Monday, April 29, 2013


It has been several years since I opened a bottle of Torrontes from Argentina but after picking up a chicken at the market I walked through the wine section and there was a mark-down on price for one.  In this case it was a Bodega El Porvenir de Cafayate Laborum, a single vineyard Torrontes from the 2012 vintage. 

The chicken was spatchcocked and tossed on the charcoal grill and the wine chilled a bit while the chicken was cooking.  Then while the chicken was resting I poured the first glass.

A bright and perky nose of lemon peel and a bit of fresh spring herbs gave a lot of promise to the wine.  The upfront taste was grapefruit and lemon with just a bit of herb underneath those two flavors.  The acid was very sharp and forceful and there was good body to the wine.  When it came to the finish the wine fell apart for me.  As I swallowed the last bit there was sweetness at the end that did not fit.  This wasn't a sweetness of residual sugar, it was more like a dose of artificial sweetener.  It tasted like saccharine.  I rarely drink soft drinks and when I do I avoid the diet version because of the after taste I get from the artificial sweeteners used.  This wine reminded me of a lemon / lime diet soft drink.  There's a good bit left in the bottle and it will get a shot at redemption tonight.

2012 Bodega El Porvenir de Cafayate Laborum.  13.5% alcohol and $12.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


“But after I got them to leave and shut the door and turned off the light it wasn't any good. It was like saying good-by to a statue. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.” 
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Saturday, April 27, 2013


The Cotes du Rhone Blanc was discussed below, but here is the meal that went with it. The Alaskan halibut got only salt and white pepper before being pan seared and then popped into a hot oven for six minutes.   The sweet potato sticks were coated with olive oil, then dusted with a mixture of hot, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper and baked for about half an hour in the same oven. 

When the fish was done some lemon juice, a splash of the wine and some butter went into the skillet and that made a quick pan sauce for the fish.  Good meal.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cotes du Rhone Blanc

Dinner was sort of a Yin/Yang affair tonight.  There was fresh Alaskan halibut pan seared and oven roasted that was sweet, mild and fresh.  On the other hand there were a good bunch of spicy sweet potato fries baked the oven after being tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and spicy, smoked paprika. 

The wine was a 2011 Famile Perrin (Perrin famiily) Cotes du Rhone Blanc Reserve.  Light gold in the glass and smelling more of summer than spring with some mature flower blossoms predominating.  Medium bodied wine that had full flavors of pears, peaches and a tiny bit of funk.  The wine didn't dominate the fish but neither was it dominated by the spicy sweet potatoes.  Nice balance and a good finish made it the perfect middleground for the two foods.

The wine is blend of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. 

2011 Famile Perrin Cotes du Rhone Blanc Reserve.  13% alcohol and $11.  Good buy.


“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”
 Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Scott, the dog, and I have been traveling for a week and it was very good to get home. The house was devoid of food but on a trip to the market I found the first of the globe artichokes of the spring.  These two came home with me. 

They were sliced and diced and peeled and quartered.  When they were finally clean they were blanched.  After all of that they were sauteed with some mushrooms, thyme and fresh tarragon in olive oil and butter.   Some cream went into the pan at the last minute.  The last thing in the pan was some fresh pasta.  Everything was tossed together, topped with a few grind of Pecorino Romano and dinner was ready. 

Artichokes are almost impossible to match with wine so instead there were a couple Southside Fizzes that matched up well.  That's Plymouth gin, some lemon juice, simple syrup and fresh mint all mixed together and topped with some seltzer water. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


A glass of Le Grande Bouqueteau discussed in the post below this one.   The glass has a pink stem.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Chinon Rose

The first rose to come home from the market was a 2012 Chinon rose', The Grand Bouqueteau.  The wine is 100% Cabernet Franc.    Bone dry rose' with earthy flavors as pronounced as the fruit.  Fresh and clean and just about perfect with some fried chicken wings.  Good stuff.

Le Grand Bouoqueteau Chinon rose'.  12.5% alcohol and $15

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Change in the Weather

Yesterday it was 82 degrees and the sun was shining in the morning, but by evening the clouds and the humidity rolled in and the air was almost oppressive.  The temperatures only dropped to 68 last night and it felt more like July than April. 

The temperature never went up today, and late this afternoon the rain began and the temperature began to fall.  It is now in the low 50's and suddenly there is almost a chill in the air.

It's time for a small glass of Maison Surrenne, Petit Champagne Cognac.  Beautiful color in the glass and a warming nose of sweet caramel.  Sweetness on the tongue and the requisite burn on the finish.  40% alcohol and 1700 cases in this bottling.  $70.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Champagne and Spring

"Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk of them and champagne makes you do them."        Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
One of the best things about spring is the number of rose' wines that begin to appear in the market. It's a sure sign of warmer weather and the freshness of renewal after winter.  I didn't have to go to the market for this bottle of Jean Moutardier Champagne Brut Rose' Le Breuil, it has been sitting in the cellar for a couple of years. 

