Soave: A White Wine for Mad Men

Classic cocktails naturally come to mind when looking for something to drink while watching Mad Men. But what if wine is more your style?

Fans of the AMC series can get into the ‘60s mood by sipping Soave, a white wine from northern Italy.

Soave was a popular wine in the 1960s, featured in Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita” and loved by Frank Sinatra. Apparently the singer only went to restaurants that had his preferred brand of Soave on the list.

Soave takes its name from the Soave region, a DOC (Denominazione d’Orgine Controlata) in the Veneto in northeast Italy. It is made mainly from Garganega grapes, along with Trebbiano di Soave.

Soave is an easy to enjoy and affordable alternative to Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Fresh and food-friendly, Soave can have citrus, melon, floral and nutty flavors, with mineral notes and vibrant acidity.

In addition to Mad Men, Soave pairs well with a range of foods including seafood, poultry and pasta.

Here are a few bottles of Soave to try:

Bolla Soave Classico
Frank Sinatra’s favorite Soave has flavors of white flowers, pear and lemon, with a hint of almond on the finish and a price tag of less than $10.

Suavia Soave Classico
Fresh aromas introduce delicate flavors of peach, green apple, spring flowers and a touch of anise.

Montresor Soave Capitel Alto
Rich with intense aromas and flavors, this wine has notes of pear, apple and white peach.

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival Celebrates the South

 

How do you dispel the myth that southern cuisine is not as sophisticated as other regional fine dining? You bring together chefs, educators and plenty of food and wine fans for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, a celebration of the South’s rich culinary traditions.

“The Southern food experience can be so so different depending on what region of the south you’re in, what influences you have,” said Chef Kevin Gillespie of Atlanta’s Woodfire Grill. “People think that it’s just fried chicken and gravy – and it is that, it’s just so, so much more.”

There was plenty of fried chicken at the tasting tents, the festival’s main draw. Local and regional chefs shared their version of the southern staple.

Festival attendees got to taste much more than just chicken. Restaurants visiting from as far west as Texas and far north as Virginia offered barbecue, pork, seafood, tacos and beyond. Plus there were plenty of Georgia peaches, pecans and Vidalia onions – and beer, bourbon, whiskey and wine to wash it all down.

Learning experiences offered an in depth look at both the comfort and gourmet aspects of southern food and drink. While sharing standout wines produced in Georgia, Texas and Virginia, winemakers demonstrated that the west coast has some competition.

Said Mary Ann Hardman, owner of Persimmon Creek Vineyards, “I think it is very very important for restaurants, who especially espouse a fork to plate, or a local sort of push in their food . . . how can you say you are serving food that is local when you don’t have one wine that’s from Georgia on your list?”

For both chefs and festival attendees, the weekend was more than just a chance to eat great food and sip a variety of wine and spirits – it was a way to honor the South’s unique culinary heritage while getting a taste of the dining trends to come.

Said Chef Gillespie, “we have cultures from the entire globe coming together and we want to show people that southern cuisine is a modern, moving, evolving cuisine and hopefully this festival will show that.”

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Copain: Exceptional Pinot Noir & Syrah

By Robin Alix Austin

When describing the wines of Copain you could begin with the name. French for buddy or pal, Copain calls to mind someone you enjoy spending time with and with whom you get along well.

At the risk of sounding a bit cliché, Copain produces wines that evoke the idea of a friend. Pleasing, easy to drink and with layers of flavors, these are wines you can – and want to – enjoy often.

Assistant winemaker Mike Lucia shared a taste of five wines from the Healdsburg, California winery during the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction in March.

Among all of Copain’s exceptional wine, the ones that really stood out to me were from the “Les Voisins” series. Meaning “the neighbors” in French, these wines come from grapes grown on neighboring vineyards in the Anderson Valley and Yorkville Highlands appellations.

Taking a sip of the 2009 Les Voisins Pinot Noir makes you understand why some wine drinkers are so passionate about Pinot. Even if you’re not the biggest Pinot Noir fan, I dare you to taste this wine and not think it’s absolutely delicious.

This Pinot Noir comes from the Anderson Valley and is a blend of three neighboring vineyards. At first it’s bright and juicy, with flavors of ripe cherry, raspberry and blueberry. Then comes some darker notes – boysenberry, white pepper, violet and a touch of star anise. Woven throughout is nicely balanced acidity and subtle minerality from the sandstone and shale soils. It’s silky and supple in the mouth, with a long, satisfying finish.

The 2009 Les Voisins Syrah is just as elegant but with more intensity. The wine is a blend of three vineyards situated on the same slope of rocky terrain in the Yorkville Highlands. Floral and black fruit aromas introduce a sophisticated palate layered with blackberry, plum, cassis, black pepper, graphite and allspice. Full in the mouth and well balanced, this wine culminates in a finish that has long-lingering spice and boysenberry jam notes.

Now these are the kind of friends and neighbors anyone would want.

For more information on Copain visit www.copainwines.com.

This is part of a series of articles on wines from the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. Click here to read more.

Numanthia: Bold Red Wines from Toro

By Robin Alix Austin

With a name like Toro, you’d expect this region in Spain to produce big and bold wines. That’s one element of the wines of Numanthia – red wines that have intense dark fruit flavors and massive tannic structure. Yet these wines also have elegance and finesse, a bull and a matador coming together in a show of artistry.

The matador of Numanthia is Manuel Louzada, a winemaker who is able to reel in, tame and refine the Tinta de Toro grape. This is a variation of Tempranillo that has adapted to the hot climate of Toro. Compared to Tempranillo, Tinta de Toro has thicker skin and a darker color.

Toro is located northwest of Madrid in the western area of Castile and Léon. It has a continental climate with long, hot summers and little rain. In Toro harvesting grapes at just the right time is extremely important for preserving the fresh fruit flavors and maintaining an appropriate alcohol content in the wine. As harvest approaches, Manuel tastes the grapes every two to three days to determine when they are ready to be picked.

Manuel shared a taste of Numanthia’s current releases while in town for the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. Numanthia was one of the few non-American wineries and the only Spanish winery participating in the weekend of wine events.

Numanthia was founded in 1998 and pays tribute to the area’s heroic past. The estate took its name from the towns of Numancia and Tiermes, whose people resisted Roman invasion in 134 BC by preferring death to surrender. Numanthia’s vines are strong too, resisting the Phylloxera outbreak that devastated Europe’s vineyards in the late 1800s.

During the High Museum Wine Auction, Numanthia’s wine held its own among the numerous full-bodied Napa Cabernets. All made entirely from Tinta de Toro grapes, these are wines so intense and mouth-filling you’ll almost want to chew them before you swallow.

The first wine Manuel shared was the 2009 Termes, made with grapes that were harvested from 30 to 50 year old vines. The wine spent 16 months in oak barrels.

Manuel’s aim with the Termes was to capture the lively and fresh fruit that he tasted in the vineyards. Deep magenta in color, the wine has flavors of raspberry, cherry, plum and fig layered with cinnamon, vanilla and tobacco. Chewy tannins give the wine a pleasant weight in the mouth.

The second wine Manuel shared was the 2008 Numanthia. The grapes for this wine came from 60 to 100 year old vines. The wine spent two years in new French oak barrels and another year in bottles before it was released.

With this wine you still find the fresh fruit of the Termes but it is enhanced by additional flavors of white pepper, molasses, cloves, dark chocolate, black tea and licorice. The texture is just as intense as the flavor, with sweet tannins and a crushed velvet mouthfeel.

The final wine was a showstopper. Speaking about the 2008 Termanthia Manuel said, “I feel honored to make a wine like this.”

The grapes for the Termanthia came from vineyards that were planted between 1870 and 1890. Manuel used delicate winemaking techniques to produce this wine including destemming by hand and “pisado,” stomping the grapes by foot during fermentation. The skins were so thick, said Manuel, that the men were able to stand at the top of the vats without their feet sinking in.

The wine went through two series of aging in new French oak barrels, spending a total of 20 months in oak.

The 2008 Termanthia is a wine you could spend hours describing. Complex aromas of blackberry, cedar, cocoa and spice expand and evolve on the palate. Layers of black cherry, cassis, clove, mocha, truffle and vanilla add depth, while delicate flavors of rose and violet add elegance. Concentrated yet silky tannins give the wine a lively mouthfeel, and the finish has long lingering notes of black fruit and spice.

