Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tweeting and Tasting Bonny Doon Syrah with Roasted Sirloin

Bonny Doon Syrah red wine served with with Roasted Sirloin

My coffee kicking in, I was ready to get a blog post finished this morning. I realized I had several in the queue here, all various food and wine pairing posts from the past month or so. Which to finish? Well, I had a pretty good photo for this, a definite nod in favor of getting this one done. There's also a good backstory to this one, a "Twitter success story" of sorts. Made me think of Matt of Hoot N Annie fame exhorting wineries to embrace social media more...and to actually be social on social media, such as in this post.

The Twitter story starts with Randall Grahm, whose title per his Twitter bio @RandallGrahm is "Founder, Winemaker, Terroirist/Vinarchist and Prez-for-Life" for Bonny Doon Vineyard. Despite having well over 300,000 followers, Randall still manages to be very personal and engaging on Twitter. I noted a tweet one morning about some olive oil he was producing, which piqued my curiousity (we go through EVOO about the same rate as wine here!).
As you can see, Randall quickly chimed in with some interesting notes about their EVOO. This must have been lingering in my mind a bit as I perused the section of "big, bold reds" at Pairings. I was looking for something from that department, in the twenty-something dollar range, to serve with our sirloin steak that night. I was planning to prepare my go-to garlic/cumin rub on the steak, so was thinking a zin or syrah would be good to pick up the spice element. There were a number of good contenders waiting to be plucked from the shelf, but the nod went to the 2010 Bonny Doon Le Pousseur Syrah.

Now, typically if I think I might blog about a wine or wine pairing, I take a few rough notes that evening, to be cleaned up and elaborated upon later. But this tale started on Twitter, so in the spirit of that medium, I'm going to share my raw, unedited notes with just a few extra notes. Here goes:

first impressions
label of 2010 Bonny Doon Le Pousseur Syrah red wine

Big chewy wine.
what does frankincense smell like? (here the blogger is clearly in the Christmas spirit. Typically he might have summoned something like "violets" or "forest floor" to describe the bouquet.)

further thoughts post-dinner
nose: musky. hint of bacon?
taste: blackberry, meaty. chewy, thinking pork (the blogger may be influenced in his description by past Twitter exchanges with @RandallGrahm wherein the winemaker noted that many of their wines have an affinity for pork)

curious how it would age. (drinkable now but I suspect it might be even better in a few years!)

definitely has a spice element that worked nicely w the cumin in the rub.

OK, that was about it in my "night of" notes. Wrapping up now...
A quick note on the steak preparation: when my grill is covered in snow, I prepare the rub with roughly equal parts cumin, garlic powder, salt and sometimes a dash of something else, such as cinnamon or sage. I rub it on the steak, let it sit for about 20 minutes. Then I sear both sides of the steak in a skillet on the stove top, then roast for about 10 to 12 minutes at 400. Gets it to a nice medium rare. Not quite as good as grilled but still quite yummy. And in case it didn't come across clearly enough in my brief notes, I'm definitely adding Le Pousseur to my "wines to get again list"!

It seems my mention of my wine choice being influenced by earlier Tweets with Randall might encourage him to continue his active presence there...a good thing!

One final note of interest on the pairing is that Randall said he typically pairs this wine with "softer foods" which I'll have to try. I'll sign off for now with that tweet, but perhaps will be back with an update with any further insight Randall or others might have on this wine and pairings for it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Super Simple Christmas Pizza

I typically wouldn't bother posting anything so simple. Or that I put together so haphazardly. But it is almost Christmas, and I might not be the only one that still has substantial shopping left to do and a need to make food for a few gatherings. So maybe something simple but festive looking isn't such a bad idea? Maybe even worth a blog post? I vote yes!

Now, this Christmas pizza wasn't born out of a desire to create something aesthetically pleasing for the holiday. Rather, it was prompted by my quest to limit waste of food. It bugs me to no end that something like 40% of food in America gets wasted. I'm on a constant quest to use as much of the food in our home as possible, to lower that figure and our budget. Now, when the food in question is pesto, I'm definitely on a mission!

Here's what you need for this:

Pesto--about 1 cup or a little less will do. I had some leftover, but if you want to whip up a fresh batch, here's my always popular recipe.
Mozzarella cheese--I like the fresh mozzarella, and had a ball of it left from making pizza last week.
Tomato pasta sauce--I rarely use jarred tomato sauce, but do tend to keep it on hand for the occasional quick supper. Of course if you have a cup or so of your own that's awesome.
Pizza crust--Again, if you want to make your own, kudos to you...but your veering away from the simple theme. I go with the Whole Foods 365 Organic Whole Wheat, which we almost always have around because my 8 year old loves it with his dairy free cheese.
Olive oil--Just a tbsp or two will do.

