Saturday, August 15, 2020

A Crémant de Loire, a Vouvray, and a Rosé D’anjou – I’m all set for the summer #Winophiles

Loire Valley Wines - Crémant de Loire, Vouvray, Rosé D’anjou for the Summer

The #Winophiles bloggers are invited by Jill Barth from L'Occasion to explore wines from the Loire Valley of France this summer. I had the opportunity to sip a few beautiful Loire Valley wines last winter in a wine tasting event in New York. What resonates with me the most from the tasting is the diversity of wines that come from this wine region, the largest in France. You could effortlessly find wines from Loire Valley that will suit for each season of the year, every occasion and budget. Let’s “travel” to this wine region...through the lenses of the Langlois-Chateau Crémant de Loire Blanc Brut, Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Cuvee Silex Sec, and Chateauvieux Rosé D’Anjou.

Loire Valley is home of 51 AOP regions and 4 PGI Regions (Credit:

For geo, terroir and wine geek details of Loire Valley, you could check out my previous Bourgueil (a Loire Valley AOP) blog posted in January this year. I’m zeroing right into the wines and see how each of these wines helps you “taste” Loire Valley.


A Crémant that has bready and dried lemon rind notes. Taste almost like a Champagne, without the hefty price tag! 

Langlois-Chateau Crémant de Loire Blanc Brut (SRP$24.99)

Langlois-Chateau consists of 95 hectares of vines in multiple Loire Valley AOPs, including 51 hectares in Saumur, 11 Ha in Saumur Champigny and 33 Ha in Sancerre. Langlois-Chateau has been making sparkling wines since 1855. The French sparkling wines made outside the Champagne wine regions are called Crémants. Check out a recent post which I explored Crémants for more information. Particularly amazing about this Crémant de Loire is its freshness, complexity and balance. This Crémant is a blend of 40% Chenin Blanc, 10% reserve wines, and Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc making up the rest. At the initial sips, the vibrant green apple freshness and fine bubbles came to the forefront. Following with a few more sips, the yeasty and a tad dried lemon rind leveled up. The finish was long with a bit honeyed richness. This Crémant has that kind of “Old World” mouthfeel which savvy sparkling wine drinkers are looking for.


Lemony acidity, nuanced with notes of a tad honey, apricot and baking spice,
a long finish with minerality

Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray Cuvee Silex Sec (SRP$19.99)

Vigneau-Chevreau has been a family run business since 1875. Currently, under the management of brothers Stephane and Christophe Vigneau, the Chateau, which is located in the Saumur AOP of Loire Valley, consists of 28 hectares of soils that are primarily of limestone, clay and silex. These soils are most favorable to the cultivation of Chenin Blanc. Vouvray is only made of 100% Chenin Blanc. While the lemony acidity was not surprising from this grape, this Vouvray was nuanced with notes of a tad honey, apricot and baking spice. I was very intrigued by the long finish which the minerality surfaced. I had to admit that this wine was the reason why I ate so much cheese at the tasting event as it just interacted so well with the nuttiness and the brininess of the cheese. Of course, gluttony is my main sin.


Photo Credit: Cellar Tracker

Chateauvieux Rosé D’Anjou (SRP$10.99)

Chateauvieux locates in the Anjou and Saumur AOPs of Loire Valley. The Rosé D’Anjou is a poster child of the region as the large economy of scale allows producers to use machines and automations in the process, driving the cost of the wines down while maintaining high quality of the wines. With strawberry on the nose and lively acidity, the Rosé D’Anjou was a screaming for summer in a glass.  


Chinese Foods to Pair with the Wine

While cheese is a great pairing option for these three wines. I would also recommend some Chinese foods that I think will kick up a notch of the tasting experience. Fried spring rolls and fried shrimp toast are the perfect accompaniments to the Crémant de Loire. With the Vouvray, I would have a Dim Sum feast with it as its minerality and warm spice notes gives this wine an edge to deal with the seasoned meaty Dim Sum dishes such as steamed beef balls with cilantro, steamed pork riblets in black bean sauce and braised chicken feet in oyster sauceTo pair with the Rosé D’Anjou, I would do a platter of Chinese desserts such as red bean buns and fried sesame balls.


