Since Monday was Malbec World Day, keep the celebration going and try one of these tasty recipes with your favorite Malbec.
One simple technique for pairing food and wine is to practice regional pairing. Having Italian food? Try an Italian wine. This certainly isn’t the only way to pair food and it’s not foolproof, but it’s a good template.
Since Malbec has really flourished in Argentina and become the signature varietal for the country, what better recipe to start with than steak—an Argentinian staple. At peak beef consumption in 1956, Argentinians consumed 222 pounds of beef for every man, woman, and child. Now Argentina hovers around roughly 120 pounds of beef per capita (compare that to US consumption rate of 79.3 lbs per capita and the fact only ten countries in the entire world consume 50+ lbs per capita).
SKIRT STEAK WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE
Continuing in our homage to beef-fanatic Argentina, GRIDDLED GAUCHO STEAK WITH BREAD-AND-BASIL SALAD is another excellent pairing with Malbec.
Moving away a little bit from the idea of regional pairing (but sticking with the carnivore theme), try a quintessential American cheeseburger. The lush Malbec will really bring out the flavors of this FAKE SHACK BURGER.
While instinctually Malbec and meat go hand-in-hand, don’t be afraid to try a vegetable dish, like this SWEET POTATO, BLACK BEAN, SPINACH QUESADILLA
Finally, one more veggie recipe for those not so Argentinian in their meat consumption habits. This AUBERGINE STEW from Jamie Oliver is a great meat alternative.
- April 17 is officially Malbec World Day!
- Why April 17? On that day in 1853, with the support of Mendoza’s governor Pedro Pascual Segura, a bill was submitted to the Provincial Legislature for the foundation of a Quinta Normal and a School of Agriculture. The bill was enacted as law by the House of Representatives on September 6th, 1853.
- Malbec has a history dating back hundreds of years. It was served at the wedding of Eleanor of Aquitaine to Henri II. Happen to have forgotten their anniversary? We have you covered. 1152 (over 800 years ago).
- Was once known as "black wine"...for fairly obvious reasons. Malbec is one of the darkest wines you can find. TintoNegro literally means Black Wine.
- While you might associate Malbec most closely with South America (and Argentina in particular), Malbec traces its origins back to France and was once the most widely planted grape in the country and found in many Bordeaux blends.
- In 1870, phylloxera destroyed vineyards in France and ruined the Malbec vines in Bordeaux. This same pest has never taken hold in Argentina.
- By the end of the 19th century, viticulture had boomed in Argentina (in part thanks to Italian and French immigrants) and so did Malbec, which adapted quickly to the varied terroirs of Argentina.
- Now Malbec only accounts for about 10,000 acres in Cahors and about 100,000 acres in Argentina. Malbec can also be found in countries throughout the world including the US and New Zealand, but Argentina has nearly 70% of all acres of Malbec in the world.
- Malbec vines are very sensitive to weather and pests (like phylloxera). They've thrived in high-altitude Argentina.
- Argentina is now the 5th largest wine producer in the world.
- Argentinian Malbecs are fruit-forward, plummy, and velvety with prominent new oak.
- French Malbecs have more structure, firmer tannins, an inky dark quality, and are earthier.
- BOTH have essential Malbec flavors of blueberry, cherry, and plum.
Every season is rosé season, but as the weather warms (well...we hope it's warming up wherever you are!) and flowers bloom we find ourselves craving the pink libation a little more than usual. We've collected some of our favorite rosé recipes for you to try. If you want more inspiration, head over to our Pinterest page!
Rosé Lemonade with La Vieille Ferme Rosé
Raspberry Rosé Sorbet with Marqués de Cáceres Rosé
Sparkling Rosé Blueberry Floats with Cono Sur Sparkling Rosé
It’s hard to walk into your local wine shop or supermarket and not notice the stunning rows of jewel-hued rosés. And considering the boom in popularity that rosé has enjoyed the past several years, there’s a strong chance that these beauties ranging in color from the palest of pinks to outrageous magentas will be featured prominently. As we explored in a recent blog post, rosé has gone from being just another wine to a cultural phenomenon in a few short years. However, most people, even the most ardent fans, have little idea of rosé’s fascinating journey from grape to glass.
