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- Austria (1)
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There is nothing quite as refreshing as a cool glass of white wine on the patio in the summertime. Burgundy is my personal favorite region for white wines, and one of my favorite regions within is Chablis.
One of the most legendary producers of chardonnay in Chablis is Domaine Christian Moreau. The Moreau Family can trace back their domain's lineage for six generations to its founding in 1814. The domain is located in the very heart of Chablis country, on the left bank of the Serein River. They scrupulously harvest and sort this wine by hand and ferment in all stainless on lees for 10 months. There is a great texture to this crisp, clean wine. Aromas of apple and white flower emerge, with flavors of lemon and crushed stone.
Christian Moreau Chablis 2011 is a perfect pairing for summery fair, such as the grilled vegetable couscous recipe below. I use this as a side dish for grilled fish or as light lunch in the warm weather. It is great hot, cold, or at room temperature.
Grilled Vegetable Couscous with Lemon Tarragon Dressing
paired with Christian Moreau Chablis 2011
1 Yellow or Orange Bell Pepper
3 Small Zucchini
3 Portabella Caps
1 Large Spanish Onions
1 Cup of Cherry Tomatoes
1 ½ Cups Mediterranean Couscous
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
½ ounce Minced Fresh Tarragon
1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Sugar
2 Tsp. Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1. Make the dressing: Mince the shallots and the tarragon. Zest and juice the lemon into a bowl and add: mustard, shallots, tarragon, sugar, salt and pepper, and whisk in the oil.
2. Slice the zucchini lengthwise, slice the onions into large rings, remove gills from the portabella mushrooms, and cut the bell pepper in half and de-seed. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on hot grill, turning until onions and mushrooms are caramelized and the zucchini and peppers are al dente.
3. Move vegetables from the grill onto a cutting board and slice into bite-sized pieces. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half.
4. Place the couscous in a heat proof mixing bowl, bring 2¼ cups of water to boil and pour over the couscous. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for five minutes. Fluff with fork.
5. Add the vegetables and the dressing and toss together. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
We love Tuscany, and the regions's signature Sangiovese is one of the most food-friendly grapes out there. Whether a wine is 100% Sangiovese or blended with another variety such as Merlot, great food pairing options are abundant. With hundreds of Tuscan producers and wines to choose from, Rosso di Montalcino is a good place to start to find something reliable and budget friendly. These wines are great options while waiting for Montalcino's flagship and age-worthy wines, Brunello di Montalcino, to be realized and ready to drink. Uccelliera is one of the most notable Montalcino producers, making some of the most age worthy and collectable wines in the region. It is located in the south of the Castelnuovo dell’Abate part of Montalcino, and all of their vineyard work is done by hand.
The limited Uccelliera Rosso di Montalcino 2009 has the same flavor profile and structure as its older sibling, but it is simpler, fresh, and more immediately approachable. Medium red in color, this wine offers dark fruit aromas of black cherries and cassis intermingled with some smoke and tobacco, with a balanced finish and interlaced tannins. It's a great example of the style of wine coming from Southern Montalcino, and it complements meats especially, from salumi to steak to burgers.
Another great choice is Fattoria Rodano's Toscana Poggialupi 2010, a delicious blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot, from Castellina in the heart of the Chianti Classico district. It's an outstanding value at only $11.89 with our feature discount.
For a great pairing with either wine (or both!), I have made Braised Chicken Thighs with a Rich Mushroom Roasting Sauce. It is delicious, simple, and uses only one pan.
- 4lbs bone-in Chicken Thighs
- 1lb sliced Mushrooms (i.e. Button, Crimini, Shiitake)
- 3 Minced Shallots
- 3 Cloves Smashed Garlic
- Half Bottle of Marsala or Perez Barquero Gran Barquero Fino Sherry (only $11.99 and tastes great)
- 2 Sprigs of Thyme
- 1 Sprig of Rosemary
- First pour yourself a glass of wine!
- Preheat oven 425 degrees F.
- Pat dry chicken and season liberally with salt and pepper. Sear skin side down in an oven proof skillet until golden and crispy. Remove from pan.
