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Finding treasures in a closet under the stairs

Date: Wed, May 12, 2010 Wine Tasting

The late husband of our friend Simone was a wine lover. In particular, he liked collecting wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy and California that he would generously share with good friends. But this was in the 70s and 80s when he was still in good health. Now, my friend Simone has a whole collection of dusty old bottles that are resting in a dark closet under the stairs. So when she asked me to make an inventory of the wines, I told her that unfortunately, many may have gone past their prime. Some had an alarming very low fill level with some dark mold around the cork. How to find out which wines were still drinkable? The best way was to taste them.

And that's what we did the other day: we selected twenty bottles that looked most promising, opened them —which was by far the hardest task— and tried them. We were all hoping that some of the wines would still be good and I have to say that each bottle was opened religiously. But sadly, half of the wines were simply not drinkable and some others were drying out with light bodies and fading aromas. But miraculously, we also found a handful of treasures.



Here they are:

1979 Beaune-Grèves Château de Meursault: the Beaune-Grèves appellation is a Premier Cru located on a hillside facing the town of Beaune. Its name probably comes from the French word graviers (small pepples) due to the presence of small gravels and sand mixed with clay in the soil. The wines from Beaune-Grèves are known for their elegance and finesse. The estate of Château de Meursault comprises 60 hectares of vines, all situated in the Côte de Beaune, around the towns of Aloxe Corton, Savigny-les-Beaune, Beaune, Pommard, Volnay, Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet. The wine had an amber-brick color and a fragrant, slightly smoky nose of dried cherry. The palate was fresh and well-balanced with a light finish of dried herbs, truly delicious!

1986 Château Font Villac: the wine is a Grand Cru from the Saint Emilion appellation and most likely a Merlot-Cabernet Franc blend. The year 1986 was a great vintage in Bordeaux. While the weather was hot and dry during the summer, mid-September rains tempered the drought-like conditions and helped vines reach full maturity. The wine had a deep brick-orange color and a sweet nose of blackberries. The palate was not overly complex but smooth, round, and pleasant.

1980 Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande: Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande is a classified second-growth from Pauillac. The property uses a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 8% Petit Verdot, which has an unusually high proportion of Merlot for a Pauillac. Therefore, the wine tends to be more fleshy and softer than wines from the other Pauillac properties. The 1980 vintage was cool and wet in Bordeaux. Growers were able to delay their harvest until the weather began to improve at the end of September but rains returned in the middle of October during the harvest. Many wines from this vintage were light and diluted, the best results being from producers that made a strict grape selection and picked exceptionally late. The wine had a light-to-medium red color and a seductive nose of berries and flowers. On the palate, it was smooth and savory with an elegant and spicy finish.

1971 Château Lafite-Rothschild: Château Lafite-Rothschild is maybe the most famous property in Bordeaux and one of the four classified first growth wines. Located in Pauillac, the Lafite vineyard is one of the largest in the Médoc planted with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. The 1971 vintage is characterized by a small crop size and forward and flattering wines upon release, thanks to a cold, damp spring followed by a warm and sunny summer. The wine had a light orange color, a subtle nose, and a light-bodied, lean palate with notes of buttermilk and earthy flavors on the finish.

1981 Château Lafite-Rothschild: the 1981 vintage produced wines of medium-weight, well-balanced and graceful. July was a cool month but August and September were hot and dry. It could have been an outstanding year had it not been for the heavy rains that fell just before the harvest. The wine had a light red color and a subtle nose of dried herbs. On the palate, it had more body and fruit than the 1971 with smoky spices on the finish.

So did you guess my favorite wines? Hint: I had two.

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Napa Cellars: latest releases

Date: Thu, May 6, 2010 Wine Tasting

A few weeks ago, we tasted the latest releases of Napa Cellars, that were sent to me by the winery. Located on Highway 29 in Oakville, Napa Cellars produces several very reasonably priced varietal wines, all from the Napa Valley AVA.

