Screen Door Cellars – 2012 Pinot Noir

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If you’re lucky enough to find it, this Russian River Valley pinot should please even the most discerning palate.

Leather, clove and vanilla accentuate the bright red berry fruit. A velvety mouth feel leaves you craving another sip.

As I understand it this wine is limited in production so you may have troubles Finding it.  The winemaker Bobby Donnell is a Texas native and has hooked up his kin back home sip it may be tough to come by around here.

I know Bobby used to run a Texas style BBC, so it’s no surprise this wine pairs perfectly with the baby back ribs I did up tonight.

Byron 2009 Pinot Noir – Santa Maria Valley

We had the good fortune to finally get down to the California Central Coast wine grape growing region this year and spent an awesome day in Los Olivos, tasting through some of the area’s best.  While we were visiting all of the local spots, we asked around with some of the locals as to where were the “must visit” tasting rooms.  Note:  Los Olivos is a quaint little town with what is basically a cross-roads, down each leg of these roads is a multitude of winery tasting rooms (it’s insane how many there are in such a small town).  Anyhow, Byron came up in many of our conversations so we stopped in.  The tasting room staff were great and we took home a few of their offerings.  This one is a great example of the Central Coast Pinot Noirs produced in the area.

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Tonight’s dinner consisted of some grilled pork loin with a Pinot Noir & Cherry reduction/glaze.  Obviously the wine complimented the dish famously.  A supple Pinot with a great ripe red berry fruit character, would have been great on its own but married to pork and blended with cherries made it all the better.

I would suggest that you stop by the Byron Tasting room next time you’re in town, in the meanwhile, here’s a link to their website: http://www.byronwines.com/

Cheers
Norcalwingman

Not Bad, no wait, About par for a Valentines Day!

Obviously the big V-Day is a very important day in the annual cycle of days, and is especially crucial to maintaining happiness around the home.  All this aside, it’s another good day and excuse to open a really good bottle of wine and cook some decent grub to boot!

Now I know that it may seem unoriginal, uninspired and otherwise rote, but Fillet Mignon really does make a great dinner on Valentines day.

I’m lucky enough (as I’ve mentioned on several previous occasions) I have a killer market, with an outstanding butcher.  It just so happens that I got a call from “the wife” today prior to leaving the office that I should swing by the store on the way home to pick up something for dinner.  Without to much grousing, I agreed and on my way home stopped in at our Oliver’s Market.  Fortunately for me, being the day that it is, the best cut of steak was available on sale.  With an ample selection of sizes and ages I picked two of the darkest selections of Fillet, knowing that they would be the most tender and tasty!

So blah blah blah, who cares, right?  Fillet Mignon finished with blue cheese, fresh, thin asparagus, and fingerling potatoes sauteed in evoo, herbs, and garlic.  Yummy, n’uff said.

Here’s the best part, the wine.  We always put off drinking that “good” bottle for that “special” occasion.  So, today has to be one of those, right?

In case you are not interested in saving that special bottle, there’s a cool site you might be interested in: http://www.openthatbottlenight.com/  This is a great idea since we all probably have one, two, ten, twenty really kick-ass bottles that we’re “saving for a special occasion.”  This site says buck that trend and just do it.  I guess they’re the Nike of wine or something!

Okay, back to business.  “The Wife”  picked out a really decent bottle of Geyser Peak Cab, a reserve from 2007, given to her by their winemaker, and  no doubt that it would be a seriously good bottle of grape juice, but…  I wanted to kick it up a notch, Emeril style.  So I put her completely decent selection back, and grabbed a bottle that I’ve been sitting on for quite some time.  A 1999 Alexander Valley, Silver Oak, Cabernet Sauvignon.

So here’s the details:

1999 Silver Oak Cellars, Alexander Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon
12.9 % ABV
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Release Date: August 1, 2003

Tasting Notes:  Herbaceous and earthy, reminiscent of many AV cabs, great fruit character, a blackberry jam (fresh, not cooked) on the mid-late palate.  Outstanding length of finish.  The color, brick to garnet.  Concentration is noticeable, but for a wine of this age very youthful.  The tannins have softened and mellowed, I would say this wine is in its prime.

