Posts Tagged ‘Chenin Blanc’

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.


South African World Cup. Of Wine.

June 19, 2010

Well, with the Bafana Bafana team virtually out of the competition, it’s time to take a look at the country’s wines again. On June 15th Wines of South Africa celebrated the cup with a tasting at the V room at Earl’s in Yaletown. Nice atmosphere, great venue with windows facing Mainland St. and a lot of good snacks set the tone for a good tasting. A very convenient booklet with information about South Africa’s wine industry, about the exhibitors and their wines made a big difference. Also, the tables were arranged in a sequence mirroring that one of the pages of the booklet, so it was easy to find the wines you wanted to taste.


South Africa has just over 100K hectares of vines cultivated. That is close to 50 times the amount in BC. Considering the size of the country, there is plenty of room for expansion.

Over 50% of grapes produced are white, with Chenin Blanc (called “Steen”) leading the pack. Contrary to popular belief, neither Pinotage nor Shiraz are the most ubiquitous red grape in the country. That honor is taken by Cabernet Sauvignon.

Many wineries are leaders in offering empowerment and opportunity to poor people, through work and education in the wine industry.

South Africa’s wine industry is a leader in fair and ethical trade wines.

Contrary to popular belief, Pinotage (a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut) tastes really good.

To the vino and the show.

First of all, South Africa offers incredibly good value.

Second, it seems that consumers are getting over the “black legend” about the wines from the land of Winnie Madikazela Mandela being  stinky or of lesser quality.

Third, I am convinced now that Vancouverites will never get that there is NOTHING WRONG  with spitting at a tasting.

Let me start by saying something about the entry level products. The Sauvignon Blancs and Chenin Blancs around the 10 dollar mark offer fantastic quality for the money. Here a few examples of what you should look for if you want really delicious value:

  • Man Vintners Chenin Blanc 2008
  • Robertson Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2009
  • Stormy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2009
  • Fish Hoek Sauvignon Blanc 2009

But really the wine that stood out in this group was the Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve Riesling 2009. Off dry and minerally with firm fruit and beautiful limey acidity, this is a real winner at 12-14 dollars retail.

To be continued….

Wow! Time does Fly…2010, Olympics, Writing, White Wine

February 22, 2010

My dear few -select-  readers, I should say something about my inexcusable absence. Over a month without entering a single line on this blog. I hope those who visited it  found something interesting in older entries. What has kept me away from winecouver? Well, to begin with, as a typical southamerican man, I like to celebrate great occasions and when I celebrate, celebrations last days, or week, as in this case.

As some of you may know, besides being a bit of a wine addict and know a bit about it, and besides my culinary interests and my marine biology background, I am a fiction writer too. It is from this line of action that my celebration was born. Last December I was selected finalist in the Juan Rulfo Radio Francia International literary contest. This is probably the most prestigious prize of its kind (cuentos, short fiction) in the hispanic world.

15 works were chosen from a universe that I can estimate at -easily- one thousand entries. So, I am still trying to digest such honor. And this rewarding experience led me to try -unsuccessfully- to finish a novel in 26 days in order to enter another contest, this time for historical fiction.

The job was definitely too big for me and I decided to give this novel a real chance, so I am not rushing to finish it any more and instead I am starting to plan it so that it will be a good, solid one when it is done. The subject is the Incas, more precisely, the last days of the Incas, after the Spanish invasion of the …what century? 14th? (of course I know this, just adding some spice to this otherwise boresome account).

As for wine, hot weather has come upon us vancouverites well in advance. I keep my kitchen windows wide open at night time sometimes. Crazy. And because of this premature spring, I have been drinking white wine.

Here a few wines that are worth visiting. Some for sheer deliciousness, others for being serious value.

Rudera, Chenin Blanc (I think I had the 2006). Must give a chance to well made Chenin Blanc. Fully flavored and almost resinous, this Rudera was a revelation. Honey and wax and intense malus (the technical name for the apple family) flavors plus an acidity that stays on the palate to a long, satisfying end. $30-36

Other Chenin Blanc to check out, the Cuvee La  Negrette from the Loire Valley ($ 30-35) and for value try the Obikwa. Yes, the humble -often maligned- inexpensive South African brand makes a really good job at 9.99.

Feudo Arancio‘s Grillo is (at $15-18) definitely worth trying for those who love Pinot Grigio but find that the lovey Italian white is still too lean, too acidic, too refreshing for the weather. Try this offering from Sicily. Wine needs to be tuned to its environs, yes? Who would gulp a glass of heavy, dense Shiraz in the middle of a scorching hot day? You get the point.

As for the Vancouver Olympics…. could someone ask the rCmP (or whoever is in charge) to stop running those low flying choppers over Burnaby Heights? My house is very old and every night the poor little structure shakes to its foundations…. sure security matters, but c’mon this is not Bombthehelloutofitstan.



