Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Muscadet and Shellfish - Made for Each Other

Muscadet de Sevre et Maine as it is officially called is a great summer white made from the little known Melon de Bourgogne grape. Equally at home as an accompaniment to shellfish of all varieties, or as a before dinner drink with appys, it is usually delicate but delicious. It hails from the lower Loire Valley and sometimes spends it's first winter "sur lie", which means that it was aged on its lees or dead yeast cells, thus adding a touch of richness. Last night's Muscadet was from Domaine de la Landelle, an import of the Maximum Wine Company. It cost me $12.99.
2009 was a wonderful vintage in the Loire and the Landelle featured beautiful appley aromas with a touch of toastiness from the "sur lie" aging. In the mouth, it was light and delicate with lovely apple and pear flavors and a finishing note of saline. We enjoyed it with one of Janet's specialities -
fettucine with mussels and fresh peas from the garden. This is a recipe we found in the NY Times and it has become a house favorite. A Muscadet such as this one or a nice Soave (as suggested by Eric Asimov, the wine writer for the NY Times and one of my favorites) both pair nicely with this dish. Cheers.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Guest Blog from NYC Nom Nom - The High Line

I'm very excited to post the second guest blog from Sara of NYC nom nom. Enjoy.

When I first read about The High Line coming to New York City, I was instantly enamored.  I'm sure the story has been romanticized, but I loved that someone went up to an old abandoned elevated railway that was about to be torn down and saw dreams of a park.  What other's considered an eyesore turned out to be a wonderland of flowers.  Nature had reclaimed this industrial remnant and someone had the foresight to realize that someday, it could look like this.

The High Line is now 20 blocks of a beautiful walking park on the west side of Manhattan (mostly along 20th Avenue from Gansevoort Street to 30th Street).  It has become my favorite place to stroll as well as one of my favorite places to have a picnic.  Chelsea Market is close to the southern entrance and you can pick up any number of fantastic eating items there (for some views of the market, check out this post).  There are a number of great places to sit and eat along the way.

There are small, local businesses that have stands along the way and sell all sorts of treats, including People's Pops, a homemade ice pop stand (also in Chelsea Market, more on them here) and Melt, which specializes in homemade ice cream sandwiches.

There are also a number of fantastic restaurants along the way (for more info, here are some posts on The Park, Cookshop, and one of my all-time favorites for a splurge, Colicchio & Sons).  One favorite activity among High Line strollers are the beer gardens.  On the South side is The Standard Biergarten, which is the "hip" place to have a beer and eat some brats.  On the other side of the High Line, at 30th Street, is a brand new beer garden called "The Lot on Tap" which is in partnership with Colicchio and Sons.  This is the opposite of the Standard, with food supplied by food trucks (a very popular NYC trend) and built on an old parking lot.  It is much more relaxed and more my vibe, but each have their own strong points.

We had Falafel from the truck on the right, Taim, and it was great.

For the next few weeks, AOL has a children's playground with inflated balloons. I wouldn't say it's hours of entertainment, but it's a nice way to end a family High Line walk in NYC.

For more pictures of The High Line as taken by my photography-genius sister, owner of Wackydog Photography, visit the full gallery here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fournier Sauvignon Blanc 2009 - A True Loire Valley Bargain

For me, the best Sauvignon Blancs in the world come from the Loire Valley of France and in particular, from Sancerre. The combination of citrusy fruit and a distinct minerality derived from soil particular to the area is uplifting. No other white wine except for Chardonnay from Chablis and German Reislings have such distinct soil driven elements in their flavor profile. Chablis and Sancerre actually share a soil, as the same vein of Kimmeridigian limestone containing fossilized shellfish runs through both appellations. This entry level Sauvignon Blanc from Fournier Père & Fils has all the flavor elements you expect from Sancerre at a bargain basement price of $11.99. In fact, I've been told that this cuvée is basically young vines Sancerre. It features all the grapefruit and wet stones aromas you expect from true to type Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc, zingy citrusy flavors and perfect balancing acidity. It's light, crisp and it's a great summer quaffer. if you want to see what Sancerre is like without spending the usual $19.99, seek this one out. You'll get the idea.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Old School Rioja - Ramirez de la Piscina Crianza '06

