The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Mid-South Chapter, will host its annual celebration of wine and food, FallCrush, on Sunday, Oct. 18, at Green Door Gourmet’s Grand Barn in Nashville, located at 7011 River Road Pike. In addition to food from a quartet of talented Nashville chefs, wines from the Carneros region of California will be provided by Adastra Wines, Ceja Vineyards, Gloria Ferrer, Homewood Winery, Larson Family Winery, Meadowcroft Wines, Robledo Family Winery and Tin Barn Vineyards. Eric Keating, owner and winemaker at Keating Wines, which specializes in high-end Bordeaux varietal wines, will also attend the event and share his wines.
The kitchen talent comes in the form of Nashville chefs Hal Holden-Bache of Lockeland Table, Brandon Frohne of Forage South, Travis McShane of Adele’s, and pastry chef Rachel De Jong of 5th & Taylor, a team that will prepare a locally sourced dinner. The event will run form 4 to 8 p.m. with $150 tickets available at fallcrushms.com.
Proceeds will benefit more than 10,000 multiple sclerosis patients throughout the region. “This event brings together the talent of Nashville’s emerging food scene along with wonderful wines to pair with our chef’s locally sourced dinner,” says Jennifer Lee, the society's southeast regional executive VP. “It’s a wonderful way to celebrate those living with MS, and directly benefits our comprehensive menu of services and programs, as well as research to find a cure for multiple sclerosis.”
After a year of selling wines made at their sister locations in New York and Chicago, City Winery Nashville has officially begun to make its own vintages at the downtown location. The team has now completed two crushes of grapes sourced from vineyards on the West Coast, and wines are percolating in some of the seven fermentation tanks, three for white wines and four for red. The larger red wine tanks hold 5 tons of fruit, enough for about 12 barrels, so you can expect quite a bit of wine out of that system when they release these vintages after 18-24 months of oaky rest.
The white-wine tanks are smaller, and those wines don't ordinarily require as much repose as their deeper-hued cousins, so City Winery plans to release their first in-house vintages of Sauvignon Blanc and a light Pinot Rosé wine sometime around next March. In the meantime, their wine list will continue to include wines sourced from New York and Chicago where they've been making wine since 2009 and 2012 respectively.
The parent company employs three representatives who oversee the vineyards where they source their grapes from, with input and monitoring from budding to harvest. The grapes are gathered at a City Winery-owned facility in Lodi, Calif., where they are sorted and shipped via refrigerated trucks to their three working wineries.
Locally, City Winery has placed Bill Anton in the position of head winemaker to oversee all operations. Anton is a former jockey who transitioned to winemaker after retiring from horse racing. He has served as cellarmaster at City Winery's other two facilities, where he worked alongside the company's head winemaker, David Lecomte. After stints as an assistant winemaker in both New York and Chicago, Anton is excited about his first opportunity to run the show here in Nashville.
Though the week’s drier humidity level and back-to-school schedule have many of us tricked into thinking of fall weather, there’s no doubt that the heat and humidity will return soon and continue well into October. However, it will be evening porch weather for quite some time, so here are some wines to think about trying. Bolder than riesling or rosé, but far from being heavy, these wines are great for late summer drinking.
The 2012 Pomino Bianco Benefizio Riserva from Marchesi de Frescobaldi is a rarity: a reserve Tuscan chardonnay. I went a long time without drinking chardonnays because the California chardonnays that are so common are too buttery and oaky for my taste. This chardonnay is fruity (apple, pear), lightly acidic and crisp (or “minerally"). It is distinctly different from the Napa chardonnays and an excellent companion for a light dinner or standalone sipping.
Another Frescobaldi wine, the Tenuta Frescobaldi Di Castiglioni is a light red blend (primarily Cabernet Sauvignon) that also has lots of fruitiness (cherry, blueberry, blackberry). This is a great wine to bring to a party or cookout because it is versatile enough to drink with a variety of different foods, particularly grilled vegetables and meats.
