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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.
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The Gift of Wine
Posted: April 9, 2009
This post was contributed by Courtney Phillips. Courtney writes about the grants for culinary. and she welcomes your feedback at CourtneyPhillips80@ gmail.com
The Gift of Wine Never Goes Out of Style Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, graduation – let’s face it, as long as the recipient is of legal age to consume alcohol the gift of wine never goes out of style. And just because you’re going to reapply an old favorite doesn’t mean you can’t do it with some new pizzazz! It’s all in the presentation. There’s more to giving a classy bottle of wine as a gift than just slapping a bow on the bottle and leaving it on someone’s counter. One great way to really endow the wine you’re giving with special meaning is to include a hand written message about a particular bottle’s history. You don’t have to buy expensive wine for it to taste great – that’s something everyone should know by now. But the same goes with small batches of wine from smaller wineries. Explore your local area and interview the folks who make the wine. You’ll find that they are more than willing to share the passion that goes into each squeezed grape. A little quote from someone personally involved with the bottle you are giving away can really drive home your message. The gift that keeps on giving, or for as long as it fits your budget! Nowadays wine sellers are on to the notion that not all of us have thousands of dollars to keep our celebrated friends bathing in expensive wine. To the contrary, almost all online wine sellers that offer repeated deliveries of seasonal wines offer multiple options to gift the opulent liquid. At www.goldmedalwine.com, a favorite of celebrities and the common folk alike, they offer terms as short as one single delivery, a delivery every three months for a year, or every month if you wish. The choice is completely up to you, and the caliber of wine is also available for upgrade. Are grandma and grandpa celebrating that Golden anniversary? Then you may want to upgrade to the wines of the Diamond series which can go for as much as $189.00 a month! Of course, the sky is the limit when it comes to hand picked tastes and mom and pop vineyards. Some of my favorites Enthused? Here are some favorite sites that have pleased many and offer lots of reasonable terms. One of the easiest is to check out www.wine.com and search through their selection of wine clubs. You may have to do a little homework but if you have an idea of the particular style or taste you’re looking for one great feature is lots of relevant reviews. Want to delve into other realms and clubs and pair them with the wine you’re giving? Check out www.greatclubs.com where you can find clubs on everything from smoked sausage to cigars. The possible pairings are endless and can have those on your list just counting the days till their next shipment.
The Gift of Wine Never Goes Out of Style
Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, graduation – let’s face it, as long as the recipient is of legal age to consume alcohol the gift of wine never goes out of style. And just because you’re going to reapply an old favorite doesn’t mean you can’t do it with some new pizzazz!
It’s all in the presentation.
There’s more to giving a classy bottle of wine as a gift than just slapping a bow on the bottle and leaving it on someone’s counter. One great way to really endow the wine you’re giving with special meaning is to include a hand written message about a particular bottle’s history. You don’t have to buy expensive wine for it to taste great – that’s something everyone should know by now. But the same goes with small batches of wine from smaller wineries.
Explore your local area and interview the folks who make the wine. You’ll find that they are more than willing to share the passion that goes into each squeezed grape. A little quote from someone personally involved with the bottle you are giving away can really drive home your message.
The gift that keeps on giving, or for as long as it fits your budget!
Nowadays wine sellers are on to the notion that not all of us have thousands of dollars to keep our celebrated friends bathing in expensive wine. To the contrary, almost all online wine sellers that offer repeated deliveries of seasonal wines offer multiple options to gift the opulent liquid.
At www.goldmedalwine.com, a favorite of celebrities and the common folk alike, they offer terms as short as one single delivery, a delivery every three months for a year, or every month if you wish. The choice is completely up to you, and the caliber of wine is also available for upgrade. Are grandma and grandpa celebrating that Golden anniversary? Then you may want to upgrade to the wines of the Diamond series which can go for as much as $189.00 a month! Of course, the sky is the limit when it comes to hand picked tastes and mom and pop vineyards.
Some of my favorites
Enthused? Here are some favorite sites that have pleased many and offer lots of reasonable terms. One of the easiest is to check out www.wine.com and search through their selection of wine clubs. You may have to do a little homework but if you have an idea of the particular style or taste you’re looking for one great feature is lots of relevant reviews.
Want to delve into other realms and clubs and pair them with the wine you’re giving? Check out www.greatclubs.com where you can find clubs on everything from smoked sausage to cigars. The possible pairings are endless and can have those on your list just counting the days till their next shipment.
