Archive for July, 2010

Domaine de Nizas Le Mas 2007

July 28, 2010

What an exceptional wine. Twenty dollars worth of a wild herb, pine, stone -garrigue- nose floating over a full body, soft tannin, brooding palate rendered by a most unlikely blend for a typically Languedoc appellation. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot form this winning triumvirate. Lovely on the nose, ditto en bouche and excellent finale. No wonder why this wine merited a bronze medal by Decanter magazine. Make sure you get your hands on this wine before it disappears. You know, LDB, unpredictable. Products in, success, out. That is one of the shames of having a monopoly on alcohol.

ps. sorry for the picture. its a 2004. couldnt get anything closer to 2007. but it looks very much the same.

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Seafood + Wine = Perfect Pairing

July 25, 2010

Summer has arrived in Vancouver. Although the sun has not shown up as much as we would love it to, temperature is creeping up and with it comes the need for lighter, fresher meals to keep the heat at bay. And when it comes to light, cold dishes, nothing like seafood! Lucky for us, we live right on one of the cleanest maritime areas of the world and the quality and diversity of our fruits de mer is second to none. Seafood is still a bit of terra incognita for a large proportion of consumers and when it comes to choosing the best wines to pair with a fish or shellfish dish, the subject can be outright obscure. “White wine with seafood, red wine with meat” goes the old saying, and for the most part it is a solid guideline. Having been raised sea side in Lima, and having worked for my family’s ceviche restaurant, my diet relies heavily on seafood. After moving to Canada, and being a wine apasionado, I have had no alternative but to test and try wines and local seafood in my adoptive homeland, findings that I now share with Everything Wine blog readers.

First of all, and before the season is over, get your hands on some spot prawns, sustainably harvested off the coast of British Columbia. Garlic butter is one of the most popular sauces to accompany this beautifully tender, naturally sweet tasting crustacean. A classic match is a lush, full flavored Pinot Gris, like New Zealand’s Sileni (15.99), Argentina’s Lurton (13.99) or Hungary’s Dunavar, which, at 9.99 offers tremendous value. More adventurous seafood lovers may like to add some wasabi and soy sauce to their garlic butter, which results in a delicious mélange. The cooking temperature takes away some of the wasabi’s aggressive heat but keeps its flavors. In this case a wine with more weight on the palate is in order. Kettle Valley’s Pinot Gris (24.99) is a good call. Even better, try Alsace’s Hartenberger (23.99) or Pierre Sparr Reserve, which at 29.99 has a massive presence on the palate and abundant, flavor-packed fruit that stands up to the spot prawn challenge.
 

Oysters deserve a post of their own. The mind boggling diversity and their aptitude to reflect the “sea-rroir” make the bivalves analogous to wine. East and West coasters taste different, and within the West Coast, they will have different taste and texture depending on whether they come from farms in Washington, Oregon or British Columbia. Keep in mind that in the case of oysters, farmed is better than wild for a number of reasons that would take too long to discuss here. Suffice to say that environmentally farmed oysters take the pressure off natural stocks, besides the fact that they are fed only clean ocean water and nothing else, no vitamins, hormones, antibiotics or dyes. Although Chablis (the real thing, from France, not the spurious sweet plonk made in California) is the classic match, we will look here at the best pairing for West Coast slimes: Sauvignon Blanc. Effingham oysters have a distinct savory taste, which calls for a wine that reflects that character. Wither Hills Rarangi, from Marlborough (26.99) comes immediately to mind. For the budget minded, Southern France’s Tariquet (15.99) will rise up to the job. Kumamotos and Kusshis have a sweeter, fruitier profile. Riper fruit is what you should look for in your Sauv Blanc. Napa Valley’s St Supery (37.99) is an excellent choice. A bit pricey, point taken, but then you are slurping the aristocracy of mollusks. Not convinced? Go for Argentina’s Mapema (20.99) or Paula (16.99). If you are rooting for Chile and not Argentina in the World Cup and don’t want to buy a Tango wine, then grab Casas del Bosque (17.99), a delicious Sauvignon of high fruit profile and persistent acidity.

Dungeness crab is another critter that British Columbians love to have on their table. The white, firm meat is packed in both legs and body. It is so tasty that for the most part all you need to do is cook it in boiling water (crustaceans have well developed nervous systems so please put them to “sleep” in the freezer for 20 or 25 minutes before you scald them). Dungeness, like King Crab, has a distinct touch of sweetness sparkling over the rich flavor and texture. Find a wine of analogous fat character, like a good Chardonnay. Los Alamos (14.99), Liberty School (23.99) or Oyster Bay (19.99) will do the job. For those who don’t mind a touch of sweetness in their wine, the Madrone (which is blended with 8% Muscat) should be the perfect match at 18.99.

