Wine Pairing: Strauss Samling and Scampi!

Recently, our own Greg Glunt enjoyed a bottle from his recently purchased case of Strauss Samling 88 2019. It’s his new “spring house white” he says! And it paired beautifully with shrimp scampi with linguini. See the recipe below.  Looks good to the rest of us too!

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Shrimp Scampi with Linguini

Ingredients:

1 pound linguini
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 finely diced shallots
2 minced cloves garlic
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
1 pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

1. Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta. Once the water has reached a full boil, add some salt and the pasta. Stir. Cook at boil for 7 minutes (pasta will be just shy of al dente). Drain and stir in a little olive oil to keep pasta from sticking together. Cover and set aside.

2. In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Saute shallots, red pepper flakes and garlic until shallots are clear. Season shrimp with salt & pepper and add them to the pan. Cook shrimp until pink then remove and keep warm (I place them in a bowl with a lid). Add lemon juice and wine to the saute pan and bring to boil. Add two tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once the butter has melted, add the shrimp, parsley and cooked pasta. Stir together and season to taste. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.

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Distinctive and Delicious Malbecs from Mendoza

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Mendoza winemakers are traveling a road to producing wines that reflect soil and place – and do so deliciously!

When Malbec burst on the American wine scene and pushed aside Aussie Shiraz as the best wine value in the USA 10-15 years ago, paying attention to the terroir of various subregions wasn’t on anyone’s mind.

As Uco Valley winemaker Matías Riccitelli told Wine Enthusiast in late 2018, “In the early days, meaning 15 to 20 years ago, the creativity came from outside,” he says. “You had Michel Rolland and his Bordeaux friends at Clos de los Siete, Paul Hobbs [from California] at Cobos, and Hans Vinding-Diers [a Dane] with Noemia down in Patagonia.”

Those outsiders brought with them an “International” understanding of what made for great red wine. And the wines they made – picked at very full ripeness, softened to smoothness, and given a sheen of spice in new oak – very much fit that international mold. And given the then very low land and farming costs in Argentina, they delivered that polished style at stunningly low prices.

A couple of years ago, we began noticing something new in the Malbecs we tried at our buying tastings.

A New Generation. As second and third generation Mendoza-born winery owners took the reins of their estates, they began looking past the international style to try to discover what was unique about their vines, soils, and locations. To be honest, most of those early attempts reminded us why Malbec traditionally plays a supporting role to Cabernet Sauvignon in most of the world.

Today, though, we’re finding more and more examples of Mendoza Malbec that is both distinctively “Mendoza” and utterly delicious. A wine class a few months ago with Sebastian Zuccardi of the Familia Zuccardi Estate provided a fine introduction to the varied terroirs of Mendoza. And, we are also featuring wines from Bodega Andeluna.

Andeluna WineryAndeluna is a great example of an estate working in the Mendoza subregion of Gualtallary that’s made the transition to wines of delicious distinctiveness. Join us on Saturday from noon-4pm and you can taste through their full line-up of current releases with export manager Nicolás Cricco. Like us, we think you’ll be thrilled with the purity of their Chardonnay, the floral complexity of their Torrentes, and the satisfying richness of both their “everyday” Cabernet and the much more serious Malbec Altutud.

But Andeluna’s Malbec Raices is most likely the wine that will stop you cold. Especially when you look at the price – at $9.98 by the bottle, the best you’ll find in the USA. At $7.98/ea by the case?

This wine showcases the unique blend of alluvial, sandy, and limestone-rich soils of Gualtallary. These free-draining soils give bunches of small berries that achieve full ripeness of flavor and tannin at modest alcohols of 13.8%. And when treated with care, they deliver wines that match their fullness and fruit with amazing freshness and superb drinkability. A can’t miss winning four-season, all-purpose red that could be the finest value you’ll find in all of 2020 to come!

Climb the Hill for Delicious Burgundy Values

Really good, stylish, delicious red and white Burgundy values are still out there – but you have to be willing to explore a bit to find them. So drive the road from Chassagne-Montrachet past St Aubin and climb the hill to the Haute-Cotes village of La Rochepot. That’s where you’ll find Jerome and Elisabeth Billard, sometimes their son Louis, and some of the most compelling white and red Burgundy values we’ve tasted in years!

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On our visit in March, Doug got to meet Jerome and Elisabeth … and Rafael the horse, an important part of Dom Billard’s vineyard care!

Jerome took over the family estate 20 years ago, in 1999, and promptly stopped selling to the local co-op and began bottling wine himself. He quickly converted his vineyards to organic farming and, while raising three children, gradually acquired small vineyard plots in select sites across the Cotes de Beaune.

Today his children are mostly grown and one son, Louis, is a budding winegrower working in the cellars at Domaine Romanee-Conti (on his days off, he helps Jerome work the family’s vineyards and is learning how to use Rafael the horse to reduce the use of tractors within the vines).

Dom Billard signElisabeth and Jerome of BillardBut the winegrowing philosophy has remained constant.

Low-Impact, Meticulous Farming: All of Billard’s vineyards are farmed organically with no chemical insecticides, fertilizers or herbicides. In four vineyards, plowing and mowing are done by horse, rather than tractor, to limit soil compactions. The vines are tightly pruned to limit fruit set and bunches are dropped while green to keep yields low.

Focus on Freshness: Jerome loves ripe fruit – but not over-ripe fruit. He picks each site to achieve fine balance of fruit flavors and acidity and then full destems and sorts grape by grape to ensure that only perfect berries make it into the wine.

