Friday, February 27, 2009

Fridays in the Kitchen

Welcome to Fridays in the kitchen, where we'll share some of our favorite recipes for pairing with some of our favorite wines.

[right] Bacon-wrapped scallops and seafood pasta en brodo paired with a bottle of Barboursville Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc.

This week's edition: we were in the mood for seafood in the form of some kind of comfort food, and our Sauvignon Blanc kick continues with a fine offering from Barboursville, from nearby Orange County, Virginia.

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops
We used bay scallops and some fancy organic bacon from Whole Foods - no additives or nitrates or anything nasty.

Marinate the scallops in some olive oil, lemon or lime juice, and some salt and pepper for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Turn the oven to broil while you prep the bacon, slicing strips in half lengthwise, and trimming the larger sections of fat. Don't cut the fat off entirely - BACON FAT ADDS FLAVOR - trim it conservatively.

Wrap each scallop with 1 half-piece of bacon and set in a roasting dish.

Cook 2-3 minutes, flip, and continue cooking until desired texture is achieved. You may need to use toothpicks, or just carefully lay them in the pan with the wrapped ends of bacon on the down side.

If you like your bacon extra-crispy, pre-cook the bacon to medium-done on a flat top before wrapping the scallops. [You don't want to cook over-long in the broiler as the scallops will get rubbery before your bacon gets crispy.]

Seafood Pasta en Brodo

Use whatever veggies you have on hand. This week we used green onion, garlic, and mushrooms.

Sautee veggies lightly in some butter and olive oil, salt, pepper, herbs as desired [oregano, thyme, basil - the stand-bys]. Add pasta to boiling water at this point as well and set the timer for al dente.

We peeled a dozen ginormous tiger shrimp and a few ounces of bay scallops for this recipe. Once the veggies are tender, add shrimp first as they are bigger and the scallops cook faster. When the shrimp are ready to be flipped, add scallops, about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of white wine (Barboursville Sauvignon Blanc), and half a bouillon cube. Cover to let the seafood finish.

The juices from the seafood, the wine, the oil and butter, the herbs and veggies - you got a wonderful broth goin'. Ladel the broth over a bowl of cooked pasta, serve with a fork and a spoon, and enjoy.

Pasta en brodo is one of our all-time favorite Italian comfort-food dishes. It's so warming and inviting on a cold February night - and it's perfect for that transition to the lighter flavors of spring so when March and April roll around, pasta en brodo is still an appropriate dish.

Our review of the Barboursville Sauvignon Blanc in a separate post.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Violet, You're Turning Violet, Violet

I'm shockingly making the switch here to white much earlier than I though I would, not because of New World's preceding post (which sounds like a delicious October Nicoise salad actually), but because this one needs to be shared immediately.

Clos de la Coulée de Serrant 2003 - Loire Valley

It's one of the first Domaines in on the river and 100% Chenin Blanc.

You know when Violet eats the Everlasting-Gobstopper in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Well after 30 seconds with this chenin, I know exactly what she was talking about (minus the swelling into a giant blueberry).  And for all of you turned off by the distinctly French lilt and the length of the producer's name, it's just French for "Thanksgiving Dinner, but backwards."

You get dessert up front: a gorgeous tart and baked granny smith apple and cinnamon pie, except Granny baked the pie for 17 minutes too long, because she went to take her pills, but got distracted by the cat who had lodged itself between the fire place and the wood-bin, which upon having resolved the matter, fell asleep, forgetting what she was doing (meanwhile, pie's on fire).  The pie is certainly burnt, but she got lucky, because the honey glazed crust is nicely caramelized.  Then a savory and minerality from the bird, and a citrus cranberry sauce.  Distinctly at the end, and very strangely I might add, is the walk up from the car to the front door: the taste of pineneedle and cone, as you smack into the branch mouth first.

This chenin blanc is you at the end of the day's feast: gutt-bustingly fat, full of alcohol, but knowing it was satisfyingly worth it.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Escape to the Cape

Indaba Sauvignon Blanc 2008 - South Africa

For a refreshing white wine from the southern hemisphere with a full range of character, Indaba sets the bar pretty high with their 2008 Sauvignon Blanc.  It's hard to imagine how they crammed so many contrasting and complimentary flavors into one bottle of wine. 

Since my co-blogger is so keen on anthropromorphizing his wine as a metaphor for women, let's go ahead and say that this Sauv Blanc is so reminiscent of Andrew Marvell's Coy Mistress that it gives me nightmares of my third year lit course - you know, those nightmares where it's the day of the final and you realize you haven't been to a single class all semester.  She's tempestuous and serene.  She's inviting and forbidding.  She'll grab you by the beltloop and then banish you to the living room.

