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Lily & Lou’s takes up residence in Habersham

in Food/Wine & Dine

By RON CALLARI

Habersham’s Marketplace is a step back in time, accented by shops, bistros and dining facilities, featuring artisanal products and tasty cuisine. To its distinguished list of culinary options, add the new Lily & Lou’s Eatery and Market, which is filling the space formerly occupied by Lazy Susan’s Cafe & Creperie.

The new co-owners, Kate and Jack Cosentino recently relocated from Minnesota with the idea that a work/live residence just might be the right fit at this point in their careers. 

According to Kate, who ran a successful photography studio, she believed neither she nor her husband were actually ready for retirement. 

“Jack, having recently left his high-pressure job as a medical consulting CEO, and I were looking to the future,” she said. “We took a road trip south with the goal to scout out what might catch our fancy when we did officially retire.”

Florida was their first thought, but it was dismissed after several follow-up visits, which eventually “opened our eyes to South Carolina.”

“Let’s get our hands dirty, and make pretty,” noted Kate whimsically. “Why not?”

Jack loves to cook – gyros are just one of his specialties – and Kate was always a baker at heart. Now, they have their chance.

They have decided to keep the cafe and market format, as they felt that type of facility was needed not only for Habersham residents, but Beaufort at large.

A soft opening

They have held a “soft opening,” which garnered them feedback from first-time diners.

Dismissing a grand opening, Kate and Jack wanted to open their doors in a casual manner. They wanted to meet their new neighbors, as they would if they invited them to their home. 

“No Yelp, nor NextDoor marketing push,” Kate said. “We wanted to have conversations as to how to improve their dining experience for their patronage and well as their new staff.”

They created breakfast and lunch menus, and having just secured a wine and beer license, they will soon be offering cigars, wine and charcuterie offerings in the evenings.

Something that Beaufortonians will be happy to learn, the Cosentinos also decided to be one of the few restaurants in town to be opened daily, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. They will also man a market for convenience items, such as milk, butter, sauces and some of the ingredients used in their menus.

Survey says

For breakfast, the jury is in, and hands down the “Ooey Gooey Carmel Pecan Roll” is the most popular item. Gluten-free, it is a brown sugar- honey- and cinnamon-glazed sticky roll, smothered with southern pecans.

According to Kate, “the best and most popular lunch item thus far is their “Naughty Greek.” While Greek-style, this one is marinated for 2 days, hand-stacked, slow cooked and cut traditionally from a vertical rotisserie. It is served on a warm pita with pickled onions, cucumbers and a to-die-for tzatziki.

With a catchy play on words, a “Shamwich” features Kate and Jack’s signature egg soufflé, with thick cut bacon, cheddar cheese and Dijonnaise mustard, served on a ciabatta roll.

For diners relocating from the North, they’ll be happy to know Lily & Lou’s will be serving New York Bagels, toasted with butter and/or cream cheese.

Comfort wine is a new Pinot Grigio

in Food/Wine & Dine

By CELIA STRONG

Always a favorite. Especially if the new is sort of similar to others. 

Sort of a bit different so it stands out and on its own. At a good price so trying it is easy. Trying it a lot is also easy. 

Comes from a known winery so it’s not a total stranger. Yes, new, but comfortable. Like comfort food.

So, beginning with from where. 

Washington State is not the “where” that comes to mind first for Pinot Grigios. This state is known for Merlots and Cabernets, and, for white wines. Riesling is its star. Followed by Chardonnay. 

But previous lessons have covered the rise in popularity of Pinot Grigio. And its ability to make good wines wherever it is grown. 

The first wine grapevines were planted in the state in 1825, at Fort Vancouver. Unfortunately, there is no record of any wines being made from these first plantings. 

German and Italian immigrants, in the 1860s and 1870s were the first who are known to have definitely made wines in Washington. In 1917, Washington was one of the first states to usher in Prohibition. 

After that, their modern wine industry did not reboot until the 1950s.

