Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tri-Tip Roast from the Grill

I needed a second red wine meal to finish the Domaine de la Solitude Cotes du Rhone discussed in the post just below this one and the market cooperated with a sale on tri-tip roast.  It received a salt rub for two hours, was dried off and placed over direct heat on the grill.  Four minutes is all it took for the first side, and it took another four for the second side.  It was moved off the heat to a cooler section of the grill and the lid went on the grill for another five minutes.   I don't think there is another beef roast that cooks as quickly as tri-tip.  It rested for five minutes and was carved into thin slices.  The slices in the picture were from the thicker and more rare end of the roast.  The narrower end came out medium. 

Strozzapreti with sour cream, cheese and lemon zest along with fresh tomatoes with olive oil and basil finished the meal. The wine was equally as good with the beef as it was with the lamb chops on the first night.  Twenty-four hours under vacuum did nothing to harm it. 

I also managed to snag the last bottle of this wine from the store where I bought the first bottle.  It seems I wasn't the only one in this area who liked it.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Domaine de la Solitude

Many more than several years ago I had a good run with Chateauneuf du Pape and Domaine de la Solitude was among my favorites.  In fact, it was a Chateauneuef du Pape that was my first experience with a wine that made me stand back and be amazed at how good wine could be. That wine was a 1957 Paul Jaboulet Les Cedres.  A friend who was a wine merchant purchased an old cellar and there were several bottles of that wine in the mix.  I bought all three and drank them over the course of the next few years.  Old and faded notes tell me that the last one was consumed in 1980.

I fell out of love with Chateauneuf du Papes when their alcohol content and extraction  started soaring and I have only two left in the cellar.  The same thing happened to Cotes du Rhone in the last ten years.  Too many of them are too big for me now and some of their appeal is gone.

It has been quite some time since I saw a Domaine de la Solitude in this area and when I saw this 2010 Cotes du Rhone I had to bring one home and try it.  It made me very happy to find that it was not over the top in any way.  It was fresh, alive, moderate in both alcohol and flavors and was fantastic with a couple of grilled lamb chops.  Everything was in balance here - the fruit, the tannin, the acid.  It did not lend itself to introspection or deep thought, it just made the food taste better.  Good wine - good bargain.

2010 Domaine de la Solitude Cotes du Rhone.  14 % alcohol and $13. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


The surprise wine of the pig roast was the 2012 River Village Cellars Ohio River Valley Traminette, the second label for Kinkead Ridge Vineyards.  The grape is a new world hybrid of Gewurztraminer.  This version had 2.1% residual sugar.   The aromas were flowers and spices with plenty of nutmeg and allspice.  There were some sharp flavors of peach and pear and  underlying flavors of lemon zest. 

Where this wine shined was with the Jamaican jerk sauce that was one of the options for the pork.  This was not a subtle sauce at all.  It was a pureed mixture of green onions, a big handful of fresh ginger, a healthy dose of just ground allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg, garlic, a bit of malt vinegar, molasses, brown sugar and soy sauce all highlighted by four Scotch Bonnet Peppers.  The food processor earned its keep with this concoction. 

For the first two days the sauce is way too hot to eat, but by the fourth day it was ready for the pork.  It was still very spicy but the allspice and nutmeg truly matched well with this wine and the residual sugar in the wine helped to tame the heat of the peppers.  Both the ginger and the fruitiness of the Scotch bonnets were clear and bright.

2012 River Village Cellars Traminette.  12.4% alcohol.  2.1 % residual sugar.  $12.  99 cases produced.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2007 Shypoke Charbono

There were several wines at the pig roast discussed in the post immediately below this one.  None caught the attention of the wine drinkers more than a 2007 Shypoke Napa Valley Charbono.  I drank several bottles of this variety more than twenty years ago, all from Inglenook. Early last winter I saw this Shypoke bottling on a tasting menu at a local wine store.  I was early for the tasting and had other appointments, but they sold me one of the six bottles they had available and I took it home and stored it for this pig event.

Some research on the internet showed me that this is likely the same vineyard that Inglenook used to produce their wine.  That good story can be found here.

