An addendum to our last post, here’s an informative video of Erika Gallon from Perlage Wines answering some FAQs regarding Prosecco: DOC vs. DOCG, the Glera grape varietal, the scoop on organic wines and producing the world’s only sulfate-free Prosecco. Enjoy!
Today is a wonderful day. I arrived at work with a smile from ear to ear to discover that a new, beautiful set of bottles are on our shelves from Perlage Winery, based in Farra di Soligo, Italy, in the heart of Valdobbiadene Conegliano DOCG territory (AKA my old stomping grounds!) I also happen to have a fun connection to the winery, since worldwide marketing manager and house Sommelier Erika Gallon is a very good friend of mine.
The most exciting thing about Perlage is that it has been groundbreaking in its campaign to bring the world a selection of fine quality certified organic wines. Here are some ways Perlage goes above and beyond to promote environmental sustainability:
- The vineyards of the hills are “disetanei”, meaning of different ages. They live a physiological life, not an industrial one, all in the respect of the cycle of the nature.
- Vegetal compounds are used for the fertilization of the vineyard, and a low quantity of copper is added.
- Solar panels heat the water and the electricity for the entire cellar comes only from renewable sources.
- In the bottling line, electric motors have been replaced with new low consumption materials.
- The rinsing machine of the bottling line allows to reuse the water through an innovative filtering system.
- Most bottles have switched to screwcap: the bottle is easier to open, eco – friendly and recyclable!
- Parties and events use cutlery and dishes made with Mater-B, a new generation of bio-plastic made from natural raw materials.
- The catalog is produced with recycled paper
Now, let’s talk vino. We’ve brought in Perlage’s Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio and Prosecco DOCG, all made with organic grapes. I’m most excited about the Prosecco, since it is one of my favorite styles of wine and Riva Moretta is a wonderful representation of the DOCG territory from 60 year old vines. Fruity, clean and fresh notes with a medium finish that is reminiscent of the calcareous soils it grows in. Great as an aperitif, with lighter meals or as a fun sparkling wine for a friendly gathering, the quality and length of bubbles is what gives this winery its name (borrowed from the french term perlage.) Perlage also suggests a fun recipe for Mushroom Puff Pastry that you could serve as an hors d’oeuvre at your next gathering. The pinot grigio from Veneto is dry, harmonious and velvety. Try pairing it with a traditional Roman style Spaghetti alla Carbonara such as this recipe suggested on Saveur. Lastly, The winery’s Sangiovese offers a juicy, medium bodied red that would match wonderfully with hearty first courses such as this recipe for pasta bolognese featured on Epicurious.
Come on in and find these lovely wines in our Sulfite-Free/Organic Wines Section! Thanks for reading.
We can thank Benjamin Franklin for popularizing this old German saying, giving us further justification to enjoy a special adult beverage this evening. With this spirit, I’d like to discuss our underdog here at West Side Wines: beer. We carry a selection that reflects the mastery of the craft and are a fun alternative to wine for pairing with meals.
As you browse our beer cooler in the shop, your back faces a great little nook of Bombers, or 22 fl. oz. bottles, appropriately coined “Bombs Away!” We are very excited to receive two new Ancient Ales in this section from the esteemed Dogfish Head Craft Brewery that captivate the very freedom of creativity in craft brewing. Master brewer Sam Calagione’s ambition to create quality, small batch American craft beer contributed it’s explosion in popularity in the U.S.
First, the new Chateau Jiahu recreates a fermented beverage found in northern China 9,000 years ago. Featured on NPR in this feature, we are excited to bring in this truly unique concoction. With the help of an archaeologist, the brewery uses actual ancient strains of yeast found on the site, blending “orange blossom honey, muscat grape juice, barley malt and hawthorn fruit” and “the wort is fermented for about a month with sake yeast”. Dogfish Head compares it to a citrusy sauvignon [blanc] that can be matched with Mexican and Indian cuisines, spice cake and oranges.
