Saturday, December 19, 2020


Burgundy via Oregon... or might we say Burgundy in Oregon? Either way, this month the French #winophiles are exploring the houses of Burgundy, France, that also have wineries in N. America. Get the intro here from host LM Archer, and then join in the conversation on Saturday, 19 Dec at 8 AM PST on Twitter under #winophiles. And, read more about what everyone else has to say here:

I received a Résonance Découverte Vineyard wine sample for this review. Résonance is the Oregon, US based venture of the famed Maison Louis Jadot, a Burgundy maison - house - founded by Louis Henry Denis Jadot in 1859 in Beaune, France. Located in the (somewhat) Burgundy of N. America, Résonance wines and Louis Jadot have a fascinating story starting from 1859, when Maison Louis Jadot and the state of Oregon were both founded, on two vastly different continents. From the winery regarding the eponymous single-vineyard Résonance:

"It was a crisp spring day in April 2013 when Thibault Gagey and Jacques Lardière set out to survey a well-established vineyard named Résonance. Jacques had just retired after leading winemaking at Maison Louis Jadot for 42 years, and Thibault, whose family has operated Maison Louis Jadot since 1962, was ready to enter the business with a bold new project. They immediately felt a deep connection with the place, and after tasting through dozens of wines made with the vineyard’s fruit, Jacques sat back and said, “Perfect.” Pierre-Henry Gagey, the President of Maison Louis Jadot and Thibault’s father, agreed. They decided to keep the vineyard’s title, and they also named their new winery—Maison Louis Jadot’s first outside of Burgundy—in its honor. With the same meaning in English and French, Résonance evokes many great things to come. They added the tiny but all-important accent mark to represent this small but special connection between Oregon and France."

Given the intertwined past and present of Maison Louis Jadot and the families that have made it a label synonymous with Burgundy wine accessible to those looking for high quality wine across two continents, it seemed fitting that, for an (maybe) apples to apples comparison, I also open a bottle of a Louis Jadot Bourgogne. Read on to find out what I found out about both the wines.

100% Pinot Noir
13.5% ABV | Sample (SRP $65)

Medium ruby

Ripe red fruit, flinty notes. A whiff of baking spices and black pepper.

Similar to nose: ripe red fruit, black pepper, baking spices, and a refreshing minerality. Juicy acidity, plush tannins, a medium body, with a lengthy finish. The wine opened up as it sat in the glass but overall it could use a rest in the bottle. I think it would be great in ~3 years.

100% Pinot Noir
13% ABV | SRP $20

Medium ruby

Red fruits, black cherries, leather, forest floor, dried roses, white pepper, slight hint of capsicum

This is a very elegant savoury wine with surprising complexity given its young age. Plums, raspberries, cherries, and fresh red fruit flavors on the palate with earthy red flowers, leather, mushroom, mineral notes, and a faint meaty/barnyard sort of note. Balanced acidity, prominent but welcome tannins in a medium bodied wine with a medium finish. This wine is delicious now, especially as it sits in the glass, but would also be terrific in 2-3 years.


The wines were different but similar, harking back to their different but similar terrior. Expectedly, the Louis Jadot Bourgogne, despite being a regional classification, was a serious and restrained wine. In comparison, also as expected, the OR wine was a more open, fruit-driven, plush, but also elegant wine. Both wines opened up beautifully with time.

We paired both wines with charcuterie, two washed rind cheeses, and homemade whole wheat bread. The charcuterie and cheeses were a superb match with the wines. The bread: an emphatic no. It has honey in it and that coupled with the sweetness of the whole wheat made a distracting flavour that did not clash but did nothing great to either wine. Because of Covid I was trying to "make do" rather than go out just for bread but next time I'll have biscuits if getting a baguette is not an option! Also, next time I'd pair the Bourgogne with herbed roasted chicken or quail and cherry compote, and the Résonance Découverte with garam masala lamb chops and pickled quince.

Saturday, December 5, 2020


Photo: Payal Vora

In December the Italian Food Wine Travel folks are exploring the sparkling wines of Italy in An Exploration of Italian Sparkling Wines for the Holidays hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Cam. Read her invitation post to find out more. Fraciacorta, Prosecco, Lambrusco, they're all going to be there! So see what everyone's poured and paired below, and join us on Twitter under #ItalianFWT at 8 AM PST on 5 December to tell us your thoughts!