- Use the rendered fat to sauté mushroom until browned; if not enough fat add olive oil.
- Add the shallots and garlic and sauté together until the shallots are clear.
- Add thyme sprigs and wine.
- Place the chicken back in the pan skin side up and roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes.
Last Saturday I attended The Big Cheesy, an event to discover and vote on the best artisan grilled cheese in New York City. Seven vendors prepared their version of the much-loved grilled sandwich, in hopes to win this year's title. Upon arrival, I received a ping pong ball and my choice of a local brew from the event's sponsor, Six Point Brewery. Don't get excited, no beer pong here, the ball equals one vote, gathered into a large glass container by each vendor, and the one with the most, wins.
First up, Casellula's Griddled Fondue Sandwich with Pickled Pepper Relish, homemade garlic-nutmeg butter spread on Rye bread, with a combination of shredded cheese - 2 parts Scharfer Marx, 1 part Emmenthaler, and 1 part Gruyere, grilled until golden brown and topped with Pickled Pepper Relish. This combination of cheese, named for its perfect fondue-ability, is shredded for easy melting, and to blend the hearty flavors of each cheese. Try this at home! Sweet butter, spicy relish, great bread, mountain cheese - I'm having a hard time holding on to my ping pong ball... (email me for the butter and relish recipes!)
Next up, the quirky diner, Big Daddy's, has created Grilled Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon. In true Big Daddy's style, they have topped their sandwich with a traditional mac and cheese, threw on some bacon and have it held together with an oversize toothpick - and then they handed me a Jell-O shot. Woah. Moving on...
The Melt Shop, a new midtown restaurant dedicated to grilled cheese, serving not 1, but 3 varieties to taste: #1 - Sharp Cheddar with 12-hour braised pulled pork, McClure's pickels, and homemade bbq sauce on sourdough, not a grilled cheese, but a killer sandwich. #2 - Fontina and Goat Cheese with roasted wild mushrooms, and parsley pesto on sourdough. Delicious, but not better Casellula. #3 - Blue and Cheddar Cheese, cranberry pepper jam, Neuske's bacon on sourdough, good, but I can't really taste the blue cheese, and if we've had a cheese conversation, you probably know how much I love blue cheese.
Tartinery, a fantastic spot on Mulberry Street. Known for their French-style sandwiches, so I'm not surprised they have an open-faced creation: Croque Monsieru - Bechamel sauce, a fried egg, ham and Gruyere cheese piled on Poilane bread, with sprinkles of chopped scallions. I believe Tartinery makes one of the best breads available in NYC, and the ham is mouth-wateringly delicious - awesome! But again, it's not really a grilled cheese, so I'm taking my ping pong and going to...
Lucy's Whey, an American cheese shop located in East Hampton and NYC's Chelsea Market. Lucy's sandwich appeared simple and elegant, and that is exactly how it tasted. This grilled cheese is perfect, Prairie Breeze Cheddar with fig jam and olive oil, all in complete balance. This is the kind of grilled cheese I crave, and would love to have at home (and pair with an equally elegant Oregon Pinot Noir, such as Maysara Asha)! I have a couple more to taste, but I'm certain nothing will top this sandwich.
I make my way to our friends at Murray's Cheese, and appreciate the "ohh, make sure you get that one" tip, from a Cheesemonger. The Atomic Bomb - Braised Short Ribs, Taleggio, Caramelized onions, Piri Piri, fire roasted Jalapeno peppers, McClure's spicy pickle relish, and arugula on Pullman bread. Wow, this is a phenominal sandwich, and I will add this to my must-go-back-for -lunch list, but I'm having a hard time calling this a grilled cheese, it's a BBQ specialty!
Last one - Little Muenster, which has the longest line of them all. Intriguing. While waiting, the vendor passed out tastes of delicious tomato soup and Pinot Grigio, which was a nice touch, but I was so full, I could barely enjoy the accoutrements. Gruyere, Taleggio, Fontina, Membrillo (quince paste), and Prosciutto on organic bread, this is a solid grilled cheese, but the flavors don't pop out as much as I had hoped. However, their menu looks go enough to make a trip to the restaurant ASAP!
