. . Pairing Local is all about finding localized wine+food pairings. I love seeing how chefs marry local ingredients with local wines or beers. Mother nature creates natural pairings for us in each region where wine is grown by providing foods that naturally match the style of wines. German wines happen to go with German food. If you're in Vancouver, Canada where dungeness crab is plentiful, it just happens to go with Sauvignon Blanc from the Okanagan Valley. Argentina has some of the best beef in the world, and just happens to grow great Malbec.
In this episode I had a chance to visit d'Arenberg winery in McLaren Vale, Australia where Chef Peter Reschke (co-head chef with Nigel Rich) sourced local lamb and paired it with Grenache. When you think about McLaren Vale you might think Shiraz, but I really fell in love with the Grenache. Some of the oldest Grenache vines in the world can be found in Australia about two hours north in a little region called the Barossa. Grenache doesn't get much love as a grape, but when you get a good one, it can provide exceptional range in food pairings.
Mother nature blessed these guys with the gift of great lamb, as well as great old vine Grenache. Lamb can be prepared in a way that makes it both savory, yet delicate. Over the years I've really come to appreciate good quality lamb if it's raised right and comes from the right region. Chef Peter Reschke created three lamb dishes specifically to bring out the delicate, yet powerful notes of old vine Grenache and used herbs from their own herb garden at the winery.
WINE TASTED IN THIS EPISODE:
d'Arenberg is a well known Aussie winery in the states for wines like The Hermit Crab, Dead Arm and The Stump Jump. One wine you might not know or appreciate is the 2007 Custodian Grenache which is foot trodden and aged on lees to keep the flavor fresh and bright.
Distinct black cherries, stewed plums, dark red fruits and raspberries (almost blackberries) complimented by tobacco, earth and spice box surround the fine grained tannins. In other words, it was rich and robust without being hot or overpowering, yet smooth as a baby's butt. The reason it works is this Grenache has medium weight, yet great depth and complexity. If Grenache was a musician, it would be in a cool ass jazz trio with Syrah and Mourvedre. The three of them are hip and stylish on their own, but when they come together, they create magic.
Lamb can be a wonderful protein if seasoned correctly. Mutton might not be the way to go, but the three ways chef Peter Reschke prepared lamb not only showed off what this region has to offer, but how versatile lamb can be.
Matching wine with food means combining elements with similar levels of intensity. All three lamb creations, along with the wine had similar weight or intensity of flavor. Add in the complimentary dark fruit with key seasonings and you have another great localized pairing. For about $20 you can't go wrong. I'd highly recommend picking up a bottle. Thank you to the chefs at D'arrys Verandah.
During a recent visit to the Yarra Valley, I had a chance to sit down with one of the most iconic people in the global wine industry. James Halliday AM is a living legend, famous wine writer, winery founder and recent recipient of Australia's highest honor. Mr. Halliday and I had the chance to discuss new media and how it fits into our world of wine. .
As one of the founders of Brokenwood in the Lower Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, and thereafter founder of Coldstream Hills in the Yarra Valley, Victoria, James is an unmatched authority on every aspect of the wine industry, from the planting and pruning of vines through to the creation and marketing of the finished product. His winemaking has led him to sojourns in Bordeaux and Burgundy, and he is constantly in demand as a wine judge in Australia and overseas.
James has contributed to more than 56 books on wine since he began writing in 1979. His books have been translated into Japanese, French, German, Danish and Icelandic, and have been published in the UK, the US and Australia. He is also the author of James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia and The Australian Wine Encyclopedia.
to be continued in part 2...
It's harvest time in the Victoria wine growing region. Although winemakers are hard at work bringing in 2011 vintage grapes, many of them took time out of their day to bring wines to Brown Brothers winery for an afternoon of wine tasting. Did I say wine tasting? I meant rapid-fire one wine a minute lighting round tasting. With limited time, what took place was something more along the lines of speed dating than enjoying wine.
Over the course of two hours, I tasted about 30 still wines and 7 stickies. Victoria is a vast wine growing region with some of Australia's historic wineries. One of my personal longtime favorite wineries is Tahbilk, famous for having the world's largest Marsanne vineyard. Some of the sub regions of Victoria are Yarra Valley, Rutherglen, Heathcote, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong and King Valley. Brown Brothers, located in King Valley is one of Australia's First Family's of Wine with roots tracing back to the 1800's. Located about 3 hours northeast of Melbourne, King Valley is a surprisingly diverse growing area with flat lands and high elevations. It's predominantly a cool climate with above average rainfall with a wide ranch of soils, including alluvial parent soil, some balsalt as well as shallow sandstone.
The wines poured at Brown Brothers were impressive in both the varied selection of grape varietals, but also the quality of wine. We started with Prosecco's, graduated to whites, moved on the reds and then finished with the VGS (Very Good Shit) stickies aka fortified wines. Here's a smattering of wines tasted:
PROSECCO (new website for King Valley Prosecco Road):
Booyah! Right out of the gate we're off on the right foot. Brown Brothers Prosecco NV is grown at a higher elevation of 500 meters above sea level which is approximately 16 inches. No wait, I didn't carry the '1' when converting from the metric system. The grapes were grown at 1640 ft. above sea level, and you know what I love about that? Acidity. Cold climate plus high elevation equals the kind of bubbles I like. Crisp, clean, green apple and pear with some elegant Easter flower notes.