The other special brew, Birra Etrusca Bronze, is a collaboration with Roman brewers in Italy to captivate ales the Etruscans were drinking, based off samples from 2,800 year old tombs. Using “two-row malted barley and an heirloom Italian wheat”, “specialty ingredients include hazelnut flour, pomegranates, Italian chestnut honey, Delaware wildflower honey and clover honey. A handful of whole-flower hops are added, but the bulk of the bitterness comes from gentian root and the sarsaparilla-like Ethiopian myrrh resin.” The brewery parallels this beer with malbec, suggesting a pair with spiced pickles, marinated olives or hearty beer bolognese,
Please, feel free to come in and ask our staff about their favorite meals they pair along with these lovely brews.
The weekend is here, folks, Happy Friday! Even if the weather is dreary, you can find plenty of opportunities to stay entertained in the kitchen. One of my favorite ways to get friends or family together is to have a pizza party (with plenty of wine, of course). Skip the takeout, impress your guests-and yourself-by making it homemade!
If you want to make it extra special, I suggest this recipe for homemade pizza dough by Bobby Flay, or you can ask your local pizzeria for some. Once you have the dough rolled out to a desired thickness (or super thin like we have it in Northern Italy), and the oven is preheated, you can let your guests decide on the toppings. Need some inspiration? Browse recipes and tips on this Food and Wine guide. One of my personal favorites for the winter is with porcini mushrooms, gorgonzola and speck. Greg won’t stop raving about the Pizza with Shaved Asparagus and Robiola featured on the Food Network.
Are you hungry yet? Feel free to comment and share your experiences- we’d love to hear your favorite pizza recipes and West Side Wines to accompany them!
Hello dear West Side Wines friends,
Ciao! I’m Monika, new to the West Side family and would like to introduce myself. I’ve recently moved from northern Italy, but originally hail from north of Boston. My passion for wine and gastronomy come from a eclectic mix of cultural heritage, travel and a sweet combination of coincidence and luck. I started my formal wine training in the Central Coast of California and in the past eight years have managed to experience the joys of the harvest, the complexities of import and export and a myriad of stories and faces behind some truly beautiful and captivating wines.
To say I’m psyched to join the team here at West Side would be an understatement! The amount of enthusiasm, knowledge and devotion among my colleagues is truly humbling and inspiring. I’m looking forward to representing this fine establishment and starting a new and exciting adventure with you all. Please visit this site soon to read our latest news. Thanks for reading.
Warm Regards, or as we say in Italy, Saluti!
Say “Cheers” for a spectacular holiday gathering! There is a lot that goes into planning a super successful “Cheers”. I’d like to help pick those perfect pairings for this Holiday Season. The Holidays are warm, festive and filled with great food. Because of the season, holiday wines can be bigger, heartier wines that stand up to traditional flavors like turkey, currants, cranberries, prime rib and other holiday delights, whatever they may be. While it can seem daunting to select the perfect wine, there are some choices that go naturally well with holiday foods. These wines might include medium and full bodied reds with lots of spice, festive, sparkling wines as well as richer whites. If it’s your turn to host that Holiday Gathering, I hope to give a few pointers so you can choose wines that will surely make you the “Host with the Most!”
With the wide range of foods and flavors at the holidays, the objective of this article is to provide some guidelines to food and wine pairing for the holidays with specific applications so that wine selection is less confusing and more enjoyable. Here are the keys concepts to think about when pairing: 1) Versatility 2) Consider texture not just flavor, and 3) Whether you want to compliment or contrast with the flavor of the dish. There are many wines that will be able to pair with any certain dish, let’s just to remember to keep the options open. There is never one perfect choice, but there are choices that will work better than others. Let’s look at a few of the possible courses and see which concept works best.
Appetizers and hors d’oeuvres are always in abundance at all holiday gatherings. These fun little hand to mouth bites are perfect to make the crowd happy quick. What wine you ask? Well, versatility is the key. Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles! Champagne of course is the king of bubbles and would be most welcome at any party. There are other choices that will put a spark in your glass. Cava from Spain, Prosecco from Italy, any number of wines from France labeled Crémant, fine sparkling wines from a number of regions in France. Here is a list of a few of the Crémant wines areas and how it will be listed on the label. Crémant de Alsace, Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Die, Crémant du Jura, Crémant de Limoux, Crémant de Loire and Crémant de Luxembourg. Bubbles are refreshing and cleanse the palate getting it ready for that next new little bite of bursting flavor.
