The Wine Cellar: French, Italian wines complement summery taste of fresh, ripe tomatoes
As July makes its final stride into August, locally grown tomatoes in all their glory move to center stage. These juicy, flavorful gems make for tasty eating by themselves and in recipes of all stripes. They also create plenty of intriguing wine-pairing possibilities.
Heirloom tomatoes, also known as heritage tomatoes, offer the best flavors. Unlike hybrid tomatoes that have been bred for consistency, heirloom tomatoes come in every color and imaginable shape. Call them tomatoes with personalities to be enjoyed only over the next few weeks of prime ripening.
For a simple treat, put slices of yellow and pink tomatoes on wheat bread with a little mayonnaise. Add a little lettuce and pair the delicious sandwich with the 2012 Louis Jadot, Beaujolais-Villages, France (7208; on sale: $10.99). The Jadot firm has long offered some of the most consistently delicious and well-made Beaujolais-Villages wines on the market.
The firm has a separate winery, the Cellier de la Vauxonne, dedicated to the region. The gamay grapes come from contracts with local growers as well as fruit grown in the Beaujolais Regnié Cru.
The wine's dark ruby color offers primarily red-fruit aromas with pleasant floral and earthy notes. Juicy red fruit flavors layer with fresh acidity and light tannins through the fruity, dry finish. Highly recommended.
For classic summer tomato flavor with an Italian twist, prepare a tasty Caprese salad. On a large serving plate, alternate slices of colorful tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese interspersed with fresh basil leaves. Top with a dressing of virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and minced garlic.
Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and serve with baguette slices to sop up the savory juices. Pair it with the 2012 Alois Lageder, Pinot Bianco, Dolomiti, Italy (Luxury 43475; $12.99), a crisp northern Italian white wine.
Nestled in the valleys and hillsides of northern Italy's Dolomite Mountains, the Alto Adige region's bountiful natural assets offer the potential for terrific, world-class wines. Fifth-generation winegrower Alois Lageder led the region's climb into international awareness by championing diverse terroirs and grape varieties and by focusing on producing natural wines.
“We see it as our task to create ideal synergies, supporting nature's work, thereby taking on the role of ‘midwives' who facilitate the birth of wines of great elegance, clarity, body, strength, and authenticity,” he says on the winery website.
The fruit for this wine comes from vineyards in Salorno, Magrè and Pochi in southern Alto Adige as well as vineyards in northern Trentino. Sand and stony soils predominate in a climate with warm, sunny days and cool nighttime temperatures. The terroir delivers ripe fruit with refreshing, zesty acidity.
Fermentation in stainless steel captures the fruitiness, while aging the wine for three months on the lees, i.e., the spent yeasts, adds pleasant creaminess. The wine's light straw color offers delicate floral and peach aromas. Ripe apple and pear flavors layer with fresh acidity and creamy notes through a dry and fruity finish. Highly recommended.
Fresh, ripe tomatoes provide the base for a delicious sauce for grilled salmon. In a sauce pan, saute minced garlic and onions in olive oil. Add chopped parsley, a teaspoon of oregano, 1⁄2 teaspoon of cumin, 1⁄2 cup of white wine and diced tomatoes. Heat and reduce the sauce.
Serve the sauce over the grilled salmon, and pair the dish with the marvelous 2009 Guido Porro, Barolo “V. Lazzairasco,” Italy (Luxury 43303; $34.99). Senor Porro makes a traditionally styled Barolo from Nebbiolo grapes grown on a dramatic hillside amphitheater vineyard with clay and limestone in Serralunga d'Alba. The grapes enjoy full sunshine and ample protection from the local strong winds.
The aged Nebbiolo vines yield fruit with power and tannins, yet Porro delivers a wine with elegance and grace. After fermenting the fruit in cement vats, he ages and mellows the wine in traditional style for three years in older Slavonian oak botti, large barrels that impart subtle woody notes.
The wine's light ruby color with ruddy glints unfolds intense raspberry and spice aromas with a touch of earthiness. Rich raspberry and spice flavors layer in a voluptuous texture offering elegant, yet powerful, tannins balanced by fresh acidity. Highly recommended.
Dave DeSimone writes about wine for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.