In our conversation with Rudy Marchesi of Montinore Estates, we asked him about biodynamics. The winery was Certified biodynamic in 2008. Rudy had set this process up while he was still working for the Montinore Estate as an employee.
The Motivation & learning
Pheloxera was what originally motivated him to look at biodynamics. They had so much vine loss and he was looking at how to combat this, instead of just ripping everything out. So he started studying soil microbiology.
When he started out, he was more into organic farming. I would imagine his own garden informed this. But working with the wholesale importer on the east coast, he just kept finding that the biodynamic wines he sold in the French Portfolio, were the wines he liked the best.
At the time there were only a few books available and only two places in the US that had training. He found a tiny college in NY state teaching a course. This was just 1 class per month for 5 months and then a 5 day intensive. He took this information and tried it out and had tremendous results right away.
…biodynamic practices were established as agricultural practices. …Biodynamic winemaking is an extension of the thought process.
Rudy Marchesi, in our interview July 2018.
Biodynamics the practical and the mystical
I expressed my skepticism regarding some of the practices. I have never been one to believe in “leaf days”,
Rudy told me a story about his home garden. He always planted fall vegetables. Two weeks before the recent solar eclipse in 2017, he planted his fall endives. He planted a second row on the day before the eclipse. He had read that you shouldn’t plant anything for a few days around an eclipse, but he needed to get them in. The first row was beautiful. The second row only had 15% germination.
Rudy says that big events are significant. They don’t pick on black out days. They have to prune from January 1st to March 20th and it’s all got to be done. So they don’t take days off, blackout, leaf day or not. With racking and tasting they just watch to see if it makes a big difference.
80% of wine making is done in the vineyard anyway. It’s all about the quality of the fruit you get. I think that’s why, it’s perceptible but not understood, why biodynamic wines have that certain something that’s…. you put them in your mouth, they’re lively they’re interesting, they’re there, they have a presence. What is it? You can’t measure it. There is so much in life we can’t measure anyway you know, so it’s some sort of life force that we are creating in the vineyard in the farm to begin with. That translates through the vineyard to the fruit and to the bottle. And that’s what I think it is. You can’t measure that. You can taste it!
Rudy Marchesi, in our interview July 2018.
There is more to come…
We will have more with Rudy…he took us to the cellar after this to do some barrel tastings which were delicious and fascinating. In the meantime feel free to check out the rest of our conversation with him:
It’s the season for bubbles and this past October I was able to do an amazing tasting and pairing event with sparkling wines from Gloria Ferrer at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla Washington.
I met Sarah Tracey of The Lush Life the evening before her Bubbles and Bites Seminar at WBC18. At the dinner at Doubleback Winery, we finished with the hors d’ouervres in the winery and headed back into the beautiful tasting room to find a seat for dinner and as luck would have it, I ended up sitting next to Sarah. We had great conversation throughout the evening (we both fell in love with the AMAZING lobster bisque) and at the end of the evening she mentioned that she was hosting Wine Discovery Session “Gloria Ferrer Bubbles and Bites” which I had signed up for.
Sarah has quite the history! She writes a column for Martha Stewart (you can check that out here) . She’s a Somm, a wine educator and is spectacular at putting on events. She loves to travel and loves bubbles! (my kinda girl!).
Before we get started with the pairings, I should probably tell you a little about Gloria Ferrer. This winery is located in the southern part Sonoma County. We visited one early morning and enjoyed glorious views from the patio while doing a seated tasting. I love their sparkling wines. We loved them enough to join the club. When a morning is tough, I just close my eyes and picture myself sitting there on their patio with a glass of their sparkling in hand. It inevitably makes the day better. We wrote about our visit in Bubbles to Start the Day at Gloria Ferrer and give you a little background in Gloria Ferrer – a Little History
The wines of Gloria Ferrer, while always well received, particularly by the critics, have continued to improve over 30 growing seasons. The family legacy of uncompromising quality is passed down through generations. The Pinot Pedigree born of decades nurturing our Sonoma Carneros Estate vineyards. The patience-testing méthode champenoise process of aging and blending is paramount. It’s all coming together in the perfect blend of savor and celebrate. Find them on Facebook, Twitter at @GloriaFerrer, and Instagram.
The Bubbles and Bites Session with Gloria Ferrer, was more than just showing you a pairing…this was meant to get your brain thinking about what makes a good pairing and why. Think of colors. There are complimentary colors and contrasting colors. Food and wine are the same way, you can match or contrast
Sarah laid down 4 pairing strategies
Acid needs Acid
Within these strategies, she paired a Gloria Ferrer Sparkling wine with a small bite. Let’s walk through these delicious pairings. While we do this, keep in mind the flavor profiles and how you can use these to create your own pairings.
Acid needs Acid
For this strategy Sarah chose the Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut. This wine is 86.5% Pinot Noir and 13.5% Chardonnay. It is aged in stainless steel and then aged en tirage for a year and a half and you can find it for about $22
The pairing Sarah chose for this wine was a Classic Bruschetta with grated parmesan and a balsamic glaze. The acid in the tomatoes and the vinegar call for a high acid wine, a low acid wine would end up tasting flat.
This pairing worked! Keep this in mind when pairing dishes with tomatoes, lemon or vinegar and reach for a wine with higher acid to keep the flavors bright in both the wine and the food.
The second pairing strategy is one that I often employ. Flavor Matching pulls from the wine and matches the food (or vice versa). I often use this when I picking up a wine I have not tasted. I can read the tasting notes on the shelf talker (or that I have looked up) and pull from that for my pairing. Syrah’s often have blackberry notes and I will pair them with a dish that has blackberries or a blackberry sauce. Spice notes on a wine, can inform the direction of your seasoning.
The wine for this pairing was the Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs. This wine is 91.6% Pinot Noir and 8.4% Chardonnay. (I know, they are so exact with their percentages!). This wine is hand harvested and whole cluster pressed. They blend 5-7% Vin Gris (cold-soaked Pinot Noir juice) into the base wine. This Vin Gris with it’s skin contact gives the wine it’s bit of color. It is again stainless steel aged and a year and a half en tirage.