Before closing this note, how can you write about West Coast seafood without mentioning the king of our waters, the mighty salmon? Here is when you can bend the white-for-fish-red-for-meat rule. Barbequed or poached salmon will be enriched by a fleshy Chardonnay but it has enough flavor to stand up to lighter reds. First in line, C’est la Vie, an idiosyncratic Southern French blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah is a great candidate at 16.99. A soft Pinot Noir, like the Tabali Reserva (29.99) or the Coldstream Hills (33.99) are also great picks. For the budget minded, the J.P. Chenet Limited Release (1.99) or the Morande Pionero (15.99) are the ones to look for. Look for troll caught salmon, as it is the tastiest and the fishing method is environmentally responsible.

 Grenache (aka Garnacha) is another red that enhances strong flavored fish. Seared Albacore tuna, which is harvested sustainably in British Columbia (barbless hooks minimize bycatch of other species) pairs wonderfully with a light Grenache like Vive La Revolution or Spain’s No Time Garnacha (both at 15.99). Not into light reds? No worries. You would still have a good pairing with something like the Wallace Shiraz Grenache (29.99).

Seafood and wine pairings are a bit tricky but when you find the right match, they are so terroir oriented that the synergy is rarely found in other pairings. And when you go seafood shopping, don’t forget to look for sustainable harvested fish and shellfish. That is the only way to keep the bounty of our oceans healthy and available for us and for future generations.

First Peruvian Cuisine Tasting in Kitsilano

July 21, 2010

 

 

Peruvian Cuisine is the new darling of the culinary world. Restaurants offering Causa, Ceviche, Potatoes Huancaina and scores of other dishes are all the buzz in London, New York, San Francisco, Buenos Aires and Tokyo. Why? Come and learn how successive waves of immigrants from all five continents grafted their culinary traditions on the astronomically huge diversity of ingredients found in the waters, coastal fields, high mountains and Amazon plains of Peru.

We will enjoy a delicious food sampler prepared by experienced Chef Pedro Guillen: Halibut & Octopus ceviche, Causa (cold mash potato cake), Peruvian Tamal, Seco (cilantro scented lamb stew), Anticucho (spicy meat skewers), Empanadas and Suspiro de limeña (Lima girl’s sigh) a creamy, scrumptious dessert. Drinks: we will open the evening with a Peruanissimo Pisco Sour followed by a flight of wines selected for perfect pairing by Winecouver. A sensorial experience not to be missed!

When: August 12, 2010

Time: 700 pm – 830pm

Cost: $40

Where: Mochikas Peruvian Cafe

1696 West 5th Avenue at Pine Street

Vancouver, BC

V6J 1N8

For information or tickets call

778 322 7701 or email winecouver@gmail.com

or go and buy at Mochikas Cafe

HURRY!  LIMITED SEATING

Blanquette de Limoux Antech 2008

July 20, 2010

The Languedoc wine tasting was a success, with the Chez Meme Baguette Bistro completely full. The food was delicious and people had a great, festive time. I am glad for my choices of wine, all seven in the flight were greatly enjoyed by all. Of course there were favorites and below I will leave a few notes on each. Looking forward to the next event in August!

Antech Blanquette de Limoux 2008.This sparkling wine came as a great surprise to all attendees. They loved the chalky nose, witness to the limestone/gravel soils of Limoux. Mostly Mauzac grapes, this Blanquette is made in the traditional method, with double fermentaion. The biscuity flavors take the passenger seat and let the lemon stone fruit flavors drive the dry, fun palate saturated with fine, lazy bubbles. Drinks great on its own but will embellish salads, cheese, scallops and other shellfish.

Brought to BC by Terrarosa Imports, this wine should not be missed this summer. Available at Marquis Wine Cellars, Kits Wine Cellar, Everything Wine, Libations, Liberty Wine Merchants and Steamworks for $25.99.

Pulpo (octopus) and Radish Salad

July 7, 2010

I was so upset with that German octopus guessing that Uruguay would be ousted from the South Africa World Cup that I decided to take revenge on a poor little pulpo I had in my freezer. The small kind, that is, not the baby ones but the ones farmed in places like Portugal or the Adriatic Coast, bagged in a cylinder and exported frozen. Thaw the critter and then steam. Ideally your rice cooker comes equipped with a wire basket. If that be the case, pour an inch of water in the pan, place the mollusk in said basket and steam for about 15-20 minutes. After minute 10 you need to poke the octopus frequently to test tenderness and to make sure there is water in the bottom.

