Saturday, May 7, 2022

Orvieto White Wines - Hidden Treasures From Umbria #ItalianFWT

Orvieto White Wines - Hidden Treasures from Umbria, Italy
Orvieto is one of the dozen wine zones (DOC, DOCG or IGT) in Umbria which is bordered with Tuscany to the north, Marche to the east, and Lazio to the south. Umbria, which is the only land-locked region in Italy, has similar climate with rainy winters and sunny dry summers, terroirs, and diverse soils, like its northern cousin, Tuscany. Without the intense fame like Tuscany, tourists can visit Umbria’s wineries at their own pace and enjoy stunning hustle and bustle from the bus tours that pack the wineries. To explore these lesser known wines, the #ItalianFWT bloggers were sent with samples from #OrvietoDOC. Thank you wineries's generous contribution of wines and the coordination of Jennifer from Vino Travels ~ An Italian Wine Blog.

Photo Credit: ItalyFineWines

Orvieto wines have been ‘hidden’ treasures from the general wine public partly because the wine zone is in Umbria (vs Tuscany) and a couple other ‘big red’ Umbria wine zones (i.e., Montefalco DOC and Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG) fetch more attention in the American wine market due to more marketing efforts.

Photo Credit: Orvieto DOC

Orvieto wines, which are predominantly whites, deserve much more recognition - not only because of its top-notch dry whites but also its history in winemaking history since Middle Ages in Italy. It has also dominated the wine production in Umbria, approximating 80% of the region. The lighter, mineral, and more refreshing whites are produced from indigenous grapes, the Trebbianos, Verdello, Drupeggio, and the Malvasias. They are soft, deep with distinct notes of almonds and chamomile and hints of crisp apples. Weighty whites, which are blended with the Grechettos, are a pleasure to pair with seafood, chicken, and pork and to be enjoyed in the summer or colder weather as well. 

2019 Decugnano Dei Barbi Orvieto Classico Superiore Mare Antico

Although the winery was founded by Claudio Barbi in 1973, at Decugnano wine has been produced by monks back in 1212, at least eight centuries ago. Barbi’s goals are to make high quality and terroir-driven wines...not of a coincidence that manifests in the Mare Antico bottle. This is a blend of excellence, which consists of 55% Grechetto, 20% Vermentino, 20% Chardonnay and 5% Procanico and is fermented in stainless steel and 5% French oak barrel. Mare Antico 2019 expresses notes of golden apple and mature zesty citrus. The palate is characterized by bright acidity with a touch of salinity and minerality, and it closes out with a long and lingering finish.

2021 Argillae Orvieto DOC Superiore (SRP$10.99)

The Bonolle family is a well-known national-wide spirit company. They have bought an estate in Orvieto area, which has clay-based volcanic soil, aiming to make quality wines under the new re-brand Argillae in 2005. The Argillae Orvieto is blended with Grechetto, Procanico, Malvasia di Candia and a small amount of Chardonnay and Sauvignon. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks and focuses on the expression of the grapes. A true poster child of Orvieto wines, the Argillae Orvieto is a fresh dry wine, with intense aromas of flowers, citrus, and tropical fruits. Broad to the nose and persistent on the palate, it charms with its elegance and its engaging flower and fruit scents.

Bigi Orvieto Classico Vigneto Torricella (SRP$8.99)

The Bigi winery and the city of Orvieto form one of the most inseparable pairings. The winery was founded by Luigi Bigi in 1880 and it’s one of the oldest wineries that remains in Orvieto today. The Bigi Orvieto Classico is one of the ‘Grands Crus’ of the area, which is made from 40% Trebbiano Toscano, 20% of Verdello, 20% of Grechetto, and Drupeggio and Malvasia Toscano for the remaining 20%. This is one of the most iconic wines of the area that is saline, supple and full-bodied.

2021 Custodi Belloro Orvieto Classico (SRP$9)

In 2003, Laura and Chiara Custodi started to make wines in their current land, which was bought back in 1965. The difficult beginning didn’t deter the desire of the sisters from making wines and good ones. For example, the Belloro Orvieto Classico is a fresh and lively blend of Grechetto, Drupeggio, and Verdello.

