Meanwhile in #TXwine-Texas Tuesday

While my opportunities to sneak away may diminish with summer, the world of Texas wine isn’t slowing.  In fact, it continues to expand in size and reputation.  My news feed has been full of announcements of accolades, invitations, and openings.  While I can’t attend or respond to all of them in the 18 minutes of free time,(on a good day) I am there in spirit, and in time, I’ll get to experience these wines and places myself.

One event I was able to attend was sponsored by Llano Estacado and featured wines from their new line for restaurants, Mont Sec.  The Sauvignon Blanc and Grenache Rose are made from grapes from Mont Sec Vineyards in the Chihuahuan Desert. Despite the rugged climate and challenging conditions, the area yields fruit that makes fantastic wine.  I really enjoyed both wines and would buy them by the case if I could.  Unfortunately, they are only available through restaurants.  If you see them, don’t hesitate.

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I paired the Mont Sec Sauvignon Blanc with Greek style meatballs, Tzatziki. and cucumber salad.  I shared the bottle with my family, all of whom were impressed. The Rose was a fun fresh compliment to a casual Friday dinner of Berbere meatballs, Rosemary white bean dip, asparagus. My only complaint was that there was a hole in my glass.

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The other stand-out of the evening was, of course, the flagship Viviano ($35).  The nod to a Super Tuscan (70% Cab, 30% Sangiovese) is a perennial favorite.  Jubilant fruit, spice, elegance.  I paired a bottle with lamb chops, roasted fingerlings, and kale avocado salad.  It worked, but I think I could have done better.  I’ll have to try again.

Hawk’s Shadow Winery had their opening this past weekend in Dripping Springs.  I wish I could tell you something about the wine, but this is one I missed.  Since Saturdays from 12-6 are currently booked, it may have to wait until fall.  For more information, see their website.

If you are looking for something to do this weekend, Flat Creek will be holding Vinopalooza on premise.  Music and wine in a beautiful setting sounds like a great way to celebrate.  For tickets and more detailed information, follow this link.

One of my favorite Texas wineries received five awards at the recent San Francisco International Wine competition.  Congratulations Kim and company.  You continue to impress me with the quality of wines that you are able to make while keeping them accessibly priced.  I’ll miss our stop this summer. McPherson Cellars wines stood out with the following wines:

Les Copains Rosé – GOLD
Les Copains White – Silver
Albariño – Silver
Viognier – Bronze
La Herencia – Bronze

In the same competition, Brennan Vineyards became the first Texas winery to bring home TWO Double Golds. The 2014 Mourvedre Dry Rose and the 2013 Tempranillo were both given the highest accolades.  I can’t wait to try them!

Wedding Oak Winery was awarded “Best Albariño” and given Double Gold for the same wine. They also received two bronze medals for Terre Rouge and Sangiovese.

These are the awards I have found via social media but when the full list is released today I am sure we will be adding to the list.

Finally, another wine on the list to try is one bottle by Vinovium Partners that I spied at Whole Foods Arbor Trails. I have the utmost respect for the guys behind this, Daniel Kelada and Craig Mayer.  They are driving the Texas Wine Journal and putting their efforts, energies, and enthusiasm into Texas wine like few others.

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In summer, my children’s freedom expands, mine shrinks.  And attempts to shrink waistlines for summer means an expanding list of wines I need to try.  My apologies for not much in the way of personal experience, but just because I’m having less fun in the wine world doesn’t mean you can’t have it for me.  I’d love to hear about your adventures and new discoveries in #TXwine. I’ll put them on the list for the freedom of fall. Cheers!

P.S.  The complete list is available now on TX Wine Lover.  So much to be excited about!

Summer Salmon,Two Ways

School’s…out…for summer!

Somehow I tried to believe that I, too, was now “off.”  I have to admit: I’ve been a little casual about cleaning and a little last-minute lazy in the kitchen.  But aren’t I allowed?  I always try to keep it simple, even more so now.  Throw something on the grill (or let my husband).  Turn the oven on minimally. Enjoy the fresh produce in simple salads. Eat what is in season.

One such food now in season is Copper River King Salmon. Known for its abundance of Omega 3s and anti-inflammatory properties, Wild Salmon is considered one if the world’s “Superfoods.” Although I have to admit, it isn’t my favorite thing to eat, I do so a few times a month for health reasons.  I have found a few ways to prepare it that, I think, tempers, without masking, the flavor. And a crisp glass of white only enhances the meal.

