DuBrul Vineyard is one of the older vineyards in the Yakima Valley. Hugh and Kathy Shiels purchased the property in 1991 and pulled out the orchards to plant vines. This is a family business and the winemaker is their daughter Kerry Shiels.
Last summer we spent a morning with Kerry first at their Sunnyside tasting room and then in the family’s DuBrul vineyard.
The tasting room is in the historic Grandview Train Depot, on the line that connected Walla Walla and Yakima. After it’s life as a train stop and before becoming a tasting room it was home to her father’s orthopedic practice.
The DuBrul vineyard is a bit of a drive up into the Rattlesnake Hills. The rolling terrain has multiple aspects allowing them to grow a variety of grapes types in the micro climates. We felt the micro climates just walking across the vineyard from one side to the other.
2018 DuBrul Vineyard Riesling Yakima Valley
This is the oldest block on the DuBrul. I assume it predates their purchase of the property as it was planted in 1982. These almost 40 year old vines produce fruit that Côte Bonneville turns into spectacular wine a Spätlese style riesling that sits at low 10% abv. I must share with you the beautiful quote from Kerry on the back label.
On a rocky windswept plateau high above the Yakima Valley DuBrul Riesling vines struggle to survive. Among the oldest planted in Washington State, their small truncks bear witness to the severe growing conditions. Yet their tiny berries transform into wine glowing with intensity.
On the bottle – 2018 Côte Bonneville Riesling
When we spoke with Kerry, she was in the midst of her Summer of Riesling. They had taken a cruise on the Mosel with their wine club earlier in the year, tasting Mosel Rieslings side by side with those from DuBrul. I have no doubt, that as good as this wine was, the Rieslings from Côte Bonneville will continue to get even better. I like to explore wines, and rarely keep more than one bottle of a wine in the cellar. Life is too short to drink the same wine! I’ll make an exception here. This is a wine that I want to have around all the time. Oh…I guess we should get on to the…
This wine has a light golden color. It’s a wine that I want to dab behind my ears. You get that classic petrol and then citrus and tart pear. It is rich with a bit of sweetness (it is spätlese in style after all). With the low alcohol it is quaffable, but you will find yourself wanting to savor this wine.
Riesling with Thai food is classic right? We paired this with a lunch of Pad Thai. Lunch seemed appropriate. This wine is bottled sunlight and it felt appropriate to bask in the winter sun as it came through the window while we enjoyed this wine.
Rasteau. Perhaps it’s a name you are not familiar with. This region in the Southern Rhône has long been known for their sweet Vin Doux Naturel wines. It was just recently (2010) awarded Cru status for it’s dry red wines.
This post is a sponsored post. In conjunction with the French #Winophiles I recieved 4 bottles of wine from Rasteau as samples to taste and write about. The opinions provided are my own.
The name itself comes from the French word “râteau” meaning rake. The hills and valleys here look like the tines of a rake.
The region is east of the famous Chateauneuf-de-Pape. Perspective…it is 21 miles from Avignon, at the very south of the Rhône River and 12.5 miles from Orange. Writing this out made me realize how small this area really is. This is a small medieval village with cobbled streets. Located in the Haut-Vaucluse, this little village faces south and looks to the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range.
The name might not be familiar to you, but this is the region that inspired Cézanne and Chagall. Farmlands with orchards, olive groves and lavender fields cover this area of Provençe. Here you find ancient cities, including Rasteau.
Dentelles de Montmirail
This small mountain chain is just south of the village of Vaison-la-Romaine. Dentelles translated to English is “lace” as the mountains have a scalloped lace like feel as you look at them.
Geography, Climate & Soils
As I mentioned the village faces south. The soils differ depending on the altitude. Lower altitudes have pebble rich soils, a little further up you reach sandy marl (between 525 and 951 feet) and the highest vineyards have red and grey marl with galets, those pudding stones that the Rhône is so famous for.
As far south as they are you get loads of sunshine and it’s relatively dry. Plus the Mistral wind keeps the vines healthy. All that air keeps the vines dry and free from mold and disease. But…the vineyards on this south facing slope are arranged in a bowl or amphitheatre shape which keeps them safe from the most brutal of the winds. So they get the good breezes, not the damaging wind.
Red Rhône Blends with some rules
The wines here are made up of red Rhône varieties that you are likely familiar with, but with a couple of rules.
The blend must be at least 50% Grenache Noir
At least 20% of the wine must be Syrah & Mourvèdre (that’s 20% together)
We recieved 4 samples, each with a slightly different blend. Two of which were 2015 vintage and two that were the 2016 Vintage.
All of the wines were food friendly, made to bring to table, to share and enjoy with food and laughter.
Domaine La Font de Notre Dame 2016 Rasteau Le Chêne
This is an old family estate renamed by the sons in 2016. The Domaine has vineyards in several regions including Gigondas, Sablet and Lirac in addition to their vineyard in Rasteau.
The vineyard sits on the top of a hill at 350 meters between the Ouvèze and Aygue valleys with soil of brown marl and pebbles.Vines here average 80 years old, so they were the oldest of the samples we recieved.
The wine is Grenache driven at 80% with 10% Mourvèdre and 5% each of Syrah and Cinsault. The Grenache is grown in the gobelet style (bush style, untrellised)
The Domaine La Font de Notre Dame was the lightest bodied of the 4 Rasteau wines we tasted and was also the highest percentage of Grenache. It was bright and elegant.