While researching this article, I was fortunate to speak with two winemakers very knowledgeable about rosé production, Chelsea Franchi of Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles, CA and Simon Batarseh of August Kesseler in the Rheingau region of Germany.
It is a common misconception that rosé is made by simply combining red and white wines together. While this technically can occur, it is quite rare when making quality rosé. Franchi, who oversees much of the rosé production at Tablas Creek, started our conversation speaking about the two most common methods of producing rosé: saignée and direct press.
The saignée method involves bleeding off juice from red wine tanks before it has had a chance to take on too much color from the red wine skins (this process is called maceration). This labor-intensive method is interesting and controversial because it is often used as a way to enhance and concentrate the remaining red wine. Many rosé advocates consider it an affront to rosé because it is the by-product of red wine production. However, both Franchi and Batarseh praised this method for contributing intensity of flavors and for the amount of input they have while utilizing it. At Tablas Creek, the juice sits on the skins for approximately 24-72 hours before about 20% is bled off and subjected to a cold fermention. Most of this wine then becomes their serious, darker colored rosé called Dianthus (named for the flowers commonly known as “pinks”). Dianthus is generally Mourvèdre-based, a nod to the rosés of Southern France, specifically the Bandol area. Franchi attributes this wine’s watermelon essence to the Mourvèdre used in the blend. At Kesseler about 20% of the juice from wonderful up to 80-year-old Pinot Noir vines is bled off then fermented. Batarseh leans on this wine to contribute color and tannins to the final blend.
The other common method of making rosé involves direct pressing of the grapes. This method is the most common and generally is considered the benchmark for crafting quality rosé. Both Franchi and Batarseh praised the fact that crop levels, sugar levels, acidities, and harvest dates can all be controlled in the vineyard and tailored to make the absolute best rosé. They both also press the juice off the grape skins without any maceration time resulting in a stunning pale pink color. Often you will see this wine labeled as vin gris. At Tablas Creek, this limpid direct press juice is destined to become their acclaimed Patelin de Tablas Rosé. Franchi said that they prefer to co-ferment their Grenache, Mourvedre, Counoise, and Syrah juice for this wine. This wine is definitely styled in the tradition of the great Provençal rosés with its dominant bright strawberry notes coming from the majority Grenache. At Kesseler the direct press juice is blended with the saignée juice for the final wine. Batarseh likes the interplay of qualities produced by using both methods, noting that the direct press juice brings a light, bright, acid-driven quality to the final wine.
I asked Franchi what her favorite grape is to work with in the production of rosé. After some thought she answered, “Grenache,” and referenced the absolutely heavenly, heady aroma released by the vats of fermenting Grenache in the cellar. Indeed, when studying many of the great rosé-producing areas of the world, Grenache often seems to pop up. It makes sense when considering that Grenache is a very thin-skinned grape and overall has less color-lending phenolic compounds than other red grapes. Franchi also referenced the little-known Rhone Valley grape Counoise as contributing a nice softness and darker red fruit flavors to their rosés as well as those produced in Southern France. Often Syrah is also added also its wonderful spicy character.
At Kesseler, Batarseh works exclusively with Pinot Noir for rosé production. Once again we find a grape with thin skin and low levels of phenolic compounds. It’s no surprise that in most of the world’s great Pinot Noir regions there is also usually concurrent rosé production (think Marsannay in Burgundy, Oregon, Germany, and the Loire Valley). Producers in these regions get the dual benefits of producing a gorgeous berry-scented rosé and intensifying the often light juice destined for their Pinot Noir bottlings. At Kesseler, considered one of Germany’s premier Pinot Noir specialists, their rosé shows beautiful berry and cherry notes while maintaining an elegant and exciting tension. It’s definitely refreshing but has the stuffing for year-round drinking.
Next time you’re buying a bottle of rosé for the lunch table, pool, or just a summer evening with friends, talk with the wine specialist or turn that bottle over and read the back label. Besides the important visual clues from the color, you’ll gain some great perspective on what’s in a bottle by simply knowing how it’s made. And don’t be embarrassed for buying it!