Her moods are many and varied.  She has a complete garden full of flavors; minerals of rich black soil, the velvety mouthfeel of lavender and rosemary, the floral sweetness of young genevese basil and baby spinach, a mild pungence of asparagus and artichoke, and a nose of bergemot and lemon. 

She pushes and pulls against the palette, begging for some chicken picatta, a plate of green Spanish olives, some thinly sliced roasted fennel, and scallops wrapped in bacon. 

Her finish leaves a note of sea air on the tip of the tongue, and the mind wanders off to some fertile green place where the grapes grow plump and golden and the bottle is never empty. 

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Nice is Nice

This one's from just outside of Nice, in Provence:

Clos de Bernarde Tete de Cuvée 1997 - Provence

Mourvedre up front, and grenache and syrah close behind.

What's so deliciously striking about this one is that it most certainly IS a woman I met tonight at my bar. At first whiff, certainly sophisticated (and you know that's not going to go anywhere anytime soon), but still humbly elite. She's not Bordeaux (Greenwich, for these purposes: a more than slight sigh of relief there), but Darien, or even better: Westport. There is ample fruit right up front with luscious, and I mean luscious tart calvados-ed cherries. But strangely, and wonderfully right behind it and pervading is mushroom from a shit-strewn field, without any negative connotation. She is elegant and seductively graceful, but surreptitiously throws in the Waterbury for fun. It keeps her self-aware, and extremely well balanced. And at $25 or so retail, she's a steal. My guess is the metaphor will hold up to the point of the price.

I don't know, I'll find out Sunday. But I'll let you know.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On the Subject of Malbec

So, this is a beauty that I must admit I have had flirtations with on and off, but with whom I have never really sat down to have good and maybe even well-deserved heart to heart.

Chateau Lagrezette 2003-Cahors

100% malbec from Cahors, just east of Bordeaux.

Now before everyone gets all huffy about Mendoza where "Malbec is a Star," (New World, some few odd days ago), a sentiment to which I could certainly agree sometimes, lets not forget that Cahors birthed this sassy varietal (a 38 hour delivery to triplets, it was reported). Summer in Cahors is like spending a day on a reclined chair pool-side, a 12 minute drive from the Sun. It's under these conditions that Malbec delivers its juicy, sun-burst fruit and tannin.

Were this particular one a house, it would be a split level duplex: Upstairs on the nose and first sip is an American-Empire kitchen and living room of this slowly mulled and delicately spiced plum. "Lovely, I think I'll take it."

Downstairs is a wall to wall piss-up: a stereo blasting Nine-Inch Nails, rampant chair and bottle throwing, and at the center of which is an open fire roasting a cauldron of piquillo peppers, applewood bacon cut extra fat, and whole-roasted goat meat. "I'll definitely take it, especially with all the downstairs storage space."

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Monday, February 23, 2009

The Pink Pussycat

I'm now of the mindset that a good evening should always begin with bubbly. But just a brief preface here: If you had told me a few years ago that I would be caught dead drinking rosé champagne, I'd have said you were crazy. Let it then just be a testament to my conversion that I chose it for a first pick.

Paul Goerg Rosé, Premier Cru Non-Vintage

It's a Brut Champagne from Vertus, 85% chardonnay and 15% pinot noir.

If indeed it was a woman, it would certainly be Grand-Dutchess Inga Von Herrhausen: Draped in fine pink silk and dazzling diamonds, this tartine of a woman is elegance and grace at its finest, but she can still swat a top-spinned backhand with the best of her servants' tennis partners, and certainly has the body to prove it. Bright, bright strawberries and grapefruit that have been quite noticeably toasted in an applewood-chipped oven. Wonderful fruit, but remember she can still side-saddle, swing on vines, scale walls, etc. There is an affirming body that lets you drink it anytime; at the beginning, half-way through, or when all's said 'n done. And what a lasting finish of cream: if this strumpet had a soundtrack, song number one would be "Peaches and Cream," by Beck.

I could have 3/4 of a bottle and not even know it.

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A Word from Old World

I like wine,  and I'm now ready to say after 10 years, that I love wine.  I always have, and it's becoming increasingly clear that this is NOT a casual relationship.   We knew each other from childhood, maybe slept together much earlier than we should have, we dated seriously through college, and now on one knee, I profess that I could spend the rest of life without the taste or even thought of another spirit or beer, as long as she was there.

And there is no better place to stick your nose deep in a glass and enjoy some the most wonderful wines from all over the world than New York.  Old World, New World, Up World, Down World and though with its set of numerous faults, this place has brought into my glass some of the most delicious, strange, detestable, and sensual wines I could have possibly imagined.  