Gently, Gently: Chardonnay is pressed slow and gently to extract pure juice with no bitterness from the skins or seeds. Pinot Noir goes into the fermenters as whole berries, and then are trod by foot to release the juice and extract color and structure with soft, supple, tannins. As much as possible, the young wine moves through the winery via gravity or air pressure to minimize harsh pumping.

Judicious Oak: Great Burgundy needs time in barrel and the finest, most concentrated, wines need at least a little new oak to achieve balance, finesse and complexity. But Jerome knows that too much wood flavor means that the unique signature of site and vintage can easily be overwhelmed. The whites all ferment and age in barrel, while the reds all see barrel for aging. But the quality of barrel is very high, the toast levels low, and the percentage of new oak kept down so each wine’s character and fruit can shine through.

Generosity, Drinkability, and Unmistakably Burgundy
Folks, these are seriously good Burgundies that you don’t have to be “serious” to enjoy. Highly recommended. Get ’em.

Billard Justice and santenay les hates

Beaujolais Nouveau? – Yup – for Easter!

jean-paul-brun-beaujolais-nouveau-vv-l-ancien_1Here’s a little peek inside the wine business.
Jean Paul Brun’s “regular” bottling of l’Ancien Beaujolias is always a favorite, so when we came to the end of the 2018 vintage recently, we asked Margaret Perry of Williams Corner Wines – home of all things organic, authentic, and sometimes a little weird – to suggest a replacement.
When she recommended the l’Ancien Beaujolais Nouveau I had my doubts. But here, word for word, is how she convinced me to try this:
“From JP Brun Terre Dorées — all we have is the Nouveau — but hear me out! His nouveau is in the exact same wine as the regular Villes Vignes “L’Ancien” — only he bottles this wine right at the end of fermentation, instead of aging it in tanks with the regular cuvee.
 
“At this point, it’s essentially bottle aged, and it is just so damn good. 40-60 year old vines (when do you see that in Nouveau?!); organically grown, hand harvested, rigorously sorted, fermented without carbonic (he calls it the “Burgundian style”). As it happens, I had a bottle in my cellar and opened it up this week. It reminds me of eating Santa Rosa Plums off our tree when I was a kid — and spilling juice everywhere but still reaching for a second one. Warm, sun-ripened fruit (black cherry, tart red plum, black raspberry), nicely lift from the acidity, elegant tannins, it’s lush and refreshing all at once. 
You may still be skeptical, so here’s the deal. If you normally love Beaujolais and/or that description sounds good to you, buy some. If you don’t love it – and I mean go over the moon with eye-rolling delight from first sip to last glug of the upside-down bottle as you struggle to get one more drop into your glass … well, I’ll buy back any unopened bottles from you!
Jean Paul Brun’s Beaujolais Nouveau VV l’Ancien 2019 is decidedly and decisively different from what you may have come to expect from this fading rite of fall. From $14.98 per bottle, this is gloriously delicious, vivid, enlivening, joy- and thanks-producing Gamay that you’ll struggle not to gulp.

Petra Toscana: ‘The Fascinating Story of a Feminine Trip’

Francesca MorettiFrancesca Moretti likes to say that the entire Petra project is “the fascinating story of a feminine trip.”

Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi, Napoleon’s sister and Grand Duchess of Tuscany, was the first to plant vines in this part of the Tuscan Coast. Her original five-hectare plot of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese is planted to those same varietals today and her herb and flower garden, now called the “Princess’s Garden,” has been restored using the 19th Century map prepared by historical botanist Paolo Tomei from the University of Siena.

The vineyards had been long abandoned with then 19-year-old Francesca Moretti took a break from her studies towards a veterinary degree to drive to Bordeaux with her father. Upon passing through the rolling hills and seaside vistas of the Suvereto district in Maremma, she fell in love. The rest, as they say, is history.

Matching Soil to Grapes
The vineyards were meticulously planted at the foot of Maremma’s Colline Metallifere hills, the “metal-bearing hills” mined from Etruscan times through the 19th Century. Francesca Moretti and her father, Vittorio, analyzed each plot of the 300 hectare estate for soil type, exposition, and exposure to the cooling breezes coming off the nearby Tyrrhenian Sea.

Where appropriate, the red, iron-rich soils were matched to both French grapes – Syrah, Cabernets, Merlot, Petit Verdot – and Tuscany’s own Sangiovese. The remaining two-thirds of the property was planted to olives or left wild to support the natural population of deer, boars, porcupines, hedgehogs, badgers, foxes, kestrels, buzzards and owls.

A few years ago, then Wine Advocate Italian critic Antonio Galloni wrote that

“Petra is one of my favorite properties for intense, flavorful wines from the Suvereto district in Maremma,” and he later added, “I rarely hear Petra mentioned in a discussion of the best wines and wineries from the Tuscan coast, but year after year the wines are reliably outstanding and fairly priced. … The house style is one of bold, exuberant wines.”

Many of you loved the 2015 Petra Toscana Zingari we featured last year, taking it home by the box-full when we first offered and then coming back for more and more while it lasted. When the huge ratings and Wine Spectator Top 100 award for the 2017 came out late last year, the 2017 was still awaiting release in Italy and demand soared (and the winery took a price increase, too). Last year, we brought you 52 cases of the 2015. And 52 cases is all we were allocated for this even more stunning 2017 vintage.

The 2017 edition of Petra Toscana Zingari is pretty much everything you’d hope for in a $50 prestige bottling. At $17.98 by the bottle or $16.98/ea by the case, this is an order all you can and then rush down to pick it up via our contactless curbside pick-up or enjoy our expanded free delivery service to addresses in Arlington, Falls Church, Vienna, Tysons, McLean and Great Falls.