Susannah Gold of Avvinare, who is a Vinitaly International Italian Wine Ambassador, generously provided two Prosecco samples for review.

Photo: Payal Vora
Prosecco is a wine dear to me... it brings back memories of family summer holidays in Europe, of parties at university where Prosecco was often the affordable sparkling wine of choice, of summer in Treviso a few years ago. Little else is more perfect for a sweltering Italian summer than cold Prosecco and good company. A few years ago I had grant money I needed to finish up before I moved on to my next project and an architect friend in Munich happened to be free that summer so we drove over and explored every corner of Treviso. We stayed in agriturismos everywhere and every afternoon just when we got back to relax before dinner the staff would greet guests with a complimentary bottle of Prosecco... per room. Between Rolle, Conegliano, Asolo, Cison di Valmarino, and every other village in Treviso, we had a glorious summer full of photography, buildings, art, fashion, food, espresso, and all manner of Prosecco.

Prosecco is arguably the most well-known Italian sparkling wine in the US although it ought to be more popular - it is light, bright, crisp, great with food, and a perfect porch sipper. Made in the Veneto region in NE Italy primarily from the native grape Glera (85% min. in a blend), although only the sparkling type is most known in the US, there are three types of Prosecco: tranquillo (still), frizzante (lightly sparkling), and spumante (sparkling). The Treviso province in Veneto has the perfect climate and soil types for the higher-acid Glera grapes which are well-suited for dry sparkling wines. The best Prosecco comes from the steep hillsides but even the wine from the plains is perfect for casual drinking. As such, Prosecco is classified as Denominazione d’Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione d’Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). Prosecco DOC is a broader, less stringent category and the DOCG is stricter and the wines are from specific areas of Veneto, and supposedly better quality.
Read more about all things Prosecco and the region's recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 2019) here.

The Val d’Oca co-operative founded in 1952 is one of the oldest producers of Prosecco. Their sparkling wines are made from Glera grapes cultivated and vinified in the hillsides of Valdobbiadene. Val d’Oca produces Prosecco Superiore DOCG from the hills of Valdobbiadene and Prosecco DOC from the greater Treviso province. The winery has always had a forward looking approach and their recent efforts include a sustainability budget that follows the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

Clusters of Glera grapes (Payal Vora)
Val d'Oca Prosecco
11% ABV | SRP $13
85% Glera, 15% Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay

Lemon, fine bubbles

Citrus, ripe peach, green apple, white flowers

Similar to nose: A bright citrusy opening leads into juicy peach, apricot, and green apple with fragrant white flowers bordered by a slight mineral edge. A very crisp balanced wine with juicy acidity, medium body, medium+ finish. This Prosecco would be terrific on its own as an aperitif, paired with a slew of foods, or in a cocktail. Best now or within 2 years but not meant for prolonged cellaring.

Most meals at our house are lively affairs but in 2020 I think we've been celebrating even more than usual as a way of encouraging the year to just end already! I suspect that we'll continue this throughout December so we can charge on with real life where exciting things happen and where we freely hug and mingle with humans in all corners of the world and where if we get sick we have treatment options. I.e. real life in our real world with boundaries beyond home. And so, on this evening dinner was a bottle of Val d'Oca Prosecco paired with the first course, entrée, and main, and for dessert we had a silky cognac flip with a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg.

Photo: Payal Vora
: We eased into our evening with parmesan-black pepper biscotti and a pour of the Val d'Oca Prosecco. We usually have this biscotti with champagne and it's a superb pairing, so it was a bit of an obvious choice for Prosecco. The biscotti was delicious and so was the Prosecco, but together they were anything but. Something about the combination of the biscotti and Prosecco resulted in a most unappetising metallic taste. A combination to be repeated NEVER AGAIN.

ENTRÉE: We got past that pairing fiasco and moved on to the thing we were eagerly awaiting: East Coast oysters. Briny, meaty, and perfect for any dry sparkling wine, especially this Val d'Oca Prosecco. We had Cotuit, Blue Point, and Wellfleet oysters with a squeeze of lemon. They were all terrific with the Prosecco but the Blue Points, the briniest of the lot, were exceptional with the fine bubbles and citrusy mineral notes in the wine.