Stretching from Carneros to Calistoga, Napa Valley offers multiple microclimates due to various geographical factors. The open southern part of the valley is close to the northern tip of San Francisco Bay and is cooler during the growing season. Then, north of Yountville, the valley becomes narrower and bends towards the west. The winds don't make the turn so the St. Helena and Calistoga areas tend to be much warmer. Napa Cellars takes advantage of these diverse climates when blending wines to achieve a consistent quality year after year and balance fruit flavors, tannins, and acidity.

Here are the wines that we tasted:

2008 Napa Cellars Chardonnay Napa Valley: this is the winery's flagship wine. Most of the fruit is sourced from the southern part of the Napa Valley where summer temperatures can be ten to fifteen degrees cooler than those up north. The wine was aged 7 months in 100% French Oak (34% new). It had a light golden color and a nose that was more mineral than fruity. On the palate, it was medium-bodied, creamy, slightly oaky, with a good acidity and a lingering finish. Try it with a cream-based dish such as Fettucine with Smoked Salmon and Asparagus

2007 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley: sourced from a collection of vineyards located in the St. Helena, Oak Knoll, and Rutherford districts, the wine was aged for 18 months, in predominately French oak (55% new). Showing a dark purple color and a red berry nose with notes of mint, eucalyptus, and vanilla, it was full-bodied with a moderate amount of alcohol (13.8%). It was surprisingly well-balanced in terms of acidity and tannins for a young Cabernet. Try it with grilled steaks such as Rib Eye Steaks with Mixed Mushroom Sauté

2007 Napa Cellars Merlot Napa Valley: most of the fruit comes from the cooler regions of Napa Valley, such as Oak Knoll and Carneros. The blend also includes a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon (10%). The wine was aged for 20 months in predominantely French oak (36% new). It had a deep red color and a nose of sweet black plums and blackberries. The palate was rich, full-bodied and showing more alcohol than the Cabernet, leaving notes of cocoa on the finish. Try it with a pork dish cooked with fruit such as Pork Roast with Winter Fruits and Port Sauce

2007 Napa Cellars Zinfandel Napa Valley: much of the fruit was sourced from the warmer regions of Napa Valley, including Calistoga, St. Helena and Pope Valley. The blend is 88% Zinfandel and 12% Petit Sirah, aged for 18 months in American and French oak (23% new). Showing a medium red color, the wine had a nose of red berry fruit. The palate was fruity but not too jammy with exotic spices on the finish. Try it with some Asian spiced grilled meat such as Sweet Soy-Grilled Short Ribs

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Napa Cellars: latest releases

Date: Thu, May 6, 2010 Wine Tasting

A few weeks ago, we tasted the latest releases of Napa Cellars, that were sent to me by the winery. Located on Highway 29 in Oakville, Napa Cellars produces several very reasonably priced varietal wines, all from the Napa Valley AVA.

Stretching from Carneros to Calistoga, Napa Valley offers multiple microclimates due to various geographical factors. The open southern part of the valley is close to the northern tip of San Francisco Bay and is cooler during the growing season. Then, north of Yountville, the valley becomes narrower and bends towards the west. The winds don't make the turn so the St. Helena and Calistoga areas tend to be much warmer. Napa Cellars takes advantage of these diverse climates when blending wines to achieve a consistent quality year after year and balance fruit flavors, tannins, and acidity.

Here are the wines that we tasted:

2008 Napa Cellars Chardonnay Napa Valley: this is the winery's flagship wine. Most of the fruit is sourced from the southern part of the Napa Valley where summer temperatures can be ten to fifteen degrees cooler than those up north. The wine was aged 7 months in 100% French Oak (34% new). It had a light golden color and a nose that was more mineral than fruity. On the palate, it was medium-bodied, creamy, slightly oaky, with a good acidity and a lingering finish. Try it with a cream-based dish such as Fettucine with Smoked Salmon and Asparagus

2007 Napa Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley: sourced from a collection of vineyards located in the St. Helena, Oak Knoll, and Rutherford districts, the wine was aged for 18 months, in predominately French oak (55% new). Showing a dark purple color and a red berry nose with notes of mint, eucalyptus, and vanilla, it was full-bodied with a moderate amount of alcohol (13.8%). It was surprisingly well-balanced in terms of acidity and tannins for a young Cabernet. Try it with grilled steaks such as Rib Eye Steaks with Mixed Mushroom Sauté

2007 Napa Cellars Merlot Napa Valley: most of the fruit comes from the cooler regions of Napa Valley, such as Oak Knoll and Carneros. The blend also includes a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon (10%). The wine was aged for 20 months in predominantely French oak (36% new). It had a deep red color and a nose of sweet black plums and blackberries. The palate was rich, full-bodied and showing more alcohol than the Cabernet, leaving notes of cocoa on the finish. Try it with a pork dish cooked with fruit such as Pork Roast with Winter Fruits and Port Sauce

2007 Napa Cellars Zinfandel Napa Valley: much of the fruit was sourced from the warmer regions of Napa Valley, including Calistoga, St. Helena and Pope Valley. The blend is 88% Zinfandel and 12% Petit Sirah, aged for 18 months in American and French oak (23% new). Showing a medium red color, the wine had a nose of red berry fruit. The palate was fruity but not too jammy with exotic spices on the finish. Try it with some Asian spiced grilled meat such as Sweet Soy-Grilled Short Ribs

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In vino veritas: wine grapes are an early warning system for the effects of climate change

Date: Tue, Apr 27, 2010 Wine Tasting

Because wine grapes are extraordinarily sensitive to temperature, the industry amounts to an early-warning system for problems that all food crops—and all industries—will confront as global warming intensifies” says Mark Hertsgaard in a recent article in Slate Magazine. “In vino veritas, the Romans said: In wine there is truth. The truth now is that the earth's climate is changing much faster than the wine business, and virtually every other business on earth, is preparing for.

In California, for instance, it is still hard to predict the effects of climate change on Napa Valley wines. However, “there is a fifteenfold difference in the price of cabernet sauvignon grapes that are grown in Napa Valley and cabernet sauvignon grapes grown in Fresno in California's hot Central Valley,” says Kim Cahill, a consultant to the Napa Valley Vintners' Association. “Cabernet grapes grown in Napa sold in 2006 for $4,100 a ton. In Fresno the price was $260 a ton. The difference in average temperature between Napa and Fresno was 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some winemakers are actually very happy with the current situation. Pancho Campo, the founder and president of the Wine Academy of Spain, explains: “some of the most expensive wines in Spain come from the Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa regions. They are getting almost perfect ripeness every year now for Tempranillo. This makes the winemakers say, 'Who cares about climate change? We are getting perfect vintages.' The same thing has happened in Bordeaux.


The Rioja Alavesa Wine Region


But in Burgundy, “producers are very concerned, because they know that chardonnay and pinot noir are cool-weather wines, and climate change is bringing totally the contrary. Some of the producers were even considering starting to study Syrah and other varieties. At the moment, they are not allowed to plant other grapes, but these are questions people are asking.

The wine industry doesn't seem to be ready to adapt to climate change and this is worrisome because the industry has much incentive to act. “If winemakers aren't motivated to adapt to climate change, what businesses will be?” asks Hertsgaard. And he concludes, quoting Darwin: “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

The full article is here.

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In vino veritas: wine grapes are an early warning system for the effects of climate change

Date: Tue, Apr 27, 2010 Wine Tasting

Because wine grapes are extraordinarily sensitive to temperature, the industry amounts to an early-warning system for problems that all food crops—and all industries—will confront as global warming intensifies” says Mark Hertsgaard in a recent article in Slate Magazine. “In vino veritas, the Romans said: In wine there is truth. The truth now is that the earth's climate is changing much faster than the wine business, and virtually every other business on earth, is preparing for.

