Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oh, the countryside and the snow...

Yes, I am finally drinking the vino tinto, after the struggle against it, I want some red wine.

And red wine food.

So I didn't have much wine, and didn't want to break the bank, like you often have to do for an interesting and/or powerful red. I did not want to get one of those international-styled reds, I wanted something with character and a sense of where it's from.

I have my Vietti Perbacco Nebbiolo chillaxin' for something more special. So I grabbed a Salice Salentino and an inexpensive aglianico. Then I did a sort of northern Italian-inspired braised beef dish with the aglianico, and it rocked, but I wish I would have been more regionally accurate, but hey. The Terradora Aglianico IGT Compania was rockin, not as funky/earthy as I like, but really great body, aromatics, not overly alcoholic, and very very good to braise. Wine is fun.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Vieux Carre

I spend altogether too much time in front of this screen, delving into the sickening (yet fascinating) realm of wine esoterica or watching Project Runway and Janice Dickinson on youtube. [I don't own a TV, because if i did it'd suck my life away...because I love trashy television.] So I finished the most recent Janice and then headed off to taste Bordeaux.

Wow, baby left-banks ripped my tongue out. Even tasting the luscious stickies hurt (because I want to taste them in like 30 years when they'll be like dew from the gods). Actually these wines were pretty rockin' and tasty across the board. I none were underripe, many were a touch riper and more forward than I'd have liked, and only two or three really missed the mark for me. I love St. Em and Pom so much that it makes me weepy. In general, I feel that the Bordeaux '05 is rockin', but I still would rather spend that kind of money on something more esoteric. Free is good, though. Pomerol and trashy television.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008



It's a sunny, brisk January day here in Chi-ville, and I have been enjoying cooking, after hitting up Stanley's Produce the other day.

braised fennel with pasta
olive oil
1/2 a large sweet onion
1 bulb fennel
salt & pepper
white wine
chopped walnuts
pasta, like linguine or another thick noodle (ha ha)

halve an onion and thinly slice it
chop the stems off the fennel bulb and remove and save the leafies
finely chop the fennel stems (the green part)
quarter the bulb and thinly slice it (similar to the onion)
chop the leafies of the fennel and put them to the side

boil some water and cook your pasta

into a dry pan on med heat, toast the walnuts until they become fragrant and set aside
in the same pan
add some nice big glugs of olive oil
over med-hi, add the chopped stems and cook for about 3 min
then add the onions and the fennel bulbs along with some salt and a tad of pepper
cook for about 8 minutes or so, then add enough glugs of wine to bathe all of the goodies
cook that until thinks are tender-crisp and the stems are no longer tough

when the pasta is about 1 min away from done, add it to the fennel and stir for about 1 min
glug some wine in if too dry
add a flourish of olive oil, fennel leafies, and walnuts, toss
and serve

I love fennel.

This would have been perfect with some aromatic Italian white. Perfect! That gives you tons of choices (NOT PINOT GRIGIO), Arneis, Favorita, Erbaluce, Tocai Friulano, Pinot Bianco, Kerner, Muller Thurgau, a dry Muscato Gaillo, or, ooo some Verdicchio. Something like that. Perfect. Italian whites (ASIDE FROM BORING PINOT GRIGIO), are so interesting, cheap, and yummy.


braised red swiss chard & tuna pasta
again inspired by the easy italian dishes, i wanted to have this with some ground turkey, but it didn't thaw in time. poo.

1 bunch swiss chard
1 can tuna
1 clove garlic
olive oil
dash of crushed red pepper
white wine
salt & pepper

capellini or similar smaller pasta

put water on to boil
chop garlic clove and add to a few tablespoons olive oil in a cold pan along with red pepper
turn heat to medium as you chop the chard
once garlic becomes very lighly browned and fragrant add chard and wilt
flake the tuna unto the chard and mix
add enough wine to bathe the chard and turn to low simmer and cover

cook pasta
when pasta is about 1 minute from done, add to chard and cook for another minute along with a flourish of fresh oil

serve with fresh graded pecorino

I would love this dish, light, a bit more savory, with something like a Falanghina or Tocai Friulano. Erbaluce would do well, as would. But I could do something crazy like Emilio Bulfon's Cividin. Yum.

