Of Wine and Food

File Jan 26, 10 09 38 AMAs we round out the last day of the first month of the new year[1], I think to myself, wow, I drank some pretty good wine so far. If that’s any indication of how 2016 is going to go, I’m a happy camper.

Last night we entertained a few friends, cooked some food and, of course, drank some wine[2]. While Husband does do the cooking in our house, someone has to get him the ingredients,[3] and that’s where I come in. Usually, my trips to the grocery store are calm if not enjoyable. My favorite store[4] is down the road, the employees know my name, and they always have what I need. Well apparently there was a run on rosemary and olives yesterday because I came up empty handed. I wouldn’t have been concerned, except that we had already planned the dinner menu, which consisted of lemon, rosemary and olive chicken. Drat. I figured I’d go to the next grocery store just a hop, skip and a jump down the road and pick up what I needed. Well, lemme just tell you, this was a whole different experience from what I’m used to. From the second I pulled into the parking lot[5], I couldn’t wait to leave. The store was full of people[6], the lines were long and there was STILL no rosemary! Thankfully an employee checked in the back and found some random rosemary kebab sticks, so after filling up on olives at the olive bar, I was able to continue on my journey[7].

File Jan 31, 9 59 35 AMUpon my reentry into the world of calm, I immediately declared that it was wine time. Our first bottle was the lovely 2013 Pomp + Power Syrah by Earthshaker Wines, a branch of 90+ Cellars. This was made from 100% California Syrah grapes grown in Knights Valley, the warmest of the AVAs within Sonoma County. Fairly light, a bit of deep fruit, with a good silky mouth feel. Perfect for de-stressing pre-appetizers. It drank well on its own without food, and at $15.99 a bottle, you can’t go wrong. I’m a sucker for pretty purple labels too.

File Jan 31, 9 58 48 AMAs we waited for our last dinner guest to arrive[8], we broke open the next bottle and tore into the loaf of bread[9]. There’s nothing better than Greek olive oil[10], fresh bread and cheddar cheese. The 2013 Cutruzzola Vineyards Pinot Noir we opened was a knockout. There was serious Wow Factor here[11]. Not what I was expecting at all. Surprisingly there was nothing on the nose. Literally nothing, but when I took the first sip I was taken aback. This was not a light and forgettable Pinot. It was smooth, luscious and full of raspberries, with a hint of sweetness on the edge. And when I say smooth, I mean it was super smooth. Like, velvety smooth. This hails from a small vineyard in Cambria[12], California, a seaside town mid-way between San Francisco and LA on the Central Coast. The winery produces just two varietals on seven acres of vines, Pinot Noir and Riesling. I just read on their website that they expect this bottle will improve with age[13], but it was stellar right now, so go ahead and place your order before it sells out!

File Jan 31, 10 03 36 AMAt long last, our final dinner guest arrived, so we moved to the dining room and settled in for the main course. We chose a recipe out of the At Blanchard’s Table, A Trip to the Beach cookbook in honor of our upcoming trip to Anguilla[14]. Pan Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Olives and Rosemary. Per usual, Husband outdid himself. This was to die for. No knives needed because the chicken, which had been simmering for hours, cut with a fork. The extra trip for the rosemary and olives was well worth it; the flavors melded together into a culinary masterpiece, which gently rested on a bed of simple yet rich mashed potatoes[15].

File Jan 31, 9 59 21 AMWe had decanted the 2013 Francesco Cirelli Montepulciano D’Abruzzo during our bread gorging, appetizer course, so it had a chance to open up. These grapes are grown by Francesco Cirelli on his organic farm in Abruzzo where he grows garlic and barley, makes olive oil, wine and pasta, and tops it off with free range geese. You can even stay at his bed and breakfast and enjoy the inner workings first hand[16]. Does life get better? The wine itself was full bodied and on the drier side, the tannins were definitely at work. A bit heartier than the Pinot, it paired perfectly with the Anguillan feast.