Grape growing in Washington is very much controlled by the geography across different parts of the state. The Cascade Mountains keep marine influences from the Pacific Ocean and the Puget Sound from reaching eastern Washington, where conditions are almost desert-like. Irrigation is allowed, though. Frosts and hard freezes can cause a lot of destruction to the vines. 

On the good side, the soils in the vineyards’ soils are sandy, stone-studded, lava, and along with the dryness, all together make unfriendly conditions for many vineyard diseases. Like phylloxera. Pinot Grigio, when grown in cooler climates like Washington State, has higher levels of natural fruit acids, a good thing, and a spicy tang in its flavors. Cooler temperature fermentation enhances the freshness and fruitiness of its wines.

Hogue Cellars was founded in 1982 by Mike and Gary Hogue. They are located in the Columbia Valley, Washington’s premiere grape growing region. Warm summer days and cool nights over the growing season lets the grapes ripen fully and still maintain their natural acidity. 

The grapes are harvested at night or very early morning so they are cool. This preserves their fresh fruit flavors. After a gentle whole-berry pressing, fermentation is done in stainless steel tanks at 48 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Seventy percent of the grapes for this wine are grown in the cooler Yakima Valley. Eighteen percent come from Snipes Mountain and 12 percent from Columbia Valley.

Small amounts of Gewurztraminer (to support the Pinot Grigio’s natural spiciness), and Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Muscat Canelli (all to enhance the fruit flavors) are added in. 

This wine is light to medium bodied, with a pale yellow color. Even served very cold it has aromas and flavors that include lemons, yellow and green apples, melons, nectarines, peaches, ginger, orange blossoms and honeysuckle. And a distinct minerality with its lingering acidity finish.

Grown in a cooler climate but perfect for warm weather. A perfect comfort wine. For $8.99 at Bill’s Liquors. Enjoy.

Finally, the white is here

in Food/Uncategorized/Wine & Dine

By CELIA STRONG

The white wine is here. And just in time. 

Not just because new white wines become a priority for some wine drinkers in the hot summer months. But, also, because the complete set of a brand is now available. Red. Rosé. And, finally, the white.

Gerberas’ white wine comes the Aragon region in Spain. Like its red and rosé cousins, Aragon is located in northeastern Spain. It stretches from the Pyrenees Mountains south to the Iberian plateau. (The whole of Spain and Portugal is the Iberian Peninsula.) 

Catalonia is to the east of Aragon, and Rioja, Navarra and Castilla y Leon are to its west. All other Spanish wine regions. 

The Ebro River, the largest and most important in Spain, flows eastward through Aragon. And defines the various Aragon wine areas in its valley. 

The name Aragon comes from either a smaller river in the region with the same name, or from the Basque word “Aragoi” that means “high valley.”

The climate of Aragon is moderate with the vineyard elevations determining how moderate. Recently, a Cava DO status was granted in Aragon. (Cava is the designation for Spanish sparkling wines, mostly from the Catalonia region.) There are several wine DOs in Aragon – Somontano, Cariñena, Calatayud, Campo de Borjia.

Gerberas Bianco is made from 100 percent Macabeo. This variety is also known as Viura, Macabeu, Lardot and about a dozen lesser known more localized names. 

Besides large plantings in northeastern Spain in the Rioja and Cava producing areas, it is also grown in the Languedoc-Rousillon area of France. It is often used in blends, but as more modern winemaking techniques are adopted, like stainless steel and temperature controlled fermentations, it is making wonderful wines on its own. 

Its wines tend to have a bone dryness, light to medium bodies, moderate acidity and not too high alcohol levels. The flavors include honeydew melons, lime peels, lemon verbena, tarragon and hazelnuts. 

Janis Robinson, an icon in wine tasting and wine writing, calls Macabeo the “Cinderella” grape. Because, in recent years, it has been “discovered” as capable of making excellent wines.

Gerberas Macabeo follows Gerberas Garnacha and Gerberas Garnacha Rosé as a great sipping, food friendly everyday affordable wine. 

