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Gros Manseng


Wicked August Wines uncorked!

August 09 Wicked WinesI have now been to the beach a total of 4 days this summer - all of which have been during the month of August. So yes. It's official! Summer weather has finally arrived here in New England. And I just can't help myself! I am happily sipping from all categories of wine: red, white and... rosé! It’s time to make hay while the sun shines, and try something uniquely delicious and satisfying at the end of a sticky, summer day. Head over to Wicked Local to check out which Wicked August Wines you might just want to give a s-whirl!

Have you had the pleasure of tasting any of these offerings? What are your tasting notes?



Episode 1: the love affair between food and wine

Watermelon salad photo care of: weekend my "Supper Swap" group met again for the first time in a while. (We try to meet at least quarterly, picking a theme to inspire our respective culinary adventures for the night and otherwise help us break out of any cooking ruts we may have fallen into.) As we sat around the table discussing our "Summer-is-coming" dishes and what changes we would make to the recipes, I realized I have gotten away from discussing food more specifically in relation to wine on the Pour Favor blog.  I've been talking wine first, then food. But most of the time we work the other way around, right? You pick your meal or what you are going to chef, and then select a bottle to accompany it. Food is important.

I mean, yeah, there is the whole sustenance factor, lol. But in seriousness, wine is meant to be enjoyed with food. There are certainly some that excel on their own; but for the most part winemakers hope their wares grace your table and, ideally, take on a whole new meaning when matched with a wonderful meal.

This isn't to say we should always strive for the perfect pairing. Nonsense! Rather, we should be mindful that the components which make a wine a wine - fruit, acidity and tannin - are elements that, by nature, are designed for food. On that note, let's start talking about the union of food and wine over the next few weeks, shall we?

Supper Swap dish #1:  Watermelon, mint salad.

Apparently this dish was inspired by the Mustard Seed restaurant out in Davis, CA. Now their (online) recipe calls for cucumber, watermelon, mint and feta - but my friend recalled it with red onion, watermelon, mint and feta. Either which way you slice it, this salad was terrific. A true summer crowd pleaser. Fresh, healthy and delicious. And there is literally nothing more to it than dicing up the ingredients and tossing them together.

What wine would pair? This dish is incredibly versatile. But my instinct is to go for a terrific, DRY, rose - still OR sparkling! Rose tends to have terrific strawberry, raspberry or watermelon characteristics. One with more minerality (typically French offerings from areas such as Provence) or a more spice-nuanced flavor profile would be best because of the mint, bite of onion and slight richness to the feta.  You can certainly try one with more fruit-forward flavors.  But the watermelon on its own is so delicious, I'd want something nuanced in other ways to draw out it's more subtle, secondary (et. al.) flavors.

White varietals to consider would be Spanish Albarino or Txakoli or lesser known/sought French offerings like Muscadet, Gros Manseng and Picpoul.  Sauvignon Blanc might be an easier grab-and-go choice that would certainly work.  Simply think crisp, refreshing, minerality.

Prefer red? Try a fruity, ligher-styled, dry summer red. You don't want to upstage the juicy watermelon on your plate!

What wine(s) would you pick for this dish?



A trip to Gascony for a killer white wine

Gascony: time a wine from Gascony, France comes across the tasting table, Disney's Beauty and the Beast comes to mind. I have no idea why. I've never even been to Gascony! Perhaps there is something about the history of that region (think Vikings, Duchies, Joan of Arc and the 100 Years War) that transports me to Belle's little village.  Of course, it doesn't help this part of the world is most famous for one of my favorite evening night caps:  Armanac. I can just see myself sitting in the Beast's big leather armchair enjoying a little sippy sip before turning in.... One of the still wines I most appreciate from that area - a Peter Weygandt selection - is quaint like Belle's village, too. It is so in all the best senses of the word. Indeed, it is "skillfully" crafted, and delightfully "unusual in an interesting, pleasing, or amusing way". It has  easy-quaffing, mouth-filling, zippy pizazz.

What is this wine I speak of? Domaine de Cassagnoles' Gros Manseng. Gros Manseng is a white varietal grown exclusively in the southwest of France. As hinted above, it is better known for its role in the creation of Armagnac. But it is not often a major player in the world of still wines - or at least not in terms of export, I imagine.  (If my suspicion is correct, then kudos to Mr. Weygandt. He's got something special on his hands!)

The Domain Cassagnoles Gros Manseng is a delicious, paradox white. It strikes my fancy in the same way that some lesser known (or appreciated?) Italian whites appeal to me (e.g. Friulano, from Italy). It is a bit on the fuller, richer-textured side of the equation, but comes no where close to being a good alternative to a full bodied, oaked Chardonnay. (Egad!) It has too much lift in the mid palate and the fruit flavors are distinct. They are reminiscent of just-ripe, white peaches, quince and apricots - fruit-forward, but not juices-running-down-your-arm sweet. The citrus component is present just enough to provide that levity and zip, without being a grapefruit or lime-bomb of acidity often found in Sauvignon Blanc. A touch of minerality gives it a sense of place; you know it must be an Old World offering. This wine is like a little girl who's a bit more "grown up" than her peers - powerful and opinionated, but still having a welcome, youthful charm.

Ah... Much like Belle, no?

If you haven't sought out Gros Manseng, please do! It is such a versatile white ready for quaffing or pairing with fresh, spring/summer dishes.

Are you familiar with (still) Gros Manseng? How about Armagnac?