It's a tough decision, but my ping pong is definitely going to Lucy's Whey - simplicity has won my vote! After an afternoon of incredible flavors, I realize a perfect grilled cheese is up to your imagination. And just like wine, or all types of food, for that matter, your sandwich should fit your taste, and your ocassion - whether that means breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Suit your sandwich to your tastes, and you'll never go wrong.
If you have a favorite grilled cheese recipe or restaurant favorite, please post it in the comment section below!
Last night we partnered with O'Connells American Bistro for an outstanding seasonal Winter Wine Dinner, featuring five very creative courses, paired with hand-selected wines. Chef O'Connell's knock-out menu had a Southern, low-country theme and the wine pairings worked well with each dish.
The evening began with Montsarra Cava, a sparkling wine, produced from a careful blend of native grapes in Penedes, Spain, along with passed hors d'oeuvres, including Outerbanks Crab with spicy slaw and aioli, Braised Pork Shoulder with creamed corn, crispy onions and Crispy Fried Chicken, arugula, cowboy caviar (a tasty bed of beans). The bright, small-bubbled cava did a good job of refreshing the palate for the wide variety of flavors.
The atmosphere of O'Connells Bistro is warm and inviting, as well as stylish and sophisticated, which is also a great description for Chef O'Connell's menu - familiar foods with a twist. As we found our seats, the second course was served - "The Buffalo Fish Fry", paired with Chateau Musar Musar Jeune Blanc 2009. Let's start with the wine. This incredibly aromatic white wine from Lebanon is made of 40% Viognier, 30% Chardonnay, and 30% Vermentino. Musar is legendary, one of the most written and talked about wine producers in the world today. The wine is greenish-yellow in color and has an intriguing nose of peach, apricot and pineapple. The palate is dry, but has a subtle hint of sweetness from the stone and tropical fruit flavor. Musar Jeune is a food wine, and its medium-body worked well with the Fish Fry - a tempura dipped wild salmon, over a butter poached lobster hash with smoked nova salmon tartar sauce. As I was eating this dish, I had a hard time deciding which I enjoyed better, the salmon or the lobster hash, because a new favorite flavor came out in every bite!
The third course, Southern Style Grilled Duck paired with Castell'In Villa Chianti Classico 2008, arrived on the table and Eric Genau, our Wine Director, described his recent visit to this estate in Tuscany. It is a village, not a winery, at the southern edge of the Chianti Classico zone, owned by Princess Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa. The estate has been in existence since the 13th century and much of her land is used primarily for hunting game and the region's famously delicious wild boar, which they serve in the village restaurant. The vines here are incredibly low yielding and Princess Coralia releases wines only when ready to drink, which is not common in the wine world today. The Chianti is big, with earthy flavors, which is a perfect match for Southern Style Grilled Duck, a sausage and roasted mushroom "stuffing", house sausage gravy & duck rinds. This dish is awesome. The seasoning and salt in the stuffing surround the duck, while bits of sausage jump out like flavor diamonds. The rustic, primative qualities of Castell'in Villa shine through this pairing, and I am magically transported back to Italy, tasting the local environment where this wine comes from.
Next up, Grilled Beef Tenderloin paired with White Rock Vineyards Napa Valley Claret 2007. Certified grass fed, hormone free, Montana range beef, bacon, green chili, dry cheddar grits, creamed greens and aioli, paired with a highly-rated wine from a small family estate located in the southern foothills of the Stag's Leap Range rising above the Napa Valley. Wow. White Rock's Claret has a distinct Bordeaux-like personality, which is not surprising since this is a classic left-bank Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. The wine is smooth, sophisticated and approachable. It is a big, powerhouse wine, but it is really well-made and balanced. The well-intergrated tannins melt into the Beef Tenderloin and the earthy flavor marries the bacon, cheddar grits and greens elegantly.
