Blog Archives

What to serve for Easter?

Most people don’t think of Easter as a drinking holiday, but for us wine lovers we know the secret…every holiday is a drinking holiday. Here are some suggestions of wines to serve with traditional (and non traditional) Easter meals and what foods pair best.

Bubbly

Domaine Chandon Brut Rose, $15
For me, every meal should start with bubbly. This Californian example is a traditional champagne blend (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier) with some additional Pinot Noir added for color. Juicy watermelon and strawberry make it light enough as an aperitif, but as vibrant enough to pair with a small bite of seafood or shellfish.

Whites

Chehalem Dry Riesling, $22
I’m predicting a come back for Riesling over the next couple years, there are so many great producers of varying styles from Germany to Washington to Oregon. Chehalem’s (Oregon) is bone dry with stone fruit flavors and a touch of lemon zest. Riesling is such a versatile wine when it comes to food pairing, in my opinion the best white wine for food pairing. My favorite for the wine is spicy food, but given a traditional Easter menu it would be a good match for ham.

Domaine Pommier Chablis, $26
If you are going with seafood as a main course rather than ham, try your taste for Chablis. Chablis, a growing region within the French region of Burgundy, is always made from 100% Chardonnay and is often aged with little or no oak giving it complex fruit and mineral flavors without the heavy vanilla and butter. Would be a great pairing with salmon or white, flaky fish.

Reds

La Follette Pinot Noir North Coast, $25
100% Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast, one of our favorite regions of California wine country. The cooler growing conditions of 2009 and 2010 prompted the best possible weather for Pinot and the wine has delivered as well. If Riesling is my favorite food white, Pinot is my red. Pinot Noir is the universal food wine. If your ever stuck, just serve Pinot. But my favorite pairing with Pinot is pork…and for Easter is perfect with ham.

Domaine d’Andezon La Granacha Vieilles Vignes, $17
Cote du Rhone is one of my favorite value regions in France. The quality of wine you get for the price you pay is double or triple what it would be in Bordeaux or Burgundy. Most of the wines are a blend of Syrah and Grenache which provide full-bodied flavors with a nice spice and acidity to balance dishes. This wine in particular has 100% Grenache in it bolstering even more acidity and bright fruit flavors. Pairs nicely with poultry dishes, lamb, or even a seafood dish with a heavy red sauce.

The wine of all wines

Domaine de la Romanee-Conti

A tasting of DRC we attended this past month.

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.

Wine Not? Touring the Central Coast of California

We just arrived in Napa, finishing our short (but awesome) tour of the Central Coast of California. The trip dispelled a lot stereotypes I had of the region. After visiting Napa (located north of the Central Coast), I thought that area was way too hot to grow Pinot Noir. But after exploring the area morning, noon and night and donning too many sweaters to count; I found the area has the perfect growing conditions for Pinot – warm summer days and cool (very cool) summer nights. Take a look at our first episode of Wine Not? We’ll add more throughout the trip and over the next few months. We promise, our camera skills will improve 🙂

P.S….out-takes video to come!

Duck with Pomegrante Sauce; Pair with Terra Andina Pinot Noir Reserva

Duck is one of those dishes that tends to scare home cooks. It is a meat that requires love and attention but the result is so delicious and elegant; perfect to entertain with. Pair this Duck and Red Wine/Pomegranate Sauce with Terra Andina Pinot Noir Reserva to really impress your guests. The combination of black cherry and raspberry aromas the 2009 Terra Andina offers are highlighted by the Pomegranate Sauce without replicating the same sweet notes. The smooth tannins can work well with a less fatty meat (such as chicken) but I think this Pinot Noir needs a slightly fattier meat, such as duck, to really bring the whole meal together.  And don’t forget to have your vegetables!  We also added some
lightly cooked brussel sprout leaves (cooked in duck fat) to add some green to the dish. 🙂