Sarah paired this with a Turkey pinwheel with Cougar Gold, strawberry preserve, boursin & arugula. Okay…if you are asking, “What is Cougar Gold” you are not alone. When she announced this half the room murmured with smiles on their faces while the rest of us looked about bewildered. Okay here’s the deal.
Cougar Gold is a cheese. A canned cheese developed in the 1940s at Washington State University, funded by the US Government. The idea of a canned cheese that would last indefinitely was appealing at this time. It’s a white cheddar. You can find it online at the WSU siteor on Amazon, where a 30 oz can will set you back $64.99. You can watch a quirky fun video called The Making of Cougar Gold Cheese on Vimeo.
Okay, now that that is out of the way…so this pinwheel is turkey with Cougar Gold, which we now know is a white cheddar, plus boursin (a rich crumbly Gournay cheese made of cows milk), strawberry preserves and fresh arugula.
The strawberry notes in the wine match with the strawberry preserves enhancing both the wine and the food.
We head now to pairing the Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé. This wine is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. To get that lovely pink color they macerate half of the Pinot Noir on skin for 36-48 hours. This also developes the nose and flavor. This is aged en tirage for 2 years. This wine runs about $29.
The pairing is Ahi Poke with sunomono cucumbers, sriracha, seaweed salad & pickled ginger. The wine with it’s vibrant fruit sits in contrast to the heat and umami in the dish with the seaweed, sriracha and ginger. For other contrast pairings think, sweet and salty or sweet and tart. Think Thai food and Riesling or lambrusco and chinese food. (somehow I’m always drawn to Asian pairings here, but there are many more!)
Wine, most especially sparkling wine, has a definite texture in your mouth. Sarah used this pairing to highlight this. The wine was the 2010 Anniversary Cuvée by Gloria Ferrer 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay this wine only uses the first press of juice. It ferments in stainless steel and spends 5 years en tirage. The growing season for this vintage was very cool. This lovely bottle runs $45.
The pairing here was elevated, as was the wine and was a bacon wrapped scallop with meyer lemon aioli. The creamy texture of the scallop and the creamy texture of the wine are gorgeous together in your mouth. Then you add the fat and salt of the bacon…yep…pretty heavenly.
The wrap up
These 4 strategies for pairing wines, work with sparkling as well as still wines and you can use them beyond that, with beers and spirits and even with creating a menu or a dish.
I encourage you to drink bubbles often. They are not all the same! And put them in a wine glass, not a flute, you will be able to enjoy the aromas in the wine even better.
Bubbles are joyful and these bubbles we discussed are affordable. Don’t just hoard your bubbles for an “Occassion”, life is short, make Thursday an Occassion!
Thanks to Gloria Ferrer for sponsoring this seminar and to Sarah Tracey for such an interesting seminar. And of course thanks to the Wine Bloggers Conference (newly rechristened the Wine Media Conference) for making this all possible!
A couple of quick disclaimers. I went to the Wine Bloggers Conference as a Citizen Blogger and this tasting was part of the conference. The conference is offered at an amazing rate for citizen bloggers to entice us to write about the different wineries and areas we visit. So…this great tasting and pairing, cost me next to nothing. BUT, I assure you that had it been crap, I would not have written about it. So there you have it. Second side note, I’ve written about Gloria Ferrer before and enjoy their wines on a regular basis as a paying wineclub member, so yeah, I like their wines.
The 12th Day of Wine demanded digging in the cellar for something special and Michael perused the Tablas Creek Wines that we patiently wait to open, allowing them to age as we gaze longingly at the Vintage chart waiting for them to be in their prime.
It’s worth noting that as we gazed at the Vintage Chart, we opted to open the 2009 even though it is listed as “Drinking Well: Youthful”. The 2010 that we have is in a closed phase. We probably could wait another 5 years to open this bottle and have it in a “Drinking Well: Mature” stage, but…life is short.
Tablas Creek Vineyard 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel Panoplie
What makes the Panoplie different from the other Esprits? Well this is the most age worthy wine they make.
“sourced from the most age worthy lots in the cellar and blended for intensity and balance.”
Tablas Creek (from the bottle!)
This is why this wine that is almost 10 years old, is still drinking “Youthful”.
This vintage had the Panoplie blend at 65% Mourvèdre, 26% Grenache and 9% Syrah.
This was written in December of 2016 (so 2 years ago). In it Jason describes how the 2009 Panoplie was showing then.
2009 Panoplie (65% Mourvedre, 26% Grenache, 9% Syrah): A very cool, savory, and exciting nose of dark blue/black fruit, seemingly less about Grenache than the 2008. The fruit is fresh but concentrated, cherry and plum, with a powdered sugar character to the tannins that we often see in great vintages. Some cocoa powder on the finish, which is still youthfully grippy and fairly primary. It’s still quite a young wine, from a powerful vintage, and may also still be emerging from its closed phase. Should make great drinking over the next decade.
Jason Haas from the Tablas Creek Blog December 2016
What to pair?
We looked at options for pairings, and while Neil Collin’s recipe for Boeuf Provençale looked wonderful, I am beef stewed out this holiday season. So…we opted to go for something celebratory, like duck! And for an extra bit of celebration, (and to be sure I didn’t mess up cooking the precious duck), we chose to pick up some superbly made duck dishes from Cured & Whey and eatt here in Las Vegas.
Cured and Whey – Duck Reuben
I have been meaning to try this great sandwich from Cured & Whey and managed to be on this end of town today to stop by and pick one up. Rocksan was kind enough to have them prepare it for me uncooked, so I could grill it at home for Michael and I for dinner. What’s in it you ask? Hudson Valley Duck Ham, Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut, Dijon and house sauce.
