Tag Archives: Sauvignon Blanc

The Color of an Old Sauternes

You may have heard that Clear Creek, which runs from Bangor Base to the estuary at Dyes Inlet, is getting a new bridge this year. That may have been a shocking discovery about three weeks ago when you would have had to find a new way around the Bucklin Hill while PSE put in some poles during the fish window.  do

In preparation for the big change to the biota of the estuary, the Clear Creek Trail has been monitoring water quality. We’ve been at this since last June, and being a recovering Old Town Silverdale Wine Shop Owner, the color of the dissolved oxygen test reminds me of an old Sauternes.

Sauternes is a special region in southern Bordeaux very near the ocean. In other regions, where dessert wines are made, they are more at the whim of Mother Nature from vines that usually produce drier versions of wine. This region is dedicated solely to the production of unfortified, sweet white wine.

Sauternes winemaking regulations are different also. The appellation is reserved for wines from five communes where regulations stipulate minimum levels of alcohol (13%) and the wine to taste sweet.

This very unique microclimate is close to two rivers and the intertidal waters that create a lot of fog in the fall when the grapes are ripening. This moist atmosphere encourages Botrytis Cinerea or Noble Rot.

Three grapes are allowed, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. Sémillon is the principal grape mainly because it is more susceptible to Noble Rot than the other two. It is typically about 80% of the blend. Sauvignon’s main role is the acidity to the blend to keep it balanced and Muscadelle is for aromatics.

Noble Rot is a fungus prized in the Sauternes region. Basically, it sucks moisture out of individual grapes thus increasing the tartaric acid and sugars, concentrating the flavors. The result is a wine of distinction, lush flavors of honey, tropical fruit, heady aromas and rich, powerful, creamy mouthfeel. Mainly because of the Noble Rot which has an unique aroma similar to a spice cabinet.

Sauternes are some of longest-lived wines; I’ve admired some and have tasted even fewer. I remember getting to look at a bottle of 1929, all coppery in color that a former chef of the Silverdale Beach Hotel had in his cellar.

Sauternes typically start out a gorgeous light gold color that becomes increasingly darker as it ages. Once a tint of orange appears, it has developed complex and mature flavors and aromas.

Yes, Sauternes is a labor intensive, costly wine to make. For example, Chateau d’Yquem makes at least 17 passes through the vineyards, picking only the best grapes. Botrytis does not just swoop down one day and perform its magic. It tends to be very spotty.

A typical harvest might be picking a patch of botrytis affected grapes for a couple of days and then it rains for a few days; this brings a halt to the picking. When the better weather resumes, grapes affected by the undesirable grey rot are removed, then another bout of Noble Rot appears and picking begins again. Hand picking can go on for six weeks. A long period of time for the team of pickers to be kept waiting.

When this style of wine got its start is not certain however, Thomas Jefferson purchased many a bottle of Sauternes’ most famous property, d’Yquem. He even convinced George Washington to purchase 30 bottles of the wine!

As with dry wines, vintage makes a big difference when buying Sauternes. And the 2011s now on the shelf are from a great vintage. Top Sauternes bottlings include the Chateau d’Yquemdyquem at around $400 or so, Chateau Guiraud for about $85 and Chateau Suduiraut for a mere $70.

There are two other communes to look for that are not quite as expensive as Sauternes. That would be Barsac and Loupiac. The quality is as good because they live by the same rules of the region but they are lesser known. Cadillac is another commune but is small and rarely seen. They only produce wine there, not cars.

Barsac Chateaux to seek out would be Chateau Doisy Daene, Doisy Vedrine, Nairac, and de Rayne Vigneau. These range in price from $35 to $50.

Sauternes can be had in half bottle sizes (375 ml) and given the richness, much preferred. The wines are served slightly chilled. Sauternes can be paired with a variety of foods but by far, the classic match is seared Foie Gras with fresh berries.

And just like the Champagne, American Champagne and Methode Campainoise agreement, Sauternes made anywhere else in the world is spelled Sauterne – without the S. That’s how you’ll know.

