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Cool New Summer Wines “Off the Beaten Path”

Cool New Summer Wines “Off the Beaten Path”

Despite the rain outside, our wine tasting on Friday made it feel like summer inside Hatch’s as we sought to find unique and refreshing wines perfect for sipping under the summer sun.  This week’s wine tasting featured red, white, and pink wines from well-known wine regions like Provence, France to under the radar vineyards in Austria and Portugal.   With a range of varietals, styles, and regions, our tasting has only just begun our efforts at the store to show you new ways to spice up those “summer nights!”

To start, we cracked open the Calamares Vinho Verde.  At only $8.99, this white wine from Portugal is the perfect companion for the beach.  Incredibly light, refreshing, and with a little spritz, this wine is also lower in alcohol content, making it a delicious and pragmatic choice for sipping under the hot sun.   Another easy drinking and refreshing wine choice for the beach would be a rose spritzer made with our new Sables d’Azur.   This rose wine comes from the famous Côtes de Provence region in the south of France.  Our store capitalized on an outstanding deal to purchase overproduction from last year.  What does this mean? You get all the flavor of the Provence rose region without the hefty price tag.  This rose wine goes great in spritzer with muddled strawberries and a splash of soda, or is also terrific by itself.  On a 2 for $15 deal, this is definitely a great wine to buy in bulk for a cocktail party where you will impress your guests while also staying under budget!  Just a heads up: we only have 12 cases left in stock, and this rose is flying off the shelf, so come down and grab your bottles now.

Another hit at the tasting was the Grooner, a Grüner Veltliner wine.  This Austrian white wine has started to make its way onto wine lists across the island, and for good reason.  With a tart yet crisp finish, it is a fantastic summer wine that is incredibly versatile and pairs really well with a range of food, from Thai food to lobster to white fish or chicken on the grill.

To continue our quest for unique and refreshing summer wines, we decided to taste red wines, with a twist.  When chilled, a range of light bodied red wines make for an invigorating afternoon cocktail.  For red wine lovers, it means trying something new (chilling your bottle of red) and in the end, finding an alternative way to enjoy the bright, bold fruit of a red wine.  Light and simple red wines really come alive when chilled, ultimately offering a completely different wine drinking experience that has shown us how  red wine can keep you warm on a cold winter night, or keep you revitalized on a hot summer afternoon.   The key is to find the right style and varietal of wine.  We chose light red wines where the fruit really came forward at cellar temperature, and found that the fruit really popped when chilled.  We started our journey into the new territory of chilled reds with the Louis Jadot Beaujolais.  Made from a Gamay grape, this wine fit the bill perfectly as it proved cool and thirst-quenching.

Another wine that fit well into the “chilled red” category was the Zenato Valpolicella.  Wines from the Valpolicella region in Italy can range from light and “nouveau” to the hearty and big Amarone.   Made from the region’s most distinguished grape, Corvina, the Valpolicella wines are released soon after production and do not see the longer process of storage and refinement that Amarones undergo.  Ultimately this means the grapes are light and ready to drink now.    These chilled reds are perfect for cocktail hour and do not need food with them.  However, with the Valpolicella, as with almost any Italian red, mozzarella on top of our basil tomato crackers proved to be a perfect complement.

Overturning assumptions and expectations proved to be our common “aha wine moment” during this tasting.  Chilled red wines tend to make us think of sweet, sugary wines—a “hangover in a bottle.”  But, as we tasted through French and Italian takes on cool red wines, we found that red wine too can provide some cool rejuvenation for those hot summer nights.   Join us next week as we tackle our next summer project: finding the perfect rose wine for that picnic in the park or on the boat!


Hatch’s “Tour de France” Tasting

Hatch’s “Tour de France” Tasting

Recently, the market report for the wine industry captured attention across the United States with the bold headline, “United States now #1 in wine consumption.”  For the first time, Americans have passed France as the leading consumers of wine, showing that Americans have truly gained a taste and a love for the beverage that has also shaped the French culture and economy for centuries.  French winemakers have inspired others across the world with their winemaking innovations, so what “aha” wine moments will we have during our “Tour de France” tasting?

