Pumpkin pairings from beer to wine

Photograph by HappyAlex, Fotolia.com

Photograph by HappyAlex, Fotolia.com

as seen on canada.com

Winter squash season is in full swing and with Halloween exactly two weeks away, it’s time to begin planning your wine and pumpkin pairings. Your neighbourhood friends will thank you for filling their travellers with the right stuff. Beer is much more commonly considered when it comes to Cucurbita and our local brew masters are running wild with it. Pumpkin Ales have proliferated province-wide. Here are four to look for.

Highballer Pumpkin Ale (132753, 500 mL, $3.95)

Great Lakes Pumpkin Ale (67710, 650 mL, $4.95)

St. Ambroise Pumpkin Ale (90738, 4x341mL, $9.95)

Mill Street Nightmare On Mill Street Harvest Sampler (313916, 6x 355 mL, $13.25)

My non-judgmental, personal mien will note that pumpkin beer should avoid most foods but rather match ceremoniously with decorative gourd season, also in full swing. When it comes to the edible ‘large melon’ and its savoury, sweet flesh my go to is wine, of course. Here are four smashing whites and three alt rock reds to pair with pumpkin seven ways.

The food match: Pumpkin Oatmeal, apples, flax seed, hemp hearts, maple syrup

Jean-Marc Brocard Kimmeridgian Chardonnay 2008 (290049, $17.95) has the tropical fruit quotient of ripe banana meets chalky plantain to match up against an earthy morning porridge. There are lemon and apples sliced over Kimmeridgian, oatmeal soil. Could eat this Kimmer for breakfast, “mummy dear, mummy dear.” This supertramp of a Chardonnay explores new territory for villages Burgundy thanks to the efforts of a top-notch Chablis producer.  89

The food match: Pumpkin Pad Thai

Preiss-Zimmer Vieilles Vignes Riesling 2008 (292193, $18.95) handles spice with atomic soda ease, refreshes with a squirt of lime and garnishes with south Asian herbs. The balanced palate is off-dry and the finish is long, tangy and racy. Sails “through the changing ocean tides.” The wine smiles demurely, like a Pumpkin’s rendition of Landslide, palpitating in an unspoken message of humility and thanks.  88

Bryan Birch/Barque Smokehouse

The food match: Pumpkin Soup, coffee foam

Seresin Chardonnay 2009 (19190, $24.95) goes golden capacious and brims with both marigold and malachite toast. Cashew butter, praline nectar and cantaloupe sweeten the pot. Acidity booms and if you like a Napa style, go Marlborough here at a fraction of the cost.  90

The food match: Pumpkin Ratatouille, zucchini, spicy tomato sauce

Domaine Eden Chardonnay 2009 (296145, $27.95) imparts saffron, mandarin orange, honey and Tiger Orchid in constant waves. The golden mineral hue prickles with feeling and the wine’s fat texture helps unlatch flavours. May not have the depth of Napa or Carneros but no other region does Chardonnay in such a casual elegance like the Santa Cruz Mountains.  91

The food match: Pumpkin and Roast Chicken Paella, manchego, jamón serrano

Senda 66 Tempranillo 2008 (296475, $13.95) of fragrant, smoked blueberry and vanilla bean martini is polished, rich and pure decadence for $14. A shaken, not stirred, bad boy bisexual Tempranillo, a skyfall of purple modernity that could sooth countryman and Bond villain Javier Bardem. Get your kicks on Senda 66.  87

The food match: Pumpkin and Pancetta Risotto, toasted pumpkin seed, reggiano parmesan, basil oil

Delas Frères Saint Esprit Côtes Du Rhône 2010 (729962, $15.95) shares enough black cherry and southern French garrigue to further cement its status as a perpetual good buy. So well made and boasting a puritanical litany of the terroir. Demands satisfaction in its origins of expectations.  88

The Splurge

The food match: Short-Rib and Pumpkin Braise, pearl onion, carrot

Melville Verna’s Estate Pinot Noir 2010 (291021, $34.95) speaks Santa Rita Hills vernacular, that is to say, its native tongue is that of red, very ripe fruit. The smell of baking spices (namely cinnamon and clove) stud a red plum bobbing in a spiked cola toddy. Exemplary Santa Barbara Pinot Noir.  90

Good to go!