Just a reminder that Taste Washington happens at the end of this month. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the Washington Wine scene. There are some great seminars to attend also, Washington vs. The World, The Chardonnay Revival and a couple of appellation spotlights. The one that caught my attention was Wine Tasting with the Masters – Master Sommelier and Master of Wine. That should be very interesting. Here’s the link for more info: http://tastewashington.org/seminars-2015/

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Rolling Bay Winery

Brynn writes:

Rolling Bay Winery 2011 Pinot Grigio: When summer arrives and temperatures rise above 70 degrees this is a great wine to sip while enjoying the sunset on a warm evening.

The higher acidity of this wine makes it a refreshing choice to counteract the lingering heat. Winemaker Alphonse de Klerk has created a nice marriage in this wine of rich apple notes with weighty herbal flavors. The color is a beautiful pale, straw yellow.

All of de Klerk’s grapes are sourced from Snipes Mountain, near Yakima. He’s been making wine for close to 20 years and has sourced his grapes from Snipes for 18 years.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.

Visit the devil’s cellar for this ‘deviled’ wine pairing

We have a devil of a wine recommendation for Ann Vogel’s deviled dishes. As Vogel points out in her recipe column, “deviling” in the culinary sense means to highly season the food you are preparing.

This has the potential to make wine pairing tricky, depending on what seasons are chosen when preparing the food.

For Vogel’s deviled eggs, chicken and ham, mustard and cayenne make up the spiciness, which means we need a fruity wine to offset the heat.

The other ingredients — capers, mustard, celery seed and paprika — get along great with sauvignon blanc, and riesling or a sparkling Saumur would also pair perfectly as well.

But we’re not going to recommend these latter wines.

Instead we’ve opted to stick with Vogel’s “devil” theme and want to introduce you to Chilean winemaker Don Melchor’s Casillero del Diablo.

Founder of Chilean winery Concha y Toro, in 1891 Melchor reserved some of his best wines produced only for his private cellar. Concerned about thieves trying to get their hands on the crème de la crème of his collection, Melchor spread a rumor that the devil lived in his cellar.

Since then those wines have been called “Casillero del Diablo”, or the Devil’s cellar.

From the Casablanca Valley Appellation of Chile comes the subtly green-hued Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is made from a selection of grapes from the Limarí Valley, one of Chile’s most northerly wine regions. Cool mornings and warm summer days help to produce grapes with fruity flavors and crisp acidity.

This wine is the quintessential sauvignon blanc with citrus and herb aromas and mouthwatering flavors of grapefruit and lime. It is 100 percent fermented in stainless steel and aged for 4 to 6 months sur lies. This means it’s crisp, while the sur lies aging gives it body.

The perfect pair for any of Vogel’s deviled dishes this Easter.

Washington white wine blend best for pasta primavera

As Ann Vogel points out spring is here — we technically shepherded in the first day of spring Tuesday. While daffodils are starting to bloom, tulips are pushing through the frosty ground and trees are starting to blossom, if you ask us, winter still has its grips on Kitsap.

So it’s with wishful thinking that we write this wine pair, looking forward to what we hope will be a warmer, sunnier spring than what we experienced last year.

This week’s recipe for Pasta Primavera and our wine recommendation are a great combination for spring. The food highlights the best of the season — fresh vegetables prepared in a lighter style — and so we’ve chosen a wine that also fits the light and fresh criteria, while still having enough weight to stand up to the depth of varying flavor.

Similar to our recent recommendation for green beans with lemon zest, we’re recommending a sauvignon blanc-inspired wine for this dish. But instead of pushing a pure sauvignon blanc, this time we think a blend of white varietals best suits this vegetable heavy dish.

It’s because of its inclusion of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, Semillon and viognier that we recommend Maryhill Winery’s Winemaker White Blend for both of Vogel’s primavera dishes.

This is a great white wine for the spring and summer months because of its versatility. It’s a perfect wine to sip chilled while taking in the sunshine and heat of summer, or in this case to accompany a pasta dish filled with veggies and natural flavors.

