Dear Friends of Flatiron, I’ve had umami on my mind lately. It started when people began asking for pairings with cracked dungeness crab, a naturally rich source of umami. The question seemed easy to most. And, it is, if what you’re going for is a nice contrast between the savory ocean-flavored quality of the crab with the bracingly mineral and citrus notes of a vermentino or albariño. But a great symbiotic pairing, one that meets those rich, brothy flavors beat for beat, is less obvious. Having now had a chance to reflect upon this more, if what you want is one of the best symbiotic umami pairings, you really need a wine that’s spent some time under a veil of top fermenting yeast commonly called flor Usually found as part of the winemaking process of biologically-aged sherries or sous voile white wines from the Jura like Domaine de Montbourgeau’s l’Etoile Cuvée Espécial, flor is starting to be added to the stylistic palate of many avant-garde producers both here and abroad. By utilizing this indigenous and spontaneously occurring collection of microorganisms winemakers are able to not just capture the essence of fruit and flowers, but also those deeper notes of salt, nuts, dried herbs, and even varnished wood. What resonates between these flavors and that of seafood is a combination of heightening some flavors and canceling out others. The sharp angles and salty quality of the food and wine are neutralized while the sweetness and somewhat bitter quality inherent in both are heightened. These are the flavor experiences I love in pairing the Fino from Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla, a perfectly balanced example of traditional biologically-aged sherry, with foods like shellfish and strongly flavored fin fish such as mackerel. The air around the bodega in Jerez smells like flor and salty ocean breeze, a quality reflected in all wines from this port city. When paired with crab, oysters or sea urchin the flavors seem to open up completely leaving behind briny flavors and revealing a rich creamy sea-sweetness and earthy notes of the deep sea. Next time you go out to sushi take a bottle of sherry with you and get ready for a whole new experience. Of course flor aged wines aren’t the only wines that symbiotically pair with foods rich in umami. There are many different styles that work with savory flavors, not just clean up after them. But let’s take this one bite at a time and enjoy discovering what’s behind the veil of pairing seafood with wines aged under it. Cheers!
Friends of Flatiron, Happy December! The chill is on and the celebrations are well underway everywhere you look especially if you happen to be stopping by and visiting us this week! Here's what fun festivities and special newsletter deals we've got for you this week: In-Store Tastings: Tuesday 12/4, Meet the Winemaker: Sean Thackrey at 5pm: For all you natty wine lovers, this is a tasting you won't want to miss. Sean Thackrey is as OG as you can get in the natural wine movement in California. Since 1980 he has been shaping the Bay Area wine and food scene by making noninterventionist wines from tiny parcels of unique and organic grapes. He doesn't stop at vinifying without additives or commercial yeasts, but goes beyond by employing ancient techniques or experimental methods based on ideas from antiquity. $5/tasting Wednesday 12/5, Tasting with Tenuta San Guido- Sassicaia at 5pm: This is truly a special opportunity to taste this year's #1 wine from Wine Spectators Top 100 and more! Taste an astounding lineup of 6 wines from the seminal Super Tuscan producer, Tenuta San Guido, from both their Tuscan and Sardinian estates. From Tenuta San Guido we will be pouring Sassicaia 2015 (#1 of Wine Spectator Top 100 2018), Gudialberto 2016, Le Difese 2016. From Agricola Punica, located in Barrua, Sardinia, we'll be pouring two reds, Barrua 2014 and Montessu 2016 as well as a truly special white made of Vermentino, the Samas 2016. $20/tasting Thursday 12/6, Tasting with Champagne Henriot at 5pm: For over 210 years the Henriot family has symbolized the innovative approach and high standards of a champagne house that has remained independent. Henriot is a Chardonnay dominant Champagne house, producing some of the finest blancs that are precise, elegant and luminous. The Henriot family nurtures a special affinity for these wines grown on soils where the chalk is purest and which gives the wines an intriguing and iodine minerality. These terroirs also convey the promise for outstanding longevity. Come and join us for a tasting of a selection of their truly expressive champagnes. $5/tasting Friday 12/7, Aliane Wines Portfolio Tasting at 5pm: Founded in 2006, Aliane Wines has built a reputation for discovering and representing a thoughtful selection of some of the best independent vintners and family-owned, premium estates in France. We will be pouring a whole assortment of wines from their portfolio from Burgundy, the Rhone, and Champagne. $5/tasting In our weekly newsletter we'll have two Burgundy offerings: the fabulous Fixins from Domaine Berthaut,and the much awaited 2017 Chablis release from Patrick Piuze. Additionally we will also be offering a selection of wines from the unparalleled Peay Vineyards out of the Sonoma Coast. Cheers! Your Friends at Flatiron Wines SF Don't want to miss az beat? Sign-up for our newsletter already! As loyal subscribers already know, the newsletter is not only the best place to get first crack at your favorite, hard-to-find wines at special discounts but it's also where we go in great depth about the producers, vintages, regions and trends in the world of fine wine. We send it once a week on Wednesday, unless, you elect to receive more. You can do so by using the form below or, here, if our site's sophisticated technology isn't functioning as described. ;)