Domaine M. Boutin 2016 Rasteau
Mikael Boutin, the winemaker is a 5th generation winemaker. Domaine M. Boutin is a small operation. His facility is the size of a two car garage size and he works mostly with concrete tanks. He has almost 5 acres of vines scattered over 8 parcels. The vines average 40 years old and are are varied soils and have different exposures. Regardless of the fact that they are scattered, they are all organically certified.
Mikael hand harvests and does wild yeast ferments in his concrete tanks. The wines are kept on the fine lees for 8 months (still in the concrete tanks). Wines are held in bottle for 12 months before release.
Chateau du Trignon 2015 Rasteau
This property had been kept for generations as a traditional farm by the Roux family, who gradually turned the focus to vineyards. In 2007 the Quiot family purchased the property, 12 acres are with in the Rasteau AOC.
This is a 60/40 blend of Grenache and Mourvèdre from vines that average 30 years in age. The grapes are de-stemed and after around 3 weeks of masceration do a 3 week indigenous yeast ferment. They age for a year in foudres and concrete.
Lavau 2015 Rasteau
This wine comes from east facing stony hillsides. Harvests here are small and late. This blend in 50/50 Grenache and Syrah. Destemmed, 25 day masceration and a year of aging in mostly neutral oak.
After a wet winter and spring, followed by a few showers in June, the vines were able to withstand the extreme summer droughts due to the water reserves. Ripening conditions were optimal with sunny days and cool nights, accompanied by a light Mistral wind. The harvested grapes showed exceptional concentration and balance.
Groupe Lavau Maucoil www.lavau.fr
Thanksgiving Pairing with Rasteau
With Thanksgiving right around the corner here in the US, I looked at these wines and determined that the flavor profiles would pair nicely with those fall foods we indulge in at Thanksgiving.
With just 2 of us, we took a simpler route than roasting an entire turkey. I found 2 turkey breast marinated and applewood smoked to cook like a pork loin, roasting it in the oven. This took my cooking time to a little over an hour, rather than the 3 or so for a full bird.
I looked to flavors that would match the wine. Herb de Provençe was a no brainer for this area of southern France and the berry notes of raspberry, blackberry and cherry noted in the wine…well I figured that adding some cranberry and making a sauce would be pretty perfect.
I roasted the sweet potatoes (a regular sweet potato and a purple sweet potato with sweet white flesh) in olive oil, herb de provençe, salt, pepper and a bit of nutmeg and then mashed them with butter and a dash of stock. The nutmeg brought out that bit of spice in the wines.
For our green vegetables… we did fresh green beans, cooked in butter and a bit of stock, drizzled with a balsamic reduction and sprinkled with sea salt, as well as boiled brussel sprouts, that I then sliced and pan seared to pull out the sweetness. Both of course got a dash of the herbs de Provençe,
We did start with a cheese platter, with a decided feminine feel. I picked up “New Woman” cheese which has jerked spices in it, and Two Sisters Gouda. We rounded this out with dried cherries, blackberries, raspberries, apple and almonds.
Honestly, all the foods paired beautifully with all of these wines. Not a bad pairing in the bunch. Tying in the fruit notes as well as the herbs and spices really made these pairings sing.
Michael found both of the 2015 wines to be more weighty and substantial. I would agree. There might be several components to this, the age, the vintage, which as we saw above was very warm and the blend. Both of these wines were simply Grenache and one other variety and the Mourvèdre and Syrah that they used can both be weighty. I did really enjoy the Domaine La Font de Notre Dame, for exactly the reason that it was not weighty. Perhaps I was in a very Grenachey mood. I was also really enamoured by the story of MB Boutin and his 2 car garage size set up and his scattered hand picked vineyards. Mikael’s story definitely influenced my tasting and I savored visualizing his harvest while sipping the wine.
All of these wines were delicious, but they are decidedly food wines. On their own, they were fine, but not wines to sit and deeply contemplate with your nose in a glass. They are wines to pop open and enjoy with people and food. They are not showy, they are complimentary, quietly, each in it’s own way, adding to the meal and elevating the food.
These wines are in the perfect price point. Running from $18 to $25 SRP, these are wines that you can easily bring to the table to enjoy without the pressure of needing to stop and take detailed tasting notes.
For more information on these wines on social media, check out
Instagram: @rhonevalleyvineyards, @vinsderasteau
Facebook: @RhoneValleyVineyards, @aoc.rasteau
Or search for the hashtags: #rhone #rasteau #rasteauwine #rhonewine
Or visit Vins-Rhône.com for details on wines and vineyards throughout the Rhône region
The French #Winophiles
We will be gathering on twitter under the hashtage #Winophiles to talk about the wines of Rasteau on Saturday morning November 16th. It’s early at 8 am if you are in the Pacific time zone, a more reasonable 10 am in the midwest and a luxurious 11 am on the east coast. Join us to chat about these wines and the pairings we all found!
Here is a list of the other terrific articles written on the wines of Rasteau by the other #Winophiles!
This month the French Winophiles are heading to the Sud Ouest of France. That south west corner that seems rather quiet. You don’t hear much about it. Within it you will find French Basque Country and Jurançon. On the coast is the Pays Basque with it’s wine region of Irouleguy. When you continue east you arrive at the Jurançon, which is our destination today.
If you watched the Tour de France you might have seen the time trials in this region on July 19th in Pau which is just 15 miles east of this region. (If you want to see a bit of the scenery… here you go…
Vineyards here sit in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The area is hilly with steep rolling hills, lush with trees and amazing views against a backdrop of the Pyrenees. There is a beautiful piece on Pau and this region on Wine Chic Travel.
The landscape is dotted with small vineyards and farms. If you put all the acreage under vine together, it would add up to about 5 square miles.
Petit Manseng – historically a great seducer
The area is best known for their sweet wines. These wines were a favorite of the French poet Colette. (If you do not know her…she wrote the novella “Gigi” which was turned into a movie with Maurice Chevalier singng the iconic song “Thank heaven for little girls”. I remember watching this movie when I was a little girl myself, I find myself not remembering it clearly. Perhaps it is time to find and watch it again.)
Colette called the Jurançon wines of Petit Manseng “seduction du vert galant”. She was quoted saying
“I was a girl when I met this prince; aroused, imperious, treacherous as all great seducers are”.
Her comments inspired winemakers to advertising “Manseng means Jurançon means sex”.
Colette also said “Time spent with a cat is never wasted”. How can you not love this wise woman.
Evidently, this wine is also given credit for giving King Henry the IV of France, the strength to keep up his philandering! Born in Pau, Good King Henry “…also became notorious for his sexual exploits, taking on many lovers and earning the nickname “Le Vert Gallant” (The Gay Old Spark).” biography.com
While Petit Manseng is well known and loved here, Gros Manseng is actually more widely grown. You will also find Camaralet de Lasseube. According to Madeline over at WineFolly Camaralet de Lasseube is very rare and Jancis Robinson in Wine Grapes called it endangered. This grape only produces female flowers. It also is prone to oxidation and has really low yields.
Indigenous to this region Petit Manseng is similar to Gros Manseng, but it has smaller berries and produces significantly different wine. Petit Manseng is aromatic with peach and citrus rounded out by tropical fruits like mango and pineapple.
This grape concentrates sugar in the berries during ripening and still maintains high acidity. The sweet wines made here rival Sauternes, but can be found at a much more reasonable price.
Henry Ramonteu, the owner and producer at Domaine Cauhapé is known to wait until January to harvest the last of his grapes for his sweet wines.
Many consider this to be the finest estate in Jurançon. The estate is 45 hectares on clay and siliceous soil. They grow Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Camaralet, Lauzet and Courbu.
2015 Symphonie de Novembre Jurançon
This is one of the first picks for this Domaine’s sweet wines, picked in November. It is 100% Petit Manseng and sits at 13.5% abv. This golden elixir comes from vines that are about 500 m (wait, perspective for those of us in the US…1,640 feet!) on steep vineyards.
Pairing the Jurançon
The classic pairing for this wine is Foie Gras. Baked fruit desserts and Roquefort cheese, as well as poultry dishes are suggested. We settled that we might as well go in for the Foie Gras. I know…I am typically against this. I’m feeling the guilt, but …it was delicious.
Cured & Whey to the Rescue!
I called Cured & Whey and they said they had it foie gras in stock, so we headed across town to see them. Michael the owner came out to talk with us about the foie gras. They have convenient little 2 oz packets of foie, and Michael suggested this was our best bet for two single portions. I asked Diana about a Roquefort, and while she had one, she suggested the Ewe’s Blue.
This award winning cheese is from the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company in Old Chatham, New York. It is a rindless cheese made from fresh sheep’s milk that is similar to Roquefort, and delicious!
On the way home, I found a recipe to riff on…here we go.
Pan-seared Fois Gras with apple puree and orange reduction.
Remember…this is just a riff on a recipe. I started with the puree. It was just butter, thinly slice apple, a little jam (I used mango passion fruit) and a little wine (think dry white, although I actually used the rose in my glass). Toss in a pan until soft then toss in the blender.
Cut a couple of circles of brioche and toast them in the oven.
Carefully score the two pieces of fois gras, add salt and pepper and put them in a pre-warmed pan at medium heat. 2 minutes per side, then on a plate to rest.
Lastly, use a bit of the drippings, add fresh squeezed orange juice and a little bit of wine (I used the Sauternes I had on hand and open), a little orange zest and some finely chopped rosemary. Reduce, stirring with a wooden spoon to incorporate the crunchy bits.
We also put together a board of the Ewe’s Blue, sliced apple, dried baby pineapple and roasted salted pecans.
The Wine – taste the Jurançon
This wine was lush with great acid as well as that sweetness. It was definitely a food wine and is my kind of sweet wine, not cloying. I got tart apple, and pineapple on the nose and palate.
To Match or Contrast
With pairings, often we try to either match flavors or contrast them. The foie gras was delicious and both the apple puree and the orange sauce matched the wine perfectly with their acid and flavor profile. The Ewe’s Blue did the opposite, the tang and salt contrasting with the wine. Quite honestly, as delicious as the foie gras was, the pairing with the Ewe’s Blue was our favorite of the two.
A surprising pairing was with dark chocolate, which Domaine Cauhapé suggested. Michael grabbed a bar and I was really skeptical. This turned out to be a surprisingly delicious pairing.
The wines of Jurançon are certainly worth searching for and exploring. I will look for some of the Jurançon dry white wines to explore in the future. For now…if you are searching for a sweet wine, expand a little further than Sauternes and try the sweet wines of the Jurançon. You won’t be disappointed and your wallet will be happy!
Read on for other great pieces on the French Basque Country and the Sud Ouest by the French #Winophiles!
A while back the French #Winophiles decided that June would be about French wine and cheese. This is a traditional pairing made in heaven that can go in so many different directions! You can join us to see the wide range and variety of wines and cheeses explored on Saturday June 15th at 8 am Pacific time on twitter. Just follow the hashtag #Winophiles to jump in on the conversation!
For this month’s pairing I received two sample wines courtesy of VinConnexion this month. One was fromChateau de Sales in Pomerol and second from Cave du Vendômois in the Loire Valley. While grateful for the opportunity to taste these wines, rest assured, all opinions are my own.
Cocagne Gris 2018
rosé of 100% Pineau d’Aunis is from Coteaux du Vendômois. You don’t see too much Pineau d’Aunis, at
least not exported, so I was excited to try this variety.
This grape is also known as Chenin Noir (makes sense in the Loire, right?). It is a red grape found primarily in Touraine and Anjou. Ours came from Touraine, in the Coteaux du Vendômois and is made by the Cave Cooperative du Vendômois. The soil here is clay and the wine is fermented in stainless steel with a few months on the lees.
The Le Cocagne Gris 2018 was pale salmon in color and clear. It had raspberry, strawberry and bright light florals on the nose. I caught a little dried hibiscus, like for tea and bright fresh herbs like fresh thyme, with a bit of white pepper and dried thyme in the background. The nose opened up to ripe raspberries. On the palate it was tart with light notes of raspberry, with spice and pepper notes in the back. It sits at 14% abv and has a medium finish.
Chateau de Sales 2010 Pomerol
This wine is from Bordeaux from the Right Bank in Pomerol, the smallest of the Bordeaux appellations. The area is on a plateau with terraces into the valley. Soil here is layered, compact gravel of sandy-clay atop an oxidized iron base that is unique to Pomerol called “crasse de fer”.
Château de Sales has been in the same family since the 15th century. It is now jointly owned by 14 cousins. The estate has 47.6 hectares of vineyard.
This wine is 82.5% Merlot, 12.5% Cab Franc and 5% Cab Sav. The wine is fermented in concrete vats, aged in barrel (5% new oak) for 12 months.
Tasting the Château de Sales 2010 Pomerol
The Château de Sales 2010 Pomerol we decanted for 30 minutes while it warmed to just under room temperature. There was a bit of sediment in the bottle (this is a 2010).
The wine was opaque and had only a slight rim. It was a deep ruby color. On the nose I got red and black currant, eucalyptus, mint, pepper, white pepper, cedar, cigar box and spices. It had a medium mouthfeel and was lighter on the palate than I expected, in a good way. The inky dark color had me convince that my palate was about to be overwhelmed it was not. It was a thoughtful wine that allowed me to explore it’s depths without hitting me over the head.
out to Château de Sales for suggestions on pairing. They suggested Comté (as well as steak and
chocolate lava cake…and yes, after our cheese pairing we did indulge in those
So… Comté, but what else. I reached out to one of my favorite cheese shops in town for some suggestions.
Diana Brier is the new cheesemonger/cheese consultant at Cured and Whey here in Las Vegas and was kind enough to suggest a Valencay to pair with the rosé, when I asked her online. I headed down to peruse their cheese counter and walked into find Diane gloved up with hands in 180 degree water just getting ready to pull mozzarella.
time, so I enjoyed the show and we chatted.
She had just relocated from Oregon and gave me some tips for wine and
cheese for our upcoming trip that would take us to Southern Oregon’s Rogue
Valley, where she used to make cheese. Michael,
the owner also came out to consult with us and we settled on 4 cheeses.
This is a cheese from FireFly Farms located in Maryland. These guys are big on the ethical treatment of not just goats, but also the farmers. It’s worth a visit to their site to see the standards they set.
While not a French Cheese this Maryland cheese is made in a French style. Valencay is a typical goat milk cheese from the Loire Valley, that is set in pyramid shaped molds.
is “surface-ripened” with blue and white molds.
You get a bit of that blue cheese flavor. When you cut it is oozes, and almost runs.
– Montboissie du Haut Livradois
This cheese that Michael suggested, Diane went to the back to get from the chiller. She brought forth a box, cut it open and gently whispered a hello to the beautiful wheel inside. (She didn’t think I heard, but I did, and now she is my favorite cheese monger ever).
This is a Morbier-style cheese that comes from the Jura Mountains. Made of Cow’s milk, it has a vein of vegetable ash down the middle. This came from a tradition where you separate the milk from the morning and afternoon milking. So morning milk on the bottom, a layer of vegetable ash, and afternoon milking on top. This is a washed rind cheese.
cheese has a legend.
Ages ago, at the base of the Combalou Mountain, an ardent shepherd spotted a beautiful young woman. He ran after her leaving behind his flock and forgetting his meal, composed of bread and ewe’s milk curds, in a cave. As he couldn’t find the beautiful shepherdess after days of searching, the shepherd came back to his flock and the cave where he found his less than appealing meal. The ewe’s milk curd was now marbled with green veins and the bread had molded. Starving, he tasted the cheese: the Penicillium Roqueforti had worked its magic transforming his cheese into Roquefort…So says the legend!
milk for this cheese comes from a special breed of ewes called “Lacaunes”. They give just 16 gallons of milk per season
making this a rare milk, that goes into a really special and delicious
cheese. Roquefort is made with
Penicillium roqueforti which is found in damp caves. This cheese is aged for at least 90 days in
natural limestone caves.
our last cheese, we return to the Jura for another cow’s milk cheese. It is one
of the first French cheeses to have AOC status (1958).
It has been noted that comté has 83 flavors that can be detected! You can tell what season the cheese is from by the color; Golden is summer cheese (from the carotin), a lighter white is a winter cheese. A younger comté will be creamier and softer, as it ages it will firm up and be more crumbly. It also gains crystals as it ages. It will smell different depending on the cow’s diet or the cave it was aged in! To really smell it, squish it between your fingers to test the texture and warm it releasing the scent.
The Tasting and Pairing
With the Rosé
We paired the Le Cocagne Gris 2018 with the MountainTop and I pulled out the cheese aroma/flavor wheel. I got blue molds, with some spice, it was milky and musty with bitter and pepper notes. As I continued and paired it with the wine more floral notes were evident.
I really enjoyed this with just a dab of apricot preserve. That with a sip of the wine, brought the
whole bite together.
moved on to the Morbier, which had a lovely smooth texture. The cheese had a bitter note, but was soft
and creamy, with those bits of ash and vegetal notes from the vein in the
On pairing, the rosé cut the bitter notes in the cheese. Again, this was great with the apricot preserves, the bitter notes in the cheeses were rounded even further. This preserve also had sage in it and a bite with the preserve brought out flavors in the cheese that I had not noticed before.
With the Pomerol
paired this with the Roquefort superior, which was salty with lovely florals
from the mold. It was smooth, creamy and
wet enough to be spreadable. We added a
bit of cherry preserves and it was amazing!
This cheese is so good I could eat it with a spoon.
We then tried the comté. The cheese was firm, but still creamy, this was a younger comet and more yellow in color, so probably a summer comet and it had no noticeable crystals. It smelled of butter salt and flowers on the nose and was perfect with the wine.
There are so many cheeses and so many wines to try. While there are basic rules for pairings, I encourage you to just try things! You might check out the pieces below for more ideas for pairings!
Pôchouse. What is that you ask? That was my response when I was researching what to pair with the Chablis I had picked up for this tasting. Quick answer…
pôchouse La pôchouse, or pauchouse, is a recipe of French cuisine based on river fish, cut into pieces, and cooked with a white wine sauce, traditional Burgundy and Franche-Comté cuisine.
How did we get to pôchouse? Let’s start with the Wine.
Chablis with the French #Winophiles
This month the French Winophiles are dipping our toes into Chablis. (scroll down to see all the stories by the Winophiles on the subject this month! AND… you can follow the conversation on Twitter using #Winophiles).
I found my wine, a Simonnet-Febvre Premier Cru Chablis from Mont de Milieu.
But lets back up a little more. I suppose we should start with a little breakdown of the region.
Chablis is part of Burgundy. Although if you look at a map , you might find that surprising. It sits 80 miles Northwest of the rest of Burgundy and is actually closer to Champagne than Burgundy. (take a look at the small inset map to see what I mean). In Chablis, one grape rules them all and that grape is Chardonnay. In fact, it is the only permitted grape in the region.
Kimmeridgian soils and a bit better sun
This region is has cool summers and cold winters, much like Champagne, but being further south and planted on South facing slopes it is protected from North winds and gets more sun exposure than they do in Champagne, allowing for better ripening. It is perhaps best known for it’s Kimmeridgian soils. Those south facing slopes are on an outcrop of Kimmeridgian marl, which provides great mineral nutrients for these grapes.
Breaking down the region
Chablis has but one Grand Cru. The Chablis Grand Cru is a 254 acre vineyard that is made up of 7 parcels. Then there are 40 premier cru vineyards, 17 of which are considered “principal” premiers. Mont de Milieu is one of these 17.
After that you have “Chablis” (you can see that in the brightest yellow on the map below), and finally the “Petit Chablis” which are tucked in and around the other vineyards and typically have less ideal slopes for sun and lesser soils.
Mont de Milieu
So the wine we chose came from Mont de Milieu, and as I mentioned above, this is one of the 17 “Principal” premier crus. It sits on the right bank, on the east side of the Serein river. It is often compared to the Grand Cru site because it has similar sun exposure, which is important for ripening the grapes (remember it’s chilly up here in Chablis). The climate here is one of the warmest in Chablis which creates a rich wine.
The Kimmeridgian marl with clay and limestone rich soil is not as stony here. The soils make the vines struggle and they tend to produce fewer leaves. This again, helps with sun exposure to the berries for ripening.
A Border between Dukedoms
The area gets it’s name, which translates to “middle hill” from the fact that it marked the border between the dukedoms of Burgundy and Champagne.
Founded in 1840, this is among the oldest wineries in the area. It has undergone several name changes over the years and specialized in Sparkling Chablis before Crémant de Bourgogne was even a thing. Here is a great story of their sparkling wines and current owner Latour…
Simonnet-Febvre is the only one in Chablis to perpetuate since its origin the production of sparkling wines from the traditional method – now called Crémant de Bourgogne. The grapes still come from the slopes of the Grand Auxerrois area, located a few kilometers away from the famous Chablis vineyards. Ironically, Louis Latour from the 4th generation had celebrated the purchase of the Château Corton with bottles of Sparkling Chablis from Simonnet-Febvre. These bottles were ordered on December 8th, 1891, which was 112 years before Louis Latour finally purchased Simonnet-Febvre.
Alas…we are not talking about crémant, but rather their Chablis. But I did think that was a fun story.
Simonnet-Febvre Chablis Premier Cru Mont de Milieu 2013
This wine comes from vines that average about 35 years old, fermented and then aged for 12 months in stainless steel on the lees.
This wine was clear and golden in the glass. On the nose I got slate and warm golden fruit. On my first taste I got tart fruit, rich like golden raisins. As it opened minerals and chalk became more present. As it continued to open and warm it flooded into warm blossoms, the rich fragrance of flowers on a hot humid afternoon.
We did taste a Chablis a little while back that I loved also. The difference between that wine and this were pronounced. The other Chablis was young, vibrant and full of mineral. The Mont de Milieu, an older wine and age worthy wine, was richer and fuller, less bright, less mineral driven, but rounder with greater depth. You could see this in color in the glass.
Okay, back to the Pôchouse. So I was looking for a pairing for the Chablis and searching different sites. One of my go to sites is Fiona Beckett’s Matching Food and Wine. Fiona had lots of suggestions, broken down into the different styles and ages of Chablis’. Of course when I see something that I’m not familiar with, I’m intrigued. “Pôchouse” caught my attention. What was that?