The grapes for it are grown in alluvial soils in the foothills of the Moncayo mountain. After harvesting and crush, the must is chilled for a short time with the skins. 

Fermentation is long and slow, in stainless steel tanks, at controlled temperatures between 71 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. The finished wine is delicate with fruity and floral notes. Ripe peaches. Lemons. Lime zest. Stone fruits. Nuts. White flowers. 

All come together in a very dry, light, but definitely textured body. The palate is clean and fresh and exhilarating.

Perfect as an aperitif, but it also pairs well with grilled fish, shellfish, sushi, baked chicken, salads, pasta with seafood white sauces or just olive oil and grated cheese, pizzas with anchovies and olive oil, fried foods, pesto, risotto, and lots of cheeses – Manchego, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Gouda, Triple Cremes. Pretty much summer foods. 

And it’s easy to find with the yellow gerberas daisy on its label. It’s finally here. For $9.99. Enjoy.

Wine With An Attitude

in Food/Wine & Dine

By CELIA STRONG

A wine’s name can reveal a lot about the wine, from its reason for being to our reason for drinking it. And, as usual, a good name is a good way to remember the wine. This week, it’s all about Attitude.

The Loire Valley in western France has a long history with wine. There is archeological evidence that the Romans planted the first vineyards there in the 1st century AD. Viticulture, the growing and tending of wine grape vines, flourished in this area for several reasons: The soils and microclimates here are well-suited to vines; the valley, with its rich soils, is a little bit warmer than areas just to the north and south of it; and, a variety of soil types from one end of the Loire River to the other allow a large variety of different grapes to succeed there.

Besides wine grapes, the valley was a great source for many other agricultural products, including cherries, artichokes, asparagus, and fruit trees of all sorts. It was known as the Garden of France.

In addition, and because of its milder climate, the 300-mile river became the location for many extravagant chateaux. In past centuries, French nobility built summer castles in the Loire Valley. Some French kings even built one chateau in one town for their wives and legitimate children and extended families, and another a few miles away in another town for their mistresses. There’s an attitude! 

Domaine Pascal Jolivet (joe-lee-vay) was established in 1987. The family had started as wine merchants, father Louis and his son Lucien. In 1982, Louis’ grandson, Jacques, founded his own distributing company and encouraged his 22-year-old son Pascal to work at Maison Champagne Pommery when he was 22 years old. Contacts from Champagne backed Pascal with his own wine brand under his own name.

Pascal built his new wine cellar in Sancerre at the far eastern end of the Loire River.  From his experience in the Champagne region, he used state-of-the-art equipment, like temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. (At the end of the 20th century, stainless tanks were not as commonly used as now.) And, despite not owning any vines or vineyards in the beginning, Pascal insisted on using 100% indigenous yeasts and all natural winemaking. He acquired his first land in 1995, and his Sancerre wines were twice named by the Wine Spectator in its Top 100 wine lists. Over the years, Jolivet has grown in land holdings, reputation and awards and added a new bottling cellar.

Attitude is a group of three wines (a Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Noir and a Rosé).  Pascal’s goal with this label is to produce high quality Loire wines, just not necessarily from Sancerre. They are produced from a 57-acre estate located to the west of Sancerre, in the Touraine part of the Loire Valley. (It is worth noting, two of the most famous chateaux, Cheverny and Chambord, border his vineyards.) This estate has two distinct soil types — limestone in some places and sandy in others. All three wines are made with natural winemaking and practices that are environmentally-friendly.   Pascal’s philosophy is let nature take its course. Attitude Rosé is the result of this.

This wine is a blend of 34% Pinot Noir, 33% Cabernet Franc and 33% Gamay. All three varieties are grown in different sites and appellations along the river. These grapes are grown in chalky and calcareous clay soils, all organically. Both soils help enhance the grapes’ fruit aromas and freshness. Grapes are hand-harvested and maceration is done before hand sorting and de-stemming. After pressing, the juices of each variety are slow fermented with wild yeasts in stainless steel tanks.  