In California, for instance, it is still hard to predict the effects of climate change on Napa Valley wines. However, “there is a fifteenfold difference in the price of cabernet sauvignon grapes that are grown in Napa Valley and cabernet sauvignon grapes grown in Fresno in California's hot Central Valley,” says Kim Cahill, a consultant to the Napa Valley Vintners' Association. “Cabernet grapes grown in Napa sold in 2006 for $4,100 a ton. In Fresno the price was $260 a ton. The difference in average temperature between Napa and Fresno was 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some winemakers are actually very happy with the current situation. Pancho Campo, the founder and president of the Wine Academy of Spain, explains: “some of the most expensive wines in Spain come from the Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa regions. They are getting almost perfect ripeness every year now for Tempranillo. This makes the winemakers say, 'Who cares about climate change? We are getting perfect vintages.' The same thing has happened in Bordeaux.


The Rioja Alavesa Wine Region


But in Burgundy, “producers are very concerned, because they know that chardonnay and pinot noir are cool-weather wines, and climate change is bringing totally the contrary. Some of the producers were even considering starting to study Syrah and other varieties. At the moment, they are not allowed to plant other grapes, but these are questions people are asking.

The wine industry doesn't seem to be ready to adapt to climate change and this is worrisome because the industry has much incentive to act. “If winemakers aren't motivated to adapt to climate change, what businesses will be?” asks Hertsgaard. And he concludes, quoting Darwin: “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

The full article is here.

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Dinner at Craigie on Main in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Date: Tue, Apr 20, 2010 Wine Tasting

A few days ago, we were on a East Coast trip with the firm intention to try some good local restaurants. So one saturday night, we had a reservation for Craigie on Main, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a restaurant with excellent reviews.

When we arrived for our 9:00pm reservation, the place was busy like a beehive but fortunately, we didn't have to wait too long for our table. The place was crowded but we know now that it's for a good reason: the food is fantastic and as they explain on the menu, they also want you to feel right about it. The restaurant prioritizes local and sustainable food and buys it from small independents farms and growers. About 80% of the bottles in the winelist are from organic and biodynamic vineyards. Moreover, this is real food with tasty, earthy flavors, not Molecular Gastronomy.



Salad of Hiramasa Sashimi, red onion-shiso salsa, avocado, harissa-rose vinaigrette



Ragoût of Forest Mushrooms, Boudin Noir, and Veal Sweetbreads, farm-fresh poached egg, smoked foie gras sauce



Vermont Organic Pork Three Ways: Crispy Suckling Confit, Spice-Crusted Rib, Grilled Belly, caramelized endive, satsuma tangerines, pioppini mushrooms, parsnip purée, tawny port



We chose a 2003 Château Poujeaux to go with the meal. Still firm at the beginning, it evolved nicely during the dinner, revealing a spicy, mineral nose and a multi-layered palate. It worked well with the rich aromas of the food.

At the end of the dinner came a complimentary cup of chocolate, hot, thick and mildly spicy, and we felt just right about our evening.


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Dinner at Craigie on Main in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Date: Tue, Apr 20, 2010 Wine Tasting

A few days ago, we were on a East Coast trip with the firm intention to try some good local restaurants. So one saturday night, we had a reservation for Craigie on Main, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a restaurant with excellent reviews.

When we arrived for our 9:00pm reservation, the place was busy like a beehive but fortunately, we didn't have to wait too long for our table. The place was crowded but we know now that it's for a good reason: the food is fantastic and as they explain on the menu, they also want you to feel right about it. The restaurant prioritizes local and sustainable food and buys it from small independents farms and growers. About 80% of the bottles in the winelist are from organic and biodynamic vineyards. Moreover, this is real food with tasty, earthy flavors, not Molecular Gastronomy.



Salad of Hiramasa Sashimi, red onion-shiso salsa, avocado, harissa-rose vinaigrette



Ragoût of Forest Mushrooms, Boudin Noir, and Veal Sweetbreads, farm-fresh poached egg, smoked foie gras sauce



Vermont Organic Pork Three Ways: Crispy Suckling Confit, Spice-Crusted Rib, Grilled Belly, caramelized endive, satsuma tangerines, pioppini mushrooms, parsnip purée, tawny port



We chose a 2003 Château Poujeaux to go with the meal. Still firm at the beginning, it evolved nicely during the dinner, revealing a spicy, mineral nose and a multi-layered palate. It worked well with the rich aromas of the food.

At the end of the dinner came a complimentary cup of chocolate, hot, thick and mildly spicy, and we felt just right about our evening.


