Hang Time: Mediterranean Wines

From our tasting on September 15, 2016
    As local gardens and markets are yielding their harvests of peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, garlic and more, they call to mind Mediterranean meals. There are three Mediterranean cuisines: North African, centered on Moroccan food; Eastern Mediterranean, comprising the dishes of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece; and Western Mediterranean, including the regional foods of southern Europe—Italy, France, and Spain.  Proteins tend to focus on fish, shellfish, squid; lamb, goat, and fowl.  A range of colorful vegetables abound in the hospitable climate while innumerable cheeses are born of sheep and goat milk.  Olive oil, garlic and lemon abound in Mediterranean recipes.  Herbs are plentiful, especially basil, rosemary, oregano, parsley, cilantro and thyme.  All these flavors are associated with southern European cuisine, and today’s wines, hailing from the same region, pair well with these ingredients.

Two of our wines are white.  HB Picpoul de Pinet 2015 comes from the French coast near the Thau Lagoon.  Picpoul, the name of the grape, means “lip stinger” in the local dialect, suggesting its refreshing acidity.  Pair with shellfish, seafood, and cheese.

Spain also provides a varietally named wine, Bohigas Xarel-lo 2015.  This grape is one of three used to make Cava, Spain’s sparkling wine made in the Champagne method, providing punch and backbone.  Think lemon curd, green apple, and touches of flower and vegetation, and you’ve got the idea.  Pair this with Brie and bread, light pasta, or salad.

Three reds are on the menu. Colosi Nero d’Avola 2014 is made from Sicily’s main red grape, grown there for centuries.  It originated in the south, but has spread throughout the region—this comes from an island off the northeast coast.  The grape is known for sweet tannins and plummy, cherry inflected, slightly peppery flavors.  This is great with a simple pasta dish with fresh tomatoes or aged cheeses.  We have one more Italian wine, this one from coastal Tuscany. Azienda Agricola Bruni Poggio d’Elsa Rosso 2015 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tuscan favorite, Sangiovese. This unoaked 50/50 blend offers plum, blackberry and spice, with a tongue-smacking acidity that makes it a perfect match for your hearty red sauce or charcuterie.

The Vaucluse in France includes Avignon and is home to Rhône varieties, as L’Ameillaud Rouge 2015 shows.  Made from older vines (estate grown and hand harvested), this is a generous, black-fruited wine with good balance.  It has enough grip to pair with sausage but is soft enough to go with grilled veggies and mushrooms.

-M.P. Rouse