Wines At Our Table; January 31st 2016

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  It features my pick for Wine of the Week (WoW) – a  wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out for the week ended January 31st 2016

2013 Sato Pinot Gris; Retail – $25  This fascinating wine pours pink tinged orange color. Initial aromas of spice apple gives way to a complex and appealing cherry, spice, wet stone, rose petal, aromas with a hints of earth, menthol and a slightly oxidized note. On the palate, it’s fresh and savory with a wonderful texture, and dusty well-integrated tannins with spiced cherry, a bit of apple flavors with a bit of minerality. Lingering finish with a bit of natural, harmless sediment. Outstanding; 90-91pts

2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Cuvée Karatas – Retail $38 – Deep golden-yellow color with aromatic, perfumed floral, spiced citrus, pear nectar, and honey with a hint of wet stone aromas. On the palate it’s show surprising weight. It’s focused, and well structured showing lively acidity and great mouth feel with melon, spiced orange, tangerine, and honey flavors. Long finish. Blend of 60% semillon from vines in the Monte Rosso vineyard that were planted in 1886 and 40% sauvignon blanc from Kick Ranch; 50% new oak. Outstanding; 91-92pts

2012 Carlisle Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard – $38.50 – Purple/violet color with aromatic aromas. initial aromas that brings to mind truffles gives way to black cherry cobbler, chocolate, with hints of orange rind and strawberries. On the palate it’s round, with a great texture, wonderful acidity and well-integrated tannins with black cherry, blueberry, chocolate flavors with an intensely spicy long finish. 94% Zinfandel/6%Grand Noir Outstanding; 91-92pts

2010 Carlisle Syrah James Berry Vineyard – $40 – Shows beguiling blackberry, baked blueberry, black olive, licorice and, with some time in the glass, violet aromas.  On the palate its elegant,and fresh with an alluring texture with focused blackberry, blueberry compote , and vanilla flavors. If you’re thinking Paso means it’s not cool climate you’d be wrong. The James Berry vineyard is actually quite cool thanks to a considerable marine influence. 15% alcohol. Outstanding; 92-93pts

– Wine of the Week

It’s been a great week for wine in my book when I’ve enjoyed a few wines from Bedrock Wine Co. and Carlisle Winery and Vineyards!  We don’t typically drink this well throughout the week (I rated all the wines as outstanding), but we’ve been laying down Bedrock and Carlisle wines for years.  Now it’s time to start drinking them!.  Besides, I’ve featured the wines more than a few times as my Wine of the Week (“WoW”).

That makes the 2013 Sato Pinot Gris my WoW.  It’s a “natural” prolonged skin contact (3 months) “orange” wine of Pinot Gris. Yoshiaki Sato and his wife Kyoko have quickly made a name for themselves producing some of the most highly talked about and sought after wines in NZ. Yoshi sources only from organically farmed sources. He refuses to use any added yeast, enzymes etc. The wines are not fined or filtered.

This was my first wine classified as “natural”.  Natural wine can be controversial, in part because there is no universal definition of what, exactly, is a “natural” wine.

Wine lingo these days is full of references to “crafting” wines, and expression of place or terroir. It’s seems to be that a natural wine is the purest expression of place possible. I like that!

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I’m a huge fan of “orange” wines and this was one of the best I’ve had.  The fact that it’s a natural wine is a bonus for me.

More About Sato Wines from K&L Wine Merchants:

If there was a boutique producer in New Zealand that resonated with the micro-production, experimental, semi-hipster, natural, “culty” wines that have taken California by storm in the last few years, Sato would be it. Yoshiaki Sato and his wife Kyoko have quickly made a name for themselves producing some of the most highly talked about and sought after wines in NZ. While travelling in NZ last year many other winemakers I met were really quite jealous that I had managed to pry a few cases of each wine away from Yoshi (whose wines have very quickly become highly allocated and available only to mailing list customers). The wines are essentially “natural wines”…The only thing these wines see is a tiny addition of minimal Sulphur pre-bottling. They are pure expressions of place and season. They are made in miniscule quantities (often just a couple barrels – 100 +/- cases). 

Not for the faint hearted….this is almost entirely natural wine with just 10ppm of sulfur (about a tenth of most wines). The fruit is carefully selected and juice stays in contact with the skins for 3 months. The wine is allowed to slowly macerate in a pretty oxidative environment with very gentle pigeage for light extraction.

Here’s a video of Yoshiaki Sato discussing his approach to making “natural” wine…

If you’re looking for a natural wine that doesn’t compromise on structure and flavor, I highly recommend checking out Sato Wines!

The wines are hard to find, but K&L Wine Merchants has a stash (a couple are on sale too – I paid $25 for this wine, but it’s now on sale for $17. Check here.

Have you tried a “natural” wine? What was your favorite wine last week?

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2016 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

An Exploration Of Merlot’s Food Pairing Versatility With Ethnic Fare #MerlotMe #winePW

 

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Wine Pairing Weekend is a monthly collaborative event for wine/food bloggers started by David Crowley of Cooking Chat. It’s a great way to find food and wine pairings that work (or learn from the ones that don’t); along with tips on how to create your own food and wine pairing magic. Jeff Burrows of Food Wine Click is hosting for this month’s “#winePW Celebrates October with #MerlotMe”  theme. The participating wineries generously provided us samples, and we got busy exploring Merlot’s affinity for food.

In My Glass

I received three bottles of wine – two from the Napa Valley,and one from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia Canada.  I’ve tasted different vintages of both the Napa Valley wines previously. The Okanagan winery (though not the Okanagan Valley) was new to me.  All the wines were quite enjoyable.

The three wines were also good examples of the diversity of Merlot.  There was the cooler climate Merlot from the Okanagan Valley, which was closer to Pinot Noir in terms of body, showed higher acidity and showed a higher presence of tannins. On the other hand, the two Napa Valley Merlots were showcased more ample body, softer tannins, less acidity and more plum fruit.

It was also  interesting to note the difference between the Napa Valley wines and the Okanagan Valley wine – a cooler climate Merlot.  Okanagan Valley which was more acid driven, lighter bodied, and a different fruit profile.

