This is a red table wine sourced, apparently, from Paso Robles. It says so right on the bottle…
I didn’t do much of a tasting on this here wine, but I do want to share it with you. I do think that it’s worth sharing and drinking, and at $10.52 (as seen on wine-searcher.com) it’s worth buying.
My first suspicion of this wine was that it was a Syrah based blend. It’s non-vintage so I wasn’t exactly sure what would be entailed in the blend but I got some of the characteristic Syrah fruit and earthiness, and at second glance I got some more smooth easy red characteristics and I was thinking Carignane or Movedre, but I was wrong. I checked out Toad Hollow’s site and discovered this blend has, well, for lack of a better description, everything but the kitchen sink.
The majority of the blend is Cabernet Franc, Petit Sirah and Zinfandel, with a modicum of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvedre, Refosco, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, and Rubired only to be polished at the end with Barbera, Petit Verdot, Syrah, Counoise, Chardonnay, and Sangiovese.
Some of the additional details:
Paso Robles Wine
Anyhow, we had this wine with a big plate of lasagna, Caesar salad and garlic bread. It was very tasty and you should go find some if you have the chance. It’s not earth shattering by any means, but it is a very good wine and a great value for what it delivers.
Well if you’re lucky like me and have a 2 year old that means that your time is a resource that is in serious deficit. Tonight I had to figure out something that would be not only be done quick, but not be demanding on my time so I could keep an eye on the little monster running amok in the living room, bathroom, kitchen and every other room in the house.
So here’s a great quickie and a surprising wine pairing.
Chicken & Dumplings
Defrost two boneless skinless chicken breasts in the microwave (approx 6-8 min)
While the chicken is defrosting, boil 3 cups of water in a saucepan add 3 cubes of chicken bullion (you could do veggie instead for less fat). Once boiling take 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into 1/2 cup of cold water, reduce heat to low and whisk in starch/flour/water mixture and stir vigorously.
Chicken should be done by now, slice into 1/2 inch thick strips and place into 9×9 pan. In a mixing bowl add 1 cup of Bisquick and 1 cup of low fat milk and stir until smooth. By this time your “gravy” should be just about right. Pour the gravy over the chicken in the 9×9 and leave about 1 to 3/4 inches of space from the lip of the pan. Drop tablespoonful sized portions of the biscuit mix into the pan. Cover the 9×9 pan with foil and place into an oven at 350 F for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
I cooked some green beans in a saute pan with some fresh chopped garlic (1 clove) and some olive oil, you should start the beans when the time goes off after the 30 minutes.
Well, that’s about it. I did end up turning the broiler on for about 2-3 minutes to brown the tops of the biscuits at the very end.
Total time to prep and cook this was right around 40 Minutes, from freezer to plate.
Here’s the surprise. I had a bottle of Greek wine in the fridge, the 2009 Santorini, Boutari, Assyrtiko, I thought well, American comfort food might just pair up with this light and lively Grecian Vinological delight. The rich and salty biscuit and gravy really gets cut through by the great acidity of this wine and the citrus of the wine pairs up with the chicken just right!
Yep, that’s it. Just a quickie. And well, I’m satisfied.
A few months back I attended the annual Make-a-Wish event at the Sonoma-Cutrer vineyards and was lucky enough to win one of the live auction lots, the Wine Experience with Tom Simoneau “The Wine Guy.”
The stars aligned and we were finally able to schedule this event and get together to taste some great wine, eat some great food, and have some amazing conversations about the juice we all love.
Here’s a little background on Tom, I snagged this clip from his website, http://www.tomsimoneau.com/ (I’ll add some personal color from our experience).
Tom Simoneau, the KSRO Wine Guy for the past thirteen years, knows the wine business. A grape grower, a winemaker, a wine marketer, wine educator, wine judge and wine critic, Tom Simoneau is the walking definition of “Wine Guy”.
Born in Maine and educated in Boston, Tom shunned graduate school at Boston University to form a country rock and roll band. It was his musical career that eventually placed Simoneau in wine country. “We based our California operation in Healdsburg because it reminded us of Maine and it was close enough to San Francisco, so we could pursue our dream of a record deal.”
I will be on the radio with Tom Simoneau this Thursday, July 29th around 4:30 PM, on KSRO’s The Drive with Steve Jaxon. You can listen live by visiting KSRO.com and clicking on “Listen Live” or tuning into 1350 AM, if you live in the greater Sonoma County area. The Drive is on daily, from 3:00PM to 6:00PM (Pacific Time of course) and usually features local Sonoma County luminaries, of a much higher caliber than myself. Check it out HERE.