Just when I thought I reached my limit, the All American Cupcake changed my mind - double sweetgrass valley chocolate and bacon cupcakes, with a peanut butter and maple mousse filling, and creamed peanut butter frosting. I expected the cupcake to be very dense and extremely rich, but it was actually quite light, with just the right amount of sweetness. We paired this decadent treat with Ferreira Tawny Porto, from the largest (and most popular) producer in Portugal. This tawny Port resembles a Ruby more than Tawny, offering a nice balance of fruit, oak and spice. Absolutely delicious.
If you joined us at the dinner, please comment on your favorite dish, wine or pairing! And if you missed this event, we hope to see you at another soon. For the most up to date schedule, check out our Monthly Events Calendar.
Monday evening, I sat in on The Harmony of Wine & Cheese class at Murray's Cheese, and enjoyed not one, but six successful, and delicious pairings. Eric Genau, our Wine Director, selected the wines and taught the class alongside Murray's Education Director, Sascha Anderson, who selected the cheese for the evening.
The great thing about this class is that the wine and cheese are chosen by pairing principles, and the first time the combinations are actually tasted together is during the class. This can lead to wine & cheese bliss, or a miss, but the experience is the best way to learn what you like, and don't like, which is the ultimate goal. When you are sitting in front of six wines and six cheeses, you have the opportunity to follow the rules or taste whatever you think might work well together. If you're eyeing the cheddar while sipping the bubbly, give it a try, you might find a new favorite!
We all have different palates and set of experiences that reflect what we believe tastes good, or bad. This is as simple as the preference of chips and salsa, over chips with a creamy dip. Maybe your taste buds enjoy the combination of salt and spice, or maybe you recently experienced the best salsa of your life while vacationing in Mexico, and ever since, the taste of salsa transports you to the beach, relaxing under the sun with great food and an ice cold beer in your hand - that personal state of happiness can make anything taste better.
Wine and cheese pairings work the same way, its about finding what appeals your taste buds and creating memoriable experiences. I list all six pairings of the night below, but let me tell you about my favorite...the third pair in the evening's line-up: Glatzer Grüner Veltliner 2011 and Winnimere.
Glatzer Grüner Veltliner is an aromatic white wine, produced by an extremely nice guy named Walter Glatzer, in the Carnuntum region of Austria. This wine has a golden straw-yellow color and an incredible fragrance. It is fresh and light on the palate, with a medium body and clinging finish.
Going back to my chips and salsa reference, this wine is really delicious, but it begs to be paired with something to make it better, it is truly a food wine. This is the same way I think about a salty tortilla chip - I enjoy it on its own, but it is better with a dip! Lucky for me, I'm sitting in cheese heaven, staring at a gooey dollop of Winnimere, from Jasper Hill Farms. This handmade, washed-rind, raw cow's milk cheese from is from Vermont and it stinks. The nose is dirty and woodsy, but don't let that scare you, the flavor is mild and harmonious. Winnimere is washed with a locally brewed beer and wrapped in a binding of spruce, which is handcut from a tree on Jasper Hill's property.
Much like salsa, my palate believes washed-rind cheese should part of a pairing - on a baquette, in mac & cheese, on a grilled cheese sandwich or with a beverage hearty enough to partner with the strong scent, without overbearing its subtle, creamy flavor. Glatzer's wine is a winner! Like any great pairing should, each component tastes better together, than it does alone.
The bright freshness of the white wine rounds out the sweet cream flavor of the cheese without making it too fatty, and the cheese exemplifies the fruit in the wine - making me want to enjoy more of both! This cheese is wrapped in heavy tree spruce, you can literally cut off the top of the round and dip your bread right into this gooey-goodness, while sipping a glass or two of Glatzer's Grüner - pairing bliss!
Here are the pairings we tasted at Murray's. If you are interested in hosting a wine and cheese evening with your friends, let us know, we would be happy to help make your selections!