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Oddball Wines Tasting

Date: Fri, Apr 9, 2010 Wine Tasting

The other day, we had an interesting theme for our wine tasting: oddball wines. Everybody was asked to bring what he or she would consider an oddball wine and this resulted in a surprising set of bottles. They were served blind and we tried to identify what they were, but I have to say that most of the time, we were just completely puzzled and we had no clue as to what the wine was or where it came from!

Here are the wines that we tasted:

1985 Adams Chardonnay Yamhill County: I could not find any information on the internet regarding the Adams winery. This wine is from Yamhill County, which, with over 80 wineries and 200 vineyards, is considered to be the center of Oregon's wine production. My notes: deep yellow color, apple cider flavors, tasted like a mature Chardonnay or a Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend from the Graves region.

1985 The Eyrie Vineyards Chardonnay Yamhill County: located in the Red Hills of Dundee appellation in Oregon, the Eyrie Vineyards was founded by David and Diana Lett in 1966. This was the first planting of Pinot noir and Chardonnay in the Willamette Valley. In 1979, the 1975 Eyrie Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir won tenth place among Pinot noirs in blind tasting at the Wine Olympics in Paris. My notes: dark yellow color, nutty, oxidized, Sherry taste.

1991 Panther Creek Reserve Pinot Noir: located in McMinnville, Oregon, Panther Creek Cellars has been producing Pinot noir since 1986. The reserve Pinot Noir is a barrel selection coming from different vineyards within the Willamette Valley. My notes: copper color, sour cherry and flowery aromas, actually pretty pleasant, tasted like a mature Pinot Noir.

2007 Chinon Charles Joguet Cuvée Terroir: located in the Chinon appellation, in the heart of the Loire valley, the Domaine Charles Joguet was founded by Charles Joguet in 1957. The wine production is mostly red with a little bit of rosé and made from Cabernet Franc only. The Cuvée Terroir is a blend of several vineyards and is made to be drunk young. My notes: unfortunatelly, I found the wine not drinkable and most likely, the bottle was flawed.

1999 Masi Osar Rosso del Veronese: this is Masi's only wine made from Oseleta, an traditional grape from the Valpolicella area, almost completely abandoned, due to its extremely low yields. The grape is harvested late to get higher concentration, roundess and a higher level of alcohol. In Italian, osar means to dare. My notes: dark color, raisiny, tannic, seemed high in alcohol, tasted like a Petite Sirah.

2005 Château de Bellevue Lussac St Emilion: the blend is mostly Merlot with some Cabernet Franc. Farming is organic with the use of green fertilizers and biodynamic techniques. Grapes are 100% hand-picked. My notes: citrus on the nose, medium bodied with some acidity on the palate, green pepper flavors, didn't taste like a Merlot to me.

1998 Sandhill Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley: Sandhill Winery is a small, family owned winery located in the Columbia Valley, specializing in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Gris. My notes: typical Cabernet aromas, woody, tannic, young.

1995 Bussia Soprana Barolo: Bussia Soprana is located in Monforte d'Alba, which is widely considered one of the best areas for making Nebbiolo-based wines. My notes: light copper color, flowery nose with aromas of wild wood berries, light to medium bodied, tasted like a mature Pinot Noir.

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Oddball Wines Tasting

Date: Fri, Apr 9, 2010 Wine Tasting

The other day, we had an interesting theme for our wine tasting: oddball wines. Everybody was asked to bring what he or she would consider an oddball wine and this resulted in a surprising set of bottles. They were served blind and we tried to identify what they were, but I have to say that most of the time, we were just completely puzzled and we had no clue as to what the wine was or where it came from!

Here are the wines that we tasted:

1985 Adams Chardonnay Yamhill County: I could not find any information on the internet regarding the Adams winery. This wine is from Yamhill County, which, with over 80 wineries and 200 vineyards, is considered to be the center of Oregon's wine production. My notes: deep yellow color, apple cider flavors, tasted like a mature Chardonnay or a Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend from the Graves region.

