Drinking an aged Chardonnay is not the norm, especially one that doesn’t come from Meursault or Montrachet in Burgundy. Most Chardonnay drinkers prefer to enjoy this white while it is still fresh and crisp, shortly after bottling when the wine matches it’s fruit flavors with vibrant acidity.
However, when made from high quality grapes with balanced acidity, smart use of oak, a hands-off terroir driven wine making approach and, perhaps the most important requirement, proper storage, a nicely aged Chardonnay from anywhere in the world has the ability to age upwards of 20 years. Brian Talley of Talley Vineyards, just south of San Luis Obispo in California’s Central Coast, is out to prove this by traveling to select cities to let restaurateurs and journalists taste his well aged wine, including Dallas last week. Continue reading "What To Drink Now: Aged Chardonnay from Talley Vineyards"1 Comment »
There are lots of good wine tastings in Dallas, but it is rare to have a true legend of the wine industry in town. That was the case on Thursday night when I was honored to be among the guests at a dinner at Village Marquee – Texas Grill and Bar in Highland Park for Georges DuBoeuf, the man who invented nouvelle Beaujolais and pretty much deserves the credit for putting the Beaujolais region on the modern wine map. We were there to taste his wines from the excellent 2011 vintage, which will appear in most Dallas liquor stores this fall.
Jump for more Duboeuf.
Bolsa execuchef Jeff Harris shows what he can do when you put him in a box. He comes out fighting! The mandate: prepare a vegetarian meal for 20 to be served at Bolsa Mercado’s communal table as part of their ‘Meet and Eat’ series that takes place on Friday evenings. The result? A menu that even a carnivore could love. Check out Melisa Oporto’s pictures for a feast for the eyes. Continue reading "Bolsa Mercado Goes Vegetarian at ‘Meet and Eat’"
Cakebread Cellars is one of the most respected wineries in California’s Napa Valley and I was honored to be a guest at a tasting of their wines hosted at Bijoux, Scott and Gina Gottlich’s restaurant, in Dallas this week. Located in the exclusive Rutherford area of the valley, Cakebread epitomizes wines that represent their place: valley floor fruit from central Napa Valley and cool climate fruit from Carneros at the southern end of the valley which is, in archetypal California contrarian fashion, also the coolest part of the valley on account of its proximity to cool air funneling north from San Francisco Bay.
Continue reading "Report: Cakebread Cellars Tasting at Bijoux in Dallas"
Despite the 100-degree Monday night in July, Abacus Restaurant in Dallas was packed for a tasting of Kim Crawford Wines from New Zealand. Wine maker Anthony Walkenhorst brought the impressive wines; Abacus execuchef Aaron Studenmaier and Abbey Renager (pastry chef) produced impressive and complementary food. I was an invited guest and had a chance to interview him before the meal.
I was an invited guest at an unusual promotion for French wine sponsored by Wines of France (that’s the French taxpayer, I think) on Friday night. First was the location: it was here. South of downtown, just off Ervay, next to the railroad tracks at the point where Google stops their street view efforts or I would have seen that their map wrongly shows Kelley Ave. emptying into Ervay. There was no problem parking right outside the place. Somebody had probably stolen the car that was previously there.
Second was the building. It is called Off The Grid because it is an old Dallas Power and Light substation building restored inside to transform it into an event space. The red brick walls have been scrubbed up and black stairways installed to allow easy movement between its three floors. It is all achingly cool (to the moderately fit).
Third, was the format of the progressive dinner. We would start on the ground floor and then eat successive courses on the second and third floors, before returning to ground for dessert.
Fourth was the method of invitation. Virtually every one of the approximately 70 attendees had heard about the event through social media. Wines of France is touring the country from New York, to Chicago, then San Francisco, and now a grand finale in Dallas. Locals who followed them on Facebook or Twitter got an invite to the Dallas event. The whole concept was managed by social media PR agency Lushlife. Although based out of NY, their account peep, Lindsey Johnson, grew up in Dallas so she knew the ‘lie of the land’, so to speak.
Finally were the food and wine peeps at the Dallas end. Lushlife picked Campo execuchef (and Daniel Bouloud student), Michael Ehlert to prepare the meal, and Del Frisco’s wine director, Jennifer Jaco to handle and describe the wines.
Jump for the details.1 Comment »
Pity the lot of Australian wine makers. The past few years have seen sales fall (19% from mid-2010 to mid-2011 alone) in response to a rising Australian currency and a debasement of the image of Australian wine by a flood of industrial grade ‘critter wines’ into the US market. Ironically, these trends have occurred at a time when the quality of the top 10% of Australian wine is arguably better than ever.
