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My love affair with Vermentino continues, thanks to recent Sardinian wine events. A while back, there was a day on a boat with Santa Maria La Palma tasting some absolutely beautiful Sardinian wines. A few weeks later, I had the pleasure of a delicious wine lunch with Vigne Surrau at Select Oyster Bar, cementing my desire to wander around Sardinia on our trip to Italy this coming summer. We have a wedding in Tuscany in July and are hoping to tack on another destination. We’ve both done Rome, Florence, Pisa, Venice, and the beautiful Le Marche and Abruzzo regions (BEST wine tasting day ever), so Sardinia is looking like a real possibility.

Okay, enough of our travels for now.

Back to the wine. . . Vigne Surrau wine lunch Warm and charming hosts from Vigne Surrau welcomed us into a cozy space in the back of Select Oyster Bar, wine and information awaiting our arrival. Learning about where wine is grown is always fascinating to me, especially when it is on an island like Sardinia, and all of the conditions of the island affect the grapes. Surrau’s vineyards are in Gallura in the northern part of Sardinia, and they are directly affected by the Mistral wind and the granite earth and clay where they grow. Their website says “Nature imitates art and man pick it”, a concept I found so beautiful as the wines truly were works of art created by nature.

Sardinia is home to incredible Vermentino, and that’s what we started our lunch with.

BRANU Vermentino di Gallura D.O.C.G.2015

Lemony and with a great, food-friendly acidity and freshness, this wine’s stainless steel fermentation means that the flavors are not influenced by oak or anything else. This wine was like sunshine and a day at the beach, but has enough body to be a winter white, we all agreed.

SCIALA Vermentino di Gallura D.O.C.G. 2015

This wine is a blend of the best Vermentino and aged on its lees, making it feel like a more substantial wine. Less lemon and more pineapple/mango/minerals than the BRANU.

Sardinian wine

 

 

select oyster bar

While we learned about Vigne Surrau, we also indulged in perfect pairings of the seafood that Select Oyster Bar is known for. Heavenly salmon crudo and Vermentino are quite possibly the perfect pairing. This menu was clearly planned keeping both the food and wine in mind.

salmon crudo

 Vermentino

As we moved onto our second course and the red wine, I deviated from the seafood menu because there was AVOCADO TOAST. I’m sorry, but I just can’t say no to that. Last sips of Vermentino cut through the creamy fattiness of the avocado and brightened it up in the best way, while my first sips of Cannonau added a bit of spice to the pairing.

avocado toast

As I mentioned in my last post on Sardinian wines, Cannonau makes for a beautiful, light red that can be enjoyed year-round. We compared the SINCARU and the Riserva, two different vintages, and noted similarities and differences. As simplistic as it sounds, both were just so delicious. The Riserva is aged in Slovenian oak which gives it a fuller body and richer texture, and I also noticed a slight hint of saline or minerals on this wine. Truth be told, the 2014 was my favorite of the two because of the spicy notes. . . I could see it being perfect for a casual pizza night in front of the fire.

SINCARU Cannonau di Sardegna D.O.C. 2014
SINCARU RESERVE Cannonau di Sardegna D.O.C. Riserva 2013

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vigne surrauFor the final course and wine, I went back to seafood, a steaming bowl of clams with chorizo, I think the key component of pairing with the wine.

BARRIU I.G.T. Isola dei Nuraghi 2013

This blend of Cannonau, Syrah, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon was big and bold, notes of baking spices and pepper along with stewed fruit. It was so cozy, and while you might not think a red would go with clams, the flavors in the broth along with the salinity of the clams really worked with the wine’s beautiful characteristics.

sauteed clams  

This wine lunch was a delicious and educational way to spend an afternoon. Thank you to Vigne Surrau for hosting me!

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Tags: Boston, events, Sardinia, sardinian wine, seafood, wine, wine and food pairing, wine blog, wine events, wine tasting

You may have noticed that I tend to like boats and wine quite a bit. A few weeks ago, I got to spend the afternoon on a Stellar Yacht Charters yacht as a guest of Santa Maria La Palma wine.

Santa Maria La Palma is out of Sardinia, a dream travel destination of mine, and it was fun to combine their delicious wine, my wanderlust, and our beautiful Boston Harbor for a day of wine tasting and education with a fun group of people.

wine cruise

Front and center we have Igor, who was in Boston representing Santa Maria La Palma. He was charming and knowledgeable and so passionate about the wines.

wine and food pairing

  The boat itself was appointed with classic luxurious detail, and the crew was phenomenal. A huge spread of food for pairing with the wines was available to us, including lots of seafood like sushi, mussels, and shrimp, perfect with wines from Sardinia.

We were treated to quite the lineup of wines, mostly white and rosato, one red, all special and memorable and celebratory. The primary grapes making up the wines were Vermentino and Cannonau, which grow very well in Sardinia and reflect the island’s terroir in every sip. We all remarked that we wished we had these wines in front of us all summer long, but that they’re also perfect for sunshine and island dreaming throughout the winter.

What did we taste? You’ll see below the full lineup on the tasting sheet. I of course left my notes behind, but I most definitely had a few favorites.

wine tasting

 

Aragosta Vino Spumante  Brut NV– Sparkling wine from Sardinia is a treat and might be replacing some of the other sparkling wines that often grace our table. One of the things I love about being able to attend wine events like this is the spirit of discovery!

Aragosta Vermentino di Sardegna DOC 2015 – Vermentino is fun and flavorful. I got a nice bit of tartness off of this, lemons and Granny Smith apples and would love this wine with oysters. . . or even as part of a granita mignonette on top of oysters!