At the local HEB, they were sampling a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Drylands, that I liked quite a bit.  Based on that, she suggested I try Sea Pearl, on sale at $9.  Sold.  Subtle grassy notes, tropical fruit and lime zest.  Very easy to drink with fun acidity.

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For this dish, I mixed chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, cumin, thyme, and s little garlic powder and dusted the fish.  My favorite grillmaster got it super hot and seared it for a minute, then turned it down to 400 for about ten minutes (depends on size of filet). This gave the fish a really nice crust. While it was cooking, I made a lime-cilantro butter which I drizzled over the fish when it was done.  Add some grilled zucchini, Israeli couscous (for those eating carbs), an avocado and you’re done.  It paired really nicely and was a fun change from my norm. 

What’s my norm you ask? Generally, I throw on some fresh herbs (oregano, thyme), salt and pepper, lemon zest.  When finished I top with parsley, chopped olives, lemon juice.  During Greek Week at Central Market, I picked up a couple Greek wines and, I must say, for pairing with fish, I’m hooked. (Ba-dump-bump.)

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But seriously, Domaine Sigalas in making wine from some of the oldest vines of Santorini. The vines are not trellised, but grown in these beautiful cylindrical baskets of vine. The Assyrtiko was packed with minerality and vibrant acidity.  Balanced, playful, citrus and stone fruit; I enjoyed every drop.

An image formerly on the winery’s website.

Salmon can be tough sometimes.  The intensity of flavor doesn’t always “play well.” I’ve done Soy glaze, tropical salsa, dill yogurt, and a few others. These, so far, are my favorites.  Easy, quick, tasty, and I usually have the ingredients in-house.  And since we have another month of Salmon season, I’m sure I’ll be finding more.

I’d love to hear from you (if you aren’t out frolicking). What are your favorite preparations and pairings?  And what are your go-to, not-much-time-in-the-kitchen meals? I’ll be sharing more here and also meals that can be made at the campsite. Happy summer!

 

 

Picnic with Portugal-Memorial Day Wines

You’ve been invited to a BBQ or a picnic this weekend with 20 of your closest acquaintances.  You know them, but not well enough to know their taste in wine.  Do they drink wine? Are they REALLY into wine?  You want something nice, but not too nice.  Interesting, but approachable.  Something that goes with a wide variety of foods and one that can be sipped solo.  It can be intimidating, but not impossible.

Look no further than the wines of Portugal.  You will find new varieties that may serve as conversation starters.  You’ll find value.  You’ll find versatility.

Sweltering? Pick up a low-alcohol, refreshing Vinho Verde.  You can sip all day without embarrassing yourself. BBQ chicken? Try an Alvarinho. Grilling ribs? Perequita pairs wonderfully. Burgers? The Esteva Douro* would fit the bill.

Not sure what is on the menu? You can grab a white and a red for around $20.

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I recently grilled some ribs with a rub and a quick Root Beer BBQ sauce. I reduced said brew down to a syrup and added Stubbs.  (I said it was quick.) The Periquita*, a blend of Castelao, Trincadeira, and Aragones (Tempranillo) complemented the smoky spice, the acid cut the sweet and kept it fresh. This wine can be found a Whole Foods for around $10.

Whether you plan on celebrating this Memorial weekend with a few close friends or joining a large group, check out the Wines of Portugal.  There is something for everyone at a price everyone can afford. Cheers to that!

I would be remiss in mentioning Memorial Day without expressing gratitude for my freedom to do so. Thank you to all of the men and women that serve our country and have sacrificed their time, lives, and families so that we can be free. There are walks going all throughout the country with the organization, Carry the Load. There will be a walk in Austin area. Follow the link for more information on the organization. My deepest gratitude to those that have served and those that continue to do so.

*{These wines were received as media samples from Palm Bay International. I received no other compensation.  Thoughts and opinions are my own.}

 

 

 

 

Radicc-ulous Salad-Monday Wines

I don’t mean to brag, but I have been given the title of the “Salad Queen.”  I know, you’re jealous.  I am sure it is not exclusive, so no need to panic.  You, too, can be given that accolade by your significant other. In all seriousness, I love to make salads.  I don’t plan in advance too often; it is a matter of seeing what I have in the house.

