Category Archives: What We’re Drinking

Gérard Bertrand: Story behind the Wine

Gerard Bertrand@Wine.com_5100_BlogIt’s always exciting to meet the actual human who bears the name of a winery, particularly one that has become a household name. In this case, it was Gérard Bertrand. This may not be a household name in every house, but it is in mine. Our affinity for Rhone wines certainly extends to the rest of Southern France, where there is a unique style and value to be found. Gérard Bertrand wines combine just that: style & value.

The Story
Bertrand is tall, so tall that it has earned him the nickname, le Grand. Now nearing 50, Bertrand’s father got him started in the winery and cellar at age 10, allowing him to claim nearly 4 decades of experience. And that experience has gotten him far! The line of Gérard Bertrand wines includes dry and sweet; sparkling and still; red, white and rose… It includes values and collectibles and just about everything in between. He speaks passionately about his wine, and even more so about where his wine comes from: the South of France. Though that particular region needs little help to sell its virtues, Bertrand’s goal is not to sell people on the south of France, but rather to show people that the South of France is unique and distinct in it’s terroir, it’s wines and it’s culture. His wine is meant to represent the lifestyle and soul of the region.

Map Courtesy of: Gérard Bertrand
Map Courtesy of: Gérard Bertrand

 

The Wines
I’ve drunk the wines plenty of times before, but I’ve never had a chance to have them side-by-side as we did with Monsieur Bertrand. I admit that I would typically clump together Fitou, Minervois and Corbieres under $20 when describing a style. But a delightful surprise came in tasting the wines and seeing a distinct difference. One offers lots of ripe berry fruit, another is all about dried cherries and dark chocolate. Not to mention they have a sparkling wine that is a Thomas Jefferson Cuvee (hello UVa alums! this is for you!), and a rose called “Sauvageonne,” which translates to “wild woman.” Seriously, that’s a rose. In addition, Bertrand has just launched the first vintage of Clos d’Ora, what he terms the first “grand cru” of the South of France. We had a chance to taste this wine and I can attest, it’s a damn good wine.  Better than any other I’ve had from the Languedoc/Roussillon.

Biodynamic
For 25 years Bertrand has been following and working towards biodynamic estate wines. Many are, many are on their way, but be assured that his wines are doing their part in reflecting the earth and terroir from which they come.

The Winery
Visit this place. It’s gorgeous! And they have a jazz fest every summer.

Photo Courtesy of: Gérard Bertrand
Photo Courtesy of: Gérard Bertrand

 

Whether you prefer fruit bombs, a load of earth & spice, or easy-drinking picnic wine, you will find a wine from the Gérard Bertrand assortment. You can’t be in the south of France, but that does not mean you cannot drink like you are! Cheers!

 

Food & Wine Fridays: Mardi Gras Menu

Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is a celebration and a release of all excesses before the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is more than just one day, it is a whole season with a series of parades from different krewes, or groups, winding through the city.  Beads and other throws are thrown from the floats. You can catch beads, blinkies, toys, and even shoes.  The official colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold.  Purple Represents Justice. Green Represents Faith.  Gold Represents Power.

For those of us who cannot make to the Crescent City, here is a classic Mardi Gras menu with some wine suggestions for your party. Don’t forget to binge watch some Treme, have “Trombone Shorty” playing on the stereo, and have a white handkerchief or umbrella ready if you are going to second line. If you cannot find a local bakery that makes a king cake (a few New Orleans bakeries do ship) or you can always bake one…Don’t forget the baby!

MENU

Deviled Eggs

Red beans and rice

Fried pork chops

Jambalaya

Braised greens

Hot French bread with butter

And for dessert… a king cake.

Because this is a celebration, you will need plenty of bubbly! Gwendolyn recommends the Roederer Estate as a paring for the deviled eggs as well as a great wine for sipping.

Red Beans

For the red beans, Gwendolyn recommends a chenin blanc to match with the spiciness. The Pine Ridge 2013 would be tasty.  My recommendation is to go with a red Maison Nicolas Perrin Syrah 2012, which I think would be great to use as a general wine for the whole meal.

mardi5

Some fun Pinot Noirs which would be great with the pork chops or jambalaya include WillaKenzie Estate Gisele Pinot Noir 2012 or Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2012.

To go with the King Cake, of course, you will need plenty of café au lait, but some Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Sublime Demi-Sec would be lovely or maybe Eroica Gold Riesling 2012.

Mardi Gras 4

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MARDI GRAS RECIPES:

*click images to download PDF recipe cards

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Celebrate International Italian Cuisine Day With Wine and Risotto!

Saturday, January 17th is International Italian Cuisine day. I thought we should blog about great food from the “old country”.  While there are tons of great Italian dishes out there, I have been craving that specialty of northern Italy, risotto.  Traditionally served as a first course, this creamy and delicious rice dish can work as a satisfying entrée.

Risotto can range in variety from the exotic Risotto Milanese, which is enriched with saffron, to light and delicate seafood riosotto, to the dark and dusky risotto al Barolo.  Regardless of the condiment or flavoring, great risotto begins with great rice. You need a short grain rice which is high in starch content.  Arborio or carnaroli varieties are readily available in most grocery stores.  It is well worth the effort to search for a specialty store that carries the vialone nano variety.