As Franchi told me, “The stigma is over. Rosé is one of the most delicious, versatile, and food friendly wines out there.” Think pink!!
We are so excited to welcome Domaine de Courcel to the Vineyard Brands portfolio!
You can’t get much more Burgundian than Domaine de Courcel. Family-owned for over 400 years, the winery is located in the village of Pommard on the Côte de Beaune. Domaine de Courcel is known as one of Pommard's grandest domaines.
Gilles de Courcel, the current owner along with his three sisters, has a strong wine background. One publication described him as “born in the vineyard,” just like the wines. Gilles has a business degree and worked in the industry in Beaune, Reims, and Bordeaux before returning home to Pommard.
The vineyard is cultivated using organic farming techniques, careful age-old practices, and modern methods. Low yields, late harvesting, whole bunch vinification, cold maceration, long cuvaison (barrel fermentation) and a lengthy élevage (maturation) with minimal racking are all key to the wines' excellent quality.
Almost three-quarters of the domaine is composed of the prestigious Premier Crus, making it one of the largest estates of Pommard Premier Crus. The four Pommard Premier Crus are Le Grand Clos des Epenots, Les Rugiens, Les Fremiers, and Les Croix Noires. Le Grand Clos des Epenots and Les Rugiens are in a class of their own in Burgundy.
The Domaine's other three lots are Les Vaumuriens, Bourgogne Pinot Noir, and Bourgogne Chardonnay.
Domaine de Courcel wines are known for their elegance, minerality, as well as their strong tannins and great density, something rare on the Côte de Beaune. The wines are subtle and rich with a remarkable ability to age.
Annual production never exceeds around 30,000 bottles. The wines are frequently mentioned and reviewed in leading wine publications, some of which are featured in the slideshow below.
You can't have St. Patrick's Day without green. So what better time to talk a little bit about green wine?
Disclaimer: No wine will be harmed in the making of this blog. Food coloring and wine will stay far away from each other if we have anything to say about it.
Consumers are paying more and more attention to how their products are made. Just like millennials are playing a huge role in wine trends (read more about it in our Rosé blog ), they're also shaping other trends. According to a Nielsen study, almost 3 out of 4 millennial respondents said they're willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings. It's not just millennials though. Over 50% of baby boomers said they'll pay extra for sustainable products too.
Wineries across the world are catering to this eco-friendly consumer. Evidence suggests wine has been around since 7000 B.C. so over time viticulturists have learned how to best protect their vines and the earth.
Now the world of green wine is complicated--different categories, various US and international certifications and organizations...Each category really could have it's own series of blog posts. It is a holiday though, so let's keep it simple.
There are three categories of green wine: Sustainable, Organic, Biodynamic.
Sustainable: Sustainable wines are environmentally sound, socially equitable and economically feasible.
Organic: In the U.S., only the USDA can label a wine as organic. These wines are made without most synthetic materials.
Biodynamic: This category just might be the most difficult. Biodynamic wines look at the vineyard as an ecosystem. Nothing goes to waste and the land is self sufficient.
Now how about an education of a different kind? Beer is typically the libation of choice for St. Patrick's Day festivities, but wine can be just as festive and (although we're biased) an even better choice.
Don't believe us? Just try. We've put together some food and green wine pairings for an Irish feast.
Corned Beef and Cabbage + Thibault Liger Belair Moulin-a-Vent Vieilles Vignes (organic) or Weinbach Pinot Gris Altenbourg (biodynamic and organic)
Fish & Chips + Tablas Creek Vermentino (organic) or Peregrine Sauvignon Blanc (organic)
Shepherd's Pie + L'Oustalet Perrin (organic) or Reyneke Syrah (biodynamic and organic)
Rosé all day. Eat, Pray, Rosé. La vie en rosé. Yes way, rosé. No way, rosé. Stop and smell the rosé. Will you accept this rosé? Rosé s'il vous plaît. Slay then rosé.
Rosé has not only become a staple item in our refrigerators, wine cellars, and glasses, but also in our daily vocabulary and our closets (from tote bags to t-shirts, punny rosé themed items are everywhere you look). Rosé is a lifestyle.