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Akenta Underwater Spumante Extra Dry – Just check out that bottle! This wine is aged under the sea in water that is part of a national park in Sardinia. Under the pressure of the sea and in the darkness, the bottle grows sea life on it! This was just another fascinating detail and part of the sense of place that these wines brought to the table.

wine bottle with barnacles 

aragostaAragosta  Rosé –  First of all. this wine has a lobster on the bottle and its contents are pink, which made me love it immediately. I know we shouldn’t judge a book bottle by its cover, but for th coastal living obsessed, it just makes a cute addition to a beach or boat party or a beach house themed home.

The wine is delicious, offering up beautiful, strawberry and watermelon note, fruity but not sweet. Summer in a glass and absolutely a new favorite rosé wine.

I also loved the not-pictured La Bombarde Cannonau di Sardegna DOC, a very light red wine with notes of cranberry and light cocoa, light enough for a humid boat day but warm and cozy enough for cooler weather. It would be a great Thanksgiving wine.

stellar yacht charters In addition to the wines being spectacular, the event itself was also really something special and well thought out. It was a small enough group that we all got to chat with each other, and the Captain had a pug named Junior! We had an overcast but warm fall day, lots of delicious food and wine and an opportunity to learn about the gem that Sardinia is for wine production and travel.

wine tasting on a boat

wine event

Boston skyline from a boat Life is good.

Thank you to Cantina Santa Maria La Palma and Wine & Co. for a great day!

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Tags: blogging, boating, Boston, events, luxury, luxury travel, Sardinia, wine, wine blog, wine blogger, wine tasting, yachts

Well Happy National Wine Day to you! In this space, we like to celebrate that holiday every day, but it’s always nice to have an extra special day to celebrate, don’t you think?

I celebrated wine big time last week at an absolutely beautiful South African wine tasting and Braai with Cape Classics.

What’s a Braai, you ask? It just means a meal cooked over an open fire outdoors or a casual get-together where food is prepared over an open fire outdoors. The Boston Harbor Yacht Club on a breezy but blue-sky day was the perfect location for the Braai, and the wine was definitely flowing.

wine tasting

I drank a lot of South African wine in Tanzania, and South Africa has long been at the top of my wine travel list. In fact, long ago a colleague offered up his vineyard property for our wedding. We decided that logistically it would be impossible for our families to all fly there, but wow was that tempting. . . 

wines of South Africa

This event was a pour-your-own-wine setup with many, many wines to taste. It got crowded fairly quickly, so I focused on just a few, getting to know new favorite wines while taking breaks to enjoy the grilled feast happening outside.

wines of South AfricaExcelsior Chardonnay

Excelsior Chardonnay – Reminded me a little of a lighter, more refreshing Viognier, with peach notes as well as some tart plum and mouthwatering citrusy acidity.

Indaba Sauvignon Blanc

I tried several Indaba wines, including this Sauvignon Blanc and a Chenin Blanc, and I really enjoyed them and their very easy drinking nature. Once I found out the philosophy behind them, I loved them even more:

Indaba wines are crafted in the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest, yet most diverse of the six plant kingdoms. The look and spirit of Indaba reflects both South Africa’s position as a leader in sustainable production and the handcrafted approach found in the country’s art world. A commitment to social responsibility has always been a key part of the Indaba philosophy. A portion of the brand’s global sales is allocated to the Indaba Education Fund, a fully accredited 501c3, which supports early childhood development by providing infrastructure, learning materials and teacher training at schools established for wineland workers’ children.

Indaba wines offer great flavor and value, are bright and fruit-forward, and perfect for festive occasions and with food. Yum.

DMZ Cabernet Rose

DMZ Cabernet Rosé 2015 – Like many of the wines at the tasting, this rosé had some beautiful mineral notes, along with flavors of juicy strawberries, perfect for celebrating summer, of course. These wines, also like many of the others, are a great value.

Kanonkop Pinotage 2013

A Kanonkop vertical tasting of five vintages of Pinotage, along with their exclusive, amazing Black Label was one of the highlights of the tasting. Pinotage is definitely not a grape I am super familiar with, but I want to get to know it more! It’s a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, and Kanonkop is a pioneer of making incredible wines with it. Think dark berries, cedar, cocoa. . . perfect for a cool day, though I bet really nice slightly chilled on a warm day as well.

I wish I had taken better notes as I tasted through! Wine tastings are always a juggling act of tasting, note taking, photos, mingling, and in this case, pouring. I need more hands for these events!

Kanonkop Pinotage

Outside of the yacht club, the Braai was ablaze with plenty of meat being cooked for wine tasting attendees. If this is how South African’s do a BBQ, I want to visit even more. The smoky grilled meat paired well with every single wine I tasted. With the whites, the mineral notes played along nicely with the spices and flavors, and wines like the Pinotage had that nice bit of smoke, perfect as a BBQ wine. I also tried a Cabernet Franc that I absolutely fell in love with; so much spice, but I didn’t get a photo or mark it down. Hopefully I will be able to retrace my steps somehow. . .    

Braai Braai

   

The yacht club was a beautiful spot for a wine tasting, combining two of my favorite things in one. The variety of wines was an education for sure, and a yummy one at that. I know I will be seeking out South African wines for summer boating and BBQing.

Thank you to Cape Classics for inviting me to this event and sharing their beautiful portfolio with all of us!

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Tags: Boston, Boston blogger. BBQ, events, South Africa, South African wine, wine, wine blog, wine tasting

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