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Wine on StarChefs.com RECENTLY TASTED vol 10

 

By Jim Clarke
August 2007

Sparkling: "Primo Franco" Prosecco di Valdobbiadene 2006, Veneto, Italy

Last month I mentioned how second generation winemaker Willy Frank made sparkling wines his specialty at Constantin Frank Wine Cellars, even bottling his bubbly under a different label, Chateau Frank. So what do you do if your father already makes sparkling wines? Primo Franco took over from his father Nino about ten years ago, and while he hasn’t renamed the winery, he has developed his own cuvée as part of the portfolio. (He also helps run the Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOC, so he does have some other things to keep him occupied.) The ‘Primo Franco’ cuvée is an elegant and fruity Prosecco, with peach, tangerine, and floral aromas and a smooth finish – a pleasing contrast to the more minerally “Rustico” cuvée.

Serve with: Mildly spicy Asian dishes  Jack Yoss’ Thai Curry Soup with Marinated Shellfish
More from Northern Italy: Valtellina

White: Domaine Sigalas Santorini Barrel 2006, Santorini, Greece

A balanced, pleasing use of oak is often a rarity in up-and-coming wine regions, especially with white wines; heck, even established areas have producers who get carried away. Paris Sigalas seems to have the knack, though, and tasteful barrel fermentation and sur-lie aging has given this wine a creamy, rich texture that never gets too out of control. Part of that is probably choosing the right grape; Assyrtiko clings to its acidity even when fully ripened, keeping the wine lively and fresh – and allowing the grape’s tropical fruit aromas to prevail over oakiness.

Serve with: Firm-fleshed white fish  Alessandro Stratta’s Sea Bass with Mediterranean Vegetable Salsa
More Greek Wines: Moschofilero

Red: Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin “Clos St. Jacques” 1er Cru 2004, Burgundy, France

The Clos St. Jacques cru has gotten, well, not a bad wrap, but it did miss out when the vineyards of Gevrey-Chambertin were being classified. Basically, someone decided that if a vineyard wasn’t adjacent to their namesake treasure Chambertin, south of the village itself, it couldn’t be Grand Cru. Clos St. Jacques is on the slopes west of the village, giving it good drainage and great sun exposure – all it needs to create Grand Cru quality wines, according to many. Fourrier’s 2004 bottling lives up to that potential: lots of earth and dark fruit, with touches of smoke and licorice as well. With complexity, poise, and great length, this wine is showing well now but will certainly develop in the cellar for years to come.

Serve with: Mushrooms Barbara Scott-Goodman’s Risotto with Porcini and Portobello Mushrooms
More from Burgundy: Summer Wines 2007

Dessert: Sheldrake Point Riesling Icewine 2004, Finger Lakes, New York

Canada has made quite a name for its icewines, but it’s not the only place where grapes can freeze on the vine. Over the border in upstate New York, some producers are taking advantage of cold, early winter weather to make their own delicious dessert wines. Sheldrake Point juts out into Cayuga Lake; the water moderates air temperatures, which help develop ripeness during the growing season, but it’s not enough to keep the grapes from icing up come December. Freezing away the much of the grape’s water content concentrates the sugars, flavors, and acidity, making for a rich, intense, and balanced wine. It bears Riesling’s signature peach and dried apricot aromas, supported on the palate by notes of caramel and butterscotch. Despite the sweetness, its finish is clean and lengthy.

Serve with: Fruit tart  the CIA’s Pear and Blue Cheese Tart
More sweetness: Affordable Dessert Wine

Beer: Full Sail Pale Ale, Hood River, Oregon

Pale ale is the centerpiece for many American microbreweries; it should be flavorful, but not too hoppy or biting – easy to drink, but with real flavor, complexity, and body. For years Full Sail’s Pale Ale has been easy to find in the brewpubs in the Northwest, and not just because the triple internal rhyme of the name sticks in your head. It’s a medium-bodied beer, with a slight sweetness cut by a fragrant touch of hops. There are notes of citrus, fresh bread and caramel on the palate, and it finishes cleanly.

Serve with: Swordfish David Lentz’s Grilled Marlin with Cranberry Beans, Leeks, and Pappardelle
More Oregon beer: Rogue Ales

Spirit: Tori Kai Shochu (Distilled Sake), Japan

Shochu can be made from a number of things ranging from sweet potatoes to grains to brown sugar; the Tori Kai looks to sake for its model and goes for 100% rice. It’s vodka, essentially, but Japanese tradition aims for a lower alcohol product – about 25% instead of 40% or so – and more flavor. The Tori Kai shows notes of lemon, melon, and a little bit of pineapple, with more body and texture than most vodkas. That textural element makes it a bit more interesting to drink neat or on the rocks; in cocktails it adds interest as a secondary ingredient, but can be a bit too weighty as the primary liquor.

More from Japan: Hitachino Nest Beers

   

 

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