Monday, November 2, 2009

Cooking With wine

I am a solid believer in the catch phrase, "I always cook with wine - sometimes I even put it in the food." Today was a definite case of needing some wine to keep up with the demands of the kitchen.

Boo and I had 40 pounds of beautiful Okanagan tomatoes and it was time for our annual sauce-and-soup-a-thon. No wine actually made it into this year's sauce but one of the two soups called for a better part of a bottle (not this one). And, regardless of the actual recipes, after four hours of blanching and coring and seeding and cooking, etc, etc, etc, we certainly needed a nice pick-me-up. Without our glasses in hand, I don't think we'd have been able to carry on with the cooking and canning for the balance of the day. (Thankfully, Boo did all the canning later in the evening because I needed to head off to bed.)

213. 2006 Brancaia Tre (IGT Rosso di Toscano - Italy)

Since we were cooking up tomato sauce, it only made sense to open a bottle of Italian vino. Brancaia is part of the new wave of Italian wineries and they've definitely been tagged as producing some star wines.

Tre is aptly named as it is Brancaia's "third" wine - more of an entry-level wine than their bigger names (if you can grasp $30 as an entry-level price). It is made from grapes grown in the wineries three vineyards (two in the Chianti Classico region and one in the most coastal Maremma district). And it is made from three varietals - 80% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot and 10% Cab Sauv.

With the addition of the Merlot and Cab, the wine can't be labelled as a traditional Tuscan wine, so it's one of those Super Tuscans that you've heard about - albeit this is more of an easy drinking, "baby" Super Tuscan. I like the fact that Brancaia keeps the same percentages in their grape varietals from year to year. Thus far, they've decided to let the wines reflect their vineyards and the vagaries of one vintage to another, rather than manipulate the wines to obtain the same flavour profile from year to year.

I have to admit that the Chianti's of Tuscany aren't usually my first choice off a wine list - even when eating Italian. Maybe it's just the wines that make it to our market but I don't generally go for the acidity and lack of fruit that I find with most Chianti's. When I find one that I particularly enjoy, it's usually on the higher end of the price list and I don't know if I find them to be worth the extra bucks.

Perhaps the addition of the Merlot and the Cab fleshed out the traditional Chianti grape, Sangiovese, but, again, the fleshed out price tag leaves this bottle for a more special occasion - like a full day of cooking and eating tomatoes.

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