Please also check out other #ItalianFWT bloggers' Orvieto wine posts below.
  • Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm will be sharing “Umbrian Red Wine Spaghetti and a Book Review."
  • Liz at What‘s In That Bottle is wondering “Why Aren’t we all Drinking more Orvieto?”
  • Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles will be writing about “Orvieto - the multifaceted white wine of Umbria."
  • Lynn at Savor the Harvest will be focusing on “Appreciating an Ancient Italian Wine Made For Today’s Palate.”
  • Camilla at The Culinary Adventures of Camilla is “Celebrating Spring with Vignole + 2020 Barberani Castagnolo Orvieto Classico Superiore."
  • Lisa at The Wine Chef is pairing “Umbria’s Famous White Wine, Paired With Spiced Pork Tenderloin.”
  • Nicole at The Somm's Table will be featuring “Easy Springtime Dinners with Orvieto."
  • Pinny at Chinese Food & Wine Pairings is uncovering “Orvieto White Wines - Hidden Treasures From Umbria.”
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass is writing about “White wines from the heart of Central Italy.”
  • Susannah at Avvinare will be “Getting reacquainted with an old friend: Orvieto Wines.”
  • Rupal at Syrah Queen is sharing "The Soulful and Unique Wines of Orvieto."
  • Gwendolyn at Wine Predator...Gwendolyn Alley is aiming to "Discover the Green Heart of Italy: Orvieto DOC in Umbria."
  • Terri at Our Good Life is pairing "Slow Cooker Short Ribs and Elicius Orvietano Rosso: A Match Made in the Heavenly Stars."
  • Jen at Vino Travels will be highlighting “Orvieto, Italy’s Classic White Wine.”

Monday, January 31, 2022

Bordeaux In a Box - Celebrating Chinese New Year With A Box Wine!

Box wines are considered as inexpensive party wine in general in the US - a crowd pleaser that's cheerful but nothing too serious. There is an on-going joke that people won’t remember what wine they are drinking after three drinks, anyway. Why bothers opening your 92-point Bordeaux that costs $40? 

What if you can serve a high-quality but affordable Bordeaux right from the get-go? Wineberry Box wines may very well be introducing this new proposition - one of the best “box” wines out there that tastes good and looks good so you can go grand without breaking the bank. With the Château Moulin de La Roquille Bordeaux Cotes de Franc 2018 Box, I think I have found the box wine that I love...for its taste and the 3-liter bag (i.e., 4 counts of 750ml bottle) inside the box that keeps the wine pouring for my large Chinese New Year family feast.
One Box equals to 4 750ML Bottles
While I find the wooden box of the Wineberry Box super French chic, I won't buy it just for the box. The wine must be good in order for people to spend $45. I’m pleasantly surprised to say the Château Moulin de La Roquille Bordeaux 2018 is a delicious light red blend that will be a delight to pour in any big or small parties. It has lots of berry and cherry characters and a tad freshly cut wood on the palate. 
Left: Pan-fried Chicken Cutlet, Crispy Port Belly, Roasted BBQ Pork
The high percentage of Merlot in the blend (i.e., 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc) presents an approachable and tenderly tannic profile that will go well with crispy pork belly, roasted BBQ pork, and pan-fried chicken cutlet that are served in the family dinner. Since Cab Franc is known for its food-friendliness and versatility, a bit of it in the blend goes a long way to make the pork and chicken taste extra delicious.

The Château Moulin de La Roquille, which has been operated by the Audouin family since 1964, has been known for producing top-grade Bordeaux at affordable prices. The estate is made up of 95 acres of vineyards from two appellations: Bordeaux Supérieur and Francs Côtes de Bordeaux.  The third-generation producers, Didier Audouin and his wife Hélène, took on this sustainable drinking project a few years ago to cut down the use of bottles and cost. The innovative packaging that tightly seals the air from getting into the remaining wine at the pouring spout will preserve the wine for up to six weeks.