Cheese you ask? Yes please. If lactose doesn’t work for or with you please skip this paragraph, or take a Lactaid. Well this pairing is no laughing latter. Cheese, of all its beautiful varieties can be very difficult to pair. My usual goto is white, white, white (except for hard aged cheeses that call for a red.) I like it when a wine contrasts with a cheese. For example, a rich creamy cheese like Camembert works very nicely with a wine that has a little crispness with some brighter acidity. I like the way it cuts through that beautiful fattiness. A wine with a little sugar like Riesling is great from some of those creamy, salty blues. Yum. To quote the great Mâitre Fromogier Max McCalman, “My first instinct is to get away from traditional notions about pairings. I like to promote pairings of lesser-known, less “serious” or ponderous but nonetheless delightful wines with cheeses. Savennières, Pinot Blanc, and Albariño are good examples.” Fantastic word to live by. Let’s use this thought for the next course.
The main course is the main event at most holiday gatherings. Who will be the contenders for wine? Selecting the right wine for the main course is a simple as thinking, complement the dish. Think about the texture as much as the flavor. Match the textures and flavors and the two will dance nicely on the palate. A simple solution to pairing wine with the main course can be as easy as four questions to ask yourself. 1) Does the food overpower the wine? 2) Does the Wine overpower the food? 3) When the wine and food are combined in mouth, what tircheary flavor does it create? And finally, is that flavor that is created pleasing? Done. As far as dessert, the simple solution is to choose a wine as sweet as the dessert. The sweetness of the dessert subtracts the sweetness of the wine.
One thing is for sure; the Holidays are upon us. Whether you are hosting or have to bring a bottle of something to add to the spirits of the occasion, think pairing and all the possibilities. There are no hard and fast rules to the art of pairing. So I hope we have touched upon some of the ideas I like to run through when finding that perfect pair! I hope this will only add to the enjoyment, no matter where you are planning to spend these special times, but I only hope one thing. You are with the people you love, friends that make you laugh and wine that will pair and enhance the experience. But always remember, the bottle of wine is only as good as the people you share it with. Happy Holidays!
- Ertan Sener
New York Times Magazine recently ran an interview between columnist Daniel Duane and wine importer Kermit Lynch. The article is an interesting read and addresses the critical question of how to find great wines.
(see excerpt below)
“Q: How about wines the rest of us can find – any tips on tracking down good bottles?
A: Find a good merchant and let her pick out four or five bottles and then give the wines a chance. Try to be open-minded when you taste. A lot of people say, “I don’t know much about wine, but I know what I like.” Maybe you don’t know what you like, because you just keep drinking the same style. The wine world is pretty vast and diverse, and it’s not marriage. You don’t have to be faithful to one style. So don’t impose your comparatively limited experience on every wine you encounter. Try to understand wine styles you’re not familiar with.
You’ve already done the first part-finding a good merchant so to hold up our end we have selected six wines from the Kermit Lynch portfolio that you may or may not be familiar with, but should be.
Six Pack $122.24 +tax includes one (1) bottle of:
Perrusset Macon Village
Dupeuble Pere et Fil Beaujolais Blanc
Elvio Tintero Grangia Vino Bianco
Valpane Rosa Rusche
Chateau Thivin Cote de Brouilly
Domaine Robert Chevillon Bourgogne
For the complete article http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/magazine/kermit-lynch-terroirist.html?_r=0
A recent Wall Street Journal article addressed the difference between the Sonoma Coast AVA and the “REAL” Sonoma coast. As if Californian AVAs weren’t complicated enough, a small group (roughly 40 producers) have created the sub-AVA to differentiate the wines of the warmer climate Sonoma coast to those of the “true” or West Sonoma Coast. Because the AVA encompasses more than 500,000 acres of land and includes vineyards that are more than an hour from the coast it would be silly to consider an area that large to be climactically heterogenous. Wines that are grown on the true coast possess an undeniable link to their maritime origins- a link that wines grown further inland lack.
