Thursday, September 27, 2018

Recipe Thursday: Risotto - The Signature Dish of Lombardy

A specialty of the Lombardy region of Italy, reflecting the amount of rice that is grown there, risotto is central to  the Lombardian diet. Though it's got a reputation as difficult, temperamental dish, it's actually not that difficult to make. Once you've got the technique down, it has the added bonus of being endlessly adaptable and a great way to use up whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand. This recipe from Italian Food Forever not only gets you started with the basics - it also gives you a number of variations. You could have risotto every day of the week!

© Italian Food Forever
What to pair with risotto? Why not try a wine that's from the Lombardy region? An excellent foil to richer food, the Martilde Bonarda dell’Oltrepò Pavese is made from a local grape called Croatina. Dark in color, with expressive fruit, low acidity and medium tannin, this is the perfect wine to pair with your risotto. Buon appetito!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wine of the Week: A.A. Martilde Bonarda Dell'Oltrepò Pavese

This week's featured wine might cause some confusion. Although it's labeled as Bonarda, it's actually made from Croatina grapes and has no connection with Piedmontese Bonarda and are two distinct grape varietals. Croatina, as the name implies, originated in Croatia and is grown primarily in the Oltrepò Pavese region of Lombardy in Italy. Best examples of this grape are located in the foothills of the Apennines mountains on limestone-rich clay soils. Bonadra Dell'Oltrepò Pavese are usually dark in color, with expressive fruit, low acidity and medium tannin, similar in style with Montepulciano and Dolcetto; and some Croatina wine can be served slightly chilled. The Martilde Bonarda is vinified in stainless steel with indigenous yeast. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation. No fining and light paper filtration. Ideal food pairings include Salami, hard cheeses, and braised red meats. Due to it's medium tannin, this Bonarda would be an excellent foil to fattier food. 



Located in Lombardy, Oltrepò Pavese is home to Azienda Agricola Martilde. Here in 1991 Antonella Tacci and Raimondo Lombardi decided to leave their jobs in Milan and make this their new home. The previous owner had died some fifteen years earlier and the grounds were in a state of abandon, so the couple renovated the buildings and cellars while also replanting some of the vineyards – though they did retain the older vine areas, some up to 90-100 years old. Martilde is certified organic, with 3 hectares converting – as such all grapes and treatments applied to them are grown according to organic rules. Each vintage, all manipulations in the vineyard are kept to an absolute minimum. In the cellar, a similar style of non-intervention is practiced, with the goal at all times to produce the best possible wines that are also compatible with the vintage, using vinification to enhance the inherent characteristics of the grapes.


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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Recipe Thursday: Corbieres and Ras-el-Hanout


When it comes to food and wine pairings, some wines merely complement a dish, whereas others are so intertwined that the wine itself becomes an ingredient when paired with the food. We aren’t talking about when wine is actually incorporated into a recipe, such as a red wine sauce on a steak. We’re talking about when a wine has such a balanced flavor profile and is so chalk-full of spice, that a dish’s flavors are completely transformed by the wine. One example is Corbieres, such as Ollieux Romanis’ Corbières-Boutenac Cuvee Or, and Ras-el-Hanout, a warm Moroccan spice blend. Ras-el-Hanout can be used as a rub or as a seasoning in dishes such as BBC’s Ras-el-hanout chicken.

Photo: BBC / Becca Spry

What Corbieres brings to the table: Spice flavors of cinnamon and star-anise, and umami flavors of smoked and cured meats. What Ras-el-Hanout brings to the table: Smokiness, and an exotic combination of spice flavors, including cinnamon, clove and ginger. You can see the similarities. When paired together, the flavors align in harmony and bring the dish to a completely new level.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Wine of the Week: Ollieux Romanis "Cuvee Or"

This week's featured wine is from Boutenac, a relatively new wine appellation of the Languedoc region of southern France. Covering only a certain area of Corbieres, Boutenac is recognized for producing high-quality wines due to the alluvial soils, sandstone and shale which are all relatively poor in nutrition and provide excellent drainage - two qualities that greatly contribute to the production of high-quality wine grown here. The Corbières-Boutenac Cuvee Or is a blend of 40% Carignan, 25% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre and 15% Syrah. After a carbonic maceration using selected yeasts, the wine is vinified in new French oak for about a year. This cuvee opens with a smoking bouquet of ripe blackberries, cassis,  and vanilla bean. It delivers mixed berries and flowering garrigue notes on the palate, a silky, creamy and supple mouth feel, and hints of chocolaty richness on the lingering finish.