See what other amazing Loire Valley wines other #Winophiles bloggers are sipping:

  • Muscadet is Not Muscat, Garbure Bigourdane, and (Our Version of) Faire Chabròl | Culinary Adventures with Camilla
  • Thierry Michon and Domaine Saint Nicolas - Biodynamic Loire Wines #Winophiles |Savor the Harvest
  • Savennières and Vouvray: Two Tastes of Loire Valley Chenin Blanc | The Swirling Dervish
  • Sweet Wines from the Loire | Avvinare
  • Made it to Dessert with a Vouvray | Keep the Peas
  • A Vineyard Visit: Organic Clos du Tue-Boeuf with Thierry Puzelat and his Sauvignon Blanc paired with a savory summer tart | Wine Predator
  • Turkey and Cabbage Skillet Recipe with Pouilly-Fumé | Cooking Chat
  • Enjoying Summer Food with Chinon Wine and a Fun Book | A Day in the Life on the Farm
  • Cooking to the Wine: "Brendan Stater-West Saumur Les Chapaudaises and Chicken Thighs with Apples and Onions | Somm's Table
  • Summer Sipping: B&G Chenin Blanc and Crispy Baked Pork Chops | Our Good Life
  • Montlouis-sur-Loire – 2 Rivers, 3 Zeros and some delicious sparkling wine #Winophiles | Crushed Grape Chronicles
  • Exploring the Loire Valley From My Balcony with #Winophiles! | The Quirky Cork
  • Funky Loire Pet Nat was born for goat cheese pizza | My Full Wine Glass
  • A Crémant de Loire, a Vouvray, and a Rosé D’anjou - I’m all set for the summer #Winophiles | Chinese Food and Wine Pairings
  • Touraine Chenonceaux in the Loire Valley – Where Wine and History Reign | Grape Experiences
  • Wine Thirsty? That's No Problem in France's Loire Valley | L'Occasion
  • Saturday, August 8, 2020

    A Successful Hunt Down of a Red Vinhao Escolha from Vinho Verde DOC #WinePW


    Double down on a hard-to-find Red Vinho Verde at the Vinho Verde Experience Event

    Vinho Verde is the biggest wine region (DOC) of Portugal, up in the cool, rainy, lushly green north west. A Vinho Verde also literally translates as “green wine” or “young wine”, indicatively referring to the white grape varieties, which account for 85% of the wine production in the Vinho Verde region. Cindy Rynning from Grape Experiences and Liz Barrett from What’s in that Bottle invited the #WinePW to discover Vinho Verde. I honestly didn’t have a Vinho Verde wine to taste right in front of me. I did have the fond memory of a Red Vinho Verde - Quinta das arcas Vinhão Escolha, taking three years to hunt down one...

    5 Fun Facts of Vinho Verde:

    • You can’t beat the price. Vinho Verde's SRP starts at $5.
    • Reds (e.g., Espadeiro, Padeiro and Vinhão) and Rosés account for 14% of the total wine production in Vinho Verde DOC.
    • Sparkling wines were permitted to be made in the DOC since 1999.
    • Single-variety Vinho Verde wines, mostly made from Alvarinho or Loureiro, are age-worthy. The blend of white grapes (e.g., the previous two grapes, Arinto, Avesso, Azal and Trajudura), which are found in most Vinho Verdes, have lesser potential for cellaring.
    • Red Vinho Verde is dark, high in acidity, low in alcohol, made primarily from the late-ripening, red-fleshed Vinhão grape. 