1985 The Eyrie Vineyards Chardonnay Yamhill County: located in the Red Hills of Dundee appellation in Oregon, the Eyrie Vineyards was founded by David and Diana Lett in 1966. This was the first planting of Pinot noir and Chardonnay in the Willamette Valley. In 1979, the 1975 Eyrie Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir won tenth place among Pinot noirs in blind tasting at the Wine Olympics in Paris. My notes: dark yellow color, nutty, oxidized, Sherry taste.

1991 Panther Creek Reserve Pinot Noir: located in McMinnville, Oregon, Panther Creek Cellars has been producing Pinot noir since 1986. The reserve Pinot Noir is a barrel selection coming from different vineyards within the Willamette Valley. My notes: copper color, sour cherry and flowery aromas, actually pretty pleasant, tasted like a mature Pinot Noir.

2007 Chinon Charles Joguet Cuvée Terroir: located in the Chinon appellation, in the heart of the Loire valley, the Domaine Charles Joguet was founded by Charles Joguet in 1957. The wine production is mostly red with a little bit of rosé and made from Cabernet Franc only. The Cuvée Terroir is a blend of several vineyards and is made to be drunk young. My notes: unfortunatelly, I found the wine not drinkable and most likely, the bottle was flawed.

1999 Masi Osar Rosso del Veronese: this is Masi's only wine made from Oseleta, an traditional grape from the Valpolicella area, almost completely abandoned, due to its extremely low yields. The grape is harvested late to get higher concentration, roundess and a higher level of alcohol. In Italian, osar means to dare. My notes: dark color, raisiny, tannic, seemed high in alcohol, tasted like a Petite Sirah.

2005 Château de Bellevue Lussac St Emilion: the blend is mostly Merlot with some Cabernet Franc. Farming is organic with the use of green fertilizers and biodynamic techniques. Grapes are 100% hand-picked. My notes: citrus on the nose, medium bodied with some acidity on the palate, green pepper flavors, didn't taste like a Merlot to me.

1998 Sandhill Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley: Sandhill Winery is a small, family owned winery located in the Columbia Valley, specializing in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Gris. My notes: typical Cabernet aromas, woody, tannic, young.

1995 Bussia Soprana Barolo: Bussia Soprana is located in Monforte d'Alba, which is widely considered one of the best areas for making Nebbiolo-based wines. My notes: light copper color, flowery nose with aromas of wild wood berries, light to medium bodied, tasted like a mature Pinot Noir.

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Why is Easter food so good? Deviled Eggs and Chardonnay make a heavenly combination

Date: Mon, Apr 5, 2010 Wine Tasting

Deviled Eggs are soft, creamy, and highly addictive and I thought that this was the reason why they were called deviled. But I was wrong, devil is actually a culinarity term that appeared between the 18th and early 19th century, and it is used to describe dishes prepared with hot seasonings, such as cayenne or mustard.

The egg is an important part of the culinary traditions for Easter. It is the symbol of the rebirth of the earth during springtime. Moreover, eating eggs was forbidden during the Christian Lent season, so in order to keep them from spoiling they had to be hard boiled, resulting in a large amount of eggs ready to be eaten for Easter Sunday.


Our friend's beautifully made and absolutely delicious deviled eggs


With the deviled eggs that our friend made for Easter Sunday lunch, we drank an excellent 2007 Storrs Chardonnay Stu Miller Vineyard from the Santa Cruz Mountains. The wine had a nose of citrus with mineral notes, a crisp, fresh, slightly smoky palate and a lingering finish that worked particularly well with the curry-flavored eggs (the ones decorated with the red bell pepper strip).


We also made Pysanky or Ukrainian eggs, decorated using a batik-like technique

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Why is Easter food so good? Deviled Eggs and Chardonnay make a heavenly combination

Date: Mon, Apr 5, 2010 Wine Tasting

Deviled Eggs are soft, creamy, and highly addictive and I thought that this was the reason why they were called deviled. But I was wrong, devil is actually a culinarity term that appeared between the 18th and early 19th century, and it is used to describe dishes prepared with hot seasonings, such as cayenne or mustard.