Two white wines especially sparked our customer’s attention.  The first was the Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc.  This wine comes from the Loir Valley, a place well known for its Sancerre region which produces the famous French style of Sauvignon Blanc.  Though light and refreshing, this wine also had some body to it and a mineral taste that would make this a perfect complement to oysters on the half shell.  We then moved east to the Burgundy region, an area known for its production of Pinot noirs and Chardonnays.  Montagny, provided the seemingly impossible: an affordable white Burgundy.   With world famous villages like Meursault and Montrachet, the Burgundy region is known for its outstanding wine, but also its hefty price tag.  The $14.99 Montagny gave us the body and rich taste of a French style chardonnay for an outstanding price.  Delivering an almost oily coating in your mouth, this wine would be a terrific complement for salmon or white fish on the grill, and even Lois Hutchinson, who generally is adverse to chardonnays, bought a bottle to pair with her grilled fish dishes.

Our “aha” wine moment, however, came with our tasting of red wines when we found an amazing Cote du Rhone, a light and refreshing Gamay from Brouilly, and a Bordeaux region blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Cab Franc that transformed from a tight wine with tannins into a perfect complement to meats and cheeses after being open for an hour.  The Trignon wine is from the Cote du Rhone region, and this “Rhône rider” blended perfectly the chalkiness of the region’s terrier with the juiciness of the blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourverde grapes.  This was definitely the hands down favorite among customers at the tasting for both its versatility (it could easily be pared with food or drunk by itself) and its price (only $12.99).  The Gamay wine from the Brouilly region north of Cote du Rhone, inspired a new idea for the summer: chill-able red wines.  This light red wine would make a perfect summer drink when chilled, and next week, we agreed that a “chilled red wine” tasting is in high demand for the summer as the temperatures go up!

Friday’s tasting showed that our island visitors and residents love to drink French wine. Even though we only scratched the surface in our tasting, it became clear why Americans have started to follow in France’s steps and make wine a central part of our economy and culture.

Memorial Day Wines “Great for the Grill”

Memorial Day Wines “Great for the Grill”

To kick off our summer wine tasting season at Hatch’s, we started with some new and classic wines “great for the grill”.   The craziness of Figawi weekend launches the start of our summer season.  The warm sunshine on weather forecast means that you can soon break out your grill and start cooking up some fish, chicken, steaks, and veggies.  On Friday, we sampled some new sauvignon blancs and pinot noirs, a chardonnay, and a malbec, a range of varietals all bringing something unique to the BBQ grilling experience.  So what did our customers think?

A favorite at the tasting was a fresh arrival at the store: Undurraga Vineyards Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc (both only $9.99).  A new sponsor of the Figawi races (and here we thought you were only allowed to drink Bud Lite and Dark & Stormy cocktails), this Chilean wine was a hit!  The sauvignon blanc was crisp, refreshing, with a blend of lemongrass and light citrus flavors. The pinot noir also had a light taste, great for cocktail hour.  The fruit on the pinot really popped, making this a terrific wine for a new red wine drinker, not sure how to break into the wine genre.

Mussel Bay Sauvignon Blanc, another recent arrival, also generated lots of buzz.  From the Marlborough region in New Zealand, this wine has a classic “New Zealand” taste: lots of citrus and almost a grapefruit flavor.  But, unlike many other Marlborough sauv blancs, this wine is only $10!  Definitely a great bang for your buck!

For food pairings, we started with an un-oaked chardonnay from California, Acacia Un-Oaked ($12.99).  The big flavor of the chardonnay grapes came forward, but since it is aged in stainless steel, the wine did not have the oak flavor that is traditional of California chardonnays, making this a great wine to pair with a mild white fish on the grill.  To find a wine for grilled meats, we sampled the popular Layered Cake Malbec ($14.99).  Malbecs from Argentina have become incredibly popular in the past few years because of their reasonable price and their versatility.  When paired with meats off the grill, Malbecs really come alive, and it makes sense because Argentina is known for beef and malbecs. Aha! Winemakers make wine they want to drink with their food, so if you are thinking about how to pair a wine with a meal, think about where is comes from and what people eat there.  More on this next week!

Lastly, who would have thought of pinot noirs for dessert? One of our customers, Ema Hudson did.  While we wanted a classic California pinot noir to compare the to the Chilean pinot, we found that the two wines are incredibly different.  As Ema tasted the Acacia pinot, she noted the flavors of cocoa in it, and when we pulled out some chocolate, wow, what a delicious combination!  Definitely our “aha!” moment of the tasting.

What a terrific start to the summer!  Lois Hutchinson found some fresh wines to fill up her wine fridge, and we got some Figawi partyers to stop for wine and food fuel on their way to the Chicken Box.  Next week we will travel to France in our tastings, and see how terroir, style, and grape varietals can really make a difference.