Tom and his wife Brenda really put out the red carpet for us. We decided upon a Cabernet Sauvignon tasting and Tom said he had something creative he’d put together for our group.
Our group, was not an ordinary tasting group, I can’t remember what Tom said exactly, but he said he was going to really have to put something special together. Included in our tasting crew were Sonoma-Cutrer’s new winemaker, Mick Shroeter (formerly of Geyser Peak & Penfold’s) his lovely wife Linda, my wife’s Aunt and Uncle who are also wine grape growers and home winemakers, and me and “the wife.”
Upon our arrival we were greeted with glasses of Chandon bubbly and we began getting acquainted over some fantastic hors d’oeuvres, prepared by Tom’s wife Brenda.
Now, just to be clear, Tom and Brenda’s house, “Simoneau Ranch,” has one of the most spectacular views of the Alexander Valley that I’ve ever seen. They’re located just east of Hwy 101 in Healdsburg and the view from their back porch looks across the Simoneau vineyards, and up toward the Geysers and off to the right in the distance you see Mt. St. Helena, a truly stunning spectacle! Anyhow, I digress. We chatted about wine and toured the property. Tom showed us his vineyards and gave us a nice look at his cellar where he has cases upon cases of wines stacked to the ceiling, ribbons and awards for his wines, and some empty bottles, “trophies” of past experiences, each with a story.
After the tour it was back up to the house where we enjoyed some more snacks and tasted Tom’s two wines, a Chardonnay, “Brenda Lee’s,” a lovely, lightly oaked Chard, with about 10% malolactic fermentation, and his Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Oh, I forgot to mention, Tom used to sell his grapes to Silver Oak up until recently when the economy tanked so now he just makes his own Cab (it’s great by the way). Well after some tasty snacks, a goat cheese flan (see recipes below) and some bacon wrapped figs stuffed with blanched almonds, we got on with the main event.
Tom and Brenda had set up a double-blind, Sonoma versus Napa, no-holds-barred Cabernet Sauvignon battle royale!
We each tasted though the wines together and discussed the characteristics and qualities we saw, smelled and tasted. It was quite an educational experience for me. Having both Tom Simoneau (who also teaches wine tasting/judging at the local community college) and Mick Schroeter discussing and dissecting the wines and then sharing what they experienced and comparing that to what I was getting out of them was really cool.
It gave me insight into what a world-class wine maker looks for when tasting and judging wines. It also made me feel pretty good about my own palate and overall sensory capacity for wine, I’m making some incremental improvements (if I do say so myself).
So when it was all said and done, we had a clear winner and two wines that were so close that second and third place could have been combined into a tie for second. Here are some of the scoring details:
First Place: 2006, Swanson Vineyards, Alexis, Oakville, Cabernet Sauvignon. Big and Juicy with grainy tannins, hints of licorice.
Second Place: 2004, Robert Young, Scion, Alexander Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon. Coffee and Cocoa cover this Alexander Valley beauty, great tannic structure that is well representative of the AVA.
Third Place: 2005, Chateau St. Jean, Cinq Cepages, Sonoma County Red Wine. Soft and supple, ripe red fruit and easy drinking tannins make this Sonoma Valley Red shine.
A great time was had by all and I can’t wait for next year’s Make-A-Wish event so I can try and win again. Not only did we have some great wine and great conversation but the money made from Tom’s donation and my winning bid goes to help out a great cause. The Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation® grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy. Please support them if you can, it’s an amazing organization.
Again, I want to extend a heart felt thank you to Tom and his wife Brenda for being such gracious hosts. This was truly an exceptional experience and it could not have been possible without their generosity to both the Make-A-Wish foundation, and to us.
Below are the recipes of a few of the outstanding treats Brenda Simoneau prepared for us, Enjoy! Be on the lookout for a cookbook by Brenda in the not to distant future.
Savory Goat Cheese Flan
Recipe by Brenda Simoneau
1 cup half-and-half
8 oz. sour cream
1 tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. Bucheron goat cheese
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp. of unsalted butter at room temperature
Depending on the size of your ramekins (custard cups) generously butter 6 – 8.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
While the goat cheese is cold remove the rind, place goat cheese in your mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it come to room temperature. Once at room temperature, mash with a fork. Add one egg at a time mixing well. Add the sour cream and mix well. Finally, add the salt, thyme, and half-and-half. Mix well.
Divide the custard among the ramekins, place them in a baking dish, and add very hot water to the pan so it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake until the custards are set, about 25 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven. Place the ramekins on a cooling rack and let sit for about 5 minutes.
Serve warm in the ramekins or run a knife around the edge of each ramekin, turn them out, and serve with a simple green salad.
Kalamata Olive Breadsticks
Recipe by Brenda Simoneau
1 tsp. active dry yeast
5 oz. warm water
1 tbs. olive oil
2 cups of flour
1 tsp. salt
30 pitted kalamata olives roughly chopped
This recipe makes about 76 skinny breadsticks. You’ll want to set up more than one baking sheet, so you can quickly rotate them in and out of your oven.
Stir the yeast into the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let it stand for about 10 minutes. Stir in the olive oil. Add the salt, chopped olives, and 1 cup of flour. Stir until everything comes together. Add half cup flour and stir until the dough comes together. Add a ¼ cup of flour and stir until the dough comes together. Lightly sprinkle some of the remaining flour on your work surface and knead the dough. Sprinkle and incorporate more flour as needed until the dough is smooth and soft.
Pat the dough into a rectangle (roughly 6” x 14”) on a surface that you can use a knife on. Lightly brush with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
The dough should be very elastic now making it very easy to shape your breadsticks. Cut off a piece of dough about as thick as a finger. Lay it on your work surface, roll back and forth as your hands work out to the ends. This stretches out the dough to the desired length. Remember they will puff up in the oven to about twice the thickness that you rolled them out to. Lay them about an inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the pan and bake for 10 more minutes. Continue baking and checking every 3 minutes or so until they’re crisp and golden.
Recipe by Brenda Simoneau
1 poached boneless, skinless chicken breast
¼ cup diced celery
¼ cup chopped pecans
2 tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ sour cream
Slice the chicken against the grain, and then chop into small pieces. You want about one cup. Place the chopped chicken and all other ingredients in a bowl. Mix together. Taste and then adjust the salt and pepper.
Well, it has been a long time coming, but I have been eyeballing this varietal for some time. Ever since I started blogging I have read posts and reviews of this Grüner Veltliner but up until tonight I have not had the pleasure of acquaintance. Tonight we had a nice chicken dinner with some garlic and ginger sauteed carrots and pasta. This wine is as it claims, great with food, or on its own.
As an interesting side note, with tasting this varietal, I’m half way to my “Wine Century Club” membership. Yeah, number 50!
2009 Grooner Grüner Veltliner
The Nose: Apple, melon, and citrus with a touch of spice, perhaps thyme or sage?
The Taste: Tart apple and lemon zest, tropical melon that comes into play in the middle. There’s some spritz that pumps up the tart, crisp apple.
The Mouth Feel: For as tart as this wine is, there is definitely some body to it, good viscosity and creaminess. Decent length of finish with good minerality.
The Color: I think the bottle is influencing my opinion but this is the greenest tinted white wine I can recall ever seeing.
The Nitty Gritty:
100 % Grüner Veltliner
6 g/l total acidity
3.3 g/l residual sugar
Cellar Tracker Average Score 87 Pts
$10 Average price, Google Shopping Search
The Verdict: What a nice wine for a hot day. This was my first experience with this varietal and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. We had a white wine chicken with carrots sauteed in butter with garlic and ginger. The spices really worked well with the wine and the crisp spritzy acidity really cut through the butter and brought out the flavor in the food. I’m thoroughly pleased with my first Grüner Veltliner experience and would recommend this to someone looking for a light white that goes nicely with food or could be just as great well chilled on a hot summer day!
New Thing: So I’m done with the point scale or letter grading. I’m just going to tell you if I liked it and if I recommend it, I certainly don’t feel like me giving it a point score is adding any value to anyone.
In Vino Veritas: This wine was provided to me as an industry sample with the intent of review.
Hey who thought that anyone would actually be interested in what I have to say? Anyhow, Wayne Kelterer of A Long Pour (Fifty-two weeks with California Wine), a very cool blog about California Wineries and winemakers, asked some fun questions. Go over and check it out, you might just find some dirt on me!
I discovered this Pinot Noir while volunteering at the Russian River Valley Single Night, this was (IMHO) the best Pinot of the bunch, no offense to the others, it’s my palate after all! Here’s a link to the wine I am tasting here: Porter Creek, Russian River Valley Estate
Clearly I need to have a conversation with my cameraman, but it’s my first video post, so deal with it!
I guess I should clarify that Domain Carneros may be best known for the bubbly wine, but they make a legit Pinot Noir still wine, check them out http://www.domainecarneros.com/
It was hard for me to work up the motivation for doing up a “Not Bad” this week. The wife is out of town on business and that means I’m on 100% Daddy Detail. Keeping up with a two-year-old boy is a full-time job, to be sure. I have nothing but mad respect for stay-at-home moms/dads and even more for single parents who have this privilege/challenge. That being said, I found some motivation on Tuesday and I was thinking that I needed to write up a review of the Ravenswood wine that I received a couple weeks back since I”m going to miss out on their “2nd annual Coming Out tattoo party”
So after picking up the boy at daycare, we cruised down to the local market, Oliver’s in Cotati, to see what we could rustle up for dinner. I had a flash of inspiration the moment we walked in the door. Their mushrooms are pretty close to the entrance and I thought to myself, “oh yeah… the wife’s gone, I can cook whatever I want.” And what goes better with sauteed mushrooms than a great big NY Strip Steak? So, I grabbed some veg (fresh green beans) and a nice big NY Steak, since I’d be sharing with the boy.
This dinner is a simple one to prep and cook.
3-4 Red potatoes
2 Tablespoons butter
1/3 Cup cream
In a large pot start heating some salted water. Wash then chop potatoes in quarters add to water. Boil until tender. Strain potatoes and return to pot. Add butter, cream, salt and pepper, mash with hand masher to desired consistency.
12 Oz New York Choice or Prime Steak
Start gas grill and heat to 375 (Medium-High). Salt and pepper steak on both sides (to desired taste) Sear steak on both sides, approximately 3-5 min per side, reduce heat and move steak to indirect heat.
Continue cooking to desired temperature. I went about 15 minutes and ended up with medium/medium-well.
Sauteed Green Beans:
8 – 10 oz Fresh Green Beans
2 oz olive oil
1 Clove garlic
Wash beans and chop off ends, cut beans in half. Finely chop garlic. In a 10″ skillet add beans, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat covered until beans are tender, but still crisp. Stir frequently.
1 clove of garlic
2 Tablespoons butter
1-2 Oz Dry White Sherry
6-10 button mushrooms
Chop garlic finely, wash mushrooms then slice into thirds (I like thick cut).
In a skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat, until it starts sizzling then put mushrooms in. Cook mushrooms until they begin to brown add garlic and stir. Once garlic starts to brown add sherry and deglaze pan, remove from heat.
I started the potatoes first since they take the longest, this gave me time to prep the rest of the meal. I then started the steak, once the steak is cooking over indirect heat you can start the shrooms and beans, they should finish about the time your meat is ready. As I mentioned my initial motivation for this was the Ravenswood wine. I paired this meal with the 2007 Ravenswood, Sonoma County, Cabernet Franc.
The spicy character of this wine and great acidity really did this meal a great service. The boy loved his steak and green beans, it’s kind of funny though, he really doesn’t care for mashed potatoes… Go figure? Oh and he loved the sauteed mushrooms, I guess we’ll have to start doing those more often, even though “the wife” doesn’t!
In preparation for Ravenswood’s second annual tattoo coming out party (which I am going to miss because of a scheduling conflict…Damn it!) I have to review one of the two wines I received courtesy of Kristen Wastell the Ravenswood Visitor Center Manager. I have been proudly sporting my Raven laden ink since my twenty-first birthday. I had no clue about wine then I did however have an eye for a kick-ass piece of artwork (and the crow had just recently come out was inclined ink up with some black birds…)
Anyhow, I sent a pic over on Facebook and got a reply almost immediately. They will be putting a nice pic of my ink on their wall of fame so I’ll at least be there in spirit. And in that spirit, here it is:
2007 Ravenswood Sonoma County Cabernet Franc
The Nose: Full of spice and cherry this nose comes on assertively, it is backed up with some floral tobacco and then you are smacked with a cedar plank.
The Taste: Warm cherries with a dash of white pepper, this wine is full of great red fruit and the cedar cigar box is lingering out there, laying in wait.
The Mouth Feel: Okay, In a sad attempt to mimic some of the sultry writing of Tamra Belgard at http://sipwithme.blogspot.com/, this wine has some characteristics that would be best described in what I would consider her style (Tamara, sorry if I botch this up) This wine starts out like slipping into silk sheets naked, then the tannins kick in and rip the sheets off and light the bed on fire! Then it finished you off with a massive velvety release… (now back to regularly scheduled blogging).
The Color: Purplish-ruby and glass coating
The Nitty Gritty:
200 Cases Produced
$20 At the Winery ONLY (may be wine club only too)
Couldn’t find any other Scores
The Verdict: Well, I have to say that this wine rocked my socks off! I paired it up with my “Not Bad – Dinner for One and a half” New York Strip Steak, sauteed Mushrooms, and fresh green beans, and it was a perfect match. The acidity stood up to the butter from the mushrooms, fat from the steak, and olive oil on the beans, let it be known, Ravenswood makes no “Whimpy Wines.” I highly recommend you call the winery and order up a few of these before they run out.