I try to play off moods, season, and pairing.  Usually it begins with a green, then some sort of texture(veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds), sometimes an accent (cheese, bacon,) and then a dressing that compliments.  Dressing is some sort of oil or fat and an acid (lemon, vinegar), salt and pepper, often an emulsifier (Dijon usually) and sometimes a specific flavor (herb, jam, juice, etc.)

Last night I made, what I would consider, one of the best.  I’ve mentioned before that I kind of enjoy the challenge of a somewhat empty fridge.  Less waste, more effort.  I was marinating chicken with the Cornell recipe.  I had always referred to it as “Grandma’s chicken” because it was what my grandmother had made all the time.  A friend pointed out the similarity to the Cornell chicken and I found myself corrected.  Regardless, it is an easy, tasty, versatile recipe that is always a hit.

Digging through my empty fridge, I found dandelion greens, radicchio, carrots.  I decided to roast the carrots and do a play on the salad at St. Philip.

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Radicc-ulous Salad

Dandelion Greens (or any you have)

Chopped Radicchio (or another bitter green)

Roasted and cooled carrots (oil and salt at 350 for about 30 minutes)

Pistachios (or pumpkin seeds or similar)

Feta (or goat or similar)

Olive oil drizzle, salt, pepper, and a generous squeeze of Meyer (or regular) lemon.

Oh my.  I enjoyed every single bite.

We paired it with a Rosé from the Languedoc region: 2014 Côté Mas 2012 Rosé Aurore*.  The blend is 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 20% Syrah. A beautiful salmon pink, the nose was tart red fruit and floral.  A nice amount of acid making it lovely by itself and a great compliment to the food.  When I initially tasted it, I found it to lean towards the floral, specifically lavender.  With the food, it became silky and the fruit notes awakened.  A great value at around $12, this is one I would drink all summer long.

I mentioned before that I rarely planned salads.  This is one I will plan to repeat, for sure, and, although you could go in many directions with the wine, I see no reason to stray from this pairing. Happy Monday!

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*{This wine was received as a media sample from Gregory White PR.  Thoughts and opinions are my own and I received no further compensation.}

 

Spring Forward

 

One thing that is consistent about Texas weather is its inconsistency. Fifty degree swings in 24 hours are not unheard of.  In fact the week before Spring Break we had freezing temperatures, the weekend it began we hit the seventies, the second weekend was chilly and raining.

Another consistent for Spring break is daily drinking with friends. There were plenty of opportunities to do some sampling, and those bottles were as varied as the temperatures.

The week before, I participated in a Snooth Twitter Tasting with Ruffino‘s line of Chianti*.  They ranged from the 2013 Chianti DOCG ($9) with bright red fruit and plenty of acid to the 2010 Riserva Ducale Oro ($28), a rich, layered, brooding example of what Sangiovese can be.  One thing remained true throughout.  These are well made, balanced wines that are priced to benefit the customer. It was a pleasure to hear from the winemaker, Gabriele Tacconi, about both the history and winemaking process and the participants always entertain.  If you haven’t joined before, we will banter again on Monday April 27th,

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Malbec is a grape I enjoy more in cooler weather so I made it a point to open a sample from Rutini** ($18) before the temps changed.  This 100% Malbec from Argentina is held in 50% French, 50% American barrels.  The fruit was deep, rich, intense and has a smooth and spicy finish.  I paired it with a ratatouille with turkey sausage, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, onion, tomatoes, and herbs.  I finished the sauce with some of the Malbec and let it simmer for a couple of hours.  It turned out really well and paired nicely.

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Later that week we opened the Rutini** Chardonnay($18).  Chardonnay is generally not my go-to white, but when the oak is subtle and the fruit has a starring role, I am in.  This wine had tropical fruit notes and honey balanced with abundant acid.  50% goes though Malolactic fermentation and it sits in New French Oak for 10 months. I rarely make recipes anymore but as I was thumbing through my mom’s Country Living magazine, I found this for Pancetta and Brussels Sprouts linguine.  Since I had the ingredients (sub bacon for pancetta and pasta) I gave it a try.  Lovely together.

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By mid-break I was in the mood for Sauvignon Blanc and so I invited a neighbor over to sample with me.  These two SBs from Chile were vastly different. Outer Limits by Montes($30)*** is a series that explores grapes from new regions.  This bottle yields from the Zapallar vineyards in Chile, 6 miles from the Pacific Ocean.  This came as no surprise to me as the first sip tasted like the ocean.  A great deal of salinity, tropical fruit, and citrus with a touch of oily green.  The color reminded me of an unripened banana, yellow with hues of green.  Although not my preferred style of SB, it was a food-friendly, complex, and interesting wine.

