Category Archives: Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Gnocchi and Boca

Company was coming and Michele wanted to make something from her new cookbook: The Italian Vegetable Cookbook: 200 Favorite Recipes for Antipasti, Soups, Pasta, Main Dishes and Dessert. She asked me what I was in the mood for but with so many delicious choices, I could not make up my mind. Then I saw the picture of the Basil Ricotta Gnocchi in Tomato Butter Sauce and I knew that was it. I planned to match it with the 1985 Boca.IMG_5102

We started the evening as we usually do with Champagne:IMG_5095

Champagne Delamotte Brut NV 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Nero and 20% Pinot Meunier. Light and fresh with citrus aromas and flavors and good acidity. The sister house is Salon and both are part of the Laurent-Perrier group. At $38 a bottle, it is a bargain and is our current house champagne.

Boca 1985 Campo Delle Piane La Meridiana made from 85% Nebbiolo,15% Vespolina and some bunches of Bonarda.  Boca is Piemonte’seasternmost DOC zone, and with theexception of the also little known area of Sizzano, it’s northernmost as well. It is entirely surrounded by a mountainous national park. It forms something of a southerly exposed amphitheatre at 400-500 m elevation, just west of Lago d’Orta.IMG_5099

For over 60 years, Antonio Cerri, the owner of La Meridiana, made Boca from his one half hectare of vines. He seemed more concerned with making Boca than with bottling and selling it.  Enter Cristoph Kunzil, a Swiss importer of Italian wines. Antonio was ready to retire and Mr. Kunzil saw an opportunity so he bought the land and the cellars. He spent time with Antonio to learn the history of the place and the wines. The La Meridiana winery does not exist any more and Mr. Kunzil calls his winery Le Piane.

Gary Olson of Artisan Wines Inc., the importer and distributor, put me in touch with Mr. Kunzil who told me that the current wines under his Le Piane label are made the same way as the wines of Anthonio Cerri, and added that the cellar may be a little cleaner.  Long fermentation occurs for about a month and no yeast is added. The aging is in barrels of 20hl for 5 years or more for the  wines that were made by Mr. Cerri and 3-4 years for the Le Piane.  Le Piane owns the Cerri wines, and sells them as a rarity to show the potential of the Boca region.

Mr. Kunzil said that the1985 was the best of the bottled wines of Mr. Cerri, still young and with a lot to give. The 1985 was bottled in 1995. The wines from this area are lighter than the ones from around Alba and therefore were a perfect combination with the ricotta gnocchi and light tomato sauce. I was very impressed with the wine. IMG_5096

Barbaresco 1998 DOCG La Spinona. I00% Nebbiolo. The winery is located in the town of Barbaresco and it is a family run winery operated by Pietro Berutti, his son Gualtiero, and grandson Pietroparlo. They only use their own grapes.

They have 10 hectares of vineyards on the historic Faset hill with a south-southeast exposure. The vineyard is at 270 meters and the vines are 35 years old. Harvest is by hand in October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and there is skin contact for 14/21 days. After malolactic fermentation, the wine is racked and spends 2 years in 2,500 Slovenian oak casks. On the label there is a picture of a special breed of hunting dog raised at the winery.  One of the dogs saved the son of Pietro from drowning and so they put a picture of the dog on the label. This is a fruity, spice, fragrant and elegant wine. It is made it a style which reflects all the Nebbiolo characteristics but is ready to drink sooner than most. The 1998 was at its peak. IMG_5097

Chateauneuf–du–Pape 1995 Chateau-Fortia (Baron Le Roy De Boiseaumarie) Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre in Magnum.

