Watching the pea tendrils curling up to the sun, Sputnik arugula, & radishes start to look like a pond of lily pads. A quiet moment in all the social outings of late. Speaking of which, I tried some great wines at my first Taste of Washington & incredible local ciders. I'll see what I can do about getting my hands on some of Finnriver & Snowdrift's artisan ciders.
Gosh, what else have I been up to. I tasted many a fine French wine at Quinn's yesterday, and even drove myself. I definitely came upon some great deals for us all. Which leads me to two new 6 pack offerings: Ooh La La & Mama Mia. You pick the price & I'll select from the best bargains from France & Italy. Don't forget this is a wine newsletter, so keep scrolling to see what I have up my sleeve this week. Don't miss the new French wines I have on special & great Easter pairings!
And don't forget you can taste with me & enjoy food pairing at TWO upcoming wine dinners...more details below. Taste local glory at Seth Caswell's Emmer & Rye on April 13th, & enjoy the best of the Basque country at Harvest Vine on April 20th.
Presidenta, Queso y Vino, 206-518-1166, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Emmer & Rye! Tuesday April 13th 6:30 reception, 7:00 dinner
Seasonally inspired, locally derived cuisine paired with small producer wines
5 courses plus amouse, 6 wines $65 (plus tax & tip)
We will have the entire upper floor of this gorgeous restored Victorian in upper Queen Anne.
Chef & owner Seth Caswell is president of Seattle Chefs Collaborative and his passion has found its roots in this welcoming space.
Wines will span the globe, with special emphasis on small producers that share our passion for the sustainable & the flavor of terroir.
Queso y Vino Wine Dinner
April 13, 2010
creamy parsnip shooter, nettle-mint puree, toasted hazelnuts
scallop crudo, chiogga beets, mizuna
hazelnut-fed pork belly, heirloom beans, foraged greens
columbia river salmon, emmer&rye, asparagus
cider-braised pork shoulder, collard green, turnips
Photo credit goes to the Wrights: check out their delicious review of Emmer & Rye here.
Harvest Vine wine & tapas April 20th
Finalizing details, but seats are already filling up!
Taste some of my new favorite finds from throughout Spain, along with individual small plates (which means more pairing fun!) from chef Joey Serquinia. Last dinner here I was in the hospital, so I can't wait to celebrate my return with all of you at Madison Valley's exquisite Basque Restaurant. If you've never been, now's your chance to enjoy Harvest Vine in a really special & intimate way. Pictures of the space we'll be in! Man, I'm sorry I missed this event, although I see my friends the Wrights didn't!!! See their amazing food blog for mouth-watering pictures and advance foodie new, plus more pictures of Emmer & Rye!
Here's a wonderful article on the trials & continued life of this beloved gastronomic gem.
I love Lidia's recipes, & this book specializing on
Northern Italian dishes emphasizes Istrian cuisine which takes its
influence from Yugoslavia & Hungary. With sweet spring leeks showing
up in the market, this dish seemed like a natural segway into the
farmer's market flavors with a touch of heartiness still sticking to the
ribs with the addition of sausage to fresh feather weight pasta. This
dish hails from Piacenza, from the Latin "to please".
2 Tbs coarse salt, or to taste
2 Large leeks
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp minced shallot
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1 cup chicken stock
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 lb fresh tagliatelle
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano, & more for table
Grill the sausages, slice them thin, & set aside.
Bring 6 quarts water to a boil with 2 Tbs coarse salt, or to taste, & start the sauce as soon as the water is on the stove.
Trim the leeks & discard the top 1/3 of tough green portion. Slice the remainder in 1/2"-thick rounds, & rinse in several changes of cold water to remove all soil & grit. Drain well.
Ina large skillet, heat the olive oil, add the leeks, & saute over moderately high heat, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved sausages & the shallot, & cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add half the butter & the stock, & simmer genbtly 5 minutes. Season to taste.
Add the tagliatelle to the boiling water, stirring with a wooden spoon.The pasta will be done as soon as the water returns to the boil, 1/2 to 1 minute. Drain the pasta well, add the leek sauce, & toss well to coat the pasta with sauce. Add the remaining butter & sprinkle with cheese. Toss well & serve with additional cheese on the side.
THIS WEEK'S QUESO Y VINO WINE RECOMMENDATIONS
I offer a 10% discount on whole or mixed cases, free delivery for orders over $150, smaller orders will be conveniently & gladly delivered to you for the nominal fee of $10. Start a buying club & I'll waive the delivery fee! Ask me if you'd like to arrange a free pick up at the Saturday University Farmer's Market or Sunday at the Ballard Farmer's Market or the West Seattle Farmer's Market. We're usually there from a window of 10:30 until noon depending on our order requests, and can be around to meet you before or after your market shopping.
Easter Whites, Sparkling, Lamb wines & Rose's!
Ninet de Pena Viognier 2007, Rousillon $7.99 (reg. $12.99)
This Viognier shows off its Catalan heritage with the Picasso-esque label. From a coop of five growers, this winery is situated 10 miles from Perpignan, a wind-swept region in the south of France. At this price, you could be like the locals & drink it out of a porron! Floral & fruity Vionier, with pineapple, mango & peach tropical fruit. Pleasantly soft, yet with crisp mineral accents, only the slightly nutty finish gives away its vintage. A spring deal to be sure.
La Fiera Pinot Grigio 2009, Veneto $8.99
"We're captive on the carousel of time" --Joni Mitchell. Here's to one captivating Pinot Grigio! This is not rocket science, but after tasting this fair Pinot (pardon the pun) and think of how many disappointing PG's I've had in Italian restaurants I wonder, why??? You don't have to pay a lot to get a great Pinot Grigio, you just need a good source. The Botter family knows their stuff. They are 3rd generation wine makers, with a rebirth in 2000 under son Luca who has gone with environmentally friendly practices. What really makes the difference here is that the grapes are immediately pressed and cooled after picking.Very fragrant nose of ice box peaches, soft, smooth, satiny crenshaw melons. Along with one of the $10 Chardonnays I've mentioned of late, this is a sure bet wedding wine of the summer, and generally great quaffer to have around the house. Funny, Zazou just came on the iPod, the gypsy swing band we had at our pastoral wedding in Poulsbo!
Las Valles Macabeo/Chardonnay, Carinena $9.99
Bodegas Virgen del Aguila 'Virgin of the Eagle' is the name of the Cooperative where Handpicked Selections sources this wine. The title fits the vineyards, the highest in Carinena at almost 3000 feet, climbing up from south of Zaragoza. This is Aragon, a large, poor, historically important region of Spain known for its small population of hearty people. 80% Macabeo, 20% Chardonnay. Macabeo, which is widely planted in northern Spain, brings citrus character and a smooth texture, while the Chardonnay provides tropical fruit and mouthwatering acidity.
Graham Beck Chardonnay/Viognier 2007, Western Cape $9.99
I am so glad to have broadened my geographical wine horizons, especially after tasting a wine as fine as this. For me, this is an instant go-to recommendation for parties, weddings, and if you haven't tried a white wine from South Africa, this is a great opportunity to open up your wine horizons. Graham Beck is a third generation family estate, and Graham Beck himself is dedicated to bringing black South Africans into the wine industry, winning awards for revolutionary initiatives to improve the lives of their workers and families. This wine looks like it is all dressed up and ready to go to a wedding, but it's price will save you a bundle of money to spend on the honeymoon!
Urban Uco Torrontes 2009, Salta $9.99
Need a little shot of summer in your glass right about now? Let the good times roll with Urban Uco. I'm sometimes surprised at how many requests I get for Torrontes even in the dead of winter, but it's such a wonderful food wine that the reason is beginning to dawn on me and am on the lookout for great ones. This Torrontes is like a cross between a Pinot Gris and a Gewurtztraminer which makes it an exotic choice. The floral tropical bouquet is everything a Torrontes lover adores, peachy chin-dribbling juice, and a minerally little zipper of a finish. Modern, fun, and sure to put a spring in your step. Pair with the Gotan Project.
