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Timing is everything for Montecillo Reserva Rioja

in Food/Wine & Dine

By CELIA STRONG

Montecillo Reserva Rioja is made from about 90 percent Tempranillo, with Garnacha and Mazuelo. For this wine, each variety is harvested and vinified separately. 

Maceration at low temperatures is done before fermentation. And a second maceration is done after fermentation, for two weeks of skin contact. Malolactic fermentation is done in underground cement tanks and, then, the wine is moved into French (70 percent) and American (30 pecent) oak barrels for 25 months. After bottling, there is another 20 months spent in the cellars.

The wine is a bright cherry red color. Its aromas and flavors include cherries, blueberries, raisins, dried figs, cedar, and cigar box, tobacco, cocoa, chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, dried rose petals, dill and black pepper. This wine shows an outstanding balance with a velvet texture. It has bright acidity, intensity and a lingering finish. 

For $10.97 at Bill’s Liquors. Awesome timing. Enjoy.

The greatness of so many things in life can be determined entirely by their timing. New friendships. A bad joke. Whatever. 

After the weather from last week and clean up this week, a great deal on a great wine would be perfect timing.

Rioja is a region and an appellation from Spain. Red Rioja is the best known of all Spanish wines, even though small amounts of white and rosé are also produced. 

When sipped with slices of Jamon Serrano (Spain’s version of Proscuitto), pieces of salty Manchego and ripe green olives, red Rioja is a glass of Spain. Red Rioja wines have structure and tannins, like Cabernet, with intense fruity characteristics. 

Red Rioja is made from a blend of grapes. The main variety is Tempranillo, with bits of Garnacha for fruitiness as well as Mazuelo and Graciano. Spain is rightfully proud of their Tempranillo grape. It has been used to make wines there for more than 2,000 years.

Legally, there are levels of red Rioja wines, based on aging. Labeled just “Rioja” is the basic. Meant to be drank young. 

“Crianza” wines, the most produced level, spend a minimum of one year in oak, followed by a few months in their bottles. 

“Reserva” wines are made from the best grapes of each harvest, but only in years that are good enough. These wines are aged for three years, at least one of them in oak. Basically, Reserva wines cost $15 to $30. 

“Gran Reserva” can only be made in exceptional years (best weather conditions) and must age at least two years in oak and at least three years in bottles. The centuries of wine making in Rioja have shown that aging of Tempranillo, barrels and bottles, allows the flavors and textures to develop more and more.

Bodegas Montecillo was founded by Don Celestino Navajas Matute in 1870. For 150 years, he and his family worked successfully to build their wines and their region. Don Celestino was part of the revolutionary blending of Spanish traditional wines with Bordeaux techniques. 

In 1973, Montecillo passed on to the Osborne family. They had 245 years of experience with Sherries, and took Montecillo in a new direction, especially by expanding their purchases of prime vineyard sites. 

Today, Montecillo’s winemaker, despite all the old traditions still held close, is Mercedes García Rupérez, a young woman who has spent 10 years learning Rioja.

Wine is a Tuscan tradition, part of its history

in Food/Wine & Dine

By CELIA STRONG

Tuscany is well known for many things. History, vacation villas, shopping, special foods and, of course, wines. 

Good, better and best wines. This week, a chance to try a wine.

The region of Tuscany is located on the western side of the “Italian boot.” There are 33 wine DOC designations in this region. And nine DOCG designations. More than any other region has of the highest and best by Italian wine laws. 

Wine history in Tuscany goes back to the 8th century BC. The Etruscans, the Greeks and the Romans all played a part in the development of wine in this area. 

After the fall of the Roman Empire, and through the Middle Ages, Catholic monasteries were the main grape growers and winemakers. When aristocratic and merchant classes emerged, share cropping and a system known as “mezzadria” followed. 

Those owning land provided use of their lands and resources for planting and, in return, received half, “mezza,” of what was grown. 