The egg is an important part of the culinary traditions for Easter. It is the symbol of the rebirth of the earth during springtime. Moreover, eating eggs was forbidden during the Christian Lent season, so in order to keep them from spoiling they had to be hard boiled, resulting in a large amount of eggs ready to be eaten for Easter Sunday.


Our friend's beautifully made and absolutely delicious deviled eggs


With the deviled eggs that our friend made for Easter Sunday lunch, we drank an excellent 2007 Storrs Chardonnay Stu Miller Vineyard from the Santa Cruz Mountains. The wine had a nose of citrus with mineral notes, a crisp, fresh, slightly smoky palate and a lingering finish that worked particularly well with the curry-flavored eggs (the ones decorated with the red bell pepper strip).


We also made Pysanky or Ukrainian eggs, decorated using a batik-like technique

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Funny Math

Date: Fri, Mar 26, 2010 Wine Tasting

A dialog reported by wine writer Dan Berger in his latest weekly newsletter.

Two wine lovers have dinner and wine together.

So what's this?
A 1993 Harlan Cabernet.
Really? Well, that probably cost you something.
Yeah, well, I had to try it.

Both men then try the wine.

So what do you know about it?
It got a 95 from Parker.
Oh, really? A 95, huh? Well, that's pretty good.
Yep.
Sure is a good score. I think it's probably more like a 92, but he probably liked it more than I do.
Yeah, probably 92. Maybe 93.
It's pretty good.

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Funny Math

Date: Fri, Mar 26, 2010 Wine Tasting

A dialog reported by wine writer Dan Berger in his latest weekly newsletter.

Two wine lovers have dinner and wine together.

So what's this?
A 1993 Harlan Cabernet.
Really? Well, that probably cost you something.
Yeah, well, I had to try it.

Both men then try the wine.

So what do you know about it?
It got a 95 from Parker.
Oh, really? A 95, huh? Well, that's pretty good.
Yep.
Sure is a good score. I think it's probably more like a 92, but he probably liked it more than I do.
Yeah, probably 92. Maybe 93.
It's pretty good.

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Tasting some new releases from St. Francis Winery

Date: Tue, Mar 23, 2010 Wine Tasting

While we were staying at the ski cabin with friends this weekend, we tasted a couple of newly released wines from St. Francis Winery & Vineyards that delicious life PR had sent me.

Located in Kenwood at the northern end of Sonoma Valley, St. Francis winery produces big, full-bodied wines from a variety of vineyards through out Sonoma County. What I particularly appreciate about St. Francis is the fact that since 2004, the winery is engaged in serious green and sustainable practices, including the installation of solar panels on the roof of the winery, the use of electric cart for the maintenance crews, water conservation programs in the vineyard and the winery, and several recycling programs. “With success comes responsibility to future generations who will live and work here as well”, says Christopher Silva, President & CEO of the winery on the company's website. “Engaging in green practices is the right thing to do, which makes it the right way to run a business.

We first tasted the 2006 St. Francis Merlot Sonoma County with a assortment of country pâté and cheese. The wine is a blend of valley and mountain grown grapes, hand harvested and aged in American and French oak barrels for 23 months. Showing a dark red color, the wine had aromas of sweet blackberry and vanilla on the nose. On the palate, it was full-bodied and still young and tannic with a pleasant lingering finish of spices, pepper and earthy flavors. The wine was good with the pâté but the best match was with the surprisingly sweet (for the season) strawberries that we had for dessert.

The other wine was the 2007 St. Francis Old Vines Zinfandel Sonoma County. This “Old Vines” blend is made of grapes from at least 50 year old dry-farmed vines with many as old as one hundred years old. These vines come from small family-owned plots dating from the early 20th century and planted with a field blend of Zinfandel intermixed with some Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouschet. The grapes are hand-picked and aged in new American oak barrels for twelve to fifteen months.

The wine had a deep color and a nose of red berry and citrus. On the palate, it was full-bodied, strong, and sweet, with floral and sour cherry notes. It was a good accompaniment to our Pasta Bolognese, especially after I added a handful of black olives to the sauce.

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