Dalz Otto Pucino Prosecco NV - Pale, Pale almost water color. Asian pear, white flowers, Charmat stye. Light, delicate, green apple. Dalz Otto family came from Italy...brought their wines with 'em
Ciccone Estate Prosecco NV - Tangerine peel, white flowers, medium acid, crisp, clean, fuji apple. Elevation 420 meters. Food: fruit fondue
Sam Miranda 2010 Prosecco - Dry, pear, mineral, Med acid, drier style, lower sugar. Single vineyard. Sam Miranda was a cool dude. Really liked him. Food pairing: gnocchi, blue vein cheese, poached prawns
Sam Miranda 2010 Arneis - Pale straw color. Pear, yellow flowers, almonds, sherbet, great summer drink welcome at any table. Medium acid. Longer finish/Phenolic. Food pairing: Prawn Pizza.
Brown Brothers 2010 Vermentino - Here's a cool thing this winery does that no other winery in the world does (that I know of): They have a building called the Kindergarten winery. This is a full sized facility larger than many wineries that's dedicated solely to experimentation. Winemakers come from around the world to fill test tanks with experimental lots, fermentation techniques or new grape varieties. The BB Vermentino became a product in the lineup after first being a test batch in the Kindergarten winery. Pretty cool.
Feathertop 2010 Vermentino - Green apple, natural acid, longer ferment. Comes from the same vineyard as the Brown Brothers Vermentino with a touch of their own fruit. Asian Pear, lemon peel. Longer, pleasant finish. Food: Salmon Carpaccio
Pizzini 2010 Verduzzo - Tannic white, Red golden delicous apple, medium minus acid, lees stirring in barrel for added richness, slight vanilla, baked pears, thick skin grape... Have to hand pick ‘cause you’ll lose too much juice and the wine will easily become too tannic.
*Fighting Gully Road 2009 Aquila - Wine was inspired by personal favorite, Mas de Dumas Gassac from Landguedoc. Blend of Chard, Viognier & Petit Manseng. Straw color, no oak. Flint, wet rock, Full mouthfeel of fun. Medium acid. Tropical fruits, Lychee. This is the kind of wine you bring out for your wine geek friends. One of my favorites of the day. In speed dating terms, I'd take this one out on the town.
All Saints Estate 2009 Marsanne - golden colored. medium-minus acid. Cuttings from Tahbilk. Underrated, red golden delicious apple, honeysuckle. Food: seafood, but not too fatty. Shrimp Scampi
Sorrenberg SauvBlanc/Semillon 2010 - Organic and orgasmic. When I worked at St. Supéry winery in Napa, we had a wine called Virtu. This very much reminded me of Virtu. The aromatics of the Sauvignon Blanc combined with the fattier mouth feel of the Semillon are a ying and a yang to each other.
Savaterre Chardonnay 2008 - When you read the notes, "Golden, Green apple, pear, flinty wet rock, malo, french oak, spice box, medium acid" it doesn't do it justice. This wine was really pleasant and elegant. Malo and oak were there, but refined.
Giaconda Chardonnay 2008 - Golden, no green hue, Mersault-esque, flinty wet rock, green apple, matchstick, supple and round with medium acid. Lots of finesse and X-factor. A bit on the pricy side at $120 considering the Savaterre is grown across the street with similar presence at $60.
La Zona 2010 Tempranillo - Nice Tempranillo not overly oaked, very easy to drink. Well done for $22. Not over the top, has finesse. The lower amount of oak made this a "drink now" wine. You could taste the grape expressing its dark cherry and plum notes.
*Fighting Gully Road 2006 Tempranillo - dark brick color, bigger, cedar, tobacco, dried red cherry. Right in the pocket at 14%, could go another 15 yrs. More Spanish in style. Considering the La Zona is a "drink now" wine with less oak, this one is a contrast...more of a "need to age" version of Tempranillo. The bigger style with more oak did it justice because the age mellowed it out into a stunner. Both Fighting Gully wines are on my short list.
Brown Brothers Montepulciano Heathcote 2009 - Brand new release made only from 7 year old vines. Beautiful expression of the grape—this baby is going to age beautifully. Older oak barriques used in production. This wine showed so much complexity and X-Factor at such a young age, but it's going to be drop dead gorgeous in a few years. Lay it down, which is where my mind would be in speed dating if this was sitting across the table from me.
Brown Brothers Tempranillo/Graciano 2009 - Another stunner with very little age on it. Dark violet color, red raspberry, stewed plum, cherry filling from pie. A little on the sweeter side, which would be perfect with my Flank Steak w/ Chimchurri recipe.
*Stanton & Kileen The Prince 2008 Reserva Rutherglen - 12.8% ALC very much along the lines of Crasto Douro Red from Portugal, probably because it has some of the same grapes. Savory earthy characters, Dark, raspberry color, love this one! Simon Killeen 7th generation winemaker wanting to introduce different varietals into the family business. One of my faves from the speed dating round.
