Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Central Otago Wine Country - December 2001 - Excerpt from The Life and Times of Love and Vines

December 18, 2001 - We had been to Australia and back, nearly broke but spirits unbroken. It was a beautiful summer day and we decided that while continuing our search for orchard work in the bucolic hinterlands of New Zealand's South Island, we would fit in some winery visits. Fate lead us to our next job - Gibbston Valley Winery and Vineyards.

Winery Visit No 2
Peregrine is a new winery, its first wine released in 1998. This was another of the wineries whose wines we featured at Coronet Peak. Its more modest than Chard Farm, housed in a pair of stone structures, an historic wool shed and its 127 years old cookhouse. The woman who works here in the small, cluttered office is friendly and happy to give us tastes.

Peregrine Tasting Notes
First Wine Released in 1998 – Caretakers of Wentworth Estate Vineyards

Pinot Gris 2001 Nose – Mild aroma, herb and spice, Palate – Gewurztraminer-esque spice, dry & crisp mild fruit, vegetal flavors

Pinot Noir Wentworth 1999 Nose – Ripe berries, strawberry, Palate – Dryer than the nose implies, complex and deep with low tannin and acid, a little residual sugar, long length This is 100% Gibbston fruit from a single vineyard.

The Wentworth Estate vines that Peregrine maintains surround the woolshed. They are also the caretakers of the historic structures they occupy, part of the region's history of rugged pioneers. So far, our host remarked, the weather has been kind to their vines, which are quite young, therefore not yet deeply rooted in the alluvial schist they occupy. Peregrine markets a sparkling wine made in limited quantities by a local independent maker, but do not produce their own bubbly as yet.

Winery Visit No 3
Just a little further down SH6 lies the lively, lovely Gibbston Valley Winery, a cluster of buildings in brick (including the new cheesery) with a restaurant patio as its centerpiece. The bar is nice. Gibbston Valley charges $4.00 for a selection of 4 tastes, plus tasting notes, but you get to choose from 8 of their best, including reserves and older vintages.

My mind was barely on tasting when before my eyes Miranda appeared in a uniform. I had just been at the end of asking about the possibility of work there for a month. My sister in fine dining was extolling the place. I told her I happened to be looking for work in a good, serious establishment, and next thing I knew resumes were out and Shehu was chatting with the chef.

We discussed the possibility of staying on long term, because apparently Shehu got a good impression of the place. He discussed with the chef that we were only looking for about 6 weeks of work, but we were filing for residency and willing to stay on if he could be promoted to Sous Chef at some point soon.

From the upcoming book release:
The Life and Times of Love and Vines – The Travel Memoir of Rashida Veronique Serrant DWS

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Introducing: Wine Personified

Contemplating my recent Bubbly Talk Radio interview with Champagne Sister Mella (@ChampagneChat) it has begun to dawn on me how paramount this book really is! I’ve shared this vision with other people along the way, and they have all embraced it as something unique and refreshing. I’d like to now share it with you in anticipation of publishing this work so that you can finally “know something about wine”. This is the next incarnation in my wineLIFE.

This book is a compilation of a blog series I wrote last year in which I introduced my readers to 16 different grape varieties one by one, including all of the ones commonly seen in the marketplace as well as a select few that are off the beaten path. The point was not just to educate about wine – people generally think they need to take a class and pass an exam just to buy a bottle of wine. The main point was to make you more comfortable with wine on a personal level so that you could stroll into a local retailer or nonchalantly peruse a wine list and pick something without feeling intimidated. A secondary benefit was to introduce the reader to some new things to try. After all, one of the most beloved parts of wine is that there are so many different kinds, myriad experiences to be had, thus, there is no reason to stick only to what is popular or ubiquitous if you don’t want to.

In each chapter, you meet someone. Perhaps you learn a bit about what they were like as members of their High School population as teens, then you learn about what they became when they grew up. This part is an opportunity for you to recall someone you know in real life – often I look at people that I meet and know and I think of them as a grape variety they remind me of. For example, my best friend Janet is Tempranillo all day! Just like a wine made from Tempranillo, Janet has killer curves and great beauty. She is smart, sexy, and sassy.

Once you get to know the persona, you are then introduced to the wines made by that grape variety and how you can recognize the personality of the grape variety in the wine, including typical flavor characteristics, body (how substantial it feels in the mouth), acidity, tannin (applicable for red wines, causes a drying sensation on the tongue, a feature that contributes to mouth feel) and sweetness. To recall my previous example, Rioja wines made from Tempranillo tend to have an interesting combination of flavor characteristics that include some dark berry fruit, baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and green herbs like sage with hints of leather. It is generally medium to full bodied, with enough acidity to make your mouth water for another sip. The tannin creates minimal mouth drying, more of a silky texture on your tongue and the wines are never sweet! That very much reminds me of my bestie!

If at the time you read my book you are already familiar with Tempranillo – maybe you are a fan of Rioja wines or other Tempranillo-based wines from Spain and beyond, you may find a sense of familiarity. Perhaps you will happily procure some new words with which to write your tasting notes or describe it to your friends. If, on the other hand, you have never tried a Tempranillo before, you will probably want to seek her out after reading her profile so you can experience the magic too.

Yes, you will learn something reading this book – its educational, even so far as to be structured like a reference work that, after your first cover-to-cover read, you can check back to as needed. More importantly though, it’s a fun read! You will sit on the train on your way to work and giggle as you read about how Riesling (The Cheerleader – cute, lovable, often sweet) grows up to own a pastry shop where she spends her days baking cupcakes.

Wine Personified is schedule to be released by June 2013. I’m so excited about this project! If you want a sneak peak, peruse my blog archives from the latter half of 2011 into February 2012. I suggest picking 2 or 3 posts to read about individual grape varieties, then after that, check out my December 21, 2011 post entitled Vino Bash at Pinot’s, in which the grapes all get together for a holiday party!

Click here to listen to my 30 minute Bubbly Talk Radio Interview.

I’ll keep you posted! Follow me @wineLIFECEO