My detailed tasting notes follow:

2012 Tinhorn Creek Merlot – Canada, British Columbia, Okanagan Valley VQA
Garnet color with blackberry, cassis, cedar wood, dark chocolate, and tobacco and a hint of dried herb aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and fresh with firm, slightly mouth drying tannins and  blackberry, cassis, vanilla, spice, and a hint of cola flavors. Blend of 85% Merlot, 14% Cab Franc and 1%Syrah. Aged 18 months in French oak. 14.9% alcohol. Sample. Good value at Retail of $26.50

2012 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot – California, Napa Valley
Garnet color with promising plum, black cherry, violet and a hint of Herbes de Provence aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and fruit forward with appealing well-integrated velvety tannins.  It shows black cherry, plum, vanilla and a bit of baking spice flavors. Lingering finish. Blend of 88% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec Cooperage 100% French Oak Château-style Barrels (60 Gallons) Barrel Aging: 16 Months Age of Barrels: 25% new, 75% second vintage. Retail $54

2013 Whitehall Lane Merlot – California, Napa Valley
Dark ruby color with plum, blackberry, black cherry, vanilla, and sandalwood aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied, with very good acidity and a plush texture and soft well-integrated tannins that show Rutherford dust. It robust shows blackberry, plum, black cherry, vanilla, spice and a hint of mocha flavors. Lingering finish. Blend of 80% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Syrah. Aged in a combination of French and American oak barrels for 16 months. 14.2% alcohol. Good value at Retail of $28

On My Plate

I got a little carried away on this one.  Let me explain…

My initial plan to was pair each of the wines with a dish.  Three wines.  Three ethnic cuisines (Chinese, Filipino and Mexican). Three dishes.

But, emboldened by each successful pairing, I somehow ended up pairing Merlot with five ethnic cuisines (including pork, beef, chicken, and vegetarian protein sources) that included  Cajun, a Chinese inspired dish; Filipino, Mediterranean, and Mexican food.

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A few of the dishes were enjoyed – Clockwise from top left; Wet Burrito with Pollo Asado; Grilled Smoked Pork Chops with Sweet and Sour Glaze; Filipino Chicken Adobo with Chicken Livers

I made the Grilled Smoked Pork Chops with Sweet and Sour Glaze, and Blackened Salmon.  My wife made the Filipino (Chicken Adobo and Nilaga ) dishes. And I purchased the Mexican and Mediterranean food.

Note: The links for the Filipino dishes are the closest I could find to what my wife prepared. She’s Filipina, and she’d tell you…”I don’t need no stinkin’ recipe“;-).  I can tell you her Chicken Adobo included chicken livers, and she substituted sweet potatoes for potatoes in the Nilaga and omitted the cabbage.  It wasn’t by design, but I think these modifications may have helped when it came to pairing these dishes with Merlot.

Food pairing

Here is a recap of the results of the pairings:

Wine Dish Pairing
Tinhorn Creek  Filipino Chicken Adobo Very Good
Tinhorn Creek  Nilaga; Filipino Beef Stew Very Good
Tinhorn Creek  Blackened Salmon (Salmon fillet seasoned with Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Seasoning) Very Good
Duckhorn  Smoked Pork Chop with Sweet and Sour Glaze Very Good
Duckhorn  Filipino Chicken Adobo Very Good
Whitehall Lane  Wet Pollo Asado Burrito (Burrito topped with red enchilada sauce) Good
Whitehall Lane Kofte Kebab Plate (Charbroiled, minced lamb & beef with parsley, onion and seasoning with golden basmati rice and a salad) Very Good
Whitehall Lane Falafel Wrap (Fried chickpea balls wrapped in lavash bread w/tahini sauce) Good

What do “good” and “very good” pairing mean to me?  Good, to me, means there was peaceful co-existence between the food and the wine.  Very good means the food and the wine were better together. Of course, your mileage may vary. For example, my wife rated the Mexican Food and Merlot “very good”, while I rated it “good” (definitely better with the sauce though, than without)

I must admit that Merlot was not “top of mind” when it comes to a versatile wine to pair with a range of foods.  But this experience changed my mind.

The magic in Merlot at the table is its easy-drinking character, moderate acidity, and an array of styles that offer flexibility.  One of the surprises  of my experience was how well Merlot paired not only with meats, but also with the vegetables – the salad in my Kofte Kebab Plate and the bok choy in the Nilaga.

I found that Merlot paired exceptionally well with the grilled, and smoked food I tried.  It will also pair well with dishes with mushroom, fresh herb, dishes with berry fruits. If avoid very spice or fiery foods and are mindful about matching the weight of the foods with the wine intensities, you’ll be rewarded with a wine that’s a great partner at the table!

Check out my fellow #winePW bloggers have cooked up!

The #winePW Twitter Chat will this morning at 8 a.m. PT: Connect with us on twitter, using the hashtag #winePW, and #MerlotMe. We’ll chat for an hour about all things Merlot and food pairings.  Also, join us Saturday, November 14th for “Creative Thanksgiving Wine Pairings”, hosted by David of  Cooking Chat!

Note: Wines provided as a samples for review.  Many thanks to the #MerlotMe wineries, Duckhorn Wine, Whitehall Lane and . Opinions are our own.

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Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, InstagramVivino and Delectablefor all things wine. As a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

A Taste of Greece: Grilled Branzini with Ladolemono Paired with Hatzidakis Assyrtiko

Wine Pairing Weekend is a monthly collaborative event for wine/food bloggers started by David Crowley of Cooking Chat.  It’s a great way to find food and wine pairings that work (or learn from the ones that don’t); along with tips on how to create your own food and wine pairing magic.  Camilla Mann of Culinary Adventures with Camilla is hosting “Let’s Talk Scorched Terroir – and Volcanic Wines – for this month’s #WinePW

The Volcanic Island of Santorini

As I began to consider this month’s theme, my initial thoughts turned to the Napa Valley (which has a fascinating geology that includes a vast array of soils of volcanic origin).  But I was leaning toward a white wine rather than a red.  Then as fate would have it, I saw a post from Camilla, our host for this month’s theme that featured an Assyrtiko (one of my favorites – Domaine Sigalas) from the Greek island of Santorini.

Bingo!

It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed one. In fact, my second post for #winePW was a fabulous blend of Assyrtiko and Malagouzia last summer.  And I’ve not had any since then!

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The breathtaking beauty that is Santorini seems to have risen from it’s volcanic ashes quite nicely…Thank you!

I hadn’t really given much thought to Santorini being a volcanic region. I’m more familiar with the Santorini pictured above.

But Santorini is a part of a volcanic island group at the central south end of Aegean Sea. The island caresses the vast crater left by one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in history – the Minoan eruption of 1613.  Thus, the island is also renown for its spectacular sea-filled volcanic caldera, which are surrounded by steep colorful cliffs. One of the island’s most fascinating sites is ruins at the Minoan site of Akrotiri. Click here for a cool video about the volcano!

On My Plate

One of my favorite restaurant’s in the Bay Area is a Greek restaurant in Palo Alto, Evvia. They serve a delicious oven roasted Branzino that is fantastic.  Inspired by that dish, I, decided to make Grilled Branzini with Ladolemono.

Branzino (plural, branzini),  is a European sea bass that is low in fat, but with a  wonderful richness when cooked on the bone. That’s because the fish has lots of cartilage.  So, when the flesh gets hot, it stays succulent long after the fish has hit the right temperature.

Grilled Branzini with Ladolemono

Grilled Branzini with Ladolemono

I purchased the Branzini from our local Whole Foods market,  The fish is farm-raised in Greece and was reasonably priced at $12.99/lb.

Ladolemono, with its one-to-one acid-to-oil ratio (as opposed to the usual one-to-three), is a classic Greek vinaigrette that gives a flash of brightness to the smoky, crispy skin of the branzino (would also be wonderful with  grilled octopus, shrimp, or squid)

Grilled Branzini with Ladolemono
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Greek
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Makes 2-4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 whole bone-in branzini, cleaned
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup Ladolemono
  • 2 lemon thyme or thyme sprigs
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 lemon—1 thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Prepare a grill to medium-high heat. Season the fish cavities with salt, pepper, and Old Bay Seasoning. Stuff each cavity with a thyme sprig, and 2 lemon slices. Rub the outside of the branzini with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Grill the branzino over high heat, turning once, until browned and crisp and just cooked through, about 7 minutes per side.
  3. Remove the lemon slices and thyme before plating, and discard. Transfer to a platter, drizzle with Ladolemono , and serve.
Notes
This is recipe is very simple and offers a very high taste/effort ratio

The fish turned out perfectly.  It had tender well flavored flesh (the Old Bay makes it pop), with  a hint of the lemon thyme and lemon placed inside the fish prior to grilling, And the Ladolemono was the perfect complement.  If you  haven’t tried whole Branzini on the grill, what are you waiting for?  

In My Glass

The 2013 Hatzidakis Winery Assyrtiko Santorini is a blend of Assyrtiko, Aidani and Athiri

My tasting notes follow:

Pale green color with gold highlights and apple, lemon zest, chalk aromas with a dusty note. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with zesty acidity. It shows apple, lemon, white peach, and mineral flavors with a dusty grip and a lemony mineral driven finish.

The wine was fantastic with the Grilled Branzini.  The lemony minerality of the wine was a great compliment to the Ladelmono.  It was as if the wine was a bit of  spritz of lemon on the grilled fish.  And after taking a sip of the wine the grilled Branzini tasted better.  

The wine was very good on its own, but was better with food.  We had leftovers of the Branzini the next night and paired the wine with a homemade salsa, that included chunks of avocado on a bed of spinach.  It was a wonderful partner with at the table for both the fish and the salad!

Here’s what the #winePW crew posted about volcanic wines…
Come chat with us…

#winePW Twitter Chat September 12,  8 a.m. PT: Connect with us on twitter, using hashtag #winePW. We’ll chat for an hour about volcanic wines, food pairings, and #scorchedterroir. “October’s #winePW is hosted by @foodwineclick. Stay tuned for Jeff’s invitation that might have something to do with #MerlotMe Month.  Cheers!

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, yoga, hiking, and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine. Since I’m a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! Follow my reviews on Vivino and Delectable This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Best Wines To Pair with Asian Cuisine #SundaySupper

This week’s #SundaySupper theme Asian Cuisine.  Yum!  I love Asian cuisine! But it wasn’t always that way.

I grew up on the Midwest, and we didn’t eat very much Asian food, other than Chinese food occasionally.

Then we moved to California – the perfect place for me to taste the diverse world of Asian cuisines.   And that’s just what the #SundaySupper foodies have on the menu this week.

You’re going to find diverse and delectable recipes with roots in China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and more!

Pairing Wine with Asian Cuisine

Let’s face it, for most wine is not top of mind when it comes to pairing with Asian Cuisine. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to an Asian restaurant and seen a diverse selections of beer, or perhaps Sake, and usually, less than a handful of wines.  There’s typically a Chardonnay (America’s favorite wine), a Cabernet Sauvignon, and perhaps another wine or two.

I think it’s because, in broad terms, wine isn’t as much ingrained in Asian cultures. Especially when compared to European or even American culture.  Beer or other adult beverages typically find more favor within Asian cultures.  Beer, sake and other adult beverage can be good choices.   But wine can also be a great partner for Asian Cuisine.

Tips for pairing wine with Asian Cuisine

  •  Don’t go crazy over with pairing food and wine.  It can be challenge for one wine to work with a multitude of dishes.  If the wine doesn’t work with a particular dish, skip it and have a sip of water or tea to cleanse your palate.  Try the wine with another dishes, and chances are you will find success.
  • Try food friendly wines with high acidity and lower alcohol.  Riesling, Pinot (Noir, Gris, Blanc), Beaujolais,Dolcetto, Gruner Vetliner, Muscadet, Rosés (still and sparkling ), and sparkling wines are great wines to pair with Asian Cuisines.
  • Avoid wines with high alcohol and/or tannins. Such wines can overpower a dish or in the case of a high alcohol wine amplify the perception of heat in a spicy dish.
  • Pair to dominant taste first, flavors second.  When thinking about which wines to pair with food start with the primary tastes – salty, sweet, sour, and bitter before considering specific flavors. So, what’s the difference between tastes and flavor? Tastes are objective, whereas flavors tend to be subjective. For example, the sourness of a lemon, or the sweetness of honey are objective. A lemon is sour and honey is not. On the other hand describing the flavor of a strawberry is personal and subjective.  Just as foods have primary tastes, so do wines – those being sweet, sour and bitter. This opens the door to match foods and wines, or if you desire to set up contrasts. Start with the primary taste for either the wine or the food, then decide if you want to mirror or contrast the taste before getting into the specifics of flavors. Speaking of dominant tastes and flavors, pair to the sauce because that typically dominates a dish.
  • Spicy and salty foods like sweet wines.  Wines come in varying degrees of sweetness from off-dry (slightly sweet) to semi-dry (medium sweet) to an unctuous dessert wine that could satisfy a sweet tooth. Wines that are off-dry or semi-dry, such as a Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, or Muscat make a great counterbalance for moderately spicy Indian and Asian dishes. That’s because the sweetness of the wine cuts the heat (unlike carbonated beverages which amplify the perception of heat). Likewise, a sweet wine can provide a nice counterbalance to salty food
  • Match the “weight” of the food and the wine. Match delicate wines with delicate foods and robust wines with robust foods.

Experiment and have a sense of adventure.  The tips presented in this article are suggestions that will increase your odds of finding wines to pair with Asian Cuisine.  But they may or may not be to your liking.  It’s a good idea to keep a track your successes (and failures!) and rely on that to build your knowledge of which pairings work best.

Best Wines To Pair with Asian Cuisine

Image courtesy of Multiculturiosity.com

Here are my recommendations for this week’s fabulous Asian Cuisine menu:

Pair these Small Bites with a Rosé sparkling wine.  My “house’ (everyday) sparkling wine is the Deligeroy Crémant de Loire Rosé Brut ($13). It’s a beautiful pale salmon color and packed with strawberry, cherry, peach and blood orange flavors, with a bit of sweetness that is complemented with a hint of herbaceousness. Rosé sparkling wine may be the ultimate wine for starters and small plates.  Sparkling wine sets a celebratory tone and its color makes a visual impression.

