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Familia Zuccardi Malbec and Asado

I have the distinct privilege of having Asado in Argentina, in Mendoza, on the Pampas.
The Asado. It is not just a dish, it is a social gathering, it is a celebration of meat and flame and sauced with liberal amounts of Malbec. The National dish of Argentina, an Asado consists of Beef, sausages and pork cooked over a charcoal fire. Out on La Pampas the cattle graze on the plains overseen by the Gauchos. Beef in Argentina isn’t just what’s for dinner, it is part of the culture.
It seems only natural to serve up beef with a great bottle of Argentine Malbec. I love Malbec. Bright fruit and refreshing acidity balance out the tannins give Malbec the unique ability to be both a great food wine and easily quaffable while you are waiting for your steak to grill.
Malbec is Argentina’s flagship variety, and the country has the largest Malbec acreage in the world. This variety originally comes from South West France, where it is called Cot and features a hard, tannic style. But with high altitudes and cool nights Mendoza can produce Malbec of beautiful aromatics, bold fruit and silky tannins.
There are many great producers of Malbec in Argentina. Just one of my favorites is Familia Zuccardi.
Alberto Zuccardi came to Mendoza in 1950 when he was 30 years old, not to plants grapes and make wine but to install fancy new cement irrigation pipes. He decided the best way to demonstrate his irrigation system was to use it the way they in California – by planting a vineyard. One thing lead to another and by the 1970’s he had winery and had expanded his vineyards and was selling wine in the bulk market.


In 1976 his son Jose had joined him in the family business. It was Jose who saw that future lay in the export market. This was the 1980’s and even though Argentina was the fifth largest producer of wine globally, little if anyone outside of Argentina had tasted let alone heard of Mendoza Malbec. It was that push into the world market that drove the winery and also drove Jose and Alberto to constantly improve the wine both in the winery and vineyards.
In the 2000’s, Jose’s son Sebastien joined the team. It was Sebastien who saw what was happening up higher in the Andes in the Uco Valley. ‘The character of the high-altitude grapes spoke for itself, so looking toward that area was natural.’ So impressed with e grapes they made a wine called Zeta, a blend of Cabernet and Tempranillo. A stand-alone wine of place much like a Bordeaux.

Last year they completed construction on their new 100 percent concrete winery in Altamira. Zuccardi Valle de Uco boasts concrete eggs and amphorae for fermenting, concrete vats and neutral barrels for aging. The concrete vats are made from all natural materials including sand, clay, rocks and silt coming from the land around where the winery was built. The Zuccardi family keep advancing in their search for excellence, for purity and freshness. Oak can hide a lot of mistakes, it can also disguise the true terroir of a place. By removing all the makeup and airbrushing these wines have an honest expression of place.


“Familia Zuccardi produces wines from the local terroir, placing focus on the region and essence of the wine and the variations found in different zones throughout 
the Uco Valley,” says Sebastian Zuccardi. “We want our wines to have personality and to express the region where they were created.”
The winery is truly state of the art as is the research and development lab. The focus and culture of Zuccardi has always been one of constant improvement. The have planted experimental vineyards all around to see what untapped production areas there might be and what other varietals hold potential in the Uco Valley. Oh and not surprisingly Familia Zuccardi also place emphasis on the study of irrigation and water management, working to preserve the essential resource that is all too scarce in the area.


These are simply some of my favorite Malbec’s.

ZUCCARDI Q MALBEC 2015 $17.99 btl / save $5
“Wow. This is exciting. Blackberries, flowers, dark fruit and hints of walnut shell here follow through to a medium to full body, fine tannins and a juicy finish. This is tight and polished. Give it two or three years to soften, but it is already very pretty.” 94 pts James Suckling

ZUCCARDI SERIES A MALBEC 2016 $13.99 btl / save $3

 

“The 2016 Malbec Serie A is sourced from different vineyards across the Valle de Uco (San José, Los Árboles, Tupungato, El Peral, Gualtallary, Vista Flore and La Consulta) and was fermented in concrete vats an used 500-liter French oak barrels. There is more than fruit here, there is some expression of the soil, with subtle nuances and more complexity, hints of aromatic herbs and lower in alcohol (13%). The profile of all the wines is very clean, precise, juicy with good acidity. This is a superb example of it, with even some chalky sensations in the texture. Great value too.” 91 pts Wine Advocate

ZUCCARDI Q CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2014 $19.99 btl / save $3
A refined and savory red, featuring notes of white pepper to the cherry and crushed red plum flavors. A wine of great personality, aromas and black pepper spices. Lengthens out on the palate, with medium-grained tannins. Silky finish. Great aging potential. 92 pts Tim Aiken

 

Argentine Asado
Serves 20 – 30

The National dish of Argentina, an Asado consists of Beef, sausages and pork cooked over an charcoal fire. You can do a simple version of an Asado at home with a charcoal grill, some select cuts of meat and copious amounts of Malbec. The secret to great Asado is patience, sea salt and Fresh ground pepper

Ingredients:

2 – 4lbs Rib Eye Steak, cut 2” (Bife ancho)
2 – 4 lbs Short Ribs, cut 2” (Tira de asado)
2 – 4lbs Flank Steak (Vacio)
2 each Pork Tenderloin (Lomo de Puerco)
4 lbs Chorizo (Spanish or Basque)
Coarse ground Sea salt
Coarse ground Black pepper
Olive Oil
12 bottles Malbec
4 each Lemons, wedges
4 each Baguettes
One Big Simple green Salad
2 cups Chimichurri Sauce (below)

1. Start your coals. When Coals are ready begin with the Ribeye and Short Ribs. Rub steaks with olive oil and liberally dust salt and pepper. When ribs are about half way done 30 minutes or so turn.
2. To grill add the Flank steak, Pork and Chorizo. Turn after 10 minutes
3. Remove meat to platters and cover and let rest 10 minutes before carving.
4. Serve with lemons, baguettes, salad and Salt & pepper and plenty of Malbec!

Chimichurri Sauce
________________________________________

Ingredients:
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 each Onion, diced
3 ea garlic cloves, minced
½ cup Chopped Parsley
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in bowl of food processor and pulse until well combined.

Ross Andrew Mickel and Red Mountain Cabernet

10 years ago, the 2007 vintage marked one of the best in Washington State. Quilceda received another 100 pts score, Cayuse and K Vinters both received 99 pts for Syrah and a little project on Red Mtn got the highest score 97 pts, for a Cabernet sauvignon from Red Mountain in the Wine Spectator.  The Grand Rêve Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Collaboration Series Reserve 2007 was jointly made by Ross Mickel and Mark Ryan using Ciel du Cheval fruit. “No Washington Cabernet has rated higher in Wine Spectator annals.”

Grand Reve Vintners started as a collaboration between Paul McBride and Ryan Johnson to focus on the Red Mountain AVA. This was a fascinating project where five top winemakers made wine from the same vineyard. Ben Smith (Collaboration I) made a Cabernet blend, Ross Michel (Collaboration II) a Rhone blend, Mark McNeilly (Collaboration III) a Syrah, Carolyn Lakewold (Collaboration IV) a Merlot, and Chris Gorman (Collaboration V) a Grenache.

One of the releases was that Cabernet Reserve, made with Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan and Ross. Harvey Steiman wrote, “Supple, generous and beautifully focused, accenting its ripe currant and raspberry fruit with hints of licorice, sage, red meat and mineral, lingering on the expressive finish. Combines ripeness with power and exceptional grace.” Only 100 cases were made of this wine. Drink ‘em, if you got ‘em.

Ross got his start in the wine biz working at Canlis with Master Sommelier Rob Bigelow. He went on to work with Chris Upchurch at Delille. (Interestingly Chris’ Eponymous vineyard is on Red Mtn.) He then went on to work with Master of Wine, Bob Betz. For almost ten years he worked at the masters side fine tuning his skills not only as a winemaker but as a scholar and taster.  He has traveled the world (Australia, South America, Europe and South Africa) to learn all he could about wine.

Let’s just say Ross knows his way around Cabernet and Red Mountain. What I am writing about today is his 2013 Red Mountain Cabernet.  This is made using Red Mountain fruit: Quintessence & Ciel du Cheval and just flat out rocks!

ROSS ANDREW RED MOUNTAIN CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 $19.99 btl / save $10

Rich and dense with black fruit, licorice and spice. Well-structured and refined. This is a powerful blend of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon & 4% Merlot. This is what Washington State Cabernet should taste like! Seriously the best deal on Cabernet in the state!

This is a great example of Red Mtn Cabernet at $29.99 it is a remarkable value. At $19.99 well it’s just stupid good!  get yours while you still can!

Lenny

Thanksgiving Wine Picks

When pairing to all the flavors at a Thanksgiving dinner there are many strategies – mine is to find wines that will pair to the widest range of foods – from sweet to savory, light and fresh to creamy and rich!
Lighter wines with good minerality, plenty of fruit and good acid have the broadest pairing flexibility; sparkling also helps keep the palette refreshed. But, as in all things drink what you like; you are always better off drinking a wine you like than a wine you are supposed to like.

Thanksgiving Wine Picks:
1. Champagne
Greeting your guests with a glass of champagne will automatically put them into a celebratory mood.

JACQUES CHAPUT BRUT CHAMPAGNE NV $24.99 Reg $39.99 SAVE $15

80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay aged at least 24 months on lees. Light golden color. Fruity nose combining apple and raspberry notes white blossom and citrus. Intense on the palate with soft full fruit and a good length. Crisp and clean with a long finish. This Champagne is Excellent as an aperitif, but could also accompany your meal perfectly.