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The second Montes wine was Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc ($15)***. Grass, white peach, and floral notes on the nose and in the mouth.  Crisp, fresh, floral and delicious.   Grown in the Leyda Valley, this was exactly what I am looking for when I open a Sauvignon Blanc.

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They say if you don’t like the weather, wait.  By Friday, it was chilly and rainy.  I had previously caramelized onions for French Onion Soup and then frozen them.  I knew it might be our last chill of the season so I decided to finish the process.  With one more sample that was predominantly Malbec looming, I knew what I had to do: call in the hubs for red meat reserves. When the wine suggests decanting for at least an hour, you know you’re dealing with a big one and the soup just wouldn’t cut it.

The 2011 Achaval Ferrar Quimera**($38) is a Bordeaux style blend but the predominant grape is Malbec. 60% was aged 12 months in 1-year old French oak barrels, 40% 12 months in new French oak barrels. The color was a deep cherry plum, the nose conveyed spicy dust and sun-warmed fruit.  A surprising amount of acid at first, it faded as it opened.  Black fruit and alpine herbs with sturdy structure and a long finish.

There are some wines that I receive as samples that, in my mind, need to be held for a bit.  It pains me to open them, but it hangs over my head if I don’t. This was one of those wines. In retrospect, I would have paired it a little differently (stinky cheese?), decanted more, and held it a little longer.  It was clearly well-made and has potential, but I think I missed the mark with this one. Now I know.

Sometimes price point is not an indicator of how much you will enjoy the wine.  Yet another reason to taste before you judge and  review with an open mind.  In each of these samplings, for whatever reason, I found myself enjoying the wines that were less costly. Now if only that were true with shoes…clothes…hotels…

Wishing my friends up north a jump towards spring and for my friends in Texas, a lengthy one.  Cheers!

*These wines were provided as media samples for Snooth Virtual Tasting and I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

**These wines were provided as media samples by Gregory White PR and I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

***These wines were provided as media samples by Feast PR and I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

 

An Enchanted Weekend

This past weekend, we kicked off Spring Break with a camping trip to Enchanted Rock.  It was a plan that originated nearly a year ago, apparently the required lead-time for a spot over this crowded weekend.  Our friends and neighbors made the reservation, we divided meal responsibilities, and we headed west.

On the menu for Friday was pulled pork.  Tempranillo was just the wine to fit the bill.  I had a sample from Rioja and another from Texas.  The plan was to open both and compare. To me, comparing wines with other regions, producers, or years is a great learning tool.

We opened a 2012 Viña Zaco* from Rioja and a 2012 Duchman Family Wnery Tempranillo from the Bayer Family Vineyard.  They may have begun thousands of miles apart, but when opened, there was much less distance.

Both were medium to fuller bodied with good structure, a blend of fruit and spice.  Each wine complimented the smoky pork and held up to the acid in the sauce and slaw.

The Viña Zaco began with a pop of red fruit, then faded into floral spice with a touch of smoke.  Or maybe it was the campfire? Either way, it was delightful. This wine spent nine months in barrel with a mixture of equal time in French and American oak.

The Duchman Tempranillo was slightly more fruit-forward, tempered with earth and spice.  They choose to use neutral oak.  This wine could go in several pairing directions.  But is there a better match for Texas wine than BBQ and sunset at Enchanted Rock?  I think not.

Enchanted Rock is a magical place.  The red granite meets the blue sky, arid terrain and springs highlight the path.  The beauty is in the contrast.  Much like a good Tempranillo, the soft floral notes meet the weighted spice, the fruit is tempered with earth and leather. The result?  A wine that shines, no matter the scene.  But this dinner, with these friends in this space?  That’s a hard one to beat.

For more information on how other Texas producers are doing with Tempranillo, follow Texas Wine Journal for an upcoming report.

*{This wine was provided as a media sample by Gregory White PR.  I received no other compensation.  Thoughts and opinions are my own.}

 

 

Reflecting Vision- Coppola Winery

In film, the Director’s Cut refers to a version of the film that best reflects the vision of the Director.  It is the best representation of what he or she was trying to create.