Castello di Spaltenna...The Heart Of Chianti
Posted: March 1, 2009
There is an area of Tuscany that offers the traveler breath taking beauty. It affords the traveler a challenging terrain of mountains and valleys combined with a maze of winding roads which if stretched straight could possibly reach from this earth to heaven. But they do not need to be stretched for they wend their way through vineyards and olive groves, villages and past villas and castles. This is the Chianti region of Tuscany, a region some believe is “heaven on earth”. This is an area of Tuscany which is steeped in the history and traditions of the Middle Ages and of the conflict between Florence and Siena.
Situated among the rolling hillsides of Gaiole in Chianti is the historic castle of Castello di Spaltenna. As you enter into the courtyard of Castello di Spaltenna you pass the entrance of Pieve di Spaltenna (Santa Maria di Spaltenna), a small church dating back to the 11th. Century. Pausing to look into the chapel, we are taken with the simplicity of its Romanesque architecture. As we check in, we learn that Spaltenna was once a medieval monastery connected to the Pieve. What was once the cloister of the monastery serves today as a welcoming courtyard to the hotel.
As we were taken to our room, we could not help but appreciate the beauty of the medieval architecture surrounding us. Our room, complete with canopied bed afforded us a unique feature. It had a small window overlooking the altar of the Pieve di Spaltenna and a kneeling bench so prayers could be offered while viewing the church’s altar.
Perhaps this had been the room of the priest when Spaltenna had been an active monastery.
After “settling in”, we strolled the beautiful grounds and enjoyed the roses and the many floral gardens as well as the views of vineyards and mountains. The quiet and relaxed beauty was striking.
Dinner that evening was in Il Pievano, an absolutely marvelous restaurant at Castello di Spaltenna The dinner menu offered such wonderful selections as: Pappardelle di farro al sugo di fagiano in infusione di alloro broccoli e tartufi (Pappardelle pasta made of spelt with pheasant ragout flavoured with bay leaf, broccoli and truffle) or Filetto di Rombo arrosto con capperi di Pantelleria indivia brasata e pappa al pomodoro all’olio extravergine di oliva (Roasted fillet of turbot with capers from Pantelleria endives and pappa al pomodoro).
For desert choices included, but were not limited to Tartelletta di Zucca e mandorle con gelato al bianco latte e amaretti (Tart of pumpkin and almonds with ice cream of milk and almonds) and Lacrima di ricciarelli avvolta da un velo di cioccolato, il cannolo al panforte di Siena e il gelato al panpepato
The food was prepared to an excellent standard and the service was perhaps the finest we have ever had. Enjoying dinner at Spaltenna is a marvellous way to spend an evening. The wine steward paired an excellent choice of wines to be served with our dinners. Spaltenna's wine cellar offers the widest range of wines...fantastico.
Some say that in real estate, location is everything. To us who travel, location is also important and Spaltenna offers its visitors an ideal location from which you can enjoy superb day trips. As an example, just a short ride from Castello di Spaltenna is the medieval borgo of Vertine, complete with its original tower, walls and gates.
A trip to Villa Vignamaggio, the estate that was home to the Mona Lisa and the film location for “Much Ado About Nothing” is another must for day trips from Castello di Spaltenna. Here you will enjoy gardens and magnificent views across the vineyard covered hillsides. Our suggestion is that you phone ahead for a reservation to tour the gardens and the wine cellars.
Located near Spaltenna, Badia a Coltibuono was formerly a Benedictine monestary. You will enjoy a well-ordered monastic garden and magnificent views of the countryside. Stop by the ristorante and enjoy a dish of some of the most delicious lemon-basil sorbet ever made.
Home to the Ricasoli family, Castello di Brolio, is also home to the now famous Chianti Classico. It is widely acclaimed that here, at Brolio, Baron Bettino Ricasoli developed the formula for Chianti Classico wine. The castle, surrounded by huge fortress like walls provides visitors with commanding views of valleys and vineyards Plan your trip around lunch time and enjoy a delightful dining experience at the Osteria del Castello. The menu offers traditional Tuscan dishes which will be a delight to your taste buds.
Castello di Spaltenna is a historic castle steeped in the finest of traditions of Chianti. Its rooms, service, restaurant and wine cellar are second to none. Its pool and outdoor dining make it the best of both worlds...a fine resort hotel and a great location to enjoy the surrounding areas of Chianti country.
Edie and Dave
Straight from Napa Valley, Hall’s Estate Vinyards
Posted: December 6, 2008
Every now & then you come across a site with a story and a product too good not to share. Hall’s Estate Vineyard.