Photo: Payal Vora
: We had chimichurri-topped halibut on dressing with bread, celery, etc. and sage-laced roasted butternut squash with cranberries. 
I usually pair wine to the flavours of the dish rather than a single meat or vegetable and the rounded acidity (red wine vinegar FTW!), hint of herbaceousness, and the savouriness of garlic in the chimichurri were such a lovely complement to the bright notes of the Prosecco. The mild sweetness of the butternut squash and the tart-sweet cranberries we equally delicious with the wine.

Overall it was a splendid meal and I would absolutely recommend pairing Val d'Oca Prosecco with any course, not just the beginning of your meal. It offers such an excellent QPR that I would extend this pairing to a large dinner party, not just intimate gatherings. You can count on the Val d'Oca Prosecco being offered at our first garden party of 2021 when we reacquaint with real life! I'll take the liberty of speaking for all of us and say: We Cannot Wait!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020


Every now and then we come across something in life that blows us away. An experience, a place, a feeling, words we hear or read, a new discovery... something truly sensational and special. For me, most recently, it was sweet wine from Bordeaux. A gorgeous tipple in various equally gorgeous shades of gold. Indian or Byzantine jewellery gold - warm, rich, exotic gold that makes you want to have some. Most of us might be familiar with Sauternes, the prized sweet wine from the Left Bank of Bordeaux. The Sauternes that is Chateau d'Yquem. But few know that there are 9 other appellations in Bordeaux that make sweet wines as well. This month the French #winophiles are exploring those other sweet Bordeaux appellations. Many of us were fortunate to receive four wine samples thanks to Jeff. Read the preview by Linda to know more and then join us on 21 Nov. 2020 at 8 AM PST on Twitter under #winophiles to hear what everyone is saying and pairing with these versatile wines! Don't forget to check out all the blog entries for pairing ideas, recipes, tasting notes, and photos:

  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla: “Surprise! Pairing Spicy and Savory Dishes with Sweet Bordeaux”
  • Terri at Our Good Life: “Spicy Hot Tacos and Sweet Bordeaux”
  • Martin at ENOFYLZ: “Pairing Sweet Bordeaux with Southern Fare”
  • Lauren at The Swirling Dervish: “Golden Bordeaux Meets Savory Pumpkin and Smoked Bacon Tart: a Delicious Thanksgiving Twist!”
  • David at Cooking Chat: “Pairings for Sweet Bordeaux Wine”
  • Katrina at The Corkscrew Concierge: “Golden Bordeaux Delights in Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole Cuisine”
  • Payal at Keep the Peas: “Four Sweet Bordeaux Wines with Four Courses”
  • Jane at Always Ravenous: “Golden Sweet Bordeaux Wines: Tasting and Pairings”
  • Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm: “Hot Chocolate and Halva Pudding paired with Lion De Tanesse L’Amour”
  • Jeff at foodwineclick: “Sweet Bordeaux Meets the Smoke”
  • Jill at L’OCCASION : “Sweet Bordeaux Wines Aren’t Just for Dessert”
  • Lynn at Savor the Harvest: “Sweet Bordeaux Wines Get Savory Pairings”
  • Rupal at Syrah Queen: “Sweet Bordeaux Is A Sweet Delight – Savor These Perfect Food Pairings”
  • Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles: “Sweet Bordeaux Wines and pairings from opposite sides of the globe”
  • Pinny at Chinese Food & Wine Pairings: “Sweet Bordeaux Paired with Asian Carbs – Chinese Sticky Rice and Korean Japchae”
  • Susannah at avvinare: “Delightful Sweet Wines from Bordeaux”
  • Nicole at Somm’s Table: “Château Loupiac Gaudiet with Cinnamon Apple Crème Brûlée”
  • Gwendolyn at wine predator: “Successful Pairings of Salty and Savory with Sweet Semi-Dry Bordeaux”
  • Jennifer at Vino Travels: “A Look Into the Sweeter Side of Bordeaux Wines”
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass: “Appetizers, entrées and yes, dessert please, with sweet Bordeaux”