Another Italian red to try is the Montefalco Rosso, which is an Umbrian red blend, made primarily from Sangiovese and Sagrantino. Chris Chamberlain reviewed the 2011 Perticaia Montefalco Rosso last year. Another to try is the Scacciadiavoli Montefalco Rosso from the same year, which is a bit less expensive. It has a bit more Sagrantino than the Perticaia (and less Sangiovese), but still has a lot of dark berry fruitiness and bright acidity. It’s not quite as versatile as the Tenuta, but still a solid ligher red wine choice for most occasions.
Since opening a little less than a year ago, City Winery has positioned itself as a premiere performance venue offering some excellent dining and drinking opportunities thanks to its restaurant, its bar program and a tremendous wine list. But what it wasn't was a winery. In addition to a vast selection of fine wines from around the world, City Winery has offered several private label wines under its own name, products that have actually been crafted at other City Winery facilities and partner vintners.
But that's beginning to change. Recently, City Winery has actually been making wine in the large room at the back of the showroom, and two of their offerings are now available to sample and purchase in the new Tasting Bar, which is open Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. until closing, as well as during major performances. You can also order the wines along with a meal in their restaurant.
Their first two local offerings also carry Nashville-inspired names. Roundabout Red is a 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon made with juice sourced from Mendocino County in Northern California. This wine has been aged in a mixture of French oak and neutral for a year and then blended by the winemakers at Nashville's City Winery facility. Medium-bodied and food-friendly thanks to its balanced tannic structure, Roundabout Red is available for $23 per bottle.
When it comes to interesting wines paired with spectacular food in Nashville, it's hard to beat the team at The 404 Kitchen. So it's no surprise that when Peter Stolpman of the cult California Central Coast winery Stolpman Vineyards was looking for a place to host a wine dinner that he turned to Chef Matt Bolus and 404. Beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 24, (but the restaurant asks that you arrive at least a half hour early), Bolus will prepare what promises to be a memorable five-course dinner paired with Stolpman wines, known for their sustainable farming practices and their excellent examples of wines made from Syrah and Roussanne grapes.
Peter Stolpman is old friends with 404 sommelier and general manager Travis Brazil, who worked months to arrange this special wine dinner. The beverage program at 404 is curated by Brazil and is second to none in town in terms of interesting offerings, so that's another reason why the restaurant is the ideal spot to hold this particular event. Stolpman will be on hand to introduce the wines and share his experience as a winemaker around the world and his efforts to position his vineyard as the premier supplier of Syrah grapes in the New World. Check out the ambitious menu:
Every wine-producing region in the world has a unique and interesting history. Some have been producing wines for centuries, while others have only recently introduced wine grapes to the land to see what would come about. Though California has been producing some great wines for quite some time, the production there is still in its infancy in comparison to that of France and other countries in western and central Europe.
Moldova, a small Eastern European country tucked between Romania and Ukraine that was once part of the Soviet Union, is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in Europe. Archaeological expeditions have indicated that wine may have been produced there as early as 3,000 B.C. Moldovan winemaking peaked in the 1600s, but was still going strong when all production was stopped as part of Mikhail Gorbachev’s campaign against alcohol in the 1980s. Moldova gained its independence in 1991 and since then, winemakers in the area have worked to revitalize the industry.
It’s unofficially summer time in the South, so wine chatter has already shifted once again to rosé. But there are a number of other light wines out there that are worth exploring. Some of the more popular are pinot grigio and riesling (and prosecco, which isn't expected to dry up soon after all), but there are a couple of Spanish wines I learned about recently — both white and red — that are worth trying out this summer. Both are available for $15 or less.
The first is the Marqués de Alella Pansa Blanca. This light white is produced from the indigenous Pansa Blanca grape grown on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. It is smooth and tropcial, which makes it appropriate for cocktails or for serving with pasta or seafood. It finishes with a bit of acidity and bitterness, which makes it great for pairing with delicate cheeses and/or olives. (I can’t resist a good olive plate.)