The Coppola family was seen on the big screen long before it was found on the wine shelf.  That doesn’t mean they are new to wine.  Winemaking was part of the family culture for generations before Francis Ford Coppola chose to expand his vision and share it with the world.  To best reflect winemaker Corey Beck’s vision, they produced a line of wines aptly named “Director’s Cut.”

I recently received a sample of the 2012 Director’s Cut Zinfandel($27) sourced from the Dry Creek Valley.  In my eyes, you’d be hard pressed to find a region the better exemplifies Zinfandel’s potential than Dry Creek Valley.  The region consistently produces grapes that have a concentrated depth of flavor without being overly heavy.  With the addition of 20% Petite Sirah, Beck added structure and dimension.  Together, the create a beautiful scene.

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This year we took our Valentine’s dinner in a slightly different direction in more ways than one.  We decided that our children, at 5 and 7, were old enough to participate and were an integral part of our “love story.”  We all dressed the part, I had gifts for all of them, and the evening was less about romance and more about true love.

I planned their favorites: grass-fed steak, fingerling potatoes, a salad. I planned on opening one of our “special” bottles of Cab and bought a bottle of 07 Mumm DVX to begin the night.  But as I was prepping dinner, I made a change of plans that required a change of wines. Gorgonzola sauce.

Bubbles for Everyone

Bubbles for Everyone

Take 2: New sauce, new scene.  The Cab just wouldn’t be right.  The gorgonzola is big and tangy and needed a bolder counterpart.  I looked through the extras and decided on the Director’s Cut.  I’m glad I did.  Black and red fruit, spice and cocoa, it held up and shined.

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A change of scene often requires other adjustments.  To counter the sauce, I changed the salad to frisee, arugula, and pear with pecans and a fig dressing.  The sweetness of the fig and spice of the greens were great with the wine as well. I added some Balsamic vinegar to the potatoes to give them a glaze.

IMG_0266When I chose the wine, I did so only with the sauce in mind.  As I looked into the wine a little more, I realized how appropriate the change was.  When Francis Ford Coppola was building his winery, he did so with families in mind. In the vision statement he writes:

“I’ve often felt that modern life tends to separate all the ages too much. In the old days, the children lived with the parents and the grandparents, and the family unit each gave one another something very valuable. So when we began to develop the idea for this winery, we thought it should be like a resort, basically a wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy the best things in life – food, wine, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types. A place to celebrate the love of life.”

Perhaps one day, my family and I can enjoy his wonderland, but our dinner with my loves of all ages was a good start.

Thank you to Erica at Nonni Marketing and 42West for sending the wine and this great short film about moviemaking and winemaking from the Coppola Family.  Cheers!

{This wine was received as a media sample.  I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.}

Conversation Wines: What Message are You Sending?

I met my husband at the end of 2001.  We casually dated over the holidays; neither of us were looking for a relationship. So when February 14th was approaching, I decided to diffuse it rather than cause either of us unnecessary stress.

” I am not one to buy into the mass marketing commercialism of holidays.  Especially ones that try to force people to spend quadruple the price on flowers, etc.  However, I do think Valentine’s Day is a good excuse to spend time with someone you are kinda in to sooo… what do you think of making dinner together tomorrow night?   Just an excuse to drink a nice bottle of wine and hang out.”

Simple, non-committal, casual.  I made filets, potatoes, salad.  Easy, tasty, a little special but not crazy.  But I made a critical error in my “low-key” approach.  We opened this bottle of wine.

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I had brought it back from my trip to Italy in 2000.  A small producer, Francesco Mollaioli,  I found on the streets of Assisi.  Even though I didn’t know too much about wine at the time, this wine had a story. I’d saved it for the right occasion, I couldn’t easily replace the bottle. Cover blown.

Your approach to this holiday sends a message.  The wine you choose punctuates that message.  If the relationship is new, the wine should convey that.  If you are getting super serious about this person, you need to step it up. In a long-term relationship? Well, that’s up to both of you. There is the freedom to keep it low-key or the excuse to show your significant other what a treasure he or she is, and drink some dang good wine. I always opt for the dang good wine, even if we drink it in comfies on the couch.

I recently participated in the Boston Wine Expo Twitter Tasting featuring Hope Family Wines*.  Three wine samples were featured. The names of the wines naturally lend themselves to my Valentine’s wine choice theory. Allow me to demonstrate.

