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Negrette grapes

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Hello Everyone!
This week we look at red wine that’s a favorite among many fans of the Century Wine Club (tasting wines from 100 grape varieties!) and Friends of Forgotten Grapes.

Try a new wine this week,

Bruce (www.brucecochran.com)

Southwest France

It’s been a few years, but some of my fondest food and wine memories are from southwest France. While Bordeaux has the region’s most famous wineries, some of my most memorable parings are found farther inland, following the Dordogne River east, or the Garonne south toward the Pyrenees Mountains and Spain.

Some of my favorite French cooking is there, particularly foie gras, confit and black truffles. I’ve been there only a hanful of times, but it didn’t take long to figure out that, in this land of ducks and geese, I like goose liver but duck confit. And the black truffles of Périgord are fine with either! Other food favorites inlcude cassoulet (a sort of long-simmered stew based on white beans and local meats), from Castlenaudry, Carcassone and Toulouse, the local walnut oil so often used in traditional Dordogne cooking, and a surprising amount of fresh seafood throughout the region. I particularly enjoyed Arcachon Bay oysters grilled over grape vine embers.

Many famous and not-so-famous grape varieties are grown in this beautiful, castle-studded part of Europe. Cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot from Bordeaux and its environs, malbec from Cahors, tannat from Madiran in the Pyrenees foothills, and, not least, the negrette of the Cotes de Frontonnais. Negrette is not often seen outside of this area (near Toulouse), but it is grown in at least one California vineyard, the Calleri Vineyard of San Benito County, and has been for many years. Kenneth Volk Vineyards produces small amounts of negrette from this vineyard.

Negrette grapes seem to like the hot, dry growing conditions found in this inland part of California’s Central Coast wine region east of Monterey. Some may remember this grape as Pinot St. George, an old name from when negrette was thought to have been a member of the pinot family.

Medium-bodied, with a perfumed nose and a hint of violettes, Kenneth Volk Vineyards Negrette 2008 is great with hearty autumn menus, from grilled meats and portobello mushrooms to game or stews.  It retails for around $20 a bottle.

Kenneth Volk Vineyards Negrette comes from the tiny, three-acre Calleri Vineyard in San Benito County.

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