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Orchestral Wine – a Pairing Adventure

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Mr. WineOH and I like to head down to Blossom Music Festival during the summer to sit on the lawn, eat gourmet goodies, and partake in a bit of the vitis vinifera while we listen to the Cleveland Orchestra in their summer home. It soothes the savage beast, as they say… or at least it soothes us after a hectic work week. Last weekend we gathered the WineOH eldest child, visiting from Maryland and most recently returning from a trip to Greece (there’s Greek wine from that trip… can’t wait to try it – Thanks, Ash!), and we headed out for a pleasant evening of music conducted by  Bramwell Tovey, one of the most convivial conductors I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing – he actually talks to the crowd… very cool man. This set the mood for a most enjoyable evening.

Image Courtesy of Panoramio

I usually take particular care when putting my meals together for events like this. The music is particularly divine, and so the wine and food should blend seamlessly. I put together a picnic of salame, prosciutto, cheeses, chicken salad, pasta salads, mozz & tomato drizzled with balsamic, olives, a bit of basil pesto and an incredible old world baguette  – with Mr. WinoOH’s brownies, of course. We paired this up with The Climber Chardonnay and a random bottle of pinot noir. The Climber is an interesting concept I first discovered at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, VA a few weeks ago. As much as we like to camp and hike, and prepare little meals to be enjoyed in places inconvenient for glass bottles, we were excited to see this packaging that, once emptied, folds up quite nicely to be hauled out of whatever location we have hauled it into, so it definitely intrigued me.

Clif Family The Climber Chardonnay

This is an unoaked chardonnay in a totally collapsible package with a non-drip plastic spout. Anyone who has tried to hike or camp with a buda bag knows that 75% of the time you are going to get leakage. This spout is actually, truly, non-drip – no leakage. This package is produced with an 80% lower carbon footprint than the equivalent bottles and produces 90% less waste. For us outdoor enthusiasts, that’s always a bonus, and the empty weight is a breeze compared to humping a glass bottle off a trail for 5 miles. As a member of 1% for the Planet, CLIF family donates 1% of all Climber pouch sales to Trees for the Future. Another bonus for the environmentally conscious – and the fact that this pouch holds 2 bottles of wine makes any outing a value for $17 retail. 

So, we have nice, convenient packaging and an environmentally sensitive company… what else?

The wine itself is a pretty standard unoaked chardonnay with some sharp acidity on the palate and a crisp apple aroma. In the realm of unoaked chardonnay, in the price range, and with awesome packaging, I consider it a contender. If you are used to California oaky chard, this is NOT your wine. I paired it with some pretty indigestion inducing foods (namely some salads with peppers, spiced olives and at least one heavily seasoned and Italian dressing laced dish) These were not the best pairings for this wine. In the future, I’ll go with fruit salads, crostini topped with cheeses and dried fruit, and other slightly sweeter dishes to balance out the acidity of the wine. Clif Family says its best enjoyed with good food and good company, I’ll agree with that whole heartedly, just don’t pair it with acid heavy foods.

Overall, this was a good wine to take to the lawn at Blossom. We enjoyed sipping on it once the brownies came out,  and not hauling an empty glass bottle was convenient for repacking our little cooler to trek back to the car. I do wish that the little plastic cap that comes off the top of the push button would actually go back on. Taking the wine in and out of the cooler, I was concerned that the button would get inadvertently pushed (and I’d have this concern in a pack as well) We were fortunate that the button is not that sensitive, but having the cap would definitely ease my mind in a hike-in situation. Wine down the back of your leg as you hike into camp, anyone?

I recommend this for value and packaging. Better than any boxed unoaked chardonnays. Nice QPR for the intended use.

Next weekend, we will be heading out with the Climber Cabernet. I’m thinking steak tartar and pickled beets? Ok, maybe not.

*wines provided by Clif Family for review.


2 responses »

  1. I got it from @clifwines – at $17 its definitely a steal. Watch the food paring, as the acid is on the high side. I'm sure you can tweet them and they'll give you the 411. Do you have Total Wines? (@totalwine) They usually carry a wine like this, or can get it. Stay tuned for the Cabernet review. We hauled that into the woods this weekend. 🙂

  2. Both the concert and the picnic sound really nice! I never liked the stuffy "no interaction with the audience" rules of traditional classical concerts. I'll have to check out the wine, too. I like my chards unoaked, and portability is definitely a plus. Any idea where it's distributed?Big hugs, big sis!CD


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