 

2. Rose
Rose is a profoundly food friendly wine. Light and refreshing with a generous fruit and mineral it makes a great aperitif before dinner and will pairing easily with broad range of foods.

CLOS ALIVU ROSE 2016 $19.99

A profoundly delicious Rose’ from one of Corsica’s top producers. Made from a local variety very reminiscent of Sangiovese, this rose’ is pale salmon in color, bone dry and possesses amazing delicacy and complexity. A subtle salinity graces the wild herbs and spring berries on the nose while the palate is citrusy and utterly delicious on a long finish. Of the ilk of Provence’s top offerings!

3. Riesling
Lighter styled Riesling with lower alcohol, good acid and a touch of sweetness is a perfect default wine for Thanksgiving.

SCHLOSS HOWIE RIESLING BY LONG SHADOWS 2014   $8.99

Made by Gilles Nicault with help from Sommelier Erik Liedholm, this wine shares the same lineage as the famous Poets Leap but made in a softer, lighter more “Kabinett style”. Loads of citrus, lime, orange blossom and apricot. Crazy delicious, a perfect aperitif – this is perfect wine for your holiday gathering. Great accompaniment for appetizers or turkey.

4. Gewurztraminer
Gewürztraminer is an excellent option for it has a natural affinity for the holiday spices and it’s off dry character allows it to pair with a wide range of dishes. A personal favorite is the Gundlach Bundschu out of Sonoma.

GUNDLACH BUNDSCHU GEWURZTRAMINER 2012 $9.99

A beautiful expression of 158 years of Gewurztraminer expertise, this pairs with everything from Asian cuisine, to Thanksgiving turkey! An entirely varietal wine, aged in a majority of stainless steel, this smoothly textured experience begins in peach and apricot with balanced acidity, dry as a bone. It entices with rounded creaminess and inviting floral and lemon highlights. 92 pts WE

5. Pinot Gris
Pinot Grigio is often dismissed as being unsophisticated, but it can be a wine of great elegance and complexity.

J VINEYARDS PINOT GRIS 2016 $12.99

J Vineyards’ version of this variety is crisp with bright fruit and a kiss of minerality. J Pinot Gris combines the best of both New World and Old World styles. They draw fruit from a combination of warm and cool climates for a blend of citrus and tropical notes with a notable fleshiness and firm acidic backbone.

6. Beaujolais
Many people know only of Beaujolais Nouveau, but many a Cru Beaujolais can have the complexity of a Burgundy. Morgon especially is one of my favorite of the Cru’s.

DOM DUPRE MORGON VIGNES DE 1935 2015 $13.99

Planted in 1935, this single vineyard wine is rich and structured. At this stage, it is dominated by firm tannins as much as by the perfumed juicy black fruits. As the wine softens with age, this generous fruitiness will come through to give a deliciously ripe wine. 94 pts WE

7. Pinot Noir
With Oregon’s Willamette Valley right down the road Pinot Noir is a staple on my Thanksgiving Table.

TRISAETUM WILLAMETTE PINOT NOIR 2015 $22.99

This Pinot Noir is a combination of barrels from three estate vineyards. Ruby garnet in color with a striking aroma of freshly ground nutmeg, Marionberry, and wood spices. The palate exudes grace with red fruit flavors that finish with a hint of toasted oak. The lively acidity is balanced by finely-textured tannins and a firm, long finish. 91 pts Wine Enthusiast

8. Grenache
If you really want to impress your guests open a bottle of Chateaunuef-du-pape.

BROTTE LES HAUTS DE BARVILLE CHATEAUNEUF DU PAPE 2015  $28.99

Relatively open knit and ready to go, the 2015 Chateauneuf du Pape Les Hauts de Barville offers outstanding notes of cherries, spring flowers, spice and Provenl garrigue in a full bodied, rounded, already hard to resist style. It is a killer wine to drink over the coming 4-6 years.

9. Nebbiolo
Italian wines are probably the most food friendly wines on the planet.

SIMONE SCALETTA ‘SAN PIETRO’ BAROLO 2011 $29.99

Aromas of oak, coconut and baked plum lead the way. The extracted palate offers stewed plum, steeped cherry, oak extract and dark spices alongside chewy tannins.

10. Barbera
My favorite wine for Thanksgiving is Barbera. Also from Piedmont Barbera has that wonderful mix of Fruit, Acid and minerality that make it a perfect wine for food.

