Summer Standards

Summer is the time for chilled whites, light reds, and of course bubbles. You all know I like variety and mixing it up, but Dry Creek Vineyard’s Chenin Blanc is one I keep going back to. I always have a bottle or six of this one handy. It’s perfect for sipping on the beach, on the porch, in your air conditioning, or in your hot as hades non-air-conditioned space.

My essential summer staples also include plastic wine glasses #beachlife

It would go well with a handful of nuts[1], or with an exquisitely prepared Chicken Piccata, with fresh lemons, a handful of capers, garnished with a sprinkle of garden-grown parsley[2].

The folks over at Dry Creek Vineyard sure know how to tug on my Loire-Valley loving heart strings. Their website tells the back story for this bottle:

“If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Dry Creek Vineyard extends praise to our original source of inspiration in the small French village of Vouvray in the Loire Valley. It was in Vouvray, that our love affair with Chenin Blanc began.”

Once I discovered the Loire Valley and Chenin Blanc, there was no turning back. Kudos to Dry Creek for having been able to replicate[3] the subtly sweet and delicious crispness indicative of their French inspiration.

I get notes of floral and stone fruit, peaches perhaps, with a touch of minerality behind the scenes. The mouthfeel is perfection; great body with a silky swirl finish. At $12.99 a bottle, you seriously can’t go wrong[4].

AND let’s not forget that summer doesn’t end until September 22 this year. That’s FOUR MORE DAYS OF SUMMER PEOPLE! Savor your favorite summer staple while you still can. I know I will be.

Until the next glass, Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Tonight’s dinner. #momlife

[2] What I wish I was eating for dinner.

[3] My favorite kind of replication, however, will always be the RepliKate.

[4] And Wine.Com ALWAYS has amazing coupon codes to get this for even less! #extremecouponing

Let’s Wine For an Hour

As I’m getting’ back in the swing of things, one glass at a time, I participated in last week’s #WiningHourChat. If you don’t know about the Wining Hour Chat, it’s a lot of fun. A fab trio of ladies hosts every Tuesday at 9 EST[1]. Sometimes a specific wine is on the menu, other times it’s just about what’s in your glass. The featured winery last week was Pedroncelli Winery out of Geyserville, California in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley[2].

I do love a good coat of arms #labelart

This family operation began in 1927 when Giovanni and Julia Pedroncelli purchased a small vineyard of approximately 25 acres in Dry Creek Valley. They were one of the few wineries to survive Prohibition, staying afloat by selling grapes to home winemakers. Lawyer Fact[3]: Prohibition’s Vosltead Act provided a loophole allowing wine to be made at home. An October 1920 Treasury Department memo instructed federal agents not to pursue individuals making their own wine. The memo stated that “the head of a family who has properly registered may make 200 gallons exclusively for family use without payment of tax thereon.”[4]

Now, in its 90th year, the fourth generation of Pedroncelli’s continue the family business with more than 100 acres of vines. From Sauvignon Blanc to Chardonnay, Zinfandel to Cabernet Sauvignon, their impressive lineup is available online and quite reasonably priced from $17 to $36 a bottle.

I sampled their Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel and both were excellent[5]. The Cabernet Sauvignon had a big, bright, fruity Cab nose[6]. Notes of leather and dark berry, perhaps black courant. A nice light mouthfeel but with fairly big tannins. The finish was smooth and silky. The Zinfandel was full of spice on the nose and black pepper on the finish. A perfect pairing with my quick meal of leftover chicken kebabs.[7]

This 2015 Zin came from Pedroncelli’s Mother Clone vineyard which has been planted with Zinfandel vines since 1904[8]. The majority of the grapes used in this vintage come from the vines re-planted in the 1980s from the clone of the original “Mother” vines, but a bit of the grapes from the remaining 100+ year old vines made their way into the bottle as well.

I hope you join in for this week’s #WiningHourChat, tonight (Tuesday) at 9 EST. The lovely Wining Hour ladies will be chatting about whatever’s in your glass this evening. My plan is to be there, perhaps with a glass of Rosé[9]. We’ll see if Baby Wine Esquire likes that plan or not J

TTFN[10]

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] During pregnancy this was WAY past my bedtime, so I couldn’t even pretend to participate. Last week’s was a bit dicey as Baby Wine Esquire decided to wake up and want to feed PRECISELY at 9 p.m. But we made it work.
[2] Dry Creek Valley, which is apparently not dry at all, is an approximately 9,000 acre AVA known primarily for its Zinfandel grapes.
[3] I guess I have to get back into the swing of lawyering soon too … #everydayissaturdayonmaternityleave
[4] 200 gallons equates to 757,082 milliliters, which yields approximately 1,009 standard 750 ml bottles (according to the smart people at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences). That gives you about 2.7 bottles per household, per day. Not too shabby, considering it was Prohibition. Interestingly, the 200 gallon limitation is still the law, but it only applies to a household of two or more adults. If you’re single you can only make 100 gallons per year. #SinglismIsReal
[5] Baby Wine Esquire got a bit fussy, so the Chardonnay will have to wait for another day.
[6] You know the kind I mean.
[7] My love of leftovers has increased tenfold since Baby arrived. #feedmequick
[8] #OldVineZin
[9] Because it’s still #RoséSeason ya’ll!
[10] Ta Ta For Now.

