Grapenuts Famous Five n Dime – All French/Bridge Ten Brasserie/”Jack-Challenge”

As we look forward to our Wednesday June 26 “Grapenuts Famous Five n Dime Happy Hour” (and “Jack-Challenge” at Dave Desimone’s Bridge Ten Brasserie, excitement is building as the choices are high value and quite tasty – I think they will all be quite popular.

Added to this event is a special drawing to compete in the “Jack-Challenge” – A lucky winner gets to Test their Taste in a blind tasting against me!  The drawing winner gets two tickets to next Quantum Theatre Grapenuts Night and bottle from my personal cellar – should be fun!

Here are the by the glass choices:

WHITES

$5 Cuvée de Peña, Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes – From Southern France on the Mediterranean coast nearly on the Spanish Border, this white wine is made from Viognier grapes which deliver trademark exotic/tropical fruit flavors and characteristically ‘old-world’ clean finish.

$5 Vin de Pays de Méditerranée Blanc, Elicio – Another treat from Southern France, the Elicio uses the Rolle grape, possibly more familiar under the Italian name Vermentino, but whatever name we choose, this is a popular hot climate white grape that is sure to please with pleasant floral aromas and slightly spicy finish.

$10 Gilles Morat, Pouilly-Fuissé – Stepping up in complexity and sophistication, we travel north to Burgundy, France’s best region for Chardonnay, and some would argue the World’s Best Chardonnay region.   Gilles Morat’s Pouilly-Fuissé, like nearly all White Burgundies, is 100% Chardonnay and delivers mouth-filling apple and pear flavors with characteristic crisp acidity at the finish.

ROSE

$5 Villa des Anges Rosé – The quintessential outdoor summer patio drink: light enough to be uplifting, rich enough to deliver satisfying red berry and strawberry flavors, and crisp enough to invite the next sip – rose is the newest summer-drink sensation!

REDS

$5 Château des Tuquets Bordeaux – This Bordeaux wraps 40% Merlot, 40%  Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc into a light to medium bodied package that offers savory dark fruit and earthy flavors and lingering finish, a great food wine that shows Bordeaux Reds need not break the bank to taste good.

$5 Château Ollieux-Romanis, Capucine – This pleasing red shows us (again) why so many great values come from Languedoc region in Southern France.  This blend of 25 % Carignan, 25 % Grenache noir, 25 % Syrah, 25 % Merlot (all traditional grapes associated with Languedoc) immediately delivers a rich and balanced mouthful of medium bodied fruit – AND the estate owner, Pierre Bories recently visited Pittsburgh!!

$10 Château Aimee, Médoc Bordeaux 2009Cabernet and Merlot join together to create this solid example of a Medoc (a large sub-region of Bordeaux’s left bank wine region) Red.   Rich dark fruits with nice mineral structure balance each other nicely in this wine.  Structured enough to pair with food, but fruity and rich enough to drink by itself – highly recommended!

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Jean Luc Colombo “Cape Bleue” Rose Provence 2012 – Screaming Good Deal !!!

This is my ‘go-to’ Rose for this summer!

Walking through our local wine store (all of them run by the State of Pennsylvania in our home state), one can see many Rose choices, some may be less expensive than the $10.99 cost of this wine, but one sip of this one and my palate was transported back to Southern France – so I declare this wine is a Screaming Good Deal!

Jean-Luc Colombo and his wife Anne Colombo opened their wine laboratory back in the 1980s, and since 2010 they are joined by their daughter Laure Colombo.   Together the Colombo clan have become legendary in the Rhone as they have put their names on countless highly-regarded wines.

Back to the wine… served cold enough that the glass of wine shows condensation as it is held up to the sun (since you are likely sitting on your back patio, enjoying the evening), the “Cape Bleue” Rose looks beautifully light blush in color with aromas of peach and red berries.   Flavors are luscious and round with notes of strawberries, raspberries and a hint of watermelon, all seamless and nicely balanced.   As is the case with most Jean-Luc Colombo wines, even at this price point, the wine is carefully made – the blend is 40% Syrah; 40% Mourvèdre; 20% Counoise (a common blend for Southern France Rose), and these grapes are cold-fermented in stainless steel vats, which contribute to the wonderful freshness in every sip.

I paired this wine with charcuterie and a salmon salad – it worked well – especially because we were outside – I highly recommend this Rose for outdoor summer meals!  (In Pennsylvania: Jean Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rose Provence 2012, Abv: 12.5%, $10.99, PLCB Code: 31612)

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Raw/Vegan Wine dinner at EDEN

Although Raw/Vegan is not my usual fare, we were excited to work with Chef Hillary Zozula at EDEN www.edenpitt.com and create a four course, four wine dinner for our “Off the Grid” www.off-the-grid.ws dinner group.   Because the food is raw, but occasionally quite rich, I tried to identify wines with some element of acidity (without getting too tart of course) so that the wines’ freshness would provide counter to the rich flavors.    This dinner sold out in less than 24 hours, so I was stoked to try some new combinations!

We started Southern French Rose – which, on a hot, humid afternoon is a style of wine that I consider perfect – and with the veggie chips and spicy cabbage, several people felt the flavors together really ‘popped’.   The second course had some richness from the avocado, but this was nicely countered by the Heitz Sauv Blanc – a wine that was not as mouth-puckering as a typical New Zealand Sauv Blanc, but leaner and more focused than most Napa Sauv Blancs, so I was pleased with the balance.   The third course used nuts in several configurations, so I wanted something richer than a white, but still fresh, I chose a Saumur Champigny – 100% Cab Franc from France’s Loire Valley and a lovely, deeply flavorful wine but not too heavy or sweet – loved it!   Finally, the Spumante Rose provided more a compliment than contrast to the dessert, with a slight sweetness providing a fine partner to the complex mixture of strawberry/fig/chocolate dessert flavors.   All in all, a very popular effort!  Menu below:

1st Course

Veggie Chips AND Spicy Cabbage Noodles  (green peas, red peppers, carrots, sliced almonds, ginger, sesame and a creamy spiced almond sauce)

Chateau d’Or et de Gueules Rose 2011

2nd Course

Avocado and Arugula “Dumpling”

Heitz Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2011

3rd Course

Amarntha and Quinoa Gnocchi (spinach, butter beans, sun dried marinara and cashew parmesan) AND Stuffed Portobello (riced cauliflower, chopped kale, coconut ricotta and smokey sunflower sauce)

Reserve des Vignerons Saumur Champigny 2010

4th Course

Cardamom and Strawberry Cake/ Cacao and Coffee Cake

Zardetto Vino Spumante Rose NV