LA SPINETTA BARBERA D’ASTI ‘CA DI PIAN’ 2013 $22.99

“A tasty, entry level wine, the 2013 Barbera d’Asti Ca’ di Pian is juicy and flamboyant from the very first taste. Blackberry jam, creme de cassis, chocolate, violets, lavender and sweet spice meld together in a deep, unctuous wine to drink now and over the next few years. This is a screaming value from La Spinetta.” 90 pts Vinous

 

Lenny’s Weekend Wine Pairing: Chicken Afritada and Petalos Mencia

The cuisine of the Philippines’ represents some of the most delicious and fascinating food around. The style of cooking has evolved over the centuries from the Austronesian roots to a mélange of Chinese, Spanish, Indian and more recently American influences. Local ingredients mixed with diverse cooking techniques have created a cuisine that is once familiar and distinctive.
The Chinese brought Soy sauce, fish sauce, techniques like stir frying and noodle making. Trade opened up even more ingredients and techniques from close neighbors like Mallacca and Java to as far away as India and Arabia that all made their mark on cuisine. Spanish colonizers brought with them the produce of their empire, the Americas. Chile Peppers, tomatoes, corn, potatoes along with techniques like cooking with garlic and onions. Spanish and Mexican dishes both make their way into the cuisine.
There are many classic dishes: from Lumpia to Adobo. A particular favorite is Afritada. This is a dish that applies Spanish technique, American ingredients and touch Asian influence and Filipino flair.


There are many ways to pair a dish like this. It’s not too spicy and just a little sweet and savory. You are going to want a wine that is has some intensity, good acidity and little fruit. For white, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is an almost ideal match. For red a Spanish Garnacha or Tempranillo would work nicely but a Mencia from Bierzo is just about perfect.

CROWDED HOUSE SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016 $11.99 btl / save $4
This wine blew our socks off! A quintessentially Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with bright aromas of guava, citrus fruits, and sweet crushed herbs. The palate is elegantly proportioned with lovely soft acid carrying the fruit flavors to a long, pure finish. This wine keeps you coming back for more; and at price you can afford to.

VINA HERMINIA CRIANZA 2013 $11.99 btl / save $4
“Talk about a stunning value!” – Arnie Milan. “An elegant and intense nose comprising black fruit, blackberry and herbs, with a real medicinal edge is followed deliciously by a well-structured palate of licorice, plums, tobacco and black fruit notes, which also has round meaty tannins, a lovely texture and a beautiful long finish.” 95 points Decanter

Or if you want something really cool try a Mencia from Bierzo.

JOSE PALACIOS ‘PETALOS’ BIERZO 2015 $19.99 btl / save $5
A fine representation of what is possible in both the Bierzo region as well as with the grape Mencia. Delicious tart red strawberry, Bing cherries, anise and impressive earthy aromas. Crisp red fruit on the palate, savory, smooth and caressing without sacrificing structure. All from vines ranging between 40 and 90 years of age on slopes (half of the grapes around the village of Corullón and the remainder in the rest of Bierzo). It’s a showy, approachable, aromatic and open version of Pétalos. 92 pts Wine Advocate

This Pineapple Chicken Afritada features chicken and tons of vegetables simmered in a flavorful tomato sauce. Vibrant, colorful, super delicious!

INGREDIENTS
2soy bean oil tablespoon
2 lbs chicken thighs, deboned and cut in serving pieces
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 pound Linguiça or Longganisa sliced
4 cloves garlic coarsely
1 small onion, julienne
1 red pepper Julienne
1 yellow pepper Julienne
3 bay leaves
1 can diced tomatoes
1 8 oz can Pineapple chunks
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 potato, peeled quartered
1 carrot cut into chunks
1/4 cup green peas
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoon Fish sauce

1. Trim chicken thighs of any excess fat and season with salt, pepper and paprika
2. In a large skillet heat oil and brown chicken pieces on each side move to platter.
3. Add Linguiça onions and peppers stir to soften. Add garlic and bay leaves.
4. Add tomatoes, pineapple, stock and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer add potatoes, carrots and peas.
5. Return chicken to pot, cover and simmer 15 minutes.
6. Add cider vinegar, sugar and fish sauce
7. If the sauce is to thin remove chicken and simmer to reduce.
8. Serve with rice.

Cheers!

@Chef_Lenny

 

Truffle Mushroom Risotto and Sangiovese

I love this time of year. Although the changing of the seasons can seem a little schizophrenic. 80 degrees one day; raining and overcast the next. But this is harvest time, the final bounty of summer. True, it can be hard to plan for dinner just because of the bounty. Here is a dish that is ideal for the cooling weather.

Truffle Mushroom Risotto. Made with sautéed mushrooms and spiked with truffle and porcini this is a rich creamy side dish or Primo for an elegant dinner. I always make a little extra so I can have it for lunch the next day.

One of things I really like about this dish is that it pairs well with an array of wines. It plays well with nice Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay when served as a starter but also holds its own alongside fuller bodied reds. The earthiness of the mushrooms and the added umami of the Grana Padano make for a perfect match to a rustic styled Sangiovese.

