Edelzwicker in all her glory

Edelzwicker… ever heard of it?  No worries if you haven’t, its like the two buck chuck of Alsace- only given the grapes start at a better quality in the beginning it might be more like four buck chuck.  Tonight, however, I made sweet and sour chicken thighs to go with it… not exceptional, but a fun pairing.sweet and sour chicken with edelzwickerAnyway, Edelzwicker is not a very well know wine in anywhere but Alsace.  I found it when I was recently at the Salon des Vins des Independents.  Domaine Gerard Metz is always are first stop when we go to the salon.  He makes really bright vibrant wines that hold up to time and are really great expressions of the grapes.  Normally, I go specifically for the Pinot Gris, but this year it was a little too sweet for my taste- normally I drink it with a little bit spicy food or when I want a fresh wine with a heavy dish.  This year I took a bottle of the Edelzwicker instead of the Pinot Gris.

Truth be told- Edelzwicker is a blend of different grapes and really nothing to write a blog about.. ;).  In terms of AOC, it is a basic Appellation Alsace Controlée and can be a blend of any of the authorized grapes in Alsace.  In this case, it is 50% Sylvaner and 50% noble grapes, aka. Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Muscat.

Tasting Notes:  Simple wine, light fruit notes, lots of citrus- green apple and lime rind.  Nice and refreshing when served at the right temperature- too warm and it is very flat on the palate.  Short finish, not a thinking wine.  Just sipping.  With sweet and sour it was a nice refreshing touch- didn’t add and didn’t take anything away from the plate.Domaine Gerard MetzDinner tonight- Sweet and sour chicken thighs with  carrots, onion and garlic topped with cilantro.  So good! And pretty easy.  Generally, I rubbed the chicken thighs with paprika and cinnamon, pan fried 5 minutes (they were small thighs) and set to the side.  Added the carrots and onions to the chicken juice and sauteed about 5 minutes.  Added garlic to mix.  Re-introduced the chicken thighs, turned heat to medium-low, added 1/2 water, 1/4 lemon juice and 1/4 honey to mix and simmered till I was so hungry I had to eat it.  Topped it with cilantro and…Sweet and sour chicken thighsviola!

Dinner tonight took less than 30 minutes, was the first time I attempted this recipe AND  I didn’t get in a fight with my husband!!!  Woot woot!

Happy Thursday!

Challenge Part 1- Gewurztraminer and Thai Food

Grocery Store vs. Small Producers

Challenge 1- Gewurztraminer

Challenge Part 1- Gewurztraminer and Thai Food

So, I have decided to put my grocery store wines and my small producer wines to the test.  While simultaneously, increasing my blind tastings and food pairing abilities and breakdowns.  People have been talking a lot about the cost of wines, quality of wines and pairing of food and wine… So I have decided to put it all to the test in the best way I know how- blind tastings with different dishes.  Also, I live on a budget, so the concept of store bought cheaper wines against the more pricey small producers sounded like a great idea to me.

So, today I began with my dinner.  Spicy thai shrimp salad paired with two different Gewurztraminer from the Alsace region; one from the local Franprix and the other from the small producer Gerard Metz (if you remember I have already talked about his Pinot Gris an earlier post).

My husband opened and poured the wines for me blindly so I could assess and give my initial reaction without any interaction with the food.  Now, I have mentioned before that sweet wines are not my favorite, so in retrospect this might not have been the best wine to start with, but still I will take everything as a learning experience.  Here is what I found…

Wine Number One:

Tasting Profile:

Sight– Bright, transparent yellow

Nose– Sweet of apricots, wild flowers, and honey

Taste– Initially it had a drier mouth-feel with less sugar.  As it warmed up more, the residual sugar became heavier and less agreeable, sugar exploded in the front of my palate and stayed on my cheeks by the end of the meal.

Finish– Again at the beginning when it was colder there was a freshness to it I found agreeable and thought would go really well with the food, but by the end the sugar settled and it was harder to drink, almost chewy.

Food Pairing– The thai salad I make has varying degrees of spicy.  Mine tends to be mild rather than hot and I think because of that this wine had too much sugar, too much contradiction with the thai, almost overtook the meal.

Result– Vin d’Alsace Michel Frantz Gewurztraminer, found at Franprix grocery store for 8€ and the only reason I chose it was because it was the only Gewurztraminer for under 10€ with an award on it… seriously.

Michel Frantz Gewurztraminer

Wine Number Two:

Tasting Profile:

Sight– Brighter yellow, gold and clear

Nose– At the beginning the nose was very closed compared to the first, also colder than the first; then more pear, honeydew melon and floral notes arose.

Taste– Initially not my favorite, the sugar was far more pronounced than anything else, but as the wine opened and warmed up a bit it became better rounded in my mouth and fresher, definitely lighter on my palate.  The opposite of what I expected.