I actually don’t recommend pairing wine with these soups.  Besides the soups being chock full of flavor, combining hot broth and a cool wine is a tough combination.  I think the wine would be best served either before or after the soup. 

Pair these dishes with Riesling, the white version of a “goes with virtually anything” wine.   Look for 2014 Charles Smith “Kung Fu Girl” Columbia Valley Riesling ($10). It’s off-dry so it’ll handle some spice, and it fruit forward, and fresh with lychee, nectarine, peach and a bit of citrus character. 

Pair these dishes with Pinot Blanc from the Alsace region of France, its spiritual home. Pinot Blanc, a mutation of Pinot Gris is a member of the Pinot family.  It’s often suggested as an alternative to Chardonnay.  It tends to be a medium to full-bodied wine with good acidity.  I’ve found it’s a very good partner at the table with various Asian foods.  Look for the 2012 Charles Baur Pinot Blanc ($13). It has a soft, creamy, and lush character with white peach, and sweet citrus aromas and flavors wrapped in spice.

Pair these dishes with a juicy, low tannin red wine. I recently attended a fabulous Beaujolais and Japanese pairing dinner that was a great reminder of how food friendly Beaujolais wines (made from the Gamay grape) are.  Look for the 2011 Chateau de Jacques Moulin-a-Vent ($14). It has a bold fruit black cherry, plum compote and cassis character with a savory undertone. 

I’ve been on a bit of a Bahn Mi kick the last few months.  And my top of mind, go to choice is Rose!  Look for the 2014 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare (around $14).  It’s a perennial favorite with an enchanting melon, peach, strawberry and spiced citrus character and lingering saline laced finish. .

Pair these dishes with a Gruner Vetliner, the signature grape of Austria. It’s an under the radar grape that’s pairs with a wide variety of good  Look for Domaine Wachau Gruner Vetliner (around $16).  It offers enticing aromas of tropical fruit, a bit of yellow apple, white pepper with a delicate herbal note. It’s medium bodied and harmonious with crisp acidity, juicy fruits and a spicy finish. 

Oodles of Noodles

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on today –  Sunday, August 23rd! This week’s chat will be hosted by Amy from kimchi MOM. We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more greatSunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Sunday Supper Movement

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Marcillac – The Perfect Wine for Liver And Onions?

Welcome to this month’s French Winophiles!  We’re group a food and wine bloggers pulled together by Christy of Adventures of a Culinary Diva.  We’re taking a virtual tour of France region by region and learning about French cuisine, wine and travel.  This month we’re exploring the Sud-Ouest (South West) region of France

Sud-Ouest (South West) Region

The South West region of France is a relatively large territorial zone that lies between – and does not include – the wine regions of Bordeaux and Languedoc-Roussillon.  The region includes eighteen appellations denoted as either AOP or IGT.  It also includes the iconic Armagnac brandy-producing area.

marcillac-map

Image courtesy of The Wine-Pages.com

According to the Wines of Southwest France website (a wonderful resource) the region has a feel and a lifestyle all its own. Located off the beaten path from the bustle of Paris or Lyon, life in the southwest is more relaxed. For the French who live in other parts of the country, the southwest is the place to go for a relaxing weekend getaway.Here they can explore vineyards, enjoy the celebrated regional cuisine (think foie gras and duck confit), shop at local markets, fish in the Pyrenees, tour hilltop castles, admire prehistoric cave paintings or the art of Toulouse-Lautrec, or hike the Lot River valley. And for those who want sand and surf, the Atlantic coast offers 100 miles of beach, ending at the luxury resort city of Biarritz.

In My Glass

Given the region’s size and vinous diversity, I decided to focus on one specific appellation, with an eye on trying a new to me grape variety. My search lead me to the 2013 Domaine des Costes Rouges “Tandem” from the Marcillac AOP.

The Marcillac appellation, which is largely overlooked, covers 420 acres devoted almost exclusively to a single type of vine: Fer Servadou, or Mansois as it is known locally. The grape variety is found throughout the Sud-Ouest wine region, but Marcillac is its spiritual home.  No other appellation uses Fer as the key grape variety.

Fer is native to the País Vasco, the Basque area of Spain on the French border.  It’s a member of the Carmenet family, which includes Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.

The grape  thrives on the stony, iron-rich soils known locally  les rougiers (due to their reddish color) in the hills surrounding the town of Marcillac.

Marcillac - The Perfect Wine for Liver And Onions?

2013 Domaine des Costes Rouges “Tandem”

The producer, Domaine des Costes vineyards are 100% Mansois and organically farmed.  All fermentation and elevage is done in concrete tanks.  Their wines are bottled unfiltered.

My tasting notes:

Dark violet color with promising red currant and raspberry aromas with low-key spice and dried herb notes. On the palate it’s light-bodied, fresh and well structured with charming, easy-going cassis, raspberry, and spice flavors  with supple tannins and an enticing minerality.  Stylistically the wine falls between a Loire Cab Franc and Gamay. 12%; Retail-$17

On My Plate

The challenge with selecting a wine produced from a new to me grape is determining what kind food with make a harmonious pairing with the wine.

As I was researching pairing options I came across Seared Calves Liver and Marcillac.

Wow! It’s been a seriously long time since I’ve had liver, which of course I held in contempt for many years.

What changed?

I worked my way through college as a cook in a restaurant.  One day, in desperate need of something different to eat, I threw a piece of liver dusted with some flour into some bacon grease and sautéed some onions in the same.

My contempt for liver disappeared with the first fork full of offal yumminess that is liver and onions.

I checked out some recipes and found a Calf’s Liver With Bacon, Caramelized Onions and Sherry from Emeril Lagasse.

Marcillac - The Perfect Wine for Liver And Onions?

Calf’s Liver With Bacon, Carmelized Onions and Sherry

The recipe was definitely an upgrade over my relatively simple and quick liver preparation.

One of the key steps in recipe is to soak the liver in milk for at least 20 minutes.  I’d never done that before. But I certainly think it paid off – the dish was utterly delicious – with a  hint of sweetness I’d never before tasted when eating liver.  The sherry pan sauce was a very nice compliment to the sweetness of the caramelized onions. And hey…you can’t go wrong with bacon bits!

As for the pairing? It was wonderful!  The wine was made the liver taste better, and vice versa. This is a combination I’ll be repeating!

There’s plenty more food and wine deliciousness from Sud-Ouest.  Check out what my fellow French #winophiles have in store for you!

Join us Saturday, August 15th at 11 am ET/8 am PT for a live Twitter Chat sharing wine, food and travel stories from Sud-Ouest. Follow us on #winophiles.

Next month we explore the wine and cuisine of  the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France on Saturday, September 19th 

_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine. Since I’m a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogA

Wines At Our Table; Week of August 9th 2015

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  It features my pick for Wine of the Week (WoW) – a  wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out; plus my Food and Wine pairing of the Week for the week ended August 9th 2015.