The sweet wines of Bordeaux are rare and selective white wines that pair with sweet and savoury foods alike. As the map from the official Sweet Bordeaux website shows, the wines are made in southern Bordeaux on both sides of the Garonne river in diverse terrain, soil, and microclimates that yield diverse wines. Amongst the 10 Appellations d'Origine Controlée (AOC) you are sure to find an estate that makes wine that pairs splendidly with whatever you're putting on the table that day. But there is unity in diversity and these wines have a few things in common:
  • Grapes are left on the vine to get infected by noble rot (Bortytis Cinerea fungus)
  • Slow gentle harvest by hand often done in several passes to select the ripest grapes
  • Slow vinification, gentle maturation in vats or oak barrels
  • Unfortified (no additional spirit is added to the wine after it reaches a certain sugar level)
  • 1% of total Bordeaux wine volume
  • 2% of total Bordeaux wine area
  • Approx. 9M bottles across 350 estates
  • ~1 grape vine = 1 glass of wine
  • 3 main grape varieties: Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle
  • Two categories based on residual sugar (RS) in the wine: molleux (12-45 g/L) and liquoreux (>45 g/L)
  • The wines offer tremendous variety in aroma and tasting notes and price points. This makes for a very rich selection available for pairing with a vast number of foods, cuisines, and cooking methods
  • Both molleux and liquoreux wines are excellent in cocktails. In this day and age where cocktail making ranges from mixing soda water with whiskey to total alchemy, sweet Bordeaux wines invite creative cocktails.
Botrytis on grapes (


I received four bottles of sweet Bordeaux wine and the one way to do justice to a diverse array of wines all from one general area was to pair them with a diverse
 array of food at dinner. We paired each wine with four courses over dinner: starter, entrée, main, dessert. 

For our starter we went with oysters dressed with nothing but a spritz of lemon. Back in the day in Bordeaux no dinner party began without a palate opener of briny Bordelaise oyters and sweet wine. In the US, west coast oysters are abundant but not briny enough to walk with the semi-dry or sweet wines of Bordeaux. I happened to see fresh east coast oysters at the market and I just had to. So I got three different varieties, in decreasing brininess: Cotuit, Wellfleet, and Moondancer. And my kind fishmonger graciously shucked and arranged them on a tray of crushed ice, so it was a snap to get this starter ready to enjoy with two sweet Bordeaux wines - one liquoreux and one molleux.

The molleux was certainly the lighter match of the two and paired splendidly with the Cotuits but the liquoreux was right there to complement the Wellfleets and Moondancers. The lemon rounded everything up quite nicely. The acidity of the wines and lemon was perfect with the seafoam brininess of the oysters. I suspect that both wines would have overpowered west coast oysters but were indeed superb with east coast oysters.

2014 Château du Cros, Loupiac AOC (SRP $30)
90/5/5 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Muscadelle
14% ABV | Sample
Notes: Beautiful gold colour with white flowers, citrus blossoms, apricots, honey, tropical fruits, candied citrus on the nose and palate. A supple silky mouthfeel but light at the same time. A medium+ finish with a slight hint of baking spice on the taper.

2019 Château La Hargue Bordeaux Blanc Molleux (SRP $15)
50/50 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc
11% ABV | Sample
Notes: Brilliant pale  gold colour with lemon curd, vanilla, tropical fruit, on the nose and palate. Overall a not too complex but balanced, light, wine with a faint hint of stony minerality to end the medium finish.

As our appetiser or entrée, we had a couple of different street food snacks typical to northern and western India. We've finally found two quick service places that come close to the authentic flavours of their respective cuisines. 
This time we settled on two snacks typical to New Delhi/Punjab and Mumbai. Two places that are polar opposites in language, food, culture, clothing, weather, and everything else. Street food in India, as in all of Asia and somewhat Central America too, is endless and different as night and day from region to region. Even town to town. So it is really fun to make a meal entirely of street food.

And because the flavours are complex and fresh, coming up with wine and cocktail pairings is just as much fun as is drinking them! We had bread pakoras (Delhi) and vada pãu (Mumbai). Bread pakoras are two slices of bread slathered with mint-cilantro chutney, stuffed with seasoned mashed peas and potatoes, dipped in a chickpea flour batter, deep fried, and served with a couple of different chutneys on the side. Vada pãu is a roll split and seasoned with garlic chutney and stuffed with a fried mashed potato cutlet/fritter/vada. Generally served with fried green chillies on the side - I skipped those because in the US they use Thai chillies which just do not go well with vada pãu - it is not supposed to have heat, just flavours of the spices used in it. Incidentally, this street food dish came about after the Portuguese introduced leavened bread to western India. The bread pakora and vada pãu are both very flavourful and have just enough spices to pair superbly with the Château du Cros. The bright acidity, residual sugar, and floral-citrus notes of the wine balance out the complex flavours of the herbs and spices in the food. 

