Syrah with Sabrine Rodems

red wine, syrah wine, winemaingWe first came across Wrath Wines several years ago at a Rhone Rangers trade tasting of mostly syrah wines. We got in free, although we can’t remember now if tickets were sold or if the event was even open to the public.

However, most of what the participating wineries were pouring were syrahs from 2011, a particularly challenging year for California wine, and those wines were, well, pretty lousy.

Except for the syrah from Wrath Wines. So when we decided to do a lesson on syrah, we naturally thought of Wrath’s winemaker, Sabrine Rodems.

Rodems told us that she had been a stagehand, then decided to go back to school in a pre-med program. However, when she decided that medicine was probably not her thing, after all, her sister told her that the family needed an enologist.

“It was a joke,” Rodems said, adding that her family was mostly scientists of some sort. “We were all into food and wine. The beauty of being a winemaker is that it’s both art and science.”

The thing to remember about syrah, she said is that it can be strong.

“It has a huge amount of flavor,” she said.

But how much and what kind of flavors tends to depend on where the syrah grapes are grown.

“Cool-climate syrah tends to be more plummy,” Rodems said.

Syrahs from Paso Robles, which has a warmer climate, tend to be meatier, with hints of bacon. Hers tend to have lots of spice, fruit such as black cherry, nutmeg, cloves, sometimes even a hint of juniper.

As for what to serve with it?

“It just depends on your mood,” Rodems said. For example, if it’s a Friday night, you can uncork one to relax with before dinner gets to the house. “You can drink them by themselves.”

That being said, syrahs are still great with food.

“It definitely goes with meat,” Rodems said. “Lamb and syrah, you can’t go wrong there.”

 

Women Winemakers of Chablis, Part Eight

white wines, women winemakers, chablis
L.C. Poitout and Catherine Poitout

This is our second to the last installment on the Women Winemakers of Chablis. We’ve got nine total. Today, we’re featuring Catherine Poitout of L&C Poitout, in the Chablis region of France. Chablis is also the delicious white wine made from the chardonnay grape (remember, European wines are usually named after where they’re made, rather than by what they’re made of). This series is from a group of email interviews with nine women winemakers from the Chablis region, translated from the original French by someone else because Anne’s French is in terrible shape. We asked each woman the same three questions.

1)    What makes Chablis different from other wines made from chardonnay?

Chablis’ location and soils make its Chardonnay stand out compared to other Chardonnays.  It is in at a very northern latitude, with extremely cold weather, and planted on chalky soils from the Kimmeridgien and Portlandian eras, full of fossilized sea animals.  This results in very mineral-driven wines that are bright and refreshing, yet complex.

2)    If my reader sees Chablis on the label of a bottle of wine, what should she expect to taste in the wine?

Your readers should expect a beautiful white wine, with very bright fruit and high acid.  These wines can be very complex and elegant, skewing more towards finesse than power.  They are perfect for shellfish, light white meats and cheeses.

3)   Finally, how are things changing for women winemakers in France? In the U.S., making wine is still very dominated by men. Are there more women becoming winemakers? Do women make wine differently than men, and if they do, what do they do that’s different?

Wine-making is still very dominated by men in France as well.  Currently, most women involved in wine-making rarely start wineries, but take over inheritances.  While they are less present in the fields due to the intense physical labor required, we do see more and more women in the winery as winemakers or wine-making  Speaking in generalities, women seem to seek out more elegance and finesse than power when making wine, and have a very positive impact on the design of the labels.

Women, Wine and What..?

women winemakers, wine for women
These are the ones you want – not the reserves.

We did receive samples from the winery mentioned below after we had bought our own and did the interview. However, we did not request said samples, nor, we suspect, will the winery’s publicist be terribly happy to see what we have to write about them.

Hmmm. Where to begin? Because what started as a straightforward interview with a woman winemaker ended up touching on a hot-button issue, and, well, we need to address it here.

The woman winemaker is Margaret Leonardi. Last February, she was promoted to winemaker at Little Black Dress wines. We got the press release and thought what an interesting subject. But having interviewed an interesting person before only to hate her wines, we made sure we bought a few bottles from the Little Black Dress line before we requested the interview.

They are a supermarket wine, but the chardonnay was quite tasty – nothing spectacular, but worth the $11 we paid for it. So were the reds we tried. In fact, we were quite pleasantly surprised. (We got them at Ralph’s supermarket, aka Kroger elsewhere in the country.)

So Anne chatted with Ms. Leonardi, and she was quite pleasant. We did talk briefly about how the label is marketed, but that’s not really Ms. Leonardi’s job. In addition, her interest is in making more “serious” wines, wines that are varietally correct (as in they taste like you’d expect that variety to taste like) with more structure.

