Thursday, December 18, 2014

Handmade Soba with Sake, Plus Dry Riesling

Back in October we had our first handmade soba noodle making demo with sake pairing. I say "first" because the event was a hit and many interested people missed out due to space limitations. I plan to invite Yumi again to the store see her magically transform mere buckwheat flour and water into tasty strands of noodles with just her bare hands!

The drinks pairing feature was mainly sake. With the appetizers, I poured the Amabuki "Sunflower" sake, a more dry sake made with sunflower yeasts that proved to be everyone's favorite. Another one I poured was the Sohomare Tokubetsu Kimoto Junmai (buy it here), a more subtle and expressive sake with depth in the finish.

While viewing Yumi's noodle making demonstration, I served a glass of Iwate Brewery Japanese Herb Ale Sansho (buy it here), a fun and refreshing beer flavored with sansho. I find this beer's slight bitterness and herbal and spicy flavors attractive to wine enthusiasts.

Finally, with the soba itself, I presented the 2011 Van Volxem Mosel Riesling "Wiltinger Braunefels (buy it here). Earlier this year when I was in Kyoto, I enjoyed drinking this wine so much at Ryuhei, which serves soba-themed kaiseki style cuisine. This mineral, dry Riesling I find has an affinity with soba that's subtle and sublime.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Francis Boulard Champagne Extra Brut Les Murgiers

This is a standout Champagne. Pure and simple. On the tasting table next to impressive and more expensive cuvees from Cedric Bouchard, Jacques Lassaigne, Andre Beaufort, Tarlant, and Benoit Dehu; this Extra Brut Les Murgiers (there's a Brut Nature version) from Francis Boulard stood out for me. I went back and forth, just to be sure.

Francis Boulard is the sixth generation vigneron in his family. He is a tiny producer, with less than 3 hectares of vineyards in the Montagne de Reims area. He is helped by his daughter, Delphine. They farm organically and biodynamically and they make sure they harvest at full ripeness, even if they have to wait late.

This Les Murgiers cuvee is a Blanc de Noir, consisting of 70% Pinot Meunier and 30% Pinot Noir. The grapes are vinified with native yeasts and the wine undergoes full malo, aging in wood--a combination of old barrel and casks. Afterwards the wine is bottled unfined. This Extra Brut sees very little dosage, only between 3 to 5 g/L.

Drinking beautifully, full of energy and luscious fruit. In fact, it's very hard to stop sipping it because of its luscious minerality and depth of flavors. A really stunning grower Champagne selling at a reasonable price. Disgorged October 2012. This recent release was the top choice of the highly respected 2015 Bettane & Desseauve Wine Guide from Francis Boulard, beating their higher end cuvees!

Champagne Extra Brut "Les Murgiers", Francis Boulard NV $56.00 (order here)