2008 Torre de Tavares Encruzado Dão – Retail $42
Hazy yellow tinged gold color with aromatic, appealing quince, pear, orange marmalade, and wet stone aromas with an appealing oxidized note. On the palate it’s well structured, full-bodied, and very fresh, yet lushly textured with a very appealing hint of tannins. It shows tart quince, orange and vanilla flavors, with a hint of baked nectarine and a long mineral driven finish. 12.5% alcohol 250 cases were produced.Outstanding; 92-95 pts
2013 Dashe Cellars Ancient Vines Bedrock Vineyard – Retail $35
Garnet color with pretty black cherry, spice, dark chocolate and licorice aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied with a very appealing texture and firm well-integrated tannins with black cherry, raspberry, mixed peppery and sweet spice flavors and a medium long finish. 98 % Zinfandel; 2% Petite Sirah Approachable now but will easily age 5-7 years Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts
2012 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas – Retail $20
Violet color with tobacco, blackberry, black cherry, dried herb and bit of cranberry aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with very good acidity and a supple texture with soft well-integrated tannins and black cherry, blackberry, cranberry, flavors with mixed sweet and savory spice notes and an appealing minerality on the back end. 53% Syrah,27% Grenache,18% Mourvedre and 2% Counoise 13.8% alcohol Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts
2014 Tercero Mourvedre Rosé Vogelzang Vineyard – Retail $22
Medium salmon color with red fruits, and orange peel aromas with hints of earthy/meaty notes and wet stones. On the palate it approaches full-bodied and show wonderful acidity with an appealing light tannic grip with strawberry, stone fruit, and spiced orange peel flavors with a lingering satisfying finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts
IMG_3339Wine of the Week (WoW) – We’ve been building up a bit of a wine cellar.  Not necessarily by design (trust me there’s no master plan; though in hindsight I wish we had more Old World wines) It’s simply because we’ve been buying a bit too much wine (No “Novinophobia” for me) The downside is a light wallet. The upside is that we rarely purchase “everyday” wines anymore to prevent ourselves from drinking better bottles, which would be likely to benefit from some aging.
So we’re definitely drinking better pretty much every day of the week this year.
This past week was a good example of that .  The Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas offers great value for a $20 bottle of wine year in and year out.  Under normal circumstance we wouldn’t have consumed the 2013 Dashe Ancient Vines Bedrock.  It’s a wonderful bottle of wine that was built to age. Unfortunately my wife and I had a “failure to communicate”.  Oh well. The Dashe was delicious and bound to get better.  The Tercero Mourvedre Rose is a fave because it’s fuller-bodied rose, and Owner/Winemaker Larry Schaffer seems to make it better each year.
However my WoW, the 2008 Torre de Tavares Encruzado stood head and tails above the other wines I enjoyed this week.
The grapes are harvested by hand. The wine was not fined or filtered. It went through malolactic fermentation in a steel tank, then was aged on its lees in oak for 1 year. It then spent another 6 months in the tank before bottling. It was aged in the bottle for 5 years. Unfortunately, winemaker João Tavares de Pina wasn’t able to source grapes from the same vineyard in subsequent years and the wine is now sold out.
It was a remarkable bottle of wine. It will most certainly be in the conversation if you ask me “What’s the best bottle of white wine you’ve ever had”? 

For my Food and Wine Pairing of the week, we paired the Encruzado with Grilled Fish Setubal Style. It was a fantastic pairing!. The wine’s vibrant acidity cut through the butter and the sauce of the dish, while the weight of the wine was a great match for the weight of the dish. Additionally, the citrus notes in the wine perfectly complimented the citrusy flavors in the dish.

What was your Wine of the Week?  Any killer Food and Wine pairings?

Follow my reviews on Vivino and Delectable

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine. Since I’m a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Taste of Portugal:Grilled Fish Setubal Style and 2008 Torre de Tavares Encruzado

Wine Pairing Weekend is a monthly collaborative event for wine/food bloggers started by David Crowley of Cooking Chat.  It’s a great way to find food and wine pairings that work (or learn from the ones that don’t); along with tips on how to create your own food and wine pairing magic.  Christy Majors of Confessions of a Culinary Diva is hosting this month’s theme where we’re sharing pairing food and wine from Portugal!

About a month ago, myself and a half-dozen or so other wine bloggers were invited to tasting hosted by Alleah Friedrichs, co-founder of Bliss Wine Imports. The tasting featured wines from France, Spain and Portugal. I was very impressed with the wines we tasted.

Since I hadn’t settled on a wine or a dish for our Portugal theme,  and I typically pick my wine first, I reached out to Alleah and inquired about which Portuguese  wines she had in stock.

She mentioned  several wines, including a few that I enjoyed at the tasting. But what caught my attention was her comment about an “unfiltered white”…of 100% Encruzado that “is off the hook- Michael Mina bought this

I adore unfiltered white wines!  And I get a chance to discover a new to me, grape variety indigenous  to Portugal?  My inner wine geek did a break dance!  Of course, the Michael Mina endorsement certainly helped…Sold!

In my Glass

My wine is the 2008 Torre de Tavares Dão.  As previously noted, it’s made with 100% Encruzado.

Oh…you’ve ever heard of the grape variety? Neither had I!

Taste of Portugal:Grilled Fish Setubal Style and 2008 Torre de Tavares Encruzado

According to Winesearcher.comEncruzado is arguably Portugal’s finest white grape variety, although far from its most famous. Planted mainly in the granite hills of Dão in the center of the country, Encruzado makes rich, full-bodied wines with aromas of lemon, woody herbs, stone fruit and melon, often with floral overtones. These wines are prized for their waxy, textural mouthfeel and well-made examples can be cellared for many years.

It’s certainly the leading light-skinned grape variety in the Dão (where it’s almost exclusively grown). There it’s often blended with Bical or Arinto.

 Amongst its virtues is the ability to maintain almost perfect balance between sugar and acidity, making serious, rich, structured wines with extraordinary ageing potential. It is used both as a single variety and as a star ingredient in many Dão blends…can be viewed as a melding of a Burgundian Chardonnay’s texture and terroir with the aromatics of the Portuguese grape Fernão Pires. (Source)

The grapes for this wine were harvested by hand. The wine was not fined or filtered. It went through malolactic fermentation in a steel tank, then was aged on its lees in oak for 1 year. It then spent another 6 months in the tank before bottling. It was aged in the bottle for 5 years.

I aerated the wine (as recommended by Bliss Wine Imports) for about  30 minutes in a decanter.  Aerating the wine also provided an opportunity to let the wine come up to the appropriate serving temperature of  50-55°F.