I am a big fan of Sangiovese and I think that Chianti doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Sangiovese and Chianti in particular, is a food loving wine. Italians drink wine with food and make wine to go with food; every meal; every day. So there is a lot of really great Italian wine that you can afford to drink every day. You can get yourself a great Chianti for not a lot of money. Take for example the Collazzi I Bastioni Chianti Classico 2013, a wine that Antonio Galloni called, “… a jewel of a wine from the Frescobaldi family.”  The Frescobaldi are a prominent Florentine noble family that have been involved in the political, sociological, and economic history of Tuscany since the Middle Ages.

Collazzi I Bastioni Chianti Classico 2013 $14.99 

“The 2013 Chianti Classico I Bastioni is terrific. Bright red berry, rose petal, mint and anise are some of the signatures in a refined Chianti Classico that exemplifies the style of wine that is typical of the northern reaches of the appellation. The 2012 also shows the potential at Collazzi, which appears to be considerable. Merlot and Malvasia Nera round out the blend.” 92 points Antonio Galloni, Vinous

If you are planning on serving this dish with something more robust like Brasato or Bistecca Fiorentina you could step up to a “Super Tuscan”. These are wines made with international varietals like Cabernet. These wines make for a great conciliation between old world and new. If you are entertaining people who are familiar with Napa than Siena, this makes for great compromise.

I have favorite go to “Super” – Montepeloso A Quo. This wine is a balance of Cabernet, Montepulciano and Sangiovese with a little Alicante Bouschet from one of Tuscany’s most exciting winemakers.

Quietly over the past decade, Montepeloso’s Fabio Chiarelotto has emerged as one of the towering winemakers of the Tuscan coast. His windy site sits above the famed Tua Rita estate in Suvereto, producing red wines that are among the region’s most refined. When he purchased Montepeloso in 1998, it was already well on its way to international stardom. Chiarelotto could have rested on that reputation, but he felt that as the vines and been planted and trained, the site would never reach its full potential. And so he spent years reshaping the vineyards.

For eight long years, Chiarelotto painstakingly reshaped the estate’s vineyards. With each vintage, he experimented with blends and techniques that would harness the latent power provided by the terroir, but temper it so that the terroir could fully express itself.

Looking back, he made the right decision, as today Montepeloso has few rivals on the Tuscan coast for producing wines of riveting complexity and great elegance. Proprietor Fabio Chiarelotto succeeded in capturing the best elements of these sites while also shaping his wines with a level of finesse that is remarkable.

Montepeloso A Quo Rosso 2013 $16.99 

“The 2013 A Quo is a robust red blend based primarily on Montepulciano, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. The quality of the primary fruit is succulent, plump and rich. So are the background aromas of cinnamon, vanilla bean and toasted almond. This was a good vintage across Tuscany. The finish is exceedingly rich and supple with firmly yielding tannins.” 92 Pts Wine Advocate

 

So no matter if you how you serve this Truffle Mushroom Risotto there is a wine out there for your mood, company or menu.

 

Truffled Mushroom Risotto
________________________________________
Ingredients:

2 cups Water, or more if needed
1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small Onion, Diced
2 cups Arborio Rice
2 cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
1 Dried Whole Bay Leaf
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 sprig Fresh Thyme, finely chopped
Ground White Pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 truffle finely grated
4 ounces Crimini mushrooms, or combination of seasonal mushrooms
2 tablespoons Butter
2 ounces Marsala
2 scallions sliced
Grada Padano Cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
1⁄2 cup Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Flat Leaf Parsley, Chopped fine

 

  1. Combine 2 cups water and dried porcini mushroom in a small sauce pan and simmer to reconstitute.
  2. In a large pan sweat onions in olive oil add Arborio stir to coat with olive oil
  3. In small batches add chicken stock adding just enough to cover the rice.
  4. Add garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and white pepper
  5. Using a microplane finely grate truffle into rice.
  6. Strain porcini and reserve the liquid. Finely dice the porcini and add to risotto.
  7. Slowly cook risotto over medium heat adding stock and reserved porcini water. Cook until rice is al dente, cooked to be firm to the bite. Add more water if necessary.
  8. Add cream and continue to stir remove from heat add about 1 cup of Grana Padano and chopped parsley. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  9. Garniture: sauté fresh mushrooms in butter until brown and soft, deglaze with Marsala and add fresh scallions set aside.
  10. To serve garnish with mushrooms and serve with extra Grana Padano

lenny@esquin.com

@Chef_Lenny

4th Avenue Repaving Project

4th Avenue South is undergoing a major repaving project for the next few months.   This means the loss of our Street parking on fourth but, there still is 2 hr parking on lander.

During Construction the city is maintaining access to our Parking lot.