2014 Château du Cros, Loupiac AOC (SRP $30)
Notes: see above

Next we had Kerala egg curry with homemade layered wholewheat flatbread/parantha and plantain chips on the side. Kerala is a coastal state and heaven if you love seafood, meat, and coconut in all forms. It is also one of the few states in India where the literacy rate is very high and beef is freely eaten - much of the rest of India is too busy making beef a political/religious agenda so they're freely arguing about beef and religion. In any case this egg curry is an Indian-Jewish dis
h adapted from
Spice & Kosher - Exotic Cuisine of the Cochin Jews. Jews came to southern India, particularly Kerala, hundreds of years ago for trade and to escape persecution in Spain and Portugal.

They made Kerala their home and as the Jewish diaspora always does, adapted local cuisine to meet Kosher needs. This egg curry is flavourful and balanced - coconut milk, Asian shallots, garlic, turmeric, and other spices cook into a silky sauce that is perfect for equally benign boiled eggs and the paranthas are light with the slight nuttiness of Indian sharbati wheat. I also added some peas to the curry because we're getting into pea season and I couldn't resist. Indian food has lots of complex spice combinations but it is generally not spicy - extra heat is never the norm, always a matter of preference. The layered flavours of the velvety sauce were perfect with the minerality and bright notes of the Château La Rame. The Château La Hargue was an ok pairing - wouldn't be my first choice for this dish the next time. The velvety texture of the sauce was a bit too contrasted with the light mouthfeel of the La Hargue. 

2016 Château La Rame, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont AOC (SRP $35)
95/5 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc
13% ABV | Sample
Notes: Medium gold colour with an appealing bouquet of faint spice, candied citrus peel, white flowers, and vanilla in the background. Same on the palate along with a racy acidity and minerality. Overall a delightfully balanced and elegant wine with a medium-long finish.

2019 Château La Hargue Bordeaux Blanc Molleux (SRP $15)
Notes: see above

Since it was just past Diwali, the Hindu New Year and festival of lights and levity, we had a great selection of sweets from northern and eastern India at home. So dessert was a nibble of two of those with two utterly delicious Loupiac AOC wines. Both desserts are milk-based: one is a fudgy confection of milk cooked down into solids, mixed with sugar, ground cashews, saffron (and maybe a few other things, not sure) then topped with silver foil. The other is a light ricotta-based dumpling soaked in a light sugar syrup then squeezed to remove the extra syrup. In this case it was also stuffed with a saffron cream.

In my opinion pairing dessert with sweet wines is tricky. Those with an intense sweet-tooth might love the pairing but I've generally found it cloying. So milk-based desserts that are not overly sugary are a great match. The acidity of the wines matches the creaminess of the milk and makes the pairing quite a delight. And of course, most Indian sweets are generally just 2-3 bite servings and redolent with saffron, cashews, almonds, pistachios, rose water, orange water, and other flowers so bright liquoreux wines like these from Loupiac AOC are a lovely combination. A perfect way to end a meal, really.

2015 Château Dauphiné Rondillon "Cuvée d'Or", Loupiac AOC (SRP $42)
80/20 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc
13% ABV | Sample
Notes: Gorgeous rich gold colour with a fragrant nose and palate full of bright citrus juice, marmalade, candied citrus, and orange blossoms with a light woodiness at the end. Medium+ acidity, rich mouthfeel, overall a very balanced wine. Juicy medium bodied wine with a long elegant finish.

2014 Château du Cros, Loupiac AOC (SRP $30)
Notes: see above

Saturday, October 10, 2020


This year again the #winepw group are having a celebration of Merlot Month. Several of us received wine samples and although I'm sure there is overlap in the bottles we all received, it should be a fun discussion of all things Merlot! Check out the wines, tastings, pairings, musings below, and join us on Twitter on Saturday, 10 October at 8 AM PST under #winepw to chat to everyone about their thoughts on Merlot, the wines, and their Merlot+food pairings.

Merlot is a dark blue grape traditionally used for blending where it is used to add body and softness to a blend, but it is also used in single-varietal wines. Merlot wines are generally fleshy, soft, velvety, low in tannins and with juicy acidity. Aromas associated with Merlot are a combination of black and blue fruit, cherry, plum, eucalyptus, thyme, leather, wet soil, mushrooms, etc. If the Merlot is aged in oak, add chocolate, vanilla, coffee, baking spices to the mix. There are also some Merlots that are quite brawny and grippy but usually Merlot wines are very drinkable, easy to pair with a variety of foods, and quite delicious!