My tasting notes follow:

Hazy yellow tinged gold color with aromatic, appealing quince, pear, orange marmalade, and wet stone aromas with an appealing oxidized note. On the palate it’s well structured, full-bodied, and very fresh, yet voluptuous with a very appealing hint of tannins. It shows tart quince, orange and vanilla flavors, with a hint of baked nectarine and a long mineral driven finish. 12.5% alcohol  Retail $42

This was a remarkable bottle of wine. It will most certainly be in the conversation if you ask me “What’s the best bottle of white wine you’ve ever had”?

On My Plate

After choosing my wine, and poking around for a recipe, I settled on Grilled Fish Setúbal Style.

Taste of Portugal:Grilled Fish Setubal Style and 2008 Torre de Tavares Encruzado

Setubal Style Grilled Fish…In case you’re wondering…yes that yellow deliciousness beneath the fish is butter!

I modified the recipe a bit because I wanted to actually grill the fish (in the recipe the fish is broiled).

Grilling the fish turned out to be a great idea, though my coals were quite hot enough to get some nice grill marks.

The sauce for the dish is just so damned delicious. Essentially, it’s a citrus browned butter reduction.  I might double it next time!

It’s the kind of sauce that when you taste it, you immediately begin to consider what  other dishes you might put it on!

Oh…and those oranges on top, which I thought were just there for show?  On a whim, I tried one and….

Deeeelicious!

The recipe is definitely a do over…and over…and over!

The Pairing

This was a fantastic pairing!. The wine’s vibrant acidity cut through the butter and the sauce of the dish, while the weight of the wine was a great match for the weight of the dish. Additionally, the citrus notes in the wine perfectly complimented the citrusy flavors in the dish.

If you’re considering checking out an Encruzado, you’ll find some great pairing suggestions here.

Check out what my other food and wine loving friends have in store for you:

Please join us this morning at 8 am PST on Twitter for a fun and lively discussion on Portuguese food and wine pairings at #WinePW. Also, join us Saturday, September 12 as we explore volcanic wines and food pairings! _________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, yoga, hiking, and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine. Since I’m a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! Follow my reviews on Vivino and Delectable This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wines At Our Table; Week of August 2nd 2015

Over the course of a week, my wife and I drink a bunch o’wine – almost always with food. Since I’ve always been fascinated by wine at the table with food, I thought it would be fun to recap not only the wines we’ve been drinking, but also how they pair (or don’t pair) with the foods at our table.  It features my pick for Wine of the Week – a  wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out; plus my Food and Wine pairing of the Week for the week ended August 2nd 2015.

2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Zinfandel Old Vine – Retail $19
Garnet color with dried cherry, black raspberry, and sweet spice aromas. On the palate it’s between light and medium-bodied, and well structured with soft well-integrated tannins and wonderful acidity with cherry, black raspberry, sweet spice, a hint of strawberry and very appealing spice. Medium-long finish. Great value at $20! Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2014 La Bastide Blanche Bandol Rosé – Retail $22
Salmon color with lifted red berry, melon, blood orange, wet stone, ocean breeze and a hint of damp dusty earth aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, layered and fresh with fine concentration and mixed melon, stone fruit, red berry, flavors with and herbal note and a very giving mineral driven dry finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2010 Carlisle Syrah Papa’s Block – Retail – about $60 now, but purchased for $38
Opaque violet-purple color with very appealing bacon fat, mixed blackberry and blueberry compote with a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and focused, with ample fruit deftly counter-balanced with very good acidity and a supple texture and well integrated tannins. It shows blackberry, blueberry, vanilla, peppery spice flavors with hints of red currant, bittersweet chocolate and plum. Long finish. 95%
Syrah, 4% Mourvèdre. 1% Viognier. 15.5% alcohol Outstanding; 92-95 pts

2014 Bedrock Wine Co. Albariño Abrente – Retail $22
Pale yellow color with appealing green apple, lime, cantaloupe, ocean breeze aromas complemented by hints of tropical fruit and orange blossom. On the palate, it approaches medium bodied, and persistent with crackling acidity, and a wonderful texture. It shows green apple, lime a bit of stone fruit and a bit of melon flavors with a giving finish. Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Premier – Retail $47
Pale yellow color with plentiful active tiny bubbles and fresh bread, almond, apple, subtle citrus and a hint of smoke aromas. On the palate, it’s refined, lively and fresh with a delicate creamy mousse. Mixed tart apples, pear and lemon curd flavors dominate but hints of grapefruit, black currant and an appealing smoky minerality play in the background. Long finish.Very Good to Outstanding; 89-91pts

2001 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova – Retail about $90 per Cellar Tracker
Very dark red brick violet color with very appealing, mature, dried cherry, cherry liqueur, leather, and vanilla with a hint of balsamic aromas. On the palate it’s light-bodied, complex and, elegant with a silky texture. It shows dried mixed red berries, leather, and spice flavor. Long finish. A distinguished beautiful wine! Outstanding; 92-95 pts

IMG_3348

Wine of the Week (WoW)It was a wonderful week for wine. I tend to drink a lot of California wines because that’s what I have the most of (I like to try before I buy), but since I’ve been participating in a few food and wine pairing groups, I’ve been tasting more Italian and French wines.

Not a dud in the bunch this week.  The Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel offers remarkable value at $19. Likewise for the La Bastide Blanche Rosé, and the Bedrock Wine Co. Albariño Abrente. Both are offer a lot of bang for the buck.  I’m glad I’ve got a couple of more bottles of the Albariño, and I’ve already purchased more of the Bandol, which I think is comparable to the Domaine Tempier Bandol at about half the price!  The Carlisle Papa’s Block Syrah is such a delicious and well structured wine.  I wish I had more.

Ultimately though my WoW is the 2001 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova.  My good friend Enrique and his wife brought the bottle for a very memorable brunch with my wife and I at Nopa in San Francisco last weekend.

The 2001 is its best Tenuta Nuova ever, delivering the depth, richness, freshness and unique character expected of such a great vintage—Wine Spectator

While we went to brunch, ostensibly, to see if their burger lived up to the hype (it did), Enrique brought this fabulous bottle of wine (#1 on  the 2006 Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines) kick off my birthday month celebration (not my idea – I’m cool with a day;-).  I won’t be able to think of this bottle of wine without thinking of the remarkable day shared with good friends, or vice-versa.  And isn’t that what makes wine such a beautiful thing?

For my Food and Wine Pairing of the week, we paired the Bedrock Albariño with Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas from our favorite local taqueria.  Just a remarkable pairing!  And the Albariño has great acid making it a very versatile wine at the table.

What was your Wine of the Week?  Any killer Food and Wine pairings?

Follow my reviews on Vivino and Delectable

Note. All wines were purchased for review unless otherwise indicated

_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine. Since I’m a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Sardinia Style Seafood Paella and Cantina Di Gallura Canayli Vermentino #ItalianFWT

One of the things I love most about food and wine is their ability to transport one to a different place.  And a  place’s people, culture, and customs are reflected in its food and wine.  In that sense, one can virtually travel the world through food and wine.  And that is exactly what we are doing through Italian Food Wine and Travel (#ItalianFWT).  We taking a virtual tour of Italy by exploring its food and wines.  This month we’re exploring Sardinia (known as Sardegna to its Italian-speaking inhabitants)!

