This week at The Thirsty Kitten, we’d like to introduce you to a group we’ve known a long time— our Supper Club. Back in the olden days, when all our kids were in elementary school, the Supper Club formed with the goal of getting together regularly for the sole purpose of keeping up with one another. The common thread was that we all had daughters who were in fifth grade together. Those fifth grade daughters are now in their second year of college. Yes, we’ve covered some ground together.
Recently, we gathered with this group and, as always, everyone brought wine and food to share. Our liquid contribution was from La Familia Meschini, whom we’ve written about before. You may recall that Teresa and Eugenio Meschini live right in our very own Twin Cities and have a family owned winery in Eugenio’s native Argentina. We learned about them from one of our local wine retailers, Pairings, when we asked for “a good wine with a fun local connection.” In addition to having a great story, the Meschini’s wine is lovely to sip and a great value.
For full disclosure, we have to admit that after posting our story about the Meschinis, we had the good fortune of being invited to a wine tasting at their home. They are lovely, gracious hosts, down-to-earth folks, and a heck of a lot of fun, as well. Our kind of people! At that tasting, we sampled the brand new Chilean Pinot that they had just bottled under their label and which was about to hit retails shelves for the first time. We were very impressed with the few sips we tried so we bought a bottle of the their Chilean Pinot as well as a bottle of their Chilean Carmenere to share with the Supper Club.
Our idea was that we’d gather thoughts and tasting comments from the Supper Club to share here at The Thirsty Kitten— like having an advisory panel of “regular” folks giving their honest wine impressions. Seemed like a great idea, but the thing that always happens at Supper Club happened, as usual. We all arrived with a flurry of hugs and hellos and dove straight into conversation and catching up as we sampled lovely h’ors doeuvres and sipped the first round of wines opened for the evening. The Pinot was first up from our contributions and by the time I thought to try a glass of it, it was gone. Vanished. I was not beneath upending the bottle to sip the last drop so I could recall the flavor profile.
It turns out the quick consumption was a good sign for how well received the Pinot was. Comments from the Supper Club Sipping Panel included: “Wow!” and “Pinot that sips this nicely for only $12? Are you kidding?” and “Mmmmmmm Good.” These reactions merit Crowd Pleaser status from us. We believe one of the reasons this Pinot receives such big thumbs up (paws up?) across so many palates is its food friendliness. With elegantly understated fruit, it is more akin the French burgundies than the big, bold California Pinots.
The Meschini Carmenere was a delightful surprise to the group, most of whom were unfamiliar with the grape. Carmenere originated in France and was bottled on its own, as well as used as a blending grape for Bordeaux. Though phylloxera wiped out most of France’s Carmenere vines in the 1800’s, the grape began to flourish in Chile, where it had been imported by French winemakers who settled there. We agree with wine writer Bill St. John who says that in addition to full-bodied black and red fruit, a sip of Carmenere also delivers “a taste of mystery.” We sigh with admiration when serious wine writers are willing to step into the realm of emotion, experience and story with their tasting notes.
The first sip of the Meschini’s rendition of Carmenere surprises with a burst of black-peppery zing, which then leads to a balance of dark fruit and earth and a touch of tannins. Eugenio Meschini says that blending the Carmenere with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon helps tame this strong and oftentimes temperamental varietal. The Supper Club Sipping Panel found it rather addictive and raved about how nicely it paired with the earthy, fall flavors of the stuffed pork tenderloin main course. Again, all were surprised at the price point of roughly $10. Amazed, actually.
Teresa Meschini confessed via twitter that “s’mores + blanket + carmenere = perfect fall evening.” Our food blogger friend, Amanda Paa, whom we met through the Meschinis, says her favorite pairing with their Carmenere would be braised short ribs or a juicy burger with blue cheese and carmelized onions. Whose mouth is watering? Anybody? Everybody? The point is that this wine is down-to-earth and versatile, and especially well-suited to full flavored fall menus.
So in the spirit of fall fun, we toast to relishing good food and good wine shared with good friends. From our Supper Club family to La Familia Meschini to all of you, our Thirsty Kitten family, we raise our glasses with heartfelt appreciation. Cheers!