After a manual harvest the grapes are destemmed, crushed and fermented separately in 9 to 150 hl concrete vats or stainless steel vats of 50 to 150 hl which are temperature controlled. Fermentation lasts for 20 to 25 days depending on the vintage. Malolactic fermentation takes place in 33 to 40 hl concrete tanks. Then the wines are racked and the different varieties are blended together. The wine spends 12 to 18 months in “founder” (metal tanks) where they will be fined and filtered prior to bottling and remain in the bottle for several months before release. Yields in Chateauneuf-du-Pape are limited to 35 hectoliters per hectare and they are below the limit. This is a big impressive wine and I decanted it before serving but I should have done it a few hours before.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Barbaresco, Boca, Campo delle Piane, Champagne, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Delamotte NV, Italian Red Wine

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

A Night at Bern’s Steak House

During lunch at SD26, Ed said that they were thinking of flying to South Carolina because Mary needed to acquire more miles to qualify for a gold frequent flyer card from an airline. Their plan was to stay overnight and return the next day.

I suggested they go to Florida instead.  Ed said, “why Florida?”  Travis answered Bern’s Steak House.  We all knew about Bern’s but only Travis and Nicole had been there.  After a very brief discussion, Mary and Ed decided that they liked the idea.  Travis then said, “Why don’t we all go?”  So that is how a group of 8 of us flew to Tampa, had dinner at Bern’s on Sunday night, and returned to New York for dinner at my apartment on New Year’s Eve.  

One of the many wine rooms in Bern's

One of the many wine rooms in Bern’s

Bern’s Steak House may have the largest wine list in the world. They have over 1,250 wines on the list, 6,800 different wines, and a total of over half a million bottles.
Travis had contacted Brad Dixon, one of the sommeliers at Bern’s Steak House, so he was ready for us when we arrived. We discussed the wine list with him and he also made suggestions that were not on the list and told us all about them. He is very knowledgeable and was a great help when it came to Burgundy. IMG_2579
Since Ed always starts with Champagne, he ordered the Perrier-Jouet “Fleur de Champagne” 1996 in magnum to start.   Made from 50% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Meunier, it comes in the popular and beautiful “Flower Bottle”. 1996 was a great year for Champagne. The wine was just starting to come around and will last for many more years.  It was a perfect start to a great wine evening.IMG_2567

Rully  Domaine Faiveley 1982 100% Chardonnay. The exposure is east and the soil is clay and limestone. Perfectly mature grapes are harvested and transported to the Faiveley winery in Mercurey. The must is extracted using a pneumatic press and settles in a vat overnight. Vinification lasts for 4 weeks. The wine is aged in vats for 11 weeks and the lees are stirred regularly. The wine is racked in Mercurey and transported to Nuits-Saint Georges, the headquarters of Domaine Faiveley, where it is prepared for bottling. This is how the wine is made today though it may have been different 30 years ago. This wine was showing its age but was still drinking well. It will not last much longer and I attribute its lasting this long to the excellent storage facilities at Bern’s. This wine was under $50. Bern’s has a large selection of older wines from Italy and less known parts of France for under $50.IMG_2569
Echezaux 1959.  This is a negociant wine from T. Thorin
and the label indicates the location of his offices which were in the village of Pontanevoux. IMG_2570Domaine Romanee Saint-Vivant 1962.  100% Pinot Noir This is 9.54 hectare vineyard just above the village of Vosne.  At one time, over half was owned by Domaine Merey-Monge but the vineyard however was tended by and the wines made by Romanée Conti.  Domaine de la Romanée is now the principal owner with 5.29 hectares. There are 11 owners altogether.

IMG_2573Romanée St. Vivant 1970 Marey-Monge 100% Pinot Noir in magnum. (We ordered magnums when they were available.)
All I can say is that the Burgundies were exceptional and none were showing their age.