Tabali Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Limari Valley $10.99 (reg. $12.99)
Be on the forefront of a new wine, and a fresh region! You may not be thinking about white wine much right now, but this is the best inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc I've tried and I would love to be the one to turn you on to it. We served this up at home with some stir-fried Taiwanese Garlic Tofu and Minced Chicken and were in seventh-heaven. Pink grapefruit and clementine abound, bright and snappy, with a seductive scent of rose petals that lingers in the glass after the wine is gone. It's always nice to have a reasonable year-round white to recommend and this has my major stamp of approval, and the points to back it up. They say the Valley is magical, and I would have to agree.
“The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Reserva is a great value. It exhibits a fragrant bouquet of mineral, passion fruit, and citrus. This leads to a mouth-watering, vibrant, lengthy Sauvignon that way over-delivers for its humble price. Tabali is producing high quality wines from the newly developing cool-climate region of Limari." -90 Points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
Bielsa Garnacha Vinas Viejas 2008, Campo de Borja $11.99
I saw this wine first in Portland at a Pastaworks & was intrigued. Good stuff. From a coop of some of the region's best growers, next to the stony Moncayo region. Interesting, Alto Moncayo fans! This is definitely an example of the ripeness that this appellation produces, with sweet & pure red raspberry & black plum fruit, a concentrated frame, but earthy/licoricey black pepper character. A great new find.
Fico Prosecco, Veneto $12.99
Bring on Spring! We popped this open to try with some Korean tacos & it went hand in hand, even though that blend of cultures is quite a mouthful. This is ready for a pile of cured meats & cheeses. I've written about the Botter family's achievements in the past & this Prosecco is grown on the hills of Venice, where I hope to return to some day. Their Proseco vines benefit from over 25 years of age, but this bubbly has a lovely youthful vernal feel. Dry white peaches, light on its feet, fine bubbles. Not to be confused with sweeter styles. You could definitely have this with prosciutto-wrapped figs.
Torres Vina Esmeralda 2008, Catalunya $12.99
This wine always represents spring in a bottle to me, & Gewurtz is such a lovely pairing with holiday fare. A big company, but a special wine. An unusual Spanish blend of Moscatel & Gewurtraminer, this is Catalunya's answer to Riesling. Refreshingly clean, floral & potent, this bounces open with a flourish of orange creamsicles, zesty minerals, & everything a ham could love. Tie these roses & lilies with a ribbon, & let the bouquet take a bow to your Easter feast.
90 points, Guia Campsa (and they're TOUGH)
Tenuta Cocevola Rosso Coevola Vero di Troia 2006, Castel del Monte $13.99
Can I be transported there right now, please? "The Tenuta is located within a garden of sumptuous meadows & Mediterranean undergrowth." Puglia is the heel of the boot, & the wines from here are getting better all the time.The grape Nero di Troia (of which this wine is 100%) is known for its good acidity, finesse, elegance & richness. I found a glass brimming with boysenberry, raspberry, earthy plums & blackberry, anchored by a trail of ash. Nice lively acid, balanced body, dried plum authenticity: "good stuff" I penned.
Vevi 2008, Rueda $13.99
Vevi is like the fireworks of forsythia blooming on the crest of my lawn: a golden harbinger of spring. A lovely new Verdejo with some Viura to round it out, this is as clean as its package. Explodes with Pomelo, Buddha's Hand citron, & a zesty punch. Super crisp style, I loved it with saag paneer & a chickpea/eggplant side on our dinner table. Absolutely refreshing, clean, & affordable. Oak lovers, there's nothing for you here.