The process: Preheat oven to 400. Place 1 pizza crust on a pizza baking tray. Slice your cheese up thin. Spread the olive oil over the crust to lightly coat. With a tablespoon, spread the pesto over roughly one half of the pizza, then with a clean spoon spread the tomato sauce over the other half. I find a fairly thin coating of the sauce is good so as not to overwhelm. Place the mozzarella slices around the pizza evenly. Put in oven, bake for about 10 minutes until cheese melts and begins to bubble and brown. Slice and enjoy! We had this for support last night but small slices would work to serve as a party appetizer.

The wine: We had some Chianti with this which is an obvious choice. Try a Barbera or Dolcetto for some variety!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

November Wines of Note

bottles of Bordeaux wine and their corks

I enjoy reading Matt and Annie's post on their Hoot N Annie blog about their top 3 wines of the month on a regular basis, and have been meaning to do something similar for awhile. It's fun to see what other wine savvy friends are enjoying, and to track what I've enjoyed. Posting some of my favorites monthly will also help me get back into doing an annual "Wines of the Year" column, which I haven't gotten to in recent years. The final nudge getting me going on this post is that I'm embracing the concept of creating "mini-habits" to help achieve goals, and my first one is to write 50 words every day. Now that I have that commitment to do some very consistent writing, a monthly post on wines of note is a natural. (oh my, just did a word count on this paragraph, more than double the goal write there!)

Now, I like Matt and Annie's style of picking 3 wines each every month, but just looking at my November wine sampling, keeping it a bit more open-ended is going to make more sense for me. I've got more detail on wines we had at home, but I had some great wine out and about, too. For instance, a few of us shared a great bottle of Italian red after our board meeting earlier in the month. It probably tops some that I've got here, but I couldn't tell you much more about it other than it being Italian and red! OK, enough preliminaries, on to my "Wines of Note" for the month.

bottle of 2009 Ruché Di Castagnole Monferrato from the Piedmont region of Italy.
2009 Ruché Di Castagnole Monferrato This Italian red wine from the Piedmont region has a lot of depth and layers of complexity. This paired nicely with some rigatoni with meat sauce. Ruché is an Italian red grape varietal, pretty uncommon at least in the US.

2010 Pont de Gassac Pays de Hérault This white blend from a great Languedoc winemaker features Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillon if my notes are correct. Bright fruit, had the body to stand up to my Festive Fall Fettuccine.

2010 CasalVegri Valpolicella If you like Valpolicellas at all, definitely give this one a try if you can, it's top notch! We enjoyed with some roasted chicken and mushroom risotto.

Value department: The three wines mentioned above were in the $20ish range, not bad at all given their quality. But if like me your always on the lookout for enjoyable "every day" wines for closer to $10, you definitely need to get acquainted with wines from Portugal! In November, I enjoyed the 2009 Quinta da Casaboa Tintaboa, red blend of native Portuguese grapes Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Alicante Bouschet.
Ray Schaefer preparing for Bordeaux Wine Seminar

Now, I've covered my highlights of wines we enjoyed here with our meals. But my number one wine highlight for November was definitely the Pairings Wine and Food Bordeaux Seminar, part of a fun wine club series they host. Unfortunately, I seemed to have misplaced my notes, though they weren't especially detailed as I was more focused on enjoying the wine and conversation. Some that stick in my mind as being especially good from that event are the 2005 Chateau la Croix de Gay from Pomerol (predominantly Merlot), the 2006 Chateau Pedesclaux from Paulliac on the Left Bank, and the 2005 Chateau Coutet Sauternes-Barsac Cru. Again, with out the notes, I'll just say "Yum!" to all 3, and any of them would make wonderful Christmas gifts to any serious wine person on your list!

This is probably a good time to mention that all of the wines I've mentioned this month were found at Pairings Wine and Food in Winchester, MA. If you like wine and you are somewhere in the Boston area, definitely check out the shop...particularly on Saturdays when they have 6 wines with food pairings from 4 to 7, every week.

I realize I've written all this about November wines without mentioning Thanksgiving or anything from the U.S. Let me set that straight before signing off! We brought and enjoyed a Hahn Pinot Noir and a Deep Sea Pinot Noir, both from California. My sister brought a Mumm sparkling rosé, which was a nice way to get things started!

Now, I anticipate future monthly wines of note posts will be much shorter. But between Thanksgiving and a wine club gathering, there was an abundance of very good wine to sample and share about! Stay tuned for Decembers wines of note, and please let me know if you've come across noteworthy wines I ought to try!