For easiest access to our parking lot we suggest heading North on 4th

  • If taking the freeway we suggest getting off  I-5 at Spokane and turning north on 4th avenue.
  • If heading south come down 1st avenue and take a left at   S. Horton and a left onto 4th avenue.  This makes for an easy entrance into the lot which is just to the south of our building.
  • Note: there is generally less traffic and construction on the weekends!
For more information on this project, please visit: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/pave_4s.html

Corn Chowder with Dungeness Crab and California Chardonnay

It is Corn Season and around town in farmers markets and produce stands you see bushels of fresh corn. Summer is full of iconic produce – watermelon, cherries, blueberries. Fresh grilled corn on the cob is about as summer as you can get. If you haven’t tried Mexican Style Grilled Corn, Elote, you should. I have a friend who always requests it when we BBQ. There a million recipes and ways to use corn – Corn Chowder, Corn Salad with grilled peppers and Cilantro Vinaigrette, Grilled Chicken with Corn Salsa, a Seafood Boil with Corn and Potatoes .

When it comes to pairing there are many choices, but one always comes first to my mind and that is Chardonnay. Here is a little secret, one of the descriptors for Chardonnay is sweet corn, but it isn’t one your likely to see on a shelf taker or descriptor. But that sweet corn taste is echoed in many chardonnay. Add a little smoke from a grill and it plays well with a little oak, a little butter on the corn? You get the idea.

A truly classic pairing is Blanc de Blanc Champagne and Pop Corn, add a little truffle salt and you have highfalutin/ low brow combo that practically everyone loves.

Chardonnay can go from light, mineral and crisp to full bodied, buttery and oaky. This gives you a range of wines to choose from for pairing. A crisp Chablis will class up your Low Country Seafood Boil with a rich creamy corn chowder a more traditional California Chardonnay is the bomb.

Full disclosure, I am California kid and a soft spot for well-made, well-balanced California Chardonnay. Today I would like to present one of my new favorites.

Grayson Cellars Chardonnay ’16 (CA) $9.99 btl / save$3

If you like chardonnay you will fall head over heals in love with Grayson. 100% Chardonnay and shows loads of tropical fruit, especially mango, pineapple and tangerine, crisp acidity, and an elegant, mid-weight central casting California Chardonnay. “Best Buy!” 11 years in row from Wine Advocate.

Mike O’Connell, owner of Grayson Cellars, believes in using their Napa Valley location and combined winemaking skills to create some of the highest quality wines available at the by-the-glass price point. O’Connell has degrees in Business and Industrial engineering and these skills come in handy when you want to make a lot of really good wine inexpensively. But his real skill is in managing people and hiring the right people. In this case it is Larry Levin.

“Larry Levin, who is among the most experienced winemakers in the Napa Valley. After completing his Enology degree at UC Davis, Larry spent seventeen years at Dry Creek Vineyard. Larry then spent nine years as head of winemaking at Icon Estates, where he oversaw wineries such as Franciscan, Mt. Veeder, Estancia, Ravenswood, Quintessa and Ruffino (making 100 point wines!)” Larry knows good wine. We don’t usually get these kind of winemaking skills at this price point.

“A frequent entry into these best buy pages, winemaker Larry Levin knows how to fashion flavorful, authentic tasting whites and reds at bargain-basement prices.” -Robert Parker (Nov. 2014)

If you are looking for good Chard for next weekend BBQ, fish Boil or Sunday supper look no further.

This wines pairs beautifully with my corn chowder, if you want to fancy it up for company add some fresh cracked crab or avocado or both to the top! Then some fresh crusty bread and good bottle of Chardonnay and call it a day!

Lenny@esquin.com

Corn Chowder with Dungeness Crab

Ingredients

 

1 medium yellow or white onion

1 stalk celery

1 tablespoon butter

4 ounce bacon

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups chicken broth or clam juice

2 cups water

2 red or Yukon gold potatoes

1 clove garlic, chopped fine

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

4 ears fresh sweet corn or 4 cups frozen corn (fresh is better)

½ cup Cream

Salt to taste

Parsley to garnish

16 oz Dungeness crab meat



Method

 

  1. Peel corn and using a sharp knife cut kernels off cobs.
  2. Finely dice onion and celery.  Peel and thinly slice then dice the potato and set aside. Dice bacon.
  3. Heat a heavy stock pot and add the butter. Add the bacon and sweat add the onion and celery, stirring often until onions and celery softens.
  4.  Add flour and cook until a roux forms.
  5. Add chicken broth and water, stir until velvety and thickened.  Add diced potatoes. Add white pepper, thyme and bay leaf.
  6. Simmer gently for twenty minutes
  7. Add corn and cook for 5 minutes
  8. Remove from heat partly puree with emersion blender.
  9. Return to heat, add cream and slowly heat.
  10. Salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Simmer till soup thickens. Pour in bowl, add crab meat (2 tablespoons per bowl) and garnish with Parsley.

