Friday, February 28, 2014

Still Winter

Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance........................Yoko Ono
Despite the blue sky and sunshine in the picture it is still very much winter here as the temperature when the photo was taken was about 10 degrees (12c).  There is more snow, sleet and rain due in here tonight and through the weekend. 

Last night was fresh swordfish with rice and asparagus.  The fish was cubed and sauteed in a medium pan with crushed fennel seed, lemon zest, garlic, butter, red pepper flakes and olive oil.  It was both sweet and pungent.  The wine was a 2011 Kinkead Ridge Ohio River Valley Viognier Roussanne in a 42/58 proportion.  This had the body to stand up to the fennel flavors and was not killed off by the asparagus.  The mouth feel was oily and the flavors were green melon, orange peel, kiwi and lychee.  Good match.

2011 Kinkead Ridge Viognier Roussanne.  15.1% alcohol and $16.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Syrah - The Last Bottle

Over the course of the last year and a half I have consumed half a case of the 2006 Phoenix Ranch Napa Valley Syrah.  Tuesday night was the latest and last and the best and brightest.  My supply is exhausted and there appears to be no more in the pipeline.

This is a wine that manages to make one think of northern Rhone syrahs while never hiding its California roots.  There was a lot of ripe fruit, but it never went into jam.  There were aromas of things other than grapes, particularly little hints of raw beef and dry earth that I love so much in Rhone wines.  Great acid, tannin and balance along with moderate alcohol all made for a delicious bottle of wine.  Of particular note was the amount of sediment in this this wine.  It was considerable and I used a fine mesh screen and funnel and it was necessary to rinse the screen between pouring to get the wine to pass through.  Not a problem I minded at all.

Dinner was some oven roasted chicken with herbs de Provence and potato coins roasted with fresh rosemary and garlic.  Great match - and there is the second half of the bottle for tonight.

2006 Phoenix Ranch Syrah.  13.9% alcohol and $30.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Smoke and Fire

Along with the Corison Kronos Vineyard wine discussed below, there was this.

It has been a brutal winter in my small plot in the world.  For the month of January this area was not the coldest spot in the U.S., but it was the area whose temperatures were the the farthest below normal for that area.  It was almost seventeen degrees colder on average than it is for a typical January.  February has not been any warmer.  Snow accumulation for a winter season is also at record levels with over 48 inches of snow thus far, and it snowed again last night.  There is another polar vortex headed this way and temperatures are headed back to single digits and below.  Enough!

Last Saturday was a rare reprieve and temperatures made it all the way to the 50 degree range.  I made full use of the day by firing up the hardwood grill and tossing on a prime rib steak and letting it get to the rare side of medium rare.    It's was a sign of things to come, and the wine also did a lot to briefly make me forget winter.  It's something I needed.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

2001 Corison Kronos Vineyard

"I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colors are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and its content."|
-  Lin Yutang
Yesterday was Open That Bottle Night - see the post below this one.  There was beef rib steak from the grill with some sauteed mushrooms beside it .  There was a baked potato with butter and black truffle salt.  And there was wine so perfect that it made everything else irrelevant. 

Last night's bottle was a 2001 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon, Kronos Vineyard from Napa Valley.  This was everything that can be great about Napa Valley Cabernets - wonderful, ripe fruit; a bag of mixed spices; a taste of earth; restraint and a sense of place.  And given its twelve years of age all of these components have matured into something much greater than the parts.   A joy and a pleasure to drink, and there is one more in the cellar. 

2001 Corison Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.  13.8% alcohol and $90 a number of years ago.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Open That Bottle Night

Tomorrow, February 22, 2014, is the fifteenth anniversary of Open that Bottle Night.  Anyone who has any kind of a wine cellar has a special bottle or more that calls for a special occasion to open.  Many, many times that occasion never seems to come. Fifteen years ago John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter, who were writing the wine column for the Wall Street Journal at the time, named the last Saturday in February as Open That Bottle Night.  Tomorrow is the day to open that bottle.

The complete story can be found here.  Click Me.  One of the best parts was reading in the Journal a few days later what a number of other people opened for that evening.  I was fortunate enough one year to have my bottle and story featured in their column so this holiday has a special place in my heart.  Mr. Brecher and Ms. Gaiter no longer write for the Wall Street Journal  but Open That Bottle Night continues and the the couple can now be found on Facebook and they still want to hear people's stories.  Good folks.

