I love the cold. Mostly, and I say this often, I love it because I am inspired to drink great red wines. Two wines that we have recently received in stock, that struck me and that surprised me come from Montalcino’s Cupano and Chianti’s Castello dei Rampolla; these are two wines you can easily enjoy with the high carb and high protein diets we love to indulge ourselves with during the holidays. Order a steak and bring one of these bad boys with you—enjoy!
Toscana – Montalcino – Cab Sauv, Merlot
To my surprise, the Ombrone is a huge, massive wine. It’s an organically grown powerhouse that begs for a more modern palate; those of you who enjoy that style, this is a gem that no one else has. Cupano is miniscule estate with only seven acres of property and its owner-winemaker, Lionello Cousin, takes incredible care of each vine. Some say that he can tell the difference between each individual plant as he walks the vineyard trimming them with cuticle scissors.
Toscana – Chianti – Sangiovese, Cab Sauv
One of the great Super Tuscans of our time comes from biodynamic Castello dei Rampolla. Though not as well known as the heavy hitters like Sassicaia and Ornellaia, this wines of this estate are no less important. Making wine since the thirttenth century, Castello dei Rampolla has a long history in the wine world, but it wasn’t until 1980 when the modern era of wine making began and it was put on the map. The secret here is Giacomo Tachis, legendary enologist, who has put his hands on so much of Super-Tuscan winemaking. Between the current owners, Luca and Maurizia di Napoli, and Tachis’ guidance, Castello dei Rampolla’s wines have become worthy of sitting at a table with the likes of the previously mentioned Super Tuscans. This is an incredible bottle for the price.
I have often heard it said that the best things you cook are a result of just rummaging about your kitchen and using what you have on hand—or better still, when you stay in season and you use what looks best in the market that day. This mantra is what I kept in mind when I came up with the recipe below. I used the ingredients I had on hand and created a spin on a cooking method what the French call en papillote, that’s to say, fish cooked in a sealed package in the oven, either the traditional method in parchment, tied with twine or wrapped in aluminum foil. What I think sets this dish apart is the fact that I used Southeast Asian inspired ingredients, rather than the usual lemon, herbs and white wine. My inspiration for this recipe comes from a Thai soup called Tom Kha that has a similar method of blending all of the soup ingredients before adding to a stock base and adding your choice of protein, such as shrimp or chicken. My favorite part of the whole experience is the amazing aromas that fill the kitchen, first when you blend the sauce and as you are cooking the fish in the oven. The ginger, soy, lime and chili among other various elements seem to jump out of the plate and gives you a hint of what you are about to enjoy.
I’d advise using a firm-fleshed fish like salmon or sea bass as either will hold up well to braising in the rich sauce. More delicate fish like flounder or tilapia would work too, though you run the risk of it flaking into the sauce. This is entirely up to you though; if what you want is the sauce taking center stage to the fish, go for delicate, if you want to really taste the fillet, salmon is the way to go. I chose salmon.
Besides the wonderful aroma, I am a huge fan of the way in which the heat of the chili is offset by the fish sauce, lime, soy and herbs. What you get isn’t as spicy as it is warming and inviting, which is perfect for this time of year when there is a chill in the air.
Southeast Asian Fish in Parcel
1 inch fresh ginger
2 spring onions
1 large clove garlic
1 or 2 fresh chili, deseeded (Serrano or Thai birds eye)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tbs fish sauce
1tsp soy sauce
2 kaffir lime leaf (bought dried or frozen)
Handful fresh cilantro or parsley
1 fresh lime, juiced
2 tbs. vegetable oil
A few drops of water as needed
2 filleted pieces of your fish of choice (salmon, flounder, sea bass…)
Put all of the sauce ingredients in the blender and blitz until smooth (you might need to add a bit of water to help everything blend). If you cannot find kaffir lime leaves, lime zest works too.
Place your fish fillet either in parchment paper (tied with kitchen twine) or aluminum foil. Pour the sauce over the fish and seal the package. Place in a 375 degree F oven for 15 or 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillet. Serve over rice or with naan bread.
As for wine pairing, I’d say white wine, though with such strong flavors, you need something that can hold up to this sauce. For this reason, I’m going to suggest the white wines by Josko Gravner. Yesterday at IWM, we presented an offer on his wines from the 90’s through to 2005. What is so special about Gravner’s whites are that they drink like reds. They are rich and sumptuous. are hefty in their mouthfeel, which I think would pair wonderfully to this intensely aromatic dish. If you haven’t had an opportunity to try a Gravner, I would highly recommend it because they are really one of a kind. The palate is full of stone fruit, honey and zinging minerality along with a touch of citrus.
I would also recommend the wines of Hofstätter, from Alto Adige, such as the estate’s Gewurztraminer. The gutsy flavors in a Gewurztraminer provide a harmonious level of body and aroma to hold up to the sour notes in the fish sauce and lime. Alsatian winemaker Zind-Humbrecht makes a Pinot Gris Clos Saint Urbain that gives fantastic notes of minerality, citrus and nutty taste to counterbalance the herbaceous sauce.