The Tuscan tradition had landowners using their half of harvested grapes to make wine that they could sell in Florence. In 1282, the first wine merchant guilds were founded. And regulations that controlled where and when wine could be sold were established. (Not within 100 yards of a church, not to children younger than 15, prostitutes, ruffians or thieves.) In the 14th century, there were almost eight million gallons of wine sold in Florence.

Brancaia is a Tuscan winery that was newly established in 1981. The Widmers, a Swiss couple who loved wine, bought the abandoned Brancaia property that was known as Castellina. Two years later, their wines made first rank in an important Chianti Classico tasting. They bought more land and produced more great wines. 

Today, Barbara Widmer, daughter of the original Widmer couple, is the Brancaia oenologist and manager of their three wine estates. Brancaia is one of Tuscany’s leading wineries.

Brancaia Tre is one of their red wines. First made in 2000. And named for the three estates its grapes are sourced from. And for the three grape varieties used to make it. Threesomes! 

This Tuscan blend is made from 80 percent Sangiovese, 10 percent Merlot and 10 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. (Because this particular blend of grapes does not follow the legal “formula” for Chianti or any other DOC Tuscan wine, its designation is IGT.) 

Sangiovese is the main grape of all Chianti DOCG wines. And, its various clones are responsible for other Tuscan wines, DOC and DOCG. 

Young Sangiovese wines have fruity strawberry flavors and a little spiciness. With some barrel aging, they gain depth and complexity –  sour cherry and earth flavors, tea leaf notes, mild tannins and acidities. Blended with Merlot and/or Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese can reach new heights. With the quality of grapes and techniques used at Brancaia, we get highly rated, great-tasting wines.

For Brancaia Tre, the grapes are hand harvested, gently pressed and fermented and macerated for 18 days. Aged in oak barrels for 12 months, followed by at least two months aging in its bottles. 

This wine is a deep ruby purple color. Its has perfumy aromas with cherry notes, florals, green pepper and a hint of smoke. A spiciness and minerality and moderate acidity come with its flavors. It is medium bodied and can improve immensely with about 45 to 60 minutes of air. (If you’re in a really hurry, though, choose a large bowl wine glass and do some swirling.) 

This wine is elegant and well structured, with terrific black fruit, cassis, ripe cherry, smoked meat and dried herb flavors, smooth textures and a lingering finish. Perfect with hearty tomato sauces, grilled meats, poultry and seafoods. 

For $17.99 at Bill’s Liquors. Enjoy.

Crackling and sparkling: not as odd as it seems

in Food/Wine & Dine

By CELIA STRONG

Crackling and sparkling. Not words that are usually tied together, are they? 

We talk about sparkling. As it refers to wines, of course. Somehow, crackling seems a little off course. 

But, maybe not. Let’s do our lesson, taste our new wine, and see where we end up.

In the world of sparkling wines, there are several levels of quality and many sources for different styles. One detail of sparkling wines that we haven’t covered much is the various degrees of sparkling that are made. 

Not all sparkling wines are as sparkling as all other sparkling wines. That means that some have more bubbles than others. And it’s done on purpose.

Champagne and traditional sparkling wines have bubbles that are made, in the bottle, from a second fermentation. The CO2 that is a byproduct of the second fermentation, is trapped in the sealed bottles and, with time, absorbed into the wine. 

Less expensive wines can be made with a secondary fermentation done in a sealed tank. Then, the wine is bottled, under pressure to preserve the bubbles. 

Even less expensive sparkling wine is gassed. Wines are placed in sealed tanks, a hose of CO2 is placed below the surface of the wine and bubbles are shot into the wine. 

The quality of the wines and the size of their bubbles are partly how we judge them.

Beyond these basic methods, though, are others. Minimally sparkling wines can be made by stopping the first fermentation and bottling the wine. Then, when the first (alcoholic) fermentation finishes in the bottle, the CO2 byproduct is caught and held inside. But, the amount of CO2 is less, so the quantity of bubbles in the wine is smaller.

