Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vacation Gourmet, Part II

Course number two of our extra-special-beach-house-gourmet-dinner:

Steamed Clams in a Torrontes-Butter-Garlic sauce (are you detecting a theme here?)

These local little neck clams, so fresh, and cheap, and full of meaty briny ocean yumminess, went perfectly with a glass of Teirra Del Fuego Torrontes, the wonderful white varietal so pervasive in the Mendoza region of Argentina. The trick to eating a dish like this is, of course, in the DE-bay tradition, to use the clam shell to slurp up some of the buttery sauce with each piece of mollusk-meat.

This luscious (and affordable - $11) Torrontes has a perfect acidity balanced with notes of bright peachy-grapefruit. Crisp finish helps to clear the pallate for the next slurp of clam, and a grassy mineral aspect brings a sense of seaside pines and marsh grass - two common features of the local topography.

To prepare a dish like this for yourself, use a 2 quart sauce pot, and heat 1/4 cup of water and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. When the water begins to steam, add the clams (of course after thorough rinsing and purging, picking out any dead clams) and cover the pot with a lid. After a few minutes, check for any clams opening up, indicating they are done cooking. When the first 2 or 3 clams open, drop in a tablespoon of butter, 1/4 cup of wine, and a liberal pinch of garlic salt or garlic powder, with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the remaining clams to finish, removing them from the pot as they open. Continue to simmer the remaining sauce until it has reduced to appropriate concentration, and pour over the clams in a large bowl. Serve with a chunk of baguette to soak up the extra buttery clam sauce after all the bi-valves have been consumed.

Bon apetit!

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Vacation Gourmet Part One

We're on vacation at the DE shore this week, doing some much needed R&R, which typically includes considerable amount of culinary therapy.

Tonight, we've planned a 5-course meal to enjoy al fresca at la casa familia de la playa. First up:

Scallops sauteed in butter with a white wine and garlic sauce.

Wine pairing: Coteaux D'Ancenis Malvoisie

This fine French white - we believe from the muscadet varietal, pairs excellently with the seawater delicacy of these locally harvested scallops. Seared gently in butter, and finished with a pinch of garlic powder and 1/4 cup of the Malvoisie, the scallops just melt on the tongue, while a sip of the wine provides a subtle lemon edge. The overall effect is of plentiful citrus groves kissed by fresh ocean air, all on one tiny plate.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Upcoming Events, Memorial Day Weekend

What's up Virginia winos!  I've been pretty busy this month, so posting has been woefully light around here.  Giorgio, what's your excuse?

Thought I'd tell you all about some upcoming events in Virginia Wine.


ValleyFest 2009 Wine and Beer festival at Massanutten Ski Resort

This is one of the best festivals west of the blue ridge, with live music, a selection of domestic craft beers and microbrews, and a handful of Virginia wineries. The event is from 11-7, discounted tickets available in advance for $15.

Situated by the ski lodge, the festival spreads out over the lush green hillside at the base of the bunny slopes. Resort staff will probably crank up the ski lifts for a scenic ride to the top, where views extend beyond the city and out into the foothills of the blue ridge and nearby national park.

Sample Virginia wineries! Not sure who will be there, but last year I worked with Horton at the festival and there was a solid showing including First Colony, Prince Michel, Rockbridge, and others. In addition to the wineries, there's plenty of beer, festival food, dancing, arts and crafts, and entertainment for the whole family.

Our advice is to stay at the resort and make a weekend out of it. Fairways restaurant offers a very nice dining option either for dinner or brunch the next day. And nothing helps cure that post-festival hangover better than a round of golf or a trip to the sauna at the resort's first-class accommodations.

And the very next weekend:

Vintage Virginia Wine Festival at Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville

This is one of the biggest festivals in the northern/central VA region, produced by Across-the-Way Productions (who really know what they are doing when it comes to producing festivals). Here's the website with extensive details

Some of the wineries attending: Horton, Veritas, Cooper, Fox Meadow, Stone Mountain, Sweely, Barboursville, Prince Michel, and at least a dozen others.  All the typical festival fun included; games for the kids, food, crafts, etc....  Check it out - this is THE festival to attend for the spring.

See you on the wine trail, bitches!

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

That Georgia's Always On My M-M-M-M-M-Mind

Horton Rkatsiteli 2008 - Virginia

Rkatsiteli is probably the best thing to come out of the former soviet union since Anna Kornikova put on a skirt two sizes too small and picked up a tennis racket.

Rkats-a-what, you say?


