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Christmas Jura Duty: Wine & Cheese Parings Made in Mountainous Heaven


More wine & cheese with Wendy:

My extreme love of wine stems in part from my constant search for inspiration when I was a full-time chef. In early 2000 I attended an intensive master series of classes held at the newly founded Artisanal  cheese center in NYC. Little did I know these classes would change my life. I found not only inspiration but a true passion, for cheese and the wines paired with them. I couldn’t get enough, trying endless combinations. Since then I’ve tried hundreds of cheese pairings but there are some that have a special place in my heart and fridge!  The wines and cheeses of the Jura region have always been a favorite, for me and here at Frankly Wines. Why not try a few of the following suggested wine and cheese pairings to add to your holiday table.

Featured wines are all made by Michel Gahier in Arbois, where his family has resided since 1525. A friendship with former cheese maker turned Jura winemaker extraordinaire Jacques Puffeney has helped instill instilled skills and sensibility that produce undeniably outstanding wines that clearly express the very particular terroir of this corner of the Jura. 

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Christmas Jura Duty: Comte St. Antione, Raw Cow + Gahier Chardonnay

This delicious cheese is made from the milk of small herds grazing on Alpine grass. A cooperative of cheesemakers pool their milk to craft a cheese that has a myriad of flavors. Aged for up to 2 years in small huts it’s like the never-ending gobstopper in Willy Wonka, flavors ranging from pineapple, cooked milk, toast, apricot and more can be tasted as it lingers into a smooth mellow finish.

Pair with Michel Gahier Arbois Chardonnay Les Crets 2011 Price: $25.99

 
 
 

Christmas Jura Duty: Marcel Petite, 2 yr Comte, Raw Cow + Gahier Vin Jaune


Aged in the Fort Saint Antoine in Jura, this Comte is produced by one of 13 high altitude cooperatives ("Fruitiers") approved by affineur Marcel Petite. This Comte is aged for 2 years, which is the longest the affineur will age any cheese. A bit more savory, buttery and with just a touch of milk chocolate dipped hazelnuts on the finish. For a match made in heaven pair with one of our Vin Jaune’s. It would be an amazing gift for the Jura fan in your life!

Pair with Michel Gahier Vin Jaune 2006 Price: $74.99

 
 
 

Christmas Jura Duty: Morbier, Raw cow + Gahier Trousseau


This washed rind Jura beauty has a fudgy paste divided by a thin line of vegetable ash. While it once marked the line between morning and evening milk it is now part of the regulations of production associated with this AOC delight. The cashew butter, brothy goodness and slight funk are just the ticket to pair with our selection of lighter Jura reds, Trousseau and Poulsard!

Pair with Michel Gahier Trousseau Les Grands Vergers 2013 Price: $33.99

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For cheesemongers near you, give this site a peek.

For more information on artisan cheese, classes on pairings and recipes please visit my site www.SassySipsNYC.com

Cheers, Wendy
 
 
 

For those who like it lush


Maris.jpgChateau Maris Brama Grenache-Gris 2011 (Languedoc, France): This layered, old vine minx of a Grenache Gris was grown on a very small plot in the beautiful Languedoc region of Southern France, where free roaming cattle and the vintners horses are used to work the land.

The flavor and personality of this wine is deliciously bawdy! Rich, layered aromas tempt you to stick your nose into the glass... go ahead, inhale that decadence. This is the Mae West of wine, lush, full-bodied, savory, flush with ripe fruit and a long
finish that truly satisfies. The perfect wine pairing for a bowl of fettuccine alfredo, topped with crispy speck.

Price: $39.99
 
 
 

JURA DUTY: The Book Kind


jura wine book.jpgOver a year ago, we sent out a notice about Wink Lorch’s KickStarter campaign to fund her efforts to publish the first ever English language book on Jura wine. Wink has been visiting and writing about the region since 1999 – long before it had made the radar of even the geekiest wine geek. She was convinced (begged, really) to embark on this book project by those of us eager for more info on the mystical, magical place where the white wines challenge your conception of what a white wine can be, and the reds are shockingly light in color but surprisingly big in flavor.

