Saturday, May 22, 2010

2009 French Rosé c'est Arrivé

The new vintage of rosé is generally released right around the beginning of Spring. In April and May the shipments from Europe start to land. It is an exciting time. The wines are fresh. They pair well with all kinds of foods, and best of all, they are easy on the wallet. Each year we bring in a variety of rosé to give everyone a nice choice. This year we are focusing entirely on the French rosé because over years of drinking them, they are, for us, the best. Here are our four picks!

Region: Southwest Armagnac, Languedoc
Grapes: 40% Merlot, 40% Syrah and 20% Tannat

2009 Domaine du Tariquet Rosé $9.99 France

Made with a unique blend of 40% Merlot, 40% Syrah and 20% Tannat. Almost pomegranate-like in color this wine has an intense bouquet. Full-bodied and fresh on the palate with mild spicy notes and plenty of hints of raspberry and just-cut flowers. Finishing with a salty note.

Region: Corbieres

Grapes: 75% Cinsault, 15% Syrah, 10% Grenache

2009 Domaine Sainte Eugenie Corbieres Rosé $10.99 France

The estate is located within the foothills of the Pyrénées along the Mediterranean coast. Made from 75% Cinsault, 15% Syrah, 10% Grenache. A wonderful, bright Rosé displaying fresh raspberry notes with a slight touch of mineral and dried herbs with a dry finish.

Region: Costieres de Nimes

Grapes: 70% Cabernet Franc, 25% Syrah, 5% Grenache

2009 Jean-Francois Fayel Costieres de Nimes Rosé $11.99 France

This one is a blend of 70% Cabernet Franc (whole-berry crushed), 25% Syrah and 5% Grenache which has been bled from the tanks. It displays beautiful high-toned cherry notes and mineral. Focused, racy and bright acidity. All good.

Region: Touraine, Loire Valley

Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir

2009 Domaine Corbillieres Touraine Rosé $13.99 France

Made from 100% Pinot Noir. Hand-harvested. Naturally fermented. Elegant style. The result is a pale rose wine, slightly spicy, with a vague hint of pepper. It is a thirst-quenching wine to drink with summer meals, and can also be paired with exotic cuisine.

Chill one down. Sit outside. Take in the sun. Pop the cork.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Blind Tasting of Top Wines

Judgment in Paris took place in 1976. A wine merchant named Steven Spurrier created the event to draw attention to his store and wine academy. This event pitted some of the best French wines against some of the best of California. The wines were tasted blind by some of the better palate's of the day, including trade people and Sommeliers. The results sent shockwaves through the wine world as Stag's Leap Cabernet got the top nod for red and Chateau Montelena beat out some of the best French Burgundies for favorite white.

Most recently Steven Spurrier partnered with a independent importer who works with some top Chilean wines to attempt the same type of blind tasting. This time there would be a mix of Chilean, Californian, Italian and French wines to taste blind and evaluate.

The original tasting arranged in this fashion took place in Berlin, Germany in 2004. Once again the results were shocking to the wine world as the Chiliean wines performed well beyond expectation. This event became known as the Berlin Tasting and just recently a similar event was held in Los Angeles.

A collection 50+ wine people were invited to blind taste 10 top wines from the 2006 vintage. The results again were shocking. We evaluated these wines in a pristine setting. Arriving to the tasting room we were greeted by 10 pre-poured glasses, all numbered 1 through 10 and papers for notes. We were told to pick our top 3 wines out of the 10 to garner the final results.

Blind tastings are always highly educational. There are no label influence or prejudice, just what is in the glass.

The wines tasted: 2006 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, France 2006 Sassicaia, Italy 2006 Errazuriz Don Maximiano, Chile 2006 Stags Leap SLV, California 2006 Errazuriz La Cumbre, Chile 2006 Opus One, California 2006 Chateau Haut Brion, France 2006 Vinedo Chadwick, Chile 2006 Sena, Chile 2006 Errazuriz Kai, Chile

The top 3 wines chosen by me:
1) 2006 Stags Leap SLV, California 2) 2006 Chateau Haut Brion, France 3) 2006 Opus One, California *a very close 4th was 2006 Sassacaia

The top 3 wines chosen by the group:
1) 2006 Stags Leap SLV, California 2) 2006 Chateau Haut Brion, France 3) 2006 Opus One, California

The rest
: 4) 2006 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, France 5) 2006 ErrazurizKai, Chile 6) 2006 Vinedo Chadwick, Chile 7) 2006 Sassicaia, Italy 8) 2006 Errazuriz La Cumbre, Chile 9) 2006 Sena, Chile 10) 2006 Errazuriz Don Maximiano, Chile

So again, as in 1976, the Stags Leap Cabernet took the top spot. And the much maligned Opus One (recently making a comeback of sorts) ended up as the third favorite of the entire group. The Haut Brion was a real pleasure as well, coming in at number two.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Moorish-Style Chickpea And Spinach Stew

Make this dish. It rocks!
Pair with old school Rioja.

9 ounces dried garbanzos (chickpeas)

Pinch bicarbonate of soda

6 garlic cloves, peeled and whole

1/4 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil

2 ounces white sliced bread, with the crusts removed

2 tablespoons pimenton (Spanish sweet paprika)

1 pinch Spanish saffron

2 tablespoons Spanish sherry vinegar

1/2 pound spinach, washed and cleaned

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and white pepper to taste

The day before you cook, soak the chickpeas in cold water with a pinch of bicarbonate of soda. The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas.

In a big saucepan, combine the chickpeas with 2 1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for two hours, until the chickpeas are tender. Every 10 minutes or so, add 1/2 cup of cold water to slow down the simmering. By the end, the water should have reduced so it is barely covering the chickpeas. Turn off the heat and let sit.

In a small saute pan over medium to low heat, brown the garlic in 1/4 cup of the olive oil. When the garlic is browned, after about 3 minutes, remove from the pan and set aside. Add the bread and brown on both sides, about one minute each side.

Remove the bread and set aside.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Add the pimenton and saffron to the saute pan, and the sherry vinegar immediately afterward to prevent the pimenton from burning.

In a mortar, smash the reserved garlic and the browned bread to make a very thick paste. Bring the chickpeas back to a low boil and add the spinach. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pimenton mixture along with the garlic and bread paste, to create a thick, stewy sauce. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Jose Andres Tips

When the chickpeas are soft and cooked, only about one finger's depth of water should remain in the bottom of the pan. If there is more, remove some water from the pan before adding the rest of the ingredients. By the way, if you're in a rush and want to make a successful dish without cooking for two or three hours, you can use good quality chickpeas from a can or jar.

Good Times for Wine Buyers

Plenty of serious deals out there! If I were you I would stop by regularly to see what has turned up. Here are a few to get you going:

Suggested retail $20 -- New price $12.99

NV Collabrigo Brut Prosecco Rosé Ti Amo $12.99 Italy

A perfect Spring rosé sparkler made with 95% Prosecco and 5% Pinot Nero. Produced from 25-year-old vines in the region of Conegliano, Veneto. Bright pink color with orange shades. Ripe small fruit perfumed with cherries and rasperries as well as citrus. On the palate, round red fruit, a subtle mousse and a fresh finish. Pairs well with shellfish, oysters and various appetizers.

Suggested retail $18 -- New price $9.99

2004 Bodega Vinas Zamorans Los Zorros $9.99 Spain

(89 Points: International Wine Cellar) 100% Tempranillo. Ruby-red. Intensely perfumed aromas of fresh red berries and flowers. Polished red and dark berry flavors are unencumbered by tannins, offering a seductively silky texture. Bright acids add energy to the juicy finish. A pretty amazing bargain here.

Suggested retail $20 -- New price $9.99

2001 Chateau Pesquie Quintessence Rouge $9.99 France

From the Cotes du Ventoux in the Southern Rhone. A blend of Grenache and Syrah. A great value with some bottle age, this wine is full of dark fruit qualities and soft tannins. Notes of blackberries and licorice fill the glass. This is a great bottle that is drinking well right now for a steal of a price (normally $20).

Suggested retail $22 -- New price $14.99

2007 Dorigo Ribolla Gialla, Friuli $14.99 Italy

Native to Friuli, Ribolla Gialla, is cultivated almost exclusively in the hillsides of the country (as far as Istria). Straw yellow in color. Floral notes in the nose, complemented by background notes of tropical fruit. The palate is savory with balanced acidity. Crisp texture and floral notes lead to a fresh, minerally finish.