Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 - two turkeys and deep-fried Twinkies

This Thanksgiving we were invited to AC and CB's house along with 18 other family members! Fun!

The food was amazing! We started with AC's Mixed Greens salad with Tobasco dressing, and my Artisinal Greens salad with Champagne vinaigrette.

We also had two turkeys - one roasted in the oven, and the other deep-fried. In addition to these great birds, we had fantastic gravy and homemade cranberry sauces, RC's Festive Yam Casserole, carrots with white raisins, roasted Brussels sprouts, green beans, sweet potato fries, and cornbread and apple dressing.

The wine I had with dinner was the Lopez Noceti 1919 Bonarda 2009 from Mendoza, Argentina, which AC purchased at Central Market.

Aroma - currants
Taste - currants, acidic, soft tannins, young

I liked this wine, and it went well with all of the food!

Now onto the adventurous part of our evening...deep frying dessert.

Here's the deep frying equipment and supplies - gallons of peanut oil were used this Thanksgiving!

The first dessert in was the whole apple pie. It went in and out of the fryer with surgical precision, thanks to Bro! It was my absolute favorite dessert of the evening - the crust was perfect, and the apples inside were still cool from the freezer!

Next the fun-sized Snickers, which were frozen and coated in pancake batter in preparation for their peanut oil bath. These did not fair so well - we'll have to find a better recipe/preparation for candy bars next time.

Last but definitely not least were the Twinkies and the chocolate chip cookies from Hruska's. Both of these turned out great! The Twinkies were especially delightful with the still-cool centers oozing slightly!

Hats off to all of the cooks in the kitchen (and backyard) that night!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Villages 2008, France - $10

This wine by M. Chapoutier was rated 90 points by Wine Spectator and was #75 on their Top 100 of 2009. I purchased it for $10/bottle at Costco. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan.

Aroma - red fruit, a little hot, a little musty
Taste - red fruit, a little musty, tobacco finish, moderate tannins

This wine is a good buy for the price, and I would purchase it again. Need to be sure to share it with those who like Old World wines (a little stinky/musty).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Puydeval 2008, Languedoc, France - $10

This red wine from the Languedoc region of France is a Vin de Pays d'Oc and was given 90 points by The Wine Advocate. It is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc, 28% Syrah, and 12% Merlot, and I purchased it for $10/bottle at Costco. It is 14% alcohol, which I can smell just a tiny bit. The winemaker's name is Jeff Carrel.

Aroma - black fruit and minerals, a tiny bit hot
Taste - black fruit, minerals, light black tea, soft tannins

Wow, I really love this wine! It tastes mature although it's quite young. It went great tonight with our deconstructed Mexican dinner - caramelized onions and mushrooms, guacamole, fresh salsa, and tortilla chips. Excellent!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Traditional British Sunday Dinner on a Saturday - 11 people, 5 courses, and 9 bottles of wine and spirits

Tonight we got together with a great group of friends for a fantastic British-inspired meal. I know what most of you are thinking, but the food was really wonderful, and I wasn't surprised at all!

First Course - Appetizers
  • Angels and Devils on Horseback - apricots (angels - one toothpick) and prunes (devils - two toothpicks) stuffed with Asiago cheese and wrapped in bacon
Cocktail Pairing
  • Traditional Pimm's No. 1 Cup - 1 part Pimm's to 3 parts sparkling lemonade, ice, and sliced cucumbers
Angels on Horseback can also be made with oysters, but as we were trying to keep the appetizers lighter because of the main course, we went with the apricot version of the angels. That being said, the combination of dried fruit, cheese, and crisp bacon was so good that it was hard to let the apps cool down before devouring them! And the Pimm's - don't get me started - AMAZING cocktail! I LOVED it with the cucumbers!

Second Course - Soup
  • Pumpkin Thai Spice Shrimp Soup (topped with pumpkin seeds, shrimp, and organic cilantro)
Wine Pairing
  • Domaine Weinbach Clos des Capucins Gewurztraminer 2008, Vin d'Alsace, France
The soup was really fantastic, and contains a surprise - ground up shrimp shells - you'd never know it from the texture, though! The soup was so flavorful and quite spicy!

The Gewurtz was a great pairing with the soup, as it was sweet and cut through the spice.

Aroma - lychees
Taste - lychees, slightly bitter finish

Great soup, good wine pairing!

Third Course - Main Course
  • Roast Beef
  • Yorkshire Puddings
  • Roasted Potatoes
  • Roasted Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Brussels Sprouts
Wine Pairing
  • Domaine La Roquète Châteauneuf du Pape 2006, France
  • El Coto Rioja 2005, Spain
This main course was just UNBELIEVABLE! The beef and all of the sides were served with the most amazingly delicious gravy. This was my first experience with Yorkshire pudding - now wonder the Brits love it! But the beef was melt-in-your-mouth fantastic and cooked perfectly to a medium-well without losing any of its tenderness. Wow, MT and TT - you really outdid yourselves!

The primary wine paired with this course was a really nice Châteauneuf du Pape, which was a blend of 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 10% Mourvedre.

Aroma - currants
Taste - dark fruit, nice minerality, soft to moderate tannins

An excellent pairing for sure!

