Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Drink Cool Malesan Crémant de Bordeaux and Eat Chinese Hotpot #Winophiles

Cremant de Bordeaux may not be the obvious choice of wine to pair with a Chinese Hotpot meal. Once you try the pairing, you may like the cold vs hot contrast that's brought by this pairing!
Drinking sparkling wines are not just for celebrations. In times of uncertainties, some festive drinks like the Bordeaux bubbles a.k.a Crémants de Bordeaux may calm the nerves and make difficult times a bit easier. In the month of March 2020, when most of the world is facing the Covid-19 pandemic, I invited the #Winophiles bloggers to drink some Crémants de Bordeaux or Crémants from other French wine regions and to continue what we enjoy the most…the bubbles, foods, blogging, families and friends!
Crémant de Bordeaux is the name of all sparkling wines produced in the Bordeaux region using the methode traditionelle - the same method that is used to produce Champagne. For decades, Crémant wines have been produced from French wine regions that are known for producing great wines like Bordeaux, Loire, Alsace, Bourgogne, Jura, Savoie, Die and Limoux. However, only in the mid-1970s, Crémants de Bordeaux, for example, first appeared officially on commercial labels. This version of the French bubble, compared to Champagnes, is much more affordable and creative, using local grapes varieties that are beyond the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier mandated by French laws for Champagnes.

Malesan Crémant de Bordeaux (SRP$11) is made of mostly dry Semillon grapes. On the nose, there are notes of tart apple and citrus. As you sip this refreshing bubble, the notes of limes, green apples, dried apricots provide you an easy drinking vibe. The fresh, citrusy and cooling characters of this sparkler allows me to pair it with a dish that is an exact opposite – boiling hot, spicy and richly brothy. Yes, a Chinese hotpot , Shabu Shabu or Chinese fondue (no cheese!)
The yin yang pot is to allow two different broth being served in one pot - serving spicy broth and non-spicy broth is quite typically and allows the whole family to enjoy an "one pot" meal
Chinese hotpot is to cook raw food in hot broth that is simmered on a portable gas stove. Traditionally, it is a communal or family-styled meal that uses a large pot to cook a wide variety of food such as pre-sliced and diced seafoods, meats and vegetables as well as packaged foods like dumplings, meatballs and noodles of any sorts in the simmering broth around the dining table. 
Photo Credit:
The yin yang pot is popular as it allows two different types of broth to be boiled at the same time – in my household, it’s usually one spicy for the adults and one clear broth for the kids. Some specialized hotpot restaurants have personal hotpots, which typically offer may types of broth (e.g., Sichuan spicy, medicinal, basic chicken, and miso broth) to choose from.  Going back to the food prep for hotpot, in order to have an efficient and enjoyable hotpot experience, the most important thing is to have your meats (e.g., fatty beef, lamb leg, pork tenderloin and/or chicken breast) thinly sliced and vegetables (e.g., daikon radish, carrot and mushroom) cut in a bitable size. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for a long time for your food to be cooked when your kids keep asking if the food is done. Pre-sliced meats for hotpots are available in a lot of the Asian or Chinese grocery stores.
Why does the Malesan Crémant de Bordeaux work well with the hotpot? First, this bubbly is super affordable and can be enjoyed and paired with any experimental meals like hotpot. If you are somewhat conservative like me, I wouldn’t open a bottle of Pol Roger Brut NV to pair the hotpot. Also, the cool bubbly soothes your palate from the very physically hot and spicy food and entices you to enjoy more food. Finally, who doesn’t want to have some bubbly fun with families and friends at a comforting meal in times of uncertainties.

Check out my blogger friends’ French bubbles adventures
Invitation to Twitter Chat
Join us the #Winophiles bloggers on Saturday, March 21st to experience the sparkling world of Bordeaux or Crémants from other French wine regions. You could write a blog post and find out our coordination on this Facebook post. We’ll have the blog posts online by March 21st prior to the Twitter chats. Or join us at the Twitter chats on March 21st at 11:00am ET/10:00am CT/8:00am PT through searching the hashtag #Winophiles on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Says Cheers to Donatella Cinelli Colombini Rosso di Montalcino Produced by Women Flagship - Casato Prime Donne #ItalianFWT

To celebrate the International Women’s Day on March 8th, I have invited #ItalianFWT blogger friends to write about their female protagonist in the Italian wine industry. With a little fascination but a lot of inspiration, I’m going to tell the story of Donatella Cinelli Colombini who owns the all-female run Casato Prime Donne winery in Tuscany. Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s version of female empowerment is not about making a political statement or novelty, but rather she truly believes that women’s knowledge, ability, determination, and persistence are success factors for a winery operation.
Over four centuries ago, Donatella Cinelli Colombini’s ancestors already owned Casato. In this century,  Donatella's grandmother passed Casato onto Donatella’s mother, who passed it onto Donatella in the late 1990s. Currently, Donatella’s daughter, Violante has inherited the winery. Since 1998, Donatella founded her own estate that comprises of Fattoria del Colle in Trequanda and Casato Prime Donne in Montalcino.
Donatella Cinelli Colombini (Photo Credit:
Shortly after her rebranding, she was searching for staff in Siena’s enology school and noticed those female students were abundantly available due to the industry’s unfair preference of male graduates over females. Taking these young female enologists under her wings, Donatella was rewarded with determination and hard work from these women. The number of women in Donatella’s estate is very high. In fact, the Casato Prime Donne winery is entirely run by women, a unique phenomenon in the whole of Italy. The rest of the team is made up of competent and ambitious men and women who take care of tourist hospitality, restoration, tender grapes in the vineyards, and manage the entire winemaking cycle from start to finish.

Talented Female Crew (Photo Credit:
My bottle of Donatella Cinelli Colombini Rosso di Montalcino 2016 (SRP$23.99) comes from the Casato Prime Donne. This estate is made up of 40 hectares in which 17 hectares are taken up by Sangiovese vineyards and the winery for the production and ageing of the Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino wines. Rosso di Montalcino, released after ageing for one year, is the “younger brother” of Brunello di Montalcino which must be aged a minimum of four years - two years in barrel before release and once released, typically it needs more time in bottle to max out its drinking potential.  
Drinking Donatella Cinelli Colombini Rosso di Montalcino is a real treat. A tad iron on the nose, this wine is textured, layered, complex and balanced. The dried plum fruit and mild acidity, these softer palates are intermingled with the oak, licorice and leather notes that are also present in the wine, making this wine balanced, elegant, velvety yet approachable. A simple pairing – a thick piece of store-bought pork terrine cold cut and a thick slice of tomato, atop a toast is all I need. Since the pork terrine was very mild-tasting, I added some French Dijon mustard - some tanginess and spiciness to the cold-cut. As I appreciate this wine, there’s no doubt in my mind that the women winemakers at Casato Prime Donne have done an exceptional job as the quality of the wine shows. What is truly inspiring is that, behind this wine label, there’s a safe place women winemaker can show their worth!

Let’s see what our friends say about their Italian female wine heroes: