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Organic wines highlight weekend of good eating

June 8th, 2008 · 1 Comment · local food, potlucks

Organic wines were the headliner at my friends’ house last night, and they provided the perfect accent to a weekend of good food. What a good deal, given that I haven’t cooked all weekend!

I’ll talk about the food below, but here’s a bit about the wines. The wines we tasted, before I lost track:

I think there may have been one opened that I missed and a couple more that never got opened. I think the hosts got carried away! I can tell by the photo above, courtesy of Lynn, that there are at least two that I never tried. Those would be the one with the white label and the one with the sunflowers (the Kansas state flower, btw).

The wine stories

Make no mistake; I’m no wine expert. But I’ll pass on now a few notes about a few of the wines, and a little more that I learned last night.

First, Lynn and Dan said they had some trouble finding all these wines. Jeff Jensen, my neighborhood liquor store owner, has remarked before that Kansas, as a low-wine-consuming state, is low on distributors’ lists. As a result, almost all the wines available here are from big wineries, so maybe that was part of the problem. The other part could be that people haven’t asked for organic wines enough.

The good news, nevertheless, is that the wines they did find were very good and modestly priced. Most, they said, were in the $12-$13 arena, with the most expensive (the Cabernet Sauvignon) at $18. I also learned that there are organic wines and wines from organically grown grapes. The main distinction between the two involves sulfites. (You can get the full story from Organic Consumers; scroll to to bottom to get the capsule version.)

It was also interesting to learn that the vineyards of wine giant Fetzer are entirely organically grown. Fetzer owns Bonterra, maker of the first wine listed above.

But how did they taste?

Oh, right. Taste. I do love the way wine pros write about wines. Here’s from Bonterra’s site about that Chardonnay:

…green apple, baked apple, pear and citrus notes in the wine. There’s a touch of vanilla from the dollop of new French Oak. An initial impression of rich, buttery cream quickly turns to aromas of honey and lightly toasted almonds, followed quickly by tropical aromas of pineapple, citrusy lemon and Crème Brûlée.

Here’s what my notes said: “fruity, long on the palate.” Of course, I was just being brief. I knew about all those fruits in the company’s description, but I was busy. The hosts said this was their favorite of those they felt compelled to sample in advance. In any case, it was very tasty, and I would recommend it.

The other Chardonnays and the Sauvignon Blanc were, to my mouth, very light in color and body, drinkable but not memorable.

As to the reds, well, before we got to them I’d sampled those four whites and tasted some of the food listed below (which doesn’t include Diane’s appetizers, or Brian’s cheese grits, or Sarah’s other quiche, or the tiramisu cake that John and Ann brought). My palate was happy but not fresh, shall we say. Nevertheless, the Lolonis Cabernet seemed to have reasonably good complexity and body, but the Ladybug Red was a little thin for my taste. Check the links above for how the wineries describe them.

The meal

My contribution: WheatFields bread, a baguette and (my favorite) sesame semolina. I got off the cooking hook because I had so many other things going on this weekend. Others were more generous with their time—and with their local ingredients.

Salad by Lynn

Lynn’s luscious many-vegetable salad featuring her homegrown lettuce

Sarah’s quiche involved eggs from her and Ray’s hens.

Sarah also brought these gorgeous, succulent picked-that-day strawberries.

And here’s a look at the lovely—and delicious—empanadas that Carolyn made and that featured beef that she and Bryan raised.

As you can tell, it pays to have friends who live in the country and put their property to food-producing use. Yum!

If you have any organic wine experience or thoughts, please let everyone know in the comments!

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