So a few details:  there is likely less than 100 acres of this grape in the world and most of it appears to be in the Calistoga area of Napa Valley.  The grape is originally from the Savoie region of France where it goes by the name Douce Noir, translating as soft black

This is a very dark wine in the glass and the nose was full of black cherries and black plums.  It was a very fruity wine with those cherries and plums intermingling with a bit of pomegranate.  For such a dark and fruity wine there was good acidity and there was a ton of soft tannin.  The tannin didn't attack the mouth it just gave structure to the wine.  The finish was long and ended with a bit more fruit and just enough of the tannin to refresh the mouth for the next sip.  This wine made everyone happy. 

It was great with un-sauced pork from the pig, but the sweet sauces, the vinegar based sauces and certainly the Jamaican jerk sauce were not its best friends.  Still, it was definitely my favorite wine of the evening and one that made me smile.

2007 Shypoke Napa Valley Charbono.  14.1% alcohol and $30.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pig Roast

Busy weekend last and the results from the pig roast are pictured here.  The pig was 42 pounds and is shown on the roaster with apple wood smoke, resting on the table after cooking and being carved and 'pulled.'

It took a good crew to cook the pig and fix all the side dishes, and a small army to eat all the food.  There were numerous sauces to go with the porker from a mild, sweet tomato based one all the way to a fresh Jamaican jerk sauce full of habanero peppers.  Beer, wine, whisky, soft drinks and water added to the party.

The weather cooperated by being very cool and rainy at the start of the day to clear and pleasant by the time the pig had rested and was carved.   It was a great way to say hello to autumn in this area. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Talk Like a Pirate Day

No meed speak this day since it be International speak Like a scurvy pirate Day. Somehow thar gunna have to be spiced rum incorporated into dinner 'tis evenin'. So get wit' th' program 'n celebrate. 
I woe ye taste no meed that makes ye think 'o th' jolly roger flag.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Walleye and Kinkead Ridge

There was a sale on Walleye last week and it was less than 16 hours out of  Lake Erie. I had no desire to resist that temptation.  The results are above.  Some oil and butter were put in a clay baking dish and the dish put in a 500 degree oven until the oven came to temperature.  The fish was salted and dusted with white pepper and went in the dish skin side down and was baked for eight minutes.  It got a grating of lemon zest and some lemon juice when it came out of the oven.

The side dish was multicolored strozzapreti finished with some sour cream, grated cheese and coarse black pepper.  Red tomato slices with halved orange cherry tomatoes and basil finished the plate.

The wine was local also.  It was a 2011 Kinkead Ridge White Revelation, a blend of several varieties of white grapes including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Albarino.

Crisp and fresh with some grapefruit flavors sitting on top of a bit of green melon and a few herbs.  Great acid to clean the palate and a good dose of minerality at the end to make it even more interesting.

Due to nasty weather this wine wasn't produced in 2012, but fortunately I still have a couple of bottles left of the 2011.  I'm starting to think this may be my favorite white from Kinkead Ridge. 

2011 Kinkead Ridge White Revelation.  13.5% alcohol and $15.  86 cases produced. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pickberry Red Wine

In two days our daytime temperature dropped from a humid 92 degrees for a high temperature to a dry 65 degrees for a high temperature.  Nighttime temperatures went from the mid 70's degree range to an overnight low of 42 degrees.  We went from chilled whites and rose' weather to big red weather in less than 48 hours.  I much prefer the latter scenario.

The big red I pulled out was a 2008 Ravenswood Pickberry Red Wine from Sonoma Mountain in California.  The wine is a blend of 59% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% each of Malbec and Petit Verdot.  The wine was deep garnet in color and nearly opaque.  The aromas were ripe berries and dark cherries mixed with a hint of earth and spice, but the fruit was very forward in the nose.  There was nothing reserved about the flavor, it was full on dark fruit flavors of cherries and black plums with a hint or two of pomegranate.  Tannins were doing their thing on the sides of the tongue and that kept the fruit in check somewhat.  At the end there was a good burst of acid that added a red quality to the fruit.  The length of the finish was a little short, but the wine was balanced and tasty and a great start for cooler weather and bigger wines.  This was a wine for a a good steak (pictured below). 