Cured and Whey is a great little gourmet/sandwich shop created by Chef Michael Stamm. They are in a warehouse area, but don’t be afraid, they are well worth searching out. They get busy at lunch time, because they are so good. So plan ahead and leave enough time to order and sit with your eyes closed soaking in each and every bite.
6265 S Valley View Blvd Ste K Las Vegas, NV 89118 | 702-429-3617
eatt – Duck with sunchoke three ways & black currant sauce
eatt is a neighborhood restaurant in Vegas that is serving amazing Michelin Star worthy food. The duck is “Slow cooked and seared served with sunchoke three ways and a black currant sauce” The chef was kind enough to prepare it for me slightly deconstructed, so that I could warm the sunchokes and duck later for Michael and I to enjoy. The 3 ways for the sunchoke were confit, puree and chips. Sadly my plating is probably no where near as beautiful as it would have been had I enjoyed it at the restaurant.
You can find them at:
7865 W Sahara Avenue Suite 104-105 Las Vegas, NV 89117 702-608-5233
Funny Coincidence. When I told Rocksan that I was picking up her duck sandwich and then heading to eatt for their duck dish, she asked if I was basing this on Michael’s article in the RJ on duck dishes. Nope! I had missed that, but you know what they say about “great minds”! (Looks like there are a few more places I need to hit up!)
Ah duck…so adorable, but so delicious. The wine took a bit to open up. I suggest decanting an hour before (which I did not do, so we waited for it to open in the glass.)
The pairing was divine. The duck breast melted in your mouth and the sunchokes were the perfect companion adding a bit of brightness to the rich and beautiful duck. The currants set the dish off with that sweet/tart/acid component and made the pairing with the wine even better.
We moved on to the duck rueben…mmmmm…great flavor without being too overpowering. I had worried about the sauerkraut with this, but it was perfect. And I have to do a shout out on the tiny pickle medley that accompanied the salad. Mini gherkins, and tiny grape size and smaller tomatoes along with some heritage tomato slices in the lightest of pickling that were perfection (where can I get more of those Rocksan?)
A surprising pairing with goat cheese
One last surprising pairing. We still had some goat cheese around from other pairings and I had thrown together a cheese plate. The goat cheese with cherry preserves and a bit of rosemary was really nice with this wine, as did the Haymarket Goat Cheese I had picked up at Cured & Whey.
Make your way to Paso Robles. There is wine in abundance. Take the time to make the drive out to Tablas Creek. I really believe that these are some of the finest wines being made in this country. And…you can learn all about all of the Rhône varieties here
Tablas Creek Vineyard 9339 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446 Phone: 805.237.1231
We’ve come to the 11th Day in our 12 Days of Wine and we pulled a beautiful bottle of Ballard Canyon Syrah out from Larner Vineyard & Winery.
2013 Larner Estate Syrah – Reserve
Our finest Syrah from the 2013 vintage has a vivid bouquet of violets, cassis, blueberries, pepper, vanilla and espresso. The intense, full palate has a layered texture of chalky tannins followed by a smooth finish. Fermented with 20% whole cluster, 4% Viognier and aged 36 months in 30% new French oak barrels.
So this is a big Syrah. This is not just their Estate Syrah, but a bottling of the best of the lots of the Estate Syrah from 2013.
Ballard Canyon AVA
This AVA is in the Santa Barbara Region and is nested inside the Santa Ynez Valley AVA. At about the half way point of the East West Valley of Santa Barbara, the climate is perfect for Rhône Varieties and Syrah thrives here.
You can visit the AVA site and read about the climate and varieties here.
We have been lucky enough to spend significant time with Michael Larner soaking up his amazing knowledge of the area and the soils. You can find all sorts of articles and interviews on our Larner Winery & Vineyard page.
What to Pair?
I reached out to Larner Vineyards and Jeni who runs the Tasting Room and Wine Club responded with a great pairing for winter. A Beef Stew made with the Syrah to pair with the Syrah!
Hi there Robin! Here is a recipe that we definitely recommend to go withour Reserve Syrah! Nice and hearty and pairs perfectly with the wonderfully balanced 2013 Syrah!
Jeni Torres Larner Wine Club Manager and Tasting Room Lead
Here is the beautiful recipe she shared with us.
stew with mushrooms and polenta
3 pounds stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
4 thick bacon slices, cut into 1-inch –wide strip. (I used unsalted bacon)
4 cups of beef broth
4 cups of 2011 Larner Syrah.
25 pearl onions
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
20 ounces of mushrooms, you can used brown button mushrooms, quartered, shitake cut in half,
cremini mushroom or if possible fresh porcini mushroom. I soaked the dry porcini mushrooms in the warm water and added this water to the stew.
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tablespoon of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon on tomato paste
1 bunch of baby carrots, cut
2 bay leaves
3 springs of thyme
Salt. If you use the salted bacon don’t add salt,you can always do it at the table.
Some olive oil
3 cups of polenta
In the heavy pot cook bacon, until the bacon turns light brown and crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot and drain on paper towels. Keep the fat.
Dry the meat in the paper towel and cook it in the bacon fat until brown. Put the meat aside in the bowl. Add 1 cup of beef stock to the pot,increase the temperature and try to scrape all the brown bits from the bottom. Pour this liquid over the meat in the bowl.
Add 4 tablespoons of the olive oil to the clean pot and add chopped onion. Cook until golden.
Add garlic and cook until soft. Add all the mushrooms and cook until soften, about 2 minutes
Add 3 tablespoon of flower and cook for1 more minute stirring. Pour 2 cups of beef broth to the mixture, stir and add to the meat.
Return the beef and all the juices that have accumulated to the pot. Add 4 cups of red wine. I used Larner Syrah 2011.
Add 2 tablespoon of the tomato paste, herbs and bring the meat to the boil. Simmer for about 1 hour or until the meat is soft.
Boil some water in the pot, add small onions and cook for 10 minutes. Peel the onion. Clean the carrots and cook them until soft.
When the meat is ready add the bacon,
onions and carrots to the pot. Remove the herbs.
If your beef stew is too thick add more beef broth.