Bordeaux Haut Batailley 1959. I believe it is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot and a touch of Cabernet Franc depending on the vintage. Mary paid for this wine to thank us for supporting her quest for miles. It was wonderful. IMG_2577
Châteauneuf-du-Pape  1961 in Magnum Delas Freres This is a northern Rhône negociant that buys juice for their wines  in the southern Rhône.
1961 was an exceptional vintage and this was the best Châteauneuf-du-Pape that I have ever had. In fact a number of people said that it was too young! Today it is owned by the Champagne house Roederer.IMG_2583

Cossart Madeira Sercial 1905 – the oldest shipper of Madeira wine, established in 1745. Made from the Sercial grape. Sercial Maderia is the driest of the four classic varieties of Madeira. It is also the lightest and most acidic and delicate expression of Madeira and takes the longest to mature. Maderia Sercial is a white fortified wine made on the volcanic island of Madeira, which belongs to Portugal.  Of the two Madeira Sercials that we drank on two consecutive nights, the 1910 Leacock (New Years Eve) was showing slightly better.

After dinner at Bern’s Steak House you are taken to the dessert rooms, set in empty wine barrels!  They offer an array of interesting desserts and a full range of dessert wines to go with them.

We all had a great time and it was worth the trip!

We are back on I-Italy|TV:   This Saturday at 11:00 PM repeated Sunday at 1:00 PM.

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Filed under Bern's Steak House, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Madeira

“TASTES”

There are many wines that I would like to write about but unfortunately, it is not possible to get to all of them.  So I decided to write a brief post called “Tastes” from time to time highlighting some of the wines and food I have enjoyed.

And I can introduce my new wine group.  The League of Gentlemen, a wine group, I used to belong to and often wrote about no longer exists.  In its place is another group with no name, which meets once a month at restaurant SD 26 in NYC. There are a few members from the old group plus some new ones.  This is also a very low-key group, which happens to enjoy great wines.

 

Here are four French Wines that I enjoyed with lunch last Monday at SD26:

Chablis Premier Cru “La Forest” 2010 Vincent Dauvissat
This is one of my favorite Chablis’ and it can age.

Burgundy Volnay “ Les Premiets” 1985 Joseph Voillot This is a classic Burgundy at its peak but it will last for a number of years.Châteauneuf-du-Pape 1998  Domaine Peagu Made from 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah 4% Mourvèdre and 6% of other approved varieties.  This is a big wine drinking very well right now, with black fruit aromas and flavors and an undertone of spice.Hermitage 1985 Jean-Louis Chave Everyone agreed that this was the wine of the afternoon. This is a complex wine almost at its peak with aromas and flavors of deep red fruit with hints of cherry and strawberry and a touch of smoke.

 

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Filed under Burgundy, Chablis, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, French Red, French Wine, Hermitage, SD26

Drinking More Red, Rose and White in Provence

’’This year, we spent our vacation in Provence.  We rented a house in the tiny town of St. Romaine en Viennois, just a half hour or less from the villages of Gigondas, Beaumes-De Venise, and Chateauneuf du Pape.  The house overlooks a valley of vines and every morning I enjoyed walking among the vines and watching the farmers at work. We spent 10 days there and drank a lot of rosé, some whites, and a few reds.

Then we went to a friend’s home in Eze Village for two days. Here we drank mostly red wine.

 Red Beaumes-De-Venise “Les Trois Amours” 2008 Domaine Beauvalcinte, made from 50% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, 10% Carignan, 5% Counoise and 5% Cinsault. The grapes are destemmed and fermentation takes place in concrete tanks with natural yeast under controlled temperatures. Maceration lasts for 24 days. This was a very nice wine with red fruit flavors and aromas with hints of raspberry.

 The soil in Gigondas  is composed of limestone, clay and small stones which seemed to be everywhere. The vineyards are on the hills and the plateau and can be seen from the village above.

 Gigondas 2001 Domaine De La Jaufrette.  The wine is made from 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah.  It stays 2 to 3 years in vats and 6 to18 months in foudres according to the vintage and 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. The wine was showing very well with dark fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of spice and leather. There was some wine left in the bottle and I had it with lunch the next day.  It tasted even better.

