November 30, 2011

The Hospices de Beaune

I recently participated in an online tasting hosted by Tastelive, and featuring the wines of Bacchus Selections. One of the wines tasted was a wine grown and bottles for the Hospices de Beaune auction. The Hospices auction is an annual charity auction began in 1851 where lovers of Burgundy gather every November in Beaune to celebrate Burgundy wine will raising money for the hospices. Domaine des Hospices de Beaune is a non-profit organization which owns 150 acres of donated vineyard land. Each year, the wine grown from these vines is sold as Hopsice bottlings to raise money as part of the auction.


The bottle I tasted was the 2006 Hospice de Beaune Cuvee Brunet with elevage and bouteille by Maison Champy. What can I say about this bottle that I haven't already said about Burgundy? To be honest, this wine was too young for ideal drinking. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable bottle of  pinot noir grown and bottled for a good cause.

November 24, 2011

Inspirations

So, it's Thanksgiving time; a time for reflecting upon those things for which we are thankful. I am fortunate to have many things to be thankful: healthy and talented kids, an equally healthy and talented wife, and supportive family. As I wake this morning to a turkey soaking in this brine in the fridge and a pumpkin tart that I hope sets, here are few other things that inspire me and for which I am thankful:

Friends, such as ThirstySouth, EatItAtlanta, and Rowdyfood that inspire me to be a better cook, eater, and drinker.

The wines of Burgundy. Especially wines like the 1995 Bourgogne from Robert Groffier pictured above. A simple, regional Bourgogne that I drank last weekend. At 16 years of age, it showed better than many Premier Cru wines I have this year and probably cost $15 on release.

And finally, The Grateful Dead. Especially, this version of China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, which I've been digging lately:

Here's to an enjoyable and inspiring holiday season. Be sure to reflect upon those things that get you out of bed each morning and for which you are thankful. Cheers.

November 20, 2011

I Just Bought Beer on Sunday!

In case you hadn't heard, with the vote on Nov. 8, fifty-one Metro-Atlanta jurisdictions voted YES to Sunday alcohol sales. As someone who has a decent-size wine cellar in my basement, I've never really found myself wanting for alcohol on a Sunday (and is it really that hard to plan ahead?) Nonetheless, Sunday Sales is a victory for those of us actually living in the 21st century and not pretending it's still 1952.
The Beer Growler in Avondale Estates got permission from their mayor to be one the first shops in the state to start filling growlers today at 12:30. Figured I'd play the heathen and pay them a visit, even though I had plenty of booze 'round the house. Seems I wasn't the only the one excited about Sunday Sales as there were more people crammed into The Beer Growler than I'd ever seen before. I waited about 20 minutes to get my growler full, but, it was worth it. And...now I'm off to get my Sunday drink on.

November 18, 2011

Rock Out with My Stock Out

Rock Out with My Stock Out may sound like a familiar title for my blog post. Seems I was beaten to this post by my buddy EatIt,Atlanta who coined the title (I actually liked his third choice for a title better, but it was rather politically incorrect). What is Rock Out With My Stock Out? Well, it involved spending a Saturday doing the following: drinking a good bit of beer, bubbles, and wine; watching college football (including watching Oklahoma State & Texas Tech miss the over by 3 points...doh!); eating oysters and Momofuku-style pork butt Ssam; all the while making one hell of a good demi glace.

A demi-glace, you say? Demi glace is deep, rich brown glaze made from a reduction of veal stock and Espagnole, one of the five French mother sauces. Since we couldn't get veal bones at YDFM (always fun to confuse the hell out of the staff at YDFM by asking for "special" items!), we settled on 20lbs of marrow bones. You can see what 20lbs of marrow bones look like in the pic at the top of the post. We roasted the bones until golden and dark (see above), then painted them with tomato paste, added the chopped veggies, and roasted for another hour, before deglazing the pans with red wine, potting up and covering with water to begin the reduction. Below are a few pics from the day:


I froze my gallon of demi-glace in ice cube trays and then popped them into ziploc bags for future use. Now, whenever I needed to add a little richness to a sauce or dish (beef bourguignon, anyone?), I just grab a couple blocks of demi from the freezer. The demi will keep like this in the freezer for months.

It was a fun way to spend a Saturday that wrapped up around midnight after our final reductions. Oh yeah, there are even more and better pics over at EatIt,Atlanta.

November 14, 2011

Napa Valley Film Fest Highlights Part I: Robert Mondavi Wines


You may recall from my last post about the numerous tastings I was invited to join in conjunction with the Napa Valley Film Festival last weekend. The invitations came via the good folks at Tastelive and CellarPass, the two entities that organized the blogger tasting along with Alan Kropf of Mutineer Magazine.
The Opening Night Gala was held at the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville. Mondavi was kind enough to provide two of their flagship wines to the bloggers that participated in the tasting. The 2009 Fume Blanc Reserve and the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve were provided as samples for the tasting. The Fume Blanc was a very tasty Sauvignon Blanc that echoed Loire Valley with its crisp acidity. The Cabernet Reserve, long seen as the epitome of California Cabernet, was equally impressive, yet so young (2008).
The live tasting including a video stream in which Mutineer's Alan Kropf and Carl Jaeger, the Estate Director at Robert Mondavi Winery, took questions from bloggers while discussing the wines. It was an informative event as the Mondavi empire has for many years been the face of California wine; Robert Mondavi almost single-handedly creating and defining the California wine industry in the 20th century.