Les Vins de Vienne Remeage Rhone Blanc, Rhone Valley $13.99
The back label on this reads, "Sensual", and I would have to agree 100%. I fell for this sultry white in a big way, including the small price which is a result of direct importing. If the wines of Seyssuel have been forgotten, this surely puts them on my map. Pretty-as-a-picture Marsanne & Viognier with nectar-like peach, a caressing palate of rose petals, with minerals and verve at the finish. I have never like a reasonably priced French white this much. A direct import that is a direct steal.
Cuatro Rayas 2008, Rueda $13.99
In a time when Verdejo is being increasingly blended to taste, this is a wine that brought me straight back to Rueda, where I was first introduced to Tortilla Espanola the way it's meant to be. "What makes this so good?" I asked the winemakers between forkfuls. "Well, the potatoes are from down the road, the eggs were laid this morning, the local bar made this." My husband has become a master tortilla maker (ask him for his secrets when you get your next wine order!) and this white paired up beautifully with a midweek pobre dinner. Heck, I felt rich! Pomelo, lemon oil, & tangerine make this stunningly vibrant, and we threw in a Caesar salad on the side with some chickpea/meatball soup... Seventh heaven.
Graham Beck Brut NV, Stellenbosch $14.99
A.k.a.known as "Yes, we can!" wine... What did new President-elect Barack Obama pop open before he addressed the world at Grant Park? This fantabulous Brut from South Africa!!! The Obama's discovered this sparkling wine at the recommendation of a sommelier at their favorite restaurant in Chicago, Blackbird, (hey, I've been there!) & then ordered six bottles for November 4th. Not only was Graham Beck used to commemorate this historic election in the US, but it was also the celebratory drink at the inauguration of South Africa's first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela.
Winemaker Pieter Ferreira studied his bubble-making at Krug before returning to South Africa & joining Graham Beck--impressive pedigree! This Brut is made in the Cap Classique tradition with Pinot Noir & Chardonnay, & sings with apple & pear, freshly buttered brioche, & ginger biscuits. What a way to celebrate...
Cristalino Brut Nature Vintage Cava 2005, $14.99 750 ml, $15.99 Magnums!!!
Okay, so everybody & their brother knows about Cristalino, but I hadn't seen their single vintage bottling since a tasting at their winery in Spain! This is special stuff, as they age for 30 months on the lees, & add 30% Chardonnay, half of which has been aged in oak. Intriguing notes of egg custard, toasty pears, & smokiness--this cava is completely unique. These are serious bubbles with a long-lasting austere grapefruit/lime finish with almost a Manzanilla-ish quality. Wow, pretty cool stuff.
So here's the deal with the magnum price--magnums of the regular Cristalino Brut were supposed to arrive, but didn't, so the distributor had to match the price. Normally the magnums of their Vintage Brut go for $20 wholesale--you'd be silly to pass this deal up!!!
"Light yellow. Subtle orchard fruits on the nose, with a suave tangerine note emerging with aeration. Nervier lime and orange zest on the palate, which offers good fleshy texture and gentle mineral lift. Gains heft on the finish, which features musky yellow plum and succulent herbal qualities. An impressive blend of power and verve."
-90 points, Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Benaza Godello 2008, Monterrei $14.99
I've never seen a wine here from Monterrei, even though it appears to have become a DO in '96. This wine also contains a grape I've never seen listed called "Dona Blanca". Cool! Monterrei borders on Portugal, in the valleys of the Tamega River--it has a different climate than other Galician DO's as it is warm & dry, which can be tasted in the wine. Benaza uses 30-50 year old vines, so this Godello has wonderful weight. Stonefruits, apricot, & white nectarines flood from the glass, with zingy & spicy citrus rind, plus zesty minerals. An absolutely delightful wine I'm taken with...
La Cana Albarino 2008, Rias Baixas $15.99
Relax into the zen side of Albarino... This is a new project of the Gil family of Jumilla along with Jorge Ordonez and I look forward to this varietal even in the turning point of the seasons. Albarino has always been my winter white of choice. Floral lychees and apricots spin a Galician/Celtic tale laced with an ocean of minerals lapping the shore. Smooth & petal soft but exuding the graceful fragrance of Albarino. Can't wait to drink this with one of the dishes out of my new Taiwanese cookbook, Blue Eye Dragon.