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Liberty School Merlot ($16)

You’ve spent some time together, but are focused on your freedom. You don’t want to send a message that conveys anything but so stay under $20.  Even if the evening is a total bust, you aren’t out too much. Black fruit, spice, a good Merlot for the price point.  this would be great with a pork dish.  I recently made a Chinese Five Spice Pork with horseradish sweet potatoes that would’ve paired really well. Or chocolate. Love Merlot with Chocolate. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of good wine.

Troublemaker ($20)

Ok, maybe you weren’t looking, but this person is taking up way too much of your brain space.  You find yourself thinking about them. Involuntary smiles at the sound of their voice. A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Zinfandel, I described this wine on twitter as Boysenberry cobbler with a smoked crème anglaise. A little sweet, a little sassy. Your favorite kind of trouble.

Treana Red ($45)

Hope Family calls this their benchmark blend: the wine by which all others are measured. If you have one of these in your life, you do what you can to hold on.  It’s beautiful on the outside, multi-faceted on the inside. A blend of Cab and Syrah, this wine meets its match with something equally complex. Filets with bleu cheese, braised short ribs, think big and rich. A memorable wine for a memorable evening.

 

We would both say that, even though we don’t donate to Hallmark, Valentine’s will always be special for us. Over the years we’ve had swoons and laughter, tears and silence. We’ve had dinners in which I put on a new dress and one when held a four-day-old bundle in sweats. But one constant is recounting our first special bottle together while enjoying another.

So, maybe the wine choice blew my cover. But, maybe the risk was just what we needed because we were rarely apart after. Whether you are opening something special to treat yourself, a new interest, or your benchmark in life, think about the message your wine could be sending. Cheers!

 *{I received these wines to participate in a #BWETaste Twitter conversation. I received no other compensation. thoughts and opinions are my own.}

 

A Trifecta of Taste-Somms Under Fire

I made it!  I have been trying for three years to make it to Somms Under Fire but January always seems to conspire against me with sick children and cedar misery.  Not this year.  They say “third times the charm” and three was the theme for the evening.  Three Sommeliers from around the country paired wines for three courses for three judges.  The sommeliers were judged on three levels: pairing, service, and education.

Competing were:

Advanced Sommelier Luke Boland

Advanced Sommelier Eric Crane

Advanced Sommelier James Watkins

The judges were:

Winery Owner and Sommelier, Rajat Parr

Author and Wine Writer, Jordan Mackay

Master Sommelier Jay James, Chappellet Wines

There were 9 wines available for pairing.  The sommeliers sampled and took turns pairing.  Once a wine was chosen, it was no longer available.  The somms then served and explained their choices as the audience sampled the fare and the wines. In the end, James Watkins walked away with the title of Champion.

The winning pairings were:

First Course:  2012 Prager Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Hinter der Burg,
paired with Charred Broccoli with White Bean, Mushroom Confit, Preserved Lemon, Poached Egg, & Gulf Bottarga, created by Chef Jason Stude, Boiler Nine Bar + Grill
Second Course:  2012 A. A. Badenhorst Secateurs, Red Blend paired with Roasted Pork Loin, Sunchoke, Endive, Tangerine, Curry Mustard created by Chef David Bull, Congress Austin
Third Course:  2013 Patrick Puize Chablis “Terroir Découverte”, paired with Coomersdale, Bonnieview Farm, Vermont;  Goat Gouda, Central Coast Creamery, California and Everton Reserve, Jacobs & Brichford, Indiana, hand selected by Antonelli’s Cheese Shop

According to sponsor Keeper Collection’s newsletter, James Watkins will also receive” a scholarship to attend “Wine Internship in Burgundy, France under the tutelage of Burgundy Author and Expert,  Allen Meadows, of Burghound, focusing on the Village of Chambolle Musigny. provided by Peter Wasserman of Becky Wasserman & Co., and a $1,000 travel grant presented by the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas, as well as a Laguiole Champagne Saber, presented by Keeper Collection, LLC.”

It was a great evening of food, wine, and fellowship that I was able to share with my sister as guests of Diane Dixon and an event that I will make every effort to attend in the future. The food was top-notch and all of the wines were delicious but after the pairings, I found myself reaching for more of the 2012 Lioco “Indica” Carignan from Mendocino County.  Great acid, bright fruit, complex and easy to drink.