    Photo Credit: Wines of Portugal 

    The Hunt Down of a Red Vinho Verde
    My experience with Vinho Verde started with the New York City Vinho Verde Experience Tasting Event back in 2017. Back then, I was hired as a pourer in the event, learned all about Vinho Verde myself, and talked about the wines I poured. However, even I learned about the Reds from the brochure, there were hardly any red Vinho Verde, not on my tables or others.
    Pouring at the Vinho Verde Experience Event

    In 2018, I went with a group of friends to the same event hosted atop a beautiful rooftop of a converted warehouse building. We tasted a lot of Vinho Verde cocktails as well as a lot of white Vinho Verde and some Rosés. But again, there were no sight of Reds.
    Last year, I went back to the event that was held at night in a mid-town Manhattan  hotel for a very rush tasting, in and out within half an hour, as I had my teenage daughter waiting for me in the hotel lobby (don’t be an irresponsible mom like me!). I eventually found and tasted a red Vinho Verde - Quinta das arcas Vinhão Escolha 2014What a big contrast with the thirty Vinho Verde I tasted there…Vinhão Escolha is violet but transparent in color. It’s dry, medium-bodied and tannic, and has high acidity, pronounced raspberries with a touch of grass, chocolate and oak. Unfortunately, this wine is still not available online or via retail in the US. The representative of Quinta das arcas told me that they were looking for a distributor. 
    SRP 16.80€ per the Winery's website; Vinhão 100%, ABV 12%

    Pairing Ideas with Vinhão Escolha

    I think the sky is the limit in terms of food pairing options with this Vinhão Escolha. It could be heartier finger foods such as stuffed mushrooms, mini meatballs, fried calamari, or entrée such as roasted chicken or duck, a lean cut of steak, or a burger. In the context of Chinese food pairings, I would strongly recommend Char Siu (roasted BBQ pork). For me, if I could get hold of this bottle again, I would cut out the cooking and just order from my favorite Chinese take-out place…anything with a bit sauce from the menu will go.

    Take a look at which Vinho Verde the other #WinePW bloggers is drinking:
  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Cam shares Foods from Around the World Paired with Pink Wines from Portugal 
  • Liz Barret of What’s In That Bottle? is thrilled with Va Va Va Vinho Verde: the Portuguese White That Wows 
  • Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles answers What is Vinho Verde? 5 things I didn’t know about this perfect summer wine 
  • Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm savors Tomato Poached Cod with Vinho Verde Wine. 
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass realizes that Distinctively ‘laurel” Vinho Verde Delivers with Seafood and Salad 
  • Nicole at SommsTable is loving Vinho Verde and Simple Seafood Feast 
  • Payal at Keep the Peas is pairing Sem Igual Vinho Verde with Peixe Caldine 
  • Gwendolyn at Wine Predator says Vinho Verde: A Green Wine That’s White from Portugal Paired with Tuna, Tomato, Basil, Orzo #WinePW 
  • Martin at Enofylz is Pairing Maria Papoila Vinho Verde with Summer Pizza 
  • Susannah at Avvinare explains how Vinho Verde Meets Homemade Sushi 
  • Terri at Our Good Life savors Scallops, Smashed Peas and a Great Vinho Verde 
  • Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairing achieves A Successful Hunt Down of a Red Vinhao Escolha from Vinho Verde DOC #WinePW 
  • Cindy at Grape Experiences has been reminiscing upon last fall’s work trip where she spent A Beautiful Morning at Quinta da Aveleda in Vinho Verde
  • Saturday, August 1, 2020

    Pairing Bibi Graetz Casamatta Toscana Rosato with Drunken Cold Chicken Wing and Pork Knuckle, and Sautéed Julienne Leek #ItalianFWT

    Pairing Bibi Graetz Casamatta Toscana Rosato with Drunken Cold Chicken Wing and Pork Knuckle, and Sautéed Julienne Leek

    Having a stronger preference over red wines and typically shying away from the sun, sitting at the patio and enjoying chilled wines is not my usual summer pastime.  However, the summer of 2020, in so many ways, is very different from the past…staying in the house, no family travel plans, no summer street fairs, no wine tasting events. To extend my living space to outdoor, we have upgraded our patio with elevated garden boxes for some annuals and new patio furniture. All out of a sudden, checking out how my flowers are doing becomes a daily ritual and, slowly but surely, having our wines and meals outdoor is what I look forward to every evening.  Lauren from The Swirling Dervish invited the #ItalianFWT bloggers to discover the pink wines from Italy’s indigenous grapes. That helps me expand my summer patio wine list. Let’s sip some Bibi Graetz Casamatta Toscana Rosato and devour the chilled drunken chicken wings and pork knuckle plus some sautéed julienned leek.