 

Serve with a gerat Chardonnay.

Yield 6 – 8  servings

 

 

L’Ecole No. 41

Years ago, in the early 1990’s I prepared my first Winemakers dinner as a chef. The winery was L’Ecole No. 41 that was the first time I met Winemaker Marty Club. At that point the winery was less than 10 years old and Marty has just joined the winery a few years earlier. Since that time L’Ecole No. 41 has gone on to garner international acclaim and be recognized as one of Walla Walla’s First Growths. But, it was the day that I became a lifetime fan of L’Ecole. The wines were fantastic and Marty was one of the most generous nicest people in the business I had met.

The winery itself has become an Icon. Driving into Walla Wall on highway 12 you can’t help but notice the old school house. The Frenchtown School was built in 1915, so named because of the number of French Canadians that settled in the Walla Walla valley. The Original label was a watercolor painting by 8 year old cousin Ryan Campbell,( now in his 40’s).

L’ Ecole was founded by Marty’s in laws Jean and Baker Ferguson as a little “Retirement project”. Jean and Baker always believed in the potential of Walla Walla Wines, and that dream was finally realized when L’Ecole’s 2011 Estate Ferguson was awarded the Best Bordeaux Blend in the World at the 2014 Decanter World Wine Awards in London. Over the years the accolades and awards have piled up, but unlike many wineries that have achieved certain notoriety, the family has always remained approachable, friendly and generous. You are just as likely to Marty or his daughter Rebecca at a tasting or dinner as you might one of theirs sales team, many of whom have been with company 20 years or more.

“Marty Clubb has built L’Ecole N° 41 into one of Walla Walla’s flagships…making wines that represent the region, the wines that signify Walla Walla.” Patrick Comiskey, Wine & Spirits Magazine

Marty is highly respected in the wine industry and continues to give back and pay it forward. Marty has served more than 20 years on the boards of various wine industry associations like the Washington Wine Commission. He is currently President and Director of the Washington Wine Institute. Marty was instrumental in the founding of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance and served as its president for six years. Marty worked with other industry pioneers in the development of the Walla Walla Community College Center for Enology and Viticulture.

In 1977, the Fergusons bought the old school house with the idea of starting a winery. That same year that Gary Figgins started Leonetti. Now 40 years later their legacy lives on in one of the most beloved wineries in Washington State.

anton kimball02, 1/4/10, 2:54 PM, 16C, 9584×13811 (864+972), 150%, None 14 bit, 1/40 s, R125.8, G101.3, B129.1

Weekend Pairing – Clams and Chorizo and Finn River Farmstead Cider

Cider is quite possibly one of the most underappreciated beverages around. But in that few years there has been nothing short of a revolution in the American Cider industry. I say American, because Europe has a long history of growing great artisanal cider. England, France, Spain all have great cider producing regions, just look to the Basques for culinary inspiration for cooking with cider or Sidra.

America has a long history of producing cider, which in the EU sense I mean hard cider. We all heard the stories of Johnny Appleseed growing up, but what most of us didn’t hear was that Johnny was peddling cider apples, meant for making hard cider. Which makes sense because fermented cider, hard cider was stable and in the times before refrigeration that is what you wanted. With the rise of prohibition the cider industry was virtually destroyed in the US. There have been a number of ciders produced after prohibition but these have been made using second grade dessert apples. Dessert apples are table apples the so called Red Delicious and its kin.
“Up until Prohibition, an apple grown in America was far less likely to be eaten than to wind up in a barrel of cider,” writes Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire. “In rural areas cider took the place of not only wine and beer but of coffee and tea, juice, and even water.”
Cider apples are a different breed, these apples are bitter and tart and have grown to produce ciders that are complex and interesting.

In the US today there is nothing short of a cider renaissance, with cideries opening up at record numbers. Here in Northwest we are at a center of the action, for decades Washington has been synonymous with apples and with over 175,000 acres of orchards we produce over half the apples in the US.
We are blessed with many great cider producers but a personal favorite is Finnriver. Finnriver Cidery was founded in 2008 by Eric Jorgensen and Keith and Crystie Kisler. The roots of the cidery began in friendship and farmland and now, with several thousand heirloom cider trees in the ground, farming and fermenting continue side by side on 80 acres in Chimacum Valley on the Olympic Peninsula.


Finnriver is at the forefront of the craft cider revival and farmcrafts a range of traditional, contemporary and seasonal ciders made primarily from organic Washington fruit, along with a line-up of spirited fruit wines.
Erin James in her new book “Tasting Cider –The Cidercraft Guide to the Distinctive Flavors of North American Hard Cider” she shares a recipe from Chef Paul Zerkel for Clams with Chorizo with Sweet Peas and Leeks. You can pair this with a traditional Basque cider or something local like the Finn River Farmstead Cider.
“An earthy, amber-colored cider with an aroma of warm bread and sweet apple. Offers a rustic taste of the ripe orchard and hearty homestead cider tradition. Nutty with a sharp acidity that balances a gentle tannic finish. Unfiltered lees lend body to this cider.”

