Monthly Archives: August 2013

Celebrating My Birthday

My birthday celebration this year began the night before. Alfonso Cevola, a friend and fellow blogger “On the Wine Trail in Italy,” was visiting from Texas and we met at La Pizza Fresca for dinner.  We had two wines.

Sciac-trà Ormeasco di Pornassio 2011 DOC GuglierameIMG_3731

I was given this bottle of  Sciac-trà from Liguria for my birthday.  It was one of the most interesting rosato wines I have ever tasted.  It is made from the Ormeasco grape, which is the local name for the Dolcetto grape.  It is vinified in the traditional way.

The wine must be produced from at least 95% Ormaeasco and 5% of other approved red grapes. The grapes are grown on steep slopes high in the mountains at 800 meters. This grape is an early ripener and I believe the name means “crushed before the others.” It is aged for 4 months and does not see any oak. The wine comes from the Rivieradi Ponente in northwestern Liguria and should not be mistaken for the sweet Sciacchetra from the Cinque Terra area of Liguria. It has lively fresh red fruit flavors, a nice finish and a pleasing aftertaste.

The other wine of the evening was my favorite Chianti, Chianti Rufina Riserva 1990 Villa di Vetrice. The wine is made from 100% Sangiovese and there is traditional vinification. The wine is aged in large botti–oak barrels between 45 and 60 HL. The wine was showing no signs of age and will last for a number of years. It is Chianti at its best!

For my birthday dinner, I asked Michele to make some of my favorite food.IMG_3746

When I am in Rome the first I do is head for a restaurant that makes fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies.  I love them.  Since I am not in Rome, Michele and I went to the Greenmarket in Union Square and brought a box containing a dozen zucchini flowers.  When we returned home Michele wanted to know how many she should make and I said all of them.  IMG_3751

When in Rome I drink Prosecco with the flowers but Alfonso had given me a bottle of Franciacorta Grand Cru Pas Opere 2006 Bellavista for my birthday so I decided to try that.

It is made from 62% Chardonnay and 38% Pinot Noir. The vineyards are on high hills facing south and southeast and the average age of the vines is 20 years.  The wine is aged for 6 years in the cellars and it sees some small oak barrels.  The wine is big and round with nice fruit flavors and good bubbles.

For the next course, Michele made my favorite pasta, bucatini all’Amatriciana, thick tubular pasta strands with a tomato sauce with guanciale or pancetta, and pecorino cheese.  With it we drank IMG_3755Taurasi  “Radici “1995 Mastroberardino DOCG, 100% Aglianico grapes.  The vineyards were on two hills, Mirabella vineyard at 500 meters and the Montemarano vineyard at 550 meters. Because of its position on the hill and its altitude the temperature at the Montemarano vineyard was much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest takes place from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine is aged for 24 months in Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release.  This is full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a touch of leather.IMG_3754

Foe dessert there was a blueberry crostata!

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Filed under Bellavista, Franciacorta Brut, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian Wine, Ormeasco di Pornassio, Sciac-tra

Two Traditional Restaurants in Provence

These are two of my favorite restaurants in Provence,one is perfect for lunch the other for dinner.

Restaurant Auberge de la Clue– Deep in the country east of Vaison la Romaine, this family owned restaurant serves traditional Provencal cooking at a very reasonable price.

Gizzard Salade

Gizzard Salade

I could not resist ordering the gizzard salad with smoked duck breast and walnuts.  I was not disappointed.  The salad was excellent. For he second course I had duck confit one of my favorites and it was perfect. Then there was the dessert – prune ice cream with Armagnac – it was so good I forgot to take a picture of it.IMG_3624

We drank a Château d’Aqueria Tavel 2012.  It is made from seven different grapes, the principal one being Grenache 52%.  The vines are 35 years old.  The grapes are completely destemmed before being put into the maceration vats for 24 to 48 hours. The grape varieties are then blended two by two. After fully “bleeding” the vats (drawing off the juice), fermentation takes place at regulated temperatures (18 to 20°C). The different grape varieties are then all blended together and age for several months before being bottled at the estate. This is a fruity wine with aromas and flavors of red berries and more than a hint of strawberries and raspberries. About $20 in the US.

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Restaurant Mas des Vignes –IMG_3699

This restaurant is on the road that goes up to Mt Ventoux. There are exquisite views across the Rhone Valley to the Cevennes Mountains. The sunsets are spectacular but do not get there too early as the sun can be blinding.

Pork Cheeks

Pork Cheeks

I began with foie gras, which was perfect followed by very tender pork cheeks with mushrooms and polenta. The dessert was 3 scoops of sorbet with very intense flavors of blueberry, basil and melon. This was one of the best meals I had in Provence.IMG_3709

For the wine, I ordered a Gigondas Domaine du Grand Bourjassot “Cuveé Cécile” 2009.  They have 7.5 acres in Gigondas. The wine is made from 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. This is a full-bodied wine with black fruit aromas and flavors, a hint of blueberries and a touch of lavender. About $35 in the US.