Bordeaux wines have a strong reputation among the Chinese population, which are the synonym and gold standards for French wines. The Bordeaux brands are so fond of by Chinese that some ultra-rich Chinese people have been buying vineyards in Bordeaux. For the past decade, it’s close to 160 Châteaux have shifted to Chinese ownership, which is around 2% of the region’s 6,500 estates. 

For regular wine consumers, we buy and drink Bordeaux, especially red wines which are believed by Chinese drinkers to have purported health benefits such as its anti-oxidants, anti-ageing and heart-health benefits. Also symbolically, the red color - the color of Chinese New Year means prosperity, happiness, and togetherness. For me, the Château Moulin de La Roquille Bordeaux box becomes my defacto wine that my family and friends would love to have a glass to kick of the Year of Tiger!
Eric from Woodberry Pouring Top-Grade Box Wines in Wine Fair in NYC 

*The Woodberry Box was a sample. All photos and ideas of this blog are mine.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

#MerlotMe and Meaty Asian Sandwich #WinePW

#MerlotMe is the world-wide celebration of Merlot wines, which takes place in October every year. Jeff Burrows from Food Wine Click has invited the #WinePW bloggers to this annual event and to taste some of the best Merlots. I received the Casillero del Diablo Merlot and the Cheslsea Goodschmidt Guidestone Rise Merlot Alexander Valley as #sample and enjoyed them with a meathy Asian sandwich. Let's see how these Merlots elevate the quickest and most effortless weekday dinner.

2019 Casillero del Diablo Merlot, Valle Central, Chile; SRP $12

Casillero del Diablo Merlot 

Casillero del Diablo Merlot is produced in Valle Central of Chile, where the soils are alluvial, rocky, stony, and granitic along the hillside. The climate is Mediterranean, with marked influence from the Andes. These ideal soil conditions and the optimal climate throughout the year create the perfect terroir for producing high-quality red wines, including the Casillero del Diablo Merlot.

Nose: Cherry, cocoa, vanilla and smokiness.
Palate: Chocolate, dark plums, red berries, liquorice, spices, hints of vanilla and smokeiness.
What are the hooks? Silky, velvety texture, medium-bodied, structured, and affordability for a high-quality day red wine. 
2019 Cheslsea Goldschmidt Guidestone Rise Merlot, Alexander Valley, California; SRP$25

Cheslsea Goldschmidt Guidestone Rise Merlot Alexander Valley

The Chelsea Goldschmidt Guidestone Rise Merlot embraces the exceptional soil conditions and climate of the Alexander Valley AVA, which located in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California. The Guidestone Rise Vineyards is slightly cooler than the rest of the area, making it especially well-suited for Merlots. The river soils and sandy loam there permit the right amount of moisture to bring the grapes to full maturity at harvest.

Nose: Floral, dark berries.
Palate: Black berries and cherries, chocolate, and creamy.
What are the hooks? Deeper and richer than most Merlots, heavier tannins, full-bodied, lush and long finish.

Meaty Asian Sandwich

To pair with the Merlots, I want to do a quick meaty sandwich with an Asian twist. If you don't know it already, the Chick-fil-A sauce, which is the sauce that makes the chicken sandwich so tasty from the stepped-up fast-food chain, is available in grocery stores. I like mixing this sauce with some Sriracha hot sauce, adding a bit heat and zest. I also mince a whole garlic and spread it on the sandwich bun. Drizzle the bun with some olive oil and toast the bun in the oven until the garlic lightly browns up. 
Homemade Bacon

Right after that, whatever cooked or cold-cut meat you want to use in your sandwich is purely personal preference. I used some home-made bacon, polish veal kabanos, and pork tongue cold cuts on mine. In the most effortless way, the crunchy and tasty sandwich bun and the juicy and smoky meat stuffed inside probably provide the perfect backdrop to enjoy these Merlots.