The viognier gives this wine a nose of melon and tropical fruit, but the citrus and green flavors of the sauvignon blanc help cut through the cream sauce and enhance the flavors of the asparagus. The weight of the chardonnay and Semillon hold up to the added veggies like yellow squash, which keeps this wine from getting lost with the medley of freshness.

This Washington winery is located in Goldendale, but it sources its grapes from some of the state’s top vineyards. The wines are affordable, making them even more appealing.

The Maryhill Winemakers White Blend can be found at most grocery stores and runs in the $8 to $12 range.

Sauvignon blanc great for lemon green beans, carrots and green peas

It can be a tricky pairing a wine with three separate veggie recipes, but luckily we’ve got one wine that we think will match all three.

With each preparation of these recipes — Lemon Green Beans, Calico Carrots, Savory Green Peas — we suggest you have a little sip of sauvignon blanc.

Because of its acidity and citrus flavors sauvignon blanc pairs wonderfully with vegetables and vegetable dishes — especially when the veggies are full of green or citrus flavors.

It’s because of the wine’s acidic ability to complement the freshness of the vegetables, while also taming the acid found in sauces and salad dressings, that we’re recommending this varietal for Ann Vogel’s three recipes.
Sauvignon blanc is a green-skinned grape which originates from the Bordeaux region of France (one of our favorite). Sauvignon blanc is planted in many places around the globe, most notably in California, New Zealand, Chile and of course in Washington.

These wine regions produce the crisp, dry, and refreshing white wine that pairs so nicely with veggies.
When trying to come up with the right wine for this pairing, we asked a friend what green beans smelled like?

“Like green beans, what else?” the friend retorted.

That got us thinking about how a wine can also smell and taste like so many different fruits, vegetables and minerals.

For instance sauvignon blanc can remind you of freshly mowed grass, gooseberries, lemon, grapefruit, or it can have an herbal or mineral quality.
Because wines take on different flavors, when looking to pair a wine with vegetables try something that echoes the flavors of the vegetables you plan to serve.

In the case of green beans with lemon, we can’t think of anything better than a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Wines from this region or California are best suited for Vogel’s recipes because winemakers from these regions tend to produce citrus- and herbal-heavy wines. This makes them a good match for any veggie.

Chinook’s Sauvignon Blanc best for Chicken Piccata

We’ve got the perfect wine for Christina Petty’s Chicken Piccata recipe.

It’s light; it’s balanced and goes perfect with the lemon juice and capers her recipe calls for.

It’s Sauvignon Blanc and it’s from Washington’s Chinook Wines.

Chinook — owned by husband and wife team Kay Simon and Clay Mackey — is known for its dry wines. The couple released their first wine, coincidentally a Sauvignon Blanc, in 1983.

Simon is the winemaker and Mackey the viticulturist and together they make some wonderful wines that are highly regarded by the Washington wine industry.

Their position on winemaking is that it is “all about balancing the natural juxtaposition of sugar, acidity and flavor” from the grapes.

All of their grapes are grown in the Yakima Valley AVA. They have an estate vineyard planted with Cabernet Franc that surrounds their Prosser winery and they source grapes from five growers, all with vineyards within 15 miles of their winery.

It’s because of the couple’s dedication to finding the perfect balance in each harvest that we’re recommending their wine.

We selected the Sauvignon Blanc variety to pair with the Chicken Piccata recipe because it’s the best wine to pair with the herbal flavors that will be present in this dish. It’s also the best wine to match the citrus notes, which will come from the suggested use of lemon juice.

Finally, Sauvignon Blanc is a great match for chicken.

It’s also a great wine to be chilled and then sipped on a sunny summer evening, much like what Ann Vogel describes when explaining the wedding she attended where this dish was served.

Chinook’s 2009 Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from two mature Yakima Valley vineyards. According to the winery’s tasting notes the wine has a crisp balance of body and acidity, with pear and citrus fruit notes. After pressing the juice was fermented at a cool temperature to keep the fruity and floral characters of the wine.

The wine is a little pricier than we normally recommend, but it’s well worth it. It runs about $17.