Yea, it’s Easter. It’s a second Thanksgiving! I love any holiday that centers around food and drink, especially if it doesn’t include stress! And unlike Thanksgiving where you have to try and figure out what to pour with the great white shark in the middle of the table, Easter comes with a plethora of different foods and wine choices. Personally, I am a Francophile during this holiday. I’ll be roasting up a leg of lamb slathered in crushed rosemary, garlic and S+P; potato gratin with lashings of butter and double cream, roasted asparagus and a great big green salad (with petit pois scattered over – a nod to the English countryside). And to pour with this I’ll go French. But I know that there are some who won’t be doing lamb, and won’t be doing French so I’ve added some favorites from Italy and California that I think will pair up with pretty much any other type of main course.
Here’s what I have:
Domaine de la Guicharde. France. Rhone. Red. $18.
I’ve written about this already, but I have always felt that a Rhone wine marries beautifully with roast lamb, so add in this amazing Cote du Rhone from Guicharde and you have the perfect complement.
Domaine des Tours Vaucluse. France. Rhone. Red. $29.
There are three wineries in the Southern Rhone that will always be named in the top five wineries from the region. They are Rayas, Fonsalette and Des Tours. The first two were owned by the legendary wine-maker, Jacques Reynaud, the third is owned by Emmanuel Reynaud, his nephew. When Jacques died suddenly and tragically in 1997 his wife asked Emmanuel to take over the wine-making at Rayas and Fonsalette. So in the top 5 wineries in the Rhone, 3 are made by the same young man. That’s amazing. The demand for Rayas and Fonsalette so out-strips their supply that I have only ever been able to buy either of them at auction. Fortunately, I got my hands on a few Det Tours Vaucluse, which is pretty much a declassified Vacqueyras. And it is stunning.
Buisson-Charles Bourgogne Blanc. France. Burgundy. White. $45.
Since we are having the Rhone red its only fair to have a white from Burgundy. This wine from Buisson Charles is the first vintage since Patrick Essa, the wine-maker, bought a few vines in Puligny En Champans and Meursault. I think the addition of grapes from these two parcels has made a profound difference in the style of his entry level Bougogne Blanc. It really isn’t entry level any more. It’s all about great fruit, lingering minerality, touch of oak and subtle tannins. Perfect
Monthelie Douhairet Porcheret Monthelie Blanc. France. Burgundy. White. $35.
Andre Porcheret’s granddaughter now makes the wines at this long-loved estate. She has a knack of creating sublime, feminine, wines – both red and white. When I stayed in Meursault a few years ago I spent many lunches drinking Monthelie Blanc. I loved every one of them, but I found it almost impossible to buy them in the US. Monthelie is more known for their elegant reds and most of their whites stay close to home. But last year I discovered some at a small West-Coast based importer and I now have them here! Yea.
And from Italy:
Scacciadiavoli Montefalco Rosso. Italy. Montefalco. Red. $22.
So, the very first review I read on this wine before writing this piece started with; ‘Here’s a great wine to pair with spit-fired barbecued pork or lamb chops”! Need I say more? Well, it’s a full-bodied red with strength and firmness, more than enough to cut through roasted meats. The wine is very broad and redolent of dark fruits and rich spices.
Montecivoli Morellino di Scansano. Italy. Maremma. Red. $18.
I have a penchant for wines from the Maremma region of coastal Tuscany. I spent an amazing few days in Bolgheri and travelled extensively through Maremma drinking whenever and whatever I could. These are not Super-Tuscan wines since they still blend 85% sangiovese into the wines. The Montecivoli is not jammy or overripe. Instead, the wine feels generous and soft and loaded with blackberry and dried cherry. It’s a perfect pairing for a roast.
Gradizzolo Pignoletto Bersot Frizante. Italy. Bologna. White Sparkling. $23.
A sparkling wine to liven up the celebrations. Some say that Pignoletto may be the next Prosecco. We were patient in bringing this Gradizzolo into the store since people don’t know the wine, don’t know its fizzy and don’t really care since when they ask for a fizzy from Italy, they usually always mean a Prosecco. But try something new this Easter. Try a Pignoletto from Gradizzolo – if you don’t like it add a splash of Aperol and pass it around as a Spritz – hell do that even if you like it!
Cincinnato Bellone Castore. Italy. Rome. White. $17.
Another grape you have never heard of; Bellone. I tried it a few weeks ago and immediately thought – this is so much better than Pinot Grigio. It is mineral drive but envelops the mouth with white and yellow fruit – more blossom than flesh. It’s a delicious aperitif but has the staying power to follow into the main course.
And from the USA – let’s go pinot noir and chardonnay…
Reeve Ya Moon Pinot Noir. USA. California. Red. $39
If there was ever a wine made by hand in California that expressed so much of the passion of two individuals this is it. I know that Kelly manages the sales and marketing side of the business but her influence over Noah must be intense. This wine is all feminine. It is seductive, soft, round, elegantly fruity. It's not a macho wine nor a steak house wine. And it will be the last wine from this vineyard for at least another 7 years. Sadly, last year’s fires destroyed this vineyard, so this is it.
Hardin Cabernet Sauvignon. USA. California. Red $37
And for those that just want a really good Cabernet, then this is it. Howell Mountain, and a few select vineyards, make up the grapes for this terrific cabernet. It’s all about the wine here, not about a macho image, or an alcoholic fantasy, does it need meat? Yes. But it will remain elegant, refined and very, very tasty. It won’t overpower and it will make you believe that Napa is capable of making cabernet that doesn’t have to push 16% alcohol to be good.
Presqu’il Chardonnay. USA. California. White. $31
I am not a huge fan of Cali Chardi. But this is really good chardonnay. Whilst I don’t like comparing French Burgundy to anything other than French Burgundy, this wine from the Presq’il vineyards is clearly more Burgundian in style than most. The oak is subtle, the fruit is forward without being cloying, and there actually is minerality and acidity. It’s a huge hit over at the Red Pony and we are now into the 4th vintage at Wine at Five.
So, there you have it. Four wines from each of the three main wine regions. All the perfect accompaniment to a great Easter Weekend. Apologies for the length but then again, it’s not 448 pages. If you are bored at the weekend, which would be sad, pick up a copy of the Mueller Report at your local supermarket – it will be next to the National Enquirer – I understand that Disney is also publishing a Mueller Report with pictures to make it easier for the Muppet in the High Castle to read it.
Happy Easter everyone.
We will be open every day but Sunday.