To continue the #MerlotMe celebration, check out how the other #WinePW pair their Merlots with:

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Côtes du Rhône Wines and Perfect Fried Rice #Winophiles

Côtes du Rhône wines and
Perfect Fried Rice (left: vegetarian, ground beef, chicken, shrimp)

I was sent with six #sample - two Côtes du Rhône wines and four Côtes du Rhône Villages wines for the September Côtes du Rhône #Winophiles event, which was hosted by Wendy Klik from A Day in the Life on a Farm. The beautiful collection of Rosé, Viognier, and the Red blends like GSM (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre) inspires me to pair them with a Chinese or Asian staple, fried fact five styles of fried rice I cooked, ranging from vegetarian, beef, chicken, shrimp, and SPAM. Before I share tips in cooking perfect fried rice, let's learn about Côtes du Rhône. 

Photo Credit: Wine Folly

Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône Village Wines

Côtes du Rhône, which means the hillsides of the Rhône River, is one of the world's oldest wine regions. It is the second largest wine region in France, locating in south-eastern part of the country. Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône Villages wines, a combined area which stretches across 98,000 acres, annually produce about 40 million gallons.The Reds and Rosés are primarily a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, and the whites are mostly Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, and Roussanne. The Côtes du Rhône AOC has 171 towns and villages, while the Côtes du Rhône Villages, a separate AOC, has 95 villages. Between these two AOCs, only 21 grape varieties are permitted to use for producing  wines. The Côtes du Rhône Villages AOC is a "step-up" in the Côtes du Rhône pyramid, where more stringent rules on quality and geographical sourcing of the grapes apply. 

Photo Credit:

Out of the 95 Côtes du Rhône Villages, 22 of them attach their village name to the label, a higher grade that shows more complex wines that are good for ageability and vintage collections. The wines from the named Côtes du Rhône Villages AOC can only use grapes that are grown within the named village. If grapes from other villages are used, the named Village can't appear on the label. Red Côtes du Rhône Villages wines must, as a minimum, contain Grenache and one of the two other main varieties, Syrah and/or Mourvèdre. 

Photo Credit: Côtes du Rhône

Why Drink Côtes du Rhône AOC and Côtes du Rhône Villages AOC Wines?

The sun-drenched Côtes du Rhône vineyards, located at both side of the gentle banks of the Rhône River, flourish along the River in the Mediterranean climate. The summer is hot and dry, but is refreshed by cleansing Mistral wind. There are multiple soil types in the AOC, including rocky clay soils, nutrient- and moisture-rich pebbles and stony deposits on hills and slopes. At night, the stones also release the heat stored during the day to the vines, creating  conditions that are well-suited to producing wines with good ageing potential. Loose and sandy soils on the other hand provide a less uniform water supply, which are more suited to making lighter Reds and Rosé. The climate and terroir of Côtes du Rhône Villages vineyards is similar to the Côtes du Rhône's. Grenache is the leading grape in both AOCs. In typical Reds, they are easy-drinking, full-bodied wine features flavors of wild berries, plums, and warm spices, with approachable tannins and a lingering finish. Some traditional Whites, such as Viognier, Grenache Blanc, and Clairette, are creating balance in acidity, floral-scented and full-bodied wines with peach, lemon, and honey notes. In addition, while some wines, especially the ones with cellaring and vintage-collection potentials, from these appellations can fetch top dollars, most of the wines are still affordable, starting from SRP$14. 

Six Côtes du Rhône Wines To Taste

Certified Biodynamic GSM - Domaine Les Aphillanthes Cuvée Les Galets 2019 (SRP$24) - Nose: blackberry, licorice, earthy, Palate: wild game, mesquite, herbaceous, Mouthfeel: rich, lush with a long finish
Domaine Les Aphillanthes, located near Gigondas - Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu AOC, is owned and managed by Daniel Boulle and his wife, Hélène, whose 98-acres vineyards is famous for practising biodynamic principles. The couple keep their yields low and take a hands-off and minimalist approach to their winemaking in the cellar, truly letting their wines revealing the terroirs.