Despite the fact that we’ve been trained to look for a lot of bubbles, there are advantages to having fewer. These wines are younger and fresher. Because they have only had one fermentation. And, they are less filling as we drink them. 

Truth be known, Champagne and good sparkling wines will never be replaced. It’s just that sometimes, not-so-intense flavors and gasses is nice. Lighter and more refreshing.

These wines with less effervescence do have a name. Pétillant. (Pétillant translated from French means crackling or sparkling.) 

A bottle of Champagne, or a sparkling wine made by the same process, has about 75 pounds of pressure per square inch in it. Roughly two times a car tire. 

Most crémant wines have about 35 pounds per square inch. 

Pétillant wines drop by about half again. Not a flat tire, but sure not a full one either. Hence, less full feeling and less burbing.

Easier to drink more of? Definitely. And you don’t have to use a flute to help maintain the bubbles.

Our pétillant comes from the Penedès region of Spain. Which makes it a Cava — the Spanish wine law name for bubbly wines from this region. 

Ninety percent of all the wines labeled “Cava” come from Penedès. The word “cava” means “cellar” and refers to the place and the length of time needed for a second fermentation. 

The main grape varieties for Cavas are Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada. In recent years, Chardonnay Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot have been allowed.

Our Cava Pétillant comes from Avinyó. A family owned winery with almost 100 acres of their own vines. They specialize in using the three main varieites for Cavas. And, they emphasize using estate grown grapes. Very rare for Cavas. 

Their Pétillant is made from 80 percent Petit Gran Muscat (a distant relation to Moscato) and 20 percent Macabeo (also known as Viura which makes white Rioja wines). 

The vines are up to 50 years old. At Avinyó, they call their Pétillant “vi d’agulla.” The local dialect for “prickly.” 

The grapes are fermented in stainless steel and the bubbles come from a short second tank fermentation. It has bright almond and honeysuckle aromas with lemon peel flavors, a faint brininess and a stunning acidity. 

It is very dry and balanced in your mouth. This is a wine that does not have to be sipped. Sip vs drink. There is a distinct difference.

Crackling. Sparkling. Prickling. Taste this wine and you won’t care about the words. You’ll just want another glass.

This is a wine for all seasons, but especially warm weather. For $11.99 at Bill’s. Enjoy.

 

The Lunch Bunch at Fishcamp on 11th Street

in Food/Wine & Dine

By Margaret Evans

When I arrived a few minutes late for our gathering at Fishcamp on 11th Street, I was surprised to see the Lunch Bunch seated on the porch. It was August in Port Royal, after all. Nobody had warned me to wear my bathing suit.

I needn’t have worried. There were breezes off the water and fans over our heads, and we were perfectly cool as we perused the lunch menu.

But before we get to that, I must confess that Fishcamp could serve me a plate of rocks and I’d enjoy myself. Why? Location, location, location. 

Nestled alongside the historic Port of Port Royal shrimp docks, the place simply oozes character. With deepwater marsh and working shrimp boats on view from the expansive porch, and through the windows of the pleasingly rustic interior, the restaurant radiates a laid-back hospitality that just makes you feel good. This is where you want to take your out-of-town guests for that “authentic” Lowcountry seafood dinner.

But we were here for lunch, and I was hungry. 

Since the others were busy chatting with general manager Tonya Murphy and Chef Garrett Priester (right) I took advantage of their inattention and called dibs on the Fish Tacos. (We Lunch Bunchers avoid doubling up on orders; that way we get to try as many items as possible.) 

Betty ordered next – the Spinach Salad with Fried Oysters – and Jeff claimed the Fish ‘n Chips. Mike came in last with the Catch of the Day Fish Sandwich. (I think he really wanted the Fish Tacos, but hey, you snooze you lose.)

