Top 100 Tasting

Autochthonic Boom
Discover some delicious edges of the wine world at the Top 100

If you’re looking for great wines you’ve never heard of before, you’re in the right place. Here’s a short list of Armenian, Austrian, Portuguese and Spanish bottles that are sure to expand your borders. We shared this list with Jeff Berlin and Chef Elaine Osuna of À Côté in Oakland, and asked which ones they might pair with the Duck Rillettes Crostini and Quince Mostarda they will offer at the Top 100.

“Rillettes have always been an important part of our menu and continue to reflect our connection to classic French comfort food,” says chef Osuna, who opened at the restaurant in 2000 as pastry chef and took over as executive chef in 2018. “It’s still common to find a pot of rillettes on kitchen tables in homes throughout the French South West, something present at all family meals. And there’s no better way to taste the pure flavor of duck than to slowly cook it in its own fat for a couple of days!”

When it comes to wine, Berlin is known for one of the most compelling lists of Eastern European greats in the US. So it wasn’t surprising that he went directly to Asia Minor and our first ever Top 100 Winery from Armenia.

Chef Elaine Osuna and Jeff Berlin Chef Elaine Osuna and Jeff Berlin
“I love the Zorah wine as a pairing with the rillettes,” he told us. “We’ve been selling it since it first came in five years ago; it’s been a favorite, and it’s gotten better each year. Zorah’s areni is a really good example of how clay-fermented wines can have finesse and elegance, and not just be rugged and rustic. The knowledge and experience of making wine in clay has come so far. It doesn’t have to be a wine to drink before you go into battle.

“Considering classic pairings for rillettes in the south of France and the Pyrénées, where these potted and preserved meats come from, the wines I think of are pretty thick-skinned red varieties, naturally tannic and structured. Their acidity and tannins make them a great match with rich, fatty, preserved meats. The areni is similar: a thick-skinned, high elevation wine. It’s cement and clay fermented, and it has the structure for pairing with the fattiness of the duck, but it tends to be more elegant and exotic [than the wines from the Pyrénées]. When you make rillettes, you’re using wintry spices to add layers of flavor, and the wine is doing the same thing—adding exotic wintry spices, as though it were a component of the rillettes.

“The Ribeiro blend and the Blaufrankisch are ideal pairing ideas as well.

“The Moric Blaufrankisch doesn’t have that same tannic structure as an areni, but it has the spiced aromatics and it’s pretty juicy. It serves as a compote to go with the rillettes, and shares some of the same aromatic compatibility.

“The Ribeiro from Rodríguez Vázquez is just a little tart, and has the natural acidity to cut through the fat of the rillettes,” Berlin says.

Whether you’re intrigued by areni or baga, blaufrankisch or listán negro, here are a few of the wines from autochthonic varieties you won’t want to miss at the Top 100:

R. López de Heredia 2005 Rioja Viña Tondonia Reserva Blanco
Suertes del Marqués 2017 Tenerife Valle de la Orotava Viñas Viejas El Chibirique Listán Negro
Luis A. Rodríguez Vázquez 2015 Ribeiro A Torna dos Pasas Tinto
Luis Pato 2000 Bairrada Quinta do Moinho
Zorah Wines 2016 Rind Karasi
Moric 2016 Burgenland Blaufrankisch

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