The wine diaries: Labour Day long weekend edition

Kempenfeldt Sunset. Photo by Kiowaman

As seen on canada.com

As the sun sets over one of the most glorious summers in recent memory, there’s a resolute call to reflect on food and wine. The last vestiges of summer freedom fades in the rear-view mirror, the corn morphs to starch and the kids are back to school. Props to the season’s reds, whites, rosés and sparklers, to their makers and to the cooks who feed us. Our attention now focuses in anticipation of Ontario’s promising 2012 vintage.

Grilled Lamb, racks and chops, secret marinade. Photo by Kiowaman

Wine with Dinner

Pedroncelli Bushnell Vineyard Zinfandel 2009 (463026, $22.95) first tasted one month ago is a model of Zinsistency. A page right out of the Dry Creek Valley book and plants a seed for an iconic future. Brambles on through “the darkest depths of Mordor” with nary a cloying moment. No fruit bomb.  89

Foley Chardonnay Santa Rita Hills 2003 ($35) shines like Hindu dessert gold and shimmers of a Sauternes-like translucency. Begs proof is in the Meyer lemon curd pudding for nearly 10 years on Santa Barbara Chardonnay. Admittedly on the cusp of redox, the Foley is a brilliant canary yellow diamond low rider in the SRH rough. Low beam lit this late in life, on cruise control and “drives a little slower.” Why can’t we be friends?  90

Marchesi Antinori Castello della Sala Bramito del Cervo Chardonnay 2010 (176792, $21.95) plays significant other sibling to Piero’s Umbrian Grand Cru vino bianco, the exceptional Cevaro della Sala. In times like these a wise trade up of two Cevaro for five Bramito means the little one can repeatedly ring my bell with fresh, lively citrus zest and stone fruit tang. Sip while preferably grilling wild Halibut but settling for modest Tilapia and find “the night is young and full of possibilities.”  88

BBQ Dinner. Photo by Kiowaman

Wine with Dessert

Kourtaki Muscat of Samos (938407, $14.95) has officially challenged me to find a better IVR* dessert wine under $15. Honey and apricots in waves. Candied somewhere between hard-ball and soft-crack. Caramelized yet short of praline or brittle. Would love to match with All-Day Cake.  88

Jane’s All-Day Cake. Photo by Kiowaman

More September 1st Tasting Notes

Jean Perrier & Fils Abymes Cuvée Prestige 2010 (271981, $12.95) is built of Jacquère, a mountain varietal that mimics Chardonnay with soft soap, Savoie delicacy. Porcine jambons et saucissons along with Abondance both in mucilage and in its cry for companionship. Wild mountain Artemisia, Génépi and citrus notes in line with Altesse, Savoie’s queen of white grapes.  87

Gérard Bertrand St. Chinian Syrah/Mourvedre 2009 (281832, $16.95) espouses oak’s bittersweet chocolate and smouldering dry heat to the south of France’s schist limestone, lavender and garrigue. Alluring, facile French purity in this all-purpose Languedoc red.  88

Château Clément St-Jean 2009 (199208, $17.95) spoons calm, cool, collected as a Bordeaux Cru Bourgeois with fruit, acidity and tannin all in balance. Beauty grows vicariously out of the hebetic and muliebrous 2009 vintage by way of an immediate transference to the Medoc’s middle class. This château shines, “thinking clean clean thoughts” and demonstrates there is an ecclesiastical time for everything.  88

Hamburgers and Hot Dogs. Photo by Kiowaman

Quinta Do Portal Reserva 2008 (280578, $19.95) flashes a new Douro smile with teeth stained as if by Jacaranda Mimosifolia. Sybaritic blend of three typical Portuguese grapes, a Tinta and two Tourigas. Super berry, dynamic Douro but not overdone.  89

