Whole Foods Market is known for quality products, healthy choices and delicious food. However, the Whole Foods Market wine department deserves some attention.
In my first experience with a virtual wine tasting, I had the opportunity to taste two unreleased wines that are coming to the Rocky Mountain Whole Foods region this summer. Fog Theory is the label to watch for. Fog Theory grapes are sourced from the Santa Rosa Vineyard, located in Santa Rita Hills, a cool-climate growing region. The name of the label is inspired by the fog that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean.
What is a virtual wine tasting? It turned out to be a Google Hangout chat led by Ben Rose, Sommelier and Whole Foods Market’s Specialty Coordinator. Several bloggers were logged in on the call, allowing for a variety of people to simultaneously taste wine from the comforts of their homes or offices. We were given a bottle of Fog Theory Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, along with food pairing suggestions from Whole Foods.
We started with the Chardonnay, which smelled of tangerine and lemon. It also had a hint of oak characterized by notes of vanilla. With time, the Chardonnay started to smell of pear as the citrus notes mellowed. In taste, it was viscous, full bodied and coated the mouth nicely, without residual sugar or a cloying sensation. It had a strong minerality, a result of the limestone soil it’s grown on.
The suggested food pairings included grilled salmon and goat cheese. My favorite pairing was a soft goat cheese from Spain, a Castellano olive and sip of the Chardonnay. The cheese cut the acidity of the wine, and the flavors of grassy goat cheese paired well with the minerality and citrus of the wine.
The Chardonnay was very well-balanced and not buttery. It was slightly oaky, and had some acidity, resulting in a well-rounded wine. It would be the perfect summer sipper, possible to pair with chicken, pork, as well as fish and vegetables.
The Chardonnay I got to taste had just been bottled, therefore it will not be available in stores until the first week of August. The winemakers want the wine to age in the bottle before being released to the masses.
The Fog Theory Pinot Noir had a beautiful ruby color and smelled of fresh berry, specifically strawberries and cherries. I detected slight notes of oak, along with white pepper and brine. It tasted of berries, offering a burst of fruit that sent a zing down my tongue from the acid. The acidity was balanced, a result of the perfect climate for slow fruit ripening. The finish was clean, making me want another taste.
Ben Rose suggested letting the wine sit and mellow in the glass. I tasted it at different times through the evening, and the Pinot Noir changed as the tannins faded, and more fruit characters were brought out.
This wine was light in body and went well with pork sausage and soft-rind cheese. The combination of Ca de Ambros Taleggio and the Fog Theory Pinot Noir was a perfect match. The soft texture and sharp bite of the cheese brought out flavors of berries and spice in the wine.
The Pinot Noir could be cellared for a few years or enjoyed now. It will be available at Whole Foods the first week of July. It is a great choice for a warm summer evening.
Whole Foods Markets offer affordable, but well-made wines. The Fog Theory wines are $19.99 per bottle, though the quality of the wine could suggest for a higher price point. I am very lucky to have gotten the opportunity to taste these wines before they are available in store.
I cannot wait to grab a few bottles for myself and my friends, bring them to a party, and pretend to be a wine and cheese pairing expert. Hopefully, there are more virtual wine tastings in my future!