Yes I've touted Spanish bargains on these pages and their are many of them for 8 or 9 bucks. But when you want to step up a bit and experience more traditionally styled, more complex Spanish wine for not too much money, here's one to look for. Made by Ramirez de la Piscina this Crianza Rioja (for me) is what Spanish wine is all about. The first known reference to it goes all the way back to to 873 AD and later it was officially recognized by a Spanish king in the 12 century. Tempranillo is the main grape of Rioja and it can be blended with Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano and Mazuela in varying amounts. The Crianza designation means that the wine was aged for 2 years with at least six months in oak barrels. This traditional Rioja has a particular smokey element in the nose. Some call it tobacco or cigar box. But whatever you call it, it's beautiful. Add to that the cherryish and blackberry like fruit, a subtle note of leather, good medium body and a slightly tannic but long, spicy finish and it all adds up to a wonderful wine for not too much money. We enjoyed it with an Italian lamb stew with fresh kale from our garden. This beauty set me back $14.99. It's imported by Tempranillo (yes, same name as the grape). Cheers.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Crios Torrontes 2010 - An Argentinian Star

Here's a summer quaffer that is just beautiful. Torrontes is an indigenous Argentinian varietal which was probably brought to Argentina by Spanish colonists. It seems to thrive in cool and very dry conditions as evidenced by this version, whose grapes were grown in the northern province of Salta at an altitude of 5,000 ft. The Crios has a huge nose of flowers and citrus fruits. It's floral elements reminded me of Gewurztraminer and the citrus reminded me of Sauvignon Blanc. In the mouth, it offers outstanding concentration for a wine at this price point with grapefruit and peach flavors. It finishes very long with excellent balancing acidity. Despite it's size, this wine comes across as quite light on it's feet. Imported by Vine Connections, this delicious wine set me back a mere $11.99. Cheers.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Selbach Riesling 2007 - So Underrated

I am really starting to love and understand German Rieslings - some of the most underrated wines around. I know most of you shy away from sweet wines but you may want to give some of these beauties a try. First of all, most are just slightly sweet and that sweetness is offset by vibrant acidity that leaves them tasting almost dry. Secondly, for those of you who don't drink as much as I do, you can simply put the cork back in these wines and drink the rest up to a week later. Their staying power is amazing! They are low in alcohol, usually in the 8 - 11% range and they pair very well with sushi and and spicy Asian food of any variety. They also make great aperitifs. The $9.99 Selbach I enjoyed recently is a case in point. It's very aromatic with apple and apricot scents underpinned by a stoniness that is very common to German Riesling. In the mouth, it's generous, sweet mid-palate is offset by zingy acidity and minerals. It finishes long with a note of honey. This is a really impressive wine for the price. Imported by Michael Skurnick for the broker Terry Theise, this is a portfolio wine lovers should seek out. When you see Terry Theise's name on the back label of German wine, you can be sure it's a good one. Rudi Wiest is another broker of German wines whose portfolio is outstanding.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Big Rustic Reds; Still Relevant in June Bisceglia Aglianico del Vulture

Yeah I know it's hot and I've mentioned how much I love rosés - but big rustic reds are always welcome. Let's face it, once it hits 90 degrees and you've got the AC on, who cares if the vino is cold or not. This wine will work just fine with any kind of grilled meat. Aglianico is probably the most important grape of southern Italy, especially in Campania where it makes the very long lived Taurasi. But entry level aglianicos are also tasty, including the bottle featured here. The producer Bisceglia is an estate located on the slopes of the extinct volcano, Vulture,  just south of Campania in the Basilicata. This bottling, called "Terra di Vulcano", is the '07 and it cost me $11.99. Rustic is an apt description here and it sometimes turns people off but wines like this give you all the wild splendor of a special place. The Bisceglia aglianico has big brooding aromas of dark plummy fruit, tar and the stoniness that is typical of wines grown in volcanic soil. You also get a touch of alcoholic heat that isn't so prominent that it will turn you off. In the mouth it's very big with dark fruit flavors and a bit of chocolate. It's also got structure and is a bit tannic (the astringency some refer to as "dry") but not overly so. That rusticity is part of the charm. It finishes long with a touch of minerality. Serve it with boldly flavored foods or grilled steaks. Imported by one of the best - Leonardo Locasio. Cheers!