Last night Landmark Vineyards winemaker Greg Stach led a group of Dallas media through a unique blending experience creating a true hands on approach to the process that he and his winemaking team go through each year to make their award winning Overlook Chardonnay. I was an invited guest of the winery. Though the process we went through last night only included 4 Chardonnay samples from four of the vineyards Landmark sources their fruit from each year, it was easy to see how each flavor added to the character of the final wine. Each year Greg and his team go through this blending practice to make their signature label with fruit from 23 different vineyards and about 46 individual vineyard blocks, each with their own style, structure, aroma and flavor that when blended come together to create one balanced wine. Continue reading "Landmark Vineyards Blends Its Way Through Dallas"
Art Saveur is a new organization for people who share an interest in both art and dining. Their slogan is: “Blending Passion for Art, Food, and Wine into Art-Inspired Gourmet Meals.” They held their inaugural event last Saturday at Garden Café in the Junius Heights neighborhood of East Dallas. About 28 diners enjoyed the event. The restaurant was decked out like an art gallery and guests enjoyed the work of Dallas artist Cathy Drennan along with a four-course meal prepared by Garden Café chef Mark Wootton.
Jump for more of Desiree’s photos.4 Comments »
I admit I was skeptical when Lars Leicht, director of communications at Banfi Wine, contacted to say he was bringing a winemaker Mauro Merz of Fontana Candida into town. He said he had “some very exciting newly released Frascatis to show” at a tasting he had planned at Steel. I’ve always considered wines from Frascati, a white wine region on the outskirts of Rome, as bland (when I was not drinking Pinot Grigio that is).
I visited the source over a decade ago to see if they tasted better before they were shipped. My companion and I wandered down an alleyway off one of the streets in the quaint town of Frascati and into an Osteria with a wooden door so heavy you could give yourself a hernia trying to open it. Inside, we settled for a plate of antipasti and Frascati. We knew the wine was local because it was poured from a huge barrel that was one of many set along one wall. It was served in a simple jug, from which we poured it into tumblers. This vineous enigma was dispensed without such fluffery as a name or a vintage. It was just made locally, probably by a co-op, and was what the clientele expected. I had many glorious Italian wines on that trip, but Frascati was not one of them. I didn’t dislike it, it was just totally bland.
Jump for my conversion to a believer.
Anyone familiar with CVNE knows the name stands for Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España. Those who don’t are confused as to how to pronounce the famous Rioja which has belonged to direct descendants of Real de Asua family since 1879.
This week, North American Sales Director and family member by marriage, Sam Ferraro, was The Oceanaire Seafood Room in Dallas to talk about the wine. The name has been altered to read Cune on the page. The winery, in the spirit of rather being rich than dead, embraced it (you can do that if your product overtakes the historical memories). Ferraro has increased US sales by over 700% in his first year on the job: From 2,000 cases in 2010 to 15,000 cases in 2011 (still relative peanuts in the largest wine market in the world) but he sees this as only his first step. Ferraro told us the story of how he entered the wine market. It’s a classic. Continue reading "Chalk Talk: Checking Out the Wine List at Oceanaire Seafood Room and Notes From a Tasting of CVNE Wines"
A few announcements have hit my email for wine dinners in the next few weeks that look intriguing. Here are a few opportunities to taste around town.
May is Oregon wine month…who knew? Celebrate one of the best as Grace Restaurant hosts Domaine Serene on May 24th for the unveiling of the new Domaine Serene Grand Cheval. From what I understand it is a blend of their stunning Willamette Valley Pinot Noir with Syrah, a beef and potatoes wine with complexity and character. Domaine Serene Southeast Sales Manager, Ginger Dollins, will be on hand to walk guests through the tasting of Domaine Serene’s beautiful wines paired with a succulent menu prepared by Chef Blaine Staniford. More information and reservations available at 817-877-3388. Full menu and pairings here. Continue reading "Upcoming Opportunities to Taste"
Dan Redman is lucky salesman. He sells Damilano wine from the Piedmont region of Italy. His biggest problem is not selling wine. The biggest bump in his job is that he never has enough wine to sell. Last week Dan’s Mosaic Wine Group brought Brand Manager, Barbara Levi Cavaglione, to Dallas to showcase the wines. It was the last stop of her 7- day 6-city tour. I was an invited guest at the tasting, which took place at the Dallas epicenter of Italian wine: Jimmy’s Food Store.4 Comments »
The dates for one of the area’s most interesting events is set. On August 12- 13, the Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at Las Colinas will host the 8th Annual Texas Sommelier Conference. The three-day conference includes educational sessions, wine tastings, and social media workshops. The 2011 TexSom conference featured the largest contingent of Master Sommeliers at a public event. This year should be no different. However, you don’t have to be any kind of sommelier to buy a seat. Some of the names you can rub shoulders with include:
Scheduled Master Sommeliers include James Tidwell, Drew Hendricks, Wayne Belding, Brett Zimmerman, Guy Stout, Tim Gaiser, Laura Williamson, Keith Goldston, Nate Ready, Melissa Monosoff, Brian Cronin, Cameron Douglas, John Szabo, Geoff Kruth, Laura DePasquale, Jay Fletcher, Andrew McNamara, Peter Neptune and Greg Harrington. The speaker lineup also includes James Beard Award Winners Rajat Parr and Paul Grieco, Master of wine Christy Canterbury, wine marketer Paul Wagner, Union Square Hospitality Group Wine Director John Ragan, and Leonetti Cellar Owner Chris Figgins.
