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Eric Genau
 
October 21, 2013 | Eric Genau

Terroir Series: Stunning Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir From a California Superstar

Hirsch VineyardThis week's Terroir Series focuses on Sonoma Coast and takes a look at why this region is considered to be home to some of the greatest Pinot Noir in California. The Sonoma Coast offers views as breathtaking as Big Sur to the south, with vineyards sitting above crashing waves and rocky cliffs, in the midst of fog-clouded, one-lane roads. It is some of the most beautiful scenery in California, but the region's real asset in wine terms lies beneath the surface, where the fabled San Andreas Fault lies. The collision of the Pacific plate with the North American plate is the cause of deadly earthquakes, but it also creates a complex soil structure that makes this one of the most terroir-driven areas in the US. 

A Snaphot of Sonoma Coast Terroir: The appellation is known for its complex soils, from clay loam near the San Pablo Bay to the rocky soils in the ridges off the Pacific coastline. This is a cool micro-climate with high rainfall relative to other parts of Sonoma County, but still warm enough to ripen grapes because most vineyards are above the fog line.

Ross Cobb is working Pinot Noir magic here, after cutting his teeth at the likes of Williams Selyem and Flowers. he champions a cool-climate style of Pinot Noir that captures the complex nuances of the Sonoma Coast, and of top vineyard sites including his family’s Coastlands Vineyard. Cobb says his approach is to "authentically reflect the terroir of each vineyard, striving for a more complex, aromatic, lower-alcohol expression of the varietal picked at lower Brix and aged with a modest amount of new French oak." 

2010 also marks the year that Cobb took over the winemaking at Hirsch, one of the California's most famous Pinot Noir vineyards. It is Hirsch’s 30th year of farming on the extreme Sonoma Coast, and the Estate San Andreas Fault is their signature Pinot and the best representation of the complex terroirs of this vineyard. This, along with Cobb's single-vineyard wines from 2009, are stunning examples of the potential of world-class Pinot Noir in the Sonoma Coast.

FEATURED SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR FROM SUPERSTAR WINEMAKER, ROSS COBB:

Hirsch Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate San Andreas Fault 2010
Cobb Pinot Noir Coastlands Vineyard Sonoma Coast 2009
Cobb Pinot Noir Emmaline Ann Vineyard Sonoma Coast 2009
Cobb Pinot Noir Rice-Spivak Vineyard Sonoma Coast 2009

Time Posted: Oct 21, 2013 at 2:00 PM Permalink to Terroir Series: Stunning Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir From a California Superstar Permalink
Eric Genau
 
July 1, 2013 | Eric Genau

Following the 100th Tour de France with Wine

As we gear up for Independence Day, and the 100th Tour de France begins to roll, it is once again time to feature some of our favorite wines as we follow the greatest race on earth. Get excited for 2,200 miles over three weeks, and some of the greatest wine regions in and around France!

Cycling may be the most wine friendly sport in the world. Its three "Grand Tours" - the Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España and the Tour de France - roll through some of the world's greatest wine regions every year. If you are an avid cyclist who likes to eat, drink and climb (not at the same time), you can saddle up a racing level Pinarello Dogma with our partner InGamba, where my good friend and former pro cyclist, Joao Correia will introduce you to some of Tuscany's greatest food, wine and rides (Bicycling Magazine calls it the "Best ride on earth"). Trust me, riding with Joao and visiting the likes of Castello di Ama will be one of the greatest experiences of your life. For the mere mortals among us, there are nearly endless options for enjoying cycling and wine around the world.

Wine and cycling are two things most identified with France. One of the greatest wine-producing nations on earth, Le Tour is also perhaps the most demanding athletic competition in the world, and the scenery is breathtaking. This year, we have already seen incredible scenery as the Tour visited Corsica for the first time. And there are few things more visually stunning than seeing a Peloton of color gliding through miles of vineyard roads.

Keeping with tradition, we will be following the Tour closely with a series of tastings to explore some of France's great wine-producing regions. Beginning in Corsica and on the Mediterranean coast at Nice and Marseilles, this year's ride will also pass through Provence, the Rhone Valley, Savoie, Languedoc-Rousillon, the Loire Valley and other wine regions. On Bastille Day, it will just miss the southern tip of Burgundy - a stage that the French riders always "reach into their suitcase of courage" to win.

With over 300 recognized appellations in France, the Tour is also a great opportunity to open some of our most oddball wines from France so you can get in touch with your inner wine-geek. Please check our tasting calendar and join us for some or all of these tastings. It’s going to be a fun few weeks!

