If possible, use locally grown, seasonal tomatoes in a tart that pairs wonderfully with a chilled red.
I often reach for chilled white wine in the type of swelter we've been having the past few weeks. Sometimes, it slips my mind that red wines can be chilled, too. So I'm grateful for the sample of Les Cadrans de Lassègue 2016 I was sent, the reminder that a chilled red is a summer treat, and the pairing suggestion that was spot on.
This Saint-Émilion Bordeaux is light, fresh and fruity. A 90 percent Merlot/10 percent Cabernet Franc blend, it's aged in 30 to 40 percent new French oak for 6-8 months. Violets, fruits like cherry and plum, and some herbs and earthiness show on the nose. It's a balanced wine all the way - medium body, acidity and tannins allow the wine's fruitiness to shine when you sip. A fantastic value for its $30 SRP.
I took the wine and the tart to a friend's house, and since all get togethers are outside now, it was my contribution to a potluck-style girls' night when everyone brought something to eat and drink to add to the table. My friends were a bit surprised that I brought a chilled red. I explained that we often drink our reds too warm because our home temperatures are warmer than wine cellar temperatures. My "cellar" is simply some racks against a wall in a dark part of my basement that never gets above 66 degrees and averages around 64 degrees. A temperature controlled cellar can often be a good 10 degrees cooler than that.
While I understand this, I've never spent too much time looking at why reds are better off being served at cellar temperature rather than room temperature, and why some - like the Les Cadrans de Lassègue - benefit from a half or so in the fridge right before serving.
With the wine, I was sent some info about red wine temperatures from Mary Ewing-Mulligan, Master of Wine and President of International Wine Center.
She says that when red wine is served at a temperature that's too warm, it can be "clumsy, blousy and heavy."
Chilling Red Wine
Ice cubes in red wine? Sounds like a big faux pas, but one ice cube stirred a couple times around and quickly removed can be beneficial. (Image: Andrew 3457/Flickr)
Structured red wines like Bordeaux can be served at 62-63° F, and in the summer, a little bit cooler - 60° - works well for them. The bottle should feel cool to your touch, says Ewing-Mulligan, but not cold. At that cooler temp, the wine will show "proper structure and its aromas and flavors should be fresh rather than heavy.”
Here are some of Ewing-Mulligan's tips for getting red wine to the proper temp.
Put red wine in the refrigerator for a half hour before serving. You can put the bottle back in the refrigerator between glasses so the bottle remains cool to the touch but not cold.
If the bottle has been stored a wine cooler (where it's being kept at a colder temperature), take it out just a half hour before serving to bring it up to the proper temperature.
If a glass of red wine is too warm, she suggests refrigerating the glass for a few minutes or popping an ice cube into the glass and swirling it around twice before quickly taking it out.
A final way of bringing a wine's temp down a bit is to run the exterior of an empty wine glass under very cold water and then pour the wine into it immediately.
Once the wine is at a cooler temp, it should minimize the impression of alcohol, making it taste more balanced and more enjoyable in the heat, according to the Master of Wine. Freshness and fruit flavors will stand out more.
The fruit flavors shined in the Les Cadrans and the wine went beautifully with this tomato tart recipe that Christina Seillan, wife of Château Lassègue's winemaker Nicolas Seillan, created.
Easy Summer Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart
Let's talk ingredients. This is a simple dish, but the quality of the ingredients matter.
It's summer. Tomatoes are in abundance. Use locally grown tomatoes if at all possible. They will be a totally, wonderfully different experience from the bland store-bought ones. If you can get goat cheese from a local dairy, do it. And, if you're so inclined, make your own puff pastry. (I was not so inclined!)
(No measurements here because it's that easy.)
Puff pastry - circular looks nice but rectangular works, too
Really good tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch
Course salt (sea salt, pink Himalayan, kosher...)
Herbes de Provence (I like a blend that does not include lavender)
Roll out puff pastry and brush lightly with dijon mustard.
Top with sliced tomatoes, large chunks of goat cheese and sprinkle with Herbes de Provence and course salt.
Bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes.
Try this easy tart this weekend with a bottle of chilled Les Cadrans de Lassègue if you can, or another chilled red like Pinot Noir, Grenache, or Merlot