But alas, I had no Italian white. Only Vietti's '04 "Perbacco" Langhe Nebbiolo staring up at me, longingly. Both of these dishes were made with and served with a domestic wine. Chehalem's 2006 Pinot Blanc. Richer styled than most Italian Pinot Bianco, with some hefty ripeness and a tad but of neutral barrel aging for some viscosity. But quite tasty. This would have done better with something a bit richer, some sort of gratin or roasted root veggies. A really tasty wine, which reminded me of some $15-20 Bourgogne Blancs. Really cool, and I appreciate what Chehalem is doing (especially with riesling), except for letting the alcohol in their (previously lovely) INOX Chard to get out of control. Even when things aren't perfect, it's fun.

Drink wierd, yo.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Loire Reaches

So it's mid January in Chicago and I'm drinking Loire whites.

Can we say Cour-Cheverny, Cheverny, Menetou-Salon, Quincy, Savennieres, Vouvray, Montlouis, and Chinon (blanc, that is)?

Yes we can all for under $20. I'd be drinking some wonderful 2005 right bank Bordeaux (if they were about $10 cheaper), some lovely Barolo (if they were about $75 cheaper), and some Cote de Nuits (if they were about $100 cheaper), but alas, my pale lover has taken hold of my pocketbook. (I've been craving Beaujolais, specifically Morgon and Fleurie, lately, and there's no excuse not to buy them.)

I'm not going to write specific tasting notes, I'm just going to dwell on the utter charm of these wines. Charm is something I always talk about when I'm thinking about great value wines. I don't mean a wine that will penetrate the soul and be so complex that it overtakes an entire evening of thought, but a wine that stands out as singular, expressive, and takes me from my orange chair in my studio apartment to somewhere else.

Tessier Cour-Cheverny 2005. Romorantin's final bastion is Cour-Cheverny, and it's so tasty. I always get a very apple-juicy quality out of this grape but Tessier's has much more heft, funk, and body than the Dressner Cour-Cheverny (a wine that I love). A little earthiness and body does this wine well. Esoteric wine lovers, unite!

I had a Kermit Lynch Cheverny, undoubtedly a Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay blend, but very expressive of that lively grassy/mineral Loire SB, with a little more body. For $10, I can't think of a more charming, food-friendly wine to take to Glenn's Diner for their insultingly good, simple fish.

I also had a lovely Quincy, from the little AOC west of Sancerre and Menetou-Salon, that was very very lightly-colored, but had that pungent herbal and lime note that was so savory that it made me smile. Not the most elegant example of that style of SB, but it helped me to accept that SB can be interesting and really, really cool. This wine was so neat that I bought a cheap Mentou-Salon so apologize to SB. (I have been dogging on SB lately.)

Francois Chidane's many Montlouis offerings stun me, especially the Truffeaux (sp?). Chenin kills me.

Now this wine is freaky. The Chateau d'Epire, Savennieres, 2003. Yes '03 was super-ripe everywhere in France...people died. Lynch's bottling (unfiltered, as always) comes from a vineyard on the same hill as (oneofthecoolestwinesEVER) Joly's monopole AOC Coulee de Serrant. This vineyard (according to Lynch) wanted to be included in the Coulee de Serrant AOC, but didn't, for some reason, get in. Thank gods for that, or else'd I couldn't buy a whole bottle. This wine is so deep golden that I gasped when I poured it. So ripe, and smelled like chamomile tea, golden raisins, dried apricots, yellow peach, hay, almonds, and about thirty other things. Yes, my bottle was a hair oxidized as it showed on the third day open, but was so rich, broad, and utterly scrumptious that I lost my marbles. The only beef I have with this wine was that it was so ripe that the acidity was tempered maybe a hair too much. I 'd love to have the '02 of this. Or the '05 in about 4 more years. Find this, buy it, and tell me what you think.

I've just sipped and sampled a few lovely Vouvray lately and remember how great they are. Mmmm.

Chinon only produces about 2% of white wine, and I got one! I haven't opened it yet, but it's on the rack waiting to be lightly chilled.

Drink wierd.