Time Posted: Jul 1, 2013 at 8:05 AM Permalink to Following the 100th Tour de France with Wine Permalink
Matt Cole
 
October 19, 2012 | Matt Cole

Pinot Noir and Simple Roasted Chicken

2009 and 2010 have been stellar years for California Pinot Noir and I have enjoyed these past two vintages more than any other Pinot I have ever tasted from the region.  We have been able to procure some pretty awesome wines from both vintages and with the arrival of cool autumn weather, the timing couldn't be better - Fall is the perfect season to spend time sitting around the table with friends and famly, enjoying robust red wines and hearty dinners. 

Last week, I opened a bottle of Arista Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2010, which I knew I wanted to pair with one of my favorite recipes.  Arista is committed to sustainable farming, and owns some of the top Pinot Noir vineyards in Sonoma. They work closely with local growers that share the same philosophy to create this Pinot Noir, which is blend of grapes from different vineyards within Sonoma. The wine is defined by its refreshing acidity and floral aromatics, making it an ideal candidate to pair with food. It has flavors of raspberry, wild cherry, and some baking spices,  a full mouth-feel and integrated tannins with aromas of light smoke and cocoa. Only 850 cases have been produced, and as this month's featured recipe pairing, we're offering 15% off!  This is a great wine at $28.04/bottle

I made one of my all-time favorite things to cook -- simple roasted chicken.  One of the best tricks I have discovered is that if you line the roasting pan with a blend of mushrooms and leeks.  It makes an easy and delicious sauce to accompany the chicken, and allows a red wine to pair a little nicer with the white meat. 

Ingredients

Whole Chicken Roaster (5-6lbs.)
Blend of Mushrooms (1lb.)
White of 1 Leek Cleaned and chopped
8 Sprigs of fresh Thyme

Directions

1. As always, pour yourself a glass of Pinot Noir
2. Pre-heat oven to 450ºF
3. Truss the chicken, by taking about 3’ of butchers twine and wrapping around the breast, keeping the wings tucked in, around the legs and tie
4. Season the breast liberally inside and out with salt and pepper
5. Rough chop mushrooms and scatter around the bottom of the roasting pan with the leeks and the thyme
6. Place the trussed bird atop the mushroom leek mixture
7. Place in oven and roast until the internal temperature reaches 160ºF (about 90 minutes) and allow the bird to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
8. Discard the thyme sprigs and serve with the formed sauce.

Enjoy!

Time Posted: Oct 19, 2012 at 11:00 AM Permalink to Pinot Noir and Simple Roasted Chicken Permalink Comments for Pinot Noir and Simple Roasted Chicken Comments (2)
Eric Genau
 
June 29, 2012 | Eric Genau

Tasting Your Way Through the Tour de France

Happy July! It's time to gear up for Independence Day and the Tour de France...and it's one of the best times of the year to drink good wine. If you don't know already, I love wine and I love cycling. As always, the Tour's 2,200 mile, three week race, gives us an easy excuse to feature some of our favorite French wines. I've written before about how much I love this time of year:

I love this time of year.  The sun is out, flowers are in bloom, the new vintage of rosé is here for all to enjoy -- and the Tour de France rolls out on what also happens to be the birthday of our Country and my only son.  Pro Cycling is a pretty cool sport if you're a wine enthusiast.  Its three "Grand Tours" run through some of the world's greatest wine regions every year -- the Giro d'Italia (Italy), Vuelta a España (Spain) and the Tour de France.  Whether you ride or not, Le Tour is thrilling to watch.  The race itself is perhaps the most demanding athletic competition in the world, and the scenery is breathtaking.  There are few things more visually stunning than seeing a Peloton of color gliding through miles of vineyard roads.  It is inspiring in every respect, and it always makes me want to drink wine.

Peloton entering MaconKeeping with tradition, we will be following the Tour closely with a series of tastings to explore France's unique regions. As always, the race itself rolls through some of France's most well-known wine appellations. The early days will see the riders glide through Épernay in the heart of Champagne (although they will probably wait until the ride into Paris to actually drink Champagne on the saddle), and through the Vosges Mountains just west of Alsace. Stage 10 brings the Peloton back to Maçon, the southernmost city in Burgundy, just north of the hills of Beaujolais. Maçon will be a stage town for the fifth time, and has hosted important time-trials in the past. Look for some excitement here! If only because we're going to use this opportunity to open some awesome wine. And don't forget to plan your Bastille Day festivities around the Stage 13 ride out of the Rhone Valley and into the Languedoc-Roussillon -- this is one the French riders really push hard to win. 