The other is my preference, a red made from Tempranillo grapes. The El Coto de Rioja Crianza is one of Spain’s top-selling wines and among the most popular Riojas available in the world. A Rioja is typically spicy and fruity, and the El Coto — aged in oak barrels — has a woody element to its notes of raspberry and cherry. It’s low on acid and tannins, so it’s easy to drink and stands well on its own or paired with hard cheeses, meats, and (of course) Spanish food.
Extend your palate beyond pink this summer and give one of these a try.
For a beverage that is made with just a few ingredients, wine is a topic that sure does require a lot of education to call yourself an expert. From country of origin to terroir, varietals and winemaking styles, there are so many elements involved that it can be intimidating to talk about wine when you're first starting out as an enthusiast.
Fortunately, City Winery feels your pain and wants to help demystify some wine basics through a class they are calling Wine 101. The talented beverage team at City Winery will focus on basic varietals and wine regions as they answer questions like "what makes Champagne different than prosecco?" and "what wine should I pair with what I am cooking?"
Wine 101 is the first class in what is planned to be a continuing education series at City Winery that will eventually touch on every major wine producing region in the world. As you would hope for and expect from City Winery, the course will be paired with wines representing the regions discussed.
The class runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19. Tickets are a bargain at just $25 and are available at City Winery's website.
If you’re a fan of bold red wines, I’ve got a bit of news that may be of interest to you. There’s a relatively newer category of Bordeaux, Cru Bourgeois, that is a bit more economical (and accessible), though just as enjoyable as many of the Grand Cru (first growth) Bordeaux wines. Wines with the Cru Bourgeois classification are traditional Bordeaux blends (generally cabernet sauvignon and merlot) from a single chateau in the Medoc area in the “Left Bank” portion of France's Bordeaux region. The wines with this classification also must endure a rigorous tasting and selection process and be certified by the Alliance des Crus Bourgeois du Medoc.
Whereas many Bordeaux wines can be quite expensive, most Cru Bourgeois wines range from $15 to $40 per bottle. And like many other (but certainly not all) Bordeaux wines, it is ready to drink now, but will improve with age over seven to 10 years from bottling. Two award-winning Cru Bourgeois wines from Medoc to try are:
Chateau Donissan Cru Bourgeois Listrac-Medoc 2010. Oak-barrel-aged for a year, this wine is primarily merlot, so it has strong tannins and needs at least an hour to breathe before serving. It pairs well with red meat but also with strong cheeses as well. Chateau Hoat-Logat Haut-Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2009. This wine is equal parts merlot and cabernet sauvignon (with 10% Cabernet Franc), so it’s just a bit more versatile with milder tannins. The oakiness from its aging comes through just a bit, along with a touch of berry. It also pairs well with meats and strong cheeses.
There's been a lot of wining going on in my life lately, what with the Predators Wine Festival, 3st of the Month and some excellent bottles coming across the review transom. So I thought now would be a good time to share some of my latest finds with y'all so you can make up a shopping list for your next trip to the wine store.
At last week's 3st event, I met a representative of Frederick Wildman and Sons, an importer of wines from around the world. Lea Jankowski was pouring some really affordable Italian wines, and two of them really struck my fancy. The first one was a 2013 Soave Classico DOC Vigneti di Monteforte, a white wine from the Veneto region with a blend of mainly Garganega pus a touch of Trebbiano. At less than $15 a bottle, this wine might just become a go-to option this summer. Drier and exhibiting more minerality than traditional Italian whites such as citrusy pinot grigios, this example of soave is very balanced with a complex crisp finish. Not too precious to throw in a cooler for a trip to the pool, it's worth buying by the case.
The second Wildman import that I really enjoyed was a 2011 Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC Solane. This particular Valpolicella benefits from a hybrid version of the "ripasso" method, meaning that Amarone skins and grapes are added during a secondary fermentation after primary fermentation is completed. Amarones are known for deep, almost raisin-like flavors, and for being hella expensive. The Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC Solane exhbits a lot of these characteristics for less than $20 a bottle, so I stood up and took notice. Super dry, the wine has plenty of elements of smokiness, dark fruits and leather that would make it the perfect companion for a nice cigar smoked in (somebody else's) library. You provide the space and the smokes, and I'll bring the bottle!