Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Brazil the Fifth Largest Country in the World does have Vineyards!!! Brazilian wine is on the uptick!...and a little about the Tannat grape!

Tannat is normally found in the Basque-influenced regions of France; grown in South West France in the Madiran AOC. But that's not the only place where it's has an impact. It's Brazil!

Tannat is a big grape. It's tasty...

The Tannat wine is not only tasty its is notable for its very high firm tannin levels and it is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc.....you get dark red fruit, raspberry aromas and it has the ability to age well and works well with a cut of steak and grilled meats
Tannat is not only found in France and Brazil; it is also grown places like Australia, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia, Italy's Puglia and other interesting warmer climate areas like Virginia, USA!

Let’s talk a little about Brazil…

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and it does have vineyards, and it does create wine, with about 1,100 wineries fermenting the juice of grapes which stereotypically come from family-owned farms with an average of about five acres each.

Now why is Brazil big news these days?

Brazil is going to be the host of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games and recently the it hosted the soccer's high profile 
World Cup!

Essentially, Brazil is in the spotlight like never before. There is a probability that there will be a demand for all things Brazilian – so that surely means wine as well!

Brazil is beginning to export wines that are competing for shelf space in the South America section at our neighborhood wine stores such as Whole Foods and restaurants such as Season’s 52.

So, its fair to say that Brazilian wine is on the uptick. Over the last several years there's been plenty of growth. While Brazil has a moderately large quantity of vineyards, a big portion of them produce table grapes intended for eating while they are fresh, as opposed to grapes grown for wine production, juice production, or for drying into raisins.

So, in essence only some vineyards produce Brazilian wine...

The thing is that Brazil is close to the equator… traditional rules of thumb typecasts most of the Brazil as  incompatible for viticulture, due to the abundant heat and humidity. But most of the wine production of Brazil is focused in the south of the country, away from the equator, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, near the 29th parallel south, which is neighboring to Uruguay and Argentina.

In the area near the 29th parallel south there are alot of of the vineyards. Also the vineyards are located in cooler high and hilly sites, mostly in the Serra Gaúcha region.
It’s interesting to note that while better quality wines (called vinho fino) are produced from the European grapevine; a lot of the vines produced in Brazil are from American or Hybrids. They grow easier; the American and Hybrid rootstocks withstand the climate and growing conditions.

To get an idea of the annual temperatures in Brazil... wine regions range from 12C,54F to 22C,72F and get about 70 inches of rain per year! Yes, you heard right!

Likewise, Brazil is South America's largest economy and it has seen annual wine business triple over the past 10 years but According to FoodBev.com, 2011 and 2012, growth rates slowed dramatically, due to the economy .

The news is the market is likely to remain challenging in the short-term but there are some promising developments such as much better import and export detail; so the long-term outlook is positive.

So we are likely to see more Brazilian wines!

Case in point; Seasons 52 Restaurant chain is carrying two Brazilian wines the Miolo Chardonnay and Perini Macaw Tannat that are part of the selected wines featured for Flights and Flatbreads. Which is a great part of their menu, by the way...

Just so you know; besides the Tannat grape; Here is a list of some Brazilian wineries and grape varietals to look out for :

Wineries: Salton, Pizzato,  Perini,  Miolo,  Lidio Carraro,  Aurora Cellars,  Vinícola, Aurora  and the Vale Wine Company

Grape Varietals: Tannat,  Cabernet Sauvignon, Seyval Blanc,  Touriga Nacional,  Aurora, Ancellotta and Merlot

By all means give them a try and Cheers! Especially for the Olympics and the World Cup!



Thursday, January 15, 2015

When it is done right, I enjoy a Texas style Brisket, especially with a a California Old Vine Zinfandel! Read how now!

There’s nothing I enjoy more than a California Old Vine Zinfandel and BBQ. I enjoy a Texas style Brisket, especially. In a Zin you get certain characteristic that play off well with Brisket.

Zinfandel is ripe and rich, sometimes even port-like Blackberry; Ripe Raspberry and Plum. Plenty of Alcohol, Generally Zins ripen well, with plenty of sugar, causing ample of alcohol that you can often smell the “heat” in the wine’s bouquet. There is Spice/pepper, Tobacco leaf and hints of Cedar and those ripe tannins.

Let’s get into the Brisket…

Wikipedia defines Brisket as follows:

...a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal. The beef brisket is one of the nine beef primal cuts, though the precise definition of the cut differs internationally. The brisket muscles include the superficial and deep pectorals. As cattle do not have collar bones, these muscles support about 60% of the body weight of standing/moving cattle. This requires a significant amount of connective tissue, so the resulting meat must be cooked correctly to tenderize the connective tissue

FYI - The Brisket is below the Chuck and above the Shank part of the steer…

I enjoy cooking brisket. When it is done right it is a very enjoyable piece of meat. One thing I have always liked to do is cook hot and fast. I have had good success with getting the meat tender however is the thing I hunger after almost as much is that thick, crispy black bark on the outside.

