Wines that will rock your dinner from New Dehli on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

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Sponsors         

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Facebook Fan Kim Anderson asks what wine should I pair the real deal authentic Indian food with? In particular, Chicken Masala and Makani Murgh dishes.  Kim not being an expert in the area of Indian food I really had to do my homework this week.  What a great question and I have your answers.  The only question left to answer here is will you be inviting me for dinner?

Chicken Masala

Chicken Masala

Okay now we know what the most important questions of the day are, so what are the answers?  WineGuyMike™ really prefers to keep things as simple as possible and in doing so let’s consider a few things before I recommend which wine types are best suited for your particular Indian dinner wine selections.

When one considers wine and food I like to think of balance.  Balancing wine and food is a good place to start when determining what wine works best with what food.  Here are a few other things to think about when choosing a wine too:

• What wine type do you generally prefer?

• Food texture, is it heavy or light?

• How is the food prepared, is it Grilled, Baked, or Sautéed.

• What about a Sauce, Gravy, Crème, or Tomato based.

In considering balance and in this case I’m referring to weight and texture of the main food entrée and the weight and texture of the wine I would like to choose to serve with my dinner.  How am I going to cook these wonderful Indian dishes, Chicken Masala and Makani Murgh.  Are these dishes also going to be using a sauce or gravy?  There a couple of more things to think about before we go wine shopping too.

Makhani Murgh

Makhani Murgh

Just as foods have a texture and firmness wines also have a quality of texture.  Remember we are looking for balance and a synergy between wine and the foods they are paired with.  A full bodied wine bold on texture should not be paired with delicate dishes nor should they be paired with a food dish that is big on flavor.  Okay so we can rule out big full bodied wines for this dinner party.  Big wine and big flavor just don’t work well together, we are looking for harmony.  Mild food dishes do well when paired with medium to light body wines.  Kim In considering today’s menu I’m looking at the main protein, in this case chicken.  I need to consider the sauces and the spices.  The other thing I will be considering while I’m selecting wines for this marvelous dinner party is the season, it’s Summer and it’s hot and I’m eating dishes that are spicy.   

One of the most important things to understand about wine and food pairing is this; acid brings out flavors in food and helps to leave a lingering flavor on your palette.  Once you think through the food it really helps to serve as a process of elimination.  Here is what we know about your dinner selections Kim; Chicken is our main protein, we are dealing with many powerful spices, and we have heavy/creamy sauces.  Last but not least it is Summer time so I know that I want something refreshing that is light to medium in body and texture on the wine side.  I also have decided I want to recommend wines that have nice acid and fruit balance and I have a few wine types that I find earthy.  When I think of earthy I think about mineral, vegetal, and herbaceous that present themselves a bit more neutral but still have enough acid to work with your meal selections Kim.  Today I will be suggesting wines with a bit of acidity and will be light to medium bodied.  Now we can talk about our wine type choices, or at least what types of wines match our criteria for the meal we are serving.

The wine types that I recommend will vary from light to medium body:

Light Bodied Wine selections

1. Chenin Blanc

2. Rose´

3. Pinot Grigio/Gris

4. Riesling

Medium Bodied Wine selections

1. Fume´ Blanc

2. Sauvignon Blanc

3. Sancerre

These are the wine types or varietals I believe will be best suited for your Summer time dinner party Kim.  I would recommend having one white and one red wine from the light bodied category, one wine from the medium bodied category, and one full bodied Chardonnay that is not oaked to complement your dinner.

I hope that you find these suggestions helpful in putting together your dinner party wine list Kim.  Thinking about this ahead of time will lead to a much better wine shopping experience, not to mention the time you will save time not staring at too many wine bottles on a shelf.  After a few minutes all the bottles begin to look the same.  Having a wine focused dinner party can make it a lot of fun and remember this list of slightly acidic wines are suggested because they will intensify all the wonderful flavors of your Chicken Masala and Makani Murgh dinner selections.  It will also be fun to share with your family and friends all about the wines you have carefully selected with the dinner to pour for them, they will surely feel as special as they are.  There is nothing better than a great meal and a nice bottle of wine when we are sharing with people we love.

One last recommendation would be to stop in at my official sponsor Ciao Mambo, they have a great wine list with wines by the glass.  You can experience some of these wine types before you serve them at your dinner party. 

The WineGuyMike™ wine list:

1. Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay blend from Southwest France – Tariquet

Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay

Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay

This Tariquet  wine marries the finesse of Chenin Blanc (75%) with the elegance and structure of Chardonnay (25%). This complex wine displays delicious floral notes, as well as exotic fruit and vanilla.  A beautiful inexpensive wine to pair with today’s dishes.

2. Pinot Gris from Wine by Joe in The Willamette Valley of Oregon

2009 Pinot Gris

2009 Pinot Gris

Wine by Joe 2009 Pinot Gris;  you will experience sweet aromas of fresh cut pears, green apples and hints of vanilla and cream, this Pinot Gris will not disappoint you.  The light clean flavors in the mouth encompass citrus and green apple well-balanced by refreshing and flinty acidity for a perfect and lively finish with lingering hints of citrus rind.  You will be delighted with this classic Oregon Pinot Gris!

3. Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley, California – “75” from Tuck Beckstoffer.

"75" 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Tuck Beckstoffer

"75" 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Tuck Beckstoffer

This is perhaps my favorite domestic Sauvignon Blanc, it is comprised of 80% clone one Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Musque clone, this wine is has not been through a secondary fermentation and only sees stainless steel during fermentation and aging.  This wine is vibrant with ripe summer melon, honey suckle, crushed rock and lemon oil aromas followed by great texture, richness and acidity.  This wine showcases the tremendous quality of Sauvignon Blanc grown in the Lake County region California.

4. Riesling from Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl from the Columbia Valley of Washington State.

2008 Kung Fu Girl by Charles Smith

2008 Kung Fu Girl by Charles Smith

A long cool awesome vintage added heightened minerality to this wine which lends to a great pairing with these  today’s food dishes.  White stone fruit, you know, apricot, nectarine, peach also satsuma and lime leaves.   This is great Riesling from Evergreen Vineyard in The Ancient Lakes area of the Columbia Valley AVA.

5. Rose´ from Napa, Oregon, and France

Vin Gris 4Bears Winery and Sean Minor

Vin Gris 4Bears Winery and Sean Minor

This lovely Vin Gris from 4Bears Winery and Sean Minor is a bright and vibrant pink color with cherry, strawberry, cranberry and ripe watermelon aromas on the nose.  When the wine first hits your palate it displays cherry and strawberry flavors with well recognized flavors of Pinot Noir. Raspberry and cranberry fruit characters are balanced with spicy and crisp acidity that linger creating a refreshing and lengthy finish.

2010 Adelsheim Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir

2010 Adelsheim Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir

2010 Adelsheim Willamette Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir This delicious wine offers aromas of fresh strawberries, raspberries, peach, watermelon and a touch of baking spices.  The aromas follow through on a rich, well textured palate that offers great intensity and persistence to the finish. 

Chateau Bonnet Rose

Chateau Bonnet Rose

Château Bonnet Rosé 2010 On the nose the wine presents welcome aromas of white chocolate, ever so mild caramel, strawberry, and mellow cherry.  Yes this wine’s aroma is as alluring as it is visually in a glass. Once this beauty hit my palate it danced in my mouth, I don’t want to say it came to life because this wine brought life to my palate.  This Rosé is well balanced with fruit, acid, and the perfect percentage of alcohol.  It is understated with nuances of strawberry and cherry, also expressing very mild pomegranate.  You will experience a perfect crispness and a mellow tartness in this wine that has a lovely and refreshing mouthfeel.

These wines receive The WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval©

If you have any specific questions about wines please message me by commenting on the WineGuyMike blog at; http://www.wineguymike.wordpress.com, or on my Facebook fan page; WineGuyMike and I will answer any questions you may have.

Light Bodied Wines

Chenin Blanc is a very versatile grape.  It is very crisp, acidic, high in alcohol content, yet is smooth and full bodied.  This grape exhibits slight spiciness, hint of honey, and slight fruitiness and is dry.  This can be a very special wine, such as Vouvray, an excellent wine exhibiting many different styles.

Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris as it is commonly referred to is a very dry wine.  Some characteristics of this wine are a slightly fruity and mild spiciness.

Riesling is one of the prominent white wine grapes, a pure Riesling is complex yet delicate.  A Riesling will be light, medium dry, fruity, a mild citrus flavor, with a mellow floral aroma. 

Rose´ wines are like a chameleon, they are light and refreshing like a white wine, crisp and acidic like a white wine, BUT once on the palate have subtle nuances of the red wines we love too. Rose´ may have a very slight strawberry nuance and are made from bone dry to slightly sweet.

Medium Bodied Wines

At its best Sauvignon Blanc is a very crisp, light bodied and very dry.  They are also known as Fume´ Blancs, and are well balanced with citrus and grassy overtones.  Most of these wines are not fermented in oak, the high levels of acid balance well with the fruity characteristics of the wine.

Sancerre wines come from the Loire Valley region of France and are made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  There are two styles of Sancerre wines depending on their terrior.  Some come from marl terroir and the others come from limestone vineyards.  Marl (white soil) terrior Sancerre wines are fruity and well balanced while the Sancerre wines grown in limestone are full flavored but can be unstable.  Both style of wines have nuances of citrus (Grapefruit) and floral aromas.

Today’s Recipes

Chicken Tikka Masala is a favorite Hindi dish; this curry dish features roasted chicken chunks (tikka) served in a rich-tasting red or orange-colored sauce.  The sauce is usually creamy, lightly spiced and contains tomatoes.  Chicken Tikka Masala has been found to be one of the most popular dishes in British restaurants and it has been called a “a true British national dish.”

The origins of Chicken Tikka Masala are disputed.  An expert on street food declared that the dish originated in Punjab during the last 50 years while another view is that it originated in the first Indian restaurants in Soho, London, during the 1970s.

