I have a short list of complaints about living in Sonoma County. It ain’t cheap would be at the top, and political correctness often frolics amok in these parts, but all of that pales compared to the tomato issue.
You can’t grow them here, at least not easily. Even in a warm year, it’s nearly Labor Day before you can make a decent bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. In the Midwest where I grew up, BLTs were as vital to summer as lightning bugs and the Indianapolis 500.
I gave up growing tomatoes this year after 10 years of spotty crops. What’s good for Pinot Noir is not so hot for tomatoes. Sonoma is just too cool and foggy most summers to make it worth my while, especially for tasty heirlooms like Brandywine and Old German.
Well, the kids go back to school this week and the farmers markets are bringing in a few Early Girls from the Central Valley, so it’s finally BLT time. My colleague Jennifer Fiedler’s 8 & $20 recipe put me in the mood, and over the weekend I got into an entertaining discussion on Twitter about the best wines to drink with a BLT.
BLTs for me are in the same wine-pairing pool as a hamburger with all the fixings. You can’t simply be guided by one ingredient; there’s a potpourri of flavors and textures to consider, from sweet and acidic to smoky and creamy.
A crisp white wine might go great with the tomato but not the rest. I prefer a fruit-forward red with good acidity such as a medium-bodied Italian like the Tenuta Monteti Toscana Caburnio 2007 ($18) or Zenato Valpolicella Superiore Ripassa 2007 ($28). A light-bodied Zinfandel would do the trick too, something like Sebastiani Sonoma County 2008 ($15) or Graziano Mendocino 2007 ($17).
For me, though, the best choices are dry, zesty rosés made from Rhône grapes such as Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre, which typically have enough personality to match the B yet are crisp and fruity enough for the L and the T.
Think Domaine de la Citadelle Lubéron Rosé Les Artèmes 2010 ($20) or Tablas Creek Rosé Paso Robles 2010 ($27) and Azur Dry Rosé California 2010 ($26).
What are some of your favorite wines with BLTs?