The secondary wine paired with this course was a Tempranillo.

Aroma - red fruit, old world musty
Taste - red fruit, musty, medium tannins

It held up well to the beef! I've tasted this wine before - see this wine's main page for the previous tasting notes.

Fourth Course - Cheese Course
  • Ardrahan - a washed rind cheese
  • Clothbound Quickes - a type of Cheddar
  • Purple Haze Chevre - lavender goat cheese
  • Stichelton - blue cheese
  • various accoutrement - apples, honey, cherries, mango chutney, many types of crackers including Digestives
  • English toffee
  • white chocolate covered pecans
Wine Pairing
  • Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Marlborough, New Zealand (with cheese and accoutrement)
  • Martinez Late Vintage Bottled Porto 2003, Portugal (with toffee and pecans)
I wasn't sure I could eat anymore at this point, but I swallowed my second tablet of Lactaid and dug in! First, the Sauvignon Blanc, which was crisp and yummy! It was the perfect pairing for the four cheeses. Regarding the cheeses, the Ardrahan reminded R of dirty feet, and I thought it was smoky, stinky, and a little barnyard. The Stickelton went great with the cherries!

I also tried the Port, which was lovely and rich and very raisiny - I really enjoyed it.

Fifth Course - Dessert
  • Ginger Rhubarb Bread Pudding
Wine Pairing
  • Pacific Rim Raspberry Framboise
  • Husch La Ribera Vineyards Postre Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2000, Mendocino, CA
This combination was UNBELIEVABLE! First the Framboise, then the very thick late harvest SB, which smelled and tasted of honey and white raisins. The bread pudding was fantastic and filling!

Another really fantastic dinner together!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Austin Wine Merchant Tasting - Nickel & Nickel Single Vineyard Wines

SD accompanied me to the Austin Wine Merchant for a really fantastic tasting tonight! Jim Doehring, Central Region Sales Manager for Far Niente, stopped by to pour six Nickel & Nickel Single Vineyard Wines. All of Nickel & Nickel's wines are unblended, are made from grapes from a single vineyard, and are offered for $80/bottle at the AWM. Jim was so knowledgeable about all of the vineyards and their individual characteristics. He also told me that Nickel & Nickel uses exclusively French oak barrels (lightly toasted, I believe) for aging - a combination of new and once-used.

The first wine we tasted was the Nickel & Nickel Searby Vineyard Chardonnay 2007, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, CA. This vineyard boasts sandy, loamy soils and is dry-farmed. The wine is not allowed to go through malolactic fermentation and thus maintains its crispness. It was rated 87 points by Wine Spectator.

Aroma - honeysuckle, citrus, very Muscat-like
Taste - honeysuckle, citrus, some acid but not super-crisp

This was a nice wine. I was pleasantly surprised as I don't usually prefer white wines, especially Chardonnays, but this one leaned more towards the bouquet of a Muscat and flavors of what I would expect from a Sauvignon Blanc (although not as crisp as I like my SBs), so it was fine for my palate.

The second wine we tasted was the Nickel & Nickel C.C. Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Rutherford, Napa Valley, CA. According to Jim, the grapes in this vineyard are grown in dusty, loamy soil.

Aroma - dark cherries, currant
Taste - red fruit, wood/tobacco, soft tannins

I liked this wine - it was a nice start to the reds. Quite light for a Cab Sauv. Jim says it's the winemaker's touch - just enough oak to smooth out the fruit but not overpower it.

The third wine we tasted was the Nickel & Nickel Tench Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Oakville, Napa Valley, CA. Jim said that vineyard is grown on soil that ended up at the bottom of the valley thousands of years ago due to a landslide from the Joseph Phelps vineyard just above it. The soil is apparently rich with iron and very red and rocky.

Aroma - red fruit
Taste - red fruit, very smooth, a little wood at the end

I love this wine! It's so nice, so smooth, and so well-balanced.

The fourth wine we tasted was the Nickel & Nickel Sullenger Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Oakville, Napa Valley, CA. This vineyard grows along the eastern side of the St. Helena Highway just north of Opus One. It resides in what used to be a riverbed on the Oakville valley floor.

Aroma - dark plums and fruit
Taste - dark plums and fruit, smooth, velvet, good mouthfeel, soft tannins

I love this wine even more than the last. As Jim said, the wines increase in complexity in the tasting order he's chosen for us.

The fifth wine we tasted was the Nickel & Nickel State Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Yountville, Napa Valley, CA. This is only the second release of this wine, which is grown in northern Yountville very close to Oakville. The soil is rocky and loamy and has excellent drainage. Wine Spectator rated this wine at 90 points.

Aroma - black plum, blackberries
Taste - black fruit, hint of tobacco, soft tannins, very smooth, well-balanced

I LOVE this wine! Yes, I love it more than I did the last one!

The sixth and final wine we tasted was the Nickel & Nickel Vogt Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, CA. The vineyard is situated on a hillside in northeast Napa Valley.

Aroma - dark fruit, minerals
Taste - dark fruit, minerals, soft tannins, super smooth and velvety

WOW! We LOVED LOVED this wine so much that we splurged and bought a bottle! Can't wait to share it with D and MS!

Another absolutely fabulous tasting at the AWM!