It's a grape, a white one, originally from the Republic of Georgia. It's insanely acidic, spicy, and green tasting. And it makes this sensational citrusy wine with notes of green apple and an almost effervescent vibrance to the mouthfeel. There are less than 20 acres of it in the U.S. There are thousands of acres of it in Europe and Asia.

Horton is one of only two or three growers in the U.S. producing a Rkatsiteli wine. When people come to the winery and taste the Rkatz, they know that they are getting something unique and special.

The 2008 Rkatz reaches an exquisite balance of the fruity sweetness and the rich complexity possible with this grape. Back in 2003, they made this thing bone dry, and it was a bit harsh. Suddenly, in 2006, they realized that sweetening it up a little made it fly off the shelves. The RS that vintage was a little over 2%. Then, in 2007 they toned the sugar back down a little, and the spice and citrus really dominated. 2008, due to the exceptional quality of the fruit at harvest, permitted the winemaker to reach a more perfect union of the fruit, minimal residual sugar at around .5%, and the mineral spicy citric notes that really define this varietal.

It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing to try some of this delicious Rkatsiteli, and we savor it every chance we get.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Well, short of bombarding you with the Languedoc,

2006 Domaine du Trillol - Languedoc

New World, I have to see what the hell is going on in Corbieres, because according to our last two Languedoc posts, it's utter madness; "chocolately horses' asses, bouquets of barn and herb," and now this strangely delicious beast. It's 80% Roussanne and 20% Maccabeu.

Honey, apricot, and pear on the nose, but on the palette you add Flinstone vitamins, petroleum, and tar strewn beach with the stench of acres upon acres of sweaty fat kids. It's musky, weighty, and all mineral, nothing short of Salt of the Earth wine here. This wine could surprisingly stand up to a bone-in rib-eye pairing, though I think lemony Wiener Schnitzel might be this wines perfect mate. Perrrfect for cheese, I think Robiola Roccaverano or Ibores. Something bright and zesty.

If you're wanting a Pinot Grigio, you'll hate this. If you're wanting a Savignon Blanc, you'll hate this. You won't know what do with it: you'll think "am I drinking red? this is tannic." And my-oh-my, the color: it looks exactly like my pee the morning after I've been drinking Don Julio all night: a day-bright mineral-rich yellow. Long long long finish- seriously plan ahead, because you might not finish in time.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

The Northbound End of a Southbound Horse

2006 Laurent Miquel Syrah Granache - France

This vin de pays from the southern Languedoc is one of those revolutionary French wines where they actually advertise on the label what grapes they've put into the wine! Imagine that.

Using a 75/25 Syrah-Grenache blend, Laurent Miquel gets plenty of body while preserving a bold, bright fruitiness. The bouquet is of barn and herb, with just the slightest hint of horse's ass. This is in no way a knock against the wine - horsey flavors are one of my favorite bouquets.

Balancing the herb, barn, and hint of chocolate (Syrah's most signature quality), is a pleasantly rich, ripe, almost jammy note of dark fruit, like blackberry or blueberry, but hard to pin down.

For the 10-15$ price-point, Laurent Miquel puts together some very drinkable wines. But, they are by no means phenomenal. Another standout in their portfolio is the Viognier under the Nord Sud label.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Crushed Over Crush

Well, C-Ville Wine Blog lovers, our fears have been confirmed, the rumors were true, and CrushWine Shop is no more.  This from former owner Paul Coleman a few days ago:
As some of you may have heard, we are going through some changes at Crush.  After much deliberation over the past few months, Nan and I have decided to sell the wine shop to Michael Keaveny, who will be transforming it into an Italian trattoria/winebar.  It will still include a wine shop, carrying many of your favorite wines from around the world.  There will be a heavier influence of Italian varietals.  There will still be the same focus on great wine values on which Crush built its reputation.

Girlfriend and I stopped in last Friday and picked through the remains of last week's mega-sale. There wasn't much left. We grabbed a bottle of Virginia Chard and a Chenin Blanc that were a good deal after the discount. Girlfriend met the new owner, who told her his plans for a gallery-style kitchen area and the "rustic" Italian menu.

I can only hope he does it right. We will be sure to monitor progress and provide a review as soon as the new trattoria opens.

For Paul and his wife we wish you all the best. Running your own business is hard, not to mention running two. Thanks for making my beloved Belmont even better.

The Moral of the Story: pricing is everything. Crush Wine Shop had a fantastic selection, but everything was $5-$10 over-priced. I firmly believe they went after a per-bottle-profit margin and ended up sacrificing sales volume. I found myself limiting purchases, when, if the prices were better, I might have been spending more and shopping more often.

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