90 Pts. / A-
In Vino Veritas: This wine was provided to me as a sample (and because I have the tat) pretty sure they wanted me to review this but just so you know…
To be honest I have been slightly dreading reviewing this wine, I had an unfortunate experience with my first of the Concannon “Selected Vineyards” wines, the 2007 Concannon Shiraz I reviewed previously was not so good. Well, I’ve worked up the nerve to give the other sample, they so graciously provided, a try. This time a 2009 Riesling from the Central California Coastal region.
2009, Concannon, Central Coast Riesling, Selected Vineyards
The Nose: Lovely tropical friut, papaya and spice with honeysuckle and crushed rock.
The Taste: Spicy honeysuckle is definitely predominant, the fruit is elusive and there’s an unfortunate bitter aftertaste that tries to come across like citrus peel, but gets lost in the steely finish… Wait! As this wine has warmed up (had it well chilled) there is a nice subtle asian pear finish and the fruitiness is definitely coming out to play!
The Mouth Feel: The mouth feel is not bad! This wine comes on slippery and viscous, fading a bit in the mid-palate and lingers on the finish with steel and minerality.
The Color: Pale yellow and light.
The Nitty Gritty:
Well it appears that redemption comes in white for Concannon. This is a decent wine. At $10 it is a exceptionally drinkable white wine that would probably go nice with some spicy food. It’s not bad even by itself. I probably wouldn’t go too far out of my way to find it, I certainly wouldn’t turn down a glass.
79 Pts / C+
In Vino Veritas: This wine was provided to me as a sample with the intention of review.
I caught a streak of inspiration the other day while checking out a guest post on Tim Hilcove’s Weekly Wine Journal by Mike MacKinnon. He put together a beautiful pork loin and it must have made an impression, because when “The Wife” mentioned to me that we were hosting some guests on Monday evening I thought to myself, how about doing up some pork loin.
I didn’t follow the recipe that Mike did over on Weekly Wine Journal, I actually did some poking around and found some other recipes with a similar vane. I came across this post over on SeriousEats and took my inspiration from there. I did modify it a bit, I went for fresh, Granny Smith apples and sugar cured cranberries instead of dried, but did some similar things with the stuffing and glaze.
Butterfly your pork loin by carefully slicing it 1/2 inch thick down one side then back the other direction. Stupid me, I didn’t take any pictures of this meat splayed wide open so you only get to see the finished product. Suffice it to say, that when butterflied this pork loin was the size of my entire cutting board which is about 14″ x 16″.
After straining out the juice from the filling, spread it evenly on the meat, and sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon (another mod by me). Sprinkle chopped pecans over the fruit mixture then roll up the loin again and tie with cooking twine about every inch or so. Sprinkle exterior with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, cayenne, and smoked paprika.
Fire up a chimney of coals and prep the Weber for indirect heat grilling. When the coals are ready place the pork, fat side up, over the coals to sear. After about 5 minutes rotate the grill and add apple chips to coals for smoke and place cover on the grill. Cook for 30-40 minutes then flip tenderloin, at which time baste the tenderloin with the reserved, reduced juice from the filling pan. Continue to cook until an instant read thermometer reads 130 F, remove from grill and let tenderloin rest covered with foil.
Internal temperature should rise to about 140 F.
The Wife’s friends brought some sides, one of which was an absolutely perfect match for the pork. It was a spinach salad with sliced strawberry, red onion and sliced almonds. The dressing was a mayonnaise and milk dressing with sugar and poppy seeds.
I paired this meal with the new Pinot Noir from Sonoma-Cutrer, the 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
The berry flavors mingled happily with the apple/cranberry filling and were phenomenal with the strawberry and spinach salad!
All in all, this was an outstanding holiday weekend, I would like to extend special thanks again to the men and women of the US armed forces who make days like this possible. Your service and sacrifice do not go unnoticed. Happy Independence Day to all of you!
Oh and as a follow up. Leftovers of this are just as awesome. I cooked up a batch of wild rice along the lines of the post in Weekly Wine Journal’s Loin, I used 1 cup of apple cider and one cup of chicken broth, and just before it was done cooking I chopped up a quarter cup of pecans and toasted them in a skillet and added them to the rice at the last minute for some extra flavor. Yeah, it was effin’ goo-ood!