Just what are the goals in sampling anywhere from 30 to 40 new wines a month in a slow economy to 100-plus when things are booming? Well, for one thing, this is how one expands wine knowledge and experience and continues to refine the palate. For another, this is the path to discovery of the most special and appealing bottlings that clearly deserve a place on the shelf and at the table. And this is the one and only means of filling a void when a particular favorite vanishes.
Case in point is the Les Jamelles Pay d'Oc chardonnay from the Languedoc region of southern France. Over seven vintages the wine has performed with seafood ranging from salmon and ahi to prawns, scallops and crab cakes, as well as pork and just about every vegetable imaginable.
Needless to say, versatility is what it's all about to yours truly but while the Elios Greek blend, Trebbiano from Italy, and Finca Fleischman Sparkling chardonnay and Malbec from Argentina also earned their sushi stripes, it was in this category where Les Jamelles ruled. But the distributor just lost the brand which is now nowhere to be found. What to do? You guessed it, begin the search anew.
Continuing on the Languedoc pathway I was able to procure a few samples of Arrogant Frog with a particular focus on the possible replacement chardonnay (aka Lilly Pad White, $10.95, 13.5 alcohol, screw cap). Next step was to pick up a Bento Box from Ocean Sushi Deli (my sushi SOP) and nibble and sip. I also tossed Santa Alicia
I was darn-near thrilled and not too surprised when the Arrogant Frog paired right up with three of the four soy and wasabi-tinged nigiri (sticky rice topped with seafood) including ebi (prawn), maguro (tuna) and hamachi (yellowtail) while just pulling off the sake (salmon); same latter results with an avocado and crab California roll. The new sushi go-to has arrived and will now be put to the Les Jamelles versatility test.
The Santa Alicia Chilean chardonnay was hot on Arrogant's heels and just may find a place on the shelf, but it was the Fre that rocked across the board, including the sweet inari roll. And you will recall that everything within reach will get a pairing peek, and so it was that all three wines enjoyed the sharp white cheddar and both chardonnays earned a thumbs up with Lays potato chips and Doritos Nacho chips; just an FYI.
By the way, the other three Arrogant Frog samples that reached the table on different evenings were the similarly priced Croak Rotie (syrah/viognier) 2009 (just pulled off a cheese burrito), pinot noir 2010 (yes, with a spicy sautéed prawn), and Lillypad Red (cabernet/merlot) 2009 (tasty with roast chicken breast and sharp cheddar and a bold companion to asparagus with mayo). All three are certainly worth another look or two, and I just discovered that there is also a sauvignon blanc and Organic Lily Pad red which certainly deserve a look.
Oh, and another Fre update. On day three in the refer the Alcohol Removed chardonnay proved just plain yummy with a deep fried chicken thigh and lively four-bean salad.