At Louie's Wine Dive, we do more than serve great wine, we learn about great wines every day. We do this through conversation – with winemakers, with each other, and most importantly, with our guests. We hope that the articles here will continue the discussion and help demystify the world of wine.
Learn about wine grape varieties and the regions around the world where they grow best.
The history of winemaking is also the history of trying to find the words to describe the amazing variety of flavors, aromas, and sensations in every wine glass.
Wine and food are the perfect combination – they both elevate the other and open up new possibilities for enjoying a good time with friends and family.
Whether you're out on the town or whipping up a homemade feast, the right wine can make all the difference on Valentine's Day. But what wine can follow you from course to course, from salad to entrée to cheese? The folks at Wine for Normal People have a thought or two. Read on for a few pointers, then set aside a few minutes to listen to the whole show – it's well worth your time!
Fuller Albariño, with its famed minerality and salinity, will remain relatively consistent throughout a meal. Lightly sweet Riesling, however, will evolve from course to course as it warms.
Chardonnay may not be everyone's first choice but unoaked New World Chardonnay, particularly from the Central Coast in California and Australia, will bring a great balance between acidity and creaminess.
Bubbles and pink are a perfect match for the holiday, that’s for sure. But they also make for unexpected pairings with a variety of meals! Look for sparkling of all varieties, leaning toward acid over breadiness, and still rose, especially from the south of France – think Provence.
Certain red wines will be light enoguh to match up to an appetizer and salad, while still bringing enough power to stand up to your main course. Consider Beaujolais Villages or Cru (not Nouveau). The Gamay grape has floral notes, acidity, spice, but not the earthy notes of many Burgundy wines, which can overwhelm certain foods.
Pinot Noir can be tricky but rewarding. Oregon is a good choice, but avoid the heavier styles and avoid acid. Barbera, medium bodied with cherry flavors, high acid, and smooth tannins, matches nicely with the cuisine of its native Italy.
Regardless of your preference of grape, the key concept for successful pairings is to experiment and let your menu drive your choice! Food and wine can work together in perfect harmony, complement each other, or challenge each other and create unexpected flavor combinations – there's no one right answer. After all, the mantra is Food and Wine, not Food vs. Wine!
To round out our month of California Pinots, we're returning to a wine we loved when it featured in our Wine Club in Kansas City: the 2013 Iron Horse Pinot Noir. Click through for thoughts from our Director of Training, Kristene King Thrall.
Carneros is known for its loam and clay soils and a mixture of flat land and rolling hillsides, along with the reliable marine fog that rolls in every evening and burns off mid-morning. This is where the 2016 Saintsbury Vin Gris Rosé gets its start.
Vin Gris is a Burgundian viticultural term describing how vintners bleed off a portion of the free run juice in a difficult year (often with too much rain) in order to produce a more concentrated red wine. It is often faint salmon in color and shows crisp tart fruit on the palate. The 2016 Saintsbury Vin Gris Rosé is an excellent effort.
Whole clusters of Pinot Noir from the Home Ranch vineyard were hand-picked at night and taken directly to press. The juice is pale in color but ethereal in aroma. The saignée components of the blend add depth and juiciness to the mid-palate. Guava, nectarine, grapefruit zest and white flowers on the nose, followed by wild strawberry, cantaloupe and blood orange on the palate, with bright tangy acidity and mineral notes on the finish.
While the quaint villages of the area may appear sleepy, the Sonoma Coast is, in fact, a very prodigious grape-growing area that's well known for the high quality of its wine. The proximity of the Pacific Ocean ensures that warm days are cooled by ocean breezes, providing optimal grape growing conditions. The size of the area, some 250 miles long, creates a wide diversity of soil and elevations, contributing to the unique character of the region's wines.
In the 2013 Ballard Lane Pinot Noir, fragrances of red currant, strawberry shortcake and Portobello mushroom dominate the nose. The fruit was night harvested and crushed, 100% destemmed, within hours to maintain quality. The must was cold soaked for 72 hours to produce better color, aromatics, flavor and tannin extraction. Dishes with morels or other wild mushrooms, roasted or grilled lobster and roasted or grilled steak will pair excellently.
No one can claim that the Aussies don't have fun. When we first read the word "Mollydooker" on this wine bottle, we knew we were in for a treat.
2016 was Mollydooker's biggest vintage to date, with a total 1,437 tons of grapes crushed and into barrel. The very first pick that year was this McLaren Vale Verdelho, in the third week of February. The last time their Verdelho stood alone in The Violinist (rather than being used in blends) was in 2013, so it was exciting to see its return in 2016. The ferments were well behaved and finished off beautifully in barrel, allowing early oak integration and added complexity in the wines. The grapes were grown on the Gemtree vineyard in McLaren Vale.
The 2016 Mollydooker 'The Violinist' Verdelho sets off with a fragrant nose reminiscent of tropical fruits that is supported by a generous mouthfeel. Its lemon and lime zest adds an initial crispness to the palate that slowly fades to leave you with an imprint of its creamy mouthfeel. Ripe pineapple and lychee flavors develop and intertwine with fresh citrus elements. Careful oak use has added to the wine's complexity with hints of vanilla and spice to help tantalise the tastebuds. You'll find good matches with shellfish, oysters, spicy foods, and Asian dishes.
