I recently received an email from Kristina Manning with The International Wine Club of the Month inquiring if I would be willing to review a couple of the wines from their next month’s selection of The International Wine Club shipment. I agreed and a few weeks later a box containing two wines arrived at my door. Though I have never been a member of this type of wine club the idea of an international wine club appeals to me; I believe it provides a unique service for those who want to expand their wine horizons outside the US but either do not have the time or are not interested in learning the regions, grapes, and practices of international wineries.
Bellingham 2011 Bernard Series Small Barrel S.M.V: This South African Syrah was crafted from 75% Syrah, 22% Mourvèdre and 3% Viognier. Knowing this would likely be a young and full body wine I decanted it for an hour and a half. It met my eye with a dazzling bright garnet as I poured it into the decanter. After decanting the bouquet tantalized my nose with aromas of blackberry compote, vanilla, dark chocolate and candied violets. On the palate it offered flavors of ripe blackberries and black raspberry jam, followed by rich dark chocolate, and spices of white pepper with hints of oregano on the back of the tongue. This medium body wine offered well balanced acidity and surprised me with its smooth tannins as it softly lingered in my mouth. This wine was smooth and easy to drink; it will only improve over time with proper cellaring. I recommend this wine!
I sipped this wine over the course of a couple of nights so I actually paired it with two different meals. The first night was National Cheeseburger Month; who am I to argue against that! Though I had hoped to prepare cheeseburgers for my family the day was too busy and time ran short; therefore, take it was in order to commemorate the day. The Bellingham Bernard Series SMV paired excellently with my all beef cheeseburger topped with sharp cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickles, caramelized onions and a special Mooyah sauce as well as the few French fries and sweet potato fries. The wine was a great pairing with the beef as well as the creamy sauce, sweetness of the sweet potato fries and smooth out the acidity with the pickles, onions and tomato. YUM! The second night was an even better pairing: a gyros platter containing roasted and thinly sliced lamb served with lettuce, tomato, onions and tziki sauce, along with fresh pita bread triangles and rice pilaf. As you can imagine the wine provided perfect balance to the delicious Greek food! The first bottle of wine we enjoyed from the International Wine of the Month Club stood the test of two meals and it was delicious!
Domaine Du Grand Tinel 2011Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc: This wine was a beautiful translucent gold in the glass. It opened with inviting, crisp aromas of stone fruit and fresh cut herbs that followed through on the palate with flavors of white peaches, fresh herbs and grass, crushed stone and mouth-watering minerality that are beautifully represents the terroir of the Rhône Valley. This elegant wine offered a creamy texture that was both refreshing in its medium body and mouth coating. It contained 13.5% alcohol. It was drinking pretty perfectly and would be a fabulous wine to have on hand for sipping or to serve guests at a dinner party. I can imagine members of the IWMC would definitely like to order more of this wine upon tasting it.
As I explain below the Cellar Notes accompanying each monthly shipment includes food pairing suggestions as well as a recipe to pair with each wine. Between the two wines I chose to make the recipe included with the Domaine Du Grand Tinel Blanc to enjoy with the wine. Therefore, I paired this wine with boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce, Halibut with Beurre Blanc Sauce, roasted summer squash, zucchini and green beans, California quinoa salad and a crusty French roll; and concluded with a couple of delicious raspberry thumbprint cookies. The dinner offered a variety of tastes, textures and flavors that were matched by the wine with every bit. The halibut was quick and easy to make and was in beautiful rhythm with the CNP Blanc, the veggies and salad offered an excellent balance and the sweetness of the raspberry shortbread cookies was truly an electrically understated, yet delicious finish. I honestly think my husband said 10 times after dinner how much he enjoyed the meal with the wine. In conclusion, not only was this wine outstanding but the thoughtfulness in presenting a recipe to prepare with the wine was spot on!
The International Wine of the Month Club began in 1994. Today they offer three levels of membership: The Premier Series (the original and most popular, $32.95 + $13 S&H/month, select between 1 red & 1 white, 2 reds or 2 whites), Masters Series ($49.95 + $13 S&H/month, select between 1 red & 1 white or 2 reds), and Collectors Series ($69.95 + $13 S&H/month, select between 1 red & 1 white or 2 reds). Furthermore, The International Wine of the Month Club has a stringent selection process that begins with Don Lahey, who has enjoyed over 40 years working in the wine industry as a wine educator, syndicated columnist and importer. IWMC has a two-tier tasting panel comprised of sommeliers, professional tasters and wine makers to insure their customers receive the best wine from boutique wineries around the world. The panel travels to top wine regions to establish strong relationships with wineries and importers. This has allowed the IWMC to provide its members wines that are exclusively imported for the IWMC such as the Nash Family Vineyards 2008 Rhinoceros Hill Shiraz from South Africa. Along with two wines per month, each member receives Cellar Notes with their shipments. These notes share information on each winery, the wine and food pairing suggestions with the wines. Furthermore, the Cellar Notes provide information on how to re-order the wines in the shipment for a discounted price. The International Wine of the Month Club has a lot to offer; I encourage you to visit their web site to explore the wine clubs and all they are offering their members.
My Song Selection: The song I have chosen to pair with these two wines is Righteously by Lucinda Williams. I chose this song because Lucinda Williams has a complex soulfulness to her songs. Her sound is refreshingly unique and she has tremendous talent. These two wines are unique and quite different from each other; however, they are both complex, quite pleasing to the nose and palate and both contain soul. Additionally, the International Wine of the Month Club has something unique to offer and if all their wines are as good as the two they graciously sent to me, they too have soul!
Get your own bottles of Bellingham Bernard Series Small Barrel S.M.V. 2011 and Domaine Du Grand Tinel 2011Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc and let me know what song you would pair with them. Cheers!