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Friday, May 25, 2012

Kick off Memorial Day Weekend with these Sultry Summer Sippers!

With the temperatures heating up outside (and boy are they!), it's time for some wines that are guaranteed to take the edge off a sizzling Summer Day. 

For the Museum of Art Ft. Lauderdale's "Art of Wine & Food" Series event last night, I selected wines that are light, lovely and perfect for sipping by the pool or pairing with lighter, warm weather fare. While the seminar was titled "Spring Fling: Wines that Pair with the Fresh Flavors of Spring!" it was more like "Spring into Summer" since the unofficial start of the season is Memorial Day weekend which begins today. Our three wines for the evening were accompanied by the delicious cuisine of Chef Marci Boland of L'Hermitage Catering. It's always a pleasure working with Marci and I think our guests would agree, we enjoyed some pretty spectacular pairings!
Wine #1: Poema Cava Brut NV 
Cava is a Spain's sparkling wine, produced primarily in the Penedès region in the northeastern part of the country. Crisp and fruity, Cava is currently growing in popularity in the United States.

For a wine to qualify for the Cava designation it must adhere to certain criteria including grape varieties used, method of production and length of aging. The three main grape varieties used to make Cava are Parellada, Macabeo, and Xarel-lo although other grapes including Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are also permitted. Like Champagne, Cava must be produced using the méthode traditionelle or méthode champenoise which requires that the wine’s secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle from which it is later served. The wines must also be cellared and aged on their lees for a minimum of nine months. The final wine is classified by its sugar content and length of aging. Ranging from driest to sweetest, Cava is classified as: Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Dry, Semi-Dry, and Sweet. 

The delightful Poema Brut Cava NV offers delicate aromas of citrus and peach with a hint of spice. The palate is dry with a crisp acidity and light fruit flavors that make it an excellent pairing with dishes such as smoked salmon, goat cheese salads and lighter fare - although it's perfectly enjoyable on its own! Cava is also an excellent value and a fabulous choice for sparkling wine based cocktails such as Mimosas or Bellinis. This wine synergized beautifully with Chef Marci's delicious Fettuccine with Lemon, Parmesan Cream and Cracked Pepper. MSRP: $12

Wine #2: 2007 Helfrich Pinot Gris Alsace 
Alsace is a much disputed geographical region located on the eastern border of France known for producing almost exclusively white, varietal wines. For much of its existence, it was known as the western German region “Elsass” and has been the subject of many territorial disputes between France and Germany. Separated from Germany by the Rhine River and from France by the Vosges mountains, the language and culture of Alsace owe much to both regions, but is also unique in many respects.

The Helfrich family has been crafting wines in Alsace for six generations. They are leading the Alsatian Renaissance with grapes from centuries old vineyards and employ modern wine making methods with a minimalist touch to allow the terroir to show through.

The fruit for this 100% Pinot Gris comes from the Couronne d'Or (Golden Crown), an association of local vineyards that runs through the center of Alsace. The soil is mostly calcareous and the vines are dry farmed and trained upwards for maximum sun exposure. This wine has a yellow-gold hue and aromas of ripe apricot, pear and minerals. It has a rich, round mouthfeel and flavors of peach and apple with a well-balanced, fresh finish. This Pinot Gris is delicious paired with shellfish such as crab and mussels as well as dishes with some spice, like Indian or Thai cuisine. Guests swooned over this dish paired with Grilled Chicken in Indian Spices with Mango Salsa. MSRP: $14

Wine #3: 2009 Louis Jadot Moulin-
à-Vent Château des Jacques
Maison Louis Jadot was founded in 1859 by Louis Henry Denis Jadot whose family settled in Beaune near the turn of the century. Maison Louis Jadot's principles of vinification balance tradition and technology and focus on the purest expression of "terroir" through the medium of the vine. 

Purchased by Maison Louis Jadot in 1996, the Château des Jacques is situated in the village of Moulin-à-Vent (which translates as 'windmill' in English), between Fleurie and Chenas. The Moulin-à-Vent wine is referred to as the “King of Beaujolais,” and widely considered to be the most Burgundian “Cru” of Beajolais. The other nine Crus are St. Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnié, Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly.

Like all Beaujolais reds, the '09 Louis Jadot Moulin-à-Vent Château des Jacques is produced from 100% Gamay grapes. The wine is vinified in closed vats, and then aged in oak barrels for six months. While generally known for its light, fruity flavors, this is a full, robust Beaujolais with a rich texture and greater longevity than any other Cru of the Beaujolais. While perfect for drinking now, this wine could also age for another 5-7 years. Serve this wine slightly chilled and paired with charcuterie, grilled red meats or game. It harmonized deliciously with the flavorful Stuffed Tomatoes Provencal with Ham, Herbs & Garlic. MSRP: $22

If you're interested in purchasing any of these wines, please contact me at A big thank you to everyone who joined us last night and to Republic National Distributing Company for their support of the "Art of Food & Wine." Please join us next month on Thursday, June 28th as we celebrate our two year anniversary of the series. Our theme will be "Alternative Grapes: Take a Walk on the Wild Side with Wines Made from Obscure Grape Varieties!" - hope to see you there!

Cheers to a festive & fabulous Memorial Day Weekend,

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