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Posts Tagged ‘France’

Holy Kale!?

Kale…isn’t that for garnishing plates?  I don’t know about you, but I never considered including kale on my shopping list.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a grudge against this green cabbage – honestly! It’s just one of those green leafy vegetables that I passed en route to the romaine lettuce or mixed greens.  Maybe a side effect of my upbringing:  salads consisted of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, Ba-Cos and French dressing.

But on one magnificent day, on a jaunt to Whole Foods with my brother-in-law, life changed:  he made the most delicious kale salad for my wife and me!

Checkout this out!

A kale salad mixed with beets, carrots, crumbled bleu cheese, quinoa, walnuts and topped with an Asian Ginger Vinaigrette (I like this one) - freakin’ delicious!!  Since that day, I’ve been hooked and make this salad quite frequently now.

To accompany this healthy goodness, I recommend a sensational Riesling…and I’ve got the perfect one for you!

Made from 100% Riesling, the 2010 Lucien Albrecht Reserve Riesling from Alsace, France is a delicious mouthful of dried apricots, sour apple, and almond with the swagger of flinty Alsatian terroir (plant roots are parked in part soil and part bedrock to give it that twang).  Wildly incredible wine with this kale salad!

4 Stars out of 4 for the 2010 Lucien Albrecht Reserve Riesling (Sample, MSRP: $15 US).

A huge thank you to my brother-in-law for introducing me to the world of kale and for broadening my salad horizons.  Lookout okra – you’re next! :)


25 Days of Christmas: Day 23

Check out our kosher wine section today.

After 23 days, how could I possibly resist not having any dessert?  After all, it is the best part of the meal!  Right!?  As in any fine establishment, you can choose between having something light or something that’s a bit more decadent to satisfy your sweet tooth.  Here are a few after-dinner nightcaps that take the cake, or even replace it! :)

  • If you’re one that enjoys the lighter side after dinner, full of healthy fresh fruits – then you can’t go wrong with the Dr. Konstantin Frank 2008 Bunch Select Late Harvest, Riesling from New York’s Finger Lakes (Sample, MSRP:  $69.99/375 ml).It oozes in sweet golden raisins, tangy pineapple and ultra-ripe apple flavors.  It’s pretty sensational, whether you want just a little or a whole lot!
  • How about an elegant sweet wine from the western region of France?   If the sound of crème brûlée whets your appetite, then a Sauterne swimming in creamy vanilla, dried apricot, peach and pineapple just might be calling your name.  Mark, Mark, Mark…look over here.  Well look at that, it’s true a 2005 Chateau Guiraud Sauterne ($69.99, half bottle) is calling for me right now! Gotta run! :)
  • How about a unique treat that’ll have you sailing away to the Greek island of Santorini? A super rich and seductive Greek dessert wine, called Vinsanto, comprised of hard to pronounce Greek grapes like Assyrtiko and Aidani is truly something special that you don’t come across very often here in the US.  This rare Greek dessert wine is a product of extensively ripened grapes, sun-dried for fifteen days and barrel aged to give it deep essences of sweet honey, dry figs, caramel and nuts; providing a sweet warm sensation in the back of your throat.  It’s the nectar of the Gods, I tell you!
  • Finally, if you envision a glass full of dark decadence, with a plate of fresh figs with mascarpone and warmed spiced honey, then you should try a classic, aged port wine.  Just the other night, my wife and I were in that dark hedonistic place with a delicious bottle of  Sandeman 10 Years Old Tawny Port (Portugal) (Sample, MSRP:  $30).It was oozing with caramel, coffee and nut flavors.  The caramel was like the burnt sugar coating on crème brûlée.  My wife, on the other hand, thought it tasted like one of her favorite cupcakes, French Toast!  This is a great entry into aged port wines @ $30.  I’d really love to see where this port will be in 20 or 30 years.  For now, it’s a crazy good way to close out a cold, late December evening.

25 Days of Christmas: Day 9

I’ve been chomping at the bit, like a rabid old junkyard dog gnawing on a bone.

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to holiday or special meals, not many combinations make me froth at the mouth with excitement quite like digging my teeth into a rack of lamb; cooked and seasoned to perfection, paired with a delicious, earthy, hearty red from France’s Côtes du Rhône wine region.