The project was a huge success and the book is here! Consider it Jura duty of the best kind. You won’t find a better, more definitive guide to the region than her simply titled: Jura Wine

Not to get all infomercially, but at $29.99, it's less than ½ the price of a bottle of the region’s mythical vin jaune. So if you're a looking to learn more, it's well worth the investment.

What?

You haven’t heard of the Jura??? Unless you happen to shop in a handful of wine shops scattered across the country, that’s pretty much expected. The region is a tiny, obscure part of France tucked over near Switzerland. You've probably never heard of some of the region's most important grapes (Savagnin? Poulsard? Trousseau?) And you probably haven’t had anything like the region’s light, ethereal, sneakinly complex reds. Or its slightly twangy, often oxidative whites. Or its top dog vin jaune that ages practically forever. No, unless you’re a wine geek or hang out with them, you probably haven’t heard of these wines. But there's a good chance you'll like them.

 
 
 

For those who need something strong


navazos.jpgNavazos Palazzi 15 Year Old Cask Strength Rum (Spain):

Love at first sip. And what a first sip it was. This is cask strength rum, meaning it's full proof, like 51% abv, pulled straight from the cask. Those casks happen to be old Oloroso casks, which impart a rich, nutty, sherry-like lushness to the rum. The rum itself is from the somewhere in the Caribbean. "Somewhere" being about as specific as it gets. At 5 years of age, it was sent to Sparin where it spent another 10 years in those Oloroso casks. Sipped straight, it's strong stuff. But almost shockingly smooth for such high proof stuff. Take a sip neat, then dilute it with a touch of water for maximum enjoyment of it's crazy cool blend of nuttiness, molassas and Oloroso twang. Read more about it in Jon Bonne's piece in the SF Chronicle.

Price: $159.99 (non-discountable)

 
 
 

For those who want to skip straight to dessert


navarre PdC.jpgR. Navarre Pineau des Charentes Vieux (Cognac, France): You may not know about Pineau des Charents. But you need to. You really, really need to. Broken down to a simple definition, Pineaux des Charents are basically unfermented grape juice fortified with cognac. But what they really are is magic. Pure, delicious, crazy good magic. They are sweet, but the kick of Cognac gives them a sweet/n/strong attitude that makes them so irresistible. There’s some of the nutty, caramel notes a tawny port, but with of freshness and liveliness that makes them oh, so charming. At around $65/bottle, they aren’t cheap, but if you try one, you’ll understand why one customer said, “I really wish I didn't know these existed.” They’re just that good. You’ll find yourself thinking about them while typing away at your desk, mulling over spreadsheets and the number of emails you need to send (or maybe that’s just me.)

Price: $68.99

 
 
 

Buy Now, Or Forever Hold Your Peace: Robert Michel Cornas


photo 3-1.jpgI’ve been meaning to send this note out for months. For a year, really. Or even longer than that. But time flies and the days go by and the next thing you know, the wine is all gone, sold out, never to be seen again on a retail shelf. 

And no, I’m not being overly dramatic, at least not about the wines of Robert Michel. When these wine from craggy terraces of the northern Rhone’s Cornas region, are gone, they are really, truly gone. Monsieur Michel retired with the 2006 vintage with no one to follow directly in his footsteps. He has a protégé in Guillaume Gilles (who cellars the wine in the Michel cellar and works a parcel of the old Robert vines) but the Robert Michel label will be no more after the 2006’s sell through.

I could get all cranky and lament that his wines represent a dying breed of old-school, aging-required winemaking that’s fast disappearing from this planet. (But I won’t, because I really believe that old-school is the new new-school and we’re seeing a return to wines that reward a bit of time and patience.)  I could go all hype-monster and tell you that these wines WON’T LAST!!!! BUY NOW!!! (Ok, I am kind of doing that, but it’s true.)

