’t break the bank? An “Everyday” wine is one that is dependable, has an excellent quality-to-price ratio, pairs well with your favorite foods, can be easily found, and most of all one you enjoy drinking. Bogle Merlot 2018 checks all of these boxes and is very popular because it does. 

Bogle Merlot 2018 is a California Merlot from the Clarksburg Region. It has flavors of black fruit, vanilla, and oak with balanced acidity and approachable tannins. Bogle ages all of its red wines in oak barrels for twelve months. This practice is a rarity for a producer of this scale. I purchased my bottle for $12.99 at a Pennsylvania P.L.C.B. store but you can find it for less from other sources. Its 13.5 A.B.V. gives this Red a little “Jump” so be careful it can fool you. Just sayin!

Review: Ménage à Trois “Silk” Soft Red Blend 2020

A few posts ago I wrote about mass-produced and widely distributed wines. To prove I just don’t “Talk the talk but walk the walk” I bought a bottle of Mènage à Trois “Silk” Soft Red Blend 2020 to review. This is one of the offerings from the immensely popular Ménage à Trois label of  Folie à Deux. Ménage à Trois is a St. Helena California winery. Mènage à Trois “Silk” Soft Red Blend 2020 is a blend of separately fermented Pinot Noir, Malbec, and Petite Sirah with a light oak flavor from the time it spent in French and American oak. “Silk” Soft Red Blend is a ruby red color in the glass with muted floral aromas followed by flavors of cherry and spice with both medium body and acidity. If you like a sweet light-bodied wine this wine is NOT for you. If you like a big California Cab this wine is NOT for you. If you want a red wine that is right down the middle in its body, fruit flavors, acidity, and economy priced then this wine is one you should take a close look at. I paired it with grilled steak and it was an acceptable match. I purchased it for $13.99 in Pennsylvania but it can usually be found for around $10-$15. http://menageatroiswines.com  

The Wine Writers’ Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley registration is now open

Registration is open for The Wine Writers’ Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley.  It will be a virtual event from August 8-10, 2022. The theme for 2022 is “The Changing Landscape of Wine Media”. Registration will be open through July 31st and admission is free with registration. 

The symposium format will feature keynotes, panels, and roundtables. It will explore the subject of technical versus creative writing. Get expert advice on the practical skills of how to conduct an interview and accurately analyze data. The topics of monetization and ethics will be discussed to address the reality of a steady decline in full-time wine writing jobs.

This event will focus on individuals who have displayed a commitment to wine writing. They are encouraging anyone that has been published to register. This means if you have had an article, column, work of criticism, blog entry, book chapter or selection, or screenplay/script published they would like you to attend the symposium. Unlike past requirements, this year your submission will not be reviewed for quality but will be subject to having its authenticity verified.  

I attended the symposium last year and gained invaluable insight into what editors are looking for when they choose an article for publication. Their candid remarks and advice to writers helped me tailor my pitches to afford me the best opportunity to be considered for publication. The lineup of domestic and international speakers gave me an insider’s view of the ever-changing landscape of the wine writing community and improved my ability to successfully navigate and function in it. After the symposium ended I received links to the videos of each day so I could review attended sessions or watch any session I may have missed. Here’s a link to The Wine Writers’ Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley registration page http://winewriterssymposium.org Photo Courtesy: winewriterssymposium.org

The Summer of Schiava Wine Tasting

I recently participated in a digital tasting of four Alto Adige Schiava over Zoom. Presenting on location from their perspective wineries in the Alto Adige Region of Italy each speaker delivered a tempting description of their wine and an in-depth account of several aspects of how the wine was produced. The wines I tasted were a 2020 Rottensteiner Kalterer See Auslese Lago di Caldaro D.O.C., 2019 Markus Prackwieser Gump Hof Vernatsch (Vernatsch is German for Schiava) Alto Adige D.O.C., 2020 Cantina Kurtatsch Sonnntaler Vernatsch Alte Reben Südtirol D.O.C., 2018 Cantina Bolzano MOAR St. Magdalena Alto Adige D.O.C.. When you see the town’s name in the winery’s name, as in Cantina Balzano or Cantina Kurtatsch it indicates that the wine was made by a “Cooperative”.

Schiava is a very light red wine, even lighter than Pinot Noir. It is a radiant ruby red in color with aromas of crisp fresh cherries, violets, and raspberries. Vibrant flavors of cherries and burnt almonds are prominent on the palate complemented by mild acidity. These are delicate wines best served young but some do have aging potential. Schiava has the reputation of being approachable, very easy to drink, and pairs well with about any food. This makes it the perfect light wine for any outdoor summer gathering and for many it’s the preferred wine to drink with pizza. Schiava has a chameleon-like ability to adapt to any dining situation. 

The character of Schiava is terroir-driven due to the varied local topography and microclimates of the Alto Adige Region. Abrupt diurnal temperature changes add complexity while the winds that blow up the valleys of the region provide a drying effect that keeps the pergola trellis-grown vines free of fungus, molds, and disease. When you factor in the various soil structures ranging from volcanic to sedimentary it’s no surprise that Alto Adige produces a wide variety of wines each with its own unique personality.

If you haven’t tried Schiava I urge you to be adventurous and buy a bottle to enjoy with friends. You will be amazed by what this light red wine has to offer.