The seminar topics, times, and various ticket prices are listed below. For more information or to register, click here. Like, fast. Continue reading "The 8th Annual Texas Sommelier Conference: Registration is Open!"1 Comment »
John Cox, Ray Skradzinski, Oliver Sitrin, and Heather Dorris may not be names that trip off your tongue. But if history is any guide they will be big-name chefs in Dallas in the next few years. They were the four winners in this year’s Rising Star Chefs Contest: Heather Darris (Bolla), Oliver Sitrin (Marquee), Ray Skradzinski (Five-Sixty by Wolfgang Puck), and John Cox (Hyatt Regency) Former winners have included Andre Natera (now execuchef at The Pyramid Restaurant), J. Chastain (now sous chef at The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek), Omar Flores (now execuchef at Driftwood) and Anthony Bombaci (now execuchef at Nana).
Jump for photos and the rest of the story. Continue reading "Dallas Wine and Food Festival: Report on The Rising Star Chefs Awards Dinner"6 Comments »
James Tidwell, Master Somelier and Beverage Manager at the Four Seasons Las Colinas, takes a lot of wine-related trips. Each time he visits an area he usually discovers a new or off-the-radar winery making a special wine. Last year on a trip to Washington State, Tidwell ran across Côte Bonneville, a family-run winery centered around their DuBrul Vineyard which the Shiels family planted in 1992. Kerry Shiels, winemaker and daughter of the founders, came to town and Tidwell contacted the Texas distributor, Hear Hear, and arranged a a dinner featuring Côte Bonneville wines at Café on the Green at the magnificent Four Seasons Resort and Club in Irving. I was an invited guest, which gave me the chance to digest two birds with one stone, so to speak. Besides tasting the wines from Côte Bonneville, I also got to taste new chef Jonathan Rivera’s cooking.
In simplest terms, the ideal way to enjoy a glass of wine is paired with the cuisine of the region the wine is from. In early days of wine making, wine was intended to be the drink enjoyed with food during the daily meals; even before you could safely drink water there was wine. If you ask most winemakers, they will agree their wine is made with thoughts of the food pairing in mind,. Think about how “California Cuisine” was created in the heart of Napa in the 1980′s and early 1990′s by chefs like Alice Waters, Michael Chiarello, Thomas Keller and Cindy Pawlcyn who focused on local products meant to highlight the flavors of the area and pairing well with wine coming from the valley; it is also why you enjoy a hearty, beefy Malbec in Argentina while feasting on smoky, barbecued meat, pork and lamb at an afternoon Asado; why tomatoes are one of the hardest things to pair, yet Chianti is always the ideal match for pasta with marinara sauce; and why artichokes and asparagus can give a Sommelier a headache when they see them on a pairing menu except in Spain, where the ideal pairing can range from a crisp, acidic yet still fruit forward Cava or racy, dry Fino Sherry.
The idea of eating and drinking regionally is fully embraced by the Spanish culture, as was evident on my recent trip as a guest of Segura Viudas. Wine lists were filled with selections from throughout Spain’s diverse regions paired with menus containing lavish selections of seasonal veggies, fresh seafood and shellfish, lots of pork and locally produced olive oil flavoring everything. Continue reading "What To Drink, and Eat, Now: Regional Pairings of Wine and Food Through Spanish Eyes"1 Comment »
If you love the feisty, difficult, rebellious, beautiful, seductive, sultry Burgundian grape that has made wine makers weep in both joy and sorrow, pay attention as there are some great opportunities to enjoy a glass of Pinot in the coming weeks.
Earlier this week Andrew Chalk noted the wine dinner next Wednesday night, April 25, at Abacus with owner/winemaker Mac McDonald of Vision Cellars, pairing his wines with produce from Farmer Lee Jones of The Chef’s Garden. I want to add a bit to the notes on this dinner as it really isn’t one to be missed. The first time I tried Mac’s wine was at a similar dinner thrown by Kent Rathbun pairing Mac’s single vineyard Pinot Noir wines from Russian River, Marin County and Santa Lucia Highlands with his Southwest inspired cuisine, and at first sip I knew I had found a friend. Not only are Vision Cellars wines interesting, layered and distinct with character and personality, the passion, joy and humor within Mac McDonald is contagious. I am honored to call Mac and his lovely wife, Lil, friends and know with one taste of his wine shake of his hand you will feel the same way, especially when paired with fresh from the garden produce from The Chef’s Garden. There is nothing about Rosemary Roasted Niman Ranch Pork Loin, Roasted Baby Cauliflower Wilted Root and Tropical Spinach, Mustard Cream paired with Vision Cellars Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Rosella’s Vineyard 2008 that doesn’t sound inviting. The dinner starts at 6:30 at Abacus, reservations required -214-520-0151 Continue reading "Attention Pinot Noir Lovers….This One Is For You!"