This is a very dark rose' with fully extracted flavors.  There is no hint of subtlety here - this wine is about ripe strawberries and cherries.  There was some yeastiness in the nose, but mostly this was fresh fruit. Despite the depth of the fruit the wine was not sweet, it was tart, pert and happy.  There was great acid, some really long lasting bubbles and a true celebration in the mouth.  It's a wine that brings a smile with it.

Jean Moutardier Champagne Brut Rose' Le Breuil.  12.5% alcohol and $50.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


There were first of the season morels in the market today. They are expensive but they certainly were delicious sauteed in some butter and then served with some fresh pasta in a light shallot, tarragon and cream sauce. Roasted asparagus spears provided some additional spring taste and color.  A completely satisfying meal.

Monday, April 8, 2013


With the grey sole discussed below being a traditional French recipe I opted for a French wine - a 2008 Christian Moreau Chablis.  Good choice.

Clear and bright in the glass with no yellowing the wine still smelled fresh and tart.  The first sip hit the tongue with acid and citrus, then moved into a richness on the side of the tongue with flavors of sweet apple and fresh, green grapes.  Full and long flavors that paired particularly well with the simple richness and sweetness in the fish.  There was a slight saltiness to the finish and at the very end there was an aroma of the raindrops on dry limestone.  Great wine for a fair price, but sadly my last bottle from this particular vintage, though I do have some premier and grand cru from the same producers in the cellar.

2008 Christian Moreau Pere et Fils Chablis.  12.5% alcohol and $21.

Sunday, April 7, 2013


The produce in the market is "working its way north."  Yesterday there was rainbow chard from about 150 miles south of here.  Considering how winter has refused to leave having anything from this close is remarkable and delicious.  It was sauteed in some olive oil and garlic and then steamed with the moisture on the leaves until wilted, then uncovered until the water evaporated.  Some salt, a little pepper and a splash of lemon juice and it was finally spring.

There was also fresh grey sole in the market and it was poached in white wine and shallots in the oven for eight minutes and then the pan juices were reduced with olive oil and lemon juice, capers and parsley.   Quick, easy, low calorie and tasty.    Wine later.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Best $9 Bottle in the Market?

Along with the calamari discussed below I opened a 2010 Perrin Nature Cotes du Rhone. This is the newest wine in the Perrin line which starts at the top with Chateau Beaucastel, one of the best Chateauneuf du Papes. This wine used organically grown grapes and used no chemicals in the vineyard.

It had a rustic nose of grapes, white pepper and earth.  The aromas here shouted that this was not a polished wine with any delusions - it was just good drinking wine.  The color was dark and the body medium.  Great forward fruit of berries and cherries, and there was just enough tannin to keep it honest.  Medium length to the finish.  Good acid that was in balance with everything else.  Nothing remarkable here other than a good, honest, inexpensive wine that was great with the calamari.  Perfect wine for pasta with red sauce.

2010 Perrin Nature Cotes du Rhone. 12.5% alcohol and $9. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Quick, easy and delicious meal last night featuring calamari. Pine nuts, chili flakes and red currants were sauteed briefly in some olive oil.  When the pine nuts were golden I added capers, marinara sauce and half cooked Israeli couscous.  After three minutes of simmering in went freshly sliced rings of calamari, and less than a minute later dinner was ready.  The only addition was the salad of fresh lettuces and sliced red onion dressed with vinegar and oil and few sliced scallions on top of the calamari.  Health food never tasted so good.

Wine later.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Very Petit Chablis?

To go with the halibut dinner in the post below this one I opened a new wine to me, a 2009 Bourgogne Chardonnay, Kimmeridgien from Jean Marc Brocard.  Brocard produces a number of Chablis but this wine comes from just outside that area, but still grown in the Kimmeridgien limestone that is the hallmark of Chablis. 

The freshness, tartness and minerality of Chablis were all present, though dialed back somewhat.  This is a lighter wine but still had a sense of place that makes me love wines from this region.  Crisp apple flavors, bits of limestone and a light and fresh body.  The fish was rich and would have stood up to a much heavier wine, but there was no question that it went great with this wine as well.   Nice surprise.

2009 Jean Marc Brocard Bourgogne Kimmeridgien Chardonnay.  12.5% alcohol and a bargain at $15.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

2013 Halibut

I don't usually vintage date my fish, but this time I will make an exception.  The first of the wild caught, Alaskan halibut showed up in the market this past weekend.  It's one of the sure signs of spring to me. 

It was pan seared and then shoved in a very hot oven for four minutes to get to a perfect medium rare state and finished with just a squeeze of lemon.  The spinach was wilted in a bit of butter and the water remaining after washing it in cold water and lightly drying it.  It too got a squeeze of lemon.  The tomato was a locally produce hydroponic Roma style and there was a bit of local goat cheese that found a home on top of the tomatoes. 

The entire meal was fresh and clean and simple and a perfect antidote to the winter that doesn't want to end in this area.  Wine notes later.