Tag Archives: White wine

Famiglia Meschini Premium White Blend

Cost: Average price $11.99

Where buy now: Byerly’s Wines & Spirits, Minnetonka- $11.99, Swirl in Afton – $11.99

Grapes: Torrontes, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Ugni Blanc

Region: Mendoza, Argentina

Vintage: 2011

Famiglia Meschini Premium White Wine Blend

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.

Eugenio & Teresa

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.

Spring sippin’ on the patio

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.

Cusumano Insolia

Cost: Average price $13.99

Where buy now: Surdyk’s- $8.49

Grapes:100% Insolia

Region: Sicilia (Sicily)

Vintage: 2010

Cusumano Insolia

This week, my quest was to find a wine that paired well with some classic St. Patty’s corned beef and cabbage [well, Frank’s Bavarian Sauerkraut]. Lunds & Byerly’s has Kobe corned beef on sale, so I grabbed me a juicy one. I threw it in the slow-cooker and away I went to work.

Flash forward in the evening, and I still needed a wine! I picked up a pair of reds: a Gamay and Pinot Noir. I was on the hunt for the perfect red wine to pair. When I got home, I was starving and so I started nibbling on the beef. “This is stupid”, I thought, “just fix a plate, sample the wines, and dig in, already”. I started by sipping on the Gamay, and it was, well, a’ight. [Full disclosure: I was truly pining for a boilermaker of Bushmill’s dropped in a creamy Murphy’s or Guinness. I love beer like the next guy, but that’s too easy. Not to mention, isn’t this supposed to be a wine blog?]. I kept eating and thought, “Well shit, I need a white wine to review this week, anyhow” so I ran to my basement and picked up a go-to white, Cusumano’s Insolia. What the eff was I doing? A Sicilian white wine with Irish fare?

Whatever. I’ve been drinking this wine for years. I honestly don’t know what prompted me to buy it in the first place; I can only imagine it was on sale. I opened it up while fabricating an account of how I enjoyed this wine on an unseasonably beautiful March day frolicking outside with the dog while she chewed on the cork.

I loaded my fork with a mound of beef and sauerkraut. Thank GOD I was alone because it couldn’t have been pretty. I struggled with the delightfully salty moistness, trying to clear way for a sip of white wine. I managed to squeeze a sip into my chipmunk cheeks. Huh? I took another sip, for I had such a mouthful, a couple of sips was required to wash it all down. “Oh, for strange!” (I imagined in my fake Scandinavian Grandmother’s voice). Take two, however, this time I used some discretion. I took an ample, not pornographic, bite of beef and ‘kraut, chewed slowly, then took another sip. I just threw down the silverware. I must not know shit about shit because this tastes pretty damn good!

Cusumano’s Insolia is a pale straw color. On the nose it’s fruity- not dry but not sweet. One can smell a lovely amalgamation of pineapple, citrus peel and soft hints of floral scents floating in the wind. It is mildly acidic with a medium body, tart but not mouth-puckeringly so. There’s a decent finish, but it doesn’t linger for a while. It’s a combination of so many things, much like the storied island of Sicily. If you like Vinho Verde, Sauvignon Blanc or Citrus-forward Chardonnays, you’ll enjoy this. Plus, it sports a groovy glass topper that’s easy to click back on. I usually drink Insolia throughout the Summer so I felt all discombobulated, how is this happening to taste so good together? I ran to the interwebs to find out if there was any history of the Irish in Sicily? Sicily is a melting pot of different cultures, so perhaps someone’s raping and pillaging somehow resulted in a convergence of white wine and corned beef. I came across this: www.medcelt.org/feile-festa/v001-n001/prose/farinella.html

I cannot make this up. My curiosity of wines has certainly helped quench my thirst, not only for the mighty fermented grape but also another love, history. Now, it doesn’t so much talk about raping & pillaging, nor food, but I don’t care, there’s gotta be something to this. I’d bet a dollar to a dime that Insolia would go swimmingly with lots of ethnic cuisines: Middle Eastern, Greek, African & Spanish to name a few. Try it with different foods, or just sip alone on a breezy Summer day.

Oh, and not to fret: I ate some dark chocolate with the opened Gamay, and that was damn good, too.

Cuvée Catherine

Cost: Average price $8

Where buy now: Haskell’s – $7.99

Grapes: Cuvee Catherine: Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Loire Valley, France

Vintage: Table white wine

Cuvee Catherine

Yep, just another boring-ass Tuesday night. Sadly, our cable was recently turned off [we did ride the rails for over a year, but they’re still jerks] I needed some evening entertainment. Why bait depression by watching “The Biggest Loser” or bore myself with “Glee” (which IMHO, jumped the shark early in Season 2)?

I also needed to explore another white wine for this week. The bottle I chose is Cuvee Catherine Sauvignon Blanc. Andy (our new BFF- remember?) explained that Cuvee Catherine is a private label wine produced solely for Haskell’s by the Sauvion winery, named for the owner’s wife, Catherine. This translates to decent wine at a decent price. But wait, how sweet is that? I’d LOVE a wine to be named after me! I instantly started to daydream about this. Could there be just one? Would it be sparkly? Italian?

This is a nice Sauvignon Blanc, just a pleasant little number. It hails from the Loire [Lwahr] Valley in Northwestern France. An expansive and diverse region, the cool climates help create a light-to-medium bodied, dry white wine. It has hints of citrus (and dare I say a tinge of grass) yet remains balanced in acidity. It being a French wine, I wanted something “Frenchy” to go with it. While searching for recipes that incorporated ingredients I had on hand, I came across this humdinger: Chicken stuffed with goat cheese and basil. I even used the Cuvee Catherine to make the mushroom-wine sauce.www.epicurious.com/Epicurious-green Lighter fare like grilled fish, quinoa with herbs or mixed greens should pair equally as well.

Cuvee Catherine

When I took the dish out of the oven, the basil & green onion spiked goat cheese came oozing right out of the chicken. Oozing cheese=bliss! Poured some of that buttery mushroom-wine sauce on top MAN! Melted French bliss. A sip of this wine and it was like a Parisian spring day in my mouth.

After much daydream toil, my only conclusion was that any vino named after me MUST be a red, on account of my crimson locks. But, it sure beat sitting in front of the boob tube, sobbing as some morbidly obese ‘loser’ slipped below the yellow line. Or, worse yet, cringing at the faux-angst choreographed to a Madonna medley.