Or I could just tell you that if you’re at all prepared to plop down $60 for a bottle of wine any time, ever, these are bottles you should plop it on. Aside from being pieces of liquid history, they are almost stunningly delicious  while still maintaing depth of geek complexity for those who seek it. The 2005 Robert Michel "Cuvee des Coteaux" which I am selling right now, is already approaching 10 years of age and is drinking beautifully… but still has plenty of years to go. Older wine is difficult to pick apart into notes of fruit and spice and earth and flowers, but all those things are there, wrapped in grace and power with a shocking amount of freshness.

Go ahead, hand over your $60 and I’ll hand over a bottle. Open it, drink it, and if you fall in love, come back for more… quickly. Because time flies, and then it will be gone.

Price: $59.99

 
 
 

ADVENTURES IN BYO: Fuleen and Overnoy-Crinquand


BYO nights and restaurants are one of the great not-so-secrets of the New York wine trade. It’s not about avoiding restaurant mark-ups. (We’re in the business so we all understand why a bottle on a wine list costs more than it does in a shop and assuming the list is well thought out and the mark-up doesn’t fall into the evil range, we’re happy to pay up.) BYO is really a way to tap into our own private stashes and share with friends…. Without the hassle of cooking dinner or washing the silverware.

Many of these BYO joints are Chinese restaurants. There tend to be different tribes haunting different places – Grand Sichuan, Peking Duck House and Fuleen Seafood are three that come up often. If you have an eagle eye for your Instagram feed, you’ll be able to spot who’s drinking where even if they’re not “checked in.”

Shitty glassware and an ice bucket that’s literally a bucket (and yes, I feel this is an acceptable, old school use of ‘literally’) are part of the experience. If you’re feeling fancy, you can bring your own stemware, so if you happen to be at one of these places and notice a table in the corner where the bottles outnumber the guests more than two to one and their glassware is way way nicer than yours… chances are good you’ve stumbled upon a hoard of New York wine industry folks having a night out.

Our Sunday man David recently went to Fuleen Seafood (my personal favorite of the Chinese BYOs) for a dinner. After much discussion, I sent him off with a bottle I thought would go particularly well with the restaurant’s salty/savory seafood specialties. Did I pick well? Read below to find out. (Hint: of course I picked well… it’s my job!!)

Distinguished and Surprisingly Versatile

overnoy.jpgFans of wines made from the Savagnin grape love their notes of walnut, salt and orange rind. The Overnoy-Crinquand Savagnin 2010 from the town of Pupillon in France's Jura region has sure possession of these notes. But a recent dinner at Fuleen on 11 Division St. in Chinatown showcased the stunning range of this -- wine, which spends several years aging in old oak barrels before release.

Fuleen - a Chinatown haunt for more than a few local wine geeks - has a generous BYOB policy, an extensive menu, and tasty, affordable food. At $4 each, the fried quail are a steal, particularly in service to the Overnoy-Crinquand. Its notes of toasted brioche complement the quail and the wine's unexpected acidity cleanses the palate between morsels.

But it's with the main courses that the Savagnin shines. Against a dish of shrimp, garlic, peanuts and red and green peppers the wine reveals a slight smokiness and then some honey to smooth the garlic. A plate of eggplant, chicken and salted fish elicits melon and then a little black tea from this wine, and a side of chive stems calls forth a hint of milk chocolate - not kidding, it's in there. The wine's body is never thrown out of balance but oscillates from leaner to more opulent depending on the dish with which it's paired.

There are next-day leftovers of both meals - Fuleen portions are enormous - and wine, which when sampled with an Italian hard cheese reverts to the more expected flavors of walnut and fine honey. A pairing of Savagnin and Comte, the Jura's answer to Gruyere, is justifiably classic, but dinner at Fuleen shows just how much the Overnoy-Crinquand Savagnin 2010 has to offer.

Price: $47.99

 
 
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