IVSA November 9. The Whites.

November 10, 2009

The last IVSA New Products Salon of the year was fun, crowded and full of new, tasty wines. The usual suspects were around and for the first time in a while I got to see the Wine Diva, Daenna Van Mulligen, tasting some sparkling wines of the Vino Allegro portfolio. For Daenna traveling has been intense recently and between flying, events and writing for her website, there is little time for anything else. As usual she was fun, friendly and looking spectacular. Oh, well, let’s not get carried away and onto the wines I tasted. I tried to taste more reds this time, as the three hours that these events last seem to shrink into some sort of time warp  and you never get to taste all the wines you planned.  I will cover the whites first, then bubbles and reds.

First I visited the Stewart Wine & Spirits booth, where I kicked off the night with the Bollini 2008 Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC. No surprises here, as the product is well established in the BC market. Fresh fruit and refreshing acidity held up by a slightly creamy texture. Always nice to find a Pinot Grigio which is not just another one. Under 20 dollars, this wine is an excellent pick any time. I followed with a Sauvignon Blanc by Bastianich, the “B” 2008. Compact and snappy, this would be a good alternative to Kiwi Sauv Blanc, especially on these cool days when the grassy character is not as attractive, and a more savory, almondy , less acidic wine seems to fit better the weather and gris November mood. This different Sauv Blanc will set you back 19.99. Give it a try. 

I have been waiting for a while to taste the Cuvee Claude Seigneuret Vielles Vignes Macon Bussieres AC 2007 by Domaine de la Saraziniere (what a mouthful of a name here) and I was not disappointed. Electric minerality upholds the….. (illegible!) fruit, better described as a touch of lemon juice squeezed through a filter of flint. Nice acidity and can see why this is a Liquid Art staff favorite. Now is one of mine too at 28.99 per bottle.

Wine Rhapsody brought a small yet tasty set of wines to the show. From the beautiful Loire, two Chenin Blanc offerings proved to be great wines for the season. The Chateau de Varennes Savennieres 2005 renders a textbook tasting of the appellation, with plenty of character, honeyfloralspicyacidity (did you get that? Im playing Faulkner here) at 30.00 dollars.  Also from the Loire and also Chenin Blanc but this time noblerotted, the Chateau Belle-Rive Quarts de Chaume 2003 is as beautiful as the sound of its name. This is all about texture texture and more texture against which fruit flavors, not-cloying sweetness and sober acidity plus a touch of minerality move in a seamless dance. 70.oo dollars for a 750 ml bottle is not bad at all, considering other similar products in the market. I wish I had had some blue cheese to go with. Hmm.


Among the most delicious whites of the evening was the Marina Cvetic 2007 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. Represented by Burrows, Luongo & Associates, this high alcohol (14.5%) white surely stands up to its 62.99 dollar price tag. Audacious in its aroma spectrum and bodacious in mouth, this wine is round, intense and satisfying. For those lovers of good west coast halibut baked with herbs and rich sauces, this is the bottle to pick. Having been in the halibut fishing industry for several years, I guarantee it. Your money back? Go see the agents! ; ) 

Wine Quest never fails to surprise and this time they did it again with a delicious Ribolla from Colli Orientali del Friuli. This 2007 Gialla by Poggiobello salutes with a heap of wet hay, melon and pomme aromas followed by a medium bodied, crisp, clean-finish sip. 25.99. Also at this table, the unoaked 2007 IGT Prato Grande Chardonnay by De Angelis was fresh, flinty and fersistant. I meant persistant but got caught with the flow of f’s. Go figure. Figure it out. Ok, enouf –enough- of that. 18.52 for this interesting wine from Marche.


Legacy Brand Management treated me to their 2003 Eikendal Stellenbosch Reserve Chardonnay. I have been curious about the new South African Chardonnays that (like the Ataraxia) seem to be harvesting awards left, right and center. This one had a remarkably skillful use of oak giving structure to rich lemony flavors that persisted in the finish. Truly delicious at 30.99 almost ten dollars below the aforementioned Ataraxia Chardonnay.


The only Muscadet Sevre et Maine of the night I tasted was brought by La Boutique du Vin. The Chant de la Mer indeed carried some marine reminiscence in its briney nutty leesy minerality. I thought of oysters and kisses. Oh, well, maybe shouldn’t go there, but they go together don’t they. 18.99 makes perfect for a nice seafood dinner for two any evening.


Lanigan & Edwards Wine Merchants import the wonderful 2006 Estate Chardonnay by Trefethen, the house that produces famed Cabernet Sauvignon. A mouth coating, unambiguously Californian Chardonnay, at 34.99 this creamy white puts La Crema in the back seat. Chard lovers pay attention.


That’s all folks.

Ciao for now.