Chateau Paradis Rouge Tradition 2006, Coteaux d'Aix $16.99
This wine is so good with grilled lamb I could scream! From the lovely town of Aix en Provence, this 45 acres estate indeed looks like a "little piece of paradise". I visited Aix on my poetry fellowship & was astounded by the fairy tale quality of this walled village. I even visited a restaurant where there was a swing perched in the middle of the dining room. Pardise indeed. This is ripe & sexy with firm anise notes, jammed with blueberry & blackberry. Cab, Syrah, & Grenache. A solid earthy mouthful that loves rosemary & herbal flavors.
Schroedel Brut Rose, Cremant d'Alsace $17.99
Schroedel is a family estate and this is 100% Pinot Noir--yeah, baby. Tingly minerals meet with guava and quince for a perfect spring glass pour at Chez Vous. Easter brunch, Easter brunch, Easter brunch!
Fitz-Ritter Riesling Extra Trocken Sekt, Pfalz $19.99 (reg. $21.99)
Sekt means "sparkling wine" in this region of the world, and this bubbly is one of the most fascinating & delightful finds I've come upon lately... A bottle that screams spring, Fitz-Ritter will satisfy wine geeks along with all your Easter brunch guests. This is 100% old-vine Riesling from the sunny micro-climate of the Middle-Haardt region. The family has been producing since 1785, & is one of the earliest producers of Sekt, now on its 8th generation. One of the oldest producers in the Pfalz, this scenic winery is graced with almond trees planted between the vineyards. Just another lovely fact about it. It was instant love for me. Salty, springy, & ever-so floral, this has acidity in spades to make it an intellectual's quaff, or a truly versatile food wine. I am so excited to sell this!
Laroche Chablis 1er Cru Les Fourchaumes VV 2006, Chablis $60
"...the Laroche '06s are wines with compelling freshness and plenty of Chablis character. They have largely avoided the exotic, superripe side of the vintage." -Stephen Tanzer "You're going to write about a $60 French wine?" querulously asked my husband. "YES!" I fervently answered. I just love even thinking about it, and remembering the taste in my mouth. The Laroche family has been producing wine since 1850, going from 6 hectacres to 100. And in an uber-ripe vintage, winemaker Bourdonnaye blocked 40% of maloactic fermentation to retain freshness. My notes read, crenshaw melons & honeycrisp apples, luxurious mouthfeel of lanolin and minerals. Ooooooo
"Bright, pale yellow. Fresh, perfumed nose of lemon, ripe stone fruits and spices. Broad, rich and spicy but more austere than the Vaillons. There's sweetness of fruit here but no sugary impression and no heaviness. The alcohol here is just below 12.5%, notes Bourdonnaye, which is quite low for a 2006 from this normally warm premier cru. The lingering finish shows brown spices and a slight dry edge." -Stephen Tanzer
Didn't find your perfect wine this week? Go with a
Specially Selected Six-Pack!
This has been such a successful way to serve you that I say we shall continue this tradition, holidays or not. You pick the theme and price level you want to pay & I'll mix and match from my favorites in the cellar. Limited quantities, thoughtfully selected.
Choose your juice theme & your 6-pack price level:
Ooh La La $60; $75; $100
Mama Mia $60; $75; $100
The Pride of Portugal $60; $75; $100
Savor South America $60; $75
Celebrate Spain $60; $75; $100
Great Grenache $60; $75; $100
Throwing a Party $50; $60; $75; $100
I have created a tip jar (click on link to the upper left), and I hope if you get something from my writing but don't want to order anything--maybe a recipe idea for an upcoming dinner, or wine advice that you put to use elsewhere--I hope you'll slip a couple of bucks in the jar from time to time. It's like sending your pledge money to public radio, only I don't interrupt the airwaves for a fund drive.Thank you & enjoy!!!!!!
Copyright, queso y vino 2010