Jean Louis Denois Brut Blanc de Blanc NV (France) with Brunet
Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini 2010 (Greece) with Tomme Chevre Aydius
Glatzer Gruner Veltliner 2011 (Austria) with Winnimere
Maysara Vineyards Pinot Noir 3 Degrees 2009 (Oregon) with Tarentaise
Castell'in Villa Chianti Classico 2008 (Italy) with Pecorino Foglie Di Noce
Ferreira Tawny Porto (Portugal) with Colston Bassett Stilton
Vias is one of the most renowned Italian wine importers in the US, and on Friday we were joined by our old friend, Maurizio Clemente to taste and talk about some great wines and producers from the Vias portfolio. I was particularly excited about this tasting because it gave me a chance to revisit and share some of the most memorable wines I tasted during my trip to Montalcino and Montepulciano in September. It also gave us an intimate setting to check-in on a couple great wines from the 2004 vintage - Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino and Damilano Barolo Cannubi. I was especially impressed with these wines and am even more convinced that wines from 2004 (both from Piedmont and Tuscany) will provide great pleasure over the next 5 to 10 years.
If you weren't able to join us, here are my tasting notes and a bit of information about the wines that we opened.
Damilano Arneis Langhe 2010
We have carried a few vintages of this wine, and it was the perfect wine to kick-off a great evening. Winemaking by the Damilano family dates back to 1890 when Joseph Borgogno, great grandfather of current owners, began to cultivate grapes and make wine on their beautiful beautiful countryside property in the town of Piedmont Vezza Alba. This wine is 100% Arneis grape, which is often referred to as the "white Barolo" because of its richness and growing area around some of the most famous areas of Barolo. This was fresh and vibrant with tons of peach and passionfruit, balanced acidity and a really interesting almond hint on the finish. I've always liked how this wine manages to be both crisp and rich at the same time, and it definitely showed that way on this night. This is such a great value.
Tenuta Santa Tresa Rina Ianca Grillo Viognier 2009
I only recently discovered this wine and immediately found it to be one of the most enjoyable seafood matches I've had in a long time. The Feudo di Santa Tresa estate lies along the Mediterranean Sea, where the vineyards benefit from cool sea breezes and the fruit is perfectly ripened under the Sicilian sun. Rina Ianca is a unique blend of Viognier and Grillo and the name translates to "white sand" in the local language. This refreshing wine has a bouquet of pineapple and mango, and a beautiful straw yellow color. This is a great match for seafood, salads and pastas because of its perfect balance of citrus and tropical fruit flavors and bright acidity. Following the Arneis, this showed slightly more richness and texture, but the two wines complemented each other nicely.
Fattoria del Cerro Manero Rosso di Toscana 2009
This was the best value red I tasted during my time in Montepulciano in September. Cerro is one of the most beautiful properties in this region, and Manero is the estate's first wine from revered oenologist Riccardo Cotarella. A blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot, it has very concentrated and intense aromas of wild berries, spices and a hint of truffle. The flavors here are well-rounded and decisive, and this delivers a big punch for this price point. What I like most about this wine is that you can really pull out the varietal characteristics of both the Sangiovese and Merlot, and this wine tastes Tuscan. Manero pairs well with roasted red meats and stews and aged cheeses, especially the many varieties of Pecorino produced in this area. This wine impresses me every time.
Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2006
I love this wine! This is one of Cerro's flagship wines, and one of my top 10 favorite wines tasted during my recent trip to Tuscany. The estate boasts 93 hectares of beautiful Vino Nobile vineyards, and the Riserva uses fruit from the best plots. This shows intense and concentrated wild black cherry, violet and spice aromas. Its flavor is full and persistent, with powerful, yet elegant and integrated tannins. This has really great structure, and should drink extremely well for the next 5-8 years. I had a chance to also taste the 2007 Riserva in Italy, and that is a similar, outstanding wine.
Colpetrone Sagrantino di Montefalco 2007
This is very well-priced blockbuster Sagrantino. Colpetrone is one of the most important wine producers in the Montefalco DOCG area and the tannin-rich Sagrantino grape is one of the most ancient varieties in Italy. This is strong and concentrated with an almost impenetrable ruby color, and an intense, ample perfume of wild berries and espresso. Red and black fruit, spices and vanilla really explode on the palate here, but it is the big, broad tannins that stand out most; this wine begs to be paired with food. It's a steak wine. This is just so big and structured, it should drink well for the next decade or more if the fruit can hold on. Even if it doesn't, this will be a treat over the next few years. It has both a rustic charm and a big modern forward character.
Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Fossacolle is a little family run estate owned by Sergio Marchetti. Along with this family, they take care of all the viticultural tasks throughout the tiny five acre vineyards and Marchetti's son-in-law, Adriano Bambagioni, is the winemaker. They literally consider the vineyard just an extension of their family garden! The small estate sits in a little Village called Tavernelle, in the south of Montalcino, where the vines are influenced by the sun and breezes from the Maremma coast to the west. This was the first real experiment of the night, because I hadn't tasted too much 2004 Brunello over the past year, opting to let this vintage evolve a bit more in bottle, and instead enjoy the more pretty and approachable wines from 2005 and 2006 After about two hours in a decanter, this wine started singing. Fine tannins were present but starting to give way to flavors of cherry and cranberry fruit and wild mushroom. This is a very focused and polished wine, especially considering its young age, and is both powerful and elegant. This wine was aged for a year each in large oak casks, smaller barrique and concrete tank, and I think the balanced method has created a wine that is very well integrated and put together. This seems to be entering a sweet spot, and it should stay in it and continue to get better over the next 5 to 10 years. The tannins are already very fine and polished. It may turn out to be one of the best surprises of the vintage.
Damilano Barolo Cannubi 2004
It has often been said that if Piedmont had a Grand Cru classification similar to Burgundy, the Cannubi vineyard – which covers a total of 15 hectares in the municipality of Barolo – would surely be considered one of the few true Grand Cru vineyards in Barolo. The Cannubi cru is one of the oldest in Italy, and the oldest known bottle in existence with Cannubi on the label is dated 1752. This 2004 edition continues a long line of delicious wines I've tasted from the vineyard. Damilano now makes more than 60% of the Barolo from this vineyard, so it makes sense to use this wine as the real measuring stick for all wines from Cannubi. We had this in the decanter for an hour and then back into the bottle for another hour before tasting. It had a really pretty medium red color, and pretty aromas of blackberry, mineral and licorice. The licorice turned more menthol as I swirled this in the glass. It is a beautiful wine to smell! On the palate, the tannins were fine grained and a bit dominating, but not so much that the fruit couldn't leap out of the glass. This has some great cherry pit and plum flavors. It is long and polished, and it should fully come together over the next year or two. Overall, this is a Barolo of medium body and good structure. There is a lot to like here, and it should remain a beautiful wine for the next 7-10 years.
|2010||Damilano Arneis Langhe||89||2012-2014|
|2009||Tenuta Santa Tresa Rina Ianca Grillo Viognier||90||2012-2014|
|2009||Fattoria del Cerro Manero Rosso di Toscana||90||2012-2014|
|2006||Fattoria Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva||93||2012-2020|
|2007||Colpetrone Sagrantino di Montefalco||92||2012-2016|
|2004||Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino||92||2012-2020|
|2004||Damilano Barolo Cannubi||91||2012-2020|
Note: Wine Record posts are Eric Genau's reflections and tasting notes on food, wine and conversation enjoyed with friends and family. This is the only place you will see Eric formally "score" a wine. As with all scores, they are meant as a guide to help readers discover new wines that suit their own palates. Readers may find they have a similar palate to Eric's, or not at all, but hopefully these notes and scores provide some valuable guidance in any event. Likewise, drinking windows are provided only as a guide, and based solely (unless otherwise indicated) on a single bottle and singular experience.
Chateau Maris has an outstanding portfolio and we recently had the pleasure of tasting through the line up with Jacques Herivou, co-owner and US representative of Chateau Maris. The wines are powerful, balanced and food friendly, and this is one of many pairings that could work well.
Chateau Maris was founded over twenty years ago when Robert Eden migrated to southern France, with a vision to allow wines to be a reflection of the land where the grapes were grown. He believes that ‘wine is grown and not made’ and has taken this to the next level of integrity by becoming certified organic and biodynamic. Eden fell in love with and potential of the Minervois and, in particular, the little-known village of La Livinière. The first in Languedoc to be granted permission to put the village name on the label, alongside AOC Minervois. Like much of Languedoc Roussillon; the Minervois has a history of making wine for some 1000 years, however it is only recently becoming known as a source of high quality wines.