About Sardinia

Sardinia,  located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, is 150 miles off the west coast of mainland Italy. It is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and only marginally smaller than Sicily.  The island has belonged to various empires and kingdoms over the centuries. This is reflected in its place names, architecture, languages and dialects, along with its unique portfolio of wine grapes.

I love how author Kerry Christiani describes her love of the island…

Sardinia was love at first sight for me. No matter how often I return, I find new coastal trails to explore and mountains to climb, hidden bays to kayak to and little-known agriturismi tucked away in the silent hinterland. The island is deceptive – it looks small on paper, but unravel it and it is huge. It’s like a continent in miniature, shaped by its own language and fierce traditions, its own cuisine and culture, its own history and the mystery that hangs over it like a shroud. Sardinians are proud of their island, and so they should be.

The island is, of course, most renown for its beaches and coastline including Costa Smeralda.  But there is much more to see including the recently unveiled stone sculptures of Giants of Monte Prama.

Nowhere does slow food like Sardinia. Throw in views of mountains and sea, some fine home-produced Vermentino or Cannonau wine and fresh farm produce and you are looking at a great culinary experience — simple but great. (Source)

On My Plate

I adapted a recipe for Shellfish Paella with Fregola for my Sardian Style Seafood Paella. Food and Wine magazine describes the recipe as follows:

Fregola replaces rice in this Sardinian paella; the chewy, dot-shaped semolina pasta comes from the western part of Sardinia, near Oristano, where more than four centuries of Spanish occupation left Catalan influences that are still prominent today. In another change from the traditional Spanish recipe, this version is made with only seafood (no chorizo).

The primary changes I made to the recipe were mostly driven by ingredients I wan’t able to find, including fregola and fava beans.  Instead I substituted pearl couscous and baby lima beans respectively.  But I also changed up the seafood a bit, substituting scallops for the monkfish in the recipe.

Sardinian Seafood Paella and Cantina Di Gallura Canayli Vermentino #ItalianFWT

My wife and I adore paella!  We’ve had it in Spain, and cooked it a home, including cooking it on our Weber grill. We mostly prefer Paella Mixta, but we were eagerly anticipating this all seafood version.

While I was a little disappointed I wasn’t able to find any fregola (a.k.a. fregula), the recipe turned out fabulously. It was a very nice change of pace from rice based paella.

Sardinia Style Seafood Paella
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • INGREDIENTS
  • 1 quart fish stock or bottled clam juice
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 c frozen baby lima beans (thawed)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups pearl couscous (11 ounces)
  • 16 littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed
  • 16 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3 plum tomatoes—halved, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup drained sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 4 ounces medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 4 ounces squid, bodies cut crosswise into 1-inch rings, tentacles left whole
  • 4 ounces bay scallops
  • 3 tablespoons chopped dill
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the fish stock to a simmer. Transfer 1 cup of the hot cooking liquid to a measuring cup and crumble in the saffron. Cover the remaining stock; keep warm over low heat.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the pearl couscous and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until it is well coated with the oil, about 2 minutes. Add the clams, mussels and 1 cup of the hot stock and stir constantly until the shellfish start to open, about 4 minutes; discard any clams or mussels that don't open.
  3. Add the sherry and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Stir in the baby lima beans, sliced red and green bell peppers, plum tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves and rosemary. Add the remaining 2 cups of hot fish stock and the saffron-infused stock to the pearl couscous. Lower the heat to moderate and cook, stirring frequently, until the couscous is just tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp, squid and bay scallops to the couscous and cook over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the seafood is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme and rosemary sprigs. Stir in the dill and season with salt and pepper. Serve the paella immediately in shallow bowls.
  5. NOTES
  6. The original recipe called for Fregola, a toasted pearl-size Sardinian pasta that is quite similar to couscous. It's available at specialty food shops and some supermarkets. Since I was unable to find I subbed pearl couscous

 In My Glass

2013 Cantina di Gallura Vermentino di Gallura Canayli – Retail $18

Sardinian Seafood Paella and Cantina Di Gallura Canayli Vermentino #ItalianFWT

As I usually do, I picked my wine first. Then I chose a dish I thought it make for a harmonious pairing.  When I saw that this wine was described as “one of the most popular Italian whites” at my favorite wine shop K&L Wine Merchants I was sold. So far during our virtual tour of Italy I’m finding the Italian white more interesting and appealing than the reds for the most part.

It’s from Sardinia’s only DOCG appellation – DOCG Vermentino di Gallura. It’s produced in the province of Olbia-Tempio, which is a large area at the northern end of the island that’s incessantly swept by the salty Mediterranean air.

The origins of the Vermentino grape variety are not clear. It commonly thought to be native to Spain, then brought to the Ligurian coast of northwest Italy during the Middle Ages. It is also possible that a variant of Malvasia migrated from the island of Madeira to Spain and then to Corsica. Italians would tell you the grape has been cultivated in Gallura, often under the name Arratelau, since the fourteenth century.  My tasting notes follow:

Very pale yellow green color stone fruit, lemon thyme, wet stone and a hint of green pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s dry medium-bodied and fresh with an abundance of mixed stone fruit, clove, and a hint of almond flavors with a lingering saline minerality.

The wine was a very harmonious pairing with the Sardian Seafood Paella.  The saline minerality of the wine was a nice compliment to the paella, while at the same time the citrus notes of the wine was a refreshing contrast…sort of like a spritz of lemon on seafood!

Wait……there’s more!  My fellow bloggers have lots more to share with you so check out their blogs below.  If you’re reading this in time also you can join us live on Twitter at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT and tell us all about your experiences with the island of Sardegna or come and learn something new about this region.

If you’re seeing this early enough make sure to join us live on twitter at 8am PDT. Follow #ItalianFWTTell us your food, wine or travel stories of Sardegna. We look forward to chatting with you. Next month September 5th we’ll feature the region of Abruzzo.  Let me know if you’d like to join our group.  Ciao ciao for now!

________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine. Since I’m a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.




Discover Beaujolais at Pabu Japanese; A Food And Wine Pairing Revelation

Last month I received an invitation to attend a Beaujolais Wines & Japanese Cuisine Pairing Dinner.  My first thought was “Huh”?

That’s because pairing red Beaujolais and Japanese cuisine had ever occurred to me.

On the other hand, having recently tried a Beaujolais Blanc for the first time on Chardonnay Day, I knew that would have an affinity for traditional Japanese fare such as sushi, sashimi, and perhaps tempura.

Nevertheless, I was eagerly anticipating  the dinner with a “I can wait to see how they pull this off” sense of excitement.

