Dear Friends of Flatiron, Last week we embarked on a journey through symbiotic pairings with umami-rich foods. For shellfish and crustaceans, flor is the way for me, but what about the “deeper” umami flavors found in things like black olives or in gamey meat dishes and heavily spiced legumes? The answer for me is skin-contact wines. Join me as we delve deeper into these persimmon-hued beauties and what makes them the perfect partners for some of the most notoriously challenging food pairings. Called either orange, amber, skin-contact or ramato, these are wines that are made by fermenting grapes normally made into white wines on their skins. Just like over steeping green tea, which leads a darker and not-so-green beverage, keeping the grape skins in contact with the juice yields a deeper color in the resulting wine. In turn, these wines display the floral, citrus and orchard fruit qualities of white wines, but the textural qualities and savory notes of reds. They are perfect umami-pairing wines because they amplify the inner sweetness of meats like pork and lamb as well with cheese and mushrooms while also being able to stand up to bold spice flavors in Indian, Mexican, Asian and Caribbean cuisines. Don’t, however, be fooled into thinking that skin-contact wines are a recent trend. The way these wines are made has been practiced continuously for over 10,000 years. Fermenting white wine grapes on their skins to achieve a deep rusty amber color is standard in the Republic of Georgia where the oldest evidence of winemaking can be found. In 2015, I was fortunate enough to go on a wine trip to Georgia and was astounded by the cuisine. Gooey cheese filled breads, fenugreek-tinted meats and vegetables take center stage along with sauces thickened with ground walnuts and mushrooms submerged in garlic and butter. I quickly discovered on this trip that the best pairing for these types of foods is the traditional amber skin-contact style of wine that Georgia is known for. We recently got in the 2016 Kisi from Doqi, located in the Kakheti region. A combination of golden plum, dried apricot, chrysanthemum and hazelnut are given depth and texture from the tannins imparted from the prolonged skin-contact and from the mineral notes of the clay vessels the wine is fermented and aged in. I drank a bottle of this with some chaat I got from Indian Paradox, a fun and authentic street food inspired restaurant on Divisadero and Haight. The interplay of sweet, salty, sour and spicy of the food are echoed in the wine and bring out the more subtle spicing underneath the more dominating flavors. What is tradition in Georgia is avant-garde to the rest of the world. Skin-contact, orange, amber. Whatever you choose to call these wines, the name seems always to fail to fully capture what the wine itself expresses. Legendary wines have risen from Georgian-inspired techniques like those from Josko Gravner and Radikon. But they were just the beginning. Skin-contact wines can now be found all over the world and from grapes that have historically never been vinified in that way. The 2017 Marsanne from Oakstone Vineyard by Purity Wines is one such wine. It is a full and rich, ginger-colored wine full of lush flavors of macerated orange peel, walnuts and Indian spices. A wine like this sings with exotic flavors and is possibly the only truly great wine pairing I’ve ever had with spicy jerk chicken. As wine styles across the globe become more and more diverse it’s clear that the idea that some foods just don’t go with wine is false. Something as ancient and omnipresent as wine has a place at the table with every flavor. Tastemakers just might not have found the right style yet. But lucky for us, winemakers are an adventurous bunch who are happy to try just about anything. Skin-contact style wines are only one of the newest trends to gain popularity, but all signs indicated that there is much more excitement to be expected in the future. Cheers!
Friends of Flatiron, With all the ugly sweaters and Santa-ware around it's obvious that the parties are everywhere this year. Here too! Check out what we're pouring in the store and featuring in our newsletter this week to get your party to the next level: In-Store Tastings: Tuesday 12/11, Meet the Winemaker: Chris Cottrell from Bedrock Winery at 5pm: From humble beginnings in a converted chicken coop, Bedrock Winery has risen in the ranks of new Californian wineries, celebrating and rehabilitating old vineyards and proselytizing Californian terroir via noninterventionalist winemaking. Join us for a fun and informative tasting with winemaker Chris Cottrell and taste an assortment of their wines. $10/tasting Thursday 12/13, Tasting with Champagne Billecart-Salmon at 5pm: When perusing a restaurant's wine list, seeing Billecart-Salmon listed in their Champagne section is usually a solid indicator that Somm knows what they are doing. Always one of favorite houses, Billecart-Salmon is class incarnate. Taste with us a lineup of Champagnes that will not disappoint and stock up for the New Year and beyond! $10/tasting Friday 12/14, Tasting with Champagne Dom Perignon and Champagne Ruinart at 5pm: Two legends that need little introduction come together in a single night of Champagne tasting! Come taste the 2006 vintage of the one and only Dom Perignon as well as Ruinart's 2006 vintage along with their non-vintage Brut and Rose. $20/tasting In our weekly newsletter we'll be featuring two vintages Roagna Rosso, 2012 and 2013, which showcases delicious Nebbiolo from a classic producers. We will also be offering the 2017 vintage of Keller Riesling "Von der Fels" as well as wines from the fun and funky Californian producer Las Jaras. In addition to our weekly newsletter, we are also featuring an offer on the 2016 releases from Michel Lafarge and a not-to-be-missed special holiday spirits newsletter featuring a number of Flatiron single cask bourbon selections, rums from mythical rum-bottler Velier and, of course, a collection of rare whiskies you've all been waiting for (Pappy, Weller, Suntory and more!). 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, 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. ;)