In the medium pot bring 9 cups of water to the boil. Add polenta in the thin stream stirring all the time until polenta starts to separate from the side of the pot. Your polenta should be very soft and runny. You can also follow the instruction on the box.
Pour the polenta on the plates and cover it with beef stew. You can also sprinkle it with some chopped parsley. (Optional)
This was a delicious meal and was beautiful with the Syrah. As you can see I did not add the parsley, but I did add a pat of butter on top of the polenta before ladeling on the stew.
Well I don’t know if there is any of the 2013 left but you can find their beautiful Syrahs as well as other Rhône style wines in single varieties as well as their Elemental Blend on their site.
They also have a tasting room in Los Olivos, next to the Los Olivos General Store where you can taste their wines.
Larner Vineyard & Winery Tasting Room
2900 Grand Avenue Los Olivos, CA 93441 T | (805) 688-8148
Randall Grahm is one of the hardest working guys in wine and he has always been an “of the people for the people” kinda guy. I remember meeting him for the first time at a conference dinner 5 or so years ago. A fan of his blog, I was a little star struck, but he was genuine and just a nice guy. He was kind enough to do a phone interview with me on his Picpoul Blanc a while back which was included in a piece on Picpoul from California and France.
We visited the Bonny Doon tasting room a couple years ago and were sucked in by the humor, the down to earth (well except for the spaceship) nature of the place and the interesting, quirky, yet completely approachable wines he was making.
Bonny Doon 2017 Syrah from Lieff Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County
This wine comes from Lieff Vineyard in San Luis Obispo County.
If you haven’t visited SLO Wine Country, it is worth a trip. We did an interview with Heather Muran, Executive Director of San Luis Obispo Vintners and Growers Association a few years back and need to return to the area ourselves! The Lieff Vineyard is in the southern part of San Luis Obispo Country. Lweieff spent years making wine in the Napa Valley, before starting to make wines from this estate, which is really, further south than any of the other vineyards. The vineyard lies east of Santa Maria. They make their own wines (with Mikael Sigouin of Kaena at the helm) and then are growers for many winemakers, including Randall of Bonny Doon.
Soils here are iron rich, the growing season is long, with warm clear days and cool nights with a marine layer that rolls in. Want more details…
Randall describes this wine as unusual. It’s not an “in your face” Syrah in my opinion. He likens the body to “a proper Burgundy”.
A rather unusual Syrah, and definitely not one for those who imagine that Syrah’s best work is doon as a macho, blockbuster, dense-packed vinous analogue to 10-40 motor oil. This wine is all about elegance and finesse and is a study in rotundone—the peppery/bacon-fatty molecule that is the essence of Syrah, and is optimally expressed in cooler vintages and the coolest sites. This wine has the body of a proper Burgundy, lovely, fresh acidity, light to medium weight and just exudes white, black and pink pepper.
Bonny Doon Tasting Notes for the 2017 Syrah “Lieff Vineyard on the Bonny Doon site
What to pair
Of all the winemakers that I contacted to ask for pairing suggestions with wines for our 12 Days of Wine, Randall was the quickest to respond. He is always ready to talk about his wines and share information. When I asked for a suggestion for a pairing with the Syrah, he quickly got back to me with a suggestion of Birria de Res (goat) with dried chilis and offered to send me the recipe, which he did shortly thereafter. Lucky for me, you can use beef short ribs with the recipe also (I was worried about finding goat!).
Birria de Res
This recipe comes from Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen by Gonzalo Guzmán. It was served at the Day of the Doon 2017 and Randall says it was a standout for their staff.
INGREDIENTS and DIRECTIONS: Adobo: 200 grams ancho chiles 8 garlic cloves 1 1/2 tbsp dry thyme 1 1/2 tbsp dry oregano 1 tbsp whole black pepper 7 bay leaves 2 tsp cooking cloves 3 tbsp white sesame seed 1 whole dry cumin 1/4 cup white vinegar 1/2 tbsp ginger powder 1 cup dark beer (such as Negra Modelo)
Cover the chiles with boiling water for 20 minutes. Toast the rest of the dry ingredients at 350 for about 15 minutes or until sesame seeds turn brown, but not black. Using a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend; it should be a smooth thick paste (if more liquid is needed to blend, use the soaking liquid from the chiles).
Birria: 8 lbs short ribs (about 6 large pieces) 1/2 onion 6 garlic cloves 3 bay leaves 1 tsp whole black peppercorns Salt Water to cover meat
Season short ribs heavily with salt all around and let it sit for 30 minutes. In a large sauté pan seared the meat on all sides until golden brown. Using half of the adobo marinate the meat and let it rest for at least 4 hours or overnight. Lay down some banana leaf (if unavailable, can sub cabbage leaves, corn husks or parchment paper) on a braising pan followed by the meat. Cut the onions into quarters and spread over the meat with the rest of the ingredients, cover with water about and inch above the meat, cover with more banana leaf and foil. Braise for 3 hours at 325. When very tender, strain and place the liquid aside.
Salsa: 2 qts diced can tomatoes 35 grams toasted chile cascabel 3 garlic cloves 1/2 of the above adobo
On a medium sauté pan or griddle on medium heat toast the chiles; they should change to bright red and will have some hard spots. On a roasting pan add all the other ingredients except for the adobo and roast for 30 minutes at 350 then add the adobo and blend until really smooth.
To finish: In a medium pot combine the salsa and remaining liquid from braising, bring it to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, it should be rich but still runny consistency. Cut the birria into serving portions and it to the mix, taste for salt. Best served with some warm tortillas, fresh cilantro, pickled red onion (or simply diced red onions), and a hot sauce if you decide it’s not too spicy.
I’ll admit that I’ve never done short ribs, so when the butcher asked “Bone in or Boneless” I ended up with half bone in and half boneless. Michael hates the bones, but…after further discussion with the butcher and seeing the final product, I found out that bones short ribs are a whole different cut of meat and don’t have the fat and marbling that ribs do.