Dear Friends of Flatiron, Every time I move I make meatballs. It’s just something I have to do. Maybe it’s an aromatherapy thing, like homey-fumigating. My Mom taught me to make them when I was kid. The changing smells while I cook remind me of the stories my Mom would tell me about how her Dad would have her try pieces of the raw meat mixture before cooking to see if it needed anything. A little gross, but I sort of get it also. But that got me thinking: what types of wines would work with such a unpretentious, yet emotionally charged type of home cooking? It needs to be something enjoyable on its own. Something affordable and not overly demanding of your attention. Something that works symbiotically with each of the ingredients and the "whole" so the entire experience is unified. For my nostalgic meal of "Balls and Sauce", as I've come to call it, our Italian wine specialist, Flori, recommended I grab a bottle of Dolcetto d'Alba. We just got in a bunch of Cascina delle Rose's fantastic 2016 Dolcetto d’Alba "A Elizabeth". Cascina delle Rose is a B&B as well as a winery and Flori has been lucky enough to stay numerous times. The wine tastes as I imagine the place smells. A mixture of dried and fresh roses along with piney herbs and juicy Morello cherries. A perfect companion to the dense savoriness of the homemade marinara and meatballs. But, as so often happens when I make my own childhood comfort foods, my wife starts feeling nostalgic as well and wants her turn in the kitchen. She’s half Taiwanese and what gets her feeling settled is a savory pile of soy-glazed and ginger-packed Sanbeiji, or "3-Cup Chicken"* as we more typically call it. She always laughs telling me how her non-Taiwanese mom would frantically follow her grandmother around the kitchen, scribbling notes as fast as she could and pelting the old lady with questions she would never answer let alone even acknowledge. Like my "Balls and Sauce", Grandma's "3-Cup Chicken" is more of process that needs to be physically and sensually trained into muscle memory, not a recipe that can be written down. The amount of garlic and ginger is never the same simply because of the natural variation of the ingredients themselves as is the timing of when to add the other ingredients. It needs to be smelled, tasted and intuited to be perfected. Usually a beer is our default for Chinese food, but I was feeling like trying a beverage pairing that would heighten the flavors more. When I pair with Asian foods I usually look to Southern Rhone whites. For me, the exotic spiciness of ginger and the umami-rich notes from soy work especially well with the floral richness of Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier. I chose Herve Souhaut’s delicious side-project white Michel Savel Les Marecos Blanc 2016, a Roussane/Marsanne blend from Collines Rhodaniennes. I was introduced to Herve’s wines by his daughter, Ludevine, who worked at Flatiron a few years ago. Juicy flavors of honeydew and pear offset the saltiness and ginger of the chicken dish, much like how melon and prosciutto team up to make a legendary duo. Happy, warm and full we've finally been able to make our apartment feel like our new home. With familiar smells and great bottles of wine to match, we both feel like our roots are sinking deeper than they've been able to in a long time. Cooking up a pot of comfort, whatever that may be, is arguably the most essential part of unpacking. Cheers! * As I mentioned, both dishes are really not about following recipes to the letter, but rather getting the "feel" for them. That being said, I took the liberty of providing links to recipes that are similar to my own for both "Balls and Sauce" as well as "3-Cup Chicken" in case you need a place to start. Enjoy!
Friends of Flatiron, We hope all of you had a fantastic Thanksgiving! Hopefully you didn't indulge too much as we have a full calendar of tastings and exciting offers in store. In-Store Tastings: Tuesday 11/27, Barolo Masterclass: Do you want to learn about the difference between single clones of Nebbiolo or what sets the villages of Barolo apart from each other? If the answer is yes then our Barolo Masterclass is for you. We will be tasting through Barolo from a wide range of producers, villages, and crus to gain a deeper understanding of the region and will ultimately help you to choose the perfect Barolo for every occasion. This will be a sit-down, seminar-style tasting guided by our own Italian wine expert Floribeth Kennedy, who has been traveling to Piemonte and the villages of Barolo for over 2 decades. $79 a seat SOLD OUT! Tuesday 11/27, Tasting with Paradigm Winery at 5pm: This is a great opportunity to taste a classic Oakville producer. Paradigm has been making wine since 1991 but the owners, Ren and Marilyn Harris, have owned the vineyards since 1976. A great winery to purchase a bottle or two from for those on your "nice" list. $10/tasting Wednesday 11/28, Tasting with Charles de Cazanove Champagne at 5pm: The Charles de Cazanove brand, one of the oldest in Avize, has learned to combine tradition, modernity and dynamism through two centuries of dedication to Champagne. They also provide an outstanding value in a region that can sometimes be lacking in that category. We'll be featuring the entire line of Cazanove Champagnes for you to try. $10/tasting Thursday 11/29, Tasting with Maison Veuve Clicquot Champagne at 5pm: We all know and love this global standard-barer of Champagne. Fitting for the brand that invented the riddling rack, the technology that made producing large quantities of great Champagne possible. Join us for a tasting of Veuve Clicquot's "Yellow Label" Brut, Brut Rose and 2008 Brut Vintage Rose as well as the house's Tete de Cuvee. $10/tasting Friday 11/30, Grower Champagne Extravaganza!: During La Fete du Champagne this year, we were struck by how educational (and fun!) it was to taste so many incredible wines side-by-side. While our event is on a slightly smaller scale, it is certainly more manageable. We will be tasting over 50 champagnes from different producers across a variety of appellations. By the end hopefully you will have a sense of how complex and unique each champagne can be! This will be a walk around tasting in the shop both upstairs and downstairs. The event is $45 per ticket which can be purchased by clicking the linked event name above. Space is limited so get your ticket before it's too late! In our weekly newsletter we'll be featuring the wonderful Morgon "Les Charms Eponym'" from Jean Foillard, a unique Chardonnay from Languedoc made by Burgundian winemaker Thomas Pico, and a collection of wines made by young winemaker Chad Hinds from his label Methode Sauvage. Cheers and happy holidays! Your Friends at Flatiron Wines SF Don't want to miss beat? Sign-up for our newsletter already! As loyal subscribers already know, the newsletter is not only the best place to get first crack at your favorite, hard-to-find wines at special discounts but it's also where we go in great depth about the producers, vintages, regions and trends in the world of fine wine. We send it once a week on Wednesday, unless, you elect to receive more. You can do so by using the form below or, here, if our site's sophisticated technology isn't functioning as described. ;)