This is the kind of wine that makes you crave a steak – and demands the finest dry aged cut. It’s a wine you want to sip all evening, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the intricate flavors and how it changes over time in the glass.

To learn more about Numanthia visit www.numanthia.com.

This is part of a series of articles on wines from the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. Click here to read more.

Smyrna Wine Stroll on May 19th

During the Smyrna Wine Stroll guests will be able to taste more than 60 different wines and snack on small bites provided by local restaurants and sponsors, all while supporting a great cause.

The 7th annual event is a fun way to enjoy Smyrna’s beautiful shopping center and support local merchants and vendors.

This year’s event benefits the Smyrna Public Safety Foundation. One hundred percent of the net proceeds will go towards the non-profit organization that supports Smyrna’s police and firefighters.

Sponsors of the event include Atkins Park Tavern, Zucca Bar & Pizzeria, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Cabot Cheese, VitaminWater/SmartWater and The Wine Cellars.

Tickets to the Smyrna Wine Stroll are $45 per person, and may be purchased in advance online. Guests must be 21 years of age and older to participate.

For more information visit www.smyrnawinestroll.com.

The Smyrna Wine Stroll, Saturday, May 19th, 2pm – 5pm in Smyrna, Georgia.

AG Pick: Hera Vinho Verde Branco 2011

Atlantans, meet your new summer white wine. Introducing Hera Vinho Verde Branco, a refreshing wine from Portugal that is now available in Georgia.

Vinho Verde is a type of wine produced in northwest Portugal. The name translates to “green wine,” which refers to the wine’s youth, not color. Vinho Verde wines can be white (branco in Portuguese), red or rosé, and are meant to be enjoyed young (typically within a year of bottling).

From the pool to the picnic, Hera Vinho Verde Branco is your go-to white wine. With fresh acidity, a slight effervescence and a lower alcohol content, this wine is perfect for an afternoon outdoors.

Hera Branco is made mainly from Loureiro grapes (85%), the principal variety in the region. Making up the remaining 15% are equal parts Trajadura and Arinto grapes.

Hera Branco is extremely pale straw yellow in color with a touch of green. Tart citrus and melon aromas introduce a crisp and refreshing palate. Flavors of lime, white grapefruit, green pear, honeydew and white flowers culminate in a clean finish. A slight effervescence and racy acidity give the wine a pleasant and light mouthfeel. Some residual sugar balances out the acidity, rounding out the wine and making it easy to sip.

Hera Vinho Verde Branco is great as an aperitif, and can pair well with a variety of summer dishes – salads, shellfish, grilled chicken and fish. The wine has a screw top so no need to remember the corkscrew.

Yet another reason why you’ll want to make this your summer sipping wine – Hera Vinho Verde Branco is extremely budget friendly, costing between $8 and $9 a bottle.

Hera Vinho Verde Branco should be served between 48°F and 50°F.

10% alcohol by volume

More White Wines | Red Wines | More Under $20

Rethink Rosé: A Taste of Rosé Wines from Provence

By Maxine Howard

The Provence Tasting Tour rolled into San Francisco in April to showcase rosé wines from the beautiful south of France. Nineteen wineries arrayed their offerings around the bar at the Bluestem Brasserie, demonstrating a range of hues from pale pink to deep salmon. As I made my way around the wines I encountered Jean-Jacques Breban, Vice President of the Provence Wine Council. I tried to get him to confess to a favorite though naturally he was diplomatic, saying, “they are all good, but all different.” While I might not have liked them all, they indeed were diverse.

The rosés of Provence are unlike those made in the United States. Here we tend to find fruitier wines that seem to straddle the line between white and red, an attempt to add fruit to a white wine. In Provence the ideal is “rosé sec” – dry rosé that blends the minerality of the soil with an aroma of the flowers that cover the countryside.

Producers in Provence use a variety of red grapes to make their wines. Most combine between two and four grape varieties, the most common being Grenache and Cinsault.

