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Weekend Wine Pairing : Oven Roasted Lamb Rack Salad with Couscous, Fennel, Mint, and Tomatoes

Rosé Time!

It is definitely beginning to look more like spring; in the wine business that means the arrival of the Rosé! I can think of no better foil for the winter doldrums than to tease one of the scarce sunny days on the deck with brunch or late lunch. Whether Easter, or any Sunday, there are fewer things as civilized as taking a meal al fresco with a nice bottle of Rose!

The Rosé Revolution is now hegemony!  Never in my life have I tasted and seen so many Rosé. Beyond the great Bandol and Tavel, we see Rosé coming from every great wine region in the world. Not only is it just about the best thing for an afternoon quaff, Rosé also lends itself to a wide variety of foods. The touch of anthocyanin, that gives Rosé its color, also gives the wine more body which allows it to pair with heartier fare!

Looking for something to pair with your Easter Ham? Look no further. Roast Turkey, Standing Pork Crown Roast, Cedar Plank Salmon, Tuna Salad – you name it, Rose will fit the bill. Almost just to prove my point, I would like to present a perfect party dish that is made for Rosé – Oven Roasted Lamb Rack Salad with Couscous, Fennel, Mint, and Tomatoes.

 

Oven Roasted Lamb Rack Salad with Couscous Fennel Mint and Tomatoes recipe + ingredient list

The other thing I love about Rosé? Even the priciest Rosés are still relatively affordable in the vast scheme of things. One of my favorite things to do, for a party, is fill a galvanized tub with a bunch of Rosé + ice and let people have at it! Rest assured there are great inexpensive Rosé, and you can find a lot of them here at Esquin Wine & Spirits.

Here are a couple favorites:

OLIVARES JUMILLA ROSADO 2016 $6.99

Floral and red fruit aromas mingle on the nose, with a refreshing and balanced palate. This Spanish Rosé pairs beautifully with grilled vegetables, fish, pasta, or on its own.  70% Garnacha 30% Monastrell

LAURIBERT ‘LA CUVEE DE LISA’ ROSE 2016 $8.99

We are pleased to welcome the new 2016 Les Lauribert La Cuvee de Lisa! A gorgeous Rosé with tart, refreshing acidity that is balanced with notes of barely ripe strawberries. It’s springtime in a bottle!

MILBRANDT ROSE 2016 $11.99

Intense nose of mineral, strawberry, melon, and herbs. The palate is lean and fresh with plenty more red berries, and a saline finish.

Join us Saturday, April 15th, from 2-5PM at our tasting barrel to try the 8th World of the World – Rosé!

Weekend Wine Pairing Paella Valencia + Cistum Granacha

When someone says Spanish Cuisine the first dish that comes to nearly everyone’s mind is Paella. And yes, you can find Paella in virtually every city, village and taberna. Historically, Spain was divided into small kingdoms; each one with its own language, culture and cuisine. Today, Spain is divided into 17 Autonomous Communities, each one with its own unique cuisine.

Valencia, in Eastern Spain, is the undisputed home of paella. It is one of the largest natural ports in the Mediterranean and has been one of the most important rice-producing areas in Spain since rice was introduced by the Moors over 1200 years ago. Paella has ancient roots, but its modern form originated in the mid-19th century near the Albufera lagoon on the east coast of Spain adjacent to the city of Valencia.  Although many people regard Paella as the national dish of Spain, Valencian’s regard paella as more than just a dish – it is also one of their most identifying symbols.

There are as many different Paella recipes as there are Spanish Mothers and Chefs. Paella de Marisco (seafood), Paella de Verduras (Vegetarian), Paella Mixta (freestyle) and Paella Valencia are the most common dishes. Paella Valencia traditional will be served with short grain rice, green beans, snails, chicken or rabbit, chorizo and of course Saffron and Pimenton de la Vera.  Below is my Paella Recipe, and like I said, every Paella recipe is different. Mine is unusual in that I cook the delicate fish separately from the rice, because I want the fish to be as fresh and light as possible.

Lenny’s Paella Valencia Mixta printable recipe

Pairing with Paella is easy – a lighter white like Albarino or Verdejo or a softer red like Rioja or many of the great Garnacha (Grenache) Spain has to offer. Today, I am pleased to show a new one we just discovered – a beautiful and affordable red made from 120 year old vine Garnacha from Navarra.

2009 Rafael Reverte Cistum Garnacha Navarro $14.99

“The 2009 Cistum was sourced from 120-year-old ungrafted pre-phylloxera vines aged for 6 months in new French oak. Cedar, pencil lead, Asian spices, incense, and black cherry liqueur aromas are some of the elements leading to a voluminous, focused, layered wine with enough structure to evolve for 2-3 years. This remarkable example of old-vine Garnacha will be at its best from 2014 to 2024.”