2008 Ravenswood Pickberry Red Wine.  13.7% alcohol and $45.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dinner Salad

If one is going to drink French rose' something from the south of France may be the perfect fit. And when it borders on being 'health food' so much the better.  The wine in the post immediately below was as suitable as one could get with the salad pictured above.

The ingredients were faro cooked in some chicken stock, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion, Nicoise olives, blanched green beans and small chunks of oil packed tuna.  Everything was tossed with a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, Dijon mustard, an anchovy, Meyer lemon juice and salt and pepper.  A quartered boiled egg, some Romaine lettuce, lemon slices and a few crunchy bread sticks finished the plate. 

For a hot, dry evening it was definitely a refreshing change of pace.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Back to Rose'

It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend; one's present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason........Latin proverb
2011 Les Jamelles Cinsault Rose'.  12.5% alcohol and $14

Monday, September 9, 2013

Asian Halibut

Above is the dinner that accompanied the Christoffel Erben riesling pictured in the post below this one.  The fish is halibut and it was rubbed with a soy sauce, rice wine, sugar and sesame oil.  Some ginger and fermented black bean chili paste went on top  and the fish was steamed in a bamboo steamer on a bed of green onions and lemongrass stalks.  The rice was scented with some chopped lemongrass while being steamed and the sugar snap peas were tossed into the steamer for the last two minutes of cooking.  Chopped scallions completed the dish.

The crisp flavors of the Riesling were perfect with this.  I really like the lemongrass flavors in both the fish and rice because it accented the citrus, mostly lime, in the wine.  The residual sweetness in the wine killed any heat from the chili paste.  Even with the strong flavors of the seasoning the richness and delicacy of the halibut was maintained.  This was just a wonderful combination

2006 Joh. Jos Christoffel Erben Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett. 9.5% alcohol and $20 several years ago.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Mature Riesling

Three sunset photos of the same wine, a 2006 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Urziger Wurzgarten Kabinett.  Delicious.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Apple Cider

Summer is nearing its end.  As proof here's the first glass of just pressed apple cider from a farmers' market this afternoon.  Sweet and tart and wonderful and less than four hours from being pressed.

Chianti Classico

There's been a dearth of Chianti in my life recently and there really isn't a reason for it.  I still have a number of bottles from both the 2004 and 2006 vintages in the cellar but they require some effort to get to them.  I was in a different store two days ago and saw a very fairly priced bottle and brought it home.  The wine was a 2008 Piccini Chianti Classico.  List price was $25 and it was on sale for $14.

Dinner is pictured above - a pan seared pork chop with sauteed shallots, garlic, and halved cherry tomatoes in a balsamic vinegar sauce.  Very good meal.  As for the wine, it had a little bit every thing that makes Chianti good.  There were flavors of bright, tart cherries, a sense of earthiness, great acid, moderate alcohol and a dry finish.  It just didn't have enough of any of those characteristics.  At $25 I would have been disappointed in this wine, but at $14 it was fairly priced and washed down a good dinner with ease.  Time to pull out an upgrade from the cellar....

2008 Piccini Chainti Classico.  $14 and 13% alcohol. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I found another bargain a couple of weeks ago, and it was from a region of France where I have little experience with the wines.  It was from Touraine, which begins just southwest of Paris.

The wine was a 2011 Domaine Charbonnier and was 100% Cot, which is another name for Malbec.

The wine was neon purple in the glass and showed its young age.  Fresh, fruity aromas of crushed grapes that reminded me of somewhat Beaujolais with its freshness.  Grape flavors with some darker underpinnings of black plums were strong.  Mild tannin and a healthy dose of acid made this a happy wine. 

Nothing too serious here and a perfect red wine for summer drinking.  It was great on a warm evening with some hamburgers just off the grill.  It's not a challenge, it's a beverage.

2011 Domaine Charbonnier, Touraine.  $14 and 12.5% alcohol.