Attitude Rosé, with its precise blend of grapes, is a unique, almost sensual shade of bright rosy pink. Its aromas and flavors include strawberries, red raspberries, currants, peaches, mangos, red plums and green herbs like thyme and basil. It is medium-bodied with crisp, balanced flavors and a refreshing acidity. It is young and vibrant and full of attitude — everything Pascal meant it to be. For $14.99. Enjoy.

The perfect wine habit negator

in Food/Wine & Dine

By CELIA STRONG

Wine drinkers are often creatures of habit. They might like one grape variety but not another. 

They might like any Chardonnay with oak aging somewhere in its production. They might swear they don’t like any wine from a certain country. Or a certain winery. 

Since the goal is to learn more about wines, and have fun doing it, some habits are just going to have to

be negated. And, once the first habit is broken, how easy to do more negating! 

During hot summer weather, officially this week, many wine drinkers cling to their Pinot Grigios to get through the heat and humidity. Mostly Italian and American. 

But bet no one ever thinks of a German Pinot Grigio! A delicious bad habit breaker!

Villa Wolf Pinot Gris is from the Pfalz region of Germany in the southeastern part of the country. It is one of the wines from the J. L. Wolf Estate which is run by Dr. Ernst Loosen. 

The Pfalz is the second largest wine region in Germany, and the Loosen name and reputation for quality wines from there is very highly regarded. 

Villa Wolf winery was established in 1756. With an actual villa built on the site in 1843. Dr Loosen took control of Villa Wolf winery and wines in 1996.

Pinot Grigio, or Pinot Gris, is not the norm in German wine production. Habit breaker. 

Often, in this country, it is called by other names – Grauburgunder or Rülander. 

Grown in Germany, this variety tends to be harvested early to exploit the grapes’ acidity and minimize its overt fruitiness. Much like with many Italian producers. 

Germany has only about 12,000 acres planted with Pinot Gris.

Made from 100% Pinot Gris, the Villa Wolf grapes are sustainably grown according to strict German environmental regulations. 

Extensive, day-by-day attention to the estate’s vineyards makes it possible for every vintage to produce quality wines.

Vine training, pruning, shading, and hand-harvesting are all needed for healthy crops. And quality wines. These Pinot Gris grapes are fermented in a combination of stainless steel (for intense fruit aromas and flavors), large neutral oak casks (for depth and complexity) and concrete tanks. 

The wines from all three fermentations are blended, lightly filtered and, then, bottled bottled. Malolactic fermentation is avoided, to maintain crispness and balanced flavors. This Pinot Gris is fuller bodied, dry and fresh. And unoaked. It is a light gold color, with aromas and flavors of citrus rinds,

peaches, apples and melons. And, some floral qualities. All zesty and fresh in your mouth.

The finished wine has 12.5 percent alcohol, higher than most German wines.

So, the Pinot Grigio, or Pinot Gris, habit is safe. Phew! An excellent variety to choose for the summer heat. Just negating the habitual Italian and American as the only choices. 

What fun. For $11.99. Enjoy.

Lunch Bunching at the Red Rooster Cafe

in Food/Wine & Dine

By MARGARET EVANS

It was almost mid-afternoon when the Lunch Bunch straggled into the Red Rooster Café in its semi-new location on Boundary Street. Not to be confused with the Red Lobster, which briefly occupied the building, the Red Rooster has been delighting Beaufort diners since 2011, when it first established itself on Ribaut Rd. 

Island News staffers, left to right: Margaret Evans, Betty Davis, Mike McCombs and Hope Oswald. Not pictured: Jeff Evans

While waiting for a couple of late arrivals, we perused the menu. The humor and creativity displayed there is reason enough to give this restaurant a try. How can you not love a place that gives its sandwiches names like The Humpty Dumpty, Toasted Disco, Yo, Adrian, and Wile E Coyote? 

There’s a burger called Hey, Y’all and one called Rooster Cogburn, and the salads sport names like Et Tu, Brute, Veggin’ Out, and The Free Bird. 

