CV, the Wine Guy, talks Syrah

Skagit Valley Food Coop_CV the Wine Guy_Syrah_10.27.14Syrah #1 : Barnard Griffin Syrah 2012
Appellation: Columbia Valley, Washington
Alcohol by Volume: 13.9%
Price: $14.99
Wine Enthusiast Rating: 90 points
CV Says: Some people would arguably say that Syrah is the best varietal for Washington — it does very well here. Barnard Griffin was established in 1983. The vineyard is in the Columbia Valley, and the winery in Redmond. The tulip label featured on the Syrah is being retired — Barnard Griffin also uses (and increases to use) a newer label with a gold griffin. I think the first Barnard Griffin tulip label was for the Tulip festival here in Mount Vernon. I’m not certain of that, but it is a nice, familiar look to those of us in the Valley.

Syrah from this state of ours is very well known and liked. Syrahs has varying levels of intensity — this one is approachable, but it has a lot of luster. This is a serious wine. Syrahs in general are serious wines. They’re full of fruit, but they’re also full of leather, and the denseness the grape has to offer. This is a wine that would be good for fall meals; it would be wonderful with lamb. It would be fine with steak, or other cuts of beef. It would stand up well to anything that had a bit of spice, or heat, to it. The Barnard Griffin Syrah has the flavors of cassis, and ripe, dark fruit, such as plum or cherry.

Syrah #2: Alvarez Nölting Fedriani Laffitte
Appellation: Valencia, Spain (Eastern Mediterranean Coast)
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
Price: $9.99
Wine Enthusiast Rating: 93 points
CV Says: This Syrah is … BAM! Full of flavor. It has a lovely hit: it’s not like a hit over the head, but it will get your attention. This is a bona fide, obscure classic Spanish Syrah. For this wine, it’s all about the extraction. If it’s in the grape, they’ll get it into the wine, and the color of the wine is testament to that committed extraction: it’s inky and opaque. The Fedriani Faffitte is a dense, thick wine. While CV and I (Rachael, his interviewer and scribe) were chatting about Syrahs, we were joined by our Kitchen Manager, Lisa (a fantastic cook in her own right)m who was looking for a wine to serve with a bone marrow appetizer. This was the wine of choice. Its suppleness makes it a surprisingly adaptable food wine: it would pair well with hard cheeses; dark, nutty chocolate; or lamb. Or, of course, you could go the route CV and I both did independently, and enjoy it with “it”.

Style wise, the Barnard Griffin is a light Syrah; the Fedriani Laffitte is BIG. The former actually has a higher alcohol content, but due to the style of the Spanish Syrah (and its extraction process) it’s a much bigger, heftier wine.

The Bounty of Bulk: Use Your Noodles

Skagit Valley Food Coop_Bounty of Bulk_Oct 27Welcome to our latest segment focusing on the wondrous world of bulk: pasta. Buying in bulk is great for saving money on these pantry essentials, from couscous to spaghetti to shaped pasta. The Co-op stocks a dozen different types of noodles and pasta, including gluten-free quinoa and corn rotelle.

Accessorize your noodles with some garlic, onions, and leeks (local from Ralph’s Greenhouse in Mount Vernon, WA) and you’ve got a great base for many meals. Choose hearty and healthy whole grain pastas, and add seasonal vegetables, cheese, tofu, or your preferred cut of meat. Here are a few choice recipes from our customers and staff:

Seasonal Vegetable Orzo Salad Recipe

Orzo - “orzo” is the Italian word for barley. However, orzo pasta is made from semolina durum wheat, not from barley. It’s a versatile, rice-shaped pasta. A classic for cold vegetable salads and comfort meals, use orzo to add texture to soups. It’s a great deal in bulk — only $1.79 per pound!

Make a delightful, yet simple orzo salad: Read more The Bounty of Bulk: Use Your Noodles …

CV, the Wine Guy, talks Yalumba & Lumo

photoRed Wine: Old Bush Vine Grenache
Producer: Yalumba
Varietal: Grenache
Geographic Region: Barossa, Australia
Year: 2012
Price: $17.99
CV Says: After 165 years of winemaking in the Barossa region of Australia (it’s the ‘down under’ version of Napa Valley), Yalumba has great strength as a company, and produces spectacular wines.  Yalumba’s bush vines are these these low-yielding, really gnarly looking creatures of vines. They come out of the earth and hang on there forever and ever; the grapes grown on bush vines are really intense. Yalumba is fortunate to have some of the oldest Grenache vines in the Barossa, with fruit for this wine being sourced from vines planted in 1898, and nurtured by the wine-making family since.

The wine maker, Jane Ferrari, is an absolute kick. I know her personally, and she’s just this burly Australian with that wonderful Australian humor. She has a huge passion for the wine that she’s making.

A granche has dark ripe fruit flavors — when we say dark, we mean plum. It’s a rich, bold wine with a tannic back. It’s going to open up, and then open up, and open up, and open up even further. And then when you have the last sip, you’ll say, “Oh man, I should have waited, because this wine is really coming on right now.” This is truly a bottle of wine where the next day, it will be a completely different bottle than when you first open it up. It’s that power-packed. These vines are 35-70 years old, so that’s really going to make a difference.

You should absolutely open the bottle and let it sit and get some air for an hour or two before pouring. It’s got the modern Stelvin closure (twist top). This is the new way to close all wines — good or bad. The Stelvin closure is a terrific way to close the bottle: you don’t have to worry about corked* wines. Some wine drinkers equate twist-top bottles with cheap wine, but that isn’t the case. Seeing a twist-top bottle of wine is no indication of what’s inside. (And, then, of course, you get the added convenience of not needing to carry around a corkscrew.)