“HALL’s estate vineyards encompass more than five hundred acres of classic Bordeaux varietals; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. As winegrowers, the Halls have a strong respect for the environment and a commitment to cutting-edge vineyard technology to yield the highest quality grapes. Through meticulous attention to detail in the vineyards, HALL wines are able to express the unique and diverse character of Napa Valley’s soils and climate.” Read more.
“Focusing on classic Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Franc, we craft a "Napa Valley Collection" that is available in select markets and through our wineries and website.” Read more.
Posted: August 24, 2008
Napa is wonderful anytime of year…I had the good fortune a year ago to spend a long weekend in Napa…to not only see the vineyards and taste some great wine, but to see a one man art show featuring John S. Kornfeld at the Robert Mondavi vineyards.
But first…someplace to stay! Accommodations were arranged at the Yountville Inn in Napa Valley( www.yountvilleinn.com ). Gracious…comfortable and accented with lots of natural wood, beams and stone…the Yountville Inn makes you feel instantly comfortable. Three nights in an oversized mini suite with a fireplace and a spa styled bathroom left me a bit in awe at how comfortable the décor and amenities were. While it was summer …nights do get cool and if you are feeling indulgent, you can also air condition the room a little just so you can use it (Not that I would ever waste the energy!)
To make me feel even more special, the public lounge just off the check in area featured a wine tasting the afternoon I checked in. What a nice thing to start my first evening off with…an in-house wine event. The hostess was fun and informed. The featured wines were from Hendricks Wines…featuring “hope and grace” wines. Charles Hendricks is described as, “Winemaker Paraclete: An encourager, a messenger, an assistant, a guide”.
A consultant to vineyards, he has now shifted his focus to the line of “hope and grace” wines. We sampled a 2005 Chardonnay, 2004 Pinot Noir, 2004 Malbec and a 2004 Cabernet, all under the “hope and grace” label. Productions are limited and the the bottles ranged form 26.00 to 60.00 a bottle in price. Well the hostess was congenial and it came down to me and a nice couple sampling till the bitter end! She offered us all the opened bottles to take home..I let them take the one we both favored, the 60.00 Malbec, but I ended up with a Chardonnay and a Cabernet. Not a bad score and all for free! Check them out at www.hopeandgracewines.com
Napa has a certain sense of style….its own California interpretation of enjoyment, taste and architecture, but that has all changed with the Castello di Amorosa. Modeled after an old world castle, the vineyard offers a unique view into the past. The wine tastings were passable as I recall, but the unique feature was the authenticism about the reproduction castle in Napa. Right down to a large Norway rat running across one of the castle corridors! Did someone actually cue him..like a movie background extra…”Go Now”?? Our tour group got a kick out of that sight. Overall the tour was well worth it….conducted by their then new head of marketing, showing the ropes to one of the new doecents.
Another added surprise for me to this extended Napa weekend was an invitation to a private reception for the featured artisit. Held at the private home of a doyenne of Napa, it was an amazing experience to be at a wine recption and cocktail party overlooking vast acres of vineyards
with the mountians framing them in the background. I had missed that day one of the premiere “Sparkling Wineries” tours, but the owner appeared at the reception carrying several bottles of her version of “champagne” and I was priviledged to sample some first hand and engage in dialouge on her personal history . The cast of characters at the event also included a young couple…he a winemaker of a competing wine Valley (Sonoma) and of Roessler vineyards. The Roessler web site lists his view of their wines. “ In the cellar, we employ winemaking techniques that can be characterized as "Old World" in style, with a minimum of intervention. This allows all of the hard work in the vineyard to shine through and creates a classic backdrop for the nuances and characters derived from the variety of soils, clones, and climates.
We hope that you will take as much pleasure as we do in exploring different regions and vineyards through enjoying our Pinots and Chards!
All the best,
The significant other with him, Laura Hoover was well traveled and she and Scott, as I remember, both had grandparents who met and maintained homes in the Seychelles Islands. What were the odds on that happening! Anyway, we discussed my recent trip to Panama and Laura brought up a project she had gotten into involving microcredits in Guatemala and Mexico. It’s a way of helping people help themsleves by launching small businesses with micro credit loans www.namaste-direct.org
They truly do amazing work and for such little investment from “investors.”
I felt very lucky and priviledged to hob nob with the annointed of Napa …and that is the fun of travel…you never know where or with whom you could end up.
Needless to say , three nights and afternoons dining in Napa provided an exceptional experience…and a bit of a weight gain. But it was worth it. The finale was the art exhibition set in the gallery area of the Robert Mondavi Winery.
