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JULY 14, 2009
Irony 2006 Monterey Pinot Noir

Irony_pinotnoir So today being Bastille Day I wanted to do something to honor the storming of the Parisian fortress that was a major turning point in the French revolution in 1790. I had planned to crack open a bottle of French wine, but when I was going through my wine, I grabbed a bottle of Pinot Noir, a delicious Burgundian grape. But in a weird twist (ok, it really wasn't that weird) the bottle I grabbed was from Monterey County in California. Maybe call it ironic?

The Irony 2006 Monterey Pinot Noir may not be from France but it definitely is working to help celebrate the holiday. After sticking it in the fridge for about 20 minutes to bring its temperature down a bit, it took a few minutes to open and when it did, its cherry and raspberry nose was ready to go. This lighter wine is bright, silky and has a long finish with some cherry and chocolate notes. There's a bit of tannin on the tongue, but when paired with some non-smoked gouda on a buttery cracker, it softened up and everything worked really well together.

My partner is grilling homemade turkey burgers mixed with bacon, spinach, onions—and at this point, some sort of surprise. I tried to get it out of him for the purpose of this post, but he wouldn't give it up. Sometimes chefs can be finicky that way. But back to the wine.

I wasn't really too familiar with Irony until I got a couple of bottles a few weeks ago, and I'm really glad they showed up. The winery was started by brothers Chris and Jay Indelicato, whose grandfather planted vineyards back in 1924. The guys grew up working harvest, but their lives took them in a different direction when they got older, until they came back together to launch Irony. This Pinot was sourced from three different vineyards in Monterey: Arroyo Seco, San Lucas and San Bernabe. The grapes went through primary and then malolactic fermentation before being bottled in oak to age for eight months; the wine was then blended to create this vintage.

Check out the Irony website to find out where you can pick up their wine in your area. The suggested retail price is around $16 and, when compared with some French Pinots, it's a steal. This wine can hold its own against some Burgundian wines I've had. I'm looking forward to seeing how it pairs with this turkey burger surprise.

Vive La France!

[Update: the "surprise" was brie baked into the turkey burger. How do you like that? A little French surprise inside my dinner. And the wine was awesome.]

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JULY 08, 2009
Understanding German Riesling: It's Not All Sweet

Big_white_riesling_grapes Riesling is possibly the most misunderstood grape varietal in the wine world, especially when it comes to American palates. Ask your average wine drinker in the U.S. what they think of Riesling and they'll undoubtedly say it's sweet. In many instances they're right. But Riesling runs the gamut from super sweet dessert wines to bone dry bottles that you could even pair with a steak. Riesling, which can show peach, apple and pear notes, pairs with a variety of food from soft cheeses, pork and fish or sushi to spicy Thai dishes and Indian curries and more.

In May, I had a great opportunity to take a trip sponsored by the German Wine Institute to visit German wine-growing regions. Germany has 13 distinct growing regions, with most centered around or near the Rhine river. We spent four full days hitting three of those regions--Rheinhessen, Pfalz and Mosel--and learning all about the diversity of the Riesling grape, and let me tell you, it's diverse. Riesling, like most German wines, are classified by a number of things. With Riesling, the wine can be a kabinett (a more basic wine that tends to be drier), spatlese ("late harvest," and is sweeter), auslese ("select harvest," and even sweeter) and on to beerenauslese (a late harvest dessert wine that tends to be a bit more syrupy and sweet). The quality of the wine and whether it's trocken (dry) or suess (sweet) all depends on where it's grown and how long the grapes remain on the vine. And one of the more impressive qualities of the vineyards, at least in the Mosel region, is that many reside on very steep slopes, giving the grapes better access to sun, wind and other elements that help the them grow and produce more robust, juicy fruit.

Continue reading "Understanding German Riesling: It's Not All Sweet" »

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