Current Retail looks like $100/750ml

Again, we always save these great wines for that special moment, I’m guessing that we should be drinking these way more often!  Make yourself a great dinner and pair it up with the best you’ve got in your cellar.

Cheers and Happy Valentines Day!

Norcalwingman

2009 Silver Birch, Sauvignon Blanc

Up until this evening I had always wondered why grapefruit were called “Grape” fruit.  It never really made sense, but clearly the folks down in New Zealand, responsible for the creation of this 2009 Silver Birch, Sauvignon Blanc felt the need to express themselves with grapefruit.

2009, Silver Birch, Sauvignon Blanc — Octavin Home Bar 3L

Open Here
Open Here

The Nose:  Grapefruit

The Taste:  Grapefruit

The Mouth Feel:  Tart acidity and cheek watering, just a touch of a lingering mineral finish

The Color:  Pale Straw and light

The Nitty Gritty:
13% ABV
$22-$24 per 3L

no specific notes about acidity, but let’s just agree there must be a lot!

The Verdict:  While not supremely impressive or complex…  (actually it’s very one dimensional, did I mention the grapefruit thing?)  It is a reasonably drinkable wine, that tastes like grapefruit.  I still have slightly over 2.75 liters of this left, so I may just experiment with it a little.  I’m thinking a highball glass rimmed with salt and mixed with some vodka!

Looking down on Boxed Wine
Looking down on Boxed Wine

In all honesty though, it’s cold and fairly refreshing.  I’m guessing that this approachable wine might suit many a drinker looking to quench their thirst on a hot summer day.  I did pair this wine with some spicy chicken tacos and I must say that it fared decently with this dish.

In Vino Veritas:  This wine was provided to me as a professional sample with the intent of review.

Not Bad for a … Wait what night is it?

Well, regardless of what night it is, it has been way too long since I did a dinner post.  I’ve been very exited to get back to doing some dinner posts with recipes.

Valley End Farm
Valley End Farm

My work has brought in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm who provides us with fresh fruit and veggies every week for pittance! So in my first box from Valley End Farms, I received all sorts of inspiration for a good “Not Bad for a Thursday Night Dinner.”   So it’s only Tuesday but what the hell, why not just get after it?

Tonight I had a huge hankerin’ for a nice juicy pork chop.  In my CSA box I got some pears and spinach, and for whatever reason I was thinking that those would be two great parts of a really good pork chop dinner.

I didn’t have any pork thawed, so I popped over to the local market (Oliver’s in Cotati) and picked up a couple of center cut, bone-in chops, some organic dried cranberries and bananas.  Never fear, the bananas were just for the wife’s breakfast!

I had started up some wild rice cooking before I left for the store, since it takes so damn long to cook the stuff.

Wild Rice:

1 Cup of rice
2 Cups of water
dash of salt
In a small saucepan, combine rice, water and salt and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 50 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.  Fluff rice with a fork.

Wild Rice

Gas Grilled, Smoky Pork Chops:

Season pork chops with your favorite seasonings.  I used my “Rib Rub” which includes: Smoked Paprika, Chili Powder, Ancho Chile Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper, Kosher Salt, Garlic Powder, and Brown Sugar.  Fire up the grill to high heat and once hot, place the chops directly over the fire and sear the chops on both sides (about 3-5 min/side).

Chops on da Grill
Chops on da Grill

Once your chops have nice sear marks move to the other side of the grill or to the top rack and reduce the heat to medium/medium-low.  I prepared some smoking wood chips (apple wood) by soaking in a bowl of water and once the chops were moved to indirect heat I placed my smoker box onto the grill directly above the flames.  Close the lid and come back in about 20 minutes, you should get some good smoke going.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen….

Pear and Cranberry Compote:

2 Fresh Pears, diced
3 oz Organic Dried Cranberries
2-3 oz water
1-2 oz Apple Cider Vinegar

Pear and Cranberry Compote
Pear and Cranberry Compote

In a medium saucepan place diced pears, cranberries, water and apple cider vinegar over medium heat until mixture just starts to boil.  Reduce heat and continue to cook uncovered until pears become mushy.  Mash and mix, cover and remove from heat.

Last but not least the spinach.  I love fresh greens and since the wife doesn’t care for them I was super stoked to get some spinach (and kale…yet to cook) in my CSA box.