I had a Riesling chilling to pair with our dessert[17], but once I got the hiccups, I transitioned to Sleepy Time Tea, and our guests went home. Cheers to the end of a great dinner on a great day in a great month!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Say that three times fast.
File Jan 31, 10 05 14 AM[2] Obviously.
[3] And chop the garlic and wash the dishes. #souschef
[4] Three cheers for Price Chopper! Someone make me an ambassador!
[5] Where I was immediately cut off from a parking spot by a pair of geriatrics. Was that mean? I feel bad, but it’s true.
[6] Granted, it was Saturday afternoon, and apparently everyone needs to go to the grocery store on Saturday afternoon.
[7] Where, against my better judgment got into one of those self-check lines, behind a woman with way too many items for the self-check, and ended up having to go find a human line because the blinking light went on not even halfway through all of her items. I almost put my stuff down and left. #patienceisavirtue
[8] She runs on Wright Time, which is about 20-40 minutes after everyone else is already there.
[9] Sometimes I wonder if we waste our time cooking when there’s so much bread and cheese in the world. #keepitsimple
[10] Imported by our dear friend who claims he works for some global company, but in reality is really a CIA operative. #statesecrets
[11] No literally, I took my first sip and said, “Wow!
[12] Cambria is the Latin name for Wales, so basically this wine came from Wales, which means the Price of Wales has had it, so clearly Will and Kate love it. #SixDegreesofKevinBacon
File Jan 31, 10 02 08 AM[13] Oops.
[14] Countdown is on. 40 days until paradise.
[15] It looked much prettier while it was simmering then it did once it was on our plate, so I’ll spare you ugly food photos.
[16] Added to the bucket list.
[17] Which was homemade store-bought chocolate cheesecake.

 

EarthShaker Pomp and Power Syrah
Cutruzzola Vineyards Pinot Noir
Francesco Cirelli Montepulciano D’Abruzzo

#Under25Challenge Round 2

If you read my blog on the regular[1], then you should know about the #Under25Challenge. If not, please refer to your official Invitation to Participate. The concept, in a nutshell, is each month, we’ll all find a new wine store, make a new wine friend, and buy a new bottle of wine for under $25, then we’ll get on the Tweeter and talk about it for an hour. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the perfect thing to do on a #TipsyTuesday evening.

So last night was our first #Under25Challenge Twitter Chat. The procrastinator in me decided to wait until yesterday evening to get my bottle. I’m embarrassed to say it, but from my office window, the same office window I’ve had for almost seven years, I can see a wine shop. A fine wine shop. And I’ve never gone in. It’s the strangest thing, because I’ve been to most of the other wine shops in the vicinity of my office[2], but never stopped in to the one that’s closest to me. I guess it was meant to be that I ventured there last night.

File Jan 20, 5 38 26 PMI walked in and explained my crazy mission. My new wine friend definitely thought I was delusional[3]. But we got to talking and as it turns out, not only was he a wine guy, he is a wine loving lawyer[4]! What are the chances of that?

I went with my new wine friend’s first recommendation, an Argentinian Malbec. There was something about going with his gut instinct that was kinda fun, even though I’m not typically a huge Malbec fan. I figured this was the time to try something new and move away from my favorite go-to California reds.

File Jan 20, 5 37 27 PMThe chat itself was exhilarating. An hour goes super-fast when you’re trying to moderate and participate with a bunch of wine friends! I didn’t even discuss my buy, but I think those who participated had a good time. Everyone commented how fun it was to go explore a new store and give some new grapes a try. I’m looking forward to next month and seeing what new adventures we collectively experience. I’d love for you to join us! February 16, 8 PM EST, be there or be square!

To:                   Alleged Blog Readers
From:              WineEsquire
Date:               January 19, 2016
Wine:              Punto Final Reserva Malbec 2013

There’s definitely vegetables on the nose. Husband gets tomato, I get green pepper. When I sip, my immediate taste reaction is cigar smoke followed by chewy tannins. This has been open and breathing for about an hour. Some thick slow legs cascade down my beautiful Riedel glass and the color on this is beautiful – deep blood red, almost black, with just a hint of color around the edges of the glass. There’s a slight sweetness hiding behind the tannins which is very interesting. Medium bodied with an almost spicy after taste. I’m not sure I’m sold on the Malbec thing, though I was told this is an excellent specimen.

If you’re partial to Malbecs give it a try and let me know what you think. If you’re more of a Cab fan, stick to that and send me a photo. Cheers!