And yes, mollydooker is a real word – we looked it up! Apparently, it's old-timey slang for a left-handed person and both the founders of the winery are lefties. That feels like a good place to say goodbye to Australia month here in Des Moines, so g'day mate!
The backstory of the 2015 Flegenheimer Bros. Paisant Red goes back almost to the beginning of the McLaren Vale. Cuttings were taken from a very old Grenache vineyard in McLaren Vale known for producing a delicate, perfumed expression of the varietal. When ready, the cuttings were planted as bush vines on the western slope of Hammerschlag’s property. This portion of the vineyard has the hardest soil, with only a few feet of topsoil over a hard shelf of chalk, and is quite windy. In short, it is the toughest spot on the property – which is exactly where Grenache should be. Yields are low with roughly 2 tons of fruit per acre.
The Grenache was then co-fermented with Shiraz and aged for several months in neutral French and American oak to showcase bright acidity and natural fruit. This Grenache lends itself to robust cherry flavors with refreshing acidity. The small amounts of Shiraz add blackberry and deep color as well as tannin structure. A perfect pairing for pork based dishes.
On the oldest continent of the world, vines were introduced in 1788, concentred mainly in the south of the country. Here, they enjoy of a beautiful sunshine and a relativity cool climate. Michel Chapoutier established Tournon in 2007 shortly after purchasing 50 hectares of property in the heart of the Victorian Pyrenees and Heathcote, with the goal of producing elegant wines in the style of his native France. Fauna and flora make these soils rich: the vineyards, bordered by eucalyptus, are regularly visited by kangaroos.
These grapes are harvested at full maturity, destemmed, and lightly pressed. The grapes then undergo cold sedimentation for 48 hours and ferment in stainless steel tanks. Aging takes place entirely in stainless steel tanks on lees, for 5 months.
The 2013 Tournon 'Mathilda' White is full of fresh stone fruit and a crisp freshness. It is supple and fresh on the palate with great minerality. It will pair well with white fish, shellfish or linguine with clams, and citrus salads.
The Santa Lucia Highlands in the foothills above the Salinas Valley provide perfect conditions for growing award-winning Chardonnay, with Monterey Bay's cool ocean breezes leading to gentle ripening. The Santa Lucia Highlands is one of California's most famous winegrowing districts, home to many well-known vineyard estates and wine labels. The earliest vine plantings in what became the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation took place in the 1790s with the arrival of Spanish missionaries and conquistadors. The vines' elevated locations take full advantage of morning sun before stiff, afternoon maritime winds slow ripening by shutting down the photosynthesis. The exceptionally long growing season – early budbreak, lack of fall rains, prolonged harvests – allows the fruit to develop full, phenolic ripeness & flavors.
This focused, elegant Chardonnay features aromas of lemon, butter croissant, and summer squash. On the palate, the rich fruit flavors are complemented by a light touch of graham cracker and salted butter caramel. Partial malolactic fermentation ensures a creamy richness balanced by bright fruit acidity. Incredibly food-friendly, the 2015 Morgan SLH Chardonnay is a perfect match with cream-sauced pastas, roast chicken and pork, and seafood.
The 2017 vintage in the Willamette Valley was stellar, producing well-balanced, elegant wines. The Chemistry Pinot Noir is no exception. Sourced from premier sites throughout the valley, this wine is bright garnet in color thanks to the warm vintage. The Willamette Valley climate provides an elongated grape-growing season that is ideal for Pinot Noir. Winter is typically cool, wet and mild. Spring is often rainy, while summers are warm with cool evenings. The Valley's rich soils are the beneficiaries of the Missoula Floods, massive Ice Age floods that left up to 200 feet of rich fertile sediment on the Willamette Valley floor and hillsides.
Aromatics of plum and blueberry lead to a lush and juicy palate with red cherry, earthy mushrooms, and silky tannins that build to a structured finish. This wine will benefit from decanting or aeration. Enjoyable in its youth, this Pinot Noir is the perfect companion while making dinner. Will pair nicely with foods that echo its juiciness and earthiness – consider roasted pork, duck, grilled salmon, and risotto.
For July, an homage to West Coast summers seemed in order. We start up north, where the 2016 North by Northwest Rosé was grown in the Columbia Valley AVA. King Estate selected grapes from throughout this established region, primarily The Benches, located in the eastern corner of the Horse Heaven Hills AVA in the Wallula Gap. The 2016 harvest yields exceeded projections, even with extra thinning, because clusters were heavy with fat, juicy berries. The year started off unusually warm, putting bud break and bloom a couple of weeks ahead of normal. In June, however, temperatures dropped to more typical levels and stayed cool through harvest, giving the fruit time to ripen slowly.
After hand sorting, fruit selected for the 2016 vintage was fermented in stainless steel tanks, which were temperature controlled to maximize fruit character. This wine benefited from aging on the lees for 3 months prior to bottling. Aging on the lees is more typically seen in French whites and especially in Champagnes. The leftover yeast particles are left with the wine to impart textural creaminess and rich, complex flavors. The result is a vintage notable for beautiful color, great structure, good natural acidity and full flavor development – the perfect combo for warm summer days.
But don't just take our word for it! Take notes and follow along with our tasting guide to start picking out details of the wines you love. Or come in to chat with our sommeliers at any Louie's Wine Dive restaurant.
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