92 Points – The Wine Advocate

In the twelfth century, the Cistercian monks of the Monastery of Fitero planted their first vines of Grenache and began the preparation of a unique and exceptional wine. Rafael Reverte has recovered Pie Franco vineyard planted in 1899, before the step of Phylloxera, to produce a wine of legend within reach of very few: “Cistum”.

Taste this wine Saturday from 2 pm to 5 pm

Taste Lenny’s Paella Wednesday April 5th 6 pm with Special Guest Victor Palencia of Palencia Winery!

Spring Classes at Esquin

Italy In-Depth 3 Class Series

Italy! The Land of the Vine, according to the ancient Greeks; nowhere else is wine so closely intertwined with daily life in every village throughout the Italian peninsula – not even France. Nowhere else is there such a enormous array of excellent native varietals.

Beginning Sunday April 2nd, Sommelier Arnie Millan will be offering an in-depth look at Italian wine with three classes, each organized by region:

1. April 2nd – The South (Campagnia, Sicily, Puglia, Calabria, Sardinia, Basilicata)  1-4:30PM in the Sky Lounge $69

2. April 23rd – The Center (Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio, The Marches, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Molise, Abruzzi) 1- 4:30PM in the Sky Lounge $69

3. April 30th – The North (Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy, Veneto, Alto Aldige/Trentino, Friuli-Giulia-Venezie) 1-4:30PM in the Sky Lounge $69

Join us for the complete series $195, tickets available here>>

Each region, its history and wines, will be discussed in depth. Classes will include tasting regional wines. We will taste 8 wines per class from the Italy’s greatest appellations. Free parking is available in Esquin’s lot on the South end of our building. The Seattle Times recently named Arnie “The finest Wine Mind in Seattle.”

FOOD + WINE CLASSES with Lenny Rede

April 9th – Bourbon and Barbecue! 2-4PM in the Sky LoungeTwo great tastes that taste great together. We will explore a variety of styles of barbecue and an equal number of bourbons, including a few local favorites! Do’s and don’ts on how to make your next BBQ the best party ever. $49 Call 206.682.7374 to register. Advance registration is necessary. Gift Certificates are available.

May 14th – Champagne & Caviar! 2-4PM in the Sky Lounge
Explore the range and elegance of Champagne and some classic pairings – including Caviar, Lobster, Fried Chicken, and Popcorn. We will discuss the production styles, rules, and history of the King of wines. With Special Guest! $49
Call 206.682.7374 to register. Advance registration is necessary. Gift Certificates are available.

Rainy Day Baby Back Ribs with Whiskey Barbecue Sauce

This time of year with the little breaks of sunshine, I start craving barbecue but the weather doesn’t always comply. Today, I’d like to present an easy way to prepare ribs in your oven. Many of the recipes that are for making inside usually rely on liquid smoke which can be so strong it tastes artificial. In this recipe I use whiskey and smoked pepper to impart a little bit of smoke to the ribs.
Bourbon is burnt oak and alcohol. Not only does it make for good barbecue it also is a perfect pairing with Barbecue. Now if you don’t like your whiskey neat or on the rocks there a few simple recipes that are great for party’s. A Whiskey Ginger is 2 to 3 parts good quality ginger ale (Bundaberg, Reeds) and 1 part bourbon. Classics like The Mint Julip or Bombadier also make for a great party. A simple punch is equal parts – bourbon, sweet vermouth, sparkling apple cider and orange juice. Garnished with sliced orange and plenty of ice and you have a refreshing beverage that lends itself to barbecue and good times.
We here in Seattle and Pacific NW are blessed with a bounty of great wines, craft beer and of course coffee. In the last few years we have seen the same passion turned towards distilling. Prior to 2008, there were no craft distilleries in Washington State. Today, with 110 distilled spirit plant licenses, we have more distilleries than any other state in the union. Seattle alone boasts 17, there are 27 in King County, which is more than any other county in the USA. Distilleries like Westland, Copperworks, Glass, 2 Bar are making waves not just here but around the world. Garnering acclaim awards and press the world over.
Woodinville Whiskey Company has received numerous awards including Best Distillery 2016 (Seattle Weekly, King 5 Best of Western Washington & 425 Magazine). Recently, Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey was named 2016 Whiskey of the Year from the American Distilling Institute.
Woodinville Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 45% ABV $47.99
This truly small-batch bourbon starts with traditionally grown corn, rye and malted barley. The staple grains are cultivated exclusively on the Omlin Family farm in Quincy, Washington. The grains are mashed, distilled, and barreled in the Woodinville distillery. 100% handmade in Washington state and aged in a new, charred oak 53 gallon barrel. Sweet aromas of crème brûlée and spice, notes of caramel, dark chocolate, and vanilla with a sweet, lingering finish.
 ~Lenny
Rainy Day Baby Back Ribs with Whiskey Barbecue Sauce 
3 Pounds Baby Back Ribs
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup coca cola
½ cup bourbon whiskey***Rub
3 Tablespoons Ground Mustard
1 Tablespoon Granulated Garlic
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
2 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika
2 Tablespoon Chile Powder
1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
***Whiskey BBQ Sauce
1 Each Onion, Diced
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
½ Cup Cider Vinegar
½ Cup Brown Sugar
½ Cup Whiskey
1 Cup Ketchup
1 Cup Dijon Mustard
2 whole chipotles in adobo
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder

Weekend Wine Pairing – French Onion Soup and Gorman Old Scratch GSM

The weather always drives my cooking decisions and with the crazy “thunderhailsnowmageddon” we have been experiencing of late I just want to make a hearty soup and curl up with a good book and nice glass of wine. Nothing says hearty winter soup like a classic French Onion Soup. Now before you say oh but that is so time consuming, a weekend afternoon is a perfect opportunity to spend some leisure time in the kitchen. The recipe is simpler than you might think, and the payoff is definitely worth the effort.
A bowl of French Onion Soup, a simple salad and a nice bottle of Red et voilà you have a fantastic weekend supper. If you want to make more of a meal of it add a large plate of charcuterie, pate or rillettes, with cornichons and mustard.

 
Tradition has it that a nice white or red burgundy is a great pairing for this dish. Any medium bodied red with nice fruit and good minerality will pair beautifully – think Beaujolais, Dolcetto or Barbera. Want to class is up? A great Châteauneuf-du-pape will rock everyone’s world. Today, I am pairing with new red from my buddy Chris Gorman, the Old Scratch GSM.


Gorman Winery Old Scratch GSM Columbia Valley 2014 $24.99
A Syrah driven blend (80%Syrah, 10%Grenache, 10% Mourvedre) that spends 24 months in French oak is a dark magenta in the glass with lively aromatics and a spicy palate with plenty of dark fruit- boysenberry, blackberry, currant and licorice notes. Medium bodied with soft tannins and a telltale mineraly finish that leaves you wanting more. 420 cases produced.
Sourced from some of Washington’s finest vineyards; Klipsun, Boushey, Lonesome Springs, Kiona, and made in much the same manner as his Pixie Syrah, that last couple of vintages have received 94 pt scores! (and is almost twice the price!)
Chris founded his eponymous winery in 2002 and has garnered accolades from virtually every wine publication on the planet. He came to winemaking from years working in the wine trade, because of that experience he makes wines that are easy to like, because he knows what people like. Now well into his 15th year and producing some 8000 cases of wine, he is no longer a garagiste having to steal grapes from friends, he is one of Washington State’s leading winemakers. The Old Scratch GSM is proof that he not resting on his laurels.

French Onion Soup (Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée)

6 Tablespoons Butter

6 medium Yellow Onions (2lbs)

1 clove garlic chopped

2 cups water

2 tablespoons Flour

1 cup Sherry Amontillado

6 cups Beef stock, homemade if you can

1 bay leaf

2 Thyme sprigs

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons Cognac

1 teaspoon Vinegar, Cider or sherry

1 teaspoon Worcester Sauce

Toasted baguette, about 8 slices ¼ inch thick

Gruyere Cheese, Grated, about 12 ounces

Chives for garnish

Click here for printable recipe and instructions

~ Lenny

 

 

Steamed Clams with Chorizo and Palencia Albarino

To quote Hank Shaw, “There is nothing more Iberian – meaning Spanish, Basque or Portuguese – than the combination of shellfish and pork.” He even speculates that this classic combination was used to ferreting out Conversos during the inquisition. But, mostly I think it is because the combination is so delicious.

Today, I give my interpretation of Hank’s Steamed Clams with Chorizo. Other than some fresh clams, I get mine at Mutual Fish which is right down the street from my house, and good quality Spanish Chorizo, I get that at Big Johns PFI, the other key ingredient is Pimenton de la vera. Smoked Spanish Paprika is unlike the bitter grocery store paprika that your mother used to sprinkle on everything, Pimenton is sweet and smoky and adds a depth to any dish, and aside from saffron is what makes Paella taste like Paella.


I can think of no better pairing for this dish than a good Albarino. Albarino is the undisputed great white wine of Spain. Native to Galicia on northeastern coast the wine has been served with shellfish since the time of the Cluny Monks walking the Pilgrimage of the El Camino de Santiago in the twelfth century. For hundreds of years, Albariño vines could be found growing around the trunks of poplar trees and in bushes along the outside margins of a field. Today, the Albarinos of Rais Baixes are recognized as some of the best wines in Spain.


Recently an Albarino was awarded a Platinum Medal at the 17th annual Platinum Judging, conducted by Wine Press Northwest magazine. It is made by a young man Named Victor Palencia and is one of my favorite white wines produced in the state.

