It's snowing yet again at Cooking District's NYC HQ. Yet. Again. Since this Winter appears to have no plans on ending ever, it felt like a good day to look back on a recent tasting we did with Marilyn Krieger and Stephanie Teuwen of NYWCA — Mediterranean Wines for Winter.
The NYWCA — New York Women's Culinary Alliance — is a group that fosters networking, education, and cooperation for women in the culinary and beverage fields in the New York metro area. Founded in 1981 by Sara Moulton and Maria Reuge, part of the mission of the group is to create educational programs for it's membership. The goal of this particular tasting — which was led by wine experts Marilyn Krieger, Ph.D., director of PR for the distributor Winebow and Stephanie Teuwen, head of the PR/Marketing firm of Teuwen Communications — was to introduce some new regions, varietals, and winemakers, and to emphasize the suitability of Mediterranean wines, even rosés, for drinking during the coldest months.
"Lots of people tell me that the don’t think about Mediterranean wines in the winter, but what do they drink there?” said Teuwen, with a laugh, while allowing that “it may be a little warmer there.” Krieger emphasized “In the Mediterranean in particular, food & wine go together”, making these wines particularly appropriate for holiday meals, and all of the cozy meals you make to keep the winter weather at bay.
What We Tasted:
First up was some bubbly, a Spanish cava. Krieger explained “Bubbles are great to celebrate but they are also great with food.” Teuwen agreed “Bubbles don’t have to be sacred.” Juvé y Camps Brut Rose is made from 100% Pinot Noir. The very traditional family-owned winery, founded by Joan Juvé Baqués and his wife Teresa Camps Farré in 1921, is located in San Sadurní d’Anoia, in the northeastern Penedès region, not far from Barcelona. The cava is made in the método tradicional, meaning that it goes through a secondary, in bottle fermentation, prompted by the addition of yeast and sugar. The wines are aged at least 18 months in bottle. Really old vines combined with sunny days and cool nights makes for a beautifully colored salmon pink wine, with lots of apples, strawberries, and toasted almonds on the nose, rich and creamy on the palate, with a fine perlage.
Next up was a trip to Greece with a Mercouri Estate Foloi 2012. The Mercouri Estate is located in the western Peloponnese on the plateau, not far from Ancient Olympia. The estate itself has over 150 years of history in the production of wines, olive oil and currants. Today the estate is owned and run by the 4th generation of the family. “Some of the grapes are indigenous, some are international varietals” explained Teuwen. The Foloi is produced using 10% Viognier grapes and 90% pink-skinned Roditis, which is a native varietal which first came from Rhodes. The wine has a crystal-clear yellow-green color, with great acidity and an intense citrus and floral nose. Clean on the palate, with a crisp minerality and slight salinity. It is dry, but not super dry so that it pairs well with food. “It has a brightness and crispness that is almost like adding a drop of vinegar to a dish” said Krieger.
We followed with a Poggio al Tesoro Vermentino 2012. The wine takes it’s name from the phrase “just sunshine” because only the sun is allowed to influence the grapes that make this wine. Poggio al Tesoro is located in the area of Bolgheri in Tuscany’s Maremma, which is best known for reds and Super Tuscans. This white, which is 100% Vermentino, gets no time in oak. The finished wine is an intense golden lemon in color with notes of apricots and melon. It’s both rich and acidic.
On to the reds and back to Spain: Ànima Negra — Black Soul — was founded in 1994 when two self taught oenophile friends — Pere Ignasi Obrador and Miquel Àngel Cerdà — decided that the wines from their native Mallorca could be better. “It started as a passion project” explained Krieger of the quirky and iconoclastic duo. Ànima Negra’s vines are dry-farmed and are not fertilized, helping to ensure they produce small, concentrated fruit. “They wanted to make important wines, organic and biodynamic” adding that they were particularly lucky to be in a location where “the winds keep most pests away.” The anti-authoritarian winemakers refuse to be certified organic, focusing instead on treating their mineral rich soil well in aid of what they call “happy grapes,” which are then hand-picked and hand selected for their unique wines. We tasted the ÀN/2 2010, a idiosyncratic red made from old vine Callet (60%), Mantonegre, Fogoneu and Syrah, fermented in a combination of stainless steel and old-school concrete — macerated only briefly to retain the freshness and flavor of the fruit. Aged for just over a year in a combo of French and American oak, about a third of which is new. The wine was a deep ruby red, with tons of violets, smoke and spice on the nose. Silky, elegant and well-balanced, this wine was the revelation of the tasting.
The Allegrini estate is in Fumane di Valpolicella, a small village just north of Verona. The family has been making wine for six generations. The Palazzo Della Torre is known as a baby amarone, because 70% of the grapes are pressed fresh, while 30% are ripasso — left to dry until the end of December. The fresh wine is then blended with the fermenting juice of the dried grapes, The end product has a unique combination of depth and freshness, with lots of complexity and concentrated flavor. It has a deep deep ruby red color and notes of dark dried cherries, blackberries and sticky dates. It would go particularly well with BBQ short ribs.
We finished up with a wine from the Douro Valley, Quinta do Passodouro Passa Tinto 2011. This is an exciting region that is becoming more well known for it’s dry, still wines. The old vines planted on steep terraces means that there is no machine harvesting for this wine. The grape varietals used are Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Touriga Franca, all fermented in stainless steel tanks and then aged in second and third passage French oak for 18 months. The resulting wine is ruby red in color, with an elegant nose of plum and black cherry. Balanced with a pleasant acidity.