A few other details that I adjusted. We had some lovely dried chili’s that my friend Giacomo had given me, and I was unable to find Anchos…I also didn’t find whole cumin, so powder will have to do (I expect we might lose a bit of roastiness in flavor sadly).
Michael took over from here, and stuck closely to the adobo recipe with the exception of using a little less ginger powder. It sat over night with the ribs soaking up the flavor.
I popped it in the oven the following day to cook for 3 hours and prepared the salsa while it cooked. I took some liberties. Michael and I don’t do spicy so much these days and I could not locate the chile cascabel, so we did without that. We used stewed tomatoes rather than diced, which I drained before roasting with the garlic. Our adobo was a little thinner than a paste and we didn’t want things to be too soupy.
I added the braising liquid to the roasted tomatoes and cooked it down for 30 minutes. I skipped adding the additional adobo, as we tasted it and found it a little too spicy for us. So I drained the mixture a little before blending it. For me it was perfect. It came out like a really authentic mexican salsa, you know the really good ones that you only find at a mexican restaurant. It was roasty and had just the right spice for us. If you like spice, stick to the recipe! I am sure that it is delicious and packs more of a punch than our version.
We served this with flour tortillas, as well as a southwest cabbage slaw, sour cream, guac and the salsa, which we served on the side. Michael preferred the boneless cuts of meat, I preferred the bone in (we really are Jack Sprat and his wife).
A late lesson on Birria
I had a Spanish friend who was wondering about “birria” (she had a much different connotation of the word). I googled it and found lovely photos of a goat or mutton stew from the Mexican State of Jalisco. (So perhaps I should have left some of that liquid in. I guess, it could have been soupier! LOL.) Perhaps we will find ourselves in San Francisco and make a stop at Nopalito and if it is on the menu, taste the dish the way it was meant to be. Regardless, our variation on this dish was delicious, and I encourage you to try the recipe and find your own variation.
The Birria de Res was delicious. And the wine…well we both really raved about this wine. It was the perfect compliment, it was beautiful with the food.
I got exotic spices and black fruit on the nose. You could tell this was a cool climate Syrah. The mouth feel was lighter than those giant Syrahs you often find. This wine was flavorful, without being BIG. It was food friendly, but it wasn’t a pushover with the food. Balance…that was what this wine had in spades.
The entire pairing was comfortably delicious. Thanks Randall for this pairing suggestion which made for a really memorable meal.
It runs an extraordinarily reasonable $26 per bottle.
Want to visit them?
You really should get yourself to their tasting room in Davenport. Located at 450 Highway 1, Davenport, CA 95017. They are typically open 11 to 5. Plan to visit the beautiful coast that is right out their front door and perhaps take a drive into Bonny Doon, the tiny town that inspired the name that sits up in the hills just inland from Davenport. Make sure to allow plenty of time to taste through the ecclectic line up that is Rhône driven, by the original Rhône Ranger himself.
Andrew Beckham has merged his two loves, ceramics and wine. The bottle for this wine lists it as “Creta A.D. Beckham MMXVI Amphora Pinot Noir”. This wine was made in a terra cotta vessel. A vessel made right here in his studio on the vineyard.
There is a long story to go with this. A beautiful and very real story, patiently told to me by Andrew’s wife Annedria, when we visited them at the Beckham Estate Vineyard this summer. That story will have to wait for another day. Soon, I promise. Today, we are going to talk about this wine.
A.D. Beckham 2016 “Creta” Amphora Pinot Noir
“Creta” is latin for clay and this wine was fermented and aged in terra cotta and bottled un-fined, un-filtered.
From Beckham Estate Vineyard http://beckhamestatevineyard.orderport.net/product-details/0076/2016-AD-Beckham-Creta-Pinot-Noir
The vineyard and winery sit in the Chehalem Mountain AVA on Parrett Mountain, where the vineyard elevation lands at 412 to 568 feet. Soils here are Jory and Saum. This wine, of which there were only 100 cases made, is unfined and unfiltered, and if you want to get all geeky, the Pinot clones are Pommard, Wädenswil, and Dijon 115 and 777. This is 30% whole cluster.
What to pair?
Annedria Beckham got back to me with a beautiful recipe that she had just paired with the Creta Amphora Pinot Noir.
As we just had our 3 pigs butchered we have a wealth of pork in our freezer. I made this recipe the other evening and it went beautifully with the AD Beckham Creta Pinot noir’s bright cherry and cranberry notes. You could substitute duck breast for the pork for an equally delicious meal.
Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Cherry-Thyme Pan Sauce modified from Epicurious INGREDIENTS · 1 teaspoon ground coriander · Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper · 2 pork tenderloins (about 2 pounds total) · 2 tablespoons olive oil · 1 large shallot, thinly sliced 1/4 cup · 10 sprigs thyme · 1 1/4 cups dry red wine · 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar · 1 tablespoon sugar · 1 (10-ounce) package frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed, halved (about 2 cups) · 1-2 tablespoon cold unsalted butter PREPARATION 1. Combine coriander, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a small bowl. Rub pork with spice mixture. 2. Heat oil in a 12″ heavy skillet over medium-high until hot but not smoking. Reduce heat to medium and cook pork, turning occasionally, until meat is browned on all sides and an instant-read thermometer inserted diagonally into the center of each tenderloin registers 145°F, 20–25 minutes. Transfer pork with tongs to a cutting board (do not wipe out skillet) and let stand 10 minutes. 3. Meanwhile, cook shallot and thyme in skillet, stirring, until softened and lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add wine, vinegar, and sugar. Bring to simmer and cook, scraping up any browned bits and stirring frequently, until liquid is reduced by about half and shallots are tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in cherries, any accumulated juices, and 3/4 tsp. salt and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat, add butter, and swirl skillet to combine. Pluck out thyme sprigs, taste, then season with salt and pepper as needed. Slice pork and serve with sauce. Cheers!