My words here are an account of wines I come across that are begging for comment, one way or the other.  But I must volunteer that sometimes I am a creature of habit.  When I find a tee shirt I like, not only do I go back to get the other two colors, but sometimes I vow to never wear long-sleeves again.  I might perhaps favor the French.   However, I certainly will not discriminate; anything that has found it's way into my glass is fair game.

Apologies for the O-centric title.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

MSWS Friday Night Tasting Review - 2/20/2009

It was Malbec night at Market Street Wine Shop's downtown location this past Friday, with a selection of 3 Argentine and 1 French producer's take on the noble, yet mournfully under-featured Beaurdeaux varietal. Typically blended with many of the other classic red French varietals like Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the lesser-known but often remarkable Petit Verdot, Malbec has gained popularity in recent years due to the success of growers in South America's developing markets. The selections for this week's tasting also included 2 white wines and a rosé.

Read our review for some tasting room tips, our notes on some great wines, and a hint of what's coming up on the C-Ville Wine Blog.

We arrived to the weekly Friday night tasting shortly after 5:00 to find an already crowded shop, so we negotiated the throng to taste as quickly as possible and get the hell out before it got really crowded. The size and configuration of the Market Street Wine Shop is unfortunately barely accommodating to the crowds their weekly tasting attracts. Apparently, no one is bothered by the cramped space enough to stay away, because everyone keeps coming every Friday, and they all are always getting in my way. Don't they know who I am? I mean, HELLO?

All this completely legitimate and not at all narcissistic griping about crowds leads me to our first of many trademark Tasting Room Courtesy Tips (patent pending).

Tasting Room Courtesy Tip #1
When you are at a crowded wine tasting, default procedure is the "grab and go" protocol. If you can't figure out what that means, just follow these simple steps, dummy:

  1. Send one person from your group to the bar with everyone's glass
  2. Place glasses on the bar and stand aside, leaving room for other patrons
  3. Indicate politely to the servers which wine you would like to taste
  4. When your glasses are full, take them and step back to your group, leaving room for other groups to get their next taste
If you follow these simple rules, you will have a successful tasting experience and you will play a significant part in the successful experience of those around you. Also, you will avoid being deemed a douchebag by curmudgeonly narcissists like me. Please remember, by no means should you bring your whole group to the front, or crowd the bar, or stand there leaning casually on the bar chatting, or otherwise being oblivious to the fact that OTHER PEOPLE are trying to taste wine, too.

This public service announcement has been made possible by funding from the trillion-dollar government-bailout pork spending bill recently passed by our new communist Obama regime.

On to the wines!

Silene Cococciola Terre di Chiete 2007
A refreshing white from the Terre di Chiete neighborhood of the mostly mountainous Abruzzi region of Southern Italy, which you already know from its biggest hit, the red varietal Montepulciano. This one, made from the ancient grape Cococciola, is cool, crisp, light, fresh, and fruity, with a good acidity and a lot of citrus flavors. For $5 a bottle through March 2, this is the perfect wine to stock up on for the coming spring, or drink it all right now. Make no mistakes, this wine is not inexpensive because it lacks quality. Try pairing it with shellfish and salty seafood dishes, like bacalla or calamari with plenty of herbs and olive oil. Or anchovies if you're brave.

Alamos Torrontes 2007
This varietal in general, and this bottle specifically, is fast becoming one of my favorite South American white wines. The Torrontes from Alamos has a distinctly bright flavor, with loads of peaches, honey, and buttery tartness on the finish. An almost medium body gives this wine enough structure to compliment more firm flavors like salmon or even some tuna dishes. I especially like it with shrimp.

Maipe Rosé 2008
This barely off-dry rosé, made from the malbec varietal, is not as cloyingly sweet as your momma's magnum of Sutter Home white zinfandel or the box of wine perpetually on the top shelf of her fridge. A very balanced wine, it features a delightful melon and strawberry profile, with tannins of cashew, and a coriander finish. Easily paired with casual foods and cheerful company. Take it to a picnic or an Oscar party.

Alamos Malbec 2007
This is a perfectly adequate yet unfortunately not very remarkable Malbec, presumably geared toward mass-market consumption. If it exposes more novice drinkers to the varietal, that's fine. But I won't be drinking this bottle myself. Woefully flabby and toned-down, this is a good starter wine for folks not really into the bigger, bolder flavors of the more superior malbecs in this tasting.