Chicken Tikka Masala is chunks of chicken marinated in spices and yogurt, that is then baked in a tandoor oven, served in a masala (“mixture of spices”) sauce.  There is no standard recipe for however tomato and coriander are common ingredients.  The sauce usually includes tomatoes, frequently as puree; cream and/or coconut cream; and various spices.  The sauce or chicken have a beautiful rich orange color as a result of spices and sauce components such as turmeric powder, paprika powder and tomato puree.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Recipe source; http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/detail.asp?docid=8637

Why this recipe works:Our goal was to develop a simple chicken masala recipe with readily available ingredients. To get there, we rubbed the chicken with a mixture of salt, coriander, cumin, and cayenne, then dipped it in yogurt mixed with oil, garlic, and ginger. For a year-round tikka masala recipe, we chose the broiler rather than the grill and cooked the chicken in large pieces to prevent it from drying out. (less)

Serves 4 to 6

This dish is best when prepared with whole-milk yogurt, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted. For a spicier dish, do not remove the ribs and seeds from the chile. If you prefer, substitute 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper for the garam masala(combination of warm spices seasons the masala sauce). The sauce can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container, and gently reheated before adding the hot chicken. Serve with basmati rice.

Ingredients for Chicken Tikka

1/2teaspoon ground cumin

1/2teaspoon ground coriander

1/4teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon table salt

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , trimmed of fat

1cup plain whole-milk yogurt (see note above)

2tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)

1 ablespoon grated fresh ginger Masala Sauce

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion , diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)

2 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 fresh serrano chile , ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced (see note above)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon garam masala (see note above)

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon table salt

2/3 cup heavy cream

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves Instructions

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.

2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

Makhani Murgh

Recipe source; http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/detail.asp?docid=5186

Butter chicken (or murgh makhani) is part of the Indian cuisine, popular in most countries throughout the world.  The origins of butter chicken can be traced back to Kundan Lal Gujral, a Hindu Punjabi, who ran a restaurant called Moti Mahal Delux in Delhi.  Butter chicken is usually served with naan, roti, parathas or steamed rice.  

Dressed chicken (with or without bones) is marinated overnight in a yogurt and spice mixture usually including garam masala, ginger, garlic paste, lemon or lime, pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chili. The chicken is traditionally cooked in a tandoor, but can also be grilled, roasted or pan fried, depending on convenience or the chef’s preference.

Makhani, the sauce, is made by heating and mixing butter, tomato puree, and various spices, often including cumin, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, pepper, fenugreek and fresh cream. Cashew paste can also be added, and will make the gravy thicker. Of all the spices added to the dish it is dried fenugreek leaves (Hindi: kasuri methi) that makes the greatest contribution to the characteristic flavor of the dish.

Once the sauce is prepared, the prepared chicken is chopped and cooked until the gravy and chicken have blended.  The dish may be garnished with white butter, fresh cream, sliced green chillies and kasuri methi.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cubed

8 green cardamom pods

10 cloves, lightly pounded

10 whole black peppercorns

1 (1/2 inch) piece cinnamon stick

3 serrano peppers

2 teaspoons ginger paste

2 teaspoons garlic paste

1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 1/4 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1/2 cup cream

Directions

1.Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the chicken in the hot oil until completely browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

2.Wrap cardamom pods, cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon stick in cheesecloth and secure with elastic or twist-tie.

3.Blend the serrano peppers, ginger paste, and garlic paste together in a blender until smooth; add the crushed tomatoes and blend again until integrated. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan; add the water, paprika, and the spice bundle to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the volume of the liquid reduces to about half. Add the browned chicken to the liquid and stir. Cover the saucepan and simmer until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes. Stir the salt and fenugreek seeds into the mixture and continue simmering another 5 minutes. Remove the bundle of spices and discard. Stir the butter and cream into the mixture; simmer until the butter is melted completely, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve hot.

'from my table to yours"

'from my table to yours"

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Good people doing great things with wine, Charity Case Wine with Pat Woodbridge on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/06/19/wine-guy-mike-for-61911/

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors         

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Charity Case Foundation

Charity Case Foundation

Each week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© I have the pleasure of hosting guests who are always special in their own unique way.  Whether these individuals are great winemakers or farmers who grow the finest grapes, these individuals are almost always game changers in some way, shape, or form no matter what they do in the world.  This week’s show was no different and in fact I found this story to be extraordinary.   The organization that I’m sharing with you this week is very special; this is a story about good people doing great things with wine.  In this “wine case” I’m talking about Charity Case Winewww.CharityCaseFoundation.org

Pat Woodbridge was my special guest this week.  Pat is the mother of Jayson Woodbridge, our friend who is Proprietor/Winemaker of Layer Cake Wines and famous for his cult wines Cherry Pie and Hundred Acre.  Pat was charged with the mission of assembling all the paperwork and legal documents in order to form this foundation – a process which took the better part of a year.  Pat was kind enough to take time out to be a guest on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© and share the Charity Case Wine story with you and I.

Charity Case Foundation was formed in 2008, during a difficult rainy vintage in Napa wine country.  When fruit is picked after rain, there is more moisture in the soil, which results in the plants absorbing the water into the grapes.  In order to correct the dilution, winemakers will remove juice from the fermenters to concentrate the remaining solids before fermentation begins.  This is called Saignee (French for ‘to bleed’).  In 2008, there was a lot of it around.