Many thanks to Diane, Keeper Collection, and to the family of Sommelier Nathan Prater who shared their table and company with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resolution 1: Drink More Tempranillo

It was nearly two years ago when I first delved into the wines of Ribera del Duero at the Drink Ribera campaign here in Austin.  I was completely impressed with the diversity and quality for the price point.  That remains.  The more I try, the more I want. So when the people of Gregory White PR asked if I was interested in sampling some, I jumped all over it.

To share the love, I chose to open them on New Year’s Eve with two other couples from the neighborhood.  We decided on a Spanish potluck to pair with the wines.  Here’s what we made:

Cheese Plate

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

Kale Salad with Meyer Lemon and Candied Ginger (recipe at end)

Berbere Lamb Meatballs (recipe at end)

Papas Bravas with Smoked Paprika Aioli

Pincho Ribs with Sherry Glaze

DSC_0569Is your mouth watering yet?  Mine is just thinking about it.  My dear friend Laura made the last two items.  Laura is the friend that always knocks my socks off with her effortless, amazing cooking.  The papas were baked instead of friend, the aioli was with a mayonnaise base instead of from scratch but you’d never know. Keep that in mind for quick prep. I don’t generally care for ribs.  It could be a Pavlovian reaction to “fat” from growing up during the fat-free craze, but they just aren’t generally my thing.  I ate four of these and couldn’t stop picking at the crispy edges.  They were divine. The meatballs were a hit with everyone, juicy and full of flavor.  The kale, a great foil for the rich dishes and, well, anything wrapped in prosciutto is awesome.

We opened two wines with the meal. I’ve learned from experience that if I am opening multiple samples, I open them before guests arrive to evaluate with a clean palate and sharp mind.  That way I can relax and enjoy the evening and let the wine flow, as it usually does.

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2011 Tinto Ribon Crianza

This wine is 100% Tempranillo, aged 12 months in American and French oak. Brilliant color, ruby with a hint of violet. Warm berries on the nose.  Medium body, red fruit, tight tannins, spices and herbaceous with rich nuances.  Fresh, long finish.

2012 Erial Tradicion Familia ($22)

16 months in French and American Oak. A deep saturated color with intense nose of black plums and baking spices.  Tight tannins and leather, well integrated blue and black fruit, powerful mouth feel.  Of the four wines, this felt like the “grandfather”, and rightly so. The grapes are sourced from 80-year-old vines.

2009 Pata Negra Reserva ($16)

24 months in barrel, 12 in bottle before release. Deep maroon and plum in color.  Black fruit, plums, spicy vanilla.  Strong chewy tannins, structured like a thick cedar post.

2010 Emina Prestigio ($32)

I had this on another night with a play on Yankee Pot Roast. If the Erial was the grandfather, this is the family Patriarch. 16 months in French Oak. A deep, brooding color.  Vibrant black plum weighted by spicy tannins. Bossy acid, bold and mature tobacco leaf and vanilla.  This wine means business.

Part of the wonder of wine is how one grape can be so diverse.  Soil, conditions, season, age of the vine effect the grape.  These four from the same AVA but from four different years.  Add in the choices of the winemaker and you never know what you are going to get with Tempranillo.  That’s why I love it so and why I am resolved to try more Tempranillo in 2015.

Here is your challenge. Sometime this year, have a Tempranillo party.  Every guest brings one. Young or old, Spanish or domestic. High Plains in Texas or Sonoma County. Take notes and compare. No matter what your taste in wines, I can almost guarantee that you’ll find one (or ten) that you like.  It is a great exercise in developing palate and a great lesson.  Just because you had one (fill in the blank) that you didn’t care for doesn’t mean that you don’t like that grape.  That lesson could be applied in all are of our lives, don’t you think?  With that, I’ll wish you happy tasting. ¡Salud!

Kale Salad with Meyer Lemon and Candied Ginger

Massage Kale with Olive Oil (lemon or regular)

Add finely chopped candied ginger

Salt to taste

Lemon Zest

Lemon juice

optional:Chopped nuts or seeds (almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds)

 

Berbere Meatballs

2 lbs Ground Lamb

1 Onion diced, sautéed

2 eggs

2 TBSP Berbere seasoning

Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients.  Make 1-2 inch meatballs.  Brown them in pan, finish in the oven at around 300 for about 20 minutes or until fully cooked.

{These wines were provided as media samples by Gregory White PR. No other compensation was received and thoughts and opinions are my own}