Rotem and Mounir Saouma Inopia Rouge 2017 (SRP$31) - Nose: dark cherries, plums, lavender and a hint of brinines, Palate: lively, deep, silky, phenolic, weathered leather, Mouthfeel: layered, nuanced
Rotem and Mounir Saouma venture out in completely new directions, producing wines that are much more in the spirit of Rhône à la Burgundy in the Côtes du Rhône Villages. They have purchased around 20 acres vineyards which terroirs are like kaleidoscope. Some of their vineyards adjoin those of Chateauneuf du Pape's high-end Château Rayas, around the lieu-dit of Pignan. Barrels, concrete, eggs, and foudres are all in their playbooks for fermentation. The level of focus, precision and purity in their winemaking is unparalleled. The Inopia Rouge 2017 consists of mainly Grenache, plus Mourvèdre, Counoise, Syrah, and Cinsault.
GSM - Xavier Vignon Arcane XIX Le Soleil 2015 (SRP$29) - Nose: cherries, blackberries, graphite, violet, and a tad of cocoa, Palate: blackberries, minerality, chocolate, Mouthfeel: fuller-bodied, richer, long and lingering finish
Xavier Vignon, a northern French naive from Picardie, is proud of his roots and of his humble beginning. His encounter in Reims with an oenologist sparked his interest in grape-growing and winemaking. Xavier brings an impressively wide perspective to his dual roles as a "terroir hunter" and "master blender" due to his more than thirty harvests from diverse wine regions around the world. Each of the Arcane series emphasizes on a specific grape variety, terroir, or vintage. The 2015 vintage is crafted largely from old vines, and the Grenache grape (80%) is selected from nine parcels around the Côtes du Rhône Village of Vaucluse, plus 10% in each of Syrah and Mourvèdre.

Lavau La Décelle 2018 (SRP$14) - Nose: blackberries, red cherries, marzipan, Palate: hints of graphite, dark chocolate, violets, Mouthfeel: medium with a lingering finish

Benoît and Frédéric Lavau fell in love with this 205-acres estate in the Valréas and purchased it in 2010. Situated in the heart of the historic Enclave des Papes, the vineyards of Domaine la Décelle benefit from the perfect combination of diverse soils, microclimates and altitude. Having inherited their family sense of adventure, they have significantly expanded their holdings to additional vineyards in Valréas, Rasteau, and Côtes du Rhône, becoming a key player in southern Rhône. The Lavau La Décelle 2018, which has 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah, is a true steal for a complex, fresh and structured Côtes du Rhône Villages wine.

Chateau Beauchène Blanc 2019 (SRP$18) - Nose/Palate: honey, white peach, dried apricot, toasted almond and vanilla, Mouthfeel: rich and weighty, 100% Viognier

The Bernard family has been making wine since the 17th century, procuring their first vineyard after the redistribution of land following the French Revolution. Since 1971, the Château has been managed by Michel Bernard and his wife, Dominique, along with their eldest daughter, who joined the management team in 2004. Today, their land include 175 acres of prized Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône-Villages vineyards. Following their ancestral widsom, the family continues to farm in a minimalist way, and has long truly practising sustainability with the old vines to make the best wines the land could. 
Certified Organic Alain Jaume Bellissime Rosé 2020 (SRP$15) - Nose: thyme and lavender, Palate: dry, strawberries and a hint of white pepper 
The Jaume family has been growing grapes since 1826. At its fifth generation, Alain Jaume, and sixth generations, his children Christophe, Sébastien, and Hélène, the Jaume are skilled grape growers and winemakers who produce wines that are intense, rich and complex. To do so, they vinify the grape variety and parcel separately across their 225-acre estate. The Alain Jaume Bellissime Rosé 2020 is a Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah blend.

Perfect Fried Rice

Fried rice appears to be a very simple dish. Everyone cooks it, and what is the big deal? To cook perfect fried rice, there are four important things to remember:
  • Have dry cooked rice (e.g., one day old or left over rice) ready. Each grain of the cooked rice should be easily separated instead of soggy rice sticking together. 
  • Invest in a rice cooker, even though it is a cheaper one. You will cook constant good rice using it. Cooking rice over the stovetop not only requires a lot of work to stir, the rice is also so easy to stick at the bottom. Ideally, if you have a non-stick rice cooker, the rice will never stick to the bottom and turn out great every time. However, if you don't want to spend the money, there is a tip to  make sure the cooked rice come out easily from a regular rice cooker. Once the rice is cooked, just unplug it from the outlet and let it cool off for at least 1/2 hour. 
  • Chose the right rice grains. Long grains such as Basmati or Chinese rice are great for fried rice. However, the short grains Korean or Japanese rice provide more chewy texture. But the key thing is not to let the rice turn soggy.
  • Add fresh herb such as cilantro, spring onion, basil, and/or parsley to bring color and aromas to the fried rice. 
Let's check out how to cook one of my favorite fried rice dishes - SPAM Fried Rice. 