For me, the stand-out wine was Chateau Maris Syrah La Touge Minervois Cru La Liviniere 2009, which definitely over-performs for its price point (only $15.29 with our mix-and-match discount). It is 85% Syrah, finished with 15% Grenache, which provides a very deep red, almost purple hue. La Touge's aromas are big, with layers of ripe black fruits and spicy. On the palate, this wine is complex, yet smooth, with blackcurrants, elderberries paired with spicy bursts of pepper and herbs.
La Touge is ideal for a big meal and eventhough we have had quite a mild winter, there is nothing better than warming up on a cold February night with a hearty food and wine pairing. This braised beef short rib recipe is rustic, full of flavor, and pairs really well with the blackberry and spice in Maris' La Touge. Enjoy this combination with whipped potatoes, buttered egg noodles, or a simple white risotto.
Braised Beef Short Ribs
8lbs. Bone in Beef Short Ribs
1 large Onion – rough chop
1 Leek – rough chop
4 Carrots – rough chop
1 ounce packet of fresh Thyme
1 Head of Garlic cut in half with skin on.
1 Bottle of Dry Red Wine (try Terra Andina Carmenere, only $8.99 and full of flavor!)
1 Quart Beef Stock
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.
Begin by dredging the beef in flour and season liberally with salt and pepper. In batches, sear the beef, in a heavy bottomed Dutch Oven, without overcrowding, in neutral oil. Set aside.
Reduce heat to medium and add Onions, cook until beginning to caramelize and then add Leeks, Carrots, and Garlic. Cook until all have softened.
Add Thyme, and the reserved Beef.
Add the wine and stock until just covering the beef. Bring to boil, cover, and place in oven for 4 hours.
Remove the beef from the liquid. Strain braising liquid through a fine sieve. Skim any fat from the top of the braising liquid.
Return the liquid to the pan, bring to boil and reduce until the sauce thickens, and then add the beef back to the liquid. Check for seasoning & enjoy!
I'm very excited about my first wine and cheese pairing of 2012, because both components are complex and flavorful: suberb on their own and marry together in a super surprising (and delicious) way - which is the #1 goal when creating a perfect pairing!
2010 Pighin Pinot Grigio Collio is a beautiful golden color and very aromatic with hints of hazelnut, white fruit and subtle spice. The palate is delicate, but expressive with layers of flavor, literally each sip brings out something new - if you don't think of enjoying white wine with food, give this a try! It is rich and earthy, medium to full-bodied and has a hint of peach, a ton of minerality and a textured mouth feel that is a very different from many Americanized, flat/light Pinot Gris you may have tasted and said "yuck". Azienda Fratelli Pighin is a magnificently beautiful family-owned estate located in the prestigious D.O.C Collio zone of Grave-del-Friuli, in northeast Italy, and they remain a benchmark producer for Pinot Grigio.
After enjoying a few sips of Pighin, I pick up a piece of very stinky Grayson, a gooey, golden, washed-rind cheese from Virginia. Meadow Creek's Grayson looks like Tallegio and smells like feet, which is great, considering this cheese is produced by the Feete family. This cheese smells dirty and straight from the barn, but tastes mild and amazing. It is creamy, with a thick paste that coats your mouth and I immediate think of using it in mac + cheese. The flavor is deep and hearty with onions and meaty beef on the palate, it could be a meal. The taste tames the scent and although it does smells like feet, Grayson will knock your socks off.
Once I have covered all of my tastebuds with the cheese, I take a hearty sip of the wine. It tastes like banana! In a good way. Thankfully I'm tasting with a number of others, confirming the banana burst and full-bodied tropical fruit that I find within this wine and cheese combination. The hazelnut flavor in the Pinot Grigio is also amplified when paired with the cheese and the meaty character of the cheese is humbled by the layers of fruit in the wine.