So I googled it. Some of the fish stew recipes, looked delicious but humble. I was looking for something a bit fancier. Then I came across a recipe that looked so elegant and delicious… Gourmet Traveler’s version of Pôchouse was so pretty, I was determined to make it. Of course I couldn’t find perch, eel, sandre or hapuku all of which they offer as options in the recipe. So we went with rainbow trout for our river fish, which I love anyway. Also, no sorrel or watercress were to be found, so I substituted spinach and arugula. Oh…and I never have Bay leaves in the house when I need them, so I used dry thyme. The dish was fairly easy to make and the sauce…OMG it was heaven!
I’ll let you check the link for the full recipe, but here is the quick version.
Cook sliced onions, mushrooms, bacon, garlic and your dried herb in grape seed oil and butter. Do this in a roasting pan you can then pop in the oven. Lay the fish fillets on top, bake a few minutes then pour about a half of a bottle of chard over it and cook a bit more. (I didn’t use the Chablis…I wasn’t cooking with a half a bottle of that! It was reserved for drinking.)
Pop it out of the oven, put the fish aside and drain the liquid to make the sauce. You will put that delicious blend of bacon, onions and mushrooms to the side for plating also.
Add some more butter to the liquid, plus olive oil and lemon juice and whisk. (This golden elixir is truly amazing).
Now take the sorrel (or spinach like me) and cook it until it wilts in butter.
Okay, now make it pretty! Mushrooms etc spooned in the bottom, top with the fish, then the sorrel butter, a dollop of sour creme, spoon the sauce over (and let it puddle on the bottom) and finish with the fresh arugula (or watercress, if you are lucky enough to have it).
Our pôchouse made with rainbow trout on a bed of mushrooms, bacon & onions, with a white wine sauce, topped with butter sauteed spinach, sour creme and arugula.
How was the pairing you ask?
The dish was heaven and sang with the wine. The roundness of the wine paired beautifully with the sauce. The mushrooms and sour creme along with the mineral notes in the wine, the tang from the spinach and the peppery arugula all made for a delicious bite that was so well paired. Yep it was a close your eyes while you eat moment. That bit of Zen when deliciousness all comes together in your mouth.
The French #Winophiles on Chablis
On Saturday, April 20, we are convening on Twitter at 10 a.m. CST for a Chablis chat. If you like Chardonnay, ahem,
Chablis, join in! Just use #winophiles and you’ll find us. We’ve got a
fantastic group of bloggers posting about Chablis. We’ll talk about the
region, the wines, food pairings and travel! Here’s a peek at all the
posts you’ll be able to explore:
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
It was Valentines Day and I was trapped at home, waiting for a wine shipment that needed my signature. Michael was working so he suggested Chinese Takeout for dinner. This brilliant move allowed us to order when he was heading home so dinner could be ready upon his arrival! (Good thing too, because I was hungry!) So Valentine’s Day evening curled up on the couch with Chinese Takeout, my husband maybe some winter Olympics? Yeah, that sounds pretty heavenly to me. But what to drink with our takeout? I thought I would research some options and see what we had to match in the cellar.
Luckily with Chinese New Year being Friday (February 16th), it is easy to find suggestions this time of year.
A little bit on Chinese New Year and the Year of the Dog
Living in Vegas, I am well aware of Chinese New Year. The town is covered in Billboards announcing, sometimes in English, sometimes Chinese, that we are welcoming the Year of the Dog.
So…in the Chinese Zodiac, the dog is the eleventh animal. Dogs as everyone knows are honest and loyal and so it goes for those born in the year of the dog. Sadly the year of your Zodiac sign is traditionally an unlucky year, so if you were born in 1910, 1922, 1034, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 or 2006, it’s time to pull up your big girl panties and prepare for a challenging year. Don’t worry the rest of us have your back!
Back to wine pairing
Typically when you think of Chinese or Asian style foods reisling or gewürztraminer, the sweetness in these wines can be great for complimenting the spiciness or sweetness in the food. But when you get into sweet and sour dishes you will find they go well with high acid wines, so a sauvignon blanc, an albariño or un-oaked chardonnay would work. Of course sparkling wines and rosés are a good bet too, pairing with a range of flavors and sparkling wine is exceptional with fatty dishes, cutting the fat and cleaning your palate for the next bite. If we were diving into some duck or pork I would probably think about a pinot noir, and with beef…I might lean toward a Rhône style blend or even something deeper like a syrah or malbec. Remember that to keep the spice down in a dish you want to pair it with a wine that is not too dry, one that has a bit of sweetness.
chicken lettuce cups
vegetable lo mein
But for this night we settled on crab rangoons & chicken lettuce wraps, I had some hot & sour soup (it’s a weakness) and then Vegetable Lo Mein while Michael enjoyed some sesame chicken. I searched for a lambrusco for Michael to pair with the sesame chicken. I know lambrusco fell out of favor in the 80’s, but it can pair very well with dishes that are a little sweet with some soy. Sadly…I could not find a store near by that had a lambrusco. So that pairing will have to wait for our next Chinese takeout day.
Balletto 2016 Gewürztraminer and Chinese food.
We ended up popping open the gewürztraminer from Balletto Vineyards and enjoying that with dinner. This wine has a hint of sweetness and a little spice on the finish. It was really lovely with both the chicken lettuce cups and my vegetable lo mein. This is a great wine for pairing with lighter vegetable dishes, because it doesn’t overpower them. I do admit to having a little trouble pulling my nose out of the glass to take a bite of food. This gewürztraminer from Balletto is so beautifully fragrant, it had me captivated. (If you would like a virtual visit to this Sonoma Country Winery, check out our video!)
With Chinese New Year and all the dumplings right around the corner, I do have a couple of suggestions. With dumplings, keep in mind that you are pairing with the fillings or the sauces. A traditional pork and cabbage dumpling would be very nice with a chardonnay that has good acid and a little oak. If you have some fresh ginger with your dish, you might go with a Sauvignon Blanc. If you really want a red, by all means do it! Pinot Noir is that great crossover wine and it’s lovely with pork. It is also light enough that it won’t overpower your dumpling.
So…I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day and here’s to a great Year of the Dog! Pick up some Chinese take out grab a bottle or two of wine and have your own celebration!
With a few days off and it being our Anniversary, Michael and I headed out to LA to channel our inner kids at Universal Studios and then to be a little more grown up with some fabulous wine and dinner at Vintage Enoteca on Sunset Boulevard.
Hogwarts at Universal Studios Hollywood
We headed to LA really early and made our way to Universal Studios. The attraction was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Our inner kids got filled up with butter beer after a ride on the Hogwarts “Harry Potter and the Hidden Journey” and explored Hogsmeade and the rest of the park.
After our day at Universal, I found a list on Eater of the top 10 wine bars in LA. Closest to our hotel was Vintage Enoteca. Not being sure how busy it would be, I set a reservation for 6:30 on Open Table and off we went.
Vintage Enoteca is on Sunset Blvd. between Hollywood Heights and West Hollywood. Parking on a side street fairly easily since it was a Monday night. I will admit that we questioned our choice as we walked up. It’s an inconspicuous place in the midst smoke shops and tattoo parlors. The place was empty when we walked in, with the front two tables holding “reserved” signs, one of which was for us. Quickly and warmly the hostess greeted and sat to peruse the extensive wine list. What a joy to have the person taking care of us be completely fluent on the wine list (which incidentally changes weekly) and to be ready with suggestions for pairings. I began with a Cremant Rose from Domaine Fouet from the Loire Valley and Michael had a Malvasia from Birichino in Santa Cruz.
Great wines and small plates
The small plates menu by Chef Marc Elliot gives you lots of options; Mini bites (think bar bites), small bites, bruschetta, Cheese & Salumi, salads, flatbreads, Panini and bigger bites. Michael and I settled on Marcona Almonds, Fish cakes (with crème fraiche & caviar), Pan-Blackend String Beans and the crab Mac & Cheese. As Michael perused the wine list some more he found a “Scheurebe” on the menu. This was not a wine we were familiar with so we asked our host about it. Scheurebe is a German wine from the Rheinhessen. Our hostess/server said to think Reisling, but very dry and with some effervescence.
The Scheurebe was wonderful on it’s own. We found that the Malvasia went beautifully with the crab Mac & Cheese. Still ready to try something else, we decided on one more glass and our hostess suggested a Merlot/Zin blend from Sean Minor in Napa. We added a cheese plate to finish our pairings.
While we enjoyed our pairings the place started to fill up. It was still a quiet Monday night, but obviously this place has a well deserved following, with many guests coming in through a back way.
All in all this was a lovely way to start, what we didn’t realize would be a wine getaway.
Growing up, the first wine I tasted was Blue Nun. My parents were not wine drinkers and when they had people over for dinner, Blue Nun was a good safe bet at the time. Now we think of this as an unsophisticated sweet german wine and if you are a wine drinker it probably conjures the same connotations as “tickled pink”. As a disclaimer…I’m referring to the Blue Nun I tasted in my youth, I have not had any recently, and it could have dramatically changed since then.
My wine tastes have changed. As I started drinking wine the sweeter german rieslings were fun and easy to drink. As my palate evolved I wanted something less cloying. I mentioned the other day finding a great food riesling. The Gunderloch J-Baptiste Riesling is slightly sweet but very clean and great with Thai food. It’s just too bad I can only find it in restaurants locally!
Michael enjoys rieslings and we explore quite a bit with different styles all typically in a lower budget range. I hate to spend more than $25 on a wine that I have not tasted and don’t know if I will like. We’ve found some that are nice for food and for quaffing and some that just don’t measure up.
In traveling tasting wines at wineries we rarely end up tasting rieslings because we are usually in California. A few years ago though we visited Oregon the Willamette Valley, the Dundee Hills and Trisaetum. We were there early in the day, in fact probably the first visitors. This winery is off the beaten path and we drove and drove and worried we were headed the wrong way, until finally cresting a hill and finding the vineyard and winery. As it was so early we were able to sidle up to the bar and have a great conversation with the pourer on the wines and the vineyards. These were rieslings like we had not tasted before and the range of rieslings dependent upon the vineyard location was amazing. They were all fantastic. We had spent several days in the area and were flying home and did not purchase wine to take with us. I can’t tell you how often we have thought of these wines since then.
A month or so ago I was at a wine tasting at Khoury’s on the other side of town and after the tasting was doing my usual stroll down all of the aisles looking for wines by wineries I am familiar with and I came across a Trisaetum 2008 Riesling. I immediately picked it up and cradled it. This I would be taking home. In researching it I found that this wine had scored 94 points and received an Editors choice award from Wine Enthusiast.
When Michael and I sat down to open this we paired it with smoked gouda, a smoked goat cheese cheddar and one of our favorite quick appetizers the lemongrass chicken sticks from Trader Joe’s. This wine was stunning with them as well as lovely on it’s own. We both realized the moment we tasted that this is the difference between a small vineyard wine that might cost you $30 or more and a $7.99 to $15 bottle of riesling that has been produced in much greater quantities. This was worth it. And…if memory serves, when we tasted at the winery, this was not even the best of the rieslings we tasted.