We are down with that. You see, here’s the issue. Wines that are typically marketed to women are frequently “dumbed-down,” as in they’re made simply, without a lot of structure, which is a really hard thing to describe, but you sure know it when you taste it. In fact, we were discussing this issue at another tasting with wine-writer Corie Brown, general manager of ZesterDaily.com. She’d told her adult daughter, “Don’t ever buy wine that’s marketed at you.”

The assumption is that women buy wine to drink with their girlfriends and don’t care how complex or interesting it is. Well, that’s probably true, since most wine in this country is purchased by women and from the supermarket. But it’s also probably true of most men, as well. Yet, the dumb stuff gets marketed to women, which is more than a little insulting.

So to find a label aimed at women with some structure and complexity, wow. We were quite happy.

Until we received the samples that the publicist insisted on sending after we’d done the interview. These were the reserve labels, so you’d expect them to be even better. The chardonnay was off-dry and low acid, with nothing on the bottle to hint that it was intended that way. Or if it was, we didn’t see it. A sweet chard? What’s the point?

The rosé, made from a blend of several grapes including the extremely sweet muscat, was intentionally sweet but was only helped by the very low expectations we had for it. The cabernet sauvignon was flabby and inoffensive and boring. You could taste an overly soft malolactic fermentation (the part that can lend some creaminess to the mouthfeel) and the slight off flavor from a last minute intervention, which could have been alcohol removal or a rebalancing of the acids.  This is the reserve label and it was a blah. In fact, all three wines were a perfect example of dumbed-down wine.

To be fair to Ms. Leonardi, she has not been with the company that long and she probably did not make cab sauv, and possibly had limited contact with the others. And, again, she did say that her goal was to make more serious wines.

There is nothing wrong with a simple, unstructured wine. Sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed. We just wish that the people who market wine would stop foisting them off on women on the assumption that women don’t care what they’re drinking. Sure, some women don’t – just like some men don’t. But there are a hell of a lot of us women who do care, who want something nice to drink with our girlfriends that isn’t flabby or dumbed down and we’re getting pretty fed up with avoiding labels marketed to us simply because of a sexist assumption.

 

Women Winemakers of Chablis, Part Seven

women winemakers, chablis, white wine
Clotilde Davenne

And here’s another installment on the Women Winemakers of Chablis. We’ve got nine total. Today, we’re featuring Clotilde Davenne, in the Chablis region of France. Chablis is also the delicious white wine made from the chardonnay grape (remember, European wines are usually named after where they’re made, rather than by what they’re made of). This series is from a group of email interviews with six women winemakers from the Chablis region, translated from the original French by someone else because Anne’s French is in terrible shape. We asked each woman the same three questions.

1)    What makes Chablis different from other wines made from chardonnay?

Chablis is a different chardonnay, as it comes from a very particular soil in a region where the climate is also special. Soil and climate are the combination that makes this Chardonnay expression so unique. The wine is fresh and straightforward, right, vivid.

2)    If my reader sees Chablis on the label of a bottle of wine, what should she expect to taste in the wine?

The tasters should expect a wine expressing minerality. Rather complex and aromatic. Neither soft nor sweet.

3)   Finally, how are things changing for women winemakers in France? In the U.S., making wine is still very dominated by men. Are there more women becoming winemakers? Do women make wine differently than men, and if they do, what do they do that’s different?

  • Wo men who make wine are still few, but talk about it more and more. Wine consumption by women is less taboo and it is the women themselves who speak about female wines. I do not know if there are more women than in the past, but for sure we talk more about it. Women who make the wine often are successful because they make wine on the harmony of flavors and tastes. The wines are characterized by their elegance and not by the power of the alcohol.

Women Winemakers of Chablis, Part Six

Chablis wine, white wineAnd here’s another installment on the Women Winemakers of Chablis. We’ve got nine total. Today, we’re featuring Lucie Depuydt – J.Moreau et Fils, in the Chablis region of France. Chablis is also the delicious white wine made from the chardonnay grape (remember, European wines are usually named after where they’re made, rather than by what they’re made of). This series is from a group of email interviews with six women winemakers from the Chablis region, translated from the original French by someone else because Anne’s French is in terrible shape. We asked each woman the same three questions.

1)    What makes Chablis different from other wines made from chardonnay?

The soils and the climate in Chablis give to the Chardonnay different aromas than other places in the world.

2)    If my reader sees Chablis on the label of a bottle of wine, what should she expect to taste in the wine?

