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Matt Cole
January 31, 2012 | Matt Cole

Expressive Syrah & Braised Short Ribs

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
Serves 6

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! 

Time Posted: Jan 31, 2012 at 8:00 AM Permalink to Expressive Syrah & Braised Short Ribs Permalink
Traci Lee
August 1, 2011 | Traci Lee

What is Cheddar?

Over the years, I have been asked an uncountable number of quesions about Cheddar.   Unfortunately, the question is rarely about the country of origin, milk type or even a wine that pairs best.  The most asked question is usually presented in a soft voice that suggests I’m-embarrassed-to-ask, but... “Is cheddar cool?” The answer is always the same, YES! Cheddar is super cool, but it is widely misunderstood. 

The concept of Cheddar is often based on the yellow/orange, grocery store stuff we were introduced to as kids, but true English Cheddar has been produced since at least the 12th century. The name “Cheddar Cheese” does not have a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in the European Union, however Cheddar produced from local milk within four counties of South West England may use the PDO name "West Country Farmhouse Cheddar.”  Basically, this means the cheese was never legally defined, resulting in an unbearable number of undeserving cheeses using the name on their label. This has created confusion for genuine and delicious British Farmhouse Cheddar, and often an un-cool personality in the minds cheese shoppers.

The Real Stuff
This cheese originates from the village named Cheddar, located in Somerset, in South West England and is produced from local raw milk, using the cheese making method of “cheddaring,” which is cutting the curds into blocks and strategically stacking, by-hand, to eliminate whey. After large format wheels are created, the slabs are bandaged in a cloth wrap, and then aged for at least 11 months (often much longer) in high temperatures and humidity.  This creates a firm texture, that literally melts in your mouth and typically yields a hint of sharpness, as well as a mild and elegant flavor.  Cheddar is often crumbly, and may have a slight crunch on the tongue due to large crystals of calcium lactate formed during the aging process.  Personally, I call the crystals cheese diamonds, as they are found in perfectly aged cheeses!

Below are two of my favoite Cheddars, and a few pairing wines. Email me when you try the wines, the cheeses or the pairings, I would love to hear your feedback!

Keen’s Cheddar – The Moorhayes family have been producing this award winning Cheddar in Somerset, England since 1899 using raw milk and the same recipe for generations. This cheese is distributed in the US through Neal’s Dairy Yard, I point this out, as this name is often listed on menus! Keen’s Cheddar has a slight sweetness, along with a complex nutty flavor.

Wine Pairing: Sherman & Hookers Shebang Red North Coast, from California’s North Coast. Sherman & Hooker is a project by Morgan Twain-Peterson, the son of Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson. He also produces wine under the cult-ish Bedrock Cellars label. It is a blend of 80% Syrah, 10% Sangiovese, 5% Zinfandel, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Marsanne/ Roussanne/Grenache Blanc. This wine is full of red fruit flavors, that pair incredibly well with Cheddar, and it's a great value!

Quicke's Cheddar – Mrs. Mary Quicke manages a farm of 340 grass-fed cows in Devon, England and produces raw milk wheels of firm, creamy, yet sharp cheddar.  Order this cheese online at Murray's Cheese!

Wine Pairing: Chateau Helene Corbieres Penelope Rouge Tradition 2009 is a fresh, aromatic red blend of 40% Syrah 30% Grenache, and 30% Carignan from the Languedoc Roussillon in France. This wine is organically produced and aged in concrete vats, and offers dried fruit and earth on the nose, while the palate is full and ripe with plum, raspberry, spice and smoke. The acidity is a perfect balance to the creamy texture of Quicke’s Cheddar.  With our mix-and-match discount, this wine is a steal at $11.89!

Time Posted: Aug 1, 2011 at 1:02 PM Permalink to What is Cheddar? Permalink