But I ask, “WHY does this classic pairing need to wait ‘til Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve?  And why can’t this ‘formal union’ of tender and succulent heaven, topped with fresh rosemary, partnered with a gusty Côtes du Rhône red be enjoyed anytime?”   Rather than wait for Christmas Day, or worse yet, until New Year’s Eve, I thought that I’d take matters into my own hands and hit the streets to ask for a little help.  First, I hit the local butcher shop and told my butcher that I was going to snap if I had to wait another day to bite down on a little lamb.  He asked, “Do you want a leg or rack of lamb?”  I told him, “I’m pretty hungry and my wife is fully capable of doing her own damage on a sizeable piece of lamb, but between the two of us, I’m not really sure if we could take down a whole leg or rack.”  (At least, I don’t think so…)  So he suggested a few center-cut loin lamb chops.  “Perfect!” , I said.  Now all I needed was some primo Côtes du Rhône to go along with the chops.  I decided to call in the experts for some help.  I set off to visit several terrific nearby wine shops that have a huge selection of Côtes du Rhône wines, as well as having knowledgeable wine staff.  I asked each of the shop owners the very same question :  “Can you recommend a terrific, inexpensive, Côtes du Rhône red (i.e., no more than $20) that would be a marriage made in lamb heaven?  Whether it’s my  simple, center-cut lamb loin chops or a rack/leg of lamb fit for a king?”

 Here were the recommendations chosen by my team of local wine experts:

  1. 2007 Chateau Du Trignon Vacqueyras ($20)
  2. 2009 Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône ($15)
  3. 2007 E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône ($15)
  4. 2010 Saint – Damien ‘La Bouveau’ Côtes du Rhône ($17)
  5. 2007 Chateau Du Trignon Côtes du Rhône ($15)
  6. 2009 Domaine Alary ‘La Gerbaude’ Côtes du Rhône  ($15)

Before revealing our top three picks, let me just say that the margin of uber pleasuredome between all of them was thinner than LeAnn Rimes in a string bikini…so kudos to my local wine merchant for delivering an amazing selection of wines.  If you see any of these wines on the shelves at your local hangouts, BUY ‘EM!!

Ok, so coming in 3rd place was the 2010 Saint – Damien ‘La Bouveau’ Côtes du Rhône ($17).  This Rhone blend is made of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache.  It’s still just a baby.  Big, sharp and a bit tart around the edges.  The red fruit was bursting like the Fourth of July!  Once the 2010 Saint – Damien ‘La Bouveau’ Côtes du Rhône has a chance to grow up in the next couple of years, it’s really going to party!

Our second place wine was the 2007 Chateau Du Trignon Côtes du Rhône.  I believe the first word that came out of my mouth was “WOW!”  Fully mature and totally awesome!  The 2007 Chateau Du Trignon Côtes du Rhône is a delicious blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre; beaming with dark fruit and peppery spices, it packs a super long finish.

Our first place winner happened to be the most expensive wine in the group.  At $20, the 2007 Chateau Du Trignon Vacqueyras was a beast of refinement and elegance.  What can I say other than, it truly tasted like it was the most expensive wine of the group, with its massive concentration of dark fruit, spice and acidity.  Drinking great today, this wine has a bright future ahead as well.

To wrap this up (no pun intended), here’s a tip that one shop owner shared with me.  He told me to decant all of the wines before trying them.  He suggested pouring each wine into a decanter and then funneling the wine back into their bottle.  I didn’t do that because there were six bottles and only my wife and I, but I did break out my Vinturi Aerator!  Maybe that’s what made all of these wines taste so good!  Thanks, Scott, for the tip!!

25 Days of Christmas: Day 6

I was just saying yesterday that I really hate (I mean REALLY HATE!) wrapping gifts.  I dislike it so much, that on several occasions I have actually paid to have presents “professionally” wrapped at various department stores.  One look at my “wrap jobs” and you’d immediately understand:  my gifts tend to look like they’ve been wrapped by an entire first grade class.  Therefore, Day 6 of the 25 Days of Christmas is dedicated to all my fellow brothers and sisters who detest wrapping gifts!

Here are a couple of gift-worthy wines for the wine lovers in your life – AND they come already wrapped for you! (Note: Bows not included)

  • Who doesn’t like a little bubbly?  Nicolas Feuillatte Blue Label Brut from Champagne, France is composed of 20% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, and 40% Pinot Meunier.  This bubbly is packed with tiny bubbles swimming in pear, apple, almonds and hazelnuts.  For less than $40, you get a beautifully wrapped, elegant and super smooth Champagne that will undoubtedly make the lucky recipient beam with holiday cheer!

  • Looking to add a little sexiness?  Consider giving the Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose as a gift instead!  Consisting of 60% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Meunier, this wine pairs perfectly with  a variety of holiday dishes.  This wine also retails for $40…wrapped.

  • Finally, if you think red wine is the way to go, why not tell someone that they’re “the tops” by giving them a bottle of the 2008 Uno Malbec from Antigal Winery & Estates.  This Argentine Malbec comes in a unique looking gift canister.  Both the bottle and canister showcase a distinctive copper/bronzed-looking metal “number one,” that appears as if it’s been riveted on.  Oh yeah, and the wine inside this beautiful packaging is pretty swell and very easy to swallow at $20…wrapped!  :)

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