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October 2015 Wine & Cheese Club: Wines of the Reginato Family
Wines are grape juice, so the quality of the grapes and how they are grown are obviously important to the end product. However, in the world of wine much greater status is given to the wine maker than the grape grower. Luis and Pepe Reginato grew up in the vineyards, learning the art from their father, and their careers have followed a “farm to table” path. They consider themselves farmers and grape growers first and foremost, and their winemaking skills are there to support the incredible fruit they produce.
For wines with such a refreshingly bright acid and relatively lowABV, these wines are characterized by distinctly rich flavors. The key to this paradox is a long but cool growing season. Although cool, the grapes have the opportunity to fully ripen before truly cold weather arrives. Some regions and vintages can highlight the bright acid of a cool climate, and others can highlight rich flavors of big, ripe fruit- but Reginato’s vineyards are a rare example of a place that can coax both from the same vintage.
These wines are a wonderful transition to fall. They have the vibrancy of grapes grown and harvested at the ideal time, and they foreshadow those rich flavors we start to crave as the days grow cooler and the nights longer.
Chaman Petit Verdot 2014
85% Petit Verdot, 15% Malbec
Forgive us a short statement that smacks of wine snobbery: this is a wine that plays with expectations. Grown in other parts of the world, Petit Verdot is an intense grape that is used more like a seasoning. “Pencil graphite” is often used to describe it, and it’s found in small quantities, comprising about 1-2% of a blend if used at all. But Petit Verdot requires a longer ripening period than many common varietals, which makes it ideally suited for the climate in this part of Argentina. In this setting, it is dark and meaty, but with a bright acidity and minerality that also makes it refreshing. This is Petit Verdot on vacation- it has loosened up, enjoying the change of climate and not so uptight! The Malbec, which is fermented stems and all along with the Petit Verdot, lends an earthy fruitiness. If you liked the Black Slate Priorat from last month’s club (given to those who receive two reds), you will definitely enjoy this one for some of the same reasons.
Cheese Pairing: Edun Cheddar, Red Barn Family Farms, WI
Red Barn is a great example of the “new” wave of small artisan Wisconsin cheese producers- their small-batch cheeses all focus on humane treatment of animals, excellent milk quality, and cheeses that highlight their quality ingredient. This is a New Zealand style cheddar, a style that is buttery, not too sharp, and displays grassy flavors. Cheddars are typically a good pairing with reds, but they can mask the more delicate aspects of the wine. This light and grassy cheddar supports the rich but delicate structure of the Chaman Petit Verdot very nicely.
Red Club Only: Chaman Red Blend 2012, La Consulta, Mendoza, Argentina
55% Petit Verdot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Malbec
This blend is composed of common varietals in very uncommon ratios. It’s kind of like a Bordeaux blend, but in reverse. Whereas Cabernet and Cab Franc are usually major components of a Bordeaux blend, here they take a back seat to Petit Verdot, which is typically a very minute part of the blend (somewhere in the 1-2% range). There is definitely a common aesthetic shared between this wine and the Chaman Petit Verdot. Both are surprisingly fresh and vibrant given their varietal composition, with a lower ABV and balance that aims to please- not impress (But if you do want to impress, know that it received 90 points from Robert Parker).
Cheese pairing: Garrotxa
Garrotxa (pronounced ga-ROCH-ah) is a semi-hard, aged or young cheese with a soft paste and a moist, creamy, yet almost flaky, texture. It is covered by a velvety grey mold coating that lends it a woody aroma, although it is best not eaten with the cheese. The flavor is damp, with slightly nutty & herbal essences. Its milky, delicate taste is not typical of a goat’s cheese, making this pairing with a red wine work well.
Red Wine/White Wine Club only: Reginato Rose of Malbec
We admit- technically this wine is red, but if we assume you like white wine for the taste and not the color, then this rosé is for you! Still rosés are made from any and all red wine grapes, when it comes to sparkling rosés, winemakers are much less adventurous and we don’t often see Malbec in this format. It is crisp and dry, with a bit of tannin for structure. There’s some strawberry and rhubarb, and a little floral spice. Like Reginato’s other wines, this is light and refreshing, and a great food wine that’s appropriate for any occasion (or no occasion at all).
Cheese pairing: Casatica di Bufala
In our case filled great cheeses, this is easily one of our very favorites! When the two brothers, Alfio and Bruno Gritti, took over their father’s farm located in northern Italy, in the foothills of the Alps, they were milking dairy cows. But 10 years ago, they decided to introduce water buffalo. Buffalo milk has twice the cream as cow’s milk. A couple of years later they sold all the cows to focus on this rich milk. Increasing the water buffalo herd to 1,000, they built a creamery to make both cheese and yogurt. Today they make 25 cheeses, including Bufalo di Mozzarella, all steeped in local Italian tradition.
Casatica, a buffalo milk cheese, is similar to Stracchino. A soft-ripened cheese, aged for three to five weeks, it has a supple richness. With a creamy interior and a mild and delicate milky sweetness, left to sit, it will virtually ooze on your plate and melt into your mouth. Bubbles are a wonderful compliment to soft cheeses like this. Given the amped-up richness of both wine and cheese, these two are a dynamic duo.