 The territory of Chateauneuf-du-Pape is north of Avignon on the left bank of the Rhone. It covers the five communes between Orange and Avignon.  Clay and limestone “galettes,” large round stones, help the vines to withstand the dry Mediterranean climate and the mistral (strong winds).

 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2009 Domaine du Grand Tinel. The wine is made from 60% Grenache Blanc, 20% Clairette and 20% Bourboulance.   90% of the wine is aged  in stainless steel tanks and the rest in new oak barrels. The wine was dry with a mineral character and hints of grapefruit.  It worked very well with tapenade, olives and thumb size sausages that we had as an appetizer.

 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2000 Chateau La Nerthe made from 39% Roussanne, 27% Grenache Blanc,19% Clairette and 15% Bourboulence. I do not think the wines undergo malolatic fermentation and 38% of the wine is aged in wood and 62% in tanks. The wood might be barriques. This was the oldest blanc from here that I have had. The wine was showing its age with ripe fruit and a mineral character but it went very well with the smoked salmon we had with lunch.

  Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1989 Chateau Cabrieres made from 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah 20% Mourvedre and 10 Cinsault. The harvest is by hand and usually takes place in the middle of September.  There is a select sorting of the grapes. Fermentation lasts for 4 weeks and includes pumping over, delestage and later malolatic fermentation. The wines are assembled and undergo a light filtration and are aged in Allier oak for 6-12 months. It was drinking like a good older wine with hints of black fruit, prune and spice. It had a nice finish and aftertaste.

 The wines of Cassis

The fishing village and seashore resort of Cassis is situated in the western part of the Cote d’Azur not far from Marseille. The appelation is restricted to the commune of Cassis which covers only some 80 hectares. Here they produce white, rosé and red wine. They are known first for their whites, somewhat for their rosé, and least of all for their reds. At the house of a friend in Eze Village I was able to taste all three.

 Blanc de Blancs Cassis 2009 Domaine du Paternal made from Ugni Blanc, Clairette, Marsanne and Doucillon. I was very impressed with this wine. It was balanced, with good acidity, aromas and flavors of grapefruit, herbs, a touch of spice, good mineral character and a very nice finish and aftertaste. It was a delight to drink on the terrace looking at the village of Eze.

 Rosé Cassis 2009 Domaine Du Bagnol made from Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Carignan. This is a fruity wine with a dry, full body with hints a strawberry and raspberry.

 Red Cassis 2008 Domaine du Paternal made from the same grapes as the Rosé. I had never had a red wine from Cassis before. The red was interesting but not as good as the white.

 Cornas, scorched earth. The production zone has a south/southwest exposure with a semicircle of hill which protect it from the winds and steep terraced hills. The soil contains granite.   It has a hot and dry Mediterranean climate.  Because of these factors, the grapes are the first to be harvested in the Northern Rhone. The area covers 115 hectares all planted with Syrah.

 Cornas Terre Brulee 2004 100% Syrah Domaine Lionnet, they only use organic farming methods and all of the work is done by hand. The only have 2.2 hectares and the vines are between 40-100 years old. All the farming is done by the lunar calendar when possible. The land is worked by a tractor or a horse. No additives are used in making the wine. Only natural yeast is used to have a real expression of the terroir. Grape bunches are placed in small open tanks and the maceration lasts for three weeks. The grapes are “walked on” several times a day during this time. The pulp and stems are shoveled by hand into a 19 century vertical press where a slow pressing takes place. The wine is temporarily placed in tanks so that malolatic fermentation can take place. After the wine is racked and separated from the lees it remains in barrels for two winters.  There is no filtration and no new oak is used. I was very impressed with this wine. It was a big wine with cooked black fruit aromas and flavors, hints of cassis, spice, licorice and a touch of violets.

The Wines in the House in Eze

The Wines in the House in St. Romaine en Viennois

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Filed under Cassis, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cornas, French Red, French Wine, Gigondas, Rose, White wine