Layer Cake Wine

Layer Cake Wine

Jayson Woodbridge and Helen Mawson of Hundred Acre, Layer Cake, and Cherry Pie wines contacted other vintners in the Napa Valley area to see if they would donate the juice in order to create a wine which could be sold for the long term support of Napa Valley Charities.  The response was overwhelming with dozens of vintners contributing almost more than could be handled.  The Charity Case wine label was designed and the non-profit wine with all volunteer help from Napa Valley was launched.  In 2008 and 2009, a Napa Valley Rose blend was created from several varieties of red grapes from in and around Saint Helena.  In 2009 the group found exceptional Sauvignon Blanc grapes in St. Helena that needed a home.  In 2010, a group in Napa Valley donated 10 tons of Chardonnay and this Charity Case Wine will be released very soon.

Once Pat had everything in place, she joined forces with Helen Mawson, Jayson’s partner and fellow winemaker, Sheila Dougherty, a veteran of charity work and manager of the Wolfe Center, a treatment center for teens with addiction problems.  The fourth member of the troop is Peggy Garcia, executive assistant for Jayson, who heartily threw herself into the fold.  The four of them have worked tirelessly for Charity Case Foundation.  All services are volunteered, and all net proceeds go to the charities.  WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© friend Laura Kirkham and her Laura Kirkham Agency joined the group in October of 2010, offering pro bono public relations assistance to tell the Charity Case story.

Charity Case Wine

Charity Case Wine

The Charity Case Foundation is devoted to raising funds through the sale of small-production, specially crafted wines to support local non-profit organizations, providing services to children in need and their families.  The Foundation’s motivating philosophy is to get all monies raised to those in need, without dollars spent on marketing, bureaucracy or other hidden expenses, which take away from getting the donations – in their entirety – to those who actually need them. 

The wines, labels, bottles, corks storage, shipping and marketing efforts for The Charity Case Foundation are done entirely by volunteers.  Charity Case has no salaried employees, meaning that all of the proceeds go directly to the charities.  Who are this year’s recipients of proceeds in their entirety raised by The Charity Case Foundation?

Wolfe Center

Wolfe Center

The Wolfe Center is a community based Drug And Alcohol Program for teens and families in Napa County.  http://www.wolfecenter.org/programs.html

Cope Family Center

Cope Family Center

Cope Family Center is the first stop for families in crisis.  http://copefamilycenter.org/

Aldea Children and Family Services

Aldea Children and Family Services

Aldea Children and Family Services supports and empowers young people with serious social, mental, and behavioral difficulties to grow to be independent, productive adults.  http://www.aldeainc.com/

Foster Kids Fund

Foster Kids Fund

Foster Kids Fund (FKF) is an all-volunteer non-profit community organization, dedicated to enriching the lives Napa County children in foster care.  http://www.fosterkidsfund.org/about.html

The Charity Case Foundation is determined to provide raised donations to those in need in the way they should be given:  in their entirety.  www.charitycasewine.org

Before I get into the wines for today’s show I would like to give a shout out to all the Father’s out there and say Happy Father’s day to you.  I want to also share a personal thought with you today.  I strive to follow the example of the great folks at Charity Case Foundation and think about serving others, please join me in this mission.

Today’s Charity Case Wines

Charity Case Rosé 2008

Charity Case Rose 2008

Charity Case Rose 2008

Charity Case Rosé is a complex, elegant wine.  This wine has aromas of dried strawberry, rhubarb, and kaffir lime peel that fill the nose.  The palate will first taste flavors of cranberry, strawberry and red raspberries fill your mouth, then a long lingering finish of orange blossom and hints of delicate white pepper leave you wanting and needing more of this delicious wine.  Pair a recipe with this wine; http://wineguymike.storetotable.com/

Charity Case Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Charity Case Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Charity Case Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Charity Case barrel fermented 2009 Sauvignon Blanc is a luscious wine that has balance structure.  On the nose of this wine is a blend of ripe gooseberry, apricot and lemon zest.  The palate is viscous and full-bodied with hints of pineapple, melon and coconut, with a long, creamy finish.  This may be the Pina Colada of wine, yum!  Pair a recipe with this wine; http://wineguymike.storetotable.com/

I want to thank the Charity Case Foundation for all that they do.  Please join me and raise your glass in a toast to Pat Woodbridge and all the other good people involved in the Charity Case Wine and Foundation, Salute.

The Charity Case Wines receive The WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval©

"Happy Father's Day"

"Happy Father's Day"

On the Road Again to Walla Walla in the Columbia Valley of Washington State. Destination; the Reininger Winery on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at www.trail1033.comwhere you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://snapshotwine.podbean.com/

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors                                                                                                                     

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© I’m talking with Justin Vajgert who is National Brand Sales Manager for the Reininger and Helix wine labels.  Today I’m going to share with you the land, the wine, and the man who makes these wines.  First I want to give you a little background on my guest who joins me this week on WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©.  Justin’s background is a similar journey of most guests I have the pleasure of talking with on the show. Justin grew up just outside of Chicago and relocated to the Walla Walla area in 2005 to attend the Institute for Viticulture and Enology.  He worked harvest in 2005 for the Waterbrook Winery and then joined forces with the Reininger Winery in November of 2005.  Justin worked at Reininger all through school doing everything from cellar work, to pouring wine in the tasting room, to painting bathrooms.  During Justin’s tenure his roles have evolved and he moved into a sales role beginning with local sales and then after school moved into his current national sales position.  He’s been doing that ever since.  Distribution for Reininger/Helix  has grown to 17 states.  Justin eventually wants to make wine though, it’s his passion.