While both the Pighin and the Grayson are outstanding on their own, this pairing truly brings out the best of each other, while creating a new flavor together. That being said, a perfect pairing like this is able to work because 3 tasting principles are at work: the weight - each component is similar, medium to full bodied, with big aromatics, that greatly play into the what you experience while tasting. The texture - the wine and cheese "feel" similar in your mouth, they coat your tongue with creamy, smooth layers. Finally, the flavor - the wine is hearty and earthy, which is a great clue that the taste will be enhanced with food. The cheese is tastes like a meal itself, and of course, meals are always better with wine - I can't wait for you to try this combination! When you do, please post your thoughts here or share with our Facebook community!
If you’ve read our 2009 Rhone vintage report, you already know that it is a year that produced some brilliant wines. One of the top values that we’ve tasted from this vintage is Domaine les Grands Bois Cotes du Rhone ‘Cuvee les Trois Soeurs’.
Domaine les Grands Bois has deep roots in the Rhone Valley. It has been a family operated grower since 1929, and saw its first estate bottling in 1997. They make a number of different wines, including Les Trois Soeurs, from 60+ year old vines.
The blend is 65% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 20% Carignan. It shows initial flavors of dark fig and plum, with beautiful aromas of crushed black berry and spice. Herbs and earth round out the finish with just a touch of anise. Well textured tannins and some good acidity make this an excellent wine to be paired with foods, including lamb, veal, mushrooms, and game.
Fall is that time of the year when we all start craving comfort foods and one of my all-time favorite comfort foods is risotto. It is a generally easy dish to make, as long as you can pay attention to the pot.
8oz Crimini Mushrooms
8oz Shiitake Mushrooms
½ Spanish Onion
1 ½ C of Arborio Rice
1 C Parmesan Cheese
4-6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1qt of mushroom stock (can be bought)
Begin by cooking the mushrooms in a mixture of butter and oil on medium heat, season well with salt and pepper, do not overcrowd the pan, sauté them until browned in three to four batches. Set aside for later. Mince the onion and add some more oil and add to the pan. Cook until the onion has just begun to caramelize. Deglaze the pan with the stock and empty the pan into another pot and keep hot.
Add some more oil to the pan and add the Rice, cook for 1 min in the oil and ladle in 1 cup of Stock. Continue to add the stock 1 cup at a time until the rice is just done. Remove from the heat and add the reserved cooked mushrooms, the parmesan; and salt and pepper to taste, and finish with some butter. The rice should be fluid, if needed add additional stock.
I love the combination of two opposite flavors that are enjoyable alone, but taste better together. Over the weekend, I found an incredible Italian pair: Pecorino Ginepro, a semi-hard sheep's milk cheese paired with Quattro Mani Barbera, a juicy red wine from Piedmont.
Quattro Mani Barbera Piemonte 2010 is a red wine from the Italian grape variety Barbera. This grape is known for its deep color, low tannins and high acidity level and this bottle appropriately captures each traditional quality. On the nose, this wine has an aroma of sweet plum and light spice, and is youthful, fruit-forward and extremely approachable on the palate with a bright acidity, plum, and blackberry flavors, and a soft finish.
The producer, Quattro Mani, translates to "four hands", and consists of a few celebrity-status Italian winemakers, each with a strong tie to the land and a comittment to substainable farming practices. Collectively, they produce Barbera, Montepulciano, Tocai, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Bianco. Quattro Mani Barbera is produced by the skilled winemaker Danilo Droco who was described as "One of the Great Names of Piedmontese Winemaking" by Robert Parker earlier this year.
Pecorino Ginepro, a truly beautiful cheese from the Italian province of Emilia-Romagna, is tangy and zippy, with a dark, woody rind. It is a semi-hard sheep's milk cheese is aged 4-6 months and washed in balsamic vinegar and soaked with crushed juniper berries (ginepro is Italian for juniper). The powerful rind on this cheese is delicious, which in itself, is a great compliment to the softer, salty heart of this Pecorino.
Paired with Quattro Mani Barbera, the Balsamic flavor of the rind is intensified and the red fruit of the young wine partners with the cheese to soften the acidity, and together, the wine tastes as though it has experienced a few years in the bottle. The salty cheese's juniper flavor is mouthwatering, and does not overbear the wine's best qualities, creating a very smooth flavor profile. Absolutely outstanding.