This pink wine has become one of the most popular varieties for spring and summer, even earning the nickname "Hamptons Gatorade." But how did rosé become so popular?
One of the main reasons? Millenials. Every generation makes their mark on the industry with a preferred wine. Baby boomers made chardonnay their wine of choice. Generation X brought New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Napa Cabernets to the mainstream. Millenials first favored prosecco, then moscato, but have now settled on rosé.
A contributing factor to millennials leaning so heavily toward rosé is the variety available on the market. Gone are the days of rosé being a generic, cheap, sweet drink. American consumers (who consume the second largest quantity of rosé, only after France) are changing their idea of what rosé is. Consumers are learning it's not just a sweet wine and there are drier varieties on the market. There are more options than ever for the consumer to find the right one for their taste.
Rosé has also seen a surge in popularity simply because it is a beautiful drink. With shades ranging from a blush-barely-pink to an almost-red-deep-pink, rosé is a photogenic wine. And hey, we're only human. Pretty is a strong selling point, especially in the age of social media.
It certainly doesn't hurt that celebrity tastemakers are involved in the production and marketing of wine. Instagram personalities and movie stars alike are jumping into the wine production game.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's estate in Provence, Miraval, works with one of the most esteemed French winemaking families--Famille Perrin-- to produce a popular rosé. With its distinct bottle, certified organic vineyards, and high quality, Miraval rosé has become one to the most in-demand brands on the market.
Rosé is light, clean, and fresh--just what you're looking for in a warm-weather drink. So we say: yes way, rosé. Pop open a bottle and try for yourself.
Today is National Mulled Wine Day!
Mulled wine has a history dating all the way back to the 2nd century. As the Romans conquered Europe they brought their winemaking with them. This unique wine drink is traditionally made with red wine and spices and served hot.
In Chile, mulled wine is called candola or vino navega’o. In France it’s commonly referred to as vin chaud and in Italy, vin brulé. In Portugal the libation is known as vinho quente, though in the Porto region porto quente is more popular.
One of the first known recipes for mulled wine is found in a medieval English cookbook from 1390. We’ve collected some slightly more modern recipes so you can celebrate National Mulled Wine Day.
Some of our favorite recipes and wines to use are below.
Bon Appetit with Warre's Otima 10-Year-Old Tawny Port and Bulletin Place Merlot
Ina Garten with MAN Family Wines Cabernet Sauvignon
David Lebovitz with La Vielle Ferme Rouge
The 89th annual Academy Awards were last night, so wine not watch a movie? We’ve compiled a list of five of our favorite wine-related documentaries available on Netflix.
Sour Grapes: True Story, Fake Wine
Rudy Kurniawan earned the reputation of a wine savant and surrounded himself with some of high society’s most fervent wine connoisseurs. When Bill Koch, a top US collector, and Laurent Ponsot, a Burgundian wine producer, discover suspicious bottles a humorous and suspenseful investigation begins into one of the most ingenious cons of our time.
SOMM: The thirst for knowledge is just the beginning
Four sommeliers attempt to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier exam, a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world.
A Year in Burgundy: One year with the people who make wine like no one else in the world
The film follows seven winemaking families in the Burgundy region of France through the course of a full year, and delves into the cultural and creative process of making wine.
A Year in Champagne: Discover the intoxicating story behind the world’s most famous wine
This film shows a rare glimpse behind the scenes into the real Champagne through six houses—from small independent makers to illustrious houses.
Prohibition: How did a nation founded on rights ever go so wrong?
This three-part documentary film series tells the story of the rise, rule, and fall of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the entire era it encompassed. The public stocked up before the law went into effect--141 million bottles of wine were sold in the 3 month period leading to prohibition.
Today is President’s Day and U.S. Presidents have a long history of supporting the wine industry at home and abroad.
One of the most legendary oenophile presidents was Thomas Jefferson. The third president of the United States served as ambassador to France where he developed a taste for French wines. As president he shipped 600 bottles of wine per year from France to the United States.
Jefferson also helped stock the wine cellars of the first five U.S. presidents. During his two terms in office it’s estimated he spent $11,000 (that's $175,000 in today’s dollars) on wine.