While we waited for our meals, we sampled a couple of appetizers. The calamari was good, especially if you like yours tender and not too crunchy on the outside. Our favorite were the Jalapeno Hushpuppies, which were like no hushpuppies I’ve ever tasted. Not as spicy as the name suggests – just a little kick – and they’re wonderfully textured and delicious, especially slathered with Fishcamp’s homemade honey butter. Really something special.

Mike is our soup guy, and he started with the Chef’s Soup of the Day, Tomato Crab Bisque, which he immediately deemed “amazing.” Between bites, he elaborated, calling it “incredibly fresh, rich, and tomatoey.”

And now the entrees were arriving.

Betty raved about her Spinach Salad, chock-full of yummy stuff like red onions, cucumbers, goat cheese, dried cranberries, and candied Georgia pecans. And then there was the icing on the cake – or oysters on the salad, as it were. “I asked for fried oysters on top – it wasn’t on the menu – and they said ‘sure’!” This answer made Betty very happy, as did the fried oysters, which were superb.

Jeff is a Fish ‘n Chips fan from way back, and he’s sampled the dish all over the Western world … including Beaufort. Fishcamp’s version stacked up nicely, with tasty, flaky flounder and “just the right ratio of breading to fish.” The fries were good, and the coleslaw sweet and crunchy, just the way I like it. (Yes, I picked on his plate. He’s used to it.)

Mike thoroughly enjoyed his Catch of the Day Fish Sandwich, and was particularly glad the Mahi wasn’t over-fried. (You can also get it grilled or blackened.) Served with lettuce and tomato on a pretzel bun, what’s not to love?

Last, but certainly not least, my Fish Tacos. I’ve rarely met a fish taco I didn’t like, but these were truly outstanding. I had my fish grilled – again, fried and blackened are options – and it practically melted in my mouth, along with the flavorful textures of roasted corn, black bean salsa, Calabrese chili aioli, and the aforementioned slaw. “Two thumbs up” is an understatement. Throw in a pinky.

We were all feeling fat and happy and ready for naps when our server broached the subject of dessert. “Oh no, we couldn’t possibly …” But of course, we did.

Fishcamp produces five different homemade desserts daily, and we felt it was our journalistic duty to sample each of them. The staff favorite is the Key Lime Pie, which took 30 attempts to perfect, according to Chef Priester. It was worth it! Perfection achieved. 

My personal favorite, however, was the Bread Pudding – there are no words to describe it, so you’ll just have to try it – while others at the table were enamored of the Crème Brulee, the Oreo Lemon Cheese Cake, and the Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse, respectively. 

There was literally something for everybody, and everybody indulged.

And now we really were ready for naps. 

As we left the breezy porch, past the picturesque rope swings and the outdoor bar – where there’d be live music later – we thanked the friendly staff, bid the scenic view farewell, and vowed to return as soon as humanly possible. 

Maybe happy hour?

 

 

Fishcamp on 11 th Street

1699 11th Street

Port Royal, S.C.

843-379-2248

www.fishcampon11th.com

Open Seven Days a Week

Lunch 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Sunday Brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Happy Hour 4-6 p.m.

Dinner from 4 p.m.

Bar Open Late

Everything Burgandy from a totally unique source

in Food/Wine & Dine

By CELIA STRONG

One beautiful aspect of French wines is they are unique to the regions in which they grow. 

California has varietals that can be grown, from the same grape, throughout the country. 

In France, you can only have a Chardonnay from the Loire Valley. It is unique because it can only be produced from a grape grown there and a wine produced there.

But that doesn’t mean the Chardonnay grape cannot be grown outside of that valley. 

Chardonnay is a green skinned grape grown in almost every wine producing country in the world. Chardonnay, more than most any other variety, reflects the soils and climates where it is grown –  the “terroir.” –  and is easily affected by the winemaker’s style – oak aging, stainless steel tanks, malolactic fermentation, etc. 