November 10, 2011

The Inaugural Napa Valley Film Festival

I was fortunate to be invited by the good folks at CellarPass and Tastelive to participate in interactive tastings coinciding with the inaugural 2011 Napa Valley Film Festival. Rather than follow the festival model of starting small and building on success, the inaugural Napa event will encompass four towns, 12 screening venues and 112 films. The event brings together great filmmakers, films, wines, top chefs, and food during the weekend of November 9-13.

Several wine bloggers were invited to participate in online tastings throughout the weekend hosted by Editor-in-Chief Alan Kropf of Mutineer magazine.  Kropf offerd the following about the events: “We’ll be producing five shows in three days. Along with our scheduled line up, we’ll be inviting talent off the red carpet for spontaneous interviews, and responding to questions posted by our blogger panelists. It’s going to be a bit of a thrill ride that should deliver some sweet surprises.”

I will be participating in four tastings during the weekend beginning with the Opening Night Gala at   Robert Mondavi  winery in Oakville. Anyone interested in following along with some the festivities can join the conversation at Tastelive.  I'll be posting recaps on all the events over the next week or so. For now, on to the wines.

 








November 8, 2011

Tasting Kunde Wines

Last week I participated in an online interactive tasting with other bloggers around the country and the folks at Kunde wines. The tasting was lead by Kunde winemaker, Zach Long, and owners Jeff Kunde and Marcia Kunde Mickelson who joined the conversation via video on Ustream. Other bloggers in attendance include 1WineDude and Gonzo Gastronomy.
Kunde, located in the heart of Sonoma valley, produces 100% estate grown wines with a commitment to sustainability and ethical farming. Kunde has been making hand-crafted, terroir-driven wines for five generations. We tasted three wines during the tasting, including the 2009 Estate Chardonnay, 2008 Zinfandel Reserve, and 2008 Red Dirt Red. The wines all showed a terrific upfront acidity. I'm a fan of natural acid in wine; a good acid presence tends to give wine an inherent energy, and it that also bodes well for aging.
My favorite wine of the tasting was the 2008 Red Dirt Red, a blend of Barbera, Syrah, Zinfandel, and a touch of Sangiovese. The wine tasted almost Gamay-like (Cru-Boo heads, take note), and was certainly leaning old-world overall. There was a good dose of acidity to go with the ripe berry fruit and iron. A wine that would go well with pizza, roast chicken, or grilled meat. A nice buy at $25.

This tasting event was especially interesting as we got to converse in real-time with the people making the wines. It was an informative experience learning about the history of Sonoma valley, organic farming, sustainability, and wine.

November 3, 2011

The Wines of Masion Louis Jadot

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Over the past few years I've tasted a pretty sizable amount of wine from Maison Louis Jadot. There are several reasons for this. One, as a negociant, Jadot makes a lot of wine. A lot of wine. Second, Jadot makes so much wine that you don't have to go far to find some. Lastly, Jadot wines deliver excellent quality in relation to the price and truly interesting wines can be found without totally breaking the bank. This is especially true for wines from Burgundy, which, as many of you know, can be very expensive.
The Maison has producing quality wines for over 150 years since its founding by Louis Henry Denis Jadot in 1859. Today, Jadot is one of Burgundy's largest negociants, producing wine from over 380 acres of vines in Burgundy, which is a staggering amount for a Burgundian producer. The stable of wines from Louis Jadot reaches from numerous regional Bourgogne and Beaujolais bottlings all the way up to the very finest Grand Crus like Montrachet and Musigny. As I mentioned above, due to the vast number of bottles produced at various levels, Jadot's regional, village, and premeir cru wines are usually fairly easy to find.
A couple notes on some recent Jadot wines I've opened. The 1995 Beaune 1er Couchereaux, from the upper slope of Beaune's Premier Cru vineyards, showed terrific energy for a 16 year old Premier Cru from a less than stellar vintage. I also opened several bottles from the 2006 vintage to see how they were coming along.

The 2006 Beaune Greves was really drinking well for a young Beaune 1er with its deep, smoky cherry nose. Framed by some sweet oak, and sappy red fruit. Good wine, in a good space believe it or not.

The 2006 Gevery Chambertin Lavaux St. Jacques was not quite ready for prime time, which should be expected based on this terroir. I got hints of what this wine will become, but it really needs 5 more years to begin to show its beauty.
Considering that Jadot makes up the largest percentage of Burgundy wines in my cellar, this probably won't be the last time you see me writing about Jadot. Good thing, for me especially, is that there's even better stuff to come. Stay tuned.

November 1, 2011

Ad Hoc Fried Chicken and Champagne

This weekend I made Thomas Keller's Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Ad Hoc, his cookbook of family-style recipes that are more tailored for the casual home chef than his complex French Laundry recipes. This fired chicken is great, plain and simple. However, I'm not a connoisseur of fried chicken. I'm a Yankee by birth; I don't have great stories about my southern grandma's fried chicken. That being said, Keller's chicken is just tasty. The thing that sets Keller's fried chicken apart to me is that the chicken is bathed in a lemon, spice, and salt water brine for 12 hours before being soaked in buttermilk and fried. To see a more detailed report on the Ad Hoc fried chicken process, see the post from a couple years ago by my buddy at EatItAtlanta. This is really tasty chicken with a seriously crunchy crust and juicy chicken that is loaded with flavor.

With this tasty fried chicken I drank a very nice bottle of N.V. Champagne from Godme Pere et Fils. Champagne may seem like too noble a drink for fried chicken, the dish of humble origins that is part of the foundation of Americana. However, the crips acidity and effervescent bubbles of good Champagne is a great match for the salty, fatty, and greasy goodness of fried chicken. It's a pairing you should try some time. This Godme is a great little Champagne. It will cost you $40, but it's worth it. Remember, Champagne goes with everything, and it's not just for celebrations.