Octopus is ready when is slightly chewy but once you apply pressure your teeth get into the flesh with a juicy pop. Do Not overcook, or it will become tough and then it will turn into a mash. Cool down with tap water and slice thin. Place in a bowl. Slice a few radishes and combine with octopus. Add black pepper, pinch of salt, grated fresh ginger and finely chopped flat parsley. Stir and add lime juice, not as much as you would for ceviche. Just the amount you would use in a salad. Drizzle with olive oil, stir and eat.

Crunchy, chewy, tangy, spicy and refreshing at the same time, this is an awesome snack. I had it with South African Chenin Blanc. It made perfect.

ps. unless somebody else did before, I claim to be the creator of this dish.

Sauvignon Blanc is In

July 6, 2010

When it comes to wine, nothing says summer like Sauvignon Blanc. Well, there is Pinot Grigio, Unoaked Chardonnay, Tocai, Moschofilero, and all those delicious whites. But talking about Sauvignon Blanc, what a wonderful grape it is. Regardless where the wine is made, it always welcomes your nose with a brushtroke, an aromatic draft of vegetable nature, be it freshly cut grass, rue, lemongrass, gooseberry or a myriad other herbs. Properly made it delivers on that promise, lightning up your palate with shiny acidity and more or less fruit, again, depending on the origin. Some make your eyes tear with citric, limey quality; others are apt at imparting fully ripened apples, pears and peaches, while others offer subtle -or blunt- tropical flavors like guava, banana, passion or even dragon fruit.

More minerally versions, where terroir is highlighted and fruit -though firm- is more subdued, come from the Loire Valley, in the heart of France. Sancerre -right guess- but not the only apellation in the area where you will get delicious Sauv Blanc.  Try Chateau de Sancerre, Pascal Jolivet, Levin. A little less mineral and also riding an deliciously acidic wave, Northern Italy can be home to lovely Sauvignon Blanc. One bottle of Bastianich B will send you looking for more good renditions from the top of the boot-shaped country.

There’s no need to say much about New Zealand’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, not much that haven’t been said already. Perhaps the most popular appellation for Sauvignon Blanc these days, the region’s wines are easy to drink, with a purity of fruit that is seldom found elsewhere. A Kiwi winemaker once told me that the high level of aseptique technique developed in the farm and dairy industries was behind this. Apparently, when New Zealand farmers lost some of their international markets due to competition, they redirected their skills at the wine industry. True or not, memorable whites come from the land of tongue-show-off warriors, unidentifiable national flag and bad soccer. Try the spark-studded  acidity of the Matua’s Paretai. Or the savory backdrop of the Wither Hills Rarangi. Or Jackson’s Stich. Not to mention the well known Kim Crawford, Scott or Villa Maria,plus all kind of  wines by names of critter and small mammals pissing on gooseberry bushes or monkeying around bays. Whoa, they sure  are taking after their Australian cousins when it comes to label originality.

Chile does a great job too. Their Sauvignon Blancs are second to none, except to Sancerre and Marlborough, and Pouilly Fume. And…just kidding.  Casas del Bosque is a gem of a finding at 17 dollars. Firm fruit, impeccable acidity (Impeccable. Im starting to sound like Bobby Parker) and 90 WE points make my point. Brilliant. Veramonte and Errazuriz make truly good stuff under 15 dollars. They will shine any night at any party.

Malbec comes next. Er, I meant to say, Argentina. Who would’ve thought they can make anything other than red? Well, think again. Mapema (the only thing going against this delicious wine is its name. And its price @ $21) is a big surprise. Ripe fruit weaved into the firm acidic frame, this Sauvingon Blanc is a sign of better whites to come from Mendoza. And from further north in the country. Paula is another solid Sauv Blanc, leaner on the fruit and with remarkable, kiwi-esque acidity. Trophee winner Pascual Toso, after delighting us with Cab Sauvs and Malbecs, makes a pretty decent SauvBlanc for 13 dollars. And a solid rose, although, that is another matter.

How to finish this without a mention of California? With a touch of oak, Grgich makes a simply beautiful Fumee Blanc. Beautiful, memorable, remarkable. The similarly lightly oaked Supery comes close. And for those with deeper pockets, don’t let the summer go by without trying the superb Spring Mountain Sauvignon Blanc. We’ll taste vicariously through you.

Salud!