Perfect Napa weather..wonderful restaurants, exceptional wines, parties …art events…local galleries, a private reception at a gracious home in Napa ….new acquaintences…what’s not to like about a summer trip to Napa and wine country?
Cincinnati Enquirer Wine Tasting Competition
Posted: February 22, 2008
Gotta love business trips that take you in the vicinity of family and friends. A recent stop in Cincinnati meant a great visit with my brother Jim, wife Karen and son Matt. But before I could even unpack, I was greeted with “We are going to a wine tasting”. Well…how could I refuse! When we arrived at the location of the tasting, I discovered that some great ski friends, Sharon and John Rieke would be joining the festivities as well. Now Sharon and John are worth several GourmetStation blog posts alone, what with Sharon’s keen eye for ferreting out wonderful places to dine everywhere we have gone and John being an oenophile. I knew we were in for a fun and entertaining night.
Our hosts, Mike Forcade and his wife Penny had a beautiful set up. Several staging areas in the dining room and kitchen with gourmet food to tide us over and the wine tasting set ups on the screen covered patio for whites and the reds on the giant food prep island in the middle of the spacious mid- western kitchen.
What made this particular wine tasting unique was the fact that it was based on a recent article by the Cincinnati Enquirer, where they asked five local wine experts to each list their favorite reds and favorite whites in the $10.00 price point. This selected panel came up with their choices and our goal for the evening was to see if we could come up with the same selections as that illustrious panel of wine experts.
Well there must have been more than 20 people in attendance that night and everyone took the whole proceeding very seriously…as the winners would be taking home full bottles of some very fine tasting wines.
Let me introduce you to them:
Santa Ema Carmenere 03
Pelican by Laurence Feraud 03
Leasingham Magnus Shiraz-Cab 01
Equis Vinas Viejas 03
Calina Carmenere 02
Blue Fish Riesling
Basa Blanco 04
Las Brisas Blanco 04
J&F Lurton pinot Gris 04
Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc 04
In addition to these wine finalists, there were additional selections in each category, but these were the top five, as selected by the Cincinnati Enquirer panel of experts. Unknown to us…us being the wine tasting participants trying to match the Cincinnati Enquirer panel of experts, was the ranking. That was our goal, to see how closely we could align with the experts and the winners in our group would be taking home some bottles for their “trouble.”
I lost track of my brother and his wife in the pouring, palate cleansing and tasting mayhem….but kept a stealthy eye on Sharon and John to see by the expressions on their faces, how the wines were doing from their perspective.
How did I fare….let’s just say I must have been in an exploratory mood that night as I did not end up winning! (Just for the record, I got three of the winning reds in my list and two of the whites, but not necessarily in the right order) After the conclusion, the official tally was taken and the winners that night revealed that indeed my instincts had been right…keep an eye on Sharon Rieke!
Mike Forcade passed along his comments, “ What was interesting about the winners was that the category winners both picked the Cincinnati Enquirer #1 as first on their cards. We scored by giving two points for a direct hit in comparison to the paper and one point for selecting one of the top wines but not in the correct order.”
Winners: White: Olden Warren with 6 points (his list had four of five whites and he scored will overall too).
Red Winner: Ros Staadeker with 6 points
Overall Winner: Sharon Rieke 12 points
Mikes final comment “Final observation: The wine that was left over was not worth drinking after the fact!!!!!!!!!!”
And that would be because the sophisticated palate of the attendees honed very quickly in on the “good stuff” leaving the other wines to sit forlornly 3/4s full.
Everyone had a wonderful time with gourmet foods to sample, exceptionally tasty wines to drink and rate and the winners walked off with bottles for their keen wine acumen.
And the overall winning results...well it just adds to Sharon and John’s legend as gourmands.
So if you get bored this winter…you can try a sampling party at your house. It will definitely be worth the effort and your guest can help clean up too! Mark Stine
Wine Gift for Wine Loves – Combines Tradition & Technology
Posted: November 12, 2007
If you’re seeking a gift for a hard to buy-for individual & they just happen to be a wine lover, I have the answer for you. Enjoy!