It's all business at Reininger Winery, just kiddin'. Fun and great Wine.

It's all business at Reininger Winery, just kiddin'. Fun and great Wine.

 The backbone of the winery side of this business is not the glam we consumers experience when we do a road trip to visit the wine country.  We walk into the beautiful tasting room and are greeted by nice smiling people eager to tell you about the wine that they are pouring today. 

Reininger Winery tasting room

Reininger Winery tasting room

Our wonderful experience though is just a result of very hard and painstaking work, let’s not forget at the heart of growing grapes is the farming business.   Our good fortune to enjoy great wine is quite literally the fruit of a team of hardworking people’s labor.  Today I’m very pleased to be bringing you the story of the Reininger Winery in Walla Walla, Washington.

The Reininger Winery, located in the heart of the Walla Walla Valley, Chuck Reininger who is Head Winemaker, specializes in crafting elegant and finely structured red wines from hand-harvested, ultra premium grapes.  Enough said I want to taste this wine right now.  First let’s take a look at the Walla Walla A.V.A located in the Columbia Valley of Washington State.  The Columbia Valley is just a short trip from Western Montana. 

Glacial Lake Missoula was a prehistoric pro-glacial lake in western Montana that existed periodically at the end of the last ice age.  When things warmed up a bit Lake Missoula flooded and took all of its wonderful alluvial soil matter with it to Washington, and in particular to the Walla Walla A.V.A.  The Walla Walla area soils are composed of layers of soil blessed with the alluvial soil material and layers of volcanic ash, from eruptions throughout history, and rock that have created amazing soil to grow grapes in.  The days are warm to hot and the night air is cool, perfect for growing world class grapes that make fabulous wines.  This is what is known as terrior, terrior, terrior at its finest.

The Walla Walla A.V.A. was established in 1984 but a group on Italian immigrants began farming this land in the 1850’s.  There are presently about 130-140 wineries in this valley, not all are open to the public.  This area has become a hotbed of great wineries, which begets great restaurants, and now many very nice bed and breakfast accommodations.  Wine does amazing things for great grape growing areas, this story reminds me of the movie “Field of Dreams”, “Build it and They Will Come”.  Guess what the wineries have built and the wines lovers, they have come.  If you haven’t tasted any wines from the Walla Walla area you must and you will quickly understand why this area is so special.

Prior to making high-quality wines in the Walla Walla Valley, Chuck Reininger could be found high atop mountains as a senior climbing guide for a Tacoma based company.  Before moving to Walla Walla, Chuck helped long-time friends with crush at Waterbrook winery.  He began experimenting with home winemaking in 1993 and officially caught the “wine bug.”  His weekend hobby quickly turned into a dream to produce super-premium wines of his own: “I became obsessed with starting my own winery,” he admits.  In 1997, Chuck and Tracy Reininger launched their dream – owning a premiere winery in the Walla Walla Valley.

From 1997 through 2004, Reininger Winery was located in a small but functional facility located at the historic Walla Walla Regional Airport.  The “shack-teau,” as Chuck and his wife Tracy fondly nicknamed it, was originally designated as a WWII Army Air Corp runway “crash house” and “base theater” where old time crooners and classic films entertained troops.

In 2003, Reininger Winery purchased seven acres of land, located six miles west of Walla Walla, adjacent to Highway 12, and began renovating two pre-existing potato sheds into a remodeled 15,000 square foot winery, complete with production facility, administrative offices, and a spacious new tasting room.  The result is a modern production facility incorporating rustic design elements that a special place to enjoy events and entertainment.

Chuck Reininger is not only a great winemaker and he is also a very smart business man.  In December 2004, Reininger Winery announced the debut of a new label – “Helix.”  Helix sources fruit from the larger Columbia Valley, allowing for increased production and expanded distribution, while Reininger wines maintain limited production, focusing on fruit from the Walla Walla Valley.  Ultimately, the family believes that “Helix allows them to expand their reach to a new group of wine enthusiasts.”

The wines that I tasted virtually with Justin were the 2006 Reininger Merlot from the Walla Walla Valley, the Helix 2007 Pomotia, and the 2007 Helix Syrah.  The Helix wines have a distinctive new label, featuring an image of a snail.  Helix, the genus name for the Burgundian snail, is the creme de la creme of “escargot.” 

All three of these wines have scored highly with top wine magazines and there team that review them.  Here’s what’s important though these wines are extremely well made and are great to drink.  The Helix wines are very approachable and affordable for every day and weekend wine gatherings for you and your friends.  These wines are simple and wonderful, you don’t have to over think these wines you just drink them and thoroughly enjoy them as I have.  Backyard barbeque with friends, that’s what I’m talking about.  These wines are a beautiful expression of fruit from the Columbia Valley, Chuck has done an outstanding job with this label across the board or in the case the flight.