Yellow + Blue Malbec 2007
Yellow + Blue makes green with this environmentally friendly producer of fine Argentine wines. Sold in a full 1 liter box with a screw cap, this malbec has a wonderfully earthy forwardness. A jammy finish and nose like a port gives this wine a lot of character, with a middle both smokey and full of fruit. Pair it with grilled pork or steak and some kind of spicy sauce.

Familia Mayol Malbec NV
This complex take on malbec has all the qualities afficianados have come to expect from the varietal. Strong acidity, an intensely hot nose, and tons of coffee and cocoa tannins mix it up with cherries and blackberries. The long velvety finish will really make a bite of filet mignon just melt in your mouth.

Domaine Labrande Cahors 2005
When the French winemakers of Cahor, the other region where malbec is grown, saw their Argentine cohorts making bank off their varietal, they realized they should start including the grape name on their labels. This wine is extremely well-balanced, with grapey aromas and a smooth finish. Blending in some tannat boosts the dry, dusty tannins, and a dash of merlot brings out some sweet red pepper and a touch of spice.

That's all for this week's tasting. Join us next time for reviews of some of Virginia's premiere local wineries; Rappahannock, Gadino, Barboursville, and Sweely Estate.

Read the full post...

Tasting Room Courtesy Tip #1

Tasting Room Courtesy Tip #1

When you are at a crowded wine tasting, default procedure is the "grab and go" protocol. If you can't figure out what that means, just follow these simple steps, dummy:

  1. Send one person from your group to the bar with everyone's glass
  2. Place glasses on the bar and stand aside, leaving room for other patrons
  3. Indicate politely to the servers which wine you would like to taste
  4. When your glasses are full, take them and step back to your group, leaving room for other groups to get their next taste

If you follow these simple rules, you will have a successful tasting experience and you will play a significant part in the successful experience of those around you. Also, you will avoid being deemed a douchebag by curmudgeonly narcissists like me. Please remember, by no means should you bring your whole group to the front, or crowd the bar, or stand there leaning casually on the bar chatting, or otherwise being oblivious to the fact that OTHER PEOPLE are trying to taste wine, too.

Read the full post...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Market Street Wines of the Week

Each week, Market Street Wine Shop of Charlottesville runs a special on some mid-range quality wines at deeply discounted prices. The wines are usually quit drinkable and quite a bargain. I'm reposting their announcement here because I am a frequent patron and usually love their picks for the Wines of the Week. C-Ville Wine Blog receives no compensation for publicizing the Market Street Wine Shop...yet ;-)

Wines of the Week (February 17-24)

Silene Cococciola Terre di Chieti 2007
...Tastes Like Co-Co-Ciola*
The port of Ortona lies due east of Rome on the Adriatic coast in the Terre di Chieti wine region of Abruzzi. There the local white wine is this ancient grape variety Cococciola. Pale in color, this simple white is delightfully fresh and clean with notes of apple and melon with a touch of white citrus and herbal notes. Enjoy as an aperitif or with all types of seafood dishes, shellfish, & white meats.

On Sale at $4.96
FOR TWO WEEKS, thru 3/02/09
regularly $5.99
Open for tasting all week

Alamos Malbec Mendoza 2007
Headed for the Gallos II
The Alamos label came from the world-class Catena winery of Mendoza, Argentina ... now sadly sold to Gallo. In France, Malbec is a minor Bordeaux grape variety; but in Argentina, Malbec is a star. With a nose of blackberry and black cherry, a lush body and ripe blackfruits on the palate, it cries out for Argentine asado, or barbecue. Buy now and our friends Alfredo and Alex Bartholomaus get the sale and not the Gallos.

On Sale at $7.96
FOR TWO WEEKS, thru 2/23/09
regularly $9.99
Open for tasting all week

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

The C-Ville Wine Blog Mission

Hi, I'm Thom, and this is one of my many blogs. I am a known web-nerd with a penchant for debauchery and epicurian indulgences. My goal here is to pass on as much information and entertainment as possible to you, dear reader.

This C-Ville Wine Blog started as a kernel of an idea more than a year ago, and I've decided to revive it as a result of one loquacious drunken rant on the merits of drinking fine wine while playing video games, posted by my pal Giorgio on his facebook page.

Stranger things have inspired greatness.

I've invited Giorgio, my best friend from college, to collaborate with me here, and he will be the blog's official comedic relief/New York City correspondent.

Together, we will chronicle our thoughts on the world of wine, one bottle at a time.

I hope to also include stories from my years of experience in the tasting room and wine festival circuit, as well as reviews and announcements on Virginia wine.

As always with this "blogging" thing, we invite comments, criticism, drunken tirades, and offers of lucrative publishing contracts.

Stay tuned for more! And remember, if you like it, drink it!

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