Wine Dossier
File Jan 20, 5 53 30 PM
The producer is Bodega Renacer, a fairly new winery established in 2004 in Perdriel, Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina. According to their one sheet, the name Punto Final, means “final period” or “full stop,” and symbolizes the point at which the Bodega Renacer winemaking team has accomplished their common goal: a truly outstanding wine.

They’re committed to sustainable practices, and the Recycle Queen in me gives them an extra thumbs up for this. Notably, they collect water from the Andes Mountains into natural ponds and use this to water the vines.

The grapes in this bottle were sourced from old vine vineyards, the average age of which is 80 years. After fermenting in stainless steel, the wine rested in French Oak Barrels for a year before bottling.

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] And since you’re reading this, I assume you do read my blog. If you don’t then you should read my blog. Sign up for updates at the top.
[2] Obviously.
[3] He also wasn’t quite sure how the Tweeter thing worked, but by the end of the night I had a new follower.
[4] Trying to get out of the #lawyerlife grind, hence, his Tuesday nights at the wine shop. #goodplan

Friday Night Dinner Parties

Like I’ve said before, private chefs are the way to go. Unfortunately for Husband and I, private chefs are not yet built in to the monthly budget, so for last night’s dinner party, we had to slum it up and cook ourselves[1].

File Jan 16, 12 28 15 PMEven without a private chef, the feast was impeccable, and the wines were divine[2]. We started with a spread of cheeses, bread and olive oil[3]. Whole Paycheck Foods has this great little basket at the cheese counter with small packages of cheese bits. I usually grab a few I’ve never heard of and give them a whirl; it’s a cost effective way to do some cheese tasting. To soak up the bread and cheese, we started with red wine, one of my favorites, the Sterling Vineyards Celebration Red Blend[4].

We kicked off dinner with a lobster bisque[5] which I paired with one of the best white’s I’ve ever had. I sampled it last year with my friend over at The Wise Old Dog and his friend, Zev Rovine, who imports the stuff. Zev gave us the lowdown on his natural/organic European wine finds[6] and I ended up with a bottle of 2013 Cheverny[7] blanc by Domaine Philippe Tessier,[8] a blend of hand-harvested Sauvignon (80%), Chardonnay (15%) and de Orbois[9] (5%).

File Jan 16, 1 05 03 PMIt was more of a full bodied white, with a nice mouth feel that engaged your whole palate. The words that came to my mind as I sipped was stone fruit. Now, I know that people use this term to describe wines, but I didn’t know whether there was actually a fruit out there called “stone fruit” or whether it was a term used when you get both fruity and mineral notes from the wine. The latter is what I experienced. Turns out that “stone fruit” is a thing in and of itself; it’s essentially any fruit with a big pit in the middle. You know, nectarine, peaches, cherries, etc. So while I didn’t necessarily get any actual stone fruit flavors, this was both stoney[10] and fruity. Not sweet by any means, it perfectly complemented the creamy bisque. If you can find this near you, grab it. It’s a no-brainer at around $20. I’m heading back to the Wise Old Dog this week to stock up.

File Jan 16, 1 04 46 PMNext up was the main course. Husband’s pièce de résistance, which I paired with a selection off my Wine Bucket List. The ideal meal. Filet mignon topped with foie gras pâté[11] paired with a bottle of 2013 The Prisoner, a big California red blend. Heaven. It was a party in my mouth. A kickin’ party. An epic party. For real. The meal was to die for, each filet was cooked exquisitely medium-rare. Husband really outdid himself this time. I can’t figure out why anyone would want to eat a filet without a slathering of pâté on top[12]. And the wine. Oh the wine. It was a delight. Deep, juicy and big. Truly full bodied goodness made from a blend of six grapes, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Charbono[13]. The blend was complex, there was a lot happening, dark fruit with a hint of smokiness in the back. It complemented the feast to perfection. You can pick up a bottle for around $45, and while this is not yet in my “every day drinking” repertoire, it’s a superb special occasion bottle.

We ended the evening with Beethoven and Vivaldi[14]… ok, and a wee slice of chocolate torte and a white port. I’ll fill you in on the port soon; it was too epic not to devote some serious blog space to. Another Friday evening in the books with friends. Cheers!