Wine Tasting Dinner Party

wine

A wise man once said, “The only club I want to be part of is a wine club.” I’m not sure which wise man said this, or when he said it, but I’m sure a wise man said it. Or maybe it was a woman.

Special Delivery For Wine Esquire

These wine clubs are popping up all over the place and it seems like a pretty fun concept. Bright Cellars was created by two MIT grads who developed an algorithm[1] to determine which wines you should try based on your flavor preferences.[2] I took my quiz and let them know which kind of chocolate I preferred[3], how I take my afternoon tea, my go-to drink (when the wine has run out),[4] my ideal wine pairing and how adventurous I am when it comes to food and wine. They then paired me up with a few samples, so I decided to have a little tasting party to check them out.

Husband and I planned out a menu and chose three of the bottles to sample. We started with a cheese spread of Cranberry White Cheddar[5] and a stinky Raclette[6].

Wine and Cheese? Yes, please!

The hors-d’œuvres were paired with the 2016 Cameron Corner Verdelho from South Eastern Australia. Melon and citrus on the nose led to a mouthful of herbal green grass. Well balanced, medium bodied, an excellent wine for sipping with cheese. It turned the cranberry cheddar into a mouthwatering explosion. Verdelho is traditionally a Portuguese grape varietal, but it migrated to Australia in the 1820s. Australia is producing some great wines with this grape at attractive price points.wine

During a brief eating interlude, where husband and I had to finish making the next course[7], the 2014 Zinsane Zin was opened to allow it to breathe a bit. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, we[8] took the roasted butternut squash and apples out of the oven, scooped the insides into the blender, poured in some chicken stock, added a dash of cinnamon and pressed purée. After it had attained the desired consistency, it was transferred to a soup pot to let it simmer on medium for a few minutes before serving. Garnished with a smattering of freshly chopped parsley and Voila, we had a soup course!

wine zinfandel
Oh, you fancy, huh?

The Lodi Zin was unexpectedly on the heavier side, but it was a great pairing with the light and healthy soup[9]. A touch of nutty coffee, definitely full bodied, it countered the sweetness of the soup to make it a well-balanced pairing. This was a great example of Lodi doing really interesting stuff with Zinfandel.

For the finale, Husband had been cooking My Mother’s Sauce[10] on low all day. The cast-iron seared meatballs and sausage were added just two hours before dinner to finish cooking. Doing my fair share, I went out in search of homemade pasta to serve it with. I’ve discovered a lovely little place near our new digs[11] called Pasta Vita. I opened the doors and angels started singing.[12] I was greeted by row after row of homemade gourmet takeout and fresh made pasta and ravioli. Hello dinner! I went with ricotta and spinach,[13] which turned out to be a hit.

wine shiraz
Love me some homemade ravioli, especially when I’m not the one home making it!

We’d opened the next wine during the soup to get that ready for the main course. The 2015 Talbingo Hill Shiraz, also from Australia, was a great pairing. Leather on the nose with a touch of cherry sweetness on the finish. Almost like a cherry tobacco. Dry with some chewy tannins. It met its match with the heavy red sauce, fresh ravioli and pork/veal/beef meatballs.

All in all, three good bottles, served with three great courses, if I do say so myself.

Receiving a case of wine in the mail is like having Christmas on a Tuesday. Opening presents is always fun, no matter the season, and when there’s wine inside it’s even better. If you’d like to get in on the fun, my friends at Bright Cellars are offering friends of Wine Esquire 50% off your first shipment. Go through this link to take your quiz and select your personally paired wines and a $30 credit will be added to your order. When you try it out, let me know what you think!