Hope was running late – and our stomachs were growling – so we ordered for her, a Panini called The Gobbler. (Our server said it was a house favorite.) Betty ordered the Curried Rooster Waldorf sandwich, I had the Pear Necessities salad, Jeff got the Southern Sunrise breakfast (you can order breakfast all day!), and Mike ordered the Butch Cassidy burger, with a starter of She Crab Soup. 

Mike was done with work for the day, so he was able to avail himself of the Red Rooster’s full bar. Margaritas were his poison of choice, and he was forced to order a second when he found that the She Crab Soup – though delicious and full of crab – contained a healthy dose of paprika.

Betty declared her Curried Rooster Waldorf sandwich outstanding. “It’s a real treat,” she said. “Not over-curried.” Hope thoroughly enjoyed The Gobbler Panini – with its roasted turkey breast, soft brie and homemade strawberry sauce – and especially loved the Asian slaw that came with it.

Jeff’s Southern Sunrise satisfied his mid-day hankering for breakfast and even surpassed his expectations. It’s hard to go wrong with a hearty serving of eggs and sausage, but grits can be dicey. These were particularly good – stone ground and fluffed to perfection. 

“The best part,” he said, “is that I’m sitting here eating breakfast at 1:45 pm.”

I had ordered the Pear Necessities salad almost entirely because of its name – I like to reward whimsy – but it’s just as delicious as it is cleverly-named. A spring mix topped with fresh pears, dried cranberries, grilled chicken, sweet and salty toasted pecans, bacon, and feta… with light poppy seed dressing. Need I elaborate? 

Mike had finished his She Crab Soup, and his second margarita, and it was time to tackle the Butch Cassidy Burger. He deemed it “a good, big, basic burger.” (Personally, this is all I want a burger to be. Ever.) 

He was especially impressed with the pasta salad on the side, calling it “very rich and creamy; heavy on mayonnaise.” 

Near the end of lunch, manager Fredrick McKnight paid a visit to our table. Freddie’s one of those F&B people who loves the business and has mastered every aspect of it. 

“I started at Dockside as a dishwasher when I was a teenager,” he told us. “Pretty soon, I discovered cooking and thought: This is it!” 

He’s been in the biz ever since and clearly does a little bit of everything – or, more likely, a lot of everything – at the Red Rooster.

Freddie told us that the restaurant recently extended its hours. After years of serving only breakfast and lunch, they now serve dinner Wednesday-Saturday. (And remember, there’s a full bar!) They also serve free breakfast most Friday mornings to cadets graduating from boot camp on Parris Island. 

“These kids are risking more than I ever would to serve our country,” he said. “Feeding them breakfast is the least we can do.” 

Freddie McKnight is a good guy and The Red Rooster Cafe is a delightful restaurant. We of the Island News Lunch Bunch give its two thumbs up and a promise to return soon.

Red Rooster Café

2045 Boundary Street

Beaufort, SC

843-379-2253

Mon and Tues: 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Wed-Fri: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Sat: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Sun: 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Top photograph: Red Rooster manager Fredrick McKnight

Concentration has its benefits

in Food/Wine & Dine

By CELIA STRONG

A little concentration will go a long way. 

Especially when trying to decipher Pinot Gris wines. Distinguishing Pinot Grigio wines from Pinot Gris wines is easier. But even in Alsace, which is the original “gris” producing area, there are different styles of wines. Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same variety. But “gris” is the French version of the name and it is, obviously, used in the Alsace region. So “gris” it is. 

Alsace wines are strongly influenced by their neighbor across the Rhine River, Germany. For that matter, Alsatian food, architecture and language are also closely tied to Germany. 

For centuries, this region passed back and forth between France and Germany. With The Treaty of Versailles in 1919, Alsace was returned to French control and has remained there since. The name Alsace comes from the Old High German “Elisaz” which means foreign domain.

