There’s nothing sexier than drinking in a casino hotel room.
Let me introduce you to Anakena Sauvignon Blanc. If you are a grapefruit fan, this is your Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a flaxen yellow wine that is light, crisp, and a righteous deal at only $6.99! This is dictionary definition weeknight patio wine, but is also a swell antidote for sweltering Saturday nights.
I was sans patio, but as you can see from the photo, I enjoyed it sitting in a hotel room that “reminisced” of a smoking room (read: stale ex-smoking = inside stank). Maybe it was because I had spent 16 hours outside in the menacing sun and dusty winds of Grand Casino Hinckley [another glamorous episode for my day job] , but this wine went down fast and easy. My co-worker and I sucked the bottle down with authority (and some Stacy’s pita chips), bringing a tired smile to both our faces as we picked at the annoying dirt caked in various body crevices. We found our nirvana, if only for a moment.
We awoke at 4am the next day to get up and do it all over again. I cannot help but think that the Anakena made it just a bit more bearable.
A few weeks ago, I sat down with Eugenio & Teresa Meschini, co-owners of the winery Famiglia Meschini. They met at St. Thomas University, where he was a Chemistry major and she was a French and Business major. Guy meets girl, falls in love, marries, they have babies, yadda yadda yadda. A few years later, they invest in a vineyard being developed by a good friend near his hometown of Mendoza, Argentina. For me, THIS is where the magic begins.
Early on in our visit, the Meschini’s came clean: they are not wine purists. They are atypically fearless with their blends, always brainstorming new combinations. Also, these folks are not afficianados in lab coats, J Crew khakis and dark rimmed glasses discussing the aromatic nuances of wet dog and feet (two ACTUAL terms used by wine critics- I cannot make this up). The Meschini’s come to the wine industry having been lovers of the grape and making what they enjoy. As Teresa put it, “We make wines, but not to impress. If no one else likes our wine, we’ll just have to drink them.” Amen, sister!
Eugenio then discussed the early 1990s wine-boom in Argentina. In the mid-20th Century, Argentine wines were “crap”- nothing but glorified church wine at best. He firmly believes, though many Argentines don’t want to admit it, that the French influence during the 1970s/early 80s was crucial. He said the French brought new techniques and standards, including the use of stainless steel tanks and coal, that advanced the local production of today.
Famiglia Meschini is located about 3200 ft above sea level right at the foothills of the Andes Mountains in Mendoza, facing West. The vines get hot sun during the day and cool night breezes to maintain a balanced stress, which provides depth and character to the grapes. Meschini vineyards sell 90% of their grapes to other wineries. What they do with the other 10%, well, let’s find out.
I tasted two from their line: a white blend and a Malbec-Syrah blend. For those die-hard Malbec lovers, I implore you to try the Malbec -Syrah. The white blend is like a white Bordeaux, but with a Latin kick from the influence of the lightly effervescent Torrontes. I poured a glass one sunny afternoon and sat back on my patio. “Ah, life is good,” I thought to myself. The sun glistened off the condensating glass of light golden nectar. The aroma of apple and citrus fruit are apparent, and upon first sip, these flavors swirl around your mouth. There is also an ever so slight hint of what I’d call vanilla oak. It’s soft and round, not super sweet nor syrupy, yet a little heavier than a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Torrontes due to the Chardonnay. The Ugni Blanc & Sauvignon Blanc keep the crisp acidic citrus and floral notes balanced while the Torrontes gives it that apricot Latin kick of fizz I was referring to earlier. (Whew! Time to grab my labcoat and glasses after that diatribe.)
This is a fun wine! Drink it minus food distractions and you’ll enjoy it. Or, I paired it with a combination of grilled cod, spicy Asian noodles and spinach salad. (I know- WTF? It was at the end of the month as was our grocery budget.) This wine would pair well with fish and salad but it would also pair well with spicy Asian fare. I had enough for one glass, and let a couple girlfriends sample it, instantly they asked where they could get it. That’s a ringing endorsement!
I implore you to support this great family vineyard. If you live in the Western Metro, you know I’m sending you to Byerly’s in Minnetonka (PS, their wine sale is happening right now.) If you live in the Eastern Metro or Western Wisconsin, check out Swirl in Afton. Live in the city? Sorella Wines, France 44, Solo Vino, Thomas Liquor, South Lyndale Liquors are a few as well.
By now, you should know that I’m a sucker for deeply discounted wine. I love catching wind that a surplus of wine is priced to move. Oh, sooo sorry “Mr. Wine Man”! Such was the case with this Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. I received an e-mail from Surdyk’s saying they had buttloads of the stuff and had a markdown from $18 to $10. I love me some Sauvignon Blanc in the Summertime, and all the crispy, zesty, tropicality it has to offer. I’ll pour a glass, sit out on the patio and read, feeling the breeze flow through my hair. For a moment, it can transport me to the rolling hills of some far away land.
Admittedly, I have never had a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, so I took advantage of the “whoa is me” retailer forced to sell at a discounted price. In my research, I’ve come to find out that Marlborough is rivaling the wine’s native France producing some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world. Situated in the northeast tip top part of the South Island, the climate is rich in warm, sunny days followed by cool nights, low rainfall, and good draining soil- good reasons for all the hubbub. Other varietals such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are starting to receive similar accolades, but for me, it’s all about the Sauvignon Blanc.
Twist it open and the scents of tropical fruit such as passionfruit explode; upon swirling and sticking my nose in the glass I start to receive wafts of peach and citrus. On my tongue, all the flavors of peach, passionfruit, pale apple, grapefruit are present, followed by a twinge of a faint herby quality. This is a snappy little number and that comes across in the finish. This may be a light white wine, but it delivers with zest and acidity in a balanced way. The finish leaves your mouth puckering for more.
‘Tis the Lenten season, so I recommend enjoying with shrimp or grilled fish. If you don’t have a grill pan, get one, already. Grill up fresh asparagus that’s been dusted with salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. I am addicted to arugula, so having this wine alongside arugula tossed with lemon juice a little lemon zest, olive oil, cracked pepper, cherry tomatoes and some Romano sprinkled in would leave me grinning. (I’ll sometimes throw in tuna packed in oil for added Mediterranean flavor and protein). Tonight, I enjoyed a grilled cheese with Muenster & Fontina, all melty and oozing, it went well with this wine, too.
I’m so glad I tried this New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. God bless wine sales! I fully recommend you sign up on your local wine shop’s e-mail list. You’d be surprised at what they may be pedaling at a good price, and is often how I fall in love with new wines! As the “Kiwis” might say: “Kia Ora”.
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