For every appellation you've heard of in France, there are probably ten you didn't know existed (there are over 300 recognized appellations)! And so this is also a great opportunity to open some of our most oddball wines from France so you can get in touch with your inner wine-geek. This is going to be a fun few weeks! We kick it all off with some wines from Champagne and Alsace on June 29th between 5-7pm. Check out our Events Calendar as we update all of our Tour-themed tastings. 

If you really want to go crazy, come up with some sort of Tour de France Wine Game. Here's a creative one we sort of borrowed from (randomly) the Phoenix New Times:

•    Each time Phil Liggett says a rider is "reaching into his suitcase of courage", take a drink.
•    Each time Paul Sherwen says "The elastic has snapped!", open a new bottle, fill everyone's glass and take a drink.
•    Each time Liggett or Sherwen corrects the other on some incorrect fact or observation, take a drink.
•    Each time Bob Roll says "Tour-Day-France", feel ashamed to be an American and take a drink.
•    Each time Liggett or Sherwen remark on the riders taking a "nature break", go ahead and take one yourself.

Time Posted: Jun 29, 2012 at 7:57 AM Permalink to Tasting Your Way Through the Tour de France Permalink
Traci Lee
 
March 3, 2012 | Traci Lee

The Big Cheesy

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'shas 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 Muensterwhich 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!  

Time Posted: Mar 3, 2012 at 10:09 PM Permalink to The Big Cheesy Permalink Comments for The Big Cheesy Comments (1)
Matt Cole
 
August 29, 2011 | Matt Cole

Simple & Delicious: Pinot Noir Paired with Pork Tenderloin

2009 Evening Land Pinot Noir – Blue Label

One of my favorite wine regions at the moment is Oregon's Willamette Valley. The Pinot Noirs coming out of Oregon are some of the best I have ever tasted.  They tend to be more Burgundian in style, while retaining some of the new world nuances.

Tonight’s selection is the 2009 Evening Land Pinot Noir Blue Label. Evening Land has very strong ties with Burgundy, and that influence is expressed in the wine. Not only do they make wines in Burgundy, but they also utilize the consulting services of Dominique Lafon, a forerunner of modern Burgundian viticulturists. Mark Tarlov, the proprietor, began his career in the movie industry.  While visiting Burgundy he enticed Lafon in supporting his production.  The Blue Label is now sourced exclusively from Seven Springs Vineyard, and it is poured at top restaurants like The Modern, Bouchon, Craft, and Gotham. 

 To be able to find such a quality made Pinot Noir at this price point is extremely rare. Josh Reynolds of Stephen Tanzar awarded the wine 90 points stating: “Ruby-red. Lively, complex aromas of raspberry, cherry, black tea and cola. Suave and silky, with good intensity and depth to its pure red fruit and spice flavors. Shows power without any undue weight and an attractive sappy quality. Finishes with silky, fine-grained tannins. It is quite refined for the price and drinks very well now.”

I am going to pair the wine with Pork Tenderloin. A very versatile meat choice and it works really wonderfully with the Pinot. I begin by trimming the silver skin on the butt end of the tenderloin; try not to trim too much, leave as much fat as possible, it will melt while cooking. I cut the tenderloin in half so I can control the cooking temperature; the thinner end cooks much quicker and can dry out. Coat the tenderloin with olive oil and fresh thyme, season with salt and pepper. Place the larger portion in a pre-heated skillet (cast iron preferably) sear on all sides then follow the same with the smaller portion; throw in 2-3 whole garlic cloves (peal on but smashed) and a tablespoon of butter; allow to brown and baste the tenderloin; place in a preheated oven at 425 for about 8 minutes to finish. Remove from the pan and allow the meat to rest on cutting board. For the sauce: return the pan to the stove and add some white wine to the pan to deglaze, make sure to scrape all the brown bits into the sauce.

Reduce down until all alcohol has been removed, remove from heat and stir in 1-2 tablespoons
of cold unsalted butter. Sauce the plate, slice the pork, place on top of the sauce, pour yourself
a glass of Pinot, and enjoy!

Time Posted: Aug 29, 2011 at 1:08 AM Permalink to Simple & Delicious:  Pinot Noir Paired with Pork Tenderloin Permalink Comments for Simple & Delicious:  Pinot Noir Paired with Pork Tenderloin Comments (2)
Eric Genau
 
February 16, 2011 | Eric Genau

Different Wines for Different Palates

One of our goals at City Wine Merchant is to get to know our customers well so that we can help find wines to suit individual palates. Everyone's tastes are different, and while we encourage everyone to discover and taste new wines, we know that our top priority is to recommend wines to people based on what we know they like.  That typically means that, in any given wine category, we will make every effort to have a broad selection of different producers, regions and styles. 

Athena Pappas & Stewart BoedeckerThis week, I had the pleasure of meeting Stewart Boedecker, co-owner and winemaker of Oregon's Boedecker Cellars, who made our job a little easier in the Oregon Pinot Noir category.  As we tasted through a few of Stewart's 2007 and 2008 Pinot Noirs at City Wine Merchant, Stewart explained the unique philosophy of two of his flagship cuvees - they each reflect the different palates of him and his wife, Athena, who is a co-owner and winemaker.

As he explained, The Stewart is red fruited, full of bright acidity, soft tannins and herbal aromatics created mainly from Wadenswil and Pommard. The essence of the Athena cuvee shows a black to blue fruit core, heartier tannins and spice, components redolent of the clones developed in Dijon. 

For their cuvees, Boedecker works with some of Willamette's top Vineyards, including Shea and Momtazi.  Stewart stressed that the climate, the vineyards and the clones all influence the distinctiveness of the wines, and that their goal is to allow those differences to unfold in the wines.  For example, while the grapes are hand sorted in the vineyard, they once again sort them in the winery. They ferment in small lots, maintain each vineyard separately and monitor each lot by hand, by smell and by taste.

Once in barrel, the wines age for 18+ months. The barrels are all French oak, the wine is aged 9-10 months sur lie, on 30% new oak, the aged another 9-10 months off lees in all neutral barrels.  In order to determine which barrel of wine will bear the name of Stewart or Athena, they blind taste through each barrel, as many as 40 barrels at a time.

It is rare for a producer to focus on making two distinct styles, but in this case the result is two delicious, unique wines that exhibit the terroir and character of different vineyards, barrels, and techniques.  It is a great way to make wines that appeal to different palates, and a great way to keep things fun and interesting as a producer. When I asked him which one sold better, he had the diplomatic answer: they were tied!

If you are a fan of Pinot Noir, I encourage you to try both of these wines to decide for yourself which one better suits your palate.  The Boedecker Cellars Pinot Noir Stewart 2008 (WS92) and Boedecker Cellars Pinot Noir Athena 2007 are both available for under $30!  These are some of the best Pinot values we've seen out of Oregon to date!!

Time Posted: Feb 16, 2011 at 6:04 AM Permalink to Different Wines for Different Palates Permalink Comments for Different Wines for Different Palates Comments (1)
Eric Genau
 
January 11, 2011 | Eric Genau

Revisiting Oregon Pinot Noir and Rethinking Champagne

When I wrote down my Wine Resolutions for the New Year back in December 2009, I was thinking of things that would help me to enjoy wine in 2010, and to help others continue on their wine journeys.  Looking back, if you followed at least one of the suggestions I noted - to Discover Oregon Wine -  it likely would have brought you great joy in 2010.  Little did I know then that we would see perhaps the greatest Pinot Noir vintage in U.S. history coming out of Oregon's Willamette Valley.  Simply put, 2008 Oregon Pinot Noir is my choice for the most exciting wine story of 2010.  And so, my first suggestion for 2011 is this:  If you have not yet tasted the Willamette Valley's 2008 Pinots, proceed immediately to your local wine merchant or online retailer and start buying these up (City Wine Merchant has a great selection)!  These wines will be completely gone from store shelves within the next 6 months (here's hoping the 2009 vintage follows-up well).

While my 2010 suggestions still apply this year and will help to heighten your wine enjoyment in 2011, it recently occurred to me that I completely missed the mark last year by not even mentioning Champagne!  I have long said that if I were trapped on a desert island and could only pick one thing to drink for the rest of my life, it would be Champagne (but I would miss the Pinot Noirs of Burgundy a lot).  Yes, good Champagne is unrivaled to accompany life's great celebrations, but it is so much more.  In 2011, make it a point to discover Grower Champagne (put down that bottle of Veuve Clicquot for a few months), and to drink Champagne with food. 