About 90 percent of Alsatian wines are white. From about 40,000 acres of vineyards. These wines come in taller, German Rhine style bottles, legally, and are labeled for their grape variety. A rarity in France. 

In recent years, plantings of Pinot Gris have started to increase. Partly because of the popularity of Pinot Grigio. And, partly, because these are such good wines. 

Alsatian Pinot Gris wines, in general, are golden yellow in color. Their aromas are rich with smoky notes, dried fruits, apricots, honey, ginger and gingerbread and florals. 

Its flavors are also rich with peaches, meyer lemon, ginger and stone fruits. With good acidity levels, they are medium- to full-bodied with great structure, roundness, balance and strength. 

And concentration. Definitely, they are more food-friendly.

Famile Hugel (Hugel Family) has produced wines in Alsace for more than 370 years. Thirteen generations of the family, beginning in 1639, with Hans Ulrich Hugel, a Swiss national. 

Over all these years, they have established a reputation for passion and a dynamic, modern outlook. They own about 62 acres, over half of them with Grand Cru designation although none of their labels claim this designation. Their wines are produced in several tiers, Classic being the basic. 

Hugel Classic Pinot Gris is 100 percent Pinot Gris and stands out for several reasons. It’s easily spotted on shelves by its distinctive label. A French winemaker with a corkscrew for his nose and a bunch of grapes in his hands. 

This wine is made from some Hugel estate grapes and from purchased grapes that go through extreme selection processes. All sustainably grown on clay-limestone soils. They are hand picked and taken intact to the presses. 

Fermentation is done in temperature-controlled vats with natural yeasts. Minimal intervention in the winemaking process is the rule at Hugel. 

The finished wine is rich and full but still dry. Concentrated. Pinot Gris is the most discreet and subtle of their varieties. And, it has the longest aging potential. Its aromas are subtle and soft, but still intense, with ripe fruits (apricots), licorice, some buttery brioche, sesame seed, pistachio and hazelnut. Its flavors echo these aromas along with apples, guava, cinnamon and nutmeg. Think spicy bread pudding made with brioche. 

This wine, made by Marc Hugel, is mouth-filling. All these flavors and textures make this wine stand out in your wine memory banks. Without too much concentration. 

A Pinot Grigio it is not. 

Concentration has its benefits

in Food/Wine & Dine

By CELIA STRONG

A little concentration will go a long way. 

Especially when trying to decipher Pinot Gris wines. Distinguishing Pinot Grigio wines from Pinot Gris wines is easier. But even in Alsace, which is the original “gris” producing area, there are different styles of wines. Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same variety. But “gris” is the French version of the name and it is, obviously, used in the Alsace region. So “gris” it is. 

Alsace wines are strongly influenced by their neighbor across the Rhine River, Germany. For that matter, Alsatian food, architecture and language are also closely tied to Germany. 

For centuries, this region passed back and forth between France and Germany. With The Treaty of Versailles in 1919, Alsace was returned to French control and has remained there since. The name Alsace comes from the Old High German “Elisaz” which means foreign domain.

About 90 percent of Alsatian wines are white. From about 40,000 acres of vineyards. These wines come in taller, German Rhine style bottles, legally, and are labeled for their grape variety. A rarity in France. 

In recent years, plantings of Pinot Gris have started to increase. Partly because of the popularity of Pinot Grigio. And, partly, because these are such good wines. 

Alsatian Pinot Gris wines, in general, are golden yellow in color. Their aromas are rich with smoky notes, dried fruits, apricots, honey, ginger and gingerbread and florals. 

Its flavors are also rich with peaches, meyer lemon, ginger and stone fruits. With good acidity levels, they are medium- to full-bodied with great structure, roundness, balance and strength. 

And concentration. Definitely, they are more food-friendly.

Famile Hugel (Hugel Family) has produced wines in Alsace for more than 370 years. Thirteen generations of the family, beginning in 1639, with Hans Ulrich Hugel, a Swiss national. 