Helix Pomotia

Helix Pomotia

The Helix 2007 Pomotia is a blend of 38% Syrah, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, and 13% Cabernet Franc; Voluptuous dark ripe fruit of cherries and plums bathing in a tub of chocolate with French vanilla coffee beans and a eucalyptus leaf floating on top.  

Helix Syrah

Helix Syrah

The 2007 Helix Syrah is 100% Syrah; this fresh, juicy red is a carnival for your senses with a veritable menagerie of delicious flavors!  On the nose you will experience more berries than a midsummer farmers market, a hint of freshly spun cotton candy, orange peel and lavender. Enjoy perfectly ripe flavors of blackberry and white pepper accompanied by a thick round mouthfeel and a loooong dark chocolate finish.

Reininger Merlot

Reininger Merlot

Now let’s get serious with the 2006 Reininger Merlot from the Walla Walla Valley.  I’m going to be a bit crass here for a moment because I cannot help myself, Chuck this is freaking great juice dude.  Wow this wine is focused; dust, earth, smooth, fruit, smoke, spice, white pepper, structure, perfect balance, beautiful tannin, length, finish, and great acid that make me want to grill up a steak on the barbie right now to enjoy this wine masterpiece with.  Chuck do you think I like the 2006 Reininger Merlot?  When I emptied the bottle I picked it up when no one was looking and tried to get a few extra drops on to my lusting palate. 

All kidding aside this is a wonderful winery with an incredible winemaker, and a great tasting room to visit.  You don’t want to miss this winery and you certainly don’t want to miss out on anything Chuck Reininger puts into a bottle. 

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

These wines in this flight receive The WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval©

Is it The Fountain of Youth? John Komes knows his Mom Flora is turning 100. Flora Springs Winery on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


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This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© I’m talking with a man who I truly admire.  From the very moment I began reading about John Komes I knew there was a great story that would ensue.  Today I’m going to share that story with you; this is a story about entrepreneurial Americana that resonates very deeply with me.  As we say in my Italian family the Komes clan is all about La Famiglia.

Flora Springs Winery

Flora Springs Winery

Let’s turn back the clock nearly seven decades and talk a little bit about how this incredible wine story even came to be.  John Komes’s Father Jerry was the President of the Bechtel Corporation.  The Bechtel Corporation who is a giant in the construction industry is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area.  John’s Mother Flora was born in Hawaii and moved to the San Francisco Bay area after finishing high school in order to attend nursing school.  It was here that Jerry and Flora first met when they were set up on a blind date.  This is where it all began but Flora insisted on getting her nursing degree and securing gainful employment before she would consent to marriage even though Jerry knew that she was “the one”.

Jerry and Flora Komes

Jerry and Flora Komes

Jerry and Flora accomplished great things together as a team including a family of three children, eight grandchildren, and fifteen great-grandchildren.  In the mid-seventies Jerry retired from the Bechtel Corporation to the Napa Valley.  A few of Jerry’s friends had bought places there so Jerry and Flora found a property there that was an old abandoned winery or as it is referred to as a “Ghost Winery”. 

Historic Flora Springs Ghost Winery

Historic Flora Springs Ghost Winery

The winery originally dates back to the 19thCentury.  This amazing wine property has natural springs that have never ceased to flow.  Flora Komes turns 100 in November and it just makes me wonder if she found the “Fountain of Youth” in the Napa Valley at the Flora Springs Estate???  Why is that wine so good, could it be the water?  Flora attributes her health and longevity to the Merlot though.  Jerry passed at the age of 89 after 67 years of team work and marriage to Flora. This couple really set a great example of love, respect, and hard work.

John Komes

John Komes

John Komes following in his Father’s footsteps built a very successful construction business in the East Bay area of San Francisco.  John like his Father has a thirst for life and knowledge so anything he is interested you know he is going to learn it, own it, and execute it.  Yeah that’s what we call an entrepreneur in America, and that’s exactly what John Komes is.

Flora Springs Winery was founded in 1978.  It is located in the Rutherford Appellation right in the heart of the Napa Valley.  In the early 1970’s John’s wife Carrie sent him to a wine appreciation class as a gift.  John who really didn’t know much about wine at this point in his life was soon making wine at home.  Once John develops an interest in something he latches on to it, learns as much as he can about it by studying, listening, and then doing.  That’s right John took one look at the property Jerry and Flora purchased in 1977 and the light bulb lit up.  Can you say winery?  John can and with his wife, parents, sister and brother-in-law Flora Springs Winery was founded.

John moved his successful construction business to the Napa Valley where he specialized in construction and restoration of wine properties.  The business demands of Flora Springs soon required his full attention so John focused 100% on the winery.  He rebuilt, restored, and constructed all of the estate buildings and turned two abandoned cellars into wine facilities.  He also built wine caves to age the Flora Springs wines.  John oversees all aspects of the winery from wine production, to sales, and marketing.  But John did not do this alone which is the other piece of this wine story that I find so intriguing.  

