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Wine Club November: Two South American Reds Perfect for Turkey Day!

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and that means an annual tradition for Grand Cata: releasing November’s Wine Club early so that you can grab the wines for Thanksgiving! The wines arrived to the shop mid afternoon Thursday, so you can drop by and pick them up starting tonight, Friday, Nov. 16th. The official release party will take place this Sunday, Nov. 18th, from 3 to 6pm.

For this release, we chose two reds from South America that represent the cutting edge of what’s going on down there. One is as juicy, delicious and drinkable as wine can get. The other focuses on the more savory, herbal aromas and flavors that cool climate vineyards provide.

“Via Revolucionaria” is the brainchild of Matías Michelini, one of four winemaking brothers that comprise the umbrella concept called “passionate wines,” based out of Tupungato, Argentina. Each of the brothers has multiple projects at any given time all throughout the world, from Galicia to Peru to the Atlantic coast of Argentina.

The wine we chose from Matías uses one of our absolute favorite grapes. Many of you may recognize its cousin país, the backbone of Pipeño from Chile, also known as misíon in Mexíco, mission in California, and criolla chica in Argentina. The grape in this wine is criolla (pronounced cree-yoh-sha) grande.

The wine aptly describes Matías philosophy at the moment: freshness, with a focus on fruit and floral notes, and above all, drinkability. The wine tastes like cranberry and cherry juice infused with lavender and black pepper. It’s nowhere near as smoky as chilean país. Think of it as amped up cranberry sauce!

If the first wine pairs with the turkey itself, the second wine, a malbec, cariñena, tempranillo blend from the “Vinos Fríos del Año” line by J.A. Jofré of Chile, pairs with side dishes. We never thought we say this, but we actually found a wine that legitimately pairs perfectly with stuffing!

Jofré’s “vinos fríos” line are wines sourced from vineyards nestled closer to the Andes in the Curicó valley, where the climate is cooler due to breezes from the mountains. Malbec, cariñena, and tempranillo are not common grapes in the valley, nor are they grapes commonly grown in cooler climates. The results are stunning. While fairly full bodied, the wine has exceptional acidity and noticable, but not distracting, tannins. But the most striking feature of the wine is an intense herbal aroma of dill and something akin to garlic. While not devoid of fruit tones, this wine very obviously revolves around savory flavors and aromas. Delicious!

We look forward to seeing you for the release party on Sunday! And again, if you’ll be traveling over the weekend, the wines are already in the store and ready for pick up. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Let's Pick the Right Thanksgiving Wines!

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Thanksgiving is a week away! To us, the right selection of wines for your feast is just as important as nailing the Turkey - and with the help of one of our catadores and the tips in this piece - quite a bit easier to pull off!

An easy trap to fall into with pairing for Thanksgiving is to worry too much about finding a “turkey-wine.” In fact, as a general rule, worry less about pairing to the protein of the meal thank you’ve probably been told. Instead, focus on the sauces and side dishes, where most of the flavor actually comes from. Turkey offers a pretty blank canvas. The gravy you smother it with, though? It can be light and fresh or deep and rich, and anything in between, and should be very flavorful, most likely with herbs. Pair accordingly.

Notice how we said “selection” in the lead off paragraph. That’s your best bet for Thanksgiving, to offer an array of wines, none of which will clash with anything, and a few of which that pair perfectly to a particular dish. So ask yourself, “does anyone usually bring a truly standout side dish?” Something that everyone looks forward to each year? Make sure you have a wine that will pair well both texturally and flavor wise to dishes like that.

Don’t forget about dessert! A beautiful port or late harvest sweet wine with classic thanksgiving desserts will turn a few heads, in a good way!

To sum up, here’s what we suggest:

  1. Have options, and don’t go too heavy or too light. Dry riesling, a nice chardonnay, and viognier are all great options for whites. Someone at the table will undoubtedly want a heavy red, so have something nice for them. Any kind of pinot noir, carmenere, and a favorite of ours, Chilean Pipeño, are the types of reds you’ll want to focus on.

  2. Pick a crowd favorite side dish and pair to it with a wine that has either similar or complementary flavors and texture. Let’s say an Aunt makes a killer green bean casserole. A sauvignon blanc from the Casablanca Valley in Chile will have the right balance of acidity, weight and herbal flavors to elicit a chorus of  “oooos” and “ahhhhhs!”

  3. It’s a celebration, so enjoy dessert alongside a dessert wine! You can’t go wrong with tawny port or cream cherry, but if you want to really knock it out of the park, we have a late-harvest torontel from 2010 by Erasmo that will pair perfectly with pumpkin pie!

So stock up, enjoy time off from work with family and friends, and stop by the shop for help picking the right selection for your table!

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Drink History from a Bottle: Discover Basque Cider

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The Basque region of northern Spain is a gastronomical godsend, both currently, and historically. Though the list of food and drink that the Basque excel at seemingly has no end, with this piece we want to focus on one of our favorites: cider.

Cider making, and the requisite apple growing, has such important historical significance in the Basque that many common surnames pertain to it. Sagastieder, for example, means "beautiful apple-orchard." Dolare means "press," referring to the apparatus traditionally used to turn apples into must to ferment. Upelategi means "barrel building". And so on, with dozens of other examples.

And they’ve been doing it for a long time. Historical records as far back as the 1300s acknowledge the region for the quality of its apples, and the cider made from them. Today, Sagardotegi, or a cross between a cider-house and a steakhouse, remain essential cultural cornerstones.

In a more traditional Sagardotegi, patrons follow a practice called txotx, essentially a call for everyone who wants more cider to make their way down to the barrels to fill up. A small spout shoots the cider out from about head height, and whoever wants some catches the stream as close to the ground as possible. This helps aerate the cider.

Because, unlike most styles of cider, Basque cider is still, not carbonated. The act of pouring from height and distance adds in a bit of foam and brings the flavors to life. There are many different styles of Basque cider, and other a dozen different types of apples that grow there that make good cider. As a rule, though, Basque ciders have a tartness and funkiness to them that make they incredible partners for food. They’re not meant to be drank by themselves.

In fact, this is how the concept of the Sagardotegi came to be. Producers would invite potential buyers of their cider to their cidery, and the buyers would always bring food, understanding they could not assess the quality of the cider without good food. Overtime, some cideries decided they might as well provide their own food. It’s still common, in fact, to bring your own steak with you when you visit a Sagardotegi!

So join us in appreciating these traditions! The Basque country is beautiful and well worth the trip, but in the meantime, transport yourself there with a bottle of their delicious fermented apple juice. Which, by the way, is the literal translation of the basque word for cider, Sagardo!

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