Palencia Winery 2015 Albarino, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley $15.99 “This grape is native to the Iberian Peninsula, yet it thrives in the arid Columbia Basin. Aromas of dried pineapple and banana play out on the palate with hints of melon, gooseberry and lemon meringue. It earned gold medals in two Oregon judgings prior to its Platinum.” – Andy Perdue

“Clean, clear and bright with fresh white peach and tropical notes on the nose, a mélange of fruit opens on the palate; sweet cantaloupe, apple, peach, pear and lemon zest are framed with bright minerality and zippy acidity. A refreshing and delicious Galicia style Albarino.” – Lenny

Victor Palencia is barely in his thirties’ and has been making wine before he could legally drink! It was a New Times Article that first brought him to the attention of the public, A Vineyard Prodigy Too Young to Drink. Since then Victor has been named in “Americas Top 40 under 40” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine and his wines consistently receive Gold Medals and praise from press and competitions. The future is bright for this young man who was born in Mexico and raised in Prosser, working with grapes since age 13. He says it was his destiny to make wine.

Spanish Style Steamed Clams with Chorizo 

1 pound Roasted potatoes 3 pounds small Manila Clams*

1/4 cup olive oil

1 shallot, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon red chile flakes

1/2 pound Spanish chorizo, sliced

1 cup white wine (Albarino)

2 teaspoons Pimenton De la Vera

1 teaspoon Sherry Vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoon sea salt

Big loaf of crusty bread

click here for printable recipe instructions

 

 

 

Weekend Wine Pairing – Spinach and Pesto Gnocchi w/ Love & Squalor Sauvignon Blanc

Love & Squalor Sauvignon Blanc is aromatic with hints of passion fruit and guava zesty with lime, gooseberry and green apple but this wine isn’t just about fruit it is a perfect balance of acid and fruit this wine has minerality and a slight savory note. Green herb notes on the palate with a nice clean finish.

The grapes come from two vineyards: Redford-Wetle in the Eola-Amity hills and Aurora Colony Vineyard in Aurora. If there is one last master of white winemaking for Matt to get tutored by it would be Myron Redford of Redford-Wetle Vineyard, founder of Amity Vineyards and white wine evangelist.

This wine is versatile and could pair with many different dishes – shellfish, vegetable dishes, pastas, salads of all kinds. Sauvignon Blanc is one of the few wines that is perfectly suited to foil many tricky ingredients that are notoriously hard to pair like – artichokes, asparagus, green herbs, goat cheese.

Always a favorite the Love & Squalor Sauvignon Blanc really struts it stuff when paired to a dish like Spinach Gnocchi:

Spinach Gnocchi with Pesto

1 pound Roasted potatoes
½ cup Ricotta
4 ounces Spinach, cooked and chopped
¼ teaspoon Nutmeg
2 each Egg Yolks
1 cup Flour or more as needed
1 tsp Salt
Pinch White Pepper
Pesto Sauce
Pecorino Romano for grating

Printable recipe w/ instructions

What Wine Goes With Deep-Fried Turkey?

Deep Fried TurkeyWhile spending Christmas with my family in Tacoma, we managed to successfully deep-fry a turkey without injuring ourselves or setting the place on fire. As far as wine choices with this turkey, and especially with a holiday meal where everything under the sun is on the table, I say just drink what you like. A handful of ideas, however, did come to mind during and after I pounded down a few beers in front of the boiling cauldron of oil and turkey:

  • Bubbles. Anything crunchy and salty (like chips) seems to have an affinity with sparkling wine. The deep-fried turkey had a remarkably crisp skin that I could have eaten by the handful if only I didn’t have to share it with a dozen other people. (Not that I was complaining….OK, maybe a little.)
  • A light, refreshing red and/or white. A lively Northern Italian white or something in the Gamay/Pinot Noir family is a classic with turkey. But then again…
  • Why not a hearty, burly red like a Zinfandel? Or a bruiser of a Spanish Garnacha? You’ve got that spicy skin, and you can’t discount the dark meat. Put some brawn into your glass! Which reminds me…
  • A big, rich white would work as well; why not a plush White Burgundy or California Chardonnay? Nothing that’s an oak monster, but a little bit of heft wouldn’t hurt.

So you can have bubbles, a lighter white and/or red, or a heavier white and/or red. They all have their pluses (and minuses). It’s best just to have a lot of variety and experiment with whatever happens to be within arm’s reach. I ended up drinking the same red I had for Thanksgiving: The 2009 Brundlmayer Zweigelt. An easy-drinking red in a shareable one-liter bottle, it was great with a slight chill on it.
Deep-Fried Turkey and Zweigelt

So what did you end up eating and drinking over the holidays?

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2009 Brundlmayer Zweigelt (1L) $15

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