SPAM Fried Rice Recipe

  • Cook 2 cups of rice in a rice cooker. Dry it overnight in the cooker or in the fridge for ideal result. Rice needs to be completely cool down before use.
  • Cut one can of SPAM into 1/2 inch cubes. Brown it in non-sticking frying pan.
  • Fry three eggs and cut it in small pieces.
  • Pan-fry any vegetable you like. Frozen mixed vegetable is an easy choice too. 
  • Combine SPAM, egg, vegetable, and rice in the pan and stir until they are all mixed together. Add salt and pepper sparsely as SPAM has already brought in the saltiness.
  • Drizzle some sesame oil to add toastiness to your rice.
Extra Tip:
  • Freeze the extra rice for your or your kids' lunch. Add one tbsp of water to the frozen rice and microwave it on high for one minute.  

I found the SPAM, ground beef and chicken fried rice pair really well with the Domaine Les Aphillanthes Cuvée Les Galets, Xavier Vignon Arcane XIX Le Soleil, and Lavau La Décelle. The meaty fried rice is a balanced meal by itself that goes well with the medium-bodied Reds. The vegetarian and shrimp fried rice is a no-brainer for the Chateau Beauchène Blanc and Alain Jaume Bellissime Rosé. I didn't have a chance to enjoy the Rotem and Mounir Saouma Inopia Rouge with any fried rice as I already drank it all before I cooked anything!

*The wines are samples. The ideas of the post are my own.

If you need more ideas pairing ideas for your Côtes du Rhône wines, check out the #Winophiles bloggers' posts below:

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Organic White Wines: Bonterra Chardonnay, Cono Sur Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc Paired With Asian Vegan Dishes #WinePW

Bonterra Chardonnay (SRP$12), Cono Sur Chardonnay (SRP$11) and Sauvignon Blanc (SRP$11) Paired With Korean Japchae Noodle
I didn't start showing interest in organic and biodynamic wines until I got a lot more serious about wine blogging dating back a couple of years ago. Gwendolyn Alley from Wine Predator has been one of the subject matter experts who I learned about the theories in organic and biodynamic wineamaking. In recent months, her hands-on experiences as a "cellar rat" at Clos des Amis in Ventura County, California also bring in additional perspectives of making wines in a non-interventionist way. With this month's #WinePW theme of Pairings with Organic Wine, I received #samples from Bonterra and Cono Sur to #PourOrganic and to pair a few Asian vegan dishes. 

Organic grapes are typically grown without the use of artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides

Growing Organic Wine Markets

We all kind of know the organic wine markets are growing. But how significant the growth truly is? According to the May 2021 report from The Insight Partners, "(worldwide) Organic Wine Market Size was valued at US$7,460.29 million in 2019 and is projected to reach US$16,647.81 million by 2027; it is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.7% during 2020–2027. IWSR (International Wines and Spirits Record) projects the organic wine category in the US will grow to over $1 billion by 2024, from $54.5 million in 2021. So what and who drives the growth? The simple answer is consumers, in particular, the health-conscious consumers, who know about the use of artificial fertilizers, harmful chemicals, and man-made additives throughout the grape-growing and winemaking processes. In the end, all these chemicals will go to the wine, then to our body. Consumers demand “purity” in their wines. They want the wine to speak the terroir, not the chemicals that mask the true taste and identity of the grapes. The charm of local winemaking tradition associated with organic wines also becomes a powerful marketing tool that not only often resonates with consumers as a "feel-good" story, but also offers the "unique" reason why the purchase should be made.

"Green" Wine Certifications (Organic, Biodynamic, and Sustainable) from All Over the World (Photo Credit:

What is Organic Wine?

