April 26, 2011

Charcuterie Fun: Duck Prosciutto at Home

I recently picked up the book Charcuterie, by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. It's an awesome book and I now question what took me so long t o discover it. Having been successful making my own bacon and beef jerky based on recipes from the book, I decide to try my hand at duck prosciutto. I love duck prosciutto, especially when this guy makes it.

The first step is to cure the breasts by encasing them in salt for 24 hours. As you can see here, I cured three breasts that I picked up at YDFM, which is, in my opinion, the place to buy duck in my neck of the woods.
24 hours later, I fanatically washed all of the salt from the breasts...it was a lot of salt. After the washing, I thoroughly dried the breasts, then sprinkled them with white pepper on each side. The breasts began to firm up after the salt cure, and also turned a deeper shade of red.
After the white pepper treatment, each breast was wrapped in cheesecloth and tied off. I then hung the breasts in my wine refrigerator (redneck style, sans the clothes hangers) to dry for the next 7 days at 57 degrees. The book recommended hanging the breasts in the 55-60 degree range; I figured the wine fridge would provide a near perfect atmosphere. I had to take 10 bottles out of the fridge to make room, but I'm thinking it will be worth it.

Check back in a week or so for an update on how these babies turned out...

April 22, 2011

Tasting Savigny-Les-Beaune

Several folks over at the Wine Berserkers forum have been holding their annual Burgundy appellation tasting over the past couple of months. What this entails is a weekly focus on a specific appellation in Burgundy in which board members, guests, and professional critics focus on drinking and talking about Burgundy wine in posts on the Berserkers forum. It's a great way to learn about Burgundy and often a great excuse to open a bottle.

I participate from time-to-time and this week I jumped in when the focus was on Savigny-Les-Beaune and Chorey Les Beaune. I own a decent amount of wine from Savigny Les Beaune. With no Grand Cru vineyards, and its southern location in the commune of Beaune, wines from Savigny are some of the best values in Burgundy.
Last night, I opened a 1998 Maurice Ecard Savigny Les Beaune Les Jarrons. Jarrons is one of the top premier cru vineyards in Savigny; it produces some of the longest lived wines from the appellation. This 1998 was really terrific. It showed a mature, dank nose that's deep and persistent. The palate has no edge really, just a touch of red-fruited acidity. Lighter weight to the body and a finish that shows iron and is slightly dusty and rustic. Tart cherry, too. Not a mind-blower, but a very fine Savigny that possesses much of what I look for in aged Burgundy. Even from lesser communes in lesser vintages, Burgundy can be quite sublime when given time.

April 17, 2011

2009 Borsao Garnacha: Because I Can't Drink Grand Cru Everyday Part II

A few months back, I wrote a slightly tongue-in-cheek post about not being able to drink Grand Cru wines everyday. I wish I could drink Grand Cru everyday, but I find myself having to drink like the proletariat more often than not. There ya go...I worked some Marxist terminology into a blog post! Marx liked his wine, though (and single malt scotch), so I suppose the reference fits.
I recently tried the 2009 Bodegas Borsao Garnacha. These Bodegas Barsao wines are widely available and they are consistently good buys. Prefect wines when you want to open a decent $10 bottle of wine at a party where no one really wants to think too much about the wine. This wine isn't overextracted with syrupy fruit, or overoaked, as one often finds in mass produced "supermarket wines" (as my buddy Thirsty South might say). It's a juicy blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Tempranillo. I got my bottles at Ansley Kroger for all of $10. Got get some, embrace your inner Marxist, and drink like the proletariat!

April 12, 2011

Chilean Pinot Noir: I Need Further Proof

I was recently fortunate enough to sample a couple bottles of Pinot Noir from Chile. Pinot Noir from Chile? What the hell, you ask in amazement? Yes. It is true. While Chile has had much success with varieties such as Carmenere, Cabernet, and Sauvignon Blanc. More recently, Chilean winemakers have taken a stab at Pinot Noir as Chile's new variety. Pinot Noir is a fickle grape; when it's made well, it can be the most sublime wine on earth, when it's not...well....
The 2009 Tabali Pinot Noir Reserva is just not a bottle of wine I'd personally want to drink again. The wine is terribly over-oaked, to the point that the taste of charred wood permeates the mouth and subsumes any other flavor or textural sensation. I suppose it is actually Pinot Noir, but nothing about the smell, taste, or texture of this wine speaks "Pinot" to me. I opened the bottle for a mixed crowd and several people really liked the wine. The wine retails for around $15.
The other bottle I tried was the 2009 Cono Sur Pinot Noir Vision. This single vineyard Pinot comes from the heralded Colchagua Valley in Chile. Like the other Chilean Pinot above, the wine is obviously quite young and perhaps judgment should be reserved. That being said, this Cono Sur is a slight step up from the Tibali. I'm still not sure what is "Pinot" about this wine. It tastes rather non-descript, a heady dose of red fruit and wood dominate the palate. The wine also has a woody-hemp like flavor profile that is slightly odd, to say the least. I have no problem with hemp, just not a flavor I look for in my Pinot. This wine also retails in the $15 range.

While these are just two samples, and both relatively low-priced options, neither of the wines make me want to be a big buyer of Chilean Pinot Noir at the moment. They may appeal to some drinkers, especially given the price range, and they are probably fine wines for a crowd at a party. However, I don't think any devotee of the Pinot Noir grape, myself included, would take these wines too seriously.

Disclaimer: these two bottles were given to me to sample by the Thomas Collective.