Meet Julie Komes Garvey and Pat Garvey, John’s sister and brother-in-law.  One person didn’t build Rome and John being the entrepreneur and visionary that he is realized good help when he seen it.  Knowing all about family business I’m guessing the price for that help at the time was right too, ah start-up companies, sweat equity, well you get my point.

Julie Komes

Julie Komes

Julie Komes Garvey is also an original Founder and Owner of Flora Springs Winery.  She worked side by side with her brother John and her husband Pat Garvey in the vineyards to create the first vintages of Flora Springs wines.  As the success of Flora Springs grew, Julie’s efforts extended outside of the winery.  Soon after the inaugural release of the Flora Springs’ signature Bordeaux blend, Trilogy, Julie and a group of vintners founded the Meritage Association in 1988.  Their goal was to promote the elegance of American wine blends made with Bordeaux varietals as well as to create a category that would allow winemakers to make and market their blended wines.  In 2002 Julie left her position of Communications Director to pursue her love of education and divinity. Currently, she works as a spiritual director and teacher, dividing her time between counseling, teaching and leading retreats.  Julie is the proud mother of two sons. Her youngest son, Joe Garvey, lives and works in Seoul, Korea and shares her same enthusiasm for teaching. Her oldest son, Sean, is now following in her footsteps as Communications and Production Director of Flora Springs.  Julie’s brother and Flora Springs President John Komes jokes, “She may have left the winery, but she’s still in the spirits business!”

Pat Garvey

Pat Garvey

Let’s meet Pat Garvey, Founder, Owner, and Vineyard Director.  In 1978 Pat traded his Master’s Degree in Psychology and Counseling from the University of Santa Clara for a tractor – and the opportunity to launch a world-class Napa Valley winery with his wife, Julie Garvey, and his brother-in-law John Komes.  While Flora Springs started as a fledgling family business nearly three decades ago, today the Komes and Garvey families own and manage more vineyard acres , 650 in all,  than most family-owned and managed vineyard holders in the Napa Valley.  As Vineyard Director for all of Flora Springs’ vineyards since its inception, Pat has not only taken the responsibility to remain an innovator with meticulous farming practices to create world-class wines; he has done so with the overarching premise of stewardship and family values: all of Flora Springs’ vineyards are 100% sustainable.

Under Pat’s watch Flora Springs’ vineyards has received organic certification in 2008 from the California Certified Organic Farmers for 20% (120 acres) of Flora Springs’ vineyards.  An additional 240 acres were certified in 2010.  Sustainable practices include using manures from local chicken and turkey ranches, seasoned in the weather and then incorporated into the vineyards; planting cover crops that enrich the soil and provide habitat for beneficial bugs rather than spraying to eradicate troublesome bugs; and controlling water absorption by planting competing crops to absorb excess water in wetter soils.  Pat was also instrumental in getting Oakville and Rutherford recognized as sub-appellations in the Napa Valley. 

The Komes and Garvey families are true caregivers of the land they farm.  Terrior is extremely important to this family and every wine they produce is crafted to express the beauty, the unique soils, and the microclimate of their respective vineyard sites. 

Flora Springs Vineyards

Flora Springs Vineyards

Flora Springs’ now owns 650 acres of vineyards throughout the Napa Valley, including some of the region’s most coveted sub-appellations.  These include Rutherford, St. Helena, Oakville and Carneros.   Since the very beginning Flora Springs has incorporated sustainable farming practices in their vineyards.  360 acres of their vineyards are now certified-organic, that’s close to 40% of our estate vineyards, and accounts for nearly all of the grapes that go into their red wines.

Solar panels on the Rutherford Bench

Solar panels on the Rutherford Bench

Today the historical estate blends charm with state-of-the-art winery production techniques and environmentally conscious technology.  Inside the stone walls of our century old winery you will find specifically tailored stainless steel and concrete fermenters sized to match the blocks on each of their estate vineyards.  Beyond the stone archway of the cellar lays 1,000 linear feet of caves.  Carved in to the hillside, they provide an ideal and energy efficient environment for aging the Flora Springs wines.  The winery has installed 6,500 square feet of solar panels their most ambitious globally conscious upgrade yet.

Paul Steinauer

Paul Steinauer

Paul Steinauer, senior winemaker, and co-proprietor and vineyard director Pat Garvey, are committed to growing and hand crafting artisan wines that can be enjoyed young and vibrant or cellared and graceful.  “The synergy they’ve created between the vineyard and winery is critical to Flora Springs wine producing success.

Nat Komes

Nat Komes

The next third-generation vintners Nat Komes and Sean Garvey, both of whom grew up at the winery washing barrels and sweeping floors, are now poised to take the helm.  Nat serves as General Manager and his philosophy is this; “The winery has enabled us to touch a lot of lives – our purpose is about wine, but it’s also about people, relationships and the joy of what’s shared around wine,”

Sean Garvey

Sean Garvey

Sean Garvey has also followed in his Father’s footsteps as Vineyard Foreman.  Sean formerly managed sales for Flora Springs on the east coast, then communications and production, now as Vineyard Foreman he works with his father in the Vineyard Department.  His studies abroad in the Basque Region of Spain brought home the importance of food and wine in making connections with people.