Over all these years, they have established a reputation for passion and a dynamic, modern outlook. They own about 62 acres, over half of them with Grand Cru designation although none of their labels claim this designation. Their wines are produced in several tiers, Classic being the basic. 

Hugel Classic Pinot Gris is 100 percent Pinot Gris and stands out for several reasons. It’s easily spotted on shelves by its distinctive label. A French winemaker with a corkscrew for his nose and a bunch of grapes in his hands. 

This wine is made from some Hugel estate grapes and from purchased grapes that go through extreme selection processes. All sustainably grown on clay-limestone soils. They are hand picked and taken intact to the presses. 

Fermentation is done in temperature-controlled vats with natural yeasts. Minimal intervention in the winemaking process is the rule at Hugel. 

The finished wine is rich and full but still dry. Concentrated. Pinot Gris is the most discreet and subtle of their varieties. And, it has the longest aging potential. Its aromas are subtle and soft, but still intense, with ripe fruits (apricots), licorice, some buttery brioche, sesame seed, pistachio and hazelnut. Its flavors echo these aromas along with apples, guava, cinnamon and nutmeg. Think spicy bread pudding made with brioche. 

This wine, made by Marc Hugel, is mouth-filling. All these flavors and textures make this wine stand out in your wine memory banks. Without too much concentration. 

A Pinot Grigio it is not. 

It’s all about the name, once again

in Food/Wine & Dine

By CELIA STRONG

Once again, we’re talking wine names that have special meanings. 

The name of a California growing area – Carneros. And the name of a winery –  Cuvaison. 

Just interesting facts that can make learning new wines a bit more fun. 

Carneros (Los Carneros also works) is a California American Viticultural Area (AVA) that is located across the southern tip of both Napa and Sonoma counties. It is one of the oldest grape growing and wine making areas in California. 

Created in 1983, it covers ninety square miles in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains. And, it is known for high quality Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs – still wines and lots of sparkling also. (Like Domaine Carneros owned by Taittinger, Gloria Ferrer owned by Freixenet and Mumm Napa owned by G H Mumm.) 

Carneros has a cool, windy, foggy climate. In its early years of growing wine grapes, this caused vineyard problems. But by the 1970s, quality and consistency were achieved. 

By then, winemakers had learned that the cooler weather of Carneros was perfect for cooler climate varieties. Chardonnay that is typically more elegant that most other California Chards, with crisper acidity and fresh, stone-fruit aromas. And Pinot Noir that is traditionally lighter and tighter those from other California regions, with berry and herb notes. 

In short, these wines resemble more closely French-style versions than American. 

Besides the climate, Carneros’ soil also helps produce this style of wines. It is predominantly clay, very thin and shallow, so there is poor drainage and low fertility. Grape ripening can be delayed and crops can be low yields. But struggling grapes in longer growing seasons can ripen to intense and vivid and deep flavors.

The wines from Cuvaison are perfect examples of what Carneros wine can be. Releasing their first wine in 1969, Cuvaison has played an important part for years in establishing and maintaining this AVA’s reputation. 

In 1979, they acquired 400 acres of prized vineyard land north of San Pablo Bay in the AVA. In 1991, they started a replanting program that emphasized each plot of land within the 400 acres, so that each specific plot got the best variety and best clone for its specific attributes. In 2012, Cuvaison was honored by “Wine & Spirits” as one of the Top 100 Wineries in the World.”

Cuvaison Chardonnay is a luxurious bottle of wine. It is 100 percent Chardonnay, 100 pecent grown on their estate and 100 percent Carneros fruit. The grapes are picked slowly over three to four weeks so that each one is ripe. 

Fermentation takes two to three weeks, and the wine is aged in French oak barrels for 11 months. Twenty-five percent new barrels. It has aromas and flavors including honeysuckle, jasmine, daffodils, vanilla, cloves and other baking spices, pears and peaches, lemons and toasty brioche. It is medium to full bodied with very bright, focused acidity. For $19.99. 