Ingredients
2 duck breasts
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, finely diced
½ Terra Andina Pinot Noir
¼ cup beef stock
¼ cup pomegranate juice
1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped
Pinch cayenne
1 lb fresh brussel sprouts, leaves removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt/Pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon butter to a small saucepan. Add shallots and cook until soft. Add wine, beef stock, pomegranate juice, thyme and cayenne. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cook until reduced by half.  Just before serving add remaining tablespoon of butter.
  3. Let the duck breasts come to room temperature on the kitchen counter while heating a cast iron skillet with medium-high heat.
  4. Generously season both sides of the duck with salt and pepper and add to the skillet, skin side down. Allow some fat to render and the skin to crisp, about 7-10 minutes.
  5. When the skin is crisp, flip the breasts.  Using a spoon, empty most of the rendered duck fat from the skillet into a small dish.
    Add the skillet into the preheated oven to finish cooking (another 7-10 minutes for medium). (Removing extra fat  from the skillet will prevent the chance of a fire in the oven).
  6. When duck has finished cooking, remove from skillet and let rest for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of reserved duck fat to skillet and then add brussel sprouts. Season with salt and pepper and cook until soften and crisp around the edges.
  7. Serve the duck on top of a bed of brussel sprouts with plenty of the sweet sauce. Enjoy!

Terra Andina Pinot Noir Reserva 2009: http://www.decantedwines.com/sku00696.html

Wine Review: Abiouness Rose of Pinot Noir

Although the wine business is mostly fun and games, this month we are turning a bit more serious in the name of a great cause.  This October, Breast Cancer Awareness month celebrates its 25th anniversary and it seems at this point everyone is on board.  NFL players are wearing pink cleats, pink ribbons are a dime a dozen, and there are more events to attend this month than you can count on two hands.  Is it all necessary?  Breast cancer is still the second most common cancer in women and in 2006 alone almost 200,000 women were diagnosed with it… in sort, yes.  So we are going to add one more charitable item to your to-do list this month:  drink pink wine. Decanted will donate 10% of our total sales of all pink (rose) wines sold this month to local Naples breast cancer support group, Bosom Buddies.  Want to get involved more?  Attend one of our events, a Rose tasting at Decanted on October 14th or a ‘Girls Night Out’ event at Salon International on October 15th.

And on to our review of the week…which is of course, pink.

Abiousness Rose of Pinot Noir, 2009Abiouness Rose of Pinot Noir

There is nothing more elegant that a perfectly made Pinot Noir from the Carneros region in Napa County.  Abiouness Rose of Pinot Noir is 100% Pinot made from a blend of the vineyards used in their single vineyard Pinot Noirs:  Stanly Ranch and Hudson Vineyard.  Most roses begin by the juices from the grapes sitting with their skins in a stainless steel tank for anywhere from a few hours to a few days (the longer the time, the darker the color); the grapes in used in Abiouness are exposed to the skins for one day before the juice is transferred into a neutral (used) French oak barrel.  The wine is left to ferment until all of the yeast consumes the natural sugar from the wine, which is the secret in making a dry rose rather than its sweeter, less enticing cousin.

What is left is a wine well balanced and complex.  The wine is remarkably Pinot while retaining the characteristics of a Rose….light of the palate and crisp on the finish with a flavor reminiscent of watermelon.  A little heavier in style and flavor than a traditional Provence rose, the Abiouness displays strong typical fruit characteristics of Pinot Noir:  strawberries, red raspberries and a touch of tart cherry with a balance of green earth and terrior.  You can almost taste the crisp, cool Carneros breeze!

Served best seafood, salads and light pasta dishes, the heaviness of this wine also make it suitable for heavily spiced dishes like Thai or Japanese or even with turkey or duck.  With only 106 cases produced, there’s not much to go around so maybe go with Tapas to try it with a bit of everything!

Our rating, 2 out of 3 stars.

Check out more information on this wine OR see our full selection of Roses for this month.

New Mexico’s Gruet Sparkling Blanc de Noirs

Ever tried a wine from New Mexico? How about sparkling wine from New Mexico? Gruet Winery, located about 170 miles south of Albuquerque is putting New Mexico on the wine map.

So how good can a sparkling be from New Mexico, you ask? Well, it starts with with a great pedigree. Founder, Gilbert Gruet was born in France and produced true Champagne at his Champagne house, Gruet et Fils, before re-locating to the United States. In 1983 Gruet and his wife ran into European wine makers who had successfully planted vineyards in the New Mexico mountains, at an altitude of about 4300 ft. With inexpensive land and a desire to experiment with uncharted territory, Gruet brought his passion for Champagne style sparkling wines to an unlikely region of the United States.

Altitude can work in a wine maker’s favor. It works in Mendoza, why not New Mexico? Hot daytime temperatures that drop dramatically at night allow the grapes to ripen slowly. With a dry climate and sandy soil, there is minimal concern for rot, and the ability to farm without the use of pesticides makes this area ideal for the fickle Pinot Noir grape. Gruet makes both still and sparkling Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as a small production of Rhone style Syrah.