Finish– I don’t know how to put the finish of this wine into words… it was a ‘cooler’ finish than the first.  I mean really, that is all I can say about it.  If anyone knows what that would be please let me know!  It lingered, but didn’t rest on my cheeks in a way I’m used too…

Food Pairing– By far the better choice, the lighter palate and less residual sugar contradicted the thai, but didn’t overpower and defeat the thai.

Result– Vin d’Alsace Domaine Gerard Metz Vielles Vignes Gewurztraminer, small producer, for 9€ a bottle (normally more, but we bought 6 bottles)… I really enjoy this producers wines.

Gerard Metz Gewurztraminer

So what did I learn?

Personally, I learned that I can blind taste and describe wines in French and English, but have trouble just doing one language… seriously, my tasting book is all a mix of the two languages.  I also missed when choosing which wine was which.  It hurts the pride a LOT, and moreso to share it on a blog… but how else will I learn…?  Hopefully tomorrow I will get it right.

Professionally, I learned that while I do not prefer sweet wines for my personal palate, they do have a place when paired with ethnic, slightly spicy foods.  The more spice you have to a dish I believe a sweeter wine is better suited and a mild sweetness for a mildly spicy dish.  Also, in tasting the temperature does play a factor in how the wines express themselves.

Pour quoi pas?  Tomorrow is Taco Tuesday at my house- I still have wine left from both these bottles.  I think challenge part 2 will be gewürztraminer and tacos…  Hey- I am still trying to breakdown this food and wine pairing every once in a while… Should be interesting!  at least I hope…

 

C’etait MAGNIFIQUE!

So, last night my husband and I, with another couple went out to dinner at our favorite restaurant in the second district of Lyon called Ponts et Passerelles.  We love this place for lots of reasons; they do some of the most amazing varieties of traditional French dishes- and the desserts are AMAZING!  We also have fun with the owner talking about wines and different regions in France, most of which I have not heard of because they are so small.  Last night turned into another fun tasting night of sorts and, fortunately for me, I knew all the regions this time!  I feel like I’m getting somewhere with my small French wine regions.

So, stay with me a while and we will go through the three bottles in order…

Aperitif wine:

Eric Louis 2011 Menetou-Salon

Menetou-Salon

To start we had the Menetou Salon- well, I choose this one for my aperitif wine.  I always choose this for a starter.  Menetou Salon is the closest wine I can find to being like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, or maybe it’s the other way around.  But it had aromas of citrus and grapefruit all mixed together on the nose, then a cool, crisp, refreshing taste on the palate.  It doesn’t stay very long and won’t age forever, but it is nice and fresh on a hot day.  I think it’s gorgeous!

Menetou-Salon itself is located in the eastern most part of the Loire Valley near Sancerre and Pouilly Fume.  It is actually closer to Burgundy than most of the Loire Valley wines, therefore giving it unique soil and climate characteristics.  It reminds me of New Zealand because it has so much citrus and grapefruit on the nose- however, for myself, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc must also have the smell of fresh cut grass in it.  The soil near Menetou-Salon itself is mainly limestone and considered to be ‘lesser’ than the Sancerre just next door, but I find it more crisp and explosive than some Sancerre…  You will have to find a bottle and see for yourself!

Dinner wine:

Domaine Jaffelin 2007 Pernand-Vergelesses ‘Clos de Bully’

Pernand-Vergelesses

Moving on we had wonderful bottle of 2007 Pernand-Vergelesses with our main dish.  Ironically we all had a chicken stuffed foie gras dish- not something you would normally pair with chicken stuffed with foie gras- but, since I am trying to break down this idea of ‘pairing’ , we decided to try it.  Again, a little disappointed with the pairing.  A great dish with a great wine, but when put together it wasn’t horrible, but definitely did not enhance anything.

The wine itself is from the most northern part of the Cote de Beaune, as far north as you can get before it becomes the Cote de Nuits.  Meaning it has some similar terroir to the great red pinot noirs of the Cote de Nuits (while not the same price tag).  The things I love about Pernand-Vergelesses is that it is rather round and fruit without being alcoholic- normally.  The bottle we shared was a little more on the dried fruit side (because of the age of the bottle) rather than bright fruits and also was a little hot on the back of the throat (which I would contribute to the vintage).  A bummer for me, mainly because I had a preconceived notion of what the bottle should taste like, but not entirely a bad bottle.  Again, not helped however by the chicken stuffed foie gras.

Dessert wine:

Domaine Bernhard & Reibel 2011 Muscat Vin d’Alsace

Alsace Muscat

And to the surprise of the night- Alsace.  You know how every once in a while someone will pull out a bottle of wine and your heart just moans because you know you aren’t going to like it… then you taste it… and BAM!  Not at all what you thought, could have ever imagined, and to your surprise, you loved it!  I just got off the phone with the ladies at Domiane Bernhard & Reibel because I wanted to order a case of this wine.  One hundred percent Muscat- dry, and refreshing with just trace amounts of residual sugar on the tongue.  Man it was good!

