Sara’s Sommelier Selections – June 22, 2013

Sara d'Amato

Sara d’Amato

Due to enthusiastic requests, I recently began posting food-friendly wine selections chosen from the VINTAGES release catalogue. My aim is to serve up an assortment of wines that will inspire your inner chef. Generally speaking, these wines are juicy, exuberant, distinctive of place and anything but run-of-the-mill.

The southern Rhône wines featured in the June 22 release come just in time for warm weather and hopefully drier times. The sunny charm and terroir expressive wines of the south are a sommelier’s delight as they feature a blend of grapes with complex results allowing for diverse food pairing options. Two of my choices from this region come from Gigondas. This area, adjacent to the better-known vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, often produces results just as majestic and multi-faceted as its esteemed neighbor. One is best for a casual setting, while the other is more apt for special occasions.

Domaine Saint Gayan Gigondas 2009
Rhone, France, ON $29.95

The producers of Domaine Saint Gayan are grenache specialists and hail from an impressively long line of vignerons. This hot vintage Gigondas remains happily balanced and will certainly prove a sophisticated addition to the table or cellar. Food Match: Roasted leg of lamb

Domaine Saint Gayan Gigondas 2009

Ortas L’estellan Gigondas 2011
Rhone, France, ON $19.95

Sleek and silky, this slightly simpler but still impactful Gigondas expresses the charm and distinctive garrigue (aromas and flavours of dried underbrush, lavender and scorched earth) common to the southern Rhône all for less than $20. Food Match: Smoked meat sandwiches

Ortas L'estellan Gigondas 2011

Fontaine Du Clos Muscat À Petits Grains 2011
Rhone, France, ON $16.95

If you are fan of floral, fruity wines but find that sweet just can’t beat the heat of summer, here is a terrific compromise – a dry muscat from the southern Rhône. Delicious as an aperitif paired with refreshing nibbles. Food Pairing: Prosciutto wrapped melon

Fontaine Du Clos Muscat À Petits Grains 2011

Kunde Zinfandel 2008
Sonoma County, California, ON $21.95

Zinfandel is a juicy, mid-weight varietal that can sometimes take a slight chill and is also terrific for casual dinners and barbeque season. This example is rife with diverse flavours such as sweet tomatoes, licorice, mouth-watering currants and raspberries, which are not uncommon in a well-made offering such as this one from the sustainably farmed Zunde Family Estate. Food Pairing: Moroccan lamb tagine

Kunde Zinfandel 2008

Ventisquero Queulat Carménère 2010
Maipo Valley, Chile, ON $15.95

Carménère food pairing possibilities are heightened by the umami quality that is notably present in the wines of this varietal.  Consider what soy sauce does for food by heightening its flavours – carménère has similar, although less potent, properties and meshes well with aigre-doux sauces. Ventisquero’s single vineyard carménère from the Maipo valley surrounding and encompassing the city of Santiago is teeming with characteristic flavours of pepper, wild herbs and cassis all at an easy to swallow price. Food Pairing: Barbequed ribs or Szechuan noodle dishes

Ventisquero Queulat Carménère 2010

Alvaro Castro Red 2009
Dão, Portugal, ON $16.95

Finally, another sensual Dão selection this week from an iconic, uncompromising and leading producer of the region: Alvaro Castro. An aromatic, delicately spiced wine with notes of violets and blueberries boasting a juicy, food friendly palate that is exceedingly pleasant. Food Pairing: Pork and sage sausage

Alvaro Castro Red 2009

Look forward to some cool rosé picks in July. Until then, santé!

Sara d’Amato

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From the June 22, 2013 Vintages release:

Sara’s Sommelier Selections
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