October has been declared as National or, depending on whom you ask, International Merlot Month. The #MerlotMe hashtag was created in 2013 to promote Merlot and perhaps counter some of the negative effect of the movie Sideways. Evidently, Sideways has the dubious distinction of turning wine drinkers in an entire country - the US - off Merlot. I've watched the movie and I can say that "I'm never drinking Merlot" was NOT my takeaway from the movie. In fact, I had no take-aways from it. I'm sure I've missed something but I haven't figured out how an average buddy film could single-handedly have such a profound effect on a wine grape that is used in acclaimed wines such as Petrus. But it has, since 2004 when the movie was released. I hope this is an MBA case study somewhere! Despite the ups and downs, winemakers have continued to produce excellent Merlot wines and for that, many of us wine lovers are grateful.

I've received four wine samples for Merlot Month and have reviewed only two here. The wines all arrived 3 days ago and I was quarantined so wasn't allowed in the kitchen until today. Nevertheless, I'm glad to be back and thankful that I did not catch Covid-19 or anything else during my flights and time spent working with others. 

2017 Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot
80% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 0.5% Malbec 
14.5% ABV | Sample (SRP $56)

100 French oak, 40/60 new/neutral

Deep ruby

Ripe, ripe, ripe black and blue fruit, almost jammy. A whiff of baking spices and vanilla.

Similar to nose: ripe black and blue fruit, a splash of red fruit, baking spices, vanilla. A refreshing juicy acidity, fine-grained tannins, a medium+ body, with a lengthy finish. The wine opened up as it sat in the glass but overall it could use a rest in the bottle. I think it would be great in 3-5 years.

2018 Decoy Sonoma County Merlot
98% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Petit Verdot
13.9% ABV | Sample (SRP $25)

100 French oak, 40/60 new/neutral

Medium Ruby

Black cherry, violets, black and white pepper

Black cherry, cocoa, cedar, and a note of minerality at the taper. Juicy acidity, dusty tannins, medium body, medium finish. This wine may be terrific in 2-3 years but I'm not sure how much more complexity it would develop. It might be best to enjoy it now.

We paired both wines with a gratin of ziti and cauliflower done in an equal mix of two classic French sauces: sauce tomate and soubise. The sauce tomate brought the acidity to match the Merlot, and the soubise brought the smooth heft from the béchamel sauce and onion purée. The parmesan-bread crumb crust added the savoury umami that really brought everything together.  And the pasta and cauliflower added a much-needed coziness. In general both wines went nicely with the gratin but the Duckhorn was the clear winner if there were one. This was a perfect stay-in for the evening and watch your favourite movie or TV show wine and food pairing. A welcome change from the hectic few weeks I've had of wilderness holiday, work travel and  project follow-up, exam prep and exam, and finally ~10 days of quarantine since I'd been out of town for work. I barely remember September!

Saturday, October 3, 2020


This month we have a bonus - and very exciting - event that Lynn is hosting. Check out her sneak peek here! Our brand new blogging group World Wine Travel is discussing wines from Moldova in collaboration with Wine of Moldova and Vinconnexion. Moldova, the sliver tucked between Romania and Ukraine in SE Europe, that boasts more grape vines per person than anywhere else in the world! Lynn very generously arranged for samples for a few of us and we will discuss our thoughts on those, Moldovan grape varietals, food pairings, and Moldova Wine Day on Twitter this Sunday, 4 October at 8 AM PST under #worldwinetravel. In the meanwhile, read below to find out what everyone's saying...

