One thing that is consistent about Texas weather is its inconsistency. Fifty degree swings in 24 hours are not unheard of. In fact the week before Spring Break we had freezing temperatures, the weekend it began we hit the seventies, the second weekend was chilly and raining.
Another consistent for Spring break is daily drinking with friends. There were plenty of opportunities to do some sampling, and those bottles were as varied as the temperatures.
The week before, I participated in a Snooth Twitter Tasting with Ruffino‘s line of Chianti*. They ranged from the 2013 Chianti DOCG ($9) with bright red fruit and plenty of acid to the 2010 Riserva Ducale Oro ($28), a rich, layered, brooding example of what Sangiovese can be. One thing remained true throughout. These are well made, balanced wines that are priced to benefit the customer. It was a pleasure to hear from the winemaker, Gabriele Tacconi, about both the history and winemaking process and the participants always entertain. If you haven’t joined before, we will banter again on Monday April 27th,
Malbec is a grape I enjoy more in cooler weather so I made it a point to open a sample from Rutini** ($18) before the temps changed. This 100% Malbec from Argentina is held in 50% French, 50% American barrels. The fruit was deep, rich, intense and has a smooth and spicy finish. I paired it with a ratatouille with turkey sausage, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, onion, tomatoes, and herbs. I finished the sauce with some of the Malbec and let it simmer for a couple of hours. It turned out really well and paired nicely.
Later that week we opened the Rutini** Chardonnay($18). Chardonnay is generally not my go-to white, but when the oak is subtle and the fruit has a starring role, I am in. This wine had tropical fruit notes and honey balanced with abundant acid. 50% goes though Malolactic fermentation and it sits in New French Oak for 10 months. I rarely make recipes anymore but as I was thumbing through my mom’s Country Living magazine, I found this for Pancetta and Brussels Sprouts linguine. Since I had the ingredients (sub bacon for pancetta and pasta) I gave it a try. Lovely together.
By mid-break I was in the mood for Sauvignon Blanc and so I invited a neighbor over to sample with me. These two SBs from Chile were vastly different. Outer Limits by Montes($30)*** is a series that explores grapes from new regions. This bottle yields from the Zapallar vineyards in Chile, 6 miles from the Pacific Ocean. This came as no surprise to me as the first sip tasted like the ocean. A great deal of salinity, tropical fruit, and citrus with a touch of oily green. The color reminded me of an unripened banana, yellow with hues of green. Although not my preferred style of SB, it was a food-friendly, complex, and interesting wine.
The second Montes wine was Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc ($15)***. Grass, white peach, and floral notes on the nose and in the mouth. Crisp, fresh, floral and delicious. Grown in the Leyda Valley, this was exactly what I am looking for when I open a Sauvignon Blanc.
They say if you don’t like the weather, wait. By Friday, it was chilly and rainy. I had previously caramelized onions for French Onion Soup and then frozen them. I knew it might be our last chill of the season so I decided to finish the process. With one more sample that was predominantly Malbec looming, I knew what I had to do: call in the hubs for red meat reserves. When the wine suggests decanting for at least an hour, you know you’re dealing with a big one and the soup just wouldn’t cut it.
The 2011 Achaval Ferrar Quimera**($38) is a Bordeaux style blend but the predominant grape is Malbec. 60% was aged 12 months in 1-year old French oak barrels, 40% 12 months in new French oak barrels. The color was a deep cherry plum, the nose conveyed spicy dust and sun-warmed fruit. A surprising amount of acid at first, it faded as it opened. Black fruit and alpine herbs with sturdy structure and a long finish.
There are some wines that I receive as samples that, in my mind, need to be held for a bit. It pains me to open them, but it hangs over my head if I don’t. This was one of those wines. In retrospect, I would have paired it a little differently (stinky cheese?), decanted more, and held it a little longer. It was clearly well-made and has potential, but I think I missed the mark with this one. Now I know.
Sometimes price point is not an indicator of how much you will enjoy the wine. Yet another reason to taste before you judge and review with an open mind. In each of these samplings, for whatever reason, I found myself enjoying the wines that were less costly. Now if only that were true with shoes…clothes…hotels…
Wishing my friends up north a jump towards spring and for my friends in Texas, a lengthy one. Cheers!
*These wines were provided as media samples for Snooth Virtual Tasting and I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
**These wines were provided as media samples by Gregory White PR and I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
***These wines were provided as media samples by Feast PR and I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.