The next important trick to great risotto is mastering the method.  Instead of steaming, risotto is made by the timely addition of broth or water.  There are 2 tricks to this… First, make sure that the liquid and the cooking rice are at the same simmering temperature. Secondly, gently stir the liquid into the rice, and only stir as much as you need to. If the grains break, your risotto will become gummy and pasty.

Here is a base recipe and some ways to change it up:

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups homemade broth   OR   1 cup canned broth diluted with 4Ingredients cups water.  (I actually heat extra because it would be a disaster to be caught without enough cooking liquid.)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons onion or shallot chopped very fine
  • 2 cups Arborio OR other imported Italian risotto rice
  • 1/2 heaping cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • Salt, to taste

 

Directions:

  1. In a sauce pan, bring the broth to a simmer. Make sure that it is close to the pan where you are making the risotto.
  2. Heat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan that has high sides (2” or so) and add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the onion and cook gently until the onion is translucent.Making Risotto
  3. Add the rice to the sauté pan and stir gently so that all the grains are coated with the butter and oil.
  4. Now you will begin adding the broth from the sauce pan to the sauté pan one ladle at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon to make sure that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. When the rice absorbs one ladle of broth, add another ladle of broth.  Repeat this process until the rice is tender but al dente. It should take about 20-25 minutes and the rice will look moist and creamy, not runny.
  6. When there is about a minute or 2 to go, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
  7. Remove the pan from heat and add all of the cheese, folding gently in order to even distribute.
  8. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately with additional shavings of parmigiano. Serves 6

Risotto Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Variations:

White Truffle Risotto: Shave a half ounce of white truffle all over the top of the risotto right before serving. For those of us like me who are on a budget, you can always drizzle a bit of white truffle oil over the top.

Mushroom Risotto: In a separate pan, sauté about a pound of your favorite mushrooms in some butter and olive oil. I add a clove or 2 of garlic and some salt and pepper to taste. I deglaze the pan with a bit of wine and continue to cook until the mixture is dry. Before I add the butter and cheese to the risotto, I stir in about half of the mushroom mixture. I pour the finished risotto into a platter, top with the remaining mushrooms and chopped chives.

Butternut Squash Risotto: Cook and finely dice some butternut squash, about 2-3 cups. Instead of adding that last ladle of broth, add a ladle of heated heavy cream and fold in half of the squash. Finish the risotto with the butter and cheese. Top the finished risotto with the rest of the squash and some fried sage leaves.

 

Some WINES to try with these Risottos:

 

 

 

Wine.com Releases 2014 Annual Wine.com 100

It’s that time of year… Wine.com has released its eighth annual Wine.com 100. The industry’s only list based solely on consumer purchases, the Wine.com 100 reflects the top 100 wines purchased on the website during the first 11 months of the year.

So who was number 1? It was the Caymus 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This is the first year that a wine retailing over $20 topped the list. Caymus released its 40th anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon to much fanfare and accolades. Blessed with the 40th anniversary label coinciding with a fantastic vintage in California, the 2012 bottling quickly rose to the top in units sold on Wine.com. And it remains there.

Other things we noticed on the list.
– Tempranillo was up! Last year, the number one wine on the Wine.com 100 was a value Tempranillo form Rioja. But it was the only Tempranillo on the list. Perhaps riding on the coattails of that #1 spot, this year the list featured 7 Tempranillos, all from Rioja.
– Diversity! Even in the top 10, there are 5 countries represented! Plus 18 different grape varieties, 5 continents, 7 countries and even more sub-regions… Then the prices of these wines ranges from $10 – $100+. Some are classic like Dom Perignon or Veuve Clicquot, but there are so many gems as customers discover new and interesting wines that they love.

It’s a list worth checking out, just to see the trends and popular wines of 2014! See the full list in PDF form!

The official wine for not over-cooking your Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving!

Full oven, crazy family, long day.

Whether you are navigating difficult in-laws or 9 dishes in the oven, you may be looking to that glass of wine.

Don’t fret, we have the wine for you – the one

Doctors_mediumthat will keep you sharp, yet let you sip.

Forrest Estate The Doctors’ Riesling 2012
THIS is the wine. Refreshing, zingy and… reasonable alcohol levels. Anyone else notice the rise in alcohol lately? Makes it hard to sip wine at noon when you’re cooking a turkey. This wine clocks in at a lovely 8.5%. And yet, no detectable residual sugar, just a delicious and refreshing wine that makes it easier to sip through the day.

The story of the Doctors from John Forrest is a great one. Forrest is, in fact, a doctor, who researched and studied and experimented with vineyard techniques to craft a lower alcohol wine. Rather than leaving residual sugar or reverting to reverse osmosis, Forrest avoids any winery intervention by utilizing a specific leaf removal  process in the vineyard. By achieving lower alcohol in the vineyard rather than the winery, Forrest does not have to sacrifice quality for the end result: a delicious, dry refreshing wine, with naturally low alcohol.

And so we have deemed this wine the official wine for NOT overcooking your Thanksgiving turkey. You may also deem it your ideal aperitif wine or perfect summer wine… we’ll leave it to you. Either way, you’ll feel okay about having that second glass :)

Cheers!