 

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Filed under French Red, Gigondas, Provence, Restaurants Provence, Tavel

Eating in Provence: Rabbit, Gizzards, Pigeon and Bull

When I am in a restaurant in France I try to order dishes that are difficult to get in NYC.   On this trip so far, I have enjoyed rabbit, gizzards, pigeon and bull. 

La Bastide Bleu –Sequret

This is a very charming restaurant with outside dining in a courtyard of a farmhouse with very good Provencal food. I started with a salad of arugula and gesiers, confit gizzards, with hazelnuts and sun dried tomatoes, followed by braised rabbit with rice.

Confit Gizzards

Confit Gizzards

To go with the meal I ordered a bottle of Jean David Red Blend Cotes-Du-Rhone 2011 72%, Cinsault 10%, Carignan, Counoise 6% and the rest Syrah and Mourvedre.  Located within walking distance from the restaurant, the vineyards and winery are organic certified.IMG_3540

All work in the vineyards is done by hand and the soil is clay and limestone. There is no de-stemming.  Fermentation is with indigenous yeasts and varieties are co-fermented.  Both fermentation and aging occur in stainless steel or concrete. The wine is aged in concrete for one year. Bottling is done without fining and filtration and with minimal SO2. The wine has aromas and flavors of red fruit and a hint of spice. It is a well-structured wine and goes very well with food.

Lemon Sorbet

Lemon Sorbet

Our dessert was simple yet bracing, lemon sorbet drizzled with limoncello, and topped with whipped cream.

Auberge Du Beaucet — Beaucet

The Bull

The Bull

The restaurant is situated in a hill top village with a lovely dining room and covered terrace with great views. I ordered foie gras to start and then had roasted bull filet with red wine sauce.  The meat was chewy with a deep beefy flavor.   Fries made from butternut squash were a delicious accompaniment.IMG_3581

Chãteau Du Mourre Du Tendre 2005 Red Blend Cotes-Du-Rhone-Villages. This is a very traditional organic winery. Made from 65% Grenache, and 35% Mourvedre. The grapes are from a single parcel called Le Clos des Grenadiers that abuts the Chåteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. The Grenache was planted in 1925 and the Mourvedre was planted in 1969. The soil is gravelly clay-limestone. The vineyards are worked manually and as naturally as possible in terms of chemical additions. Pesticides have never been used. Yields are kept extremely low. Grapes are hand harvested. Triage (sorting) is done in the vineyard before grapes arrive at the winery. Grapes are all harvested by hand and sorted both in the vineyard and in the cellar. The grape bunches are not de-stemmed, and fermentation occurs naturally with indigenous yeasts and fairly long maceration. The wines are then aged for a minimum of 3 years in concrete tanks and old foudre, then bottled without filtration. This is a full-bodied wine with black fruit aromas and flavors, a hint of leather and a touch of spice. The current vintage is 2008

Restaurant Beaugraviere — Mondragon

This restaurant was a little out of the way but it has a great wine list featuring the wines of Côtes-du-Rhone, Chåteauneuf-du-Pape and Hermitage among many others.

The Piegon

The Piegon

They are also known for their truffles and have an entire truffle menu.  I started with sautéed foie gras with a puree of apples and Michele had a truffle omelet, which she really enjoyed.  For the second course I had pigeon, which was excellent.IMG_3588

Chãteauneuf –du-Pape White 2011 Domaine De Nalys Grenache, Clairette, Bourboulenc and Picpoul are put into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and fermented at 18 degrees C. Rousianne and Picardan are barrel fermented before blending with the other varieties. Maturation takes place in tanks for 8/12 months. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation. Bottling is very early to keep the wine’s aromatic freshness. This is a wine with subtle citrus aromas and flavors with good minerality and a savory character.IMG_3592

Bandol 1993 Domaine Tempier made from 70/75% Mourvedre, 14/16% Grenache,8/9% Cinsault and 2/3% Carrignan depending on the vintage. The soil is a mix clay and limestone. Traditional tilled soil, both mechanically and by hand, without the use of herbicides. The vines are treated without any chemical fungicides. Grapes are harvested by hand and carried in small bins 30kg. Clusters are hand selected in the vineyard and in the cellar. After destemming traditional fermentation takes place with natural yeast for 2/3 weeks in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. After pressing, the wine is put into large oak casks 25/75HL to complete malolactic fermentation and to mature for 18/20 months. The wine is bottled without fining or filtering. This was a very impressive wine showing no real sign of age. It has black fruit aromas and flavors, with hints of leather and spice a long finish and a very pleasing aftertaste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Auberge Du Beaucet, Bandol, Chateau Du Mourre Du Tendre, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Domaine de Nalys, Domaine Tempier, French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Jean David Wine, Restaurant Beaugraviere, Restaurant La Bastide Blue

Best Buy in Provence for Lunch

Le Pont de l’Orme ( Malaucene) This restaurant is in a lovely old maison de maitre surrounded by a park, with views across the west side of Mount Ventoux. The set price menu is a bargain at 16 euros for an appetizer, main course and the desert–café gourmandise.IMG_3551

We sat on the terrace with a view of the park and Mount Ventoux and ordered the price fixed menu.IMG_3553

The first course was melon and ham and the second course was a choice of sardines or steak. I had the sardines, which were excellent, and the steak looked very good.

