Wine of the Month
Note: Create joy, one sip at a time.
Featured Wine: La Ferme Rouge, Terre Rouge
Appellation: Les Cotes De Rommani
Grape Variety: 80% Syrah and 20% Tempranillo
Production Zone: Zaer, Morocco
Vinification: manual harvesting, grapes are de-stemmed followed by native yeast fermentation, pressed, (not crushed), in small open thermo-regulated concrete vats
Aging: aged in used Burgundian Barrels
Color: Burgundy Purple
Price: Around $20
While the fires are raging all around us and the sun is bursting out of the smoke-filled clouds, I had the absolute pleasure of reuniting with two old friends, Kim, yes, the one I mentioned last month, as well as a bottle of wine from a vineyard I am very fond of, La Ferme Rouge. Seeing Kim was such a treat and although her vintage had changed, she was still as wonderful as ever and it could’ve been two weeks or 10 years since I’d seen her; it felt great (especially since she still laughs at my jokes). As far as the La Ferme Rouge, it wasn’t the same grapes, or even the same vintage, but it was the same winery and the same beautiful label and I was glad to see it. The label is a lovely depiction of a corner somewhere in Morocco; two palm trees and a lovely red clay building. It is so simple and romantic.
I opened the bottle, set it aside and decided to do a bit of research on the vineyard. Much to my joy, this vineyard has history and organic practices.
It all began in 1908, being built up more in the 1930s, but then, in 1998, Jacques Poulain gave the vineyard an overhaul, amending the soil, adding compost, transplanting some of the old vines, adding new vines that are compatible to the terrain. Mr. Poulain took everything into consideration; even creating housing for all of his employees; that is harmony at its best. Learning all of this made me appreciate each sip a little more.
As the wine was leaving the bottle, I was immediately hit with jammy ripe dark fruit: plums and cherries, earth, woodsy oak, leather, tobacco, and a touch of vanilla. It may sound like a lot, but it wasn’t, they fit perfectly together.
After having a sip, I felt it needed to be served with a little chill, I’ve been noticing this a lot lately, which also led me to discover that I need a new wine refrigerator. Sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit or 15-20 minutes in the fridge is great. If you are planning on drinking the entire bottle at one sitting, you could set the bottle in an inch or two of ice water; it will remain at an ideal temperature as long as you remove the bottle when you are close to the bottom. After the wine cooled down it was much better. La Ferme Rouge is a medium bodied wine with light acid and tannins. It is a dry wine and the ripe fruit flavors and jamminess are accompanied with woodsy oak, the tiniest amount of vanilla, a minute amount of funk and a touch of earth; this is nothing like the earthiness of many of the Sicilian wines I’ve reviewed. The finish is warm, slightly dry with a final hit of fruity citrus. Normally, I love to pair a Syrah blend with cake or chocolate mousse, and on this day, it happened to be my birthday and I saved a little in my glass to go along with my favorite cake EVER, Burnt Almond Torte from Prantl’s bakery, in Pittsburgh. Alas, the fruitiness of the finish clashed with the cake. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, if you do, it may be just right for you.
My first pairing was with a marinated steak, French bread and salad; it was a great match. But, I knew I could do better this wine seemed to cause me to crave spiciness. La Ferme Rouge, Terre Rouge, is an ideal wine to pair with tomato based spicy foods; and as much as I longed for Molcajete, I don’t know how to make it, so decided to make chilaquiles instead. I used a homemade tomato and jalapeno-based salsa, plenty of queso fresco, crema, freshly homemade chips and man was it good. The wine soothes the burn of the spice and creates lovely flavors when the heat of the food meets the fruit finish.
I finally was gifted with the dinner party I have been craving, when Kim and her family came over; it made me realize what a solitary life I have been living. So, if you can stand the clean-up, make chilaquiles (so messy) and carne asada for a group. Play some old records, maybe Stevie Wonder’s ‘Talking Book’, but hopefully your background noise is predominantly filled with laughter and silverware meeting china. Around here, with the heat and smoke, it is nearly impossible to have flowers indoors; we are lucky enough to have the views of the pine trees and mountains from our dining room window; enjoy your surroundings.
Here is my final take on La Ferme Rouge, Terre Rouge, I like it. Perhaps my expectations were too high based on my previous experience with this winery. Maybe it is because of that bit of oak and vanilla. Would I drink it again, yes. Would I go out of my way to get it, no; it isn’t a wine I would reach for on a regular basis. All that being said, it is a lovely wine and I feel like it is a sure bet when entertaining; no one would be disappointed and of course, you can’t go wrong with their organic practices, the treatment of their employees; it is a vineyard I want to support and I will now, thanks to this reminder, seek out their Rose’ as often as I can.