This innovative USB key is geared directly at the upscale oenophile. The founders of the BeWine Connected project, Alfred Tesseron and Emmanuel Etcheparre, were looking for a way to meld the traditional elements enjoyed by wine connoisseurs with modern technology. This innovative USB key is geared directly at the upscale oenophile. The founders of the BeWine Connected project, Alfred Tesseron and Emmanuel Etcheparre, were looking for a way to meld the traditional elements enjoyed by wine connoisseurs with modern technology. Etcheparre was the designer behind the “custom-made-to-measure tool that precisely reflects Pontet-Canet’s image: a model-sized bottle concealing a USB stick,” a press release said. “This small, removable accessory captures the strongest Bordeaux icon: its wine bottle. This innovative and exclusive concept is the ideal gift for all wine lovers as well as those who like to draw meaning from both the content and the container.” The USB stick has a video tour of the Pontet-Canet estate and winery as well as featuring a vintage waste tasting by Michel Rolland. Other information on the 1GB stick includes “cell phone ring tones with wine-connected themes, wine cellar management software, a reference of Bordeaux Grand Crus Classés wines, a desktop environment dedicated to wine.” BeWineConnected is available in French, English and German, with Japanese and Chinese editions on their way. Current retailing price is 33 Euros.
It’s Turkey Time - Wine To Serve With Turkey
Posted: October 29, 2007
Thanksgiving is near and with that turkey and all the trimmings, what wine should you serve? To begin, I like to serve Champagne or sparkling wine as the guest are arriving or as the aperitif. It always makes a special dinner even more so. Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Brut is perfect for the larger group or your favorite Champagne for the more intimate dinner.
Now, to the big question the bird. Turkey is mildly flavored so for the most part it serves as a base for the seasonings that provide the prominent flavors. Here are five ways to prepare a turkey and the wine suggestions for each style.
Simply Seasoned With Salt, Pepper & Butter: My suggestion for this style of turkey would be a buttery chardonnay from California or for a special treat a Meursault from France. If red is your preference, try a delicate Merlot or the very popular Beaujolais Nouveau. Beaujolais Noveau is released the third Thursday in November just before Thanksgiving and has become a perennial favorite for Turkey Day.
Apple Cider Braised: When fresh pressed apple cider lends it seasonal sweetness to your bird the wine of choice should also be fruity and fragrant and have a touch of sweetness, such as a Viognier, Riesling or Chenin Blanc.
Mediterranean Style With Olive Oil, Garlic &Rosemary: Nothing is better than a Grenache or Syrah based wine. I would suggest a Cotes du Rhone or a lighter style Syrah from Australia. For a smaller group of guest, serve the fragrant and elegant Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge.
Maple-Sage Glaze: A sweet and savory styled turkey calls for a fruity and earthy style of Pinot Noir. Say something from Burgundy, I would suggest a Bourgogne Rouge from Louis Jadot or Philip Le Hardi. If you like a little more richness a New Zealand Pinot Noir would be a good match.
Southwest Spices, Grilled or Fried: Spices call for spice, so my choice for this type of bird is a lush, fruity red Zinfandel or if you want a white wine the citrusy yet spicy Gewurztraminer is your best bet. Grilled or fried foods also offer extra richness which the Zin or Gewurtraminer handle extremely well.
And as dessert or with apple pie, pumpkin, pecan or mincemeat, a sweet white dessert wine is simply divine. Try Chateau Rieussec from Sauternes. Intensely fruity notes of lemon, orange and apricot combine with honeyed vanilla notes, you taste richness but at the same time elegance. What a wonderful way to end Thanksgiving dinner. If preparing the bird is not your thing, my suggestion to order a delicious, convenient Thanksgiving dinner delivered with all the trimmings from GourmetStation and use the wine suggestions above.
Veuve Clicquot's Cellar
Posted: September 2, 2007
Sandy Kingsley, like many Delicious Destinations readers, loves the good life and wanted to share an experience and a web site with you that you are bound to appreciate and enjoy. Sandy and her husband recently went to France, and because they are both wine and champagne lovers, they went to Burgundy, Champagne….you get the idea.
There are many wineries to visit in France and each one takes a different approach to providing an experience the visitor will cherish among their holiday memories. The people at Veuve Clicquot’s cellar not only served champagne (as you would expect of a good host), they actually taught Sandy and her husband a few tips on how to present and enjoy their beverages they way they were meant to be enjoyed.
Their web site is a work of art including the history of champagne making going back to the Roman times, through the crowning of French Kings at Reims, to modern production and distribution processes. Their Essentials categories also help readers understand what is really champagne through a standard set I 1935! No fooling around here. Sandy asked that we check out their link to visits where we can set the stage for what is included in their tours. The history appeals to me the most …"ancient Roman gallo chalk cellars in Reims.” Thanks Sandy! A visit to Venue Clicquot is on the must list.