When I spoke with John this week I learned a lot about the dedication to producing great wines that is Flora Springs Winery commitment to the wine consumer.  Flora Springs has 35 years of experience in growing grapes in their vineyards and as John kiddingly said to me he has a name for every vine grown in the vineyards.  All kidding aside Flora Springs now knows every corner of their land: how the light falls in late August, where the soils change, and which vineyard blocks ripen earliest.  This identity of site dictates how they farm, and in turn, how they make the wine.  This respect of identity allows them to craft elegant and powerful wines that reflect the place from which they originate.

The Flora Springs Signature wines, Trilogy, Sauvignon Blanc “Soliloquy Vineyard” and Barrel Fermented Chardonnay are wines people tell stories over and tell stories about. Some bottles find their way into the cellars of exclusive restaurants and private libraries while others quickly become unforgettable memories.

Signature Wine Trilogy

Signature Wine Trilogy

Signature Wine Trilogy

The 2007 exhibits the entire classic Trilogy attributes with a lovely cassis and cherry bouquet as well as huge black fruit flavors that envelope the palate.  Each varietal is vital to the outcome – the Cabernet exhibits black cherry and dark cocoa character, while the Merlot carries these flavors to the back of the palate for an everlasting finish. Unrelenting with power and grace, the 2007 Trilogy, their 23rd release, beautifully marries the complexity and elegance of their earlier vintages with the sheer bravado of our favorite vintages during the late 90’s.

Signature Wine Sauvignon Blanc from the Soliloquy Vineyard in Oakville

Signature Wine Sauvignon Blanc

Signature Wine Sauvignon Blanc

Their Crossroads Vineyard in the heart of the Oakville appellation is a crown jewel in our collection of Napa Valley vineyards.  Though Crossroads is planted mostly to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, two blocks of the vineyard are devoted to a varietal they absolutely cherish – Sauvignon Blanc.  Soliloquy Vineyard in Oakville is the fruit source for their very unique Sauvignon Blanc.  From two different clones – one certified by UC Davis as the “Soliloquy” Sauvignon Blanc clone, and the other the Sauvignon Musqué clone – they have created one wine of singular distinction.

Signature Wine Barrel Fermented Chardonnay

Signature Wine Barrel Fermented Chardonnay

Signature Wine Barrel Fermented Chardonnay

Flora Springs Barrel Fermented Chardonnay is Napa Valley history in a bottle. In 1980, at a time when Chardonnay was the true ambassador for wines from the New World, Flora Springs began its reign as one of the great Chardonnay producers from Napa Valley.  Disregarding trends, Flora Springs continues to craft its Barrel Fermented Chardonnay in a style that has inspired white wine producers and created loyal Chardonnay connoisseurs for the last 30 years.  The 2009 vintage offers rich flavors of peach and pear with a hint of pineapple on the palate.  In each vintage, they strive to find a balance between the rich flavors of our St. Helena and Oakville Chardonnay and the acidity and minerality of our Carneros fruit.  For 2009 they have further enhanced the wine by allowing 21% of the blend to go through malolactic fermentation.  You wouldn’t believe the excitement in the cellar when the final blend was passed around the table—tropical fruit, richness, complexity, spandex?—it’s 1980 all over again!

The Flora Springs name has become synonymous with perfectly balanced wines.  Look no further than their Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for great examples of hand crafted artisan wines that express both subtle nuances and bold Napa Valley fruit.

Flora Springs Napa Valley Cabernet

Flora Springs Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Flora Springs Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

This classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is ripe with flavors of black cherry and cocoa envelop the front of the mouth and move across the palate into a soft lingering finish. Each vintage they look to reveal the true character of our estate vineyards while using oak as an undertone, highlighting the inherent flavors.

Flora Springs Napa Valley Merlot

Flora Springs Napa Valley Merlot

Flora Springs Napa Valley Merlot

The Napa Valley Merlot is a favorite among seekers of soft, supple red wines ready to drink from the get go.  To celebrate the “born ready” exuberance of our Merlot, they’ve bottled it with a Stelvin closure.  The 2008 vintage shows full fruit characteristics of strawberry and cherry, with a hint of raspberry and spice.

It is so impressive in talking with John Komes and the inspiration from Flora Komes and the upcoming celebration in November of her 100 years of life.  Like any family business I’m sure there are trying times but on the whole these families from generation to generation have mentored one another with obvious love and respect.  The result is what happens in the bottle because they are caregivers of the land, servants of their community, a family and team that love what they do.  They make amazing wine that they share with you and I.

All the Flora Springs Cousins

All the Flora Springs Cousins

By the way I would be remiss in not mentioning that John Komes would like you and I to take a moment to send a card and note to Flora on her 100th Birthday on November 7th

John thank you for taking time to be a guest on my show.  I have tremendous respect for all that you have created and your visionary approach, style, and leadership.  Cheers to you my friend!

Please find a Flora Springs wine in your market.  These wines are fantastic and I recommend them for you. The Flora Springs wines in this flight receive The WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval©

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"