Occasionally, I sometimes I go tropical and wrap it in 'Banana Leaves' and that thickens the crust to a chewy consistency that is pretty unique especially with a dash a pineapple but that's a metro approach to things...it rocks! It's the Florida thing, you know...

But essentially, I've been applying mustard to the meat before my rub and getting a real nice bark that way. By the way, EVOO and mustard don't add much flavor; the mustard works better for me. I use fruit juice, beer, cider, garlic mop….

Also lately, I apply a paprika too (hot because of the smoke effect) and customize a chili rub along with some EVOO and the mustard, which I like these days as well.

…Just so you know you will still get bark with just the rub if you cook low and slow.

I don’t recommend foil. Leave that off all together. But keep it handy just in case… Generally, wrapping in foil will steam the outside creating a soft bark or crust. Foil is really to prevent burning…

In the smoker I keep a Pizza stone handy. Sometimes I replace the water pan with a pizza stone. I keep the temperature low and cook slow. Be aware with the Pizza stone the chances are it will cook a little bit faster. The brisket needs to be cooked fat side up.

It’s important to keep an eye on things or the crisping is going along. I plan to take it off after 10-11 hours or 190 degrees internal temperature to 203 degrees. It is not easy to get it to that temperature cooking at only 205-240. So you need to cook at 275 – 285 degrees or a little higher if you can without burning the meat… By cooking like this you will get good bark on it as well.  But at the higher temperature the total cooking time should be 6-7 hours. So keep an eye on it.

Yet there is a charred flavor that can only be obtained on an open flame. Which is the only drawback I think, of a smoker. It’s a flavor that could be overlooked. So to crisp and get the charred flavor again it is gotten by cooking meat slow, directly over an open flame. When the fat from the meat drips on the hot coals it causes the coals to flame up. And the fire from the flame chars the fat on the meat; which often requires you to move the meat around.  It’s a lot of work but you get that open pit flavor.

Enjoy and Cheers!




Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The “Golden Triangle” of Pomerol...Arguably the Best Wines in the World…

The “Golden Triangle” of Pomerol a triangle shaped cluster of vineyards in a commune in the Gironde department in Aquitaine region in southwestern France. It is located near Bordeaux.

It comprises arguably the best wines in the world… Great Bordeaux!

Pomerol has come a long way in the past fifty years or so, and yet it also remains markedly different from the other famous Bordeaux communes. It has with no classification system yet and is pieced together with small, regularly family-owned vineyards, scattered with farmhouses realistically not châteaux (many liken Pomerol to Burgundy rather than Bordeaux); the right banked Pomerol does not resemble the opulence of the Bordeaux left bank. Curiously, Pomerol has never been written about with the same admiration repeatedly publicized to the châteaux of Pauillac, St Julien, Margaux or St.Emillon;  But obviously it should.
The open flat land of Pomerol not really distinct. Yet with endless acres of vines that are emaciated in the winter and fertile in the summer. These plains have narrow roads, ditches and farmhouses which contain hills with plateaus and uplands where the soils were deposited as sediments by water, ice and wind.

Subsequently, formed by erosion; these hills are made up of two thirds sandy and gravely soil and one third clay and gravely soil. It is the only wine producing region in the world with a large degree of blue clay in its soils.

After the famous 1982 vintage, Pomerol has respectfully received a lot more attention. That was the year that prices began to soar for wines like Petrus and Lafleur.
This "Golden Triangle" of Pomerol encompasses the best chateaux, including: Petit village, Le Pin, Vieux Chateau Certan, La Conseillante, l'Evangile, Pétrus, Lafleur, Le Gay, La Croix de Gay , Clos l'Eglise, Chateau Cabanne, Trotanoy and finally the top of Nenin". These have consistently been producing the best wines in the Pomerol commune. Try one if you can.

The rest of Pomerol is sandy soil like most of Bordeaux, where it is usually more difficult for growers to find a distinctiveness or individuality for their wines.

Understandably, there are numerous outstanding Pomerol wines. Many are terroir driven some are a combination of advanced technology with good marketing creating a winning formula (purely ‘technique' driven). Really great wine nevertheless.

Some of the ones I enjoy regularly are Chateau de Sales, Chateau Ferrand, Chateau La Pointe and Clos Rene.

Hence, the transformation of the “Golden Triangle” wines come from the dynamics and physical history of the terrain and the clear-cut style of wine making.

Pomerol wines consistently are fleshy with an easy drinking quality and many display this quality when young, there are others which require a huge amount of patience and command respect for their ability to age in bottle, transforming into something other-worldly over many unfathomable decades. Such wines have need of high honor and consideration during this modern age of instant gratification.

Sometimes you find only the most wealthy collectors might afford the price tag of a age worthy ‘Golden Triangle’ Pomerol(due to scarcity and limited production)…

But the allure of an easy drinking, fleshy, young Pomerols... ironically command the attention of not only the wealthy but a whole lot of wine lovers through and through. Certainly, nothing wrong with that!