Fond Memories-Robert Mondavi

There are some wines that invite an immediate image.  One sip and you are transplanted, to a memory or an ideal.  Robert Mondavi’s 2010 Napa Valley Pinot Noir conjures images of fallen leaves and cashmere sweaters, blackberry brambles and tartan blankets.  It is just what I want from a Pinot Noir.

Many years ago, I spent a week of early autumn in the hills of Santa Rosa.  We picked blackberries for cobbler in the late morning sun, trudged through tall, crisp grasses on afternoon walks, and shared blankets and stories in the evening.  Bottle after bottle, I drank in Sonoma and felt like I was home.  The bottle says “Carneros,” but I taste Santa Rosa.

If the sense of smell is that which is most closely affiliated with memories, then this wine has the potential to help you make some fabulous ones.  Blackberry, nutmeg, and soft oak.  The fruit bursts on the palate and slowly fades to sweet, woodsy spice.  I chose to pair the wine with a pork tenderloin.  I covered the bottom of the pan with sliced onion and peppers, coated the tenderloin with several herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper.  I tossed fingerling potatoes in rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper.  I served them with a salad of mixed greens, red pear, and Maytag blue cheese. 

The pairing was quite nice.  The herbs enhanced the fruit, the oak carried the wine through the cheese, and the pear played nicely with the nutmeg notes.  I would buy this wine again in a heartbeat.  Another nice pairing would be a salad with blackberries and hazelnuts with goat cheese medallions.  You could go in many directions with this wine.

The first piece of writing I put out publically was a poem, an ode to a wine that brought me back to an afternoon in Sonoma.  That is what a good wine does.  It gives you a piece of a time and place.  It speaks to your closely held memories and can transport you.  Thank you, Robert Mondavi, for the brief vacation on a Sunday evening.

*{Disclosure: I was provided with this wine from PR Firm, Folsom & Associates. All statements and opinions expressed in this article are my own. The photo of a Carneros vineyard was provided by my father-in-law.}

OTBN- A Gift from Gundlach Bundschu

If you are on Twitter and a wine lover, you are probably aware that Saturday was Open That Bottle Night. One of many Twitter-born events that encourages readers to go ahead and open that bottle that you are saving for a special occasion. The bottle IS the special occasion so enjoy it now. Being awarded first place in Gundlach Bundschu’s Deed Day Poetry contest was in and of itself an amazing gift. The bottle they presented me with was enough to make me squeal and blush: A 1996 Cabernet Franc Jeroboam.

Now, let me preface all of this by saying that I have never had the privilege of enjoying a large bottle of fine wine. If I sound like a novice, it is because I am. Since receiving this bottle, I have envisioned the dinner party that I would build around the wine. I love Cabernet Franc but was not sure how it would change with age. Especially sixteen years and in a three liter format. I expected a softer fruit with some herbal qualities, so I made my best guess and planned the menu.

We began with a cheese plate, something to munch on while the littles ate dinner and got ready to settle in. Manchego, Gorgonzola with honey, goat cheese, olives and chutney. I was thinking the goat cheese would pair nicely. It took a few attempts, but we finally got through the wax seal and pulled out a healthy cork. Unsure about the level of sediment, we poured the wine into a decanter first. A beautiful tawny red, brilliant clarity, and life. The nose was really powerful, but so balanced, it was honestly hard to discern. Perhaps it was the fact that I was fighting a cold (horrible timing, I know) but it was like a big berry, plum medley. I expected the taste to be similar. I was wrong.

The fruit was subtle and smooth. Blackberry and plum softened with gentle tannins. Garden cuttings and damp shale came to mind. My husband said that it was like being back in the Sonoma cave. With newer wines, you can tell a marked difference between your first taste of the bottle and the last. It changes as it opens. This wine was consistent. Ready. Amazing from start to finish. And oh, what a finish.

For the first course, I served Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter sauce. The sweetness of the squash, herbaceous sage, and salty Grana Pandano all found a friend in the wine. Delicious. The second course was a pork tenderloin wrapped in prosciutto and sage with a salad of arugula, pear, and pecorino. Again, the wine shined with every bite. Finally, I served a chocolate pudding made with Akoma chocolate, Frangelico whipped cream, and salted pistachios. Divine. I would love to tell you how the wine paired with the pudding, but it didn’t make it that far. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to finish the magnum. Silly me.

I don’t have a lot of experience with aged wines. I don’t have the luxury of space and resource to just hold wine for great lengths. I have appreciated the experience and depth of the tobacco and leather types of wine, but it is not the taste profile I would generally choose (again, novice). This wine curled my toes and made me giddy. Sophisticated and yet so approachable. A gift in every sense of the word.

Many thanks to the wonderful people at Gundlach Bundschu. Your wines are always a delight but you humbled me with this bottle. Thank you for the inspiration to write and the encouragement to continue. This SAHMmelier is truly grateful.

Punt

Usually, in the summer, I like to grill. Scratch that….usually in the summer I like to have my hubby grill. But this past weekend he was knee-deep in a dresser painting project and I had to get creative.
I am a punter. I try to plan meals for the week but, the truth is, I shop generally by what is in season and what is on sale. I have my list of staples and USUALLY have those things in the house. In other words, I cook by mood and what I currently have that needs to get used.
I am also quite frugal, almost to a fault, so most of the wines you see on here will be under $20, even under $10. (I call those Monday wines…more on that later.)
I needed to cook a pork tenderloin so I sliced some peppers, onions, cut some oregano, sage, and rosemary from the garden, and tossed it all in a pan with fingerling potatoes, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Five minutes before it was done, I crumbled goat cheese on top.
Now for the wine. I have learned that when you ship wine, you are supposed to let it sit for two weeks. This can be a challenge for me. I have very few bottles that I have allowed to age. The special occasion wines we order from some of our favorite wineries generally have a better chance because I rarely deem an occasion “worthy.” (See frugal comment above).
We returned home from a trip to Sonoma recently with a few favorites. Although we had only been home 10 days, we had put in a hard day and it was Saturday night, so 2 weeks be damned, I opened a bottle of Tempanillo Rose from Gundlach Bundschu. It is my favorite rose to date. Light enough to drink solo on a hot summer day, but enough backbone to stand some bolder flavors. Dry, yummy, strawberry notes start, but when I paired it with the pork, it developed into a whole different experience. There was a surprising minerality, still light, but not overpowered by the herbs. As I said, it held its own.
Wine-Yummy. Ideal for picnics, light appetizers (prosciutto and melon, goat cheese and crackers) lighter fare.
Pairing Grade-B If buying specifically for the meal, I would have maybe done a Pinot, but for a punt, it did just fine.