Why not give winter a warm welcome? Embrace it rather than fight against it. Give this a try when what you want is a winter warmer with lots of flavor and when you want to experiment with serving fuller-bodied, spicy white wines.
Today I am in the mood to talk about funky wines. When I say “funky,” I mean something that breaks from the normal paradigm of winemaking, something that doesn’t hew close to the expected, and something that has a little bit of wildness to it. As I get further along into my wine-drinking career these are the types of wines that do it for me. As delicious as they are on the palate, they are even more a treat for the mind! I’ve picked a pair of wines from two biodynamic producers, Movia and Radikon, to help share my love of funk.
Movia Lunar Chardonnay 2008 $42.50
If you are looking for a cookie-cutter Chardonnay, step away now. The 2008 Lunar is one of the most unusual looking Chards in the business, and at first glance, it looks like sandy water. It’s murky and cloudy but, boy, is it packed full of flavor. The eight-month skin maceration in custom oak barrels gives this Chardonnay some real character. Movia doesn’t even press the grapes, there is no added nonsense, and finally, the wine is gravity racked. This is a wine for a true wine guy or gal.
Radikon Merlot 2000 $199.00
Once again, this wine gives a usual grape but a very uncharacteristic profile. Radikon is another one of these out-of-the-box winemakers, and this Merlot taste like no other Merlot you have ever tasted before. Radishes, beets, mushrooms are all at the forefront. It displays many tertiary characteristics that let you know that this wine is ready to be drunk. Soft tannins frame the long savory finish.
Last night I had a few clients stop by the store to enjoy yet another incredible meal prepared by our Chef Kevin Sippel. The entire meal felt like a constant crescendo, with each course and subsequent wine upping the ante and providing something both new in terms of style, and delightful in terms of quality, and complete in terms of pure enjoyment.
Here are two of my favorite bottles that you may not have heard of before.
Drinking for today and tomorrow:
Many of my clients who follow my offers know how much I love Paul Pernot and his wines from Puligny and Meursault. What my clients may not know is that his grandson, Philippe, is making wines that rival his in quality. Philippe Pernot took over this estate from his father-in-law and I had the pleasure of visiting the domaine in April. His Champ Canet offers a cornucopia of flavors and emotions, at times racy and vibrant, while at others creamy and seductive. Production was down in 2011 across Burgundy, but what is out there is phenomenal. Super limited production, just hundreds of cases made. OK to drink now, but try to hold for two and enjoy for ten.
Drinking for today and tomorrow:
Sergio has been hand-selecting this wine for several vintages, but only recently has the wine world started to take notice as more and more publications have been allowed behind the gate at the estate to try Begali’s wines. A fairly young estate, Begali makes excellent wines, and it’s quickly ascending to the upper tier of producers in the Veneto. As Amarones go, this one is a little bit more restrained, but it offers wonderful spice and herbal qualities on the nose. Never overpowering, always lush and delicious. Again, only a few hundred cases made. OK to drink now, but try to hold for three and enjoy for ten.
Posted on | November 27, 2013 | Written by David Bertot | No Comments
I am very happy to have my parents in Manhattan up from Florida for Thanksgiving! I have wonderful memories of Thanksgiving dinners from my youth in Florida. Many of them include roasting whole pigs with traditional Cuban techniques, and “chilly” sunny-75 degree weather. Lots of palm trees, a warm clear ocean, and a bright sun are engrained in my memory and are longed for this time of year. I may be once again enjoying Thanksgiving with my parents, but things are a little different this year.
A whole hog roast is out of the question in my downtown Manhattan apartment, so I am cooking a pterodactyl -sized turkey from a small farm in Vermont. When cooking a turkey from a special farm like Stonewood in Vermont, the turkey should be the star of the show, and that’s why I limit seasoning a generous rub of salt and pepper. Season at least 24 hours before roasting, so the skin will dry up and get crispy.
Thanks to some knowhow from one of our in-house chefs, Victor Garza, I was able to break down this colossal 20-pound plus bird into neat, main pieces of white and dark meat. I highly recommend cutting up large turkeys pre-roast. This enables the cook to pull out the white meat at a prime 140 degrees and the dark meat at a prime 160, yielding perfect, juicy, tender, crowd-pleasing turkey. There is nothing worse than chewy, dry turkey; this technique produces the exact opposite. Always remember to let the meat rest 30 minutes in aluminum foil. In this resting process, the temperature will steadily increase 5-10 degrees before cooling, and it’ll help the meat “set” before carving and serving.
Young, lighter, entry-level wines from great producers work seamlessly with Thanksgiving food. This provides guests the opportunity to be introduced some new styles and enjoy juicy, ripe wines, usually with nice acidity. I thoroughly enjoy the Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir Rio Negro Barda 2011. The clean, pure characteristics from this wine clean the palate in between bites. The Antinori Cervaro della Sala Chardonnay 2010 is a gorgeous, round Italian Chardonnay that will go very well with the lean turkey, as well as stand up to the often heavy sides. With cured meats and cheeses pre-dinner, I enjoy the Graci Etna Rosso 2011, and if some leftover for dinner, well, that will also work.
Wishing a happy Thanksgiving to you and to yours. May your turkey ever be juicy and your wine always delicious!
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