Two wines stand out as presidential favorites- Champagne and Madeira.
Madeira is a fortified wine produced on the Portuguese island of- you guessed it- Madeira. Its alcohol content hovers around 18-20%. This allowed it to withstand the trip across the ocean to the New World. In colonial days, nearly 25% of Portugal's madeira was shipped to America.
George Washington was an avid drinker of Madeira. In fact, it was used to toast his inauguration. Washington’s granddaughter reported the first president drank three glasses of Madeira after dinner every night.
The first father-son presidential duo--John Adams and John Quincy Adams --were also partial to Madeira. It is even rumored that during a blind taste test John Quincy Adams was able to correctly identify 11 out of 14 different kinds of Madeira.
While madeira lost its popularity over the years (but is making a comeback!), to no surprise, champagne has been a constant fixture in the White House. James Madison, John Tyler, James Polk, Ulysses S. Grant, William Howard Taft, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon all had a well-known taste for the sparkling wine. The White House even boasts a champagne room. That's right, a champagne room.
Wine has been present at the most significant events throughout our country's history. Madeira was the founding fathers' drink of choice to toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Louisiana Purchase was toasted with madeira and champagne.
Raise a glass and have a celebration of your own this President's Day!
In 1925 Dr. Abraham Perold created what was to become South Africa’s, and possibly the world’s, most misunderstood grape variety, Pinotage. Perold, a professor at the University of Stellenbosch, was researching grape varieties and looking to create a new cross with the hardiness of Cinsault (then called Hermitage in South Africa) and the complexity of Pinot Noir. The resulting four seeds were planted in his garden and quickly forgotten about until 1925 when Charlie Niehaus rediscovered the plantings and decided to graft them onto new rootstock and propagate the new variety. It was later christened Pinotage, a combination of Pinot Noir and Hermitage. Interestingly enough, Dr. Perold died in 1941 and was never able to see the fruits of his research.
Pinotage soon began to take hold in the Cape winelands and early examples won accolades and prizes in wine shows in the 1950s. These early successes and the relative hardiness of the varietal led to an increasing presence in many wine growing areas of South Africa, and eventually Pinotage became the area’s signature varietal.
Currently around 7% of South African vineyards are planted to Pinotage. It has quickly become a symbol of the country’s wine industry and is a required component in South African red blends. There has been, however, significant criticism leveled at the resulting wines. Frequent descriptors include “burnt rubber”, “nail polish”, and “spray paint”. These sickly sweet and chemical odors have been the subject of much research and are attributed to the esther isoamyl acetate. This organic compound is present in bananas and used as a banana flavoring (explaining why many people identify subpar Pinotage by the artificial banana aroma) and also can be used as a solvent. Most proponents of Pinotage claim that excessive isoamyl acetate and the hot flavors are results of bad viticulture and winemaking that doesn’t take into account the unique needs of Pinotage.
In the vineyard, Pinotage is deceptively easy to grow, but in order to produce quality fruit water stress and high temperatures during harvest must be avoided and old vines are highly preferable. The vineyards must also remain free of viruses, which adversely affect the resulting wines. During fermentation temperatures must be kept relatively low and sensible barrel aging can help minimize isoamyl acetate and volatile acidity problems. Remember this challenging vine’s parent is the infamous Pinot Noir!
As Pinotage has waxed and waned with the fashions and fickleness of the wine world, two key thing have emerged: Pinotage is capable of producing a wide range of quality wine styles, and there are many vintners who understand the grape and can make beautiful examples of it. Two producers known for their deft hands with the grape are Chamonix and Southern Right. While both produce quality examples, there is little in common with their approaches. Chamonix lets Pinotage clusters partially dry on the vines and utilizes carbonic maceration to produce a ripasso-styled wine that is both grippy in tannins and velvety and rich at the same time. Southern Right, located in the Walker Bay area of the Cape, styles itself as a Pinotage specialist and has produced a string of highly rated wines from the variety. Their approach is classical and makes wonderful use of the fruit grown in a relatively cool climate with clay soils. The resulting wines are fruit-focused but complex with a perfect seasoning of oak.