It’s not like I didn’t know about Beaujolais’ affinity for a wide variety of foods.  In fact, it was the first wine I listed in a previously posted “What Are The Most Food Friendly Wines?” piece.

The dinner was held at Pabu San Francisco, a Japanese restaurant that  presents a modern take on traditional Izakaya-style dining (think seasonal small plates, composed entrees, and grilled skewers along with sushi, sashimi, fresh tofu and tempura). 

About Beaujolais

The event was sponsored by InterBeaujolais, the official wine-trade organization of the region

Located north of Lyon in eastern France, Beaujolais overlaps Burgundy (of which it is sometimes considered to be a part) in the north and Rhône in the south. The picturesque Beaujolais vineyards run along the Saône River, where winemakers have crafted deliciously supple and fruity wines since the days of Ancient Rome.

The Gamay grape, a cross between Pinot Noir and Gouais, is used to make  ninety-nine percent with Beaujolais wines. The exception is Beaujolais Blanc, which is made of Chardonnay grapes.

The “Beaujolais” winemaking is unique and original.  Grapes are hand-picked then subjected to semi-carbonic maceration. There are 2600 winegrowers producing red, white and rosé  wines.  There are 12 appellations including 10 crus, which are considered to produces the best Beaujolais wines.

Discover Beaujolais at Pabu Japanese; A Food And Wine Revelation

These wines – all under $20 – delivered amazing QPR!

Check out the fun and informative Discover Beaujolais website, including the Top 3 reasons to try Beaujolais for more information.

Discover Beaujolais at Pabu Japanese; A Food And Wine Revelation

The Food and Wine

Upon arrival we were treated to a glass of the 2014 Château De Raousset, Cuvée Marquise de Robien Beaujolais Villages Blanc (Retail $16), an unoaked Chardonnay. It was paired with two delightful appetizers, “Happy Spoon” with Kushi oyster, Ponzu Crème fraîche, and uni-tobiko ikura, and Poke served on a crispy wonton chip.  The fresh green apple, pear,citrus and chalk character of the wine was wonderful complement to the flavors of both apps, but especially the crème fraîche and raw oyster in the “Happy Spoon”

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After a bit of socializing, we were seated for dinner.  Check out the menu!

Discover Beaujolais at Pabu Japanese; A Food And Wine Revelation

The Beaujolais Villages Blanc was also paired with the first course of Sashimi: O Toro (Fatty Bluefin Tuna), Umimasu (Ocean Trout) and Hamashi (Yellowtail). It was also a superb accompaniment to the sashimi with its citrusy acidity and mineral note.

The second, hot plate course, featured we had the Tender braised pork belly, asparagus, snow peas, onsen tamago (soft quail egg), and sesame .  It was paired with the 2011 Pascal Granger, Les Viallières, Chénas (the smallest of the 10 Beaujolais crus) (Retail $18). The wine has an earthy, floral pomegranate, cherry, graphite character with well-integrated soft tannins.  I’m a sucker for pork belly, and Pabu’s was showed a harmonious interplay between the crispness of the pork belly with the soft creaminess of the egg.  And the egg brought the minerality of the wine to the fore.

It should be noted (and this is a small but important detail) the wine was perfectly chilled. It would be the many impressive displays of attention to detail manifest by the Pabu team and sommeliers during our experience. 

Our third course was Skewers: Chicken meatball/Tsukune, Togarashi, Jidori egg; Trumpet mushroom/Eringi, Furikake and Beef tongue/Gyutan, sesame, lemon, scallion. It was paired with 2011 Domaine Bel Avenir, Laura, Saint-Amor (Retail $18), which has a raspberry, dark cherry, spice and subtle brambly character.  The wine from this cru, which sell 20-25% of its production on Valentine’s Day is the wonderful companion for the skewer course.

By now it was pretty obvious to me that Pabu was in serious contention for a scrumptious sweep – delectable food, beautifully presented from start to finish….

Discover Beaujolais at Pabu Japanese; A Food And Wine Revelation

L-R Clockwise; The Sashimi, Hot Plate, Skewers, Dueling Foie Gras, and entreé courses

On to the fourth gastronomic delight – a Duo of Foie Gras. Seared Sonoma Foie Gras of duck with grilled Nori rice, pickled stone fruit and Hatcho miso and Ankimo ‘Ocean Foie Gras’ of monkfish liver, wakame, momiji, scallion, and ponzu . My Lord this was delicious!  It was paired with the 2013 Dominique Piron, Domaine De Combiaty, Brouilly (Retail $18; The largest and most southerly of the Beaujolais crus) This wine showed an elegant, fresh, cherry, raspberry, plum, spice and wet stone character with an appealing savoriness that was a wonderful compliment to the foie gras. In turn the foie gras accentuated the earthy/savory component in the wine.  I appreciated the little slices of cherry on the plate which was a delightful bridge between the wine and food. tour de force for detail

Our entreé course was American Wagyu NY Strip with charred squash, summer beans, porcini, and ume shiso. Two wines were served with the entreé – the 2010 Domaine Bel Avenir, Les Capitans, Juliénas (Retail $17) and the 2011 Domaine Pierre Savoye, CôteDu Py, Morgon (Retail – $19; and my Wine of the Day!)

The Juliénas showed low-key cherry and earthy aromas with ample red fruit and spice flavors. The Morgon showed lifted cherry, wild strawberry, pomegranate, spice and mineral profile with an appealing tannic grip.  I preferred Morgon with the entreé, but both wines were played very well with the tender, succulent beef.

We capped off our dining experience with a dessert course of Milk Chocolate Namelaka, black sesame sponge, cocoa nibs, red bean Gelato.  It was the 2011 George Duboeuf, Beaujolais Villages.  The surprising pairing worked thanks to the ample cherry, strawberry fruit flavors of the wine, and the fact that the delectable dessert was moderately sweet.  It was a good pairing.

My takeaways from the experience were many:

  • That scrumptious sweep? Mission accomplished! What a memorable food and wine pairing experience.  I highly recommend Pabu!
  • Cru Beaujolais is a great alternative to under $30 Pinot
  • If you’re looking to try some Cru Beaujolais, consider wine from the glorious 2009, 2010, and 2011 vintages
  • If you’re considering an unconventional pairing of a particular cuisine, go with wine that’s a flexible at the table  The experience reminded me  that Beaujolais should be in the Top 5 most food friendly wines along with  Sparkling Wine, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Rosé in my book.
  • Beaujolais make for great chillable summer red
  • Keep an open mind when it comes to wine and food pairing, and have fun!

Many thanks to InterBeaujolais, Sodexa USA, and Pabu San Francisco for an amazing and memorable Beaujolais Wines & Japanese Cuisine Pairing Dinner! 

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, yoga, hiking, and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine. Since I’m a wino with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! Follow my reviews on Vivino and Delectable

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.