AMBYTH’S NOUVEAU CELEBRATION

AMBYTH’S NOUVEAU CELEBRATION

The annual tradition of Beaujolais Nouveau wine released on the third Thursday of November and shipped around the world originates from France’s Beaujolais region. But a Nouveau from the Paso Robles appellation?

With Mary Hart who cooked up a sumptuous lunch

When I received an email from my friends Phillip and Mary Hart owners of Ambyth Estate Winery in Templeton inviting us to a Nouveau celebration, I was intrigued. We said yes. And better yet we could stay in their gorgeous hilltop house on Ambyth’s (means “forever” in Welsh) 42-acre biodynamic ranch. Well, it was a Nouveau anda Pick-Up Party (wine pick up that is) for Ambyth’s wine club members. So what was Ambyth’s Nouveau wine? I know there’s no Gamay on this vineyard which is planted mostly to Rhône varietals. This was Phillip’s explanation. In previous years, the grapes he picked for pre-harvest testing did not go to waste. He turned it into wine and consumed it right away like a Nouveau. “Gustavo and I shared it,” says Phillip with a hearty laugh.

Phillip Hart syphoning Ambyth's Nouveau field blend

This year the Harts decided to share it with friends and released it at their Pick-Up Party. A “field blend” of all ten varietals grown on the property, the wine is not for sale and was  served only during that weekend. In fact the wine wasn’t even bottled but siphoned out of a large water bottle container. “This is not a finished wine but a fun wine,” said Phillip, siphoning the wine into guests’ glasses. The 3-course lunch prepared and served by the Harts and their family members (well, my husband and I pitched in too with preparation and serving) was paired with Ambyth’s three new releases – all blends of the four varietals: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvédre and Counoise.

Mary's Harvest Salad

The 2008 Grenache-based ‘Adamo’ packed with cherry notes paired well with the creamy stilton dressing on the organic harvest salad; the gamey flavor of the Mourvédre-based ‘ReVera’ was a perfect match for the curried Lamb Spiedini served over Risi Bisi with mint yogurt; and the big chewy Syrah-based ‘Maiestas’ stood up to beef dish braised in Syrah with winter vegetables. Ambyth is the first Demeter certified vineyard ranch in the Paso Robles appellation. The Hart family has created a paradisical self-sustaining and diverse estate. There are dairy cows with horn intact. The milk is used for drinking and cheese making and the whey used on vines  as an ameliorative for powdery mildew. The portable coop allows the chicken to range freely among the vines and the bee-hive in the middle of the estate plays a vital role in pollination. And yes, there is an organic herb/vegetable garden and 600 Spanish varietal olive trees. As we said goodbye after a hearty breakfast of farm fresh eggs (fried in bacon lard), baked beans and Mary’s freshly baked bread, the house was still noisy with family, friends, kids and dogs. It was a perfect way to start the Thanksgiving week.

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