It is the second most widely grown grape in the world and is very malleable. France’s Burgundy region is home to some of the greatest Chardonnay wines ever, because of the soil and climate. 

But across France, on the Atlantic coast, a tiny community at the mouth of the Loire River has a unique soil and climate which produces Chardonnay grapes of a unique complexity. 

There are 87 different AC wine areas along the 350 miles of the Loire River, which runs from the just outside the Burgundy region out to the Atlantic. Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Muscadet are the primary white varieties. 

Muscadet – originally known as Melon de Bourgogne – was originally thought to be the only grape grown at the river delta. But he Couillaud family, owners and producers of Chateau de Ragptière Muscadet, also make a Chardonnay from their Domaine de Bernier estate.

Domaine de Bernier Chardonnay is not an AC level wine. Because the Loire Valley has no sites that are classified for AC Chardonnay. 

But this Chardonnay is IGP classified. (Indication Geographique Protegée) IGP was a new classification in the French wine laws in 2010. It replaced both the VDQS and Vins de Pays levels. 

IGP wines do control where qualified wines come from. So consumers are protected when they buy. Always important.

The Bernier Chardonnay was a pet project for members of the Couillard family. Because they felt the soil where their Muscadet grew was close in makeup to the soil of Chablis. 

One of Burgundy’s great sources for Chardonnay. The birth of unique! This wine is 100 percent Chardonnay, grown on rocky metamorphic and schist soil. Only about 5,000 cases are made each year, from 6,500 vines. 

After harvest, the grapes are sorted on vibrating tables and, then, pressing is done with a pneumatic press. Fermentation is done completely in stainless steel tanks with 80 percent of the wine going through a malolactic fermentation. 

No oak aging, but the wine is aged on its lees. This adds weight and texture. 

The finished Bernier Chardonnay is clean and crisp with fresh apple, pear and lemon aromas and flavors. And an intense minerality on its finish. 

A delicious “copy” of what Burgundy can produce, just from a totally unique source. For $11.99 at Bill’s Liquors. Also, totally unique. Enjoy.

Some wines are worthy of a promotion

in Food/Wine & Dine

By Celia Strong

Yep. Wines do get promotions. 

Not new job titles, exactly, but new upgraded legal designations. Which means they’re doing a good job and deserve to be recognized. And, surprise, sell for a higher price.

France was the first European country to recognize the value that quality controls would give to their wine industry. In 1935, they established their “Appellation d’Origine Controllée” laws. Federal laws with exact specifications for each region. And even for individual towns and vineyard sites in some cases. 

These laws regulated grape varieties, growing practices, bottle shapes, label information and more. Plus below this top AOC (or AC) level, there are several lesser tiers with less strict regulations. In 2003, a wine from the tier below AOC, known as VDQS, got a promotion. This wine was Sauvignon de Saint-Bris.

Saint-Bris is a village. It is located in the northern part of the Burgundy region, just south of the town of Chablis. Traditionally, Sauvignon Blanc was not considered to be a top quality grape for the Burgundy region. Its white wines had to be Chardonnay. 

Traditionally, Sauvignon Blanc was not thought to be suited for Burgundy’s soil and climate. And, traditions in French wine regions are tough. If a variety or technique or whatever is not traditional, it can be almost impossible for a wine to be approved for an upgrade. Saint-Bris wines, though, made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc, got past some rigid Burgundy traditions and got their promotion.

Simonnet-Febvre is a producer based in Chablis. Founded in 1840, they are known for their high quality Chablis wines. Today, they are a satellite of the well-known Louis Latour company. 

Their Saint-Bris is made from grapes grown in limestone and clay soil. On vines with an average age of 25 years. These soils encourage the Sauvignon Blanc grapes to show their full range of aromas, flavors and minerality.

The vineyards for these grapes in Saint-Bris are cooler, which lets the grapes ripen slowly. And develop more intense flavors for the finished wines. Fermentation is done in stainless steel tanks at temperatures from 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. After, the wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for six to eight months. And malolactic fermentation is done 100%. 

