Posts Tagged ‘pinot gris’

Playhouse Wine Festival 2010: Let’s the Games Begin

April 23, 2010

Wow! the new Vancouver Convention Center is really awesome. Great sweeping views of the North Shore mountains and the Burrard Inlet and spacious, huge hollow rooms that may feel cavernous if it was not by the skillful use of wood bricks covering the walls, giving it a warm maple syrup brown feel to this great indoors. Light years away from the warehouse feeling that the old Convention Center has. The first trade session was packed, with kilometric line ups to pick up tickets and to complete registration.

To the wines. I ignored the siren calls of Italian reds, elegant Champagnes, appealing Oregon whites. I went straight for the theme booths, Argentina and New Zealand. The latter country was very popular and many of its booths were beyond reach. Rant: C’mon Vancouverites. This city has been a wine city for over a decade now. When are you going to learn the most basic etiquette of wine tasting? Blocking spittoons, chatting endlessly with your pals blocking access to tables and wearing perfume are all no, no, no and no.

Ok, I got that out of my system. As a result, a limited tasting of New Zealand with two wines that stand out like two lonely stars in a dark southern sky. The Ostler 2008 Audrey’s Pinot Gris is a complete sensorial assault of pleasure. Starting with the nose. It was so intoxicatingly delicious that it made it hard to follow Jim Jerram, Ostler’s rep telling me about their terroir. Close to Otago but not as far inland, limestone soils and ocean breezes influence Ostler’s vineyards. The nose is intense, thick, a prelude to what is to come. Wow! I said after my first sip. It’s like a lady with curves. Chardonnayish. Jim agreed, with excitement. “Exactly, we make it like a Chardonnay, but on a diet.” A Chardonnay in a weight watchers program. A Chardonnay on a fast bike. There is a feeling of something that grows fatter and fatter on the palate but then whooosh! it’s gone and back to a leaner, trimmed up texture. “It’s the acidity, idiot.”  Brilliantly made, this Pinot Gris has a distinct spectrum of nose, flavors and texture and it may not be your accessible everyday wine at $38 but definitely one of those wine styles that set trends and change paradigms. Bravo for Ostler and thanks Jim and Gord for all the information.

The other white from Kiwi land that made my head turn was -not surprisingly- a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Matua Valley’s Paretai 2009 is as good as it gets for the grassy and minerally sassy style from South Island. At 29.99 this vibrant and fresh SB delivers all the goods one expects from the appellation.

Changing country, I expected a lot more whites from Argentina. The offer is still dominated by Torrontes. In my humble (not) opinion, there should have been a lot more quality Chardonnays. Anyway, less whining and more wining. I found one remarkable white by Bodega Lurton. The 2007 Gran Lurton Corte Friuliano, is a somewhat idyosincratic blend of Sauvignon Vert, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Torrontes, accomplished to notes of high delight. Aromatic on the nose, agile, playful and fruity on the palate, satisfying on the endless aftertaste. As in the case of the Ostler Pinot Gris, this Friuliano may have the limitation of price (29.99) to become popular. Nevertheless, an excellent effort by Lurton, which entry level $13.99 Pinot Gris is a promise of what this winery can do with the variety.

Red wines to follow on next post.

Advertisements

Peruvian Cuisine: Aguadito

November 2, 2009

As it is the case of many other Peruvian dishes, this soup is the result of the combination of creativity and necessity. 851_1The word Aguadito translates literally as “little thin stew”, the diminutive form being common in Peru when talking about food. Economy has never been strong for long hauls in that part of the world and the custom of adding water to soups and stews was born spontaneously, as families grew larger and pockets shallower.

At the beginning of the Republic, around the 1830’s, the country’s political life was in complete turmoil and the Caudillos –warlords- fought one another for a chance to place their behinds on the Presidential Chair. On occasion, there were two –and even three- different presidents occupying the Palace of Government in a single year. Conspiracy and intrigue saturated the main cities, in which gun and sword battles full of sound and fury and galloping horses became the order of the day. Each Caudillo had his own personal army, as well as a wife and a number of mistresses, a fact that was not hidden but rather celebrated as an unequivocal sign of manliness, the full expression of the ancestral macho, condition considered indispensable for the exercise of power. More affluent Caudillos could meet their personal armies’ needs. Those less fortunate found hard to pay and feed their soldiery, and frequently they had to stretch their budgets to unimaginable limits.

It is said that one of such leaders, alien to the most basic military training, appointed himself as Mariscal –Marshall- and gathered a ragtag army to fight for a chance at becoming the President of Peru. To feed his ill-prepared troops, he hired a black cook known as the Negra Josefa. The woman was the owner of both extraordinary culinary talent and an indomitable nature. Her mouth was foul and her body, although shapely, was of planetary dimensions. Her hands concocted the most sublime flavors but rumor ran that the Mariscal was not only attracted to her culinary prowess.