I have found in France that there is a tendency to start the night off with sweet wines in the aperitif and finish with sparkling wines at the dessert.  In the states, we seem to do the opposite.  Therefore, when the owner came out with a sweet wine my heart moaned a little bit, because while I have a large sweet tooth, I do not have a huge palate for sweet wines.  This Muscat was so balanced and fresh with just the right hit of residual sugar it was very pleasant for the end of the meal.  I can’t wait to get my case ordered!  Maybe even plan a trip up to Alsace soon…

Raclette and Riesling

photo (4)

Raclette and Riesling

So, it is Easter weekend.  Where I come from the traditions of Easter are quite different from those in France… now keeping with the theme of my life, I am trying to ‘go with the flow’.  Some days, easier said then done.  Last night, we decided to have a raclette– for those of you who are unfamiliar with a raclette, it is traditionally a mountain meal.  The kind of thing you eat after a full day of skiing or being outside in the cold.  Aka. cheese and meat.  In a traditional raclette you have a large piece of raclette cheese melting and you scrape, or rack, it off onto your plate over pieces of charcurterie, potatoes, anything really with pickles and onions… seriously, so good!  It comes from the Haut Savoie, Savoie region of France where cheese is a basic staple of everyone’s diet- and no one can blame them.

In general you would have a raclette with a white wine from the Savoie region, but since we did not have a bottle handy in our apartment we decided to try a raclette with a wine from Alsace, a Riesling.  Now, the thing I have heard about raclette is that you are not allowed to drink cold water with it.  Apparently, because of all the cheese in it, if you drink cold water the cheese will become like a hard ball in your stomach.  Therefore, kids have to drink apple juice and parents have to drink white wine… personally, I have no problem with the white wine ;).  But I don’t think I will experiment to find out if cold water really does anything.

So, the Riesling.  Now, I have to mention up front that sweet wine and I are not the best of friends, however I will try to keep my personal palate out of what I write… no promises.  And if you have any bottle suggestions to open my mind to Alsace I will be happy to take a tour…

A little background:  Rieslings are the most planted grape varietal in the Alsace region.  It is also rather complicated to understand because when we talk about Alsatian wines we have to talk about sugar content.  For example, the wine we drank was Lorentz Grand Cru Riesling 2004, which means it is from one of the ‘noble’ grape varieties in Alsace, has restricted yield levels, and restricted sugar content.  Alsace Grand Cru was created in the 1950’s, representing about 4% of the total wine production in Alsace.  The restrictions surrounding the Grand Cru classification are very strict, right down to the buds per vine…

Lorentz Riesling Grand Cru 2004In our case, the wine was nine years old- leaving what was potentially a fresh, mildly sweet wine to age and become more creamy, longer lasting, less fresh sugar (by that I mean sugars in fresh fruits).  It had some apricot on the nose, more dried apricots then fresh and some honey, almost beeswax.  When we took a sip it was nothing like I was expecting.  The length on the palate for starters lasted way longer than I would have imagined.  I mean wow!  The sugars on the palate were muted enough with age that a rounder formed and the wine touched all areas of my mouth with pleasure.  I was thoroughly impressed!  Now, on a downside, it was a bit of a bummer with a raclette, I found the tastes to be in competition with each other, but in terms of taste all around- the two were so great individually that we did not mind so much.

However, the second bottle I think we will try to cook something a little more exotic… any suggestions?

Gerard Metz 2011 Pinot Gris

gerald metz 2011 pinot gris

Domaine Gerard Metz 2011 Pinot Gris

You know what I love about Pinot Gris… its simple.  So incredibly complicated, but simple and easy to the palate.  It’s a grape not very well known outside the regions that produce it.  Coming from a clone of Pinot Noir, the varietal is planted mainly in the Alsace of France, Germany, and Italy as Pinot Grigio (however it can be found in other places as well).  This particular wine came from the Alsace region of France.

Gerard Metz makes some outstanding Reisling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris.  I drank this 2011 Pinot Gris accompanied by some toasted fois gras and seared scallops.  It was delicious!  The Pinot Gris was bright for being a grape with some creamy undertones.  The nose was fresh apricots with a little floral undertone… I wanna say like lily, but my floral smell abilities are somewhat pathetic these days.  My apologies, I am working on it.  Anyway, it had a great balance of acidity with fruit and a rounder that I love.  Normally in France they drink sweet wine with fois gras, but for my personal taste, that is a little too rich for me.  So I went with this Pinot Gris and was not disappointed!  It was great!

PS! This is a bottle you can usually find in the states- mainly east coast people, but look around west coasters!  And enjoy!