Sauteed Spinach:

5-6 bunches of fresh spinach
1-2 oz EVOO (Dry Creek Olive Oil Co.)
Dash Sea Salt
Dash Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Wash your spinach thoroughly and remove stems pile spinach in 12″ sautee pan and drizzle with oil, crack sea salt and black pepper.

Turn on heat to medium and stir occasionally as spinach begins to wilt.  Continue cooking until all spinach is wilted but is still bright green.  Try not to overcook it it would be a shame to cook the vitamins and flavor out of your fresh yummy green leafy goodness!

Plate all of these together and it makes for a great little meal.

Of course with pork my first inkling on wine pairing went to Pinot Noir.  So I started the ritual of perusing through the half dozen or so spaces we store our wine in, looking frantically for a Pinot that wasn’t Sonoma-Cutrer.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it (obviously), I just get more of that than any others… for obvious reasons.  Anyhow, I found one that I hadn’t previously had.  It was a bottle my co-worker brought over for a BBQ we had back in August.  His wife works for an importer of New Zealand wines so he brought over this Marlborough Pinot Noir.  A 2007 Big Barrel, Bird “Old School Vineyard,” Aotearoa, New Zealand.  Check back for that review!

2007 Bird, Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand
2007 Bird, Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand

It has been a really long time since I’ve taken the time to cook a nice dinner and talk about it, hell, it’s been 2 weeks since my last post so I apologize to you for that.  I will try and keep the dinners flowing, they are fun and usually pretty tasty…  But tonight sure qualifies as a “Not Bad for Thursday Night” even if it is only Tuesday!

Not Bad For A ...
Not Bad For A ...

Until next time cheers,
Brian

2006 Felta Creek Syrah, De La Montanya Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley

Oh man, I have been slacking like a pot-smoking sophomore High School kid.  I have been out of motivation like my Energizer Bunny up and died.  Anyhow, I just need to get back at this badness in a mean way!  So I grilled up a marinated pork loin on the Weber tonight and we all know smoky pork meat goes really well with some Syrah so I busted out a bottle from one of our wine club shipments from De La Montanya.

Here it is:

2006 Felta Creek Syrah, De La Montanya Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley

2006 Felta Creek Syrah, De La Montanya Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley
2006 Felta Creek Syrah

The Nose: Anise followed by marshmallow, mixed in with some sweet and sour ginger BBQ sauce, predominated by ripe plum.

The Taste: Ripe plum nose gives way to a tart plum taste with cherry fruit skins, finishing with a vanilla bean and chewy oak wood.

The Mouth Feel: Tart and a tad astringent shows good acidity (paired well with the juicy pork tenderloin) tame in the mid palate with decent tannins for a Syrah, definitely new world, and mild finish with subdued river stone.

The Color: This is definitely Syrah, Deep Purple, like Jimmy Hendrix himself brewed this concoction.  Thinning at the edges and showing its age a bit.

The Nitty Gritty:

14.5% ABV
$26 Original Retail Price
Does not appear to be available for  purchase

The Verdict:

As of late (past couple of years) I’ve been disenchanted by Syrah, but this is a damn fine drink of wine!  I thoroughly enjoyed this wine, both paired up with my dinner of marinated pork loin (marinated in garlic, Worcestershire, apple cider vinegar) and by itself.  De La Montanya rarely fails to impress me with the quality of their wines.  Again, I would recommend you get some of their product and drink to your heart’s delight!

Short on Time? How about a quickie!

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!

2009 Santorini, Boutari, Assyrtiko
2009 Santorini, Boutari, Assyrtiko

Yep, that’s it.  Just a quickie.  And well, I’m satisfied.
Cheers
Brian

Not Bad For a Thursday Night – Dinner for One and a Half

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.

Mashed Potatoes:

3-4 Red potatoes
2 Tablespoons butter
1/3 Cup cream
Sea salt
Black Pepper

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.

Cookin!
Cookin!

NY Strip:

12 Oz New York Choice or Prime Steak
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

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.

NY Steak
NY Steak - 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
Sea Salt
Black Pepper

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.

Mushrooms:

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).

Chopped Mushrooms
Chopped Mushrooms

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.

Sauteed Mushrooms!
Sauteed Mushrooms!

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.

Not Bad 17
Not Bad!

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!

Cheers
Brian