Category Archives: What We’re Drinking

Malbec: Did I find God in the vineyards?

12_01_16 1030 Altocedro La Consulta_5020_Blog

Did I find God in the vineyards? That must have happened because I can’t even explain it normal terms. On January 16, 2012, in a little town called La Consulta, my colleagues (Thane, Neil, Peter, Brett) and I tasted something magical. We flew in from the US on a Tour de Argentina and Chile to meet with some of those countries’ superstar winemakers. But no moment of this trip was greater than the time with we spent with Karim Mussi Saffie, Proprietor and Winemaker of Altocedro in La Consulta, Mendoza. The plan was to check out the winery, the vineyards, taste wines, eat food and drink, but what transpired was more than we had expected.

It began innocently enough, I had already spent many quality moments with Karim in previous (both in the United States and in Argentina) we even rode horses together once in the Andes. Now we were here. At one moment, Karim was looking at me with his intricate and sometimes devilish grin. I had no idea what he was up to but knew he was super excited to pour this wine for me. I was just taking notes and photographing everything in sight. Then he served it: The 2009 Altocedro Gran Reserva Malbec. My brain spun into another space and time. I found myself in a corridor of Bordeaux varieties. Where was I? In the Médoc, the Napa Valley, Walla Walla Washington? The wine’s intense dark fruits and sweet earth took Malbec to another level. When I came back, I just saw Karim grinning from ear to ear. This is only an example of where a good Malbec can take you.

Where is Malbec going? For decades it was known mostly as the grape from Cahors. More learned wine folks also knew the grape from the Southwest of France, where it is called, Côt. But as the world spins, most consumers saw Malbec as that “value” red wine from Argentina. If one just needed a Cabernet-like wine in the $10 to $20 range, Argentina Malbec was the answer. But somewhere in the night the grape was screaming, “There is more to my existence than being the wine at cocktail parties and barbecues.” Yes, in addition to being a great value red wine, Malbec has scaled the mountain to become one of the world’s great varietals.  It takes the Bordeaux blends from the region to a new level, producing wine that is complex and balanced. Age-worthy? Definitely – just check out an older vintage from Catena.  Malbec has spoken. Enjoy it’s possibilities and most definitely taste the 2013 Altocedro Año Cero Malbec and get a glimpse of the Mussi magic!

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: Fish Fridays!

The other day a friend asked me, “Why is there always a clam chowder special on Fridays?”.  Well, folks, that comes from “fish Fridays”.  The one day a week when Catholics would abstain from eating meat.  Now, it’s only done during Lent, which is the season before Easter.  In my family, it meant tuna sandwiches for lunch and bacalao, salted cod, at my grandfather’s house for dinner.  Here are a few creative and easy fish recipes with matching wines for your Friday so that you don’t spend all of Lent eating fish sticks!

Buen provecho!

==================================================

Anne’s Chilean Sea Bass with Hazelnut Sauce

Sea Bass Image

Ingredients:

  • 2        Sea Bass Filets – Thick
  • 2        Tbsp Light Olive Oil
  • ½ c    Chopped & Roasted Hazelnuts
  • ½ c    Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc
  • 4 Tbsp     Butter – Cold
  • 3 Tbsp     Chopped Parsley
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Heat an oven-proof skillet on the stove. Add olive oil to heated pan.
  3. Season fish with salt and pepper and sear sea bass filet, skin side down.
  4. Place on skillet and transfer to oven. Roast fish for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and keep the fish warm on a serving plate.
  6. Return the skillet to the stove at medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook to translucent.
  7. Add the hazelnuts to shallots and then deglaze the pan with white wine.
  8. Turn the heat up to high and reduce the wine until there are only a couple tablespoons of liquid left in the pan.
  9. Reduce the heat to medium. Slowly add the fridge cold butter a hunk at a time to the pan. Swirl to incorporate. Do not stir.
  10. When all of the butter has been added, taste the sauce for salt and pepper and finish with chopped parley.
  11. Spoon mixture over the fish and serve.

Recommendation ideas:

*click image to download PDF recipe cards

===================================================

Anne’s Shrimp with White Beans and Cherry Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs   peeled and deveined shrimp (I used 20-25)
  • 3 Tbsp       Olive Oil
  • 1 bunch    Green Onions – chopped
  • 2 cloves   Garlic – minced
  • 2- 15oz cans    Cannellini Beans or White Kidney Beans
  • 1 pint         Cherry Tomatoes – chopped in half (these were an heirloom mix)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a sautee pan, sautee shrimp until they are almost cooked.
  2. Remove shrimp and cover to keep warm.
  3. Add green onions to the sautee pan and cook until softened.
  4. Add garlic.
  5. Drain the beans and save the liquid. Add the beans to the pan and some of the liquid.
  6. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until everything is heated through.
  7. Add back the shrimp.
  8. If the mixture looks dry just add more of the liquid, white wine or even just water. Adjust for seasoning.
  9. Garnish with more chopped green onion and serve with a big salad and lots of French bread.

Recommendation ideas:

*click image to download PDF recipe cards

 

 

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

==================================================

MARDI GRAS RECIPES:

*click images to download PDF recipe cards

REcipeCard1

 

 

 

 

Top 10 “Suggestive” Wines For Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is all about sending clear and defined messages to those we love….

  • In a new relationship?  Keep the message basic and sweet
  • Been married for years?  Spice it up with something fun
  • Asking out your latest crush?  Time to be BOLD

Nothing says “Be Mine” more than a cleverly crafted wine label.   If all else fails, you at least get to enjoy the wine!  Here are our top 10 wines to give your loved one when

# 10  – Alexander Valley Vineyards – “Temptation”

Nothing gets to the root of human nature like an Adam and Eve themed wine label.  Sending this to someone is asking for trouble!  Or is it??

Tempation

#9 – Monogamy  “Truly Madly Deeply”

Ready to take your relationship to the next level?  Why not ask for a serious commitment with this love-and-cuddles themed wine!

Monogomy

#8 – promisQous

Leaning more toward flirtation… Giving this wine to someone you are into is the adult equivalent of handing them a soda can of Orange “Crush”

PromisQous

#7 – Ménage à Trois

The name says it all… Just be prepared for a variety of responses!

Menage a Trois

#6 – Peirano  “The Other”

Nothing says “Thanks for being my ‘other’!” than this sexy wine and seductive wine.

The Other

#5 – Michael David Winery “Freakshow”

For those of us who like things a little freaky, break open this offering when in the privacy of your own home!

Freakshow

#4 – Taken Wine Company “Complicated”

Facebook has an “It’s Complicated” relationship status.  Time to say it with wine and make it “Facebook official”!

Taken Complicated

#3 – The Prisoner Wine Company “Prisoner” & “Blindfold”

Even your “slaves” need a little wine & love on Valentine’s Day.

3-Prisoner

3-blindfold


#2 – Two Hands “Sexy Beast”

This label essentially screams “I want you now!”  Oh, and the wine itself is deliciously seductive, too!

Sexy Beast

#1 – Mollydooker “Carnival of Love”

Rated #2 on Wine Spectator‘s Top 100 List.  We thought we’d show this wine a bit more love by making it #1 on our list.  Not only is this wine label amazing, but the wine is spectacular!

1-Carnival of Love

 

 BONUS: 50 Shades of Grey

Ready to head to the theater?   Why not sip on some Fifty Shades wine first to put you in the “mood”.   Cheers!

50 Shades