Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Some California Reds have provided Sheer Greatness in a relatively Short period of time!

California has an endless amount of excellent red wines and a lot of them are as either as good or more legendary than Old World French Bordeaux, Italian Chianti and Barolo's and Spanish Tempranillo and Garnacha. In many cases the Old World knowledge has lent it's ways to the California Terroir; but most of the time it's been sheer greatness in a relatively short period of time.

Here are some of my California favorites...Including one from Washington State that is on my mind and fits the mold...

Dominus Estate Napa Valley Red (CA) Christian Moueix's California legend shines by sheer density.

Hall Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon  (CA)Big, dense, juicy raspberry-driven fruit

CADE Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain (CA) familiar to Napa's presitigious PlumpJack winery in Oakville full and intense

Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (CA)Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon brings big, brawny flavors

Shafer One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon  (CA)  From Napa's prestigious Stags Leap District, well-integrated intensity and opulence.

Col Solare (WA) Col Solare, Italian for "shining hill," offers an amazing Cab-based blend sourced from some of (namely Red Mountain, Columbia Valley, Wahluke Slope and Horse Heaven Hills)

Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (CA) This Grgich Hills Cab has got plenty of power, yet boasts both beautiful balance and richness

Signorello 'Estate' Cabernet Sauvignon (CA) Napa Valley - If Italian Cabernet got lost on its way home

Robert Craig 'Mt Veeder' (CA) Cabernet Out of the Mt. Veeder wilderness comes this marvelous mountain wine

Blankiet Cabernet Sauvignon Paradise Hills Vineyard (CA) - Almost La Mission Haut-Brion-ish in its character

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars - Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 23 (CA) full-bodied and opulent personality is profound

Ramey - Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (CA) from valley floor known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon

PlumpJack - Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville (CA) Engaging red despite its richness and obvious size

Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mountains Red(CA) limestone, which is not found in Napa is unique and important
Seek these out, Try them...Cellar them. In fact these wines listed are good to lay down. But there's one thing about great California wines...They can be hard to put down.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Delicious Cheese is great! Where do you start?...you can find them at the supermarket! Yep..Go ahead and experiment. It's so good!

Cheese is great. It's a great appetizer and it's also a fulfilling meal in itself. There are so many to choose from. Where do you start. It's not an easy question to answer but these days there are so many restaurants, Bistros and Pubs jumping on the cheese bandwagon that it's getting easier to dabble, learn and enjoy.  And you can find them at the supermarket!
There are some delicious cheeses that can be found in the local market such as Whole Foods, Publix, Kroger, Hyvee, Costco and Trader Joe's.

Listed are 8 relatively accessible cheeses that I like along with a little bit of a story to illustrate how interesting it all can be especially when you start pairing cheese with wine.
1.            St. Armour Triple Cream (French) – Rich and buttery, Soft and ripened; a heavenly cheese with angelic fa├žade that’s straight-up sinful – Cow’s milk

2.            Cotswold (British) – legendary, made in Gloucestershire England; the cream is skimmed twice; blended with chives and spring onions farmed in the English Country - cow’s milk

3.            Wensleydale (British) a Yourkshire cheese once made by French Monks from the Roquefort region who settled in Wensleydale; cheese has been made here since 1150 AD; this one is infused with cranberry. – cow’s milk
4.            Spicy Gorgonzola Blue (Italian) – Originating from Milan; this is silky, savory and luxurious makes white chocolate seem brash and salty. Adding fruit or even a fruit-tinged beverage might be essential or a robust beer; unbelievably versatile… Pears, Apples, drizzled honey (tempers the sharp inflections), walnuts! – cow’s milk
5.            Manchego  (La Mancha, Spain) - where Don Quixote hailed. This cheese has hay and nutty flavors with a semi-firm compact distinct buttery texture not too strong or creamy that can be aged anywhere between 60 days and two years; great after taste…great with tapas and small plate like chorizo cheese –Sheep’s milk

6.            Goat Cheese Log (French)  - This snow-white, tangy cheese has been made for years, especially in the Loire valley in France; stored in a coolness it softens when exposed to heat to reveal a wonderful tantalizing savory treat that’s tart and fresh often with garlic and/or herbs with amazing results.

7.            The Camembert wheel (French/seasonal) – from Normandy is a soft creamy cow’s milk cheese with a bloomy edible rind; fuller and creamier…not to be confused with Brie that’s from Ile de France – Cow’s Milk

8.            Grana Padano (Italy) – One of the most popular cheeses in Italy; an artisan semifat hard cheese that’s fragrant, dry, grainy and delicious; made in copper kettles. It competes and is similar but less crumbly than it’s relative the king of cheeses Parmigiano Reggiano.

…selected Table Crackers, Baguette or Bread. Butter. A selection of sliced prosciutto and Serrano/lomo ham or chorizo, pork rinds along with fig, honey, raspberry, Red/black currant jellies or jams. Presentation on
a wooden cutting boards or on long serving platters pair-able with wine. Pick your favorite wines. Mix and match.

These are just a few of the ideas. Go ahead and experiment. It's so good!