File Jan 16, 1 05 18 PM
Wine Glass Aftermath #handwashonly

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Note that when I say “cook ourselves,” I mean, I pick up a dessert and Husband cooks. WineEsquire can fry and egg and make some toast, but that’s about it. Speaking of which … #breakfast
[2] That’s where I come in. #wino
[3] And some cardboard crackers for my girl Chrissy who’s #glutenfree. She said they were good, but I suspect that’s only because she’s forgotten what good tastes like.
[4] A LastBottle find from a few months ago. Sadly I’m down to my Last Bottle. …See what I did there?
[5] While this may not have been homemade exactly, suffice it to say it was delicious. Where’d I get it, you ask? Alas, I cannot divulge all my dinner party tricks.
[6] Talk about the life. This guy spends six months out of the year finding organic and sustainably grown wine all over Europe, making friends with the producers and eating amazing food, then he returns to the US to sell his loot to deserving winos like me.
[7] Cheverny is a French wine region (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée or AOC) in the Loire Valley.
[8] To be honest, I forgot about buying this particular bottle and when I was picking a wine for the soup course, I found this on the bottom of the wine rack. I wouldn’t have bought it if I didn’t like it, so I did a bit of Googling and decided to go for it. What a good idea.
[9] I had to use The Google for this too. It’s a white grape varietal grown mostly in the Loire Valley.
[10] Stoney is actually not a word, and I could have said “there was a lovely balance of stone and fruit,” but I didn’t, so just go with it. #linguistics

File Jan 16, 12 28 37 PM
Turns out the most delicious meal ever doesn’t photograph well…

[11] Adapted from this recipe. If you’re feeling adventurous, give it a try. P.S. Sorry for the poor non-existent food photos. Although, maybe it’s better this way. Turns out when you have to shop, cook, prepare, serve and clean the dinner party yourself, it’s a wee bit more work then when a chef does it, leaving less brain capacity for photo opportunities.
[12] I mean, maybe if you have a problem with clogged arteries it’s not a good idea. Note to Readers: This blog in no way constitutes health, fitness or dietary advice. #disclaimer #lawyerlife
[13] Another one I had to Google. Also known as douce noir, or sweet black, it’s a rarer find in the US and is produced in very small quantities in California. Its Italian origins began in the early 1800s but it migrated over to Argentina where it is now widely planted.
[14] Because, what else do you do after such an epic meal?

You Are Cordially Invited…

WineEsquire would like to cordially invite you, my dear Alleged Blog Readers, to participate in the #Under25Challenge. You may recall that I began this adventure in December, and based on how much fun it was, I’ve decided to turn it into a regular thing. Each month I’m going to pop ‘round to a new liquor store, make a new wine friend, and buy a wine I’ve never experienced.

File Jan 10, 4 55 59 PMIt’s probably a good idea for you to do the same thing, that way we can all have fun together.

On the third Tuesday of each month from 8 to 9pm EST[1], we’ll all get together on Twitter and talk about our #Under25Challenge wines; what store you went to, whether your new wine friend was any good, and more importantly, what kind of wine you bought and how it tastes! Sound fun? I thought so. My fellow wine-loving lawyer friend, T.L. Summerville, is going to help me co-host the chat. I think you’ll like him. He likes wine. A lot.

File Jan 10, 4 56 17 PMWe’ll be starting this month on Tuesday, January 19, 2016[2]. To join in on the wine fun, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to new liquor store;
  2. Ask a new wine friend there to recommend their favorite and/or best bottle in the store. Note that the price must be $25.00 or under;[3]
  3. Buy said Wine;
  4. Save it for #Under25Challenge Twitter Chat;
  5. Follow @WineEsquire and T.L. Summerville on the Tweeter;
  6. Be near your Tweeting Device at 8 p.m. EST;
  7. Uncork that bottle, pour a glass, drink up and Tweet with us;
  8. Repeat next month.

File Jan 10, 4 55 31 PMI can’t wait for our #Under25Challenge adventure. I’ll be on the hunt for a fun, new wine shop in the coming weeks and hope you do the same. Tell all your wine friends and we’ll have a grand old time!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming: Wine!

Lawyer Footnotes[1] Can’t be up too late, WineEsquire needs her beauty rest.
[2] I’d send you a calendar invite, but I feel like that may be complicated.
[3] Or in that general ball park, depending on your budget.