Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Pungent Passion - Wine Pairing

Wine Pairing Flavors:
Butter sautéed leeks, simmered with potatoes in chicken broth until tender and creamy, then puréed into a smooth, luxurious soup with roasted garlic, milk and cream.

Want the recipe?
Here’s a link back to the Garlic Potato Leek Soup.

Want the beer pair?
Check in next Thursday for my beer pairing post.

Refreshing, well-balanced, food friendly and moderate in both alcohol and price.  Now, how many people could you describe that would fit that bill?

Well, from my experience, not too many.  So that's why it’s especially exciting to stumble across such a well-made wine in the ever sweet $15 price point, a wine recommended to me by Katie Vonderheide of Silver Lake Wine.

Its winemaker, Kenny Likitprakong, a former skateboarder and Sonoma Valley native, who once considered going pro, likes to call himself a roaming "hobo winemaker" because the only winemaking allegiance he has is in finding the best expression for the flavor of the grapes.

And so he roams, skating from vineyard to vineyard without a Sonoma Valley vineyard to call his own. But don't feel sorry for this vagabond vintner, for our roaming hobo has found a lifestyle that's full of freedom, and free to make the wines that he wants to make.  No "house style" to replicate year after year and no audience to contend with, with preconceived notions.

It's a hobo’s lifestyle that sets him free to experiment, creating small lots of wine from lesser known vineyards, whose fruit is yet tasty, but underappreciated.

With a mission to showcase the quality and value of Sonoma County wine, he works with top growers and vineyard managers of high quality, responsibly farmed, yet lesser known sites.  No oak chip flavoring or artificial flavoring agents for this hobo.  It's real oak barrels and flavorful, slow fermenting native yeasts all the way.

So, I guess it's no surprise that the name of his operation is The Hobo Wine Company, a name he takes pains to explain that his dad didn't like.  But once you get the concept, the name kind of makes sense and Camp (a brand of Hobo Wines), is a name that makes sense, too.

Personally, I like the idea of scouting around and setting out a tent in the prettiest location, so that you can appreciate it for all that it's worth.  So, I suppose that that must be the idea behind Camp Wines, for if it is, it's a pretty tasty snapshot of Sonoma chardonnay in 2013.

Pale straw yellow in color with fresh and herbal aromas of kiwi, green herbs and a note of white pepper, usually, with a nose this clean and crisp, you'd expect the very same in the taste.  However, the surprise is in the mouth feel – soft, smooth and well-rounded, and yet with a through line of acidity that keeps the taste focused from sip to sip.

When paired up with my creamy Garlic Potato Leek Soup, I found the pairing to be complementary, with the wine at first blending its smooth softness with the creaminess of the soup, and then finally cleansing the palate with its finishing note of acidity. 

It's a delicate ballet between soup and Chardonnay that's subtly pleasing, and you'll find that the addition of a sprinkling of garlic croutons, only heightens the effect.  For, once added, the crunchy, salty croutons serve as pleasant flavor bridges, further connecting the soup with the wine's acidity.

Now, here’s a peek at the pairing that’s coming up next –

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