Pictured above is an empty bottle.  I have my choices narrowed down to three for this year, but haven't made the final call on which one it will be so the pictured bottle is empty.  I do know it will be red and that the entree will be beef or lamb.  Decisions......

Thursday, February 20, 2014

First Taste of Spring

It wasn't the food or the wine, it was the weather.  After a miserable and cold month of February that followed a similarly brutal January the temperature soared to a remarkable 64 degrees today.  This area is less than one inch shy of a record amount of snow for a season, but today was glorious.  The windows were thrown open for a couple of hours and winter's stale air exchanged for a houseful of freshness.

Of course another front is coming through at the moment courtesy of my Canadian friends to the north and we will be back below freezing by morning when the torrential rains and high winds end.

In celebration of fresh air there was a large pot of mussels for dinner.  Some shallots and butter were sauteed together until the shallots softened.  Lemongrass, garlic and ginger all went in the pot next until they began releasing their aromas.  A cup of white vermouth was added and when all that had mellowed for a few minute the pot was filled with mussels fresh from Cape Cop in Massachusetts.  Add in some toasted and crunchy ciabatta rolls and a small salad and a good time was had by all.

The wine was a 2011 Kinkead Ridge Ohio River Valley Revelation white wine.  It was full of grapefruit, lime, kiwi, peaches and limestone.  It was tart and zippy and just about perfect with the mussels and broth.  The wine is a mixture of a myriad of white grapes, chardonnay, albarino, sauvignon blanc, and a few others.  It's flavor profile seems to land somewhere between sancerre and muscadet.  Good stuff,

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Romanesco Round Two

It has been two or three years since I saw romanesco in the local market, but last weekend it made another appearance and I couldn't resist. I don't know of a more visually interesting vegetable, though several people thought it was the most appalling looking thing.

When I picked it up and was putting it in a plastic bag to protect it a woman looked at me and said, "Oh my god, you're not actually going to eat that are you?"  I assured her I was and she left with a horrified look on her face.   I turned a corner in the produce section and came face to face with the chef/owner of perhaps the best local restaurant.  She had the opposite reaction and was as thrilled as I was to find it.  She must have bought the remaining heads because it is will be featured at her restaurant this week.

Everything you ever wanted about romanesco and fractal vegetables can be found at this link:  romanesco.  

I steamed mine for fifteen minutes and ate it with a pot roasted chicken.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sempre Vive 2010

Last spring on a trip to California I had my first glass of Sempre Vive Cabernet Sauvignon, a bottle from the 2006 vintage that friends opened for dinner.  The wine was from the Calistoga area of Napa Valley, the far north and the hottest end.  Despite that the wine checked in with modest alcohol of 13.5%.

Thanks to the internet and liberalized shipping rules since that time I have managed to purchase bottles from 1998, 2003, 2004 and 2006.  All were delicious and all were under 14% alcohol.  Recently the 2010 came on the market and that vintage arrived about two weeks ago. 

Let's get to the point - despite it being young it may be the best vintage yet.  It is still fruit forward but there is a myriad of flavor suggestions of blackberries, dark cherries, graphite and subtle hints of earth, herbs, spice, oak and other elements.  It is very much a California wine in its fruit but it certainly pays same homage to Bordeaux in its inspiration.  Great stuff.

The other two bottles I purchased will rest for a couple of years.

Sempre Vive Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  13.4$ alcohol and $21.00

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Red Snapper

After a few days away the schedule is starting to get lighter again. It wasn't snowing today and the roads were clear so I spent the day walking through markets. The main result is pictured above, a very fresh red snapper.

I peeled and sliced about an inch of ginger, smashed about four inches of lemon grass into a pulp and stuffed the cavity with that mixture and some lemon slices.  The fish got a little salt and white pepper and then spent twenty minutes in a 450 degree oven.  With a small salad, there was a feast.   It's good to be back home.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


I did get out to a Super Bowl party on Sunday, primarily because I can't resist paella and there was a large pan of it. 

My contribution was a 2001 Ramirez de la Piscine Reserva, 1005 Tempranillo wine.  It certainly had some bottle age on itandmatched up with a couple of new vintages of other wines it certainly shone the brightest.

There were lots of berries and earth, a tiny bit of dry leather and enough subtle herb tones to make one think one was walking through a meadow on a dry day.  The tannins were soft and well incorporated and everything was in perfect balance.  Wonderful wine that was especially good with the saffron and chorizo in the paella.

This was the first wine to totally disappear.

Ramirez de la Piscine 2001 Reserva.  13% alcohol and $24