Annedria Beckham of Beckham Estate Vineyard
This recipe had my mouth watering. Sadly, this was a late night pairing and the recipe arrived too late for us to gather all the ingredients. I look forward to them releasing the 2017 Creta Pinot, so I can get a bottle and try it with this amazing recipe. The cherries, the balsamic, the thyme, the pork…all would be perfect with this wine. And actually, Annedria’s suggestion of duck, is really what I may try! But for tonight, we will have to do without.
Michael made do with gourmet sliders and bacon wrapped dates waiting to pair with this wine. Michael wrapped the dates in a maple bacon, so we had that sweet and savory combo and found that it went brilliantly with the wine. With the sliders, I have to admit, I slathered one bun with lobster pate and the other with tomato marmalade, the sweet, the savory, the rich…all played perfectly against this wine
So what does it mean to the wine to have the wine fermented and aged in clay rather than wood?
Maybe it was just my brain making the association, but I felt like I could smell the clay on this wine. On the nose, it starts with baking spices and deep red fruit (that is the cherry and cranberry Annedria mentioned). It is medium bodied, but flavorful, so it feels bigger in your mouth. The tannins are smooth, but lively and long lasting. As it opened up I got more mocha/cocoa on the nose, and it felt darker in my mouth and more savory. Later as I tasted I got wilted rose petals and a little salinity. Going back to the clay, the nose always hit me as very fine particles (like clay and cocoa powder), which gave the wine a smoothness that I found really appealing.
I was really enchanted by this wine.
I will apologize for taunting you with this beautiful wine. This vintage is sold out. But…new vintages lay ahead ( I think they are bottling the 2017 Estate Pinot Noirs currently) and you can purchase their wines from their site.
Want to Visit?
They are typically open Fridays and Saturdays from 11-5. They are closed from December 17th, 2018 -February 1st, 2019 except by appointment. (So schedule an appointment or plan your trip after Feb 1st)
Day 8 of our 12 Days of Wine found us doing a late night pairing. We met Leah Jørgensen of Leah Jørgensen Cellars this summer and had a wonderful conversation with her about her wines and so many other things. You can find all that info here.
One of the unique wines that she makes is a Blanc de Cabernet Franc. She had run into one of these in the Loire Valley and decided to make one from Oregon.
Tasting notes: A most unusual white wine that first comes across as quirky, but then mellows into a truly distinctive beauty. Offers aromas of lemon, rosemary,beeswax and gradually gives way to deeper fruit aromas as it is exposed to air— ripe nectarine, blood orange and honey. There is even a note that recalls lilacs. Ultra-smooth texture and medium body, with some minerality on the finish. A wine with a lot of grace. Drink young. Recommended for: Summer sipping on the back patio. With food, I’d aim for roasted chicken or cedar-planked salmon.
Opening a bottle – What is Blanc de Cabernet Franc Like? May 11, 2016
While it wasn’t summer, we wanted to enjoy this bottle young.
I had to work, but when I returned at almost midnight, Michael had a feast set with a cedar-planked salmon in maple and spices, rosemary bread with goat cheese, and a fruit and cheese plate complete with two goat cheeses, one honeyed, the other herbed, gouda, grapes, prosciutto, blood orange slices and some of that lovely gooey haymarket goat cheese.
This wine is really fascinating. You put your nose in the glass and you get tart citrus and pith. It was blood orangey, but after tasting my blood oranges, it was a little more tart, drifting toward pink grapefruit. And then you get peppers, green, but not bell. It really is that a roasted pickled poblano pepper. On the back there was a bit of salinity, and there is that touch of tannins.
This is a wine that starts like a white and ends like a red with a lingering finish.
Maybe it’s just channeling the Loire Valley traditions, but I found that this wine went spectacularly with all the goat cheeses most especially the honeyed goat cheese. With the gouda? Not so much. With the salmon it was great, holding it’s own against the heavy spices on the salmon, the wood, with the maple helping to round and soften each bite.
On the 7th day…well we rested! Eating Pizza and Sucking Glass with Maloof Wines.
Eat pizza, suck glass.
The Mantra from RossandBee at Maloof Wines
We have been cooking a lot lately, and these 12 Days of Wine are keeping us busy. Today on the 7th day of Wine, we rest. We pick up a white pizza, make a bowl of popcorn and watch a movie, thanks to the recommendation of Ross & Bee of Maloof Wines.
This wine is a blend of Pinot Gris and Riesling, they consider it their version of a rosé.
“Ross: (This) wine is our fun little spring blend, this is what we think of as our answer to a rosé. This is a blend, it’s 55% Pinot Gris and the Pinot Gris was fermented on the skins, kind of as you would traditionally ferment a red wine. So we ferment that, on the skins in two different fashions; we do half of it with full skin contact and daily punch downs and then the other half we actually do carbonic masceration. Then that’s pressed off and blended with Riesling. So it’s like 55% skin contact Pinot Gris and 45% Riesling. And this wine is called “Where Ya PJs at?”
Ross Maloof at the 2018 Uncommon Wine Festival
So what to pair? On the Maloof site they suggest”
Serve chilled or at cellar temp with white za pies or with a bowl of popcorn over your favorite John Cusak movie. Ours is Grosse Point Blank.
From the Maloof website http://rossandbee.com/wines/
We pulled out the “Where Ya PJ’s at” and donned our PJ’s for pizza popcorn and wine (no lounging in your underwear here). We could enjoy the tree, the lights, a movie and rest a bit.
This was quick, easy, and just the right size to pair with our bowl of popcorn. We ordered the “White Top” signature pizza, which is white cream sauce with mozzarella, applewood bacon, chopped garlic, oregano and fresh arugula, which they add at the end after it has baked for all of 3 minutes in the high heat pizza oven, while I watch.
Trust me there was plenty of garlic! (they people making the pizza are generous with toppings and always check to be sure if they’ve added enough or if you want more!)
We popped up some buttered popcorn to go with the ‘za, popped the bottle of “Where Ya PJ’s At?” and curled up on the couch with a movie.