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Cheers wine friends, until the next glass!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Pretty sure this has something to do with math. #smart
[2] Overachievers.
[3] Dark please, preferably with some almonds. #healthnut
[4] Mimosa, obvi.
[5] Which I served with cranberry almond crackers. God I’m good. #snackmaster
[6] Turns out Raclette is typically used for melting. We just spread it on apple slices. As long as you can get past the smell long enough to get it in your mouth, you’ll be a happy camper.
[7] Because making soup is no big deal, right?
[8] By “we” I do mean Husband, but I was supervising and providing general kitchen direction.
[9] Although our dinner guest did suggest that next time we may want to add some heavy cream to the soup to thicken it up a bit. Not sure he’s part of #fitfam.
[10] The recipe comes Straight Outta the Bronx. Super authentic Italian American. It’s the best. I’ve been clandestinely dipping illicitly broken off bread chunks into this sauce while it cooks since I was old enough to clandestinely break bread. I’d give you the recipe, but … #whathappensintheBronx ….
[11] Oh yea, we moved. Packing and unpacking in less than 30 days is now on my resume under “Skills.” Now that we’re settled, we’re loving the new place.
[12] Sort of like what happened on my visit to Château d’Yquem.
[13] And a basket full of other goodies, like stuffed peppers, parmesan risotto, and a healthy sampling of fresh baked cookies that I really did mean to share with everyone. #oops

Making A Simple Dinner Fancy

 

Because that’s how Wine Esquire rolls.

It’s winter. It’s cold. Are you bored yet? I’m getting there. It was Saturday morning and we were preparing for our first proper blizzard by throwing a soup together in the crockpot. We took our Inaugural Blizzard Walk[1] with the neighbors and so we decided to throw an impromptu dinner party.

Split Pea Soup is a favorite of ours. Not only is it classic, but it’s cheap. For less than $10, we had a gourmet soup ready to go. For your convenience, here are the detailed instructions:

Husband’s Not So Secret Blizzard Split Pea Soup Recipe

(serves 4 with one leftover portion for lunch)

1 pound split peas
Handful of baby carrots
½ yellow onion
3 garlic cloves
2 stalks celery
1 bay leaf
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 cups water
1 ham steak

Rinse the peas, chop the veggies and throw everything together in the bottom of a crock pot. Sear the ham steak in a cast iron skillet and throw it on top. Add the bay leaf, then salt and pepper to taste. Set the Crock on low for 8 hours and let it simmer. Voila! Fancy dinner!

We’d ventured out earlier in the day[2] and picked up some Portuguese raisin rolls in our travels. Husband grilled them up in the cast iron skillet and we served them with some super simple fancy homemade butter.

Super Simple Fancy Homemade Butter

(serves four – no leftovers, we practically licked the bowl clean)

½ stick butter
½ tsp honey
Pinch or 2 of sea salt (Fleur De Sel[3] if you have it)

Soften the butter in the microwave then add honey and salt and mix it up. The butter shouldn’t be pure liquid, but it should be easy to mix up. Scoop it all up, spoon it into a fancy dish[4] and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to serving.

It’s a shame pea soup just doesn’t photograph well. It was delicious.

We broke out the wedding china, some nice crystal glasses and had ourselves a fancy dinner party. It’s absolutely true that food tastes better when it’s served on beautiful dishes, especially when your soup tureen is sitting on a silver platter. After all, what’s a little hand-washing among friends?[5]

Silver Platter’s Make Everything Better

Now, for the important part. We paired our winter feast with a bottle of The Sum by the Seventy Five Wine Company. A great red blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petite Syrah, 10% Syrah. Definitely fruity; the raspberry jam is out in full force. A great smooth mouthfeel, a touch on the lighter side with a nice dry finish. A great wine to warm you up on a cold winter’s eve with a bowl of good soup and a hunk of good bread.

Vino Vino Vino

The Seventy Five Wine Company was founded in, you guessed it, 1975. The back label recites all the epic and noteworthy events from that year. It was the year Bill Gates founded Microsoft, Saturday Night Live aired their first episode, Charlie Chaplin was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, and of course, the Beckstoffer family set up shop in Napa Valley.

Vino Vino Vino

The 2013 was a touch young; it could certainly be laid down for a while to let it mature and develop, but it’s a great drinker now too. The label is fun, and the bottle itself is a heavy clunker that makes you feel like you’re about to be drinking a rich, deep wine. You can grab a bottle for between $20-$25 throughout the US, so give it whirl and let me know what you think!

Until the next glass!
Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes

[1] The Inaugural Blizzard Walk started several winters ago when Husband had the ingenious idea to walk around during a blizzard when everyone else is sanely snuggled up in front of their fireplace. It’s quite fun actually, seeing everything peaceful, quiet and white. It’s even better when you bring a flask with you. Just sayin’.
[2] Yes, in the blizzard. I really needed some yarn. What can I say? Me and the two old ladies at Hobby Lobby weren’t afraid of a little snow.
[3] Translated to “Flower of Salt”, this sodium variety comes from the hand-harvested salt crystals which float on the surface of salt water as it evaporates. Used as a garnish instead of as an ingredient, it is the most difficult salt to harvest, and therefore the most expensive. Fancy, huh? We recently acquired a jar at the Weekend Kitchen, a whimsical little kitchen shop in Essex, the cutest little town in America.
[4] You know, to make it fancy.
[5] Full disclosure, I’m so Type A I won’t let anyone else wash my china. Just in case. #RetiredPattern