Clams and Chorizo with Sweet Peas and Leeks
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 leek, diced and well rinsed
2 ounces Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced
1 bunch Italian parsley, minced
3 pounds Manila clams, rinsed, scrubbed, and soaked in salt water for 1 hour
1 cup ÆppelTreow Winery & Distillery Appely Doux cider
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
{1/2} cup fresh sweet peas (frozen is optional)
1 baguette, sliced in half lengthwise and buttered


1. Preheat the broiler. Set a large pot over medium heat and add the butter. Add the leeks, chorizo, and half of the parsley. Sauté until the leeks are soft and the chorizo is a little crispy, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the clams and stir gently, until they are well coated. Add the cider and season with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and let simmer until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Add the peas during the last minute.
3. While the clams are steaming, place the baguette under the broiler and toast until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Pour the clams and broth into a shallow serving bowl. Garnish with the remaining parsley, slice the bread, and serve hot.
Courtesy Erin James “Tasting Cider”

Join us for an evening of Cider and Pairing With Erin James September 6th

Long Shadows Pedestal: A retrospective from 2003 to 2008 from the Long Shadows Vintners Collection. By Jeff Fournier

I recently had the privilege of attending a tasting in Woodinville at the Long Shadows tasting room for a vertical of the Pedestal Merlot. These limited releases were conceived by Washington State wine pioneer Allen Shoup and he teamed up with Michel Roland (Pomerol vintner and consultant to many of the world’s most famous wines) We were seated and poured the 2003 vintage thru the 2008 and finished with a couple of surprises that were not expected; the 2009 and the 2014!


In attendance were the Director of Wine making and Viticulture for Long Shadows since the first vintage Gilles Nicault, Allen Shoup himself Sean Sullivan (Writer for the Wine Enthusiast) and others

Let’s jump in and see what I thought.

2003: 14 years later and this baby is still holding up, aromas of leather and freshly shaved pencil with dried fruit characters. Tasting, blueberry, cedar and spice with nuances of mocha. A little Petite Verdot and a splash of Cabernet Franc with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from Ciel du Cheval on Red Mountain helped this wine last in a hot vintage. Surprising

2004: My favorite of the flight! 2004 was a cold winter and the fruit aromas are still intense with blackberry and baking spice that carry thru to the palate and weave thru layers of ripe tannin resulting in a full bodied Merlot with concentration and length. The blend very similar to the 2003 very impressive.
2005: I see a difference here from “03” and “04” the fruit is fresher with dark cherry and blackberry on the nose and the palate with toasty oak and intensity in the mid-palate finishing with layers of black fruit. No Petit Verdot in this blend for the first time. Showing very well.
2006: More intensity than any of the previous wines, deeper, darker, richer. The 2006 was nearly a perfect growing season and produced big jammy wines well suited to Michel Roland’s style. There were some early worries of high heat but in September temperatures cooled enough for flavors to fully ripen. This was the first time the wine was made at the new winery and fermented in 1500 gallon wood tanks and first time using a splash of Malbec. Very good and my second favorite of the flight.
2007: A very similar vintage to 2003 as they were both hot and very close in the blends with no Malbec added. I find this wine to be a little smoky and has a wonderful intensity of vivid black currant cocoa and violets. Rich and focused, I think this one is still a little tight and can go for a while but will be better in the long run. Amazing considering it is ten years old.
2008: This was a bit cooler vintage than previous ones resulting in grapes with wonderful acidity. Modest summer temperatures and meticulous care thru the growing season set the stage for an excellent harvest. September and October were picture perfect delivering fruit brimming with flavor. The palate was vibrant with blackberries, currants and red fruits framed by oak and bittersweet chocolate. Drink this one before your 2007’s. Everything just seems to be in balance.
2009: The 2009 vintage was hot in the beginning but cool at the end with some rain and fog a tricky vintage but the wine is showing beautifully. Flavors of cherry preserves black and blue fruits coffee and toasted coconut. Once again meticulous care during the season and in the blending give proof that these wines are consistent year to year. This wine has a younger personality but will still age well.

2014: The 2014 vintage was the hottest vintage of record to date. Wow a big rich wine deep purple in color. This wine has a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon, smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec similar to previous vintages. This is an awesome wine with its deep purple color and flavors of black fruit, plum, coffee, baking spice and sweet oak. Once again showing a consistency in style due to meticulous vineyard management and blending regardless of the vintage.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and look for more in the future with Washington’s rock star wine makers. If you ever have any questions contact me

jeff@esquin.com

 

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