Food and Wine Pairing – Creating The Third Flavor
Posted: August 11, 2007
Traditionally, food and wine pairing has been made either far too easy, “drink whatever you like” or limited to “red wine with meat, white wine with fish”. Or way too complex, using only the “proper matches”. Food and wine is meant to be savored and enjoyed, since one enhances the other.
The basic idea of food and wine is to fuse the two flavors together to create a third. And magic can happen when you combine the two. So lets discuss some simple guidelines to use when searching for that perfect bottle of wine to accompany a meal.
The main consideration of any match is to balance the flavor and texture of the food with the flavor and texture of the wine. Similarity of flavors between wine and food makes for pleasant combinations. Use a flavor component of a wine by using it in the meal: say the mushroom, truffle flavors of Pinot Noir can be matched by using mushrooms in a sauce.
Texture is the tactile experience your tongue has when it encounters the sensations of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and fat. Because textures are recognized on a very basic level of the senses, their influence is often stronger than defined flavors. Here are some guidelines to use when picking out a wine:
Sweet – The sweetness of a dish should always be less than the sweetness of the wine. Otherwise, the palate cannot perceive the fruit in the wine and it seems thin,
tart or bitter.
Sour – Always make sure acid levels are less than the wine, such as salad with a vinaigrette. If a wine doesn’t have more acid, it will seem flat or dull.
Salty – Salt and acid oppose one another well. Salty foods go well with high acid wines. Say, smoked salmon with Sauvignon Blanc or Champagne. Salt also opposes bitter, reducing the perception of tannin or bitterness in food or wine.
Bitter – Bitter foods such as oil-cured olives will diminish the perception of bitterness from the tannins in young red wine, allowing the fruit flavors to show.
Fat – Cheese is often served at red wine tastings, because the fat in the cheese coats the palate and lessens the palate of tannins or bitter flavors. High-fat foods generally require the intensity of rich wines to balance them.
The richer the food, the richer the wine should be that accompanies the meal for everything to remain in balance. For instance, a full-flavored reserve-style California Chardonnay would overwhelm the delicate flavors of Dover sole, but this wine is wonderful with grilled wild salmon and lemon butter.
And finally, brilliant combinations can be made by using contrasting rather than similar, flavors or textures. A famous contrasting match is salty Stilton cheese served with sweet Port. Visit GourmetStation wine shop for a selection of wines already paired with the appropriate entrée. Enjoy!
The Other Pinot’s
Posted: May 1, 2007
Pinot Grigio is the common Italian name for the French wine variety Pinot Gris and as such, is probably the name by which the variety is best known to many wine drinkers. Pinot Gris is a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape. If Pinot Noir berries are purplish blue and the berries of the related Pinot Blanc (a white mutation of Pinot Gris) are greenish yellow, Pinot Gris grapes are anything between greyish blue and brownish pink – sometimes on the same bunch. And at one time Pinot Gris habitually grew in among the Pinot Noir of many Burgundian vineyards adding softness and sometimes acidity to the Pinot Noir.
Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are actually the same white grape, with two different names. In Italy and California this wine is known as Pinot Grigio, while in Oregon and France it's known as Pinot Gris. Other countries use the terms interchangeably.
Most Pinot Grigio wines are produced in Italy. The Italian version of Pinot Grigio is typically dry (not sweet) and light, with a mineral taste and many times a bitter almond finish. Californian variants of Pinot Grigio tend to be richer in flavor, but still have the mineral taste. Often, they finish with a lemony or citrusy flavor.
French Pinot Gris wines come from the Alsace region. These are more fruity and flowery than their Italian counterparts, though they still have that mineral aroma. Flavors can range from peach to grapefruit to melon.
Pinot Blanc is more about texture and acidity and less about aroma and flavor. While it doesn’t provide much of an aroma, Pinot Blanc will make your mouth water and provide a very viscous or creamy texture. In Italy it is known as Pinot Bianco and is one of the varietals used in Soave, Vin Santo and Spumante.
In Alsace, the best examples of Pinot Blanc are immediately appealing, offering a delightful plumpness, rich, ripe, juicy fruit with apple-y flavors and floral aromas.
In the 1980’s, several California winemakers began using the same techniques in making Pinot Blanc as used to make expensive Chardonnay. So Pinot Blanc became another complex, oaky masterpiece of some California winemakers, rivaling the biggest and best Chardonnay.
Here are some pinot’s to try:
Enjoy! Susan Anderson