Cafe Gourmandis

Cafe Gourmandise

We had a carafe of Rose wine and enjoyed the food the wine and the views. IMG_3550

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In Provence

When we arrived in Provence the weather was very hot, just perfect for enjoying the Rosé wines from this enchanting part of France.  Of course we would drink some white wine and if the weather cooled off, a red wine or two. We had rented a house in Abignon near Carpentras. It is very near to great wine areas such as Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, Cotes du Rhone, and Vaqueyras, so wine would not be a problem.

Buying Shrimp at the Market in Isle Sur La Sorgue

Buying Shrimp at the Market in Isle Sur La Sorgue

We decided to go out for one meal a day, usually lunch, and have one meal at the house. There is a large organic garden where we can pick our vegetables and there are a number of towns nearby with great farmers markets.

Veal and Langoustine

Veal and Langoustine

 For lunch one afternoon we went to Restaurant L’ Oustalet in Gigondas. This restaurant has a very interesting menu different from the typical ones in the area.  One of the courses I ordered was a carpaccio of veal and langoustine mixed together covered with foam. It was not what I expected but it was very good. They also have a very good wine list from which I ordered a bottle of white wine:IMG_3512

Coudoulet de Beaucastle 2011 Cotes- Du-Rhone made from 30% Bourboulemc, 10% Clairette, 30% Marsanna and 30% Viognier. The vines grow in a 3 acre vineyard between Orange and Avignon. There is manual harvesting, sorting of the grapes, pneumatic pressing, racking and fermentation partly in oak barrels and stainless steel tanks for 8 months. The wines are assembled and bottled without passage at low temperatures. This white wine with a mineral  and savory character, subtle citrus fruit, good acidity, a very pleasing dry finish and long aftertaste.

The Pizza

The Pizza

The house has a pizza oven on the property and one afternoon we decided to make pizza. Michele made the dough and I tended the fire and baked the pizzas.  With the pizza we drank:IMG_3526

Bandol Rosé 2012 AOC Bondol Domaine Tempier made from 50% Mourvédre, 28% Grenache, 20% Cinsault and 2% Carignan. The soil is a mix of clay and limestone; it is tilled mechanically and by hand. The grapes are harvested by hand and carried in small bins of 30 kg and hand selected in the vineyard and cellar. Vinification is by direct pressing or after cold maceration or by saignées between 5 and 10 percent. This is a Rosé with a lot of body and flavor, floral overtones, peaches, a hint of spice and good acidity. The wine worked very well with the pizza with its different toppings.IMG_3491

Les Palliēres “ au petit Bonheur” 2012 Rosé Vin de Table- the winery is located outside the village of Gigondas.  Made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Clairette, the blend depending on the vintage. The soil is clay and limestone and the vines are at 250 to 400. The grapes are sourced from younger vines and the juice is obtained from directed pressing.  Fermentation takes place in 650-liter demi-muids. This is a very pleasant wine with nice fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of melon. We enjoyed this wine with the shrimp that we purchased at the market.

Sparibs

Sparibs

We passed a farm stand one day advertising fresh cepes, porcini mushrooms.  They were big and beautiful and Michele bought a few to serve as our appetizer that night for dinner.  She larded the caps with slices of fresh garlic, drizzled  them with olive oil and sprinkled them with fresh thyme from the garden.  After roasting in a hot oven, they were tender and meaty, just the way we have eaten them in Italy.  For a second course, we had rotisserie spareribs that we had gotten at the market in Carpentras.  The wine for the night was a perfect choice: IMG_3529

Gigondas 2005 Clos du Joncuas made from 80% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah. They use organic methods in the vineyards and traditional vinification. The wine has red and black fruit aromas and flavors, hints of blackberry, blueberry and a touch of spice. It was an excellent combination with the roasted porcini mushrooms we had at the house. I do not believe this wine is imported into the US but I really liked it. The wine cost 14 Euros in the coop store in Gigondas.

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Filed under Bondol, Clos du Joncuas Gigondas, Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Domaine Tempier Rose, French Red, French White Wine, Gigondas, Les Pallieres Rose, Pizza and Wine, Provence, Rose, Uncategorized

The Principessa and Pasta for the Weekend

 

A few weeks ago a friend invited us over for dinner. She is an excellent cook and made one of my favorite pasta dishes, a recipe from Michele’s book 1,000 Italian Recipes (Wiley), Fettuccine with 1,000 Herbs.   The pasta was al dente and the aroma of the herbs on the hot pasta was wonderful.IMG_3381

The wine that she chose to accompany the pasta was a Gavi, Principessa Gavia.  This was an inspired choice as the wine complemented the herbal and tomato flavors in the sauce.  It was a truly perfect match.IMG_3383

Principessa Gavia 2012 Gavi DOCG Made from 100% Cortese. The grapes are estate grown and carefully selected.  The clear must is gently pressed and fermented at a controlled temperature of 18 degrees for 20 days.  The wine had forward fruit, a hint of apple, good acidity and a nice dry finish.

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Filed under Gavi, Principassa Gavia