Monday, December 27, 2010

Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma County Old Vine, 2001

We enjoyed Christmas day at home, just the two of us. For dinner we had a herb-crusted rack of lamb, creamy cheese polenta and oven roasted brussel sprouts. We pulled two special wines from the cellar… wow… they were worth the wait, we had the Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma County Old Vine, 2001 and the Columbia Crest Reserve Syrah, 2001. It was a merry Christmas! Both wines were delicious and great with our holiday meal, however, the Seghesio Old Vine Zin was a knockout. The Seghesio family planted their first Zinfandel vineyard in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley back in 1895. Since then, four generations of the Seghesio family have tended over 400 acres of vineyards in Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys. Today winemaker Ted Seghesio produces exceptional Zinfandel and other Italian varietals in their Healdsburg winery in the heart of Sonoma’s wine country. This wine was selected for the Wine Spectator “Top 100” list in 2003. The color is a deep ruby, nearly opaque, with a crimson rim. The nose has an alluring bouquet packed with blackberry, cherry, minerals, truffles, dried herbs and toasty oak. This is a full-bodied wine with gobs of spicy black fruits flavors firmed by solid tannins and lifted by gentle minerality. Toasty vanilla, exotic spices and hints of cocoa contribute to a very long finish. This Seghesio Zinfandel is an incredibly delicious, full-bodied wine with gorgeous clarity, great complexity and definition. This is one of the best wines we have enjoyed this year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Domaine les Serres du Colombier, Crozes-Hermitage, 2007

This red wine from Antoine Ogier comes from the Crozes-Hermitage appellation in the northern Rhone valley. This is 100% Syrah made in a modern style with abundant fresh fruit and some “earthy” flavors that says "Côtes du Rhône". The color is a deep ruby with a scarlet rim. There is a lovely bouquet of ripe red berries, cassis and toasted marshmallow. It delivers a broad mouthful of fresh fruit with dark cherry, red raspberry and kumquat. This is a zesty wine with supple tannins, nice minerality and black pepper essence that balances the fruit driven style. It has plenty of complexity and structure, and is also very versatile with food.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Leone d’ Oro Sangiovese, 2009

This is a wine made in the Marche region of Italy by the boutique winery Domodimonti. The winery's objective is to produce wines as naturally as possible with the least amount of additives. Their natural approach to the cultivation and conservation of vines typically exceeds the rules and regulations of organic farming. They focus on specific aspects of sustainable farming including water conservation, soil improvement, erosion control and the latest in integrated pest management techniques. Their minimalist approach can best be described as follows: Grapes are hand-picked, sustainably grown using organic matter, low-yielding vineyards, no added sugar, no acid adjustments and minimal sulfites added. The Leone d’ Oro Sangiovese has a ruby color with purple hues. There is an enticing nose of ripe red berries, strawberries, cloves, violets and wet rocks. This is a light to medium bodied wine with delicate tannins and crisp acidity. There are flavors of fresh strawberry, plum, cranberry, pencil lead and baking spice. This wine is fleshy, youthful and fruit-forward and will pair well with any tomato based pasta or a nice pepperoni pizza. This wine is available from Wines from Italy for about $12. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lamb Shank Cassoulet and Red Chard

Cassoulet is a is a rich, slow-cooked bean stew or casserole, originating in the south of France, containing meat (typically pork, sausage, duck or goose and sometimes lamb). If you like lamb, cook this dish. This is a relatively easy, slow-cook dish that is great for a cold winter day. The red chard is easily cooked in the final 10 minutes before serving. This dish is a lamb-lovers dream!

Lamb Shank Cassoulet
1 lb. Dried Navy Beans (Great Northern)
2 sprigs (6 inch) of Fresh Rosemary
Water to cover (about 6-8 cups)
4 Lamb Shanks
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Clove Garlic, chopped
6 medium Carrots, peeled and large pieces
4 medium Parsnips, peeled and large pieces
2 medium Onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
½ Teaspoon Dried Thyme
½ Teaspoon Dried Mustard
½ Teaspoon Dried Tarragon
½ Teaspoon Celery Seed
½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
1-2 Teaspoon Salt to taste

Red Chard
1 Bunch Red Chard, coarsely chopped
1 Clove Garlic chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt to taste

Place the dried Navy Beans and Rosemary in a large Dutch-oven or Cassoulet pot. Cover with water and allow to soak overnight. The next day, bring the pot to boil and cook the beans and rosemary, on low heat, for 30 minutes. Remove the rosemary stem and transfer the beans and cooking liquid to a large bowl. Rinse and dry the Dutch-oven and return it to the stove top. Sprinkle the lamb shanks with salt and pepper and brown on all sides (in the 3 tablespoons of olive oil) in the Dutch-oven, over medium high heat. Add the carrots, parsnips, garlic and onion to the pot along with all of the herbs, black pepper and some salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook an additional 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. Add the beans and cooking liquid to the pot, stir. The liquid should almost cover the lamb shanks, if not add another cup or two of water. Place the Dutch-oven in a 325 degree oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Reduce the oven to 275 degrees, cover the Dutch-oven, and cook an additional 3 to 4 hours (add salt if needed). In a separate pan, prepare Red Chard by sautéing in olive oil with garlic and salt for about 6-8 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water, cover and remove from heat; wait 5 minutes. Serve as you wish, enjoy!

Altos de Luzón, 2003

Bodegas Luzon produces wines from the Jumilla Denomination of Origin (DO) of Spain. This Altos de Luzón is a blend of Monastrell (Mourvèdre), Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo. This wine made the Wine Spectator top 100 list in 2005 and was scored 93 points. We opened this wine to enjoy with a Lamb Shank Cassoulet. As Seattle sinks deeper and deeper into the grayness of winter, I cook more and more slow-cooked stews. This wine has been in our cellar for the past 5 years. The color is a deep, dark purple red. The nose shows notes of mineral and blackberry and aromas of kirsch liqueur with spicy overtones. This is a full bodied wine with lively raspberry, black cherry, current, black grape, blueberry, bacon, earth and spicy vanilla. This powerful wine has layer upon layer of ripe fruit and is gently tannic and chewy with a long, long finish. This wine is drinking well now but could continue to be cellared for another 2-5 years. This wine is outstanding, I wish we had more!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pascual Toso Malbec, 2009

Last week we enjoyed a bottle of the 2008 Pascual Toso Malbec with our Thanksgiving dinner. This week we decided to open a bottle of the 2009 vintage to compare it to the previous vintage and enjoy with some casual mid-week meals. This current vintage was similar to the 2008, but perhaps a little more straight forward and vibrant. The color is a deep ruby and the nose projects blackberry, plum and a hint of coffee. This is a medium bodied wine, quite youthful, with flavors of dark berries, plum, cocoa and leather. There are smooth tannins and ample acidity that contribute to a well balanced wine that will pair well with any meal or a nutty cheese. The Pascual Toso Malbec over delivers at the $10 price point.