To make rosé wine the grape skins are removed before fermentation begins. According the Wine Council this results in wine with the character of a red and the crispness of a white.

Three of my favorites demonstrate the range of possibilities for rosé of Provence. Pétale de Rose from Château Barbeyrolles is made from Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvedre. It had a pale blush appearance and just a hint of fruit aromas. The taste was crisp with lean fruits, yet it also had a spiciness on the tongue.

The rosé from Château La Sauveuse is made from Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. It had a peach tint and floral aromas that did remind me of the Provencal countryside in bloom. On the palate it showed a great balance of fruit flavors without being too fruity.

I also fell in love with the red wine from Château La Sauveuse. Made from Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, it wowed me at first sight. The color was a deep garnet that portended greatness. It had potent aromas of red fruits with smoky undertones. The ripe dark fruit flavors expanded on the palate. Well-structured with nicely balanced tannins, I recommend trying it if you find a bottle.

Cuvee 946 from Château Gassier is a rosé that incorporates Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vieux Carignan and Cinsault. The wine had a beautiful apricot color and smelled of citrus and red fruits. The taste was wonderfully balanced with a subtle complexity I attributed to the variety of grapes used.

Any of these wines would make a lovely accompaniment to hors d’oeuvres on the patio in the late afternoon, or a dinner of seafood or pork.

In France rosé wines outsell white wines. After sampling the wines from Provence I can understand the allure.

Cocktails in the Garden Kicks Off May 3

The Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Cocktails in the Garden kicks off its 2012 season tonight.

Now in its 10th year, Cocktails in the Garden is the most beautiful cocktail party in the city. Mix and mingle with Atlantans every Thursday night as you stroll through the gardens with a drink in hand.

From 6pm to 10pm each week there will be chef demonstrations in the Edible Garden, a DJ spinning music, cultural performances and cash bars.

Each month Cocktails in the Garden has a different theme that pairs a specialty cocktail with a plant or garden feature. May’s theme is Azaleas and Aviations.

Admission to Cocktails in the Garden is $18.95 for adults, which includes one complimentary cocktail. Members are free.

Cocktails in the Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, Thursdays from 6pm to 10pm, May through September. 1345 Piedmont Avenue Northeast, Atlanta.

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival Returns

Click here for coverage of the 2012 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival

The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival returns for its second year next week, featuring four days of tasting and toasting to all things southern.

From Thursday, May 10th through Sunday, May 13th, Midtown Atlanta will host hundreds of food fans, chefs and wine and spirits experts. The South’s food and beverage traditions will be celebrated with educational seminars, walk around tastings and dinners hosted by award-winning regional chefs.

The main draw of the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is inside the tasting tents, where guests will enjoy a culinary exploration of the South. Themed tasting trails include Bourbon, craft beer, seafood, whole pig, favorites from other Southern regions around the globe and more.

There are three sessions at the tasting tents: Friday, May 11th from 3pm to 6pm; Saturday, May 12th from 12:30pm to 3:30pm; and Sunday, May 13th from 1:30pm to 4:30pm. Each day will feature a different group of chefs. The tasting tents are located at 11th Street & Peachtree Walk.

During the festival there will be learning experiences that include cooking and cocktail demonstrations, food and beverage tasting seminars and panel discussions. Click here to see the descriptions and times of the learning experiences.

Tickets start at $100 for one afternoon in the tasting tents, or $180 for a day pass which gets you access to the tasting tents plus three learning experiences. Three-day passes and connoisseur passes start at $500 and $700 respectively. Tickets to dinners may be purchased a la carte. Events may sell out so purchase your tickets ahead of time online. Only tickets to the tasting tents (if available) may be purchased at the festival’s welcome center.

The Loews Atlanta Hotel in Midtown is the official host hotel for the festival. Attendees can get a discounted rate of $179 per night for a superior room and $299 a night for a suite. To book a room call the Loews Atlanta Hotel at (888) 563-9736. Mention the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival room block or use the group promotion code: AFWM10.

For more information on the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival and to purchase tickets visit atlfoodandwinefestival.com.

The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, May 10 – 13, 2012 in Midtown Atlanta.

photo credit: AFWF/Raftermen