One of our favorites for taste and wallet friendliness is the sparkling Blanc de Noirs. This non-vintage Pinot Noir has an earthy nose that leads into a crisp palate with wonderful fruit on the finish.

Gruet Blanc de Noir $12

The rich and toasty character of our Blanc de Noirs is balanced and superb. Aged for two-year minimum, the palate is developed and shows rich complex flavors. The amazing berries aromas and the creamy texture play a leading role and create a great finesse.

Winemaker’s Note: A fine salmon color, aggressive mousse and a lovely fruity wine with plenty of immediate charm and toasty aromas. There is also an explosive juicy flavor of raspberry.

Look for Gruet at Decanted Wines located at 1410 Pine Ridge Rd, Suite 21, Naples FL 34108 or online at http://www.decantedwines.com

Cheers to South Africa Sparklings!

Break out the bubbly for the World Cup! What better way to celebrate your team’s victory (or wallow away your sorrows) than with a bottle of South African Graham Beck sparkling wine?

Graham Beck wines come from the diverse vineyards of the Western Cape. There are four vineyards in total, including Firgrove and Robertson Vineyards where their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes thrive in the limestone rich soil. Graham Beck offers a portfolio of wines including Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Shiraz, Merlot, Pinotage, and a Malbec/Sangiovese Rose.  I am going to highlight an aspect that many overlook when they think of the traditional styles; sparkling.

Graham Beck creates a sparkling wine in Champagne style, but at a value that rivals a $40 bottle of the French bubbly. They offer five styles from dry and crisp to sweet and fruity. They are a third generation family winery who concentrate on superior quality fruit throughout three diverse and unique terroirs. They celebrate their New World attitude that flows from the winery and stylistic characters to the modern lines in their tasting room and cellar architecture. John Wessels, architect for both of their cellars says it best “There is no need to mimic France or Tuscany when one is rooted in Africa.”

Don’t forget to raise your glasses for their sustainability practices. They are the second wine farm on the Cape to be awarded the Biodiversity Champion Status!

Here are a few of the Graham Beck sparkling wines, and you can’t beat the value!

Graham Beck Brut NV $16- One of my favorites! A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Fresh, light, dry, rich and complex. Serve with freshly shucked oysters.

Graham Beck Bliss Demi-Sec $16 – Much softer than the dry Brut. Hints of butterscotch, honey and praline. Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend from the coastal Firgrove Vineyard.

Graham Beck Brut Rose $16 – A blend of 80% Pinot Noir 20% Chardonnay from the Robertson vineyard with natural limestone content. Ripe strawberries with a creamy note of Chardonnay

Decanted is hosting a Sparkling Wine Tasting Wednesday June 30th from 5:30-8:00pm. Also look for the World Cup Wrap-Up Tasting to sample other South African wines Thursday July 8th from 5:30-8:00pm. 1410 Pine Ridge Rd, Naples, FL. Full events schedule is posted on http://www.decantedwines.com

An Unlikely Pairing- Beef Burgundy and Oregon Pinot Noir

Boeuf Bourguinon, aka Beef Burgundy, is a traditional French peasant dish that has worked its way up the culinary ladder and is finding its way into the hearts of Americans. Unfortunately imported Burgundies, although excellent, can at times be pricey and not something you necessarily want to dump liberally into your stew. Typically, chefs recommend that you cook with the same wine you are serving, which works well in the countryside of Burgundy, but how about here in the USA? A price conscious alternative is the domestic Oregon Pinot Noir.  Julia Child made the recipe for Beef Burgundy more accessible to Americans by printing an English version in her Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Oregon wineries have been making Pinot Noirs more accessible as well. Oregon is at the same latitude as the Burgundy region of France and has a similar climate, particularly the Willamette Valley. Pinot Noir grapes thrive in the cooler coastal climate of Oregon and have been gaining popularity and recognition in recent years.  In a 1980 Paris competition, an Oregon Pinot received second place among French wines, establishing it as a world class Pinot Noir producing region.

There still may be some cool days of spring to contend with, and what better meal for those brisk spring winds then a hearty Beef Burgundy paired with the warm fruit and spice flavors of a Pinot Noir?

Our suggestion:
Viridian Pinot Noir Willamette Valley – $16

Try this great recipe and substitute your favorite Oregon Pinot for the suggested Burgundy wine. It takes a bit of time to simmer, so plan on three hours or so. It’s time consuming, but worth it!

http://www.fureyandthefeast.com/2009/01/say-‘oui’-to-beef-burgundy/