There are less than 150 acres growing grapes for this wine. Which is not much!

The finished wine is a pale, golden color. With some light green highlights. It has intense aromas that include tropical and exotic fruits (peaches, mangos, starfruit, kumquats), subtle lemons and grapefruits, notes of white flowers, a bit of fresh green grass, light thyme and chive nuances. And flavors that echo all these aromas. Plus more. 

All with a great structure, and fresh acidity. A great apéritif wine, perfect with salads, shellfish, seafood, light cream sauces, cheeses, cold roast chicken, gravlax, and on and on. 

Yum! Drink the promotion. For $14.99 at Bill’s Liquors. Enjoy. 

Tasting the bright side of the moon

in Food/Wine & Dine

By CELIA STRONG

Discovering a new wine, week after week, is definitely a great life plan. 

Sure, there’s a little bit of work that goes with it. Learning about it. Tasting it. But, not really any hardship there. 

Sonoma Valley, the source for this week’s new wine, has a great history with wine. In fact, it is known as the birthplace of the California wine industry. 

The valley is located in the southeastern corner of Sonoma County, in the San Francisco Bay area. The city of Sonoma is in the valley and parts of Santa Rosa also.

There are some tidbits of history about this valley, though, that make it especially interesting. 

Before Spanish settlers, the coastal Miwok, Pomo and Wintun indigenous tribes inhabited what is now the Sonoma Valley. To them, it was known as the Valley of the Moon. 

In 1823, Mission Solano was the northern most of 21 California missions controlled by Franciscan monks. But within two generations, the Spaniards had secularized the missions. And dispossessed the indigenous people from their lands. 

The name Valley of the Moon was recorded in 1850, though. Also, author Jack London, claimed the name “Sonoma” was the Native American word for “Valley of the Moon.”

London personally owned a ranch in the Valley of the Moon, where he and his descendants lived. In the 20th century, their back yard was a vineyard for the winery that eventually took the valley’s name. 

The Madrone Estate, founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and most historic wine producing properties in Sonoma. It was purchased by the Stewart family in 2012, renovated, and dedicated to estate grown varietal wines. With the Valley of the Moon label.

Sonoma Valley wines are made from many grape varieties. This week there are two to look at. 

First, Pinot Blanc, a white grape that is a mutation of Pinot Noir. Despite its inauspicious beginnings, Pinot Blanc is a versatile grape that is used to make still, sparkling and dessert wines. 

Before its true identity was known, it was often thought to be a lesser version of Chardonnay. Its wines are medium to full bodied with good acidity and can do well with oak aging. Their aromas and flavors include apples, pears, peaches, lemon zest, almonds, a touch of smokiness, some possible floral hints and a gravelly, minerally finish. 

Although it is grown in most wine producing countries, Pinot Blanc is not a well known variety in the United States, not like in France and Germany, but it’s always worth seeking out for its uniqueness. (The ones we find are always good!)

The second variety for this week is Viognier. 

Another white grape that produces fuller bodied, perfumy wines with peach, tangerine, honeysuckle and almonds and hazelnuts as its primary aromas and flavors. (It also has mango, rose and citrus notes.) Viognier wines tend to have a juicy, almost oily, texture and are very complex, with layers and layers of subtle nuances.

Valley of the Moon produces a blend from these two varieties. The grapes are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks to preserve all the fresh fruit flavors and aromas. 

The blend is 85 percent Pinot Blanc and 15 percent Viogneir. From Sonoma, Pinot Blanc leans toward tropical fruits. And with malolactic fermentation, these stay vibrant in this wine. 

Sonoma Viognier has a huge, lush mouthfeel and loads of floral character. A glass of this wine has lots of peach and honey, pineapple and a ginger spiciness. 

A totally unique wine that really is the bright side of the moon. For $12.99 at Bill’s Liquors. Enjoy.

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.

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