On New Year's Eve, my wife and I were reminded of Champagne's great food-pairing potential as we enjoyed a near perfect meal at Seabar, one of our favorite restaurants in Buffalo.  If you haven't experienced Chef Mike Andrzejewski's brilliance, you are missing out (check out Mike's NYC dinner at the James Beard House in February).  For Champagne, Vilmart & Cie Champagne 'Grand Cellier' (a blend of 30% Chardonnay and 70% Pinot Noir) was the choice of the night.  After enjoying a magical pairing with Washington State oysters, my entree of grilled shrimp and goat's cheese potato pierogi blew my mind.  The dish was a crazy fusion of flavors, made with a red wine sauce and sauteed onions, and I can think of no better match for this than the toasty Champagne.  Sound odd?  Try it.  Every component of the Champagne had a complement in the food, and vice versa.  It was a great example of how Champagne can be great with food, and it was a perfect way to end a great 2010. 

Thank you to everyone for supporting City Wine Merchant in 2010.  Cheers to a happy and productive 2011!

Time Posted: Jan 11, 2011 at 9:20 AM Permalink to Revisiting Oregon Pinot Noir and Rethinking Champagne Permalink Comments for Revisiting Oregon Pinot Noir and Rethinking Champagne Comments (2)
Eric Genau
 
December 31, 2009 | Eric Genau

Wine Resolutions for the New Year

As I look back on an amazing first 5 months and a great 2009, I have a real sense of excitement for 2010.  City Wine Merchant is still a new business, and there are so many things I'd like to do in the new year!  It is our goal to make wine fun for our customers, and to continue to impact the way our customers buy and enjoy wine.  I promise that will continue, and we will do our part to bring exciting wines to you at great prices.  It has been incredible to meet so many great people over the past few months, and I look forward to seeing all of you in 2010!

Here are a few other suggestions for the new year to help us all continue our wine journey and hopefully discover something new in 2010:

1.  Drink Local!  Discover or continue to enjoy the fantastic wines produced in the Niagara Escarpment (USA).  I will be the first to admit that local wines were barely on my radar screen when I opened CWM.  Sure, I've had a great Finger Lakes Riesling here and there, but little did I know that a wine renaissance was happening right in our backyard.  The Niagara Escarpment is home to numerous innovative winemakers, producing top quality wines (red and white) at great prices.  Don't believe us?  Take home Arrowhead Spring's full lineup of Red Meritage, Chardonnay, Semi-Dry Riesling, Port-style dessert wine, and Icewine -- and I challenge you to find a weak-link in the group!

2.  Discover Oregon and Washington.  These two states are producing some of the most exciting wines in the country, plain and simple.  If you haven't fully explored Oregon's Pinot Noir and Washington's Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends, then you are truly missing out on something historic.  These wines are some of the best in the world, and they may change the way you think about these varietals.  While some of you may ultimately prefer generally bigger and more-modern-styled wines from California, you may just find that Washington Cabernet and Oregon Pinot Noir are more to your liking.  Some of our favorite producers from Oregon are Patricia Green, Penner-Ash, Bergstrom, Panther Creek, and A to Z.  From Washington, try something from L'Ecole 41, Pepperbridge, Charles Smith, and Januik. 

3.  Drink wine with food.  We at City Wine Merchant believe that wine is meant to compliment a great meal (and vice-versa).  While wine continues to enjoy unprecedented growth in the United States, it has been our experience that many people still overlook the benefit of pairing wine with food.  That's a shame.  There is a saying that "drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life's most civilized pleasures."  Make it a point to experience that in 2010 by putting a little thought into how you can heighten your enjoyment of wine by pairing it with food.  You just may find that it also heightens your enjoyment of food!  Organize or attend wine dinner, or perhaps try picking a wine first and then try to find a good recipe to match it with!  A suggestion or two?  Try seafood with Vermentino from Sardinia, Italy or Lamb with Malbec from Cahors, France. 

4.  Put that bottle away.  While it is impossible to drink aged-wine every day or every week, there is something magical about a wine that has the benefit of time in a bottle.  Flavors and aromas come together and layers are revealed.  In a world where high alcohol content and big fruit-bombs are a-plenty, we often enjoy wines that hit us over the head like a hammer with flavor.  But we also, more often than not, drink wines too young.  When reading about wines, pay attention to suggested drinking windows, and put a bottle or two down in the cellar to see how it changes and evolves over a couple years or more.  Don't have the patience for that?  Good wine shops always stock past-vintages of wines that are cellar-worthy.  Instead of buying that highly-rated 2007 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, ask your wine merchant for something with a little age on it (2003-2006 were all excellent vintages - try Beaurenard CDP 2004 or Ferrand's 2006 CDP).  You may find a better experience and a better value.  Some of our other suggestions for great values and wines that are becoming ready to drink: 2004 Bordeaux and Burgundy, and 2001 and 2003 vintages from Tuscany and Piedmont, Italy. 