  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Two Indigenous Moldovan Grapes – Fetească Albă and Fetească Neagră – Paired With Colțunași Harnici (Hard-Working Dumplings)”
  • David from CookingChat has “Food Pairings for Moldavan Wines”
  • Terri from Our Good Life shares “Moldova Wine Day Celebration!”
  • Linda from My Full Wine Glass is “Celebrating ‘My Wine Day’ and the little country that could”
  • Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Moldovan Wine – moving forward while not losing track of the authentic grapes of their past” #WorldWineTravel
  • Susannah from Avvinare writes “You say Feteasca and I’ll Say Moldova”
  • Jennifer at Vino Travels tells us about “Eye Openers to the Wines of Moldova”
  • Melanie from Wining With Mel is “Exploring new territory with Moldovan wines”
  • Jeff from foodwineclick asks the question “Are Local Grapes the Future of Moldovan Wines?”
  • Here at Savor the Harvest I share “Moldovan Native Wine Grape Discoveries” #WorldWineTravel
  • Jill from L’Occasion discusses “Wines of Moldova: Worth the Adventure”
  • Payal from Keep the Peas pairs “Kashmiri Yakhni Pulao and Moldovan Wine”
  • Nicole from Somms Table is “Celebrating Moldova National Wine Day with More Food and Wine Explorations”
  • Rupal at Syrah Queen shares “Celebrate Moldova National Wine Day – Exploring Native Varieties”

The region that is now Moldova, once part of Romania, has been making wine since approximately 3000 BC. The topography includes hills, sunny plateaus and plains, and streams that flow into two big rivers, Prut and Dniester. The climate is continental with influences from the Black Sea. Allthis makes it ideally suited for viticulture and the production of quality red and white wines. Moldova has 112 thousand hectares of vineyard planted with international and native grape varietals spread over 3 main wine regions: Valul lui Traian (south west), Stefan Voda (south east) and Codru (center). Native grape varietals account for 10% of the vineyards and include Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra, Plavai, and Viorica. 

I received 4 samples for this review: Suvorov Vin Viorica and Castel Mimi Feteasca Alba (white wines), and red blends from Chateau Purcari and Radacini.

13% ABV | Suggested SRP $18
100% Viorica

According to the winery: "Viorica is the name of a Moldavian girl, it comes from the flower of the same name. A wine with great personality and character, made from the local selection of Viorica grapes. Produced according to a special technology from selected Viorica grapes grown in vineyards in the Stefan Voda region (South-East) of Moldova. Delightful, harmonious, soft taste of wine reveals nuances of tea rose, candied fruit, honey and nutmeg. The grapes were grown in vineyards in the Stefan Voda region (South-East) of Moldova."

Tasting Notes: 
The grapes for this pale gold wine are hand-harvested. On the nose it is wonderfully floral with notes of lemon rind and a faint mineral edge. On the palate it has notes of sweet white flowers,  muscat grapes, lemon juice, and a faint stony minerality with a juicy acidity and medium finish. Overall it is not too complex and certainly meant to be enjoyed now.

13% ABV | SRP $15
100% Feteasca Alba

Constantin Mimi, the last governor of Bessarabia and the man behind the vines and wines at Castel Mimi, may even be regarded as the force behind Moldovian wines. In 1893 he planted the first grape vines and started construction for the very large castle named after him. Having survived the tumult of the Soviet Bloc, Castel Mimi is now regarded not only as an excellent winery that produces wines from a variety of red and white grapes but also as a cultural center of excellence in the Republic of Moldova.

Tasting Notes: 
This unoaked wine is medium gold wine with flecks of green. On the nose and palate it is full of juicy citrus and stone fruit notes with a delicious minerality on the finish. The juicy acidity and medium finish make it perfect for wam weather. Overall it is not too complex and certainly meant to be enjoyed now.

We paired the wines with Kashmiri yakhni pulao with mushrooms (home-made) and walnut chutney one day, and a Hyderabadi vegetable biryani (take-out) the next. Both dishes are redolent with complex flavours and warm spices without being spicy and complement the wines beautifully.

The yakhni pulao, cooked in a fragrant broth, was lovely with both wines. In Kashmir the yakhni pulao would be made with local morel mushrooms but it's definitely not morel season in CA so I had to make do with shiitake mushrooms. The walnut chutney is a classic Kashmiri accompaniment to a slew of dishes and was also excellent with both wines, especially the stone fruit of the Castel Mimi white. The Hyderabadi biryani really enhanced the floral and muscat notes in the Viorica and brought forward the lemon notes. A squeeze of lemon is a great flavour enhancer for pretty much any savoury dish from the Indian subcontinent so this was an absolute hit pairing that we would repeat! 