Castello Di Bossi C. Berardenga Chianti Classico 2009 (994608, $22.95) of distilled potpourri proboscis wastes no time amnestying itself from the barbed Sangiovese wire and lights up with life. A boon for modern Tuscany, the Bossi agglutinates to the glass, better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Backs up the red plum truck and shows off improbable clarity for such a young CC.  90

Fattoria Dei Barbi Brunello Di Montalcino 2006 (928028, $41.95) abides as spokesperson for old school Sangiovese Grosso. A throwback to the classes of ’75, ’85 and ’95. Teasingly soft at the outset, the cherry, leathery grit and determination is found at its core and tastefully follows through to a hard-edged finish. I wouldn’t wait 20 years, but certainly five to 10.  91

IVR* – Vintage Direct intrigue-to-value ratio

Good to go!

The Wine Diaries: Chardonnay close to the edge

Wine on Turntable. Photo Credit: rateyourmusic.com

http://blogs.canada.com/2012/06/20/the-wine-diaries-chardonnay-close-to-the-edge/?postpost=v2#content

Chardonnay comes in so many shapes and sizes. California versions are more often than not oaked to the nines (or 200+ on the wine geekspeak, barrel toast meter). Burgundian Chablis sees more stainless steel for more sea, salt and mineral effect. This group of overwhelmingly gregarious wines collectively tease the edge of the Chardonnay abyss.

Calera Thirty-Fifth Anniversarry Vintage Chardonnay 2010 (713313, $24.95) seems a bit bobbery but that’s probably just the repeated shots to the head from the butterscotch-glazed pineapple smoking on the BBQ. Concussed Central Coast Chardonnay would best be served like a Piña Colada at an all-inclusive.  86

Cambria Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2008 (980490, $29.95) the precocious starlet flirts with a grove of oak and an orchard of Golden Delicious. Toasted brioche smothered in quince jam and marzipan. This Kate is wide-eyed like mother Goldie and nasally refined like Pinkie89

Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Gold Label Chardonnay 2010 (708305, $19.95) shows off a texture so oily you could roast a pig in it. With a mouthful of tropical fruit and a Carrie Underwood lilt, the DCGL is “free as a bird up on a wire.” Nobody told me so much Chardonnay would taste like this.  84

Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2009 (59576, $27.95) gives up the odd sensation of green figs melting into thick caramel. Give it points though because man they’ll eat this cheddar up.  85

Ridge Estate Chardonnay 2010(241646, $49.95) opens wide the Santa Cruz Mountains window mythos of quality that the Monte Bello Vineyard defines and shares with the likes of Mt. Eden. Crushed almond cookie and cake, mouth-watering citrus and just before ripe banana. “Smell of the bakery from across the street. ” Intense late creamy push. Balance, structure, elegance. Clean like listening to Jimmie Rodgers on my lunch break sing  “the wide open spaces all around me, the moon and the stars up above.”  91


Snoqualmine Naked Chardonnay 2009 (158501, $14.95) initializes with sulphur and rice vinegar then disbands like a talking head. Garden perfume, a skinless red apple past prime and dissolving into sauce. “Like and Adam and an Eve…now, it’s nothing but flowers.”  86

Joffré E Hijas Grand Chardonnay 2010 (279794, $17.95) bottle was corked.  NR

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Chardonnay 2011 (468728, $18.95) of ghee, masala spice and fermenting melon is certainly an acquired taste. Complex and cunning, heavily dotted with barrel notes and funkified by hard cheese curds. It’s “got to shout and shing-a-ling.” Ample acidity to keep it lively.  88

Domaine Raoul Gautherin & Fils Vaillons Chablis 1er Cru 2008 (159236, $29.95) reminds me of Paul Pender’s Quarry Road in tinct, tart and vein. Beyond that this vaporous Chardonnay is all over the map. Expressive and disjointed, “emotion revealed as the ocean maid.” Gives generously a plethora of scents. Cranshaw, pomello, lime zest and something from the sea; a spongy, gelatinous cucumber. And you and I will enjoy this big, extracted and apocalyptic Chablis close to the water’s edge.  89

Bubbles from VINTAGES, June 23, 2012

Good to go!