On the nose, grapefruit, white blossom, mineral notes. Freshness, almond, lemon on the palate and always this minerality, even after several seconds

3)   Finally, how are things changing for women winemakers in France? In the U.S., making wine is still very dominated by men. Are there more women becoming winemakers? Do women make wine differently than men, and if they do, what do they do that’s different?

More and more women are becoming winemakers, but it’s the beginning… I think that very often women make wines with more precision and delicacy by selecting perfect grapes and making ageing in the most exact and precise manner possible, to avoid any imperfection…

Winery Chef Amanda Martin Talks Food and Wine

Amanda Martin
Amanda Martin

When you want to talk about food and wine together, it’s hard to do better than talking with someone who works with both every day. Amanda Martin is the sous chef at Leoness Cellars in Temecula, California, and part of her job is coming up with dishes to serve with the wines made there.

We literally stumbled into her at a restaurant show last year and couldn’t resist doing a quick interview.

Q- What’s it like working at a winery as opposed to a restaurant?

Martin – With the winery, we have a little bit more flexibility, as far as the type of food, we get to serve because it is independent. With corporate restaurants, it’s a little bit harder because you’re told what to produce and how much and so forth. We create our own menus there, our own dishes there.

Q- So how much liberty do you have? Do you always have to include the wines?

Martin – No, I chose to include the wines. As far as in the cooking process? Obviously, when you’re cooking sauces, or preparing sauces in certain dishes, or pastas, you’re going to want a wine to deglaze. So I choose to use our wines in the process.

Q – How do you create a dish with a specific wine in mind, one that’s not necessarily going into it, but to go with it.

Martin –  We just try to, uh, as far as what’s made with the wine? We try to have it complement the wines.

Q- So do you taste the wine first?

Martin – We taste the wine first and then go from there.

Q – And what flavors go with what – the idea being how to tell what goes with what wine? And since you’re creating dishes to go with a wine all the time, you can tell us.

Martin – A lot of the times, people try to associate reds with meats, whites with fishes. That’s not always necessarily the case. You have to get the tannins, the sweetness behind the wine and then compare it that way. Like with a scallop dish, if you have something that’s salty within it, I would go with a sweeter wine, just so it plays harmoniously with your palate.

Q – Is this something you just have to test, doing trial and error?

Martin – Yeah, it’s just trial and error. Unless you have your sommelier, you know.  Also, wine and food is just more of a personal preference. It’s hard to pin point. What I enjoy, somebody else might not like. We can make our recommendations for it. Absolutely, but at the end of the day, it’s what you enjoy and that’s what we want it to be. It’s your experience.

Q – So what do you recommend? Just trying a bunch of different wines, such as different cab sauvs with a bunch of different foods? Or a Riesling with a bunch of different foods.

Martin – A Riesling would go excellent with the scallops, with fish. Halibut, surprisingly, we serve it with a port reduction. So you wouldn’t think a red wine sauce with a fish, but it goes beautifully with it. It’s trying. Have fun with it. That’s what food is, it’s fun. And wine. After a few glasses of wine, everything’s fun though.

Women Winemakers of Chablis, Part Five

white wine, chablis wine, women winemakers
Lyne Marchive

And here’s another installment on the Women Winemakers of Chablis. We’ve got nine total. Today, we’re featuring Lyne Marchive – Domaine des Malandes, in the Chablis region of France. Chablis is also the delicious white wine made from the chardonnay grape (remember, European wines are usually named after where they’re made, rather than by what they’re made of). This series is from a group of email interviews with six women winemakers from the Chablis region, translated from the original French by someone else because Anne’s French is in terrible shape. We asked each woman the same three questions.

1)    What makes Chablis different from other wines made from chardonnay?

Its subsoil, the Kimmeridgian from the Jurassic period, allows Chardonnay to express itself here like no other place.

2)    If my reader sees Chablis on the label of a bottle of wine, what should she expect to taste in the wine?

They should expect to taste a fresh and relaxing wine, with a cheering liveliness.

3)   Finally, how are things changing for women winemakers in France? In the U.S., making wine is still very dominated by men. Are there more women becoming winemakers? Do women make wine differently than men, and if they do, what do they do that’s different?

In my opinion, this topic isn’t an issue: a lot of professions have opened up to women, not just the wine industry (justice, police forces, sciences, mechanics, etc.). The most important thing is to remain extremely professional.

A woman does not make wine in a similar or different way from a man: she can also make it differently from another woman. It is just a matter of conviction and sensitivity.