(Fun fact: This wine is vegan. Not all wines are — typically, egg whites are used for filtration. In this case, they’re not using any animal products whatsoever.)

White Wine: Lumo
Producer: Colterenzio
Varietal: Pinot Grigio
Geographic Region: Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy (this area is at the very northern part of Italy)
Year: 2012
Price: $9.99
CV Says: We’ve had Lumo for a while, and it’s turned out to be a wonderful, well-accepted bottle of Pinot Grigio. This is easy-drinking wine — paired especially well with salads and light meats. This is the real thing: it’s got the flavor profile of an authentic Italian Pinot Grigio. You’ll taste crisp fruits, citrus, stone fruit, maybe a little apple. It will have a bit of tartness to it, and mineral (stone) flavor). A good Italian Pinot Grigio will be different from those we get from Oregon. It’s going to be leaner in style,  and with that light, apertif-esque mineral taste. A classic European white wine — all for only 10 bucks!

* (from the Grenache entry) Corked means that a wine has been contaminated, not just by a cork taste, but by the presence of a chemical compound called TCA (2,4,6 – trichloroanisole). TCA is formed when natural fungi (of which many reside in cork) come in contact with certain chlorides found in bleaches and other winery sanitation / sterilization products. Since the discovery (only as recent as the early 1990’s) of the cause of cork taint, most wineries have totally eliminated the use of chlorine based clearing products. While unpleasant to taste, cork taint is not in any way harmful to humans. Corked wines smell and taste of damp, soggy, wet or rotten cardboard. Cork taint dulls the fruit in a wine, renders it lackluster and cuts the finish. (Description used from The Kitchn.)

CV, the Wine Guy, talks Biodynamic Wines from Oregon

SVFC_CV Wine Guy_BiodynamicBiodynamic: adj. — a spiritual-ethicial-ecological approach to agriculture, food production, and nutrition.

Biodynamic wines take the concentrated notice of terroir (the geography, geology, and climate of a wine region) to a whole new level. When grapes are grown biodynamically, the wine maker sees the vineyard as an ecosystem: not just the vines, but the soil beneath them — an organism in its own right — the air and water quality, flora and fauna in the area, the cosmos — all of these are growing together interdependently.

There is also the notion that farming can (should?) be attuned to the spiritual element of the cosmos, perhaps linking planting or harvesting in time with lunar cycles or planetary positions.

The immense and careful attention biodynamic growers pay to their vines can’t be anything but good, or, at the very least, interesting. If a wine is biodynamic, it is also organic (but still contains sulfites). Biodynamic wines are the best of the best. This week, we’re going to focus on biodynamic wines from Oregon. The two main varietals for Oregon are Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. We talked last week about the flavor profiles and structure of Pinot Noir (and how well it pairs with salmon); let’s focus on Pinot Gris this week.

Read more CV, the Wine Guy, talks Biodynamic Wines from Oregon …

CV, the Wine Guy, talks Pinot Noir, Salmon & Cedar!

photo‘Tis the (short-lived) season for fall salmon! This week, CV guides us in the right direction: not just with wine pairings for salmon, but also with his recommendations and recipe for cooking salmon. This just in: the typical wine pairing for salmon is… Pinot Noir! Yes, white fish and shellfish are best with white wines, but for salmon, the first choice pairing is Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir #1: Shooting Star 2012
Wine Maker: Jed Steele
Geographic Region: Lake County, California (north of Sonoma & Napa counties)
Price: $13.99

CV Says: Lake County is considered to be the step-son of California’s wine growing regions. It is a famous wine-growing region, just not as famous as Napa or Sonoma. One of the neat things about Lake County is that the land was/is very affordable in comparison to land in Napa or Sonoma, so wine makers can afford to offer their wines at a better price. This is the second label by a famous wine maker, Jed Steele. Shooting Star is considered to be the “declassified” bottle of Pinot Noir from Jed Steele. He makes a good deal of Pinot Noir, and this is the second-tier, lower price point option.

Pinot Noir has subtle flavors of cherry and strawberry. It’s a very dry wine. Pinot Noirs are medium-bodied wines, and that’s one of the reasons why it goes so well with salmon — because it has a very delicate flavor. It won’t overpower the salmon.

Pinot Noir #2:
Line 39
Wine Maker:
Bob Borman
Geographic Region:
Central Coast, CA
Price:
$9.99

CV Says: Line 39 is a value-driven Pinot Noir, from Sonoma Coast, California. As a general rule, Pinot Noirs are more expensive wines, across the board. This is made by a fellow by the name of Bob Borman, who’s been involved in value wines for over 30 years, and Pinot Noir is his specialty. He’s not a grower; he’s a wine maker and blender. He will buy grapes and make wine, or buy Pinot Noirs that have already been made, and then blend them. That’s a very, very, very big business — a tremendous amount of wine on the market is made that way. His job is to get the grapes, or wines, and make a new, more affordable wine. Making or blending wines in this way makes more expensive varieties more accessible and available to the masses. Bob Borman makes several varieties of wine, both white and red, but he is particularly known for his Pinot Noir.

This is a light- to medium-bodied, fruit-driven wine. This will have a nice cherry, strawberry flavor, with a great finish.

+ A note about the region of choice for these two wines: If we went with our friends from Oregon (where Pinot Noir rules the land), we’d been looking at much more expensive bottles. Staying in California allows us to feature more accessible, affordable Pinot Noirs. Read more CV, the Wine Guy, talks Pinot Noir, Salmon & Cedar! …