Organic wine is produced from grapes cultivated without the use of artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. Organic wine is free from additives such as sulfur, yeast nutrients, and fining, and it is produced by using yeasts that are indigenous to the fruit. For US, sulfites must not be added to the organically grown wines.

Affordable Organic Whites for Daily Asian Vegan Food

Bonterra Chardonnay is produced with certified organically grown grapes from throughout California including a large portion from Bonterra's estate vineyards - Blue Heron Ranch and McNab Ranch, in Mendocino. Fermented in stainless steel tanks and American oak barrels, Bonterra Chardonnay strikes the balance of freshness and creaminess. Taking a much fresher approach, this Chardonnay won't leave you with an overwhelming and confusing, aka, the dated "buttery" taste profile of some California Chardonnays had. I truly enjoy the tad toasty vanilla and creamy notes, but the uplifting zest of bright citrus and green apple notes perfectly links the wine to the Korean Japchae noodle. Let's make this vegan dish in four simple steps.

  • You can purchase the Korean "glass" noodle at Amazon and cook it in boiling water by following the instructions on the package. When the noodle is translucent and al dente, it should be removed from the hot water and wash under cool tap water to remove the residual starch. Toss the cool noodle with a bit sesame oil while preparing the vegetables.
  • You could cook whatever vegetable you desire for the dish. I usually use shelled edamame, shredded carrot, sliced mushroom, and bak choi. In my Japchae this time, I added brocoli and fried egg (sorry, eggs are not considered as vegan by some people) as my kids like them. With carrot and mushroom, I did stir-fry it with a little soya sauce and a pitch of sugar to add flavor. For edamame and brocoli, just blanch them in water.
  • The taste of Japchae comes from the sweeten soya sauce (i.e., diluted soya sauce sweetened with sugar). Depending on your preference, I made mine with 1/8 of a cup of light soya sauce, 4 tbsp of dark soya sauce, 1/2 cup of water and 4 tbsp of sugar, cooking it in a small sauce pan until the sauce can coat the back of the spoon. The sauce doesn't have to be syrupy though.
  • To serve, toss the noodle and vegetable with 2 tbsp of sesame oil and the sauce (don't need to have all the sauce in and adjust it to your taste). The noddle tastes best in room temperature or when it's lightly chilled.
Chile's Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc is a bright, clean and young Sauvignon Blanc that's made 
from organically grown grapes. The nose is intense, with aromas of white flowers, grapefruit, lime, lemon, and garden herbs. The palate is fresh, vivid with acidity and minerality. 
Suggested Asian Vegan Pairings:

Cono Sur Chardonnay is a fun wine that has aromas of orange, grapefruit, lemon, pineapple, and quince on the nose. The palate is young, fresh, and has a tad minerality undertone. This is an affordable Chardonnay that goes well with a lot of simple Asian lunch flairs.
Suggested Asian Vegan Pairings:
🌱Asian Coleslaw / Avocado with Ginger Salad Dressing 
🌱Vegan Mapo Tofu
If you are still not convinced that drinking more organic wine is good for you, look at what the kids have been drinking - organic grape juice!

*Disclaimer: the wines are samples. The ideas of the blog are mine.

Check out what my #WinePW blogger friends are pairing their organic wines with:

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Querciantica Verdicchio - A Gem from La Marche's Self-Made Wineamaker Angela Piotti Velenosi #ItalianFWT


Querciantica Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi: structured, weighty, long finish
Floral scents from honey, apple, peach and freshly cut grass on the nose,
citrusy, fresh, fruity, vegetal on the palate, (SRP$17)

For September’s #ItalianFWT, wine bloggers are invited by Marcia Hamm from Joy of Wine to explore Verdicchio. The tasting of Querciantica Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico, a sample from Le Marche's Velenosi Vini, provides me the opportunity to sip one of the most structured and best-bang-for-the-buck Italian white wines in my recent memory. While the Querciantica Verdicchio is intriguing taste-wise, the producer of this wine, Angela Piotti Velenosi's journey to become one of the leading wine women in Le Marche is equally engaging and inspirational. 
The Velenosi Mother (Angela - Right) and Daughter (Marianna) Duo continue to make their mark in Le Marche wines (Photo Credit: Velenosi Vini)