5.  Open that bottle!  Didn't I just say that we should put more bottles away to enjoy them down the road?  Yes, but even more important is to not forget that wine is meant to be enjoyed and shared.  Don't let great bottles sit for years or decades because you can't seem to find the right occasion to open them.  Have a 1986 Lafite still sitting around?  Invite a few great friends over, put some steaks on the grill and pop that cork!  Sometimes organizing a fun night around a special wine is the perfect reason to open that bottle.  Better yet, encourage everyone to do the same, and have everyone say a few words about why that wine is special to them.  This is exactly what Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher of the Wall Street Journal had in mind when they started touting an "Open That Bottle Night" on the last Saturday in February every year.  I have been celebrating OTBN for a few years, and some of the most memorable wines I've ever had were opened on this night.  Why the arbitrary date?  That's the point.  The wine you open doesn't have to be the most expensive or the highest rated.  Rather, pick that bottle that was special enough, for whatever reason, to make you hold onto while trying to find that perfect night to finally pop the cork.  Now you've found that night!

Time Posted: Dec 31, 2009 at 9:00 AM Permalink to Wine Resolutions for the New Year Permalink Comments for Wine Resolutions for the New Year Comments (3)
Eric Genau
 
October 6, 2009 | Eric Genau

Fall Wine Dinner Recap: All About Harmony

I'm usually not lost for some words of my own, but after having a day to reflect on Tabree's Fall Wine Dinner, I think that Mike Depue said it all at the dinner's conclusion: It was all about harmony.  Michael Broadbent said, "drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life's most civilized pleasures."  Good wine with good food elevates both, and every time I have great wine and food pairings like this night, I am reminded how we often forget that wine is for so much more than drinking.  I was also reminded on this night how we live in a world of so many over-the-top wines and over-the-top food dishes with crazy proportions.  This night was a complete escape from that, focusing rather on simplicity and balance.

The evening began with beautiful passed hors d'oeuvres, along with a crisp, mineral-laden Cailbourdin Pouilly-Fume 'Les Cris' 2007.  The wine was focused and raw, with only a subtle note of citrus present.  It struck me that this was how Sauvignon Blanc should taste.

Tabree's Oyster Gratin and Calvados set the stage for one of the evening's true highlights - Henri Billiot Brut Reserve Champagne.  This was grower Champagne at its finest.  From 80% Pinot Noir (100% Grand Cru) and it showed.  I thought this tasted more like Pinot Noir than any Champagne I've ever had.  It was full-bodied with fresh-out-of-the-oven blueberry pie notes, and the pairing was a perfect blending of flavors and textures.  Extremely limited production, from a tiny 5 hectare parcel.

Skate Wing Schnitzle, haricot vert, and beurre rouge allowed us to showcase a young but refined 2005 Burgundy.  Rossignol-Trapet Gevrey-Chambertin 2005 was a classic representative of its appellation, unfolding in the glass to reveal a light, elegant wine of mineral, red fruit, and soft baking spice.  Both the wine and Tabree's dark, rich sauce were a couple of my personal favorites from the evening.

For the main entree, Braised Beef, wild mushroom, pearl onion, and demi-glace paired with Les Baux de Provence 'Mas de Gourgonnier' 2007.  While the rest of the evening showcased refined and elegant pairings, this veered toward rustic while still maintaining great balance and restraint.  This was the best wine value of the night, proving that you can get interesting, quality French wine for under $15.  This is such a cool wine (in a cool bottle), and it throws herbs, fruit and spice at you in waves.  After this course, there was little doubt that this was an authentic French food and wine experience.

For a final pairing, Apple Tart Tatin paired with Chateau Tuileries Sauternes 2005.  The dessert was delicious.  Again, simple but elegant.  And this time the food and wine had exactly the same theme - rich but light at the same time.  The Sauternes was classic, with layers of honey and citrus.  Sauternes can often be very heavy and viscous, but this was almost airy in the mouth.  It was a another great value, as this one sells in a 750ml bottle for a fraction of the price of many half-bottle Icewines. 

Thanks to Tabree for a job well done, and thanks to everyone who turned out for this great experience. 

Time Posted: Oct 6, 2009 at 4:52 PM Permalink to Fall Wine Dinner Recap: All About Harmony Permalink