From the very beginning, the woman had to find solutions to the scarcity of means that was the hallmark of the Mariscal’s operation. One good day, tired of having to do miracles to feed one hundred men with just a sack of rice and a few chickens, the Negra Josefa took the matters in her hands, and defying all advice given by friend and foe alike, crossed the military camp in a straight line toward the Mariscal’s tent. Full of resolve and anger, she pushed aside two guards who stood by the tent’s entrance. The camp fell silent and everyone listened intently for the oncoming shouting contest. The woman broke into a continuous rant that grew louder and louder, complaining of how she had to work wonders to feed the men and how the Mariscal never gave enough money to buy more groceries and that all she had for the day was two cauldrons full of Arroz con Pollo, and that would never suffice for the whole brigade.

The Mariscal listened to her in silence, and for the first time, overwhelmed as he was with his inability to get more funds to wage a losing war, he exploded in a tenor voice that until then had not been heard by anyone. “Carajo!” (the most sonorous Spanish expletive) he shouted. “Si no te alcanza echale agua!” (why don’t you add water to it!). He looked so menacing and the thunder of his voice was so unexpected that the proud cook cowered, and whispering “Yes, sir” she took off. The Mariscal did not mean what he said, as he knew nothing about cooking.

But the Negra Josefa, seeing the hungry faces of the soldiers took the idea into practice and eked out the Arroz con Pollo with plenty of water. She shredded the chicken and simmered the diluted dish, ending up with a thick soup, which she readily served to the troop, after squeezing a few limes on it and sprinkling it with chopped up aji peppers. When the starving soldiers asked what were they having for their meal the Negra Josefa answered dryly “watery (aguadito) Arroz con Pollo”. The soldiers loved the new preparation and the aguadito portion of the name stuck.

Curious like any good cook, Josefa tried different ingredients and perfected the recipe, which became a well known soup all on its own. The poor Mariscal eventually lost his war for power and was incarcerated for seven long years. During that period his loyal cook visited him every weekend with a pot full of the steaming dish, which he shared with other inmates and with the prison guards. After release, he married the Negra Josefa and helped her roll her cart on the streets, where they sold the best aguadito in town.

Today, the dish is very popular in Peru as a winter meal, but also among revelers who, after an exhausting night of drinking, search for good nourishment. The soup also gained a rather somber notoriety for being served at funerals, after long vigil nights. In its present form it is made with chicken, leftover Christmas roasted turkey or assorted seafood.

Click on link for Recipe

Wine for Aguadito

Pair with a copita (or more) of Peruvian Pisco. Red wine to match this dish: Pinot Noir or a lighter Southern Rhone. For white wine, Alsatian Pinot Gris or a rich Loire dry Chenin Blanc.

Import Vintners & Spirits Association New Products Salon Part II

September 23, 2009

Import Vintners & Spirits Association
New Product Salon
4 Seasons Hotel
Vancouver, September 21, 2009
Part II
Let’s continue with more white wines that hit a good spot.

Mc William’s Pinot Grigio 2007, Australia. $15.99. A nice effort but at this price, and with the declining reputation of Australian wines, it might have a hard time getting off the shelves. Agent: NA.
Campagnola, Le Bine Soave. Garganega Trebbiano. Veneto. $19.49 Spec. Delicious, chalky, refreshing and with a wonderful long finish. Agent: Red Dog
Cantina Breganze. Terracrua Bianco (100% Friuliano). Veneto. $14.99 Spec. Low alcohol (10%) may be an attractive point for a decent Friuliano, lacking a bit in acidity but at the price point could move. Agent: Vinoallegro.
Sartori Marani Bianco Veronese 2007. Garganega. Veneto. $24.99. Spec. A soft, plump, refreshing Garganega. Agent: Pacific Wine & Spirits.
Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2008. New Zealand. $19.99 Specialty. A tasty, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc with the quality that Marlborough wines always deliver. Agent: Calibrium.
Michel Torino Cuma Organic Torrontes 2006. Salta, Argentina. $13.99. A serious competitor in this class. Intense, fruity and organic. Agent: The Kirkwood Group.
Sileni Cellar’s Pinot Gris. Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. $19.99. Pear and citrus, ripe and with very good texture. Agent: The Kirkwood Group.
La Sauvageonne Sauvignon Blanc 2007. Les Ruffes, Languedoc, France. $22.99. Spec. Intense nose, good acidity and balance. Agent: Barbara Mills.