Velenosi Vini - 100% Self-Made Wine Entrepreneur Since 1987

Unlike some of the Italian winery stories we are often told...when children who were born into the winery business passing down from their parents and ancestors, Angela and Ercole Velenosi - the wife and husband duo went down the winery path with no passed-down ancestral wisdom, no knowledge, no capital, or no land. However, what they had back in 1987 was sheer enthusiasm, energy, passion, and willingness to trial and error, building their dream from scratch...a family house on a 23-acre vineyard, a couple pieces of used equipment, and an unsure plan to make two wines as their pilot. Today, Velenosi Vini is the second largest family-owned winery in Le Marche, expanding to owning 363 acres of vineyards, producing 2.5 million bottles of wines annually, and offering one of the most diverse grape profolio of the region. As a famous quote from Angela, “Wine is an art capable of making you dream”, Velenosi Vini definitely is living this dream after their determination to make matter what...37 years ago. Angela becomes one of the leading female winery producers in Le Marche and was selected as the testimonial to represent the region in the Milan wine expo back in 2015. Velenosi Vini is named the top 100 wineries in Italy by Wine Spectator and is proud to offer wines that have the best quality and price ratio.
Photo CreditL Wine Folly

Le March, Where Verdicchio Shines

The Marche region is known for growing Verdicchio, an Italian indigenous grape. Verdicchio, which presence could date back to the medieval time, is especially adaptable in the areas of Castelli di Jesi and Matelica.Verdicchio from Castelli di Jesi, is grown in a large area, stretching from the hills at the west of Ancona, along the long Esimo river passing Jesi Arcevia Arcevia, and down to the Musone river. The soils are linestones in general, ranging from sandstones to clay with compositions that are different from one area to another. The altitudes of the vineyards start from 260 feet to 1480 meters, which provide the cool mountain air and still allow the winds from the east-front Adriatic sea bringing in the moisture. Verdicchio di Matelica, however, is farther from the east coast and is grown in the foothills of the Apennine Mountains which is at a higher elevation than the area in Castelli di Jesi. Verdicchio di Matelica is often a bit weightier on the palate, and has more acidity and minerality than the one from Castelli di Jesi.

(Photo Credit: DiWine Taste)

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC

Verdicchio is quite susceptible to mildew and other illnesses and only grows well on exposed and breezy hills. It ripens in Castelli di Jesi regularly between September and the beginning of October. Through altering the timing of harvesting the grapes, a wide range of expressions of the wine can be achieved. If it is harvested in advance, greener grapes will give birth to a spumanti-style Verdicchio which captivates fresher citrus sensations. When it's harvested right at its ripeness, the fruity sensations offer the expected and traditional profile of this wine. Verdicchio is also suitable for late harvest, where hints of candied fruit and aromatic herbs would be present deriving partially from the dried grapes. Verdicchio can be fermented in steel tanks, but also tolerates aging in wooden barrels. Its versatility and cellaring ability earns this grape a nickname, the "Barolo" (i.e., the King) of Italian white wines. 

Verdicchio Grape (Photo Credit: Velenosi Vini)

Food Pairings 

The food pairing choice for Querciantica Verdicchio is limitless. While I think braised or stewed red meat dishes or a grilled T-bone steak may be a bit too much, the structure and weight of this wine, even it is white, can handle stir-fried meat dishes and deep-fried poultries like sweet and sour chicken nuggets. Since it's also fresh and lemony, any seafood will go too. What I found pairing exceptionally well with this wine is carb...a side of buttery rice pilaf, stir-fried flat rice  noodle with thinly sliced beef, or chicken lo mein. My conclusion for this Verdicchio is: When you see it, stock up as many as you can drink if all year long!
Top Left: Sweet and Sour Chicken Fingers, Grilled Shrimp with Buttery Rice Pilaf
Bottom Left: Stir-fried Flat Rice Noodle with Beef, Chicken Lo Mein

*The wine is a sample. The ideas of the blog are my own.

Check out which Verdicchio other #ItalianFWT bloggers is sipping...