                              Bibi Graetz Casamatta Toscana Rosato 2018 SRP$12.99:
    cherry plum (GMO for sure), fuller-bodied, a good balance of acidity at the end; Dry Port?

    What is Rosato?

    Rosatos are pink wines coming from all over Italy. They are made with a wide variety of Italian indigenous grapes. The choice of grapes and winemaking methods, either direct pressing of red grapes or “saignée method” (bleeding off must from tanks to avoid too dark of the color from skin contact) presents a diverse and fun world of Rosato – different regions, shades of pink or light red, weight or body, aromas, tastes and price ranges.

    Soft citrusy finish that kind of zips all the fruitiness of this wine
    and leaves you with a refreshing and clean mouthfeel at the very end!

    This Rosato doesn’t taste like Rose!

    BibiGraetz Winery was found in 2000 when Bibi Graetz turns his passion of wines from drinking it to making it. Growing up in a family of artists, it’s not hard to find the artistic strokes on the wine labels. Not only I like the label of this Bibi Graetz Casamatta Toscana Rosato 2018, I’m also so excited to taste my very first Rosato which happens to be awarded a 91 rating from James Suckling.

    This Sangiovese-based Rosato is strawberry and cherry on the nose. My first sip of it really sent some shockwaves…what is this? A dry Port? I immediately asked my husband, who is a Port lover, to “verify” the taste. It also tastes like a lighter Port to him too. But what makes this Rosato so interesting is the soft citrusy finish that kind of zips all the fruitiness of this wine and leaves you with a refreshing and clean mouthfeel at the very end!

    Making drunken chicken wings and pork knuckles takes some time but it is so worth it!
    Drunken Chicken Wing and Pork Knuckle with Sautéed Julienned Leek

    With this fuller-bodied and solid Sangiovese-based pink wine, I decided to make some drunken chicken wings and pork knuckles that are served cold. I boiled the wings and knuckles for about ten minutes and washed off the fatty floatie stuff from the meat under the running water. I then fully cooked the wings and knuckles an Instant Pot (stovetop is perfectly fine too). One thing to keep in mind is not to stew the meat so it becomes too mushy and the skins of the wings and knuckles need to be intact. In a separate pot, I was making a brining liquid by boiling two cups chicken broth, ¼ cup rice vinegar, some Sichuan peppercorn, anise, scallion, ginger, salt, and pepper. After the broth was cooled off in a large bowl, I added ½ cup of clear Chinese cooking wine to the broth and submerged the wings and knuckles in the broth. Leave the meat in the fridge for at least 4 hours. 

    Yes, it's a meaty pork knuckle. The pork skin is not fatty at all as the rice vinegar in the brining liquid takes care of it.

    When you bite into the bouncy skin of the wings and pork knuckles, you know that all the work is totally worth it. The brining process turns the heavy meat into tasty cool summer eats that are substantial but not fatty, appetizing, umami, lightly sour and gingery…overall, a good match to the honest and impressive Bibi Graetz Casamatta Toscana Rosato.

    If you don't like leek potato soup, maybe try to sautee leeks. I am quite happy with this leek dish.

    With the vegetable side, I julienned a whole leek and sautéed it with Laoganma Spicy Chili Crisp until the leek was tender and slightly under-cooked so that it still had that crunch to it. 

    Julienned leek sautees very fast and can be served cold. The leeks retains the vibrant green color after its cooked too.

    The Laoganma sauce is an all-purpose condiment for spicy food lover. It is red pepper-based with oil that is infused with the spiciness. The crunchy peanuts and tinny dry tofu cubes in the sauce also add a lot of fun to your sautéed food too. This sautéed leek is spicy, oniony and literally healthy. Who can imagine one can eat a whole leek and drink Rosato – yes, I can… at my new patio.

    Got this leek from a nearby farmer's market. It costs me $2.5 for three whole leeks.
    A better alternative to onion, in my opinion. 

    Let's check out which Rosato our #ItalianFWT friends is drinking: