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Gloria Ferrer ‘ Blanc de Noir’ NV

I can’t remember when I started drinking Gloria Ferrer. Gloria Ferrer was one of the first domestic sparkling wines that my friends in the industry took seriously. It was delicious and affordable and so it ended up at a lot of our parties and celebrations. Gloria became so ubiquitous that we ended up on a first name basis. Gloria was our de facto bubbly and our lives were made better because of it.

Gloria Ferrer was founded in 1982 by the Ferrer family as their primary venture into California winemaking. Owners of Freixenet, one of the big Cava producers in Spain, the family’s lifelong dream was of producing wine in the United States. The winery was named after José Ferrer’s wife, Gloria. The couple continue to run the winery together to this day.

Gloria Ferrer’s wine making mission is: To capture the full expression of the distinctive Carneros terroir in wines made to pair perfectly with food.

Gloria Ferrer ‘Blanc De Noirs’ NV is just about a perfect food wine as you can find. This is delicious and elegant sparkling wine made from Carneros Pinot Noir. Its sweet, sunny fruit and gentle precision feels properly Californian. The texture is soft and polished, lasting on a clean chamomile scent that will keep you coming back for more. “Vibrantly floral strawberry and gingerbread aromas pair with crisp red apple and spice flavors that bounce along the finish.” 90 pts Wine Spectator

Which brings me to food. This wine is delicate enough for lighter fare but has the ability to pair with Steak (Surf and Turf anyone?) The richness of the Pinot Noir makes it perfect for richer seafood dishes. Crab Ravioli, Coquilles St Jacques, Seafood Fettucine.

A lovely and elegant dish that will liven up any dinner party is Crab Bisque. It is relatively easy to make and can stretch one crab a long way. You can find Dungeness Crab from around $9.99 a pound for 1 to 2 pound crab. Paired with a Sparkling Blanc de Noir you have a perfect night.

Dungeness Crab Bisque

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large crab cooked and meat removed, shells roughly chopped

*** Mire Poix

2 onion, finely chopped

2 small carrot, finely chopped

2celery stalk, finely chopped

1 medium fennel bulb, chopped

4 cups water

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 cup dry white wine

¼ cup medium-grain rice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

¼ cup Pernod

Pinch of saffron threads

1 cup heavy cream

water, as needed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chives

 

  1. In a large sauce pan combine half of the mire poix and crab shells add bay leaf and garlic. Cover with water (4 cups). Simmer for 20 minutes, strain and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, fennel and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes until soft
  3. Add the stock, wine, rice, tomato paste, Pernod and saffron. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the rice and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Puree the mixture in a blender until very smooth. Add cream. Thin with water if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Strain through sieve into a clean sauce pan.
  5. Return to heat and bring to a simmer.
  6. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with cooked crab and chives

Serves 8.

Sonoma-Cutrer Lunch at the Four Seasons

I recently had the opportunity to taste through some Sonoma Cutrer wines at the Four Seasons for lunch and it was delightful. We had the single vineyard Les Pierre Chardonnay 2004 and it was shockingly good for its age. We also had a rose and some other chardonnays and pinots here’s how it went.

We started with the 2017 Rose of pinot noir with oysters on the half shell and a perfect pairing in a Salmon Poke.  The wine bright with strawberry and cranberry notes yet slightly savory and dry.

The next four wines we enjoyed with crab salad fresh oysters and a variety of cheeses all Chardonnays.

#1 the Sonoma Valley 2016. The fruit is up front with tropical notes Mango and pineapple typical of a warmer site wine, VERY GOOD.

#2 the Russian River 2015. This wine has more depth and is more of a Burgundian style with Lemon in a liner style.  I like this wine a lot especially with the Oysters.

#3 The Cutrer 2016 – A single vineyard wine with the soil being an ancient sea bed with multifaceted rolling hills and swales.  This is a richer style with Nectarine, Butter scotch and Lemon Curd, Delicious.

#4 Les Pierres 2014 – This vineyard is a Viticulturists Dream known worldwide for its’ mineral essence and poor water retention which stresses the vines. The wine is very Burgundian in its’ style and has more concentration of mineral. Great aging potential.

#5 The 2004 Les Pierres – Wow what a treat to see how this wine has evolved. The fruit is not so much upfront which is to be expected but present in the back ground and pretty mineral character.

Next the 2015 Pinot Noir one of Sonoma- Cutrer’s best kept secrets made at a different winery affectionately called the Pinot Barn, this facility represents the hand crafted approach to the varietal. The wine has really good concentration of fruit showing cherry, strawberry nuances and cranberry acidity, fabulous with the grilled fresh Salmon I ordered specifically for this wine.

Thanks for reading for any orders or questions e-mail me Jeff@esquin .com

Thanks again

CHEERS.  Jeff

Take a tour of Sonoma Cutrer

Paul Hobbs : A Farmboy at Heart

Join us for special evening Wednesday Feb 14th 6 pm with Paul Hobbs winemaker Greg Urmini RSVP 206 682 7374

Photograph Copyright Mitch Tobias

Paul Hobbs is one of the most respected and influential winemakers in the world. Paul started his career in 1977 and over the last 40 years has worked with Robert Mondavi, Opus One, Simi and most famously in Argentina with the Catena family and was the first winemaker bottle varietal labeled Malbec. He founded Paul Hobbs Winery in 1991 and Vina Cobos in 1999. Twice named Wine Personality of the Year by Robert Parker, Jr., he continues to be a leading consultant winemaker around the globe. He has made wines everywhere from Hungary to Uruguay.

Photograph Copyright Mitch Tobias

Paul is highly regarded as winemaker and has inspired a number of nicknames among the press, from “Trendsetter” to “Prospector”. Forbes recently called him “The Steve Jobs of winemaking”.

In 2004, Paul Hobbs Winery 2002 To Kalon Cabernet Sauvignon earned 100 pt score in Wine Advocate and Hobbs was named “Most Important Winemaker in California” by Robert Parker

 

Paul Hobbs Winery focuses on single vineyard varietal wines sourced from some of the best sites in Northern California – Hyde, Beckstoffer, Stagecoach to name just a few. A farmer at heart, Paul is a true vigneron. They have put together a solid team of vineyards and growers. It is these strong relationships that the winery is built on. The focus is small production, vineyard designated wines. Meticulous vineyard management, hand harvested, low intervention winemaking, all native ferment, aged in French oak, all unfiltered and un-fined mean that these wines taste of place.

“Terroir- driven chardonnay, pinot noir, and cabernet are the focus at Paul Hobbs Winery.” –Paul Hobbs

In addition to his eponymous winery his second label CrossBarn is not so much a lesser wine but a place to put all that fruit that he finds. CrossBarn began as just one small lot of Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2000 vintage but its popularity has inspired the introduction of chardonnay, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and more.  With CrossBarn, Paul ventures beyond the vineyards sourced for Paul Hobbs wines while holding to his ideals of sustainable vineyard practices and gentle winemaking techniques, to bring you wines of stunning quality and exceptional value.

With as much as Paul has going on it is not surprising that he needs a little help.

Greg Urmini a Sonoma native and graduate of Cal Poly came to work as a summer intern in 2007. Greg progressed up the ranks from Cellar Worker to Production Assistant then to Assistant Winemaker. In 2014, he was promoted to Winemaker at CrossBarn. Then in 2016, Greg was promoted to Director of Winemaking.

“Working for Paul Hobbs has been a true honor and blessing. To learn and grow with an organization makes me feel like I’m part of a family. Paul’s winemaking and personal philosophies coincide with my own. Care and nurture for the fruit from vine to bottle which then turns that great fruit into a beautiful glass of wine. I enjoy waking up each morning with a burning passion for the industry as well as curiosity of how we can make our wines great,” said Greg.

CrossBarn is named for the Family farm in upstate New York. His father grew apples, as well as few table grapes. He and his father always talked about planting Vinfera and making wine. He tells the story of tasting Chateau Yquem with father at an early age, and how he was transported by the experience. Seems poetic that would name the winery after his Father’s farm. Goes to show you can take the boy out of the farm but you can’t take farm out of the boy.

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

 

 

Weekend Wine Pairing ~ Vintager Chardonnay + Crab Tostadas with Sriracha Guacamole

Okay,  I start to really miss California when it snows in the passes in May, and the rain never ceases. Yes, I am a California native, albeit I have lived in Seattle for over 32 years, so that has to count for something, right? Oh, I do have certain California kid peccadillos. Like when my northern brethren claim indisputable expertise on Mexican food, or when I find myself defending a fondness for Zinfandel or a certain style of California Chardonnay.

Take for example a new Chard we just found.

The Californian Vintager Chardonnay Knights Valley 2012 $14.99

This is an elegant barrel aged chard produced from hand harvested grapes in the legendary Knight Valley AVA, home to winemakers like Peter Michael. Coastal fog and conifer trees create a special cool climate that gives the resulting win a balance of fruit and fresh acidity. Full bodied, yet balanced with well integrated oak and a long seductive finish. Honey crisp apple, blood orange and just a touch of vanilla give this wine all that classic Northern California Chardonnay appeal.

Only 748 cases of this wine were produced by winemaker Sam Jennings, The Vintager Chardonnay is true small production wine.

Yes, and there are certain dishes that pair perfectly with that certain style of Cali Chard – Smoked Chicken Salad, grilled Salmon, Lobster. This wine would be perfect just sitting on a sunny deck with some friends, but this also would be awesome with my Crab tostadas! Recipe below

Join us and taste this extraordinary Chardonnay, Saturday May 20th, at Esquin 2 pm to 5 pm!

xo Lenny

Crab Tostadas with Sriracha Guacamole

1 (16 ounce) package tostadas ( or fresh made)

16 ounces Dungeness crab

1 lime, juiced

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

***** Garnish

2 tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 red pepper, finely diced

1 jalapeno, finely diced

1⁄2 medium onion, finely chopped

¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped

*****Guacamole

3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled

1 lime, juiced

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon Sriracha

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoon sour cream

  1. You can fry your own tortilla but store bought are just fine
  2. In a large bowl, pull crab apart and check for any shell pieces. Combine lime juice and olive oil and dress crab with dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In another bowl combine diced tomatoes, diced peppers, onions and cilantro.
  4. In bowl of food processor combine all ingredients and pulse until well comined.
  5. Spread 1 tablespoon Guacamole on tostada top with 1 ounce of crab meat and garnish with pepper mixture

Crab Tostadas with Sriracha Guacamole Printable Recipe

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