The Where Ya PJ’s At? is coppery in the glass from that pinot gris with skin contact. The pinot gris gives it a rich nose also. There is a bit of sediment in the bottom of the bottle (which I kinda like). The flavors are rich and the bit of effervescence tickles your tongue and your taste buds.
We actually watched Sofia Coppolas “Marie Antoinette”and the wine channeled that everyday luxury kind of feel for me. It was a day of lounging about, enjoying tasty bits and wine, like lounging at court. Overall the food and wine pairing was perfect. The movie…hmmm. (maybe we should have gone with a Cusack film)
Want to find a bottle of this stuff? Well, they don’t yet ship, but if you are in one of the lucky areas where their wines can be found… here’s the list.
Perhaps there is a bit of the 90 cases of this wine that they made, left out there in the universe. You can hope!
Maybe you should drop by and see them?
If you want to visit them…drop a note from the website where you can join the Maloof Tang Clan
On the 6th day of Wine we opened our bottle of Joyful Noise Pinot Noir made by Deven Morganstern.
2015 Joyful Noise Pinot Noir
We met Deven and Callie of Joyful Noise at the Uncommon Wine Festival this summer and spoke with them about the 2015 Pinot Noir. The grapes for this wine come from Lazy River Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
Deven’s pairing suggestions
I reached out to Deven to ask about a pairing for the holiday season and he was kind enough to respond with a pairing that makes things simple so that you can relax and enjoy the time at the holiday with family and friends.
Here is what I thought of when planning out our Christmas Dinner menu….my favorite part is all the excitement and build up to dinner which starts a few days before Christmas so we can best enjoy the crazy!
Deven Morganstern, Executive Noise Maker and Grape Wrangeler at Joyful Noise
In our house, Christmas Dinner is really an all day affair. Everyone wakes up, we make coffee, have pastries from the shop down the street and do the present thing. That all gets us to about lunch time when friends and other family start to stop by. Either just for a minute or coming early for Dinner you’ve got to have some snacks ready in advance or you will never get out of the kitchen. So, a couple days ahead I’ll bake loaves of Ken Forkish’s Saturday White Bread recipe from Flour Water Salt Yeast, pick up a ton of charcuterie from Chop and Olympia Provisions here in Portland, some pickled and fresh veggies, and then make this tuna spread (see below) with Jacobson canned tuna in oil. Allcan be whipped up days ahead of time, other than grilling some of that bread, and you can keep those hungry folks at bay while wrapping up the main show in the kitchen. Perfect thing about the 2015 Lazy River Vineyard Joyful Noise Pinot Noir is it can roll with all these snacks and transition straight into dinner time with roasted Duck, Prime Rib, or at our house this year, Smoked Ham. With enough color and structure that your Cabernet drinking Uncle will be cool with it and all the acid and fruit anyone that loves Oregon Pinot Noir will be filling their glass a second time, you can pop open a couple bottles and let the day fill with the noise of friends and family.
Deven Morganstern, Executive Noise Maker and Grape Wrangeler at Joyful Noise
I didn’t have time to order tuna from Jacobson. But I will be sure to pick some up when I am back on the Oregon Coast. (We will be heading to a wedding just up the road from there next year). While I am familiar with Jacobson salts (and have been happily gifted a few), the tuna is new to me and I can’t wait!
I headed to the market and picked up a higher quality tuna than I typically do for sandwiches for this recipe.
One 6 1/2 ounce can best quality tuna packed in olive oil. Do not drain (the Jacobson tuna was 7 1/2 ounces, but no big deal) 4 T unsalted butter, at room temp Grated zest of 1 lemon 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 T olive oil 1/2 t dried oregano 1 plump fresh garlic clove, finely chopped
Put it all in a food processor and process till smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning. I usually add salt and pepper. It’s best served at room temp and will keep for about 3 days.
We also put together a cheese plate to graze on. filled with a wide variety of cheeses, charcuterie etc.
I will pull this quote again from Deven
“With enough color and structure that your Cabernet drinking Uncle will be cool with it and all the acid and fruit anyone that loves Oregon Pinot Noir will be filling their glass a second time, you can pop open a couple bottles and let the day fill with the noise of friends and family. “
Nothing could be more true. I think of this as a relatively “big” Pinot. Full of flavor. It went beautifully with everything! Not a single bad pairing. I was a little skeptical of the tuna spread pairing. I read the recipe, thought it sounded tasty and was charmed by Deven’s story. But quite honestly I did not think this would be a spectacular pairing. Boy was I wrong. The acid in the wine was brilliant pairing with the lemon in the spread and then contrasting with the fat and and richness. This was an enlightening pairing for me.
Do you want a bottle? They have a page on their site to tell you “How it Works” They are small, and this was the only wine they made annually, until this year when they added a Pet Nat to their line up (I can’t wait to try that!)
At the end of our visit, we picked a few bottles to have shipped to us, including their 2015 Müller Thurgau. I mean how often is it that you come across a Müller Thurgau?
Montinore Estate 2014 Müller Thurgau
As we planned our 12 days of Wine, this was one of the bottles I pulled out to taste. I sent a quick email to Kristin Montinore the President of Montinore Estate and she was kind enough to reply with a favorite pairing for this wine.
I love serving the Muller Thurgau with appetizers. One of my favorite pairings is a Dungeness Crab and celery root salad. Its both bright and creamy and can be served on it’s own or with a crostini.
Kristin Marchesi, President Montinore Estate
She was kind enough to share this recipe with me, and I pay it forward (it’s really delicious) by sharing it with you!
Celery Root and Dungeness crab crostini 2 tbl mayonnaise 1.5 tbl lemon juice 2 tsp whole grain mustard 1 small celery root, grated 1 bunch celery leaves, chopped 2 tbl minced scallions ½ lb cooked Dungeness crab lump meat salt and pepper to taste
Whisk mayonnaise, lemon juice, whole grain mustard in a small bowl. In a larger bowl mix together remaining ingredients. Stir in dressing. Add Salt and pepper to taste and serve either with crostini, endive leaves or crackers.