Women Winemakers of Chablis, Part Four

the-glass-of-wine-bottle-old-barrel-and-grape-vector_fJO1blw__LAnd here’s the next installment on the Women Winemakers of Chablis. Today, we’re featuring Laurence Séguinot, Domaine Daniel Séguinot et Filles, in the Chablis region of France. Chablis is also the delicious white wine made from the chardonnay grape (remember, European wines are usually named after where they’re made, rather than by what they’re made of). This series is from a group of email interviews with six women winemakers from the Chablis region, translated from the original French by someone else because Anne’s French is in terrible shape. We asked each woman the same three questions.

1)    What makes Chablis different from other wines made from chardonnay?

The Chardonnay grape was born in Burgundy. It thus reaches its full potential and nobility in Burgundy’s soils, especially those of Chablis, where the Kimmeridgian terroir gives our wines their purity and minerality.

2)    If my reader sees Chablis on the label of a bottle of wine, what should she expect to taste in the wine?

From a Chablis wine, we expect delicacy, freshness, strong minerality and authenticity of the Chablis terroir, with floral or citrusy notes depending on the vintage.

3)   Finally, how are things changing for women winemakers in France? In the U.S., making wine is still very dominated by men. Are there more women becoming winemakers? Do women make wine differently than men, and if they do, what do they do that’s different?

There are more and more women winegrowers in France. At least, today, they make themselves more visible. Maybe they used to be fewer, or perhaps they were simply working in the men’s shadows.

Women have a different palate from men’s and I believe we approach winemaking differently. We strive for delicacy and elegance first and foremost, a way to please and charm all palates.

Women Winemakers of Chablis, Part Three

Women winemaker, Chablis, white wine, French wine
Jean-Luc and Marie-Josee Fourrey

And here’s the next installment on the Women Winemakers of Chablis. Today, we’re featuring Marie-Josée Fourrey, of Domaine Fourrey, in the Chablis region of France. Chablis is also the delicious white wine made from the chardonnay grape (remember, European wines are usually named after where they’re made, rather than by what they’re made of). This series is from a group of email interviews with six women winemakers from the Chablis region, translated from the original French by someone else because Anne’s French is in terrible shape. We asked each woman the same three questions.

1)    What makes Chablis different from other wines made from chardonnay?

Chablis’ vineyard is located in the most northern part of Burgundy, giving us a climate which allows the wines to retain beautiful freshness. The other aspect is the richness of our soil which is a mix between marine sediments and clay/calcareous marl. The inclination of our hills provides our grapes with optimum amounts of sunshine, which is necessary for their full ripening.

2)    If my reader sees Chablis on the label of a bottle of wine, what should she expect to taste in the wine?

They should expect to taste a very subtle and elegant wine. There is no such thing as exuberance in Chablis, only refinement, freshness, delicate aromas and minerality.

3)   Finally, how are things changing for women winemakers in France? In the U.S., making wine is still very dominated by men. Are there more women becoming winemakers? Do women make wine differently than men, and if they do, what do they do that’s different?”

We are starting to see “Daughter and Father” Domains even in Burgundy! There even exists an association for women in the wine industry, in both Burgundy and at the national level.

The mechanization of the vineyard has developed a lot and we can see Domains with brothers and sisters, or sisters and sisters appearing.

I don’t know if women make wine differently than men, but we surely add a “feminine touch” that brings a little uniqueness to it.

Women Winemakers of Chablis, Part Two

women winemakers of chablis, white wine
Nathalie and Isabelle Oudin

And here’s the next installment on the Women Winemakers of Chablis. Today, we’re featuring Nathalie Oudin, of Domain Oudin, in the Chablis region of France. Chablis is also the delicious white wine made from the chardonnay grape (remember, European wines are usually named after where they’re made, rather than by what they’re made of). This series is from a group of email interviews with six women winemakers from the Chablis region, translated from the original French by someone else because Anne’s French is in terrible shape. We asked each woman the same three questions.

1)    What makes Chablis different from other wines made from chardonnay?

Nathalie: The northern climate and the calcareous soil of the Chablis region tend to make very unique and subtle wines, with delicate aromas.

2)    If my reader sees Chablis on the label of a bottle of wine, what should she expect to taste in the wine?

Nathalie: A dry and beautifully tensed chardonnay: the freshness of the aromas brought by the Chablis terroir makes it a unique wine. This wine is very light and whets your appetite.

3)   Finally, how are things changing for women winemakers in France? In the U.S., making wine is still very dominated by men. Are there more women becoming winemakers? Do women make wine differently than men, and if they do, what do they do that’s different?

Nathalie: People are evolving and opening up. Men who have taken over the domains are now less hard to work with than with previous generations. They have improved the work place by making work relations less intimidating. Although there are still a few big mouthed machos. 🙂