Monthly Archives: March 2012
It’s getting close to spring in Naples, and that means one thing for us at Decanted…new releases. Yes, new releases in the spring! And not from the southern hemisphere. The spring brings about lots of excitement in the wine world, with some of the most sought after wineries releasing their newest vintages from California, Italy, and France. But one winery trumps all others…Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.
Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (DRC for short) dates back to 1272 when the Abbey of Saint Vivant in Vosne acquired 1.8 hectares of vineyard in Burgundy, France. In 1631 it changed hands to the de Croonembourg family, who renamed it Romanée, they also acquired what was to be one of the most famous winery vineyards – La Tâche. After a bidding war in 1760 between the mistress of Louis XV of France and Louis Francois, prince of Conti (who won and changed the name to Romanee-Conti), the winery was seized during the revolution and auctioned off. The winning bidder sold it off again in 1869 to Jacques-Marie Duvault-Bloche who has built the Domaine into what it is today.
So what’s so special about DRC?
In France, everything is about the land and DRC is no different. Their vineyard holdings in Burgundy include some of the best: La Tache, Romanee-Conti, Richebourg, Romanee-St-Vivant, Grands Echezeaux, Echezeaux, and Montrachet. All of the vineyards are Grand Cru, the highest rank in Burgundy, indicating that they are among the best selections of land in the region for Pinot Noir growth. Of these, La Tache and Romanee-Conti are not only the most sought after from the winery, but some of the most coveted wines in the world. Both vineyards are monopoles.
A monopole is a designation given to a vineyard when the vineyard is controlled and all wine is produced by one winery. This is extremely rare in France, especially Burgundy, due to Napoleonic inheritance laws that have been in place for centuries. According to the law, all property inheritance must be split equally between heirs. As you can imagine, some modern-day properties have now been split hundreds of times resulting in some parties owning single rows in a vineyard…hardly enough to produce a significant amount of wine. Once the wine reaches the production facility, modern technology is mixed with traditional methods using the best oak from the Troncais forests (France) for their barrels.
How do I get a bottle of DRC?
There are a few obstacles to being able to actually drink a bottle of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. The first being price. The recently released 2009 vintage (one of the best on record), starts at $1,000….for one bottle. We get a lot of questions about whether the wine is worth the price or not. I usually answer with the explanation of how special the land is, that I addressed in the previous paragraph AND the fact that there is not much of it…at all. Which leads to the second problem, the wine is highly allocated. Allocated is a term used in the wine industry for wineries that hand select who receives the wine. Selection is based on a various number of factors including purchase history and support of other brands that a winery owns. In my experience as a retailer, DRC is one of the only wineries in the world that has survived (and thrived) the recession and emerged with not only a strong allocation list, but lengthy waiting list. As in any industry, price is affected by supply and demand.
But if you are looking to get a bottle of DRC on your hands, now is the time. The wine of all wines is now in pre-order and a know a number of retailers (ourselves included ) who are in the process of selling their allocation now. And if you do get a bottle, call me.
Lamb Sausage with Crisp Potatoes
and Domaine La Garrigue Vacqueyras Cantarelle 2009
Once again the best way to pair a wine with a meal is to pay attention to it’s roots. The 2009 Vacqueyras La Cantarelle, a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, is perfect to take a backseat (and quietly compliment) a very bold, flavorful sausage. We went with a rosemary and garlic lamb sausage but any pork or lamb sausage you can find will work well. The traditional Rhone meal is sausage cooked in red wine (we did that) and boiled potatoes with shallots (we switched that up a little bit, just to add some extra flavor). Enjoy!
1 ½ lbs lamb or pork sausage
1 ½ cups French red wine
1 large (or 2 small) shallots, sliced
3 lbs small Yukon Gold potatoes
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 dried bay leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups Spinach/Arugula mix
Salt/pepper, to taste
In a wide pan add sausage and red wine. Add water until sausage is almost completely covered by liquid. Bring to a boil and cook 10-15 minutes until sausages are cooked through. Remove the sausages from the pan, place on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until you’re ready to serve.
Leave the remaining wine in the pan and add shallots. Continue to boil until onions are cooked through and wine is thick and reduced to 2 tablespoons. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large pan with high sides over medium-high heat, add potatoes, bay leaves, garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil and about 1 cup water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, uncover and salt generously. Continue to boil until potatoes are fork tender (maybe even a little bit past).
When potatoes are tender and all water has evaporated; using a meat tenderizer (or something heavy and round), smash potatoes down until flat. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and reduce heat to medium. Cook until brown and crisp on both sides, 4-5 minutes per side.
Split spinach and arugula mixture between your serving plates. Lightly dress with lemon juice and salt. Top with a piece of sausage and onions. Lay potatoes on the side.
Here’s whats happening in the wine world this week…
- More good news for the economy, wine sales continue to rise with an 11% increase in sales in February 2012 over the previous year.
- Pioneering winemaker, Ernest Van Asperen of Round Hill winery, passed away at the age of 96.
- California’s 2011 crush totaled 3,874,146 tons, down 3 percent from the 2010 crush of 3,986,314 tons. The 2011 average price of all varieties reached a record high of $591.69, up 9 percent from 2010 and 3 percent above the previous record high set in 2009.
- The most important wine region to New Yorkers isn’t Bordeaux, Tuscany or the Mosel. It’s New Jersey, where almost all the fine wine they drink is warehoused before being delivered to local stores and restaurants. An amendment before the New York Senate would end this practice, and require wines to be stored in-state for 48 hours. Small wholesalers are up in arms, claiming this is an attempt to drive them out of business by the state’s two biggest liquor distributors, Southern Wine & Spirits and Empire Merchants, who already have their storage facilities within state lines.
- A certain wine blogger (uh-hum) celebrates their birthday…
Has this happened to you? You get to the end of the meal, dessert is next but you aren’t finished with your red wine and you’re not yet ready to move onto coffee. You’re afraid that the red wine you are drinking most mix well with the dessert you order. Here is a tip: look for the least sweet dessert on the menu (does that make sense?) Red wine works great with a tea cake or pound cake because they are generally not too sweet. You want to keep a balance so the sweetness in the dessert doesn’t overpower that red wine you still want to enjoy.
Case and point: Almond Tea Cake with La Mozza I Perazzi, a deep ruby Sangiovese.
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
¼ cup almond paste
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 ½ – 2 cups slivered almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine salt
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
¾ cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare your 9x5x3″ loaf pan by fitting it with a large piece of aluminum foil, leaving excess on each side to later be used as handles to remove the cake. Spray the foil evenly with non-stick butter flavored cooking spray and set aside.
In a small food processor add ½ of the silvered almonds. Process until they are finely ground. Add to a small bowl. Repeat that process with the rest of the silvered almonds until you have 1 cup of almond “flour.”
In a large bowl, add 1 ½ cups cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and you’re new “almond flour.” Whisk until combined and set aside.
In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar just until combined, about 1 minute. Add almond paste, mix again until combined, 3-4 minutes.
Add egg and egg yolk. Beat again until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches. In between each of those batches add ½ of the buttermilk.
Pour mixture into your prepared cake pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes until top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 1 minute. Then remove cake from the pan, using the alumnium foil as handles. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Here’s our weekly recap of what’s going on in the wine industry:
- Mondavi rolls out its first new brand in 60 years. The Divining Rod, will include a 2010 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay and a 2010 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, both priced at $17 per bottle.
- Lady Gaga was spotted in Sonoma this past weekend dining at local spots including the Girl and the Fig (Sonoma) and Catelli’s Restaurant (Geyersville). Although she left the meat dress at home, her stiletto heels gave her away as a non Sonoma local.
- A new study from Pennsylvania State University reveals that wine experts and critics may have a better sense of smell than most consumers. In the study, 110 wine experts had a greater sensitivity to a bitter smelling solution than 220 consumers.
- A new study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine reveals that alcohol may prevent type-2 diabetes, especially in patients who are overweight.
- The 2012 Miami South Beach Wine & Food Festival was held over the weekend and included visits from celebrities, Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri, and Masahuru Morimoto. For a full recap, click here.
- A recent Research & Markets report has added wines in Chile to its list of industries. Although wines in Chile have experienced a period of stagnation the last two years with troubles from earthquakes and crisis, the reporting agency expects to see exports increase over the next couple years.
- The Chinese continue their love of Bordeaux, however this time they are showing their love by investing in entire estates. At least 15 individuals have bought out Bordeaux houses beginning in 2011. The new investment is likely a result of the increased consumption of Bordeaux wines in China (110% increase in 2011 alone), mainly by affluent Chinese.