The Sixties Block 2009 Campbells - Tempranillo, Graciano, Carignan, - orange peel, cinammon, red dried cherry, sweeter, earthy, raspberry. Really intriguing blend of grapes...so distinct in its make up and character. Food Pairing: Orange Beef Chinese Food, Venison Carpaccio
Savaterre 2008 Pinot Noir - Light brick, nice elegant, raspberry, faint orange peel. Light and pleasant, silky smooth like a baby's butt. Winemaker was a real character and says he's the laziest winemaker. He just gets out of the way of the fruit during harvest.
*Castagna 2008 Genesis Syrah - After blowing through all these wines, it wasn't until the last still wine that I found the girl I wanted to take home to Momma. The Castagna Syrah is my wine of the tasting for many reasons. We're in Australia, and they're calling this 'Syrah'. Cofermented with 2% Viognier, this gem has Cote Rotie written all over it. Beautiful "shit my pants" good, spice box, chocolate covered raspberry goodness. Some wines are like a wool sweater on your tongue, this one is like cashmere. Goes beyond just being a glass of wine and becomes an experience.
Overall, the quality level of the wines were superb. More than that, there's rich history here with family traditions and people who are dedicated to making world class wine. Australia has heard us loud and clear, and the wines are responding. Lower alcohol, more finesse and sophisticated labels are all things we don't associate with Aussie wines in the U.S.
I really would have liked to have spent more time with each person to get to know them a little better. It wasn't really fair to just blow through the way we did. But hopefully we'll all see each other again, or at least online. Stay tuned for the next post where I compare tasting through stickies to Bruce Lee's Game of Death..
Meet Australian wine bloggers Andrew Graham and Patrick Haddock who are not only the most handsome wine bloggers in Australia, but also self made millionaires apparently. Who knew you could make so much loot doing what you love? Kidding aside, hope more wine bloggers connect with each other around the globe. Their sites are Oz Wine Review and WiningPom, whatever the hell that means. Check 'em out!
There are 3 virtual Australian wine tastings coming up at the end of March and early April are a golden opportunity for anyone who's in the wine business. Wineries, sommeliers, retailers, importers and restaurants can realize ROA (return on attention) by following a few steps.
If you've never participated in a virtual wine tasting, the idea is simple—get a bottle (or bottles) of wine, taste and tweet along with other people at the same time on Twitter. The reason why you'd want to participate is to capture the attention of participants while it's happening. If the virtual tasting is planned properly, it's possible to have significant reach.
With traditional media, ad dollars are spent on reach. If we run an ad in a magazine, we're paying for the reach of that magazine. If we run an ad on television, we're paying for the reach of that station.
With new media, we can create our own reach through our fans and followers. When virtual tastings are orchestrated correctly, we can create a wide reach by bringing together an audience for a defined period of time. For #Cabernet day we had 3,000-5,000 participants who all had their own followings. If we average each person with a following of 300 friends/followers a conservative estimate for reach was 900,000 people (3,000 x 300). The upside is the community can scale up to an unlimited numbers. The downside is once the tasting is over, the community disbands. So we have to be ready to seize the opportunity. Here's some tips for maximizing the reach before, during and after:
1. Search the hash tag (listen)-
Search for each hash tag while the virtual tasting is going on to "hear" what others are saying. Use Twitter Search, TweetDeck or kurrently to track the tag. Personally, I like Twitterfall.com to put up on a monitor for others to see or TweetDeck on my laptop. I watch to see what others' experiences are.
2. Prepare content ahead of time (share)-
Videos, blog posts, recipes or any other educational content can be created ahead of time, then posted during the virtual tasting. For example, during the #YarraWine virtual tasting wineries can do videos about their vineyards, soil or climate then post them during the virtual tasting. Because people are searching the hash tag, the content is likely to be seen by someone. You may even end up chatting with them real time during the virtual tasting to continue the conversation.
3. Share real time experiences -
What wine or wines are you drinking? Share photos of the label, including the hash tag. Share your impressions of the wine, including the hash tag. For example, during the #HunterWine virtual tasting I'll be interviewing winemakers in the Hunter Valley and posting the short vids online during the tasting.
For wineries or wine shops wanting to sell wine there are different strategies on how to make it happen before, during and after. Before any sales, coupons or offers can be made, there must be a level of trust with the online community. The worst thing anyone can do is start blasting out offers. If, and only IF the winery or wine shop is engaged with their community through lots of @ replies and one-to-one communications can they even think about selling anything.
If there's a healthy level of connection, then taste packs can be sold ahead of time. If a winery is hosting a virtual tasting, they can offer wines on-site at a promotional price. The most powerful use of new media is what happens after the virtual tasting. A savvy winery or wine shop will make the most of the opportunity and engage as many participants as they can. This is a targeted community of people who are participating—the community has already told us they like wine because they opted in to the tasting. Create Twitter lists or maintain communication with participants to grow the brand's own following.