Saturday, September 19, 2020


This month Cam is hosting the #winophiles exploration of Côtes du Rhône wines. It is a very open theme with the choice of any Côtes du Rhône wine of our liking. Côtes du Rhône AOC is  the second largest appellation in France and includes rosé, sparkling, red, white, dessert, and even orange skin-contact wines. With such a vast region to play in, and a large number of grape varietals allowed, we've got a great variety of wines and some food pairings in the line-up this month. Check out the wines, tastings, pairings, musings... below. And then come join us on Twitter on Saturday, 19 September at 8 AM PST under #winophiles to chat to everyone about their thoughts on the AOC, the wines, and their wine picks!

  • A Window Into Chateau-Neuf-Du-Pape Through Maison M. Chapoutier by Avvinare
  • Rhone Roam #3: Crozes-Hermitage Is Syrah, Condrieu Equals Viognier Paired with Fall Fish by Wine Predator

Côtes du Rhône wines come in three quality levels: Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages, and Côtes du Rhône Villages (named village). Although the named village wines are highest quality of the three levels, no matter which Côtes du Rhône you pick, the wines are versatile, wallet-friendly, and a foodie's dream since they are very food-friendly. I wanted to compare three reds - one Côtes du Rhône and two named village wines, paired with herb-crusted lamb chops and roasted potatoes. 


All good things, it seems, begin in the shadow of impending doom. Domaine de Cabasse was a highly regarded producer making wines from the Rhône villages of Sablet, Gigondas and Séguret. In 2012 the family decided to sell their property - the family with the exception of one family member who couldn't bear to see it go. Nicolas Haeni scraped together money, but managed enough to afford only the Séguret vineyard which he purchased and made the focus of his new project, "Malmont".

Nicolas Haeni is a young winemaker who made the first Malmont wines in 2013. The winery is set on steep rocky soil making all aspects of vineyards management including winemaking a challenge and a labour of love. The winery follows the principles of organic and bio-dynamic farming with a special focus on balanced soil nutrition. No synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides are used in the vineyard, and s
ince 2018 Domaine Malmont is officially in conversion to organic agriculture.

According to the winery: "Our winemaking aims at translating in the most accurate way the great fruit we harvest in the terroir of Malmont. Hence our interventions are reduced to a strict minimum. We use wild yeast to ferment and very little sulfites. No other additives than sulfites enter our winemaking process."

2017 Malmont Côtes du Rhône
13% ABV | SRP $13
60% Syrah, 40% Grenache

Destemmed grapes are allowed a 12 day maceration followed by spontaneous fermentation then aged on fine lees in tank.


Blackberries, pepper, faint geranium, not too complex

Similar to nose: ripe blackberries, very present black pepper, not too complex. A refreshing juicy acidity, somewhat jagged-edged tannins, a medium body, with a medium finish. The wine was a bit austere just out of the bottle but opened up and softened a bit as it sat in the glass. Overall it needs a rest in the bottle - I think it would be great starting in about 3 years, ~2023 or so although it is not complex enough to go very long in the bottle.

2017 Malmont Côtes du Rhône Villages Rouge Séguret
13.5% ABV | SRP $17
70% Syrah, 30% Grenache

Destemmed grapes are allowed a 20 day maceration followed by spontaneous fermentation then aged on fine lees. 
Fermentation, maceration, and aging are done in a truncated cone-shaped French oak vat.

Medium Ruby

Black cherry, violets, black and white pepper

Similar to nose: Black cherry, violets, black and white pepper. Juicy acidity, plush tannins, medium+ body, long finish. This wine was superb out of the bottle and as it opened up. It can certainly be had now, and it would also be terrific in 2-3 years.

Ferraton Père et Fils Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu
14% ABV | SRP $15
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan

Limestone gravel and large pebble soil from vast alluvial terraces (Riss), 80 to 150 m above Aygues and Ouvèze rivers.

Destemmed grapes are pressed and vinified in concrete vats. Vinification is traditional with daily punching down and controlled temperature. Aged in vats.

Medium Garnet

Mainly black fruit: blackberry and blackcurrant, a hint of wet earth

Similar to nose: mainly black fruit but also a slight bit of white pepper and a meaty savouriness on the palate. Juicy acidity, restrained velvety tannins, medium+ body, long finish. This wine was superb out of the bottle and as it opened up. Similar to the previous Séguret, this wine can also be had now or in 2+ years.

We paired all of the wines with herb-crusted  lamb chops and roasted fingerling potatoes. All three wines were splendid with the food. Lamb chops with classic French herbs - savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and oregano - in my opinion, are just the perfect thing to pair with the nuanced red blends of the Côtes du Rhône.