Have some fun trying wines to pair with chocolate

April 23, 2018

I was looking for wines to go with chocolate for Jimmy. Although I located several, I was sidetracked into reading a Tom Jarvis article in @istock. I was aware many scientists believe thiol (aka mercaptan), a sulfur analogue of alcohol, brings chocolate nuance. It is also found in coffee, chocolate and milk. One of those, Furan-2-ylmethanethiol, is the fermentation-driven provider of roast coffee, caramel, popcorn and savory roast meat aromas. Soaking lees in oaken barrels is known to produce cocoa, chocolate, toasted oak, caramel and butterscotch. I was unaware that choice of yeast could also be a driver of these aromas. The science here is a bit sketchier, but recently the Clos culture from Priorat in northern Spain is being used with Shiraz, Rhone Reds, Tempranillo and Cabs. Although the government, advertisers, banks, credit agencies, Russki hackers, kids with their hats on backward and Facebook are constantly abusing our privacy, the internet is terrific.

OK, Jimmy, my fav is Clos Mogador Priorat DOCa; the 2009-12 are all 93-94 points and can be found around $88. The 2009 just entered its drinking window. The 2004 is perfect, 94 points, $105 and at its peak. If you wish to go upscale, try Clos i Terrasses Clos Erasmus DOCa 2007, $210, 95 points, or 2010, $195, 94 points. The 2010 entered its window in 2016 and will be good thru 2024. Beautiful Grenache nose with Marmite back notes. Marmite is a yeast extract also employed as a spread in the manner of vegemite. Erasmus winemaker Ester Nin is a star with a refined palate and a driven work ethic. Parker loves her wines.

Currently she is involved as winemaker/consultant at five or six projects plus her own property. Those who wish may be able to locate some of her excellent second label, Clos Erasmus Laurel, which has black raspberry, red currant, Asian spices and incense, with floral and mineral highlights. The 2010-14s all earned 91 McD at $50. These are made from the juice of younger vines on the estate. Big buckaroos can travel to Porrera, Priorat, Spain, in hopes of buying her private label Nit de Nin. I would call ahead. She only produces 1,000 bottles a year.

Jarvis recommended, among others, Carmin de Peumo from Concha y Toro and Altos Las Hormigas Bonarda, both reviewed here. Like a red with cocoa finish? Look for Chocolate Block Red Blend South Africa 2013 or 2016, both 90 points around $35. Producer's name ia Boekenhoutskloof. It has 71 percent Syrah, 15 percent Grenache, plus Cab, Cinsault and Viognier. Shows plum, black cherry, barrel spice and vanilla bouquet, full body and smooth tannins. The '13 is ready now; the '16 could cellar a year or so.

Let's wrap up with some sparklers that won't break the bank. Ruffino is a name most attach to Chianti and other famous varietal Italian wines. Their Prosecco DOC comes in at McD 87 points. At approx. $13, it gets a price point. The wine is consistent and has won silvers at several prestigious competitions. Straw-colored with good bead, apple, pear and floral nose; crisp palate with more apples and a slightly floral clean finish. The Sparkling Rosé is mostly Glera with a smidge of Pinot Noir. Nicely bubbly, pale pink, shows some strawberry. Winemaker claimed rose petal, but I couldn't find it. Refreshing acidity to cleanse the palate. Great for a porch sipper; 87 points under $13. Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley is very appealing, 58 percent Chard, 42 percent PN and left on lees for two years. It shows. Made the WS top 100 in 2017, and most of us scribblers have it at 92-93 points. Great bubbles, creamy, apples, buttery, vanilla, maybe some ginger, elegant, rich, spicy; send in the clowns when it comes to descriptors for brut sparklers.

Half bottles cost $13, 750 ml. $22.50-$25 in Delaware. Buy cases around $260 but you need to drive to Baltimore or D.C. to buy them. I bet your local wine store pal will bring in a case at a better price. Pay up for a case of halves for about $290. Halves come in 24-paks, and no one likes flat or warm bubbly. But I'm sure you knew that!