Cuvaison Pinot Noir is just as exceptional. Also 100 percent Pinot Noir, 100 percent estate-grown, 100 percent Carneros grapes. Also, a longer harvest time, so each grape is allowed to ripen as completely as possible and a one and a half to two and a half weeks for fermentation. Aging is done in French oak for 15 months. The finished wine is known for its velvety texture and concentrated aromas and flavors. Cherry tarts, dried raspberries, cinnamon and earth, wild raspberries, black plums, coffee notes, baking spices and crème brulée all float on silky tannins. 

And what about the new names?

“Carneros” is Spanish for sheep. Herds of them, Los Carneros, have been raised in this AVA for years. 

Which explains all the special Sonoma County goat cheeses too. 

“Cuvaison” is a French word that means the aging time wines spend in vats. Vatting. A reference by the winery’s European owners to their heritage and their style of wines. 

Enjoy. 

Magnolias and wine: The lightness of summer

in Food/Wine & Dine

By Celia Strong

Summer weather always changes drinking patterns. Everything gets lighter, color and weight. 

More white liquor is consumed than dark. More white and rose wine than red. 

No reason to be shocked, though. The same thing happens with food, clothing and much more. 

The chore is to find new wines to keep things interesting and tasting good. 

Sauvignon Blanc is a white variety that has become more popular recently. Partly because different styles from different countries and regions have become available. And, partly, because wine drinkers have continued to search out new wines. 

In Sonoma County, Sauvignon Blanc is the second most popular white grape. Partly because the wines from Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc grapes, as a group, compare well with both Old World and New World style wines. 

Which means they find more fans among more consumers. 

More than 10,000 tons of Sauvignon Blanc are crushed in Sonoma County every vintage at a cost of just under $2,000 per ton.

This variety is an old one, actually one of the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon. Its name comes from French term for “wild, or savage.” It has had great success in the Loire Valley of France and New Zealand. And now Sonoma. 

Green flavors and aromas are one of the attractions of Sauvignon Blanc wines. These can range from fresh cut grass to green grapes, gooseberries to dry hay or straw. 

How much of any of these flavors depends on the micro-climate where the grapes are grown and techniques used in its wine making. 

Within Sonoma County, different sun-regions, or AVAs, produce distinct styles of wines. Alexander Valley, with its gravelly soil, shows less greenness in its wines. Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blancs are a bit fruitier. 

From the Russian River AVA the wines are more deeply fruity. Bennett Valley produces a cooler climate, lighter style of wine. Sonoma Valley wines are a bit fuller bodied. 

Outlot Winert is located on the Magnolia Peninsula near Healdsburg in Sonoma County. The Dry Creek is to its north, the Russian River to its south. 

This area of Sonoma County, since the 1800’s, has been recognized by farmers for its very rich, very deep soil, … 24 feet deep in some places. Outlot wines strive to be a tribute to this heritage. Including the magnolia on their labels. 

Our particular Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc, Outlot, is a blend of grapes from of several AVAs. It is 55 percent Dry Creek Valley grapes, 40 percent Russian River grapes and 5 percent Alexander Valley. (Legally, to claim a particular AVA as the source for a wine, 85 percent of the grapes must come from that AVA.) 

Like blending several grapes to make a more complex wine, blending one variety from several sources also makes a more multi-layered and flavored wine. Over the growing season in all three of these AVAs, warm days and cool nights let the grapes ripen with lower sugar levels and an extremely bright acidity. 

In the vineyards, canopies of leaves protect the grapes from too much direct sunlight.  Harvesting whole berry clusters, at night, enhances these characteristics as well. 

Fermentation is done in 100-percent stainless steel. With controlled temperatures. 

The Outlot Sauvignon Blanc is a pale straw color. Its aromas and flavors include lemongrass and grapefruit, hints of green peppers and capers, passion fruit, guava and kaffir lime. 

It is medium bodied with a refreshing, crisp acidity and a lingering finish. All perfect for warm weather sipping. Sitting under blooming local Magnolia trees. For $15.97. Enjoy.  

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