June 25, 2015
Having just celebrated the summer solstice, I now look forward to the pleasure of dining al fresco over the next few months. To many, that also means wining al fresco.
While there are no hard and fast rules for this sort of activity, there are a few tried and true suggestions to enhance the experience.
My fondest al fresco wining memories are from a trip many summers ago through the south of France. Lunch under an umbrella outside was almost a requirement. Few restaurants had air conditioning, so dining inside given the heat and humidity wasn't an appealing option.
One particularly sweltering afternoon in Grasse, I chose to visit the outdoor section at La Bastide Saint Antoine. Nearly every table was taken — it seemed the entire village was taking the afternoon off — and virtually every table was festooned with ice buckets and bottles of the local rose wine.
Americans have an irrational fear of rose, heightened, I suspect, by the belief that all pink wine is sweet and cloying, hardly a good match with most food. The truth, of course, is that most rose is either dry or slightly off-dry, and there is hardly a better match with summer picnic fare such as cold chicken, smoked salmon or cold pasta salads.
I have been a convert ever since. Rose purists will argue that dry rose wine is a year-round beverage, and they would be right. However, its greatest appeal is on a steamy day in the dead of summer. So my No. 1 suggestion is crisp, dry rose wine for delicious refreshment in the middle of a heat wave.
No. 2 is the tip that the ice bucket is your best friend. You already knew that, right? Except that I'm talking about putting your red wines on ice. Reds served warm often show their rough edges, with the tannin and the alcohol taking over from the fruit. That's a recipe for making your reds taste harsh and bitter.
Ice the bottles for 15 minutes on a warm day, and you will notice a dramatic difference in the level of pleasure your reds deliver.
Finally, focus on lighter whites and reds because they will refresh more than heavier, more complex wines that generally have more alcohol and/or tannin. This is the time to drink easy whites such as pinot grigio, muscadet and sauvignon blanc and less challenging reds such as beaujolais, rioja crianza and Rhone-style red blends. But when in doubt, do not fear the rose!
June 18, 2015
We are delighted to welcome Jessica Dupuy to WRO as a columnist and wine reviewer. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Dupuy’s favorite writing pursuits include wine, food and travel.
Jessica has published pieces in National Geographic Traveler, Imbibe, Texas Monthly, Texas Highways, Fodor’s Travel Publications, and numerous publications headquartered in Austin, Texas, where she is based.
She has also written Uchi: The Cookbook, in conjunction with James Beard Award winning Executive Chef Tyson Cole; The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family and Love on the iconic Texas barbecue restaurant; and co-authored Jack Allen's Kitchen on the famed Austin farm-to-table Texas home-cooking restaurant. She recently completed a manuscript that will become her fourth book, a volume on Texas Cuisine for Southern Living.
Jessica’s avid interest in wine has led her to achieve the level of Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as Certified Specialist of Wine and Certified Specialist of Spirits through the Society of Wine Educators. She is a member of Les Dames D’Escoffier–Austin, and also serves on the Advisory Board for the Wine and Food Foundation of Texas.
In light of all this, one wouldn’t guess that Dupuy has any free time, yet she also manages to enjoy fly-fishing with her husband, cooking with her two children, and sharing great meals and wine with friends and family.
We couldn’t be more pleased to have Jessica on board. You’ll see a column from her here on WRO every other month, and you should also check for her wine reviews when our “Reviews” page is refreshed every Wednesday.
June 17, 2015
The godfather of Paso Robles wine is back.
Gary Eberle, who was ousted as general manager of Eberle Winery in January 2014, is back in charge of the winery he founded in 1979. Eberle bought out several rebellious investors and was restored to the throne earlier this month, along with his wife, Marcy, who had been fired as the winery's public relations director after the investor coup.
Eberle, who was vulnerable to a takeover with only 35 percent of the winery stock, upped his share to 84 percent to reclaim control of his namesake winery.
"It hit me hard when I faced the fact that I lacked majority control over this place," Eberle said in a statement. "Now the future is up to me and my wife Marcy to continue to develop the property and its wine to their utmost potential."
Two things make this story particularly newsworthy. First, it was Eberle's success with cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay initially — and later with syrah — that helped Paso Robles establish its bona fides as an important grape-growing and winemaking region in California. Eberle also led the charge to have Paso recognized as an American viticultural area, giving the region status as an official appellation. When Eberle was replaced as the winery's general partner, it shook the foundation of the Paso Robles wine community, where he is revered.
Equally important, Eberle refused to accept his demotion because he firmly believed that the new direction being sought by the group of investors who took over was wrong for the winery.
"We make 27,000 cases of wine a year," Eberle told me at the time. "That's just about right for this winery. They wanted to take production to 100,000 cases. There was just no way that was going to turn out well."
It was all about the money. The rebellious group thought more production would translate into greater profits. Eberle thought more production would compromise quality and damage the winery's reputation, which had been more than 30 years in the making. His return to the role of general partner is a triumph of integrity over greed. All too often in the wine industry, it turns out the other way.