If you’ve been a first vine customer and/or newsletter/blog reader for any length of time, you’ll understand that our tastes and opinions are pretty specific. So if there is a particular style of wine or varietal that can be found in the regions from which we import – yet we don’t carry them – there is probably a reason.
One example of this is Chardonnay. From Day One, we’ve had customers asking us about carrying wine made from the Chardonnay grape. And, while we love to please our customers, Tom and I pretty much hate what mostly passes for Chardonnay and we’d never try to sell anything we pretty much hated. Yet the requests kept coming so we soldiered on, quaffing way too many tastes of oaky buttery hazelnutty swill – eeew. Until, lo and behold, after almost three years Tom found a Chardonnay he actually loved. The big difference was the style – it was aged in steel, not oak – so it had none of the oaky, hazelnut taste. Another advantage was that malolactic fermentation was not allowed to occur, so it did not have the big buttery taste found so often in more typical Chardonnays. So we brought it over. I am a little embarrassed to say I thought he was crazy and it took me about six months before I would even try it. But really, I should not have doubted – it is a wonderful wine, and has all the light, fruity characteristics of the Chardonnay grape with none of the oaky buttery baggage. Try some for yourself, it’s a great everyday pick. (And if you’re looking for the ultimate Chardonnay fabulousness, try our Meridiana Isis. You’ll become a believer too!)
So it went with Sauvignon Blanc. Now I can’t say we actually *hate* Sauvignon Blancs (or at least not with the same anti-Chardonnay fervor). But Sauvignon Blancs have been veering dangerously into the outer limits of the distinctive New Zealand Marlborough region style – each one trying to
out hay, out gooseberry, out mineral, and out tropical fruit the last. Throw it into a bottle with a screw cap, then slap a juggling monkey on the label and there you have it. We’ll drink it but don’t ask us to be happy about it.
On the other hand, we have sampled some more restrained styles of wine made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape (think Sancerre), and we do love them for how well they pair with foods. In particular, highly acidic notoriously difficult wine pairing dishes like artichokes, asparagus and green salads with vinegar based dressings. The right kind of Sauvignon Blanc has just the perfect amount of acidity to stand up to these dishes, and complements them with their herbal mineral qualities. And, truth be told, we really do like the screw cap. Anything that shaves off six seconds between pulling the bottle out of the fridge and getting it open is okay in our book!
So yes, Gentle Reader, when Tom and Cy were visiting our Bordeaux producer, Gérald Majou de La Débutrie of Chateau Milon (try his Bordeaux Superieur Rouge – marvelous), he introduced them to a wonderful white from Bordeaux. First Vine is pleased to be the only U.S. importer of Quintet, a 100% Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a light-bodied, crisp wine with great acidity and the aroma and flavor of grapefruit. AND – it has a screw cap – perfect for picnics, boating, camping and any time you need to break open that bottle six seconds faster.
Now it’s time to grab a bottle of “Off” and and a couple bottles of “Quintet” then head out to your favorite picnic spot. This wine goes well with lots of different foods. It’s a great aperitif, or accompaniment to fish, seafood, poultry, and mild cheeses. But since it’s one of the few wines that really work well with salads, bring along a fragrant Greek “Farmer Style” salad and a loaf of crusty bread. Great on its own or as a side with roasted chicken or grilled fish. You won’t even miss the juggling monkey on the label. Really.
PS Stay tuned for Riesling – Tom’s headed to Alsace this fall and he’s got some leads on a few winemakers who produce some nice dry ones!
Rustic Greek “Farmer Style” Salad (serves 2)
1 medium cucumber, peeled and cut into wedges
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/2 medium sweet red onion, sliced
1/2 package Feta cheese soaked in water, drained
1 tablespoon fresh Greek oregano (whole leaves or chopped)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) red wine vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
Combine cucumbers, tomatoes and onion into a bowl. Crumble Feta Cheese over vegetables. Add fresh oregano. Pour olive oil and vinegar over the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.