A man that showcases this better than anyone is Byron Kosuge with his Kosuge Hirsch Vineyards Pinot Noir (note it is important to mention that David Hirsch played a pivotal role in not only establishing the West Sonoma Coast as a source of distinctive, refine and aromatic Burgundy varieties, but also in establishing the Fort Ross-Seaview sub AVA). The 2010 vintage marks the ninth year Kosuge has worked with this vineyard site, acknowledging that he is finally “getting it now”. Although Hirsch is a challenging site due to the extreme weather on the coast which makes vintages much more variable than further inland, when executed well the rewards are great. There is a great energy and freshness to the wine, what some might call “nervosity;” it feels alive and vibrant. Rare for California wine, but a characteristic that is quickly defining the West Sonoma Coast.
Kosuge has recently expanded his cool climate winemaking expertise to the Casablanca Valley in Chile where he is the consulting winemaker for Kingston Estates. The Pinot Noirs, Alazan (the wineries flagship) and Tobiano are beautiful examples of well finessed New World wine. They have not only captured the expressiveness of the region, but also the attention of critics. Both wines have consistently received 90+ points since 2007.
After having met Kosuge in May it’s no surprise that his wines are authentic and real. Describing viticulture like a complicated dance that requires practice and patience to get the steps right, occasionally getting lucky and getting it right the first time, but most of the time requiring reflection, adjustment and humility, Byron went on to explain that he could never be a “rock star” winemaker. “I’m much too ordinary for all that. I don’t have a fancy winery, I haven’t made wine in Burgundy, I don’t appear in the society pages. I’m most comfortable knocking around in the vineyard or the cellar, trying to improve my craft, and turning out modest amounts of interesting, expressive, and, hopefully, memorable wine. The kind of wine I want to drink myself.”
Fortunately we were lucky enough to gain access to both the Kosuge and Kingston Estate wines and are offering a Memorable Mix of 1bottle of each: the 2010 Hirsch Pinot noir, 2010 Shop Pinot noir, 2010 Chardonnay, Kingston Estate 2009 Lucero Syrah, 2009 Alazan Pinot noir, and 2010 Tobiano Pinot noir.
Memorable Mix $222.21
Day 2 with Cono Sur was spent visiting their Campo Lindo Estate in the San Antonio Valley. San Antonio Valley is a small appellation that stretches to the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The oceanic influence, along with optimal temperatures and reddish clay soils allow white grape varieties and cool climate red varieties to thrive in this area. Most of Cono Sur’s organic line of whites is grown here, especially large plots of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Our vineyard tour was led by Oscar Valenzuela, a key member of Cono Sur’s agricultural team.
Our journey into South America started in Chile and with Cono Sur. About a 2 hour drive south-west from Santiago we arrived at Cono Sur’s Chimbarongo Estate located in the Colchagua Valley. Cono Sur has vineyards all over Chile’s valleys, but this is really where they call home. Here we find the impressive winemaking facilities, (12 million liters in stainless steel tanks) barrel cellar (4,000 barrels), and of course the beautiful 19th century manor house.
Our tour and tasting was led by Matias Rios, assistant winemaker at Cono Sur. Our tour started with a bike ride into the vineyards! Cono Sur proudly stands by their philosophy of making wine with eco-friendly practices and with a true commitment to the environment. The bicycles in their vineyards (and on their labels) are just one representation of sustainable agriculture and their relationship with nature.
After some time in the vineyards with Matias, expaining everything from soil composition, to pest control, to the compost “tea” for the vineyards, all while encompassing this idea of “biodiversity” and balance in the vineyards, we made our way through the winemaking facilities, where the idea of open fermentation was highly stressed.
Then, to the tasting room! A beautiful glassed in tasting room overlooking the barrel cellar, we were ready for an extensive tasting, mostly comprising of wines bottled from the 2012 and 2013 vintages. It was nice to taste new vintages on some bottlings I’m so familiar recommending here in the shop. It seems like these wines just keep getting better and better. I must say though, the line I was most impressed with were there Cabernets! From the bicycle label all the way up to their 20 Barrels label, wow! The overall drink-ability and accessibility of these wines was what stood out most. Beautiful fruit and tannin playing well together, these wines were true to the variety.
After all that hard work riding bikes and tasting wine, it was time for lunch. We had a table set up for us on the front lawn of the estate to enjoy the lovely weather. With some tasty treats off the grill, we sat down and were soon joined by chief winemaker Adolfo Hurtado! It wasn’t long however, before he and Matias ducked out to work on some special “blending”. And that concluded our first visit with Cono Sur in Chile. Quite the first chapter!