Stop, smell and taste the Flowers
Photos by Andrea Hutchinson
Welcome, and thanks for joining us in this monthly segment of Daily Libations. This month, we are doing things a little differently and making a splash. I am joined by wine expert and well-dressed gent Aaron Wilson. We are going to jump straight in and discuss Pinot Noir and Chardonnay this month highlighting Flowers wine. I couldn’t imagine a better time of year to discuss flowers and what goes hand-in-hand with a great bouquet? A bouquet in your glass does, of course! Now let’s dive right in.
So, Aaron, how did you start your journey in wine?
Aaron: My journey in wine started through a love of food. I originally wanted to be a chef. I even went to culinary school at Sullivan University. I discovered wine by way of food (wine is a food, at least that’s how the Europeans view it) and found it extremely interesting in terms of its history, geography and, most importantly, how it tastes. The number of different flavors that can be found in a glass of wine is truly phenomenal.
Joe: That’s an interesting arc! I also found myself coming from the kitchen.
How many certifications do you have?
Aaron: Just a few, but the most difficult and important ones are CWE (Certified Wine Educator) and Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Masters. I’m still working on that Master diploma. I passed the theory portion, but still need to pass tasting and service. It’s a brutal exam!
Joe: We have discussed this many times, but for those of you who are not aware, this is one of the most difficult exams in the world. I believe there are less than 250 Master Sommeliers globally at this time!
What are your thoughts on Flowers wines?
Aaron: The best thing about Flowers is that their estate vineyards and other vineyards that they source from are all on the “true” Sonoma Coast. The Sonoma Coast AVA (American Viticultural Area) is a ridiculously large area so the producers on the “true” Sonoma Coast are mere miles from the ocean. Most of their vineyards can see the ocean. The Pacific Ocean’s influence on the vineyards helps to temper the warm and very sunny Mediterranean climate of California. In the glass, it provides a beautiful wine of starkly contrasting characteristics that you don’t get anywhere else. It exudes beautifully ripe fruit notes on the nose and palate that we expect from California wine while also retaining this stunning elevated acidity and a moderate (for California) alcohol level. An additional aspect I love particularly about Flowers is their approach to winemaking, which is a Burgundy-style low-impact approach. In simple terms, they don’t manipulate the wine. It’s a simple ferment with native yeast and then aging in the appropriate level of beautiful French oak. They want where the grapes are grown to shine through in the glass. The best wines are made in the vineyard, not in the cellar. That’s what we have with Flowers.
Joe: That is an outstanding description and important to highlight the “True Sonoma Coast.” Excellent!
What would be in your picnic basket with Flowers Pinot Noir?
Aaron: I would include a mix of charcuterie (salami, prosciutto, country pâté, etc.) and appropriate accompaniments (pickled vegetables, cornichons, French mustard, baguette) and foie gras torchon if someone else is buying! I’m getting hungry now!
Joe: I’m definitely crashing your picnic if the opportunity arises!
What would be in your picnic basket with Flowers Chardonnay?
Aaron: I would have soft, creamy cheeses such as St. Angel, St. Andre and Taleggio, as well as apples, pears and chicken salad. A lobster roll would be an absolutely exquisite addition!
Joe: This is why these interviews are important. I never would have thought in the direction of a lobster roll. That would be fantastic!
Where does the magic happen with the Pinot Noir for you?
Aaron: Pinot is the perfect food red. It’s super versatile. It can easily pair with a lean cut of beef, like a filet, or a heavier fish, like salmon. Also, it can be a simple easy drinking weeknight wine or one of the best wines on Earth with haunting complexity (think Grand Cru Burgundy). In particular, Flowers Pinot has beautiful bright red fruit notes and, most importantly, a sharp acidity that helps it pair with many foods.
Joe: That definitely makes sense. Pinot is my safe, go-to red when I have guests over for dinner.
Where does the magic happen with the Chardonnay for you?
Aaron: Chardonnay is another extremely versatile wine grape. I love that it really shows where it is grown and what is done to it (oak/lees stirring) in the glass. A key thing for me is to make sure the wine has the perfect amount of oak and acidity. I love high-acid, appropriately oaked Chardonnay. Think true Sonoma Coast, like Flowers, Meursault, and Puligny-Montrachet.
Joe: I love it! Just to be clear, the lees is the process of leaving yeast in the wine for an extended period of time to allow it to release notes of bread/grain?
Aaron: Yes, that is correct.
Do you have a favorite flower?
Aaron: Squash blossoms. They are pretty, but if you stuff them with goat cheese and lightly batter and fry them, you are in for quite a treat! Add a bottle of Flowers Camp Meeting Ridge Chardonnay and you’re set!
Joe: Now I’m getting hungry. It’s interesting how well a strong culinary background pairs with wine. It makes sense for the perfect pairing.
Aaron, in closing, I want to thank you for taking the time out of such a busy schedule! I know how difficult it is to keep your head above water coming off of Derby and I appreciate you and your time. I know my readers will appreciate your insights as well. Spring is here and Flowers wine is in my glass. To all my readers, stop and smell the flowers and give Flowers Pinot Noir or Chardonnay a generous pour. Cheers to you all!