Now this is not to say that you cannot find great inexpensive rieslings. You can! But for our money we would rather find a compelling wine from a smaller vineyard where you can see the history and the love of making wine.
Regardless of the cost or where it comes from you will still find riesling to be one of the best wines to pair with foods, most especially summer foods. It plays well with salty things, ham, charcuterie, sausage, bleu cheese as well as rich poultry like duck and goose. Off dry Rieslings go wonderfully with Asian spice as well as with sweeter vegetables. When you get into late harvest they are great with desserts. Avoid pairing it with red meat and peppercorns, those things that you standardly think of with a big red, well…they need a big red and would overpower a riesling.
So pick up a riesling and don’t be afraid to spend a little more for it.
I love farmers markets and I have a habit of overindulging when I go. So my crisper ends up over flowing and then sadly rotting on the bottom. This week I was determined to us the beautiful golden beets that I had purchased, but alas I left them in the crisper long enough for the beet greens to not look so appetizing. So….rather than buying new beets for the greens for the recipe I wanted to make I picked up some fresh swiss chard. If you have ever looked at beet greens they are very similar to chard, same family and similar flavor. So I had my substitution and I was off to make one of my favorite recipes for pasta with roasted beets, beet greens and pine nuts.
I based last nights recipe on one from http://www.theitaliandishblog.com Then I needed to find a wine pairing! I searched a little more online and found a recipe with a similar flavor profile on http://www.grouprecipes.com. The recipe didn’t include pasta but was for roasted beets and beet greens with a balsamic vinegar. It suggested pairing with a Zin or a Shiraz and there was a comment saying that the pairing was perfect. I needed to pick up pine nuts and pancetta to finish the dish and run to the wine store. It is sad to say that I don’t have a small family run wine store close by where I live. There is a fantastic one on the other side of town, but that would have taken 45 minutes to get there. So…I head to the giant wine store close by. I love the selection mostly. Often the more obscure varieties can’t be found there, but there is one wine guy that always has great advice for me. The trouble I find with going there (or anywhere) to pick up wine is that in trying to be all crunchy granola I take my wine bag with me. Well my wine bag holds 4 bottles and I feel the need to fill it. I picked up 2 roses because it is summer and it’s hot in Vegas! And then I search through the Syrah’s. I love a smoky syrah. If it has a little meat on the nose, all the better (yes I know that is bret!). I settle on a Syrah from Chile, a 2009 Ona Anakena. I also pick up French Syrah-Mouvedre blend This is a 2010 Luc Pirlet Reserve. Now back to get cooking!
Here is my adapted version of the ingredients
3 medium size golden beets
1/4 cup of pine nuts (or more)
2 ounces of pancetta (You can be kind to the piggies and leave this out and go vegetarian. I admit to feeling guilty.)
1 med red onion (I actually had 3 very small ones from the garden)
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (I used balsamic)
1 small bunch of beet greens (or in my case swiss chard)
sea salt, ground pepper
fresh grated parmesan cheese (that wasn’t in the recipe, but….)
I had roasted my beets earlier in the day. Take each beet, trim the greens off and the end of the root. Wash and scrub them then rub them with olive oil and wrap each in aluminum foil. Pop them into a 375 degree oven for 45 min to an hour. If you have really big beets it could take them up to 1 1/2 hrs. Take one out and open it and see if a knife will easily go in. If so, they are ready. To keep them warm I kept them on the stove while I cooked the rest of the meal.
Next you toast your pine nuts in a small frying pan over med heat stirring until they are lightly toasted. I cheated and bought mine pre toasted at Trader Joe’s.
Next chop the beet greens or chard about 1 inch sections. Keep the stems separate from the greens.
About now you would want to start the pasta water.
Now get a large skillet and toss in the pancetta. Cook it until it is crispy then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Leave the grease! Lower the heat to medium add a little olive oil and toss in the chopped onion. After a few minutes add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the red wine or balsamic vinegar and cook another 2 minutes. This will thicken the vinegar and give it that rich flavor.
Now toss in your beet stems (just the stems) and 1/4 cup of water. Cover and cook 10 minutes.
Add the greens and pancetta and cook another 10. When you add the greens, it’s also time to add the pasta to the pasta water.
At this point with 10 minutes to wait I decided to peel
my beets. I peeled them by hand. The skins slid right off. And…my beets were golden so my hands didn’t turn pink. If you are using red beets, you might want gloves. If the skins don’t slide off used a knife. Then cut the beets in quarters or eighth’s and rewrap in the aluminum foil to keep them warm.
After the 10 minutes add 1/2 the pine nuts (I admit, I added the entire 1/4 cup, cause I like pine nuts). This is where you season to taste with salt and pepper. To taste…means taste it! Pancetta is salty so you will already be seasoned and you don’t want to over do it.
Remove the pasta from the pasta water with a strainer and add to the pan with the sauce. Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water to incorporate the sauce. Then I grated parmesan cheese on top and mixed, and grated some more and mixed, and one last time for good measure.
Plate it on a large dish, pasta in the center, beets around the edge. Sprinkle the beets with sea salt (I used pink himalayan salt) and top the pasta with a little more grated parmesan and some more pine nuts. Voila!
The pairings were perfect. The earthiness of the beets and greens works nicely with the syrah. I preferred the Syrah Mouvedre blend because of it’s smoothness. There was no heat from alcohol (it was at 13.5 %) and was really velvety and layered.