Mer Soleil Silver Gets My Thug On

I am not a thug, but I play one in my kitchen.
Thug Kitchen, that is.  It is one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks, full of over-the-top flavors, all fresh ingredients, lots of irreverent cursing, and chuckles.

We picked out an enchilada recipe filled with sweet potatoes, black beans, maple syrup and squash covered with a sauce made with practically handfuls of chili powder, garlic, cumin and tomatoes. My kitchen smelled like a freaking restaurant!

With all those flavors mingling together, it was a challenge to find a wine to sip alongside.  Clean and crisp??  Slightly sweet? Strong acidity?

I decided on clean and crisp, thinking it would be good for cleaning the palate of all those huge flavors.  The Mer Soleil Silver, an unoaked Chardonnay made in cement casks, was my choice.

Unoaked Chardonnays are fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks instead of oak barrels. The resulting wines are full of bright fresh fruit without the vanilla or butterscotch notes imparted by barrels.

Mer Soleil Silver takes this concept to a different place by fermenting and aging in concrete tanks. To make sure we get it, they put it in a totally cool cement-like bottle! These tanks impart hints of minerality, similar to the style of Chardonnay found in Chablis.

The bottle of Mer Soleil Silver I pulled from my basement was a 2010. The wine’s color is deep golden, indicative of its age. Aromas show rich tropical fruits typical of California Chardonnays and ripe pear too.  The palate is rich, echoing the aromas of pear and tropical fruits.  Hints of green apple and lemon are found in the bright acidity.  Lots of fresh fruits wrap up the clean finish of the wine.

The few years of aging seemed to round the fruits and minimize the mineral component of this Chardonnay.  Which actually turned out to be a good thing with my crazy flavor spice-driven thug recipe!  The ripeness of the fruit softened the heat of the spices, while the acidity of the wine was a nice means of refreshing my palate.

Most of the wine on wine-store shelves is ready to drink the moment you get it home. But it is fine to set some bottles aside to see how they develop and change overtime.  With this Mer Soleil Silver, the riper fruits and softened minerality from the effect of age, was the best possible thing to enhance my flavor-maxed thugged-out dinner!

Aging a while;
Serving with a thugged-spicy dish;
Anyone who likes a rich Chardonnay without the weight of oak.

About the author: Sue Navratil

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