Recipe kindly shared by Kristin Marchesi
Sadly I was unable to find Dungeness crab this time of year in Vegas, but we found some other crab that filled in. The crostini were delicious were quick to make.
The tasting and pairing
As we poured the wine, fine bubbles lined the glass. Müller Thurgau is a Swiss hybrid grape created by Hermann Müller. It is a cross of Riesling and Madeleine Royale. You can definitely taste it’s riesling heritage in the glass.
It contrasted beautifully with the savory buttery sourdough crostini and the bright celery root and celery leaves and the richness of the crab, it’s fruit and slight sweetness rounding out the palate. This wine sits at just 11% alcohol so feel free to finish the bottle with a friend!
If you find yourself in the Willamette Valley, take the beautiful drive up to Forest Grove in the Northwest portion of the Valley to visit Montinore Estate.
Well, I suppose “simpler” is all about perspective. They have a wine here called 1899 that they do with all the conveniences that could be had at that time. That means no tractors, no electricity, no motorized vehicles.
Illahe means “earth” or “place” or “soil” in the Chinook local dialect.
We visited Illahe this past July and spent the morning with Lowell Ford, the owner and grower. He and their Hospitality Manager Kathy took us through a tasting and a tour of the Winery and Vineyard.
The proposed Mount Pisgah, Polk County AVA
The winery and vineyard are located in the middle part of the Willamette Valley, West of Salem near Dallas Oregon. This area is part of the overarching Willamette Valley AVA and Illahe winemaker Brad Ford (Lowell’s son) has started the process of creating a Mount Pisgah, Polk County AVA.
The AVA covers 5,850 acres, 15 miles west of Salem and home to 10 commercial vineyards, including Freedom Hill, and two bonded wineries: Amalie Roberts Estate and Illahe Vineyards. Mount Pisgah, named by settlers in the 1800s in honor of a hill back home in Missouri, has 531 acres of vines — mostly Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay — planted from 260 to 835 feet in elevation.
The Vineyards at Illahe
While the Primary focus here is Pinot Noir, they have planted Pinot Gris, Grüner Veltliner, Tempranillo, Viognier and then small bits of Lagrein, Schioppettino and Teroldego.
The vineyard is LIVE-certified and they take pride in working by hand. They are using native flowers as cover crops, which is good for the soil and makes for stunning vineyard shots.
The winery is built on the hill and is set up to be gravity flow. They also use solar power.
The site and soils
The site is south-facing with spectacular views from their patio in front of the winery. Their elevation here ranges from 250-440 feet. They get earlier budbreak and a bit of the Van Duzer Winds. On Mount Pisgah they get a little less of the extreme temps and winds than those vineyards in the proposed Van Duzer Corridor.
Soilshere are Willakenzie sedimentary clay (Bellpine, Dupee, Wellsdale) with sections of volcanic Jory soil.
They use some Acacia barrels here, and the winery was designed for it’s roof to make you feel as if you are inside a barrel.
The 1899 Pinot Noir
Without electricity for their 1899, they revert to bicycle power to do pump overs. Everything here is done by hand. The Percheron’s plow the fields, the harvest is by hand, the bottling, labeling etc. Then they have a carriage take the wine to the river and there is a two day canoe trip north and then they bicycle the wine to market. Yep… maybe not “simpler” right. But worth the effort.
To visit Illahe
You can look forward to a journey through the winery and into the cellar with Lowell coming up. In the meantime if you want to visit them To schedule an appointment email Kathy:[email protected] or call 503-831-1248.
As we arrive at the 3rd of our 12 days of Wine, we are channeling a little decadence. When I spoke with Alex Neely about pairing the Libertine 2015 Dry Riesling here was his suggestion:
This holiday season pair the 2015 Riesling with pork tamales doused in your favorite hot sauce. The flowery aromatics and kiss of residual sugar in the wine provide the perfect compliment and balance to the dish. My wife’s family has been eating tamales every Christmas Eve as long as she can remember. Since we have been together it is a tradition we continue in our house and have even introduced to my Southern family, much to their delight.
Alex Neely, Owner/Winemaker Libertine Wines
I will admit to not being anywhere brave enough to try making my own tamales, and I knew that here in Vegas I would be able to find a place locally that had them, so I went on a search. What I found was a local Mexican family owned restaurant that has become a Vegas staple for Tamales. Doña Maria Tamales has been in Vegas since 1980. They make great tamales and have a fresh tortilla maker in front of the kitchen which is fascinating to watch.
Tamales a special event food, created typically in large quantities and meant to be shared with friends and family, I found this to be reflected in the Libertine label with Bacchus, the God associated with Festivals. The tie in continues when you realize Bacchus was also the god of agriculture and “Corn was a very important crop in Mesoamerica, with people believing that people were created from corn. Tamales, because they were wrapped in corn husks, became part of ritual offerings. ” (from Tamales: A Christmas Tradition)
2015 Libertine Dry Riesling
This wine comes from the LaVelle Vineyard in the Willamette Valley. 36 hours of skin contact and fermented outdoors for 5 months in neutral oak. Alex aged them sur lie for a year and a half. Unfiltered and unfined, it was lovely and decadent.
Normally you think of riesling and it’s bit of sweetness as calming spicy foods. Alex had suggested dousing the tamales in our favorite hot sauce. I’m a little “white bread” on this one. Michael doesn’t do “spicy” anymore, so we didn’t do the hot sauce, and we actually found that the wine intensified the spicy notes in the tamales.
The wine had petrol on the nose and green apple. It was tart and crisp on the palate and leaves your tongue a little buzzy! While it increased the spiciness of the dish, the wine itself became sweeter on my palate when I paired it with the food.
We met Alex at a festival this past summer and you can see our interview with him here.
It’s not easy to find his wines, but they are worth searching for. They are available mostly in Portland, but also in Beaverton and Hillsboro…all in Oregon. He has a page of supporters, so go visit them and taste his wines!