Located in Boutenac, just south of the village of Corbières in the Languedoc region, Ollieux-Romanis is now one of the largest privately owned wineries in Corbières, spanning some 130 hectares. Along with the Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Marsanne, and Roussanne, all of which are quite common to the Languedoc, the Bories also cultivate Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Merlot, and Mourvèdre, the “unapproved” varietals going into their fun entry-level VdP label Capucines. Ollieux-Romanis is also currently working its way to fully organic status, having dispensed with herbicides and pesticides in the late 1990s.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Looking forward to Sunday Dinner Wine Series @thedebruce September 23! Lineup includes wines by Samuel Billaud, Jean-Charles Fagot, David Renaud, Marc Colin, and Lou Dumont. Join us! Link in bio. #thedebruce #samuelbillaud #fagot #davidrenaud #marccolin #loudumont #winedinner #livingstonmanor #upstateny #blog


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Potek in Vinous

Antonio Galloni, writing for Vinous, has released the first of his scores for recent vintages of Santa Barbara County wines. Potek Winery is included, with solid scores for the 2015 and 2016 vintages. He says of the winery: "Dave Potter takes fruit from a number of top sites for the vineyard designate wines he makes at his Potek label. The wines are generally done in a minimalist style that emphasizes freshness."


Santa Barbara, located about two hours north of Los Angeles, is widely considered to be one of the most dynamic winemaking regions in California today, and David Potter is one of the new guard making a name for himself here. In the fall of 2015, wanting to create focused, single-vineyard wines, Potter opened Potek Winery, with a commitment to produce the best possible wines from Santa Barbara’s most exciting vineyards. The winery uses a minimalist approach to winemaking. With access to such unique and expressive vineyards, this is the best way to coax out the distinct facets of the individual wines. The wines are mainly aged in neutral oak and are treated as naturally as possible, with no fining or filtration before bottling. The resulting wines speak of their locations throughout Santa Barbara, and are a beautiful survey of the area.

Monday, September 17, 2018

James Suckling Reviews Podere Il Castellaccio

The reviews are in for the latest vintages of Valenté and Dinostro by Podere Il Castellaccio! James Suckling praises the wines, awarding scores of 94 and 90 respectively. Congratulations to Castellaccio!


Podere Il Castellaccio is situated in Castagneto Carducci, in the Livorno area of Tuscany. Alessandro Scappini founded the winery in 2009, but the estate has belonged to his family since the 1960s. The estate is situated on the hills along the Costa degli Etruschi, at an altitude of 100-160 meters above sea level in the world-famous Bolgheri area. The vineyards occupy 3.5 hectares and are planted to Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo, Foglia Tonda, Pugnitello, and Cabernet Franc. Podere Il Castellaccio is the process of organic certification and the ultiamte aim of the winery is to become a certified biodynamic producer in the near future.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Recipe Thursday: Lagrein and Late Summer "Bolognese"


Cauliflower has reigned supreme when it comes to carb replacements. First it was the cauliflower rice craze – even Trader Joe’s had to implement a two-bag limit per person. Then came Oprah’s cauliflower crust pizzas. Now enter the cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe’s that is invading everyone’s Instagram feeds. It couldn’t come at a better time, as we head into fall and get ready to saddle up to cozy comfort foods. A Cozy Kitchen has the perfect recipe to give cauliflower gnocchi a try:  Late Summer Veggie “Bolognese” with Cauliflower Gnocchi. Loaded with vegetables, this “Bolognese” isn’t your typical meaty variety, but is still bursting with rich, umami flavor.



For a deeply flavored dish like vegetable “Bolognese,” you’ll want a full-bodied wine that can stand up to the complex flavors and textures, such as Cesconi’s Pletter. Full of plummy, earthy and chewy notes, this red Italian wine is made up of 100 percent Lagrein -- a natural fit for a warm and cozy dinner.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Wine of the Week: Cesconi "Pletter" Lagrein

This week's featured wine may be hard to pronounce, but it's easy to love! Lagrein, a descendant of Teroldego, Syrah and Pinot Noir, is a red grape varietal grown primarily in Alto Adige; the nothern most mountainous region of Italy bordering Austria and Switzerland. Lagrein produces fresh, aromatic, and inticing wines that include plummy, earthy and chewy notes. This dark and full-bodied wine also surprises drinkers with a pronounced minerality. The Cesconi Pletter in particular shows notes of blackberries, blueberries, and purple flowers, and light black pepper spice. An excellent match for hard cheese, salumi, or red meats. Next time a Lagrein is spotted on a wine list, go ahead and order a glass! 


Perched high above Trento on banks of the Adige River is the hill of Pressano. In these rugged Alpine surroundings, the Cesconi family tends their vineyards planted to both red and white grapes. The current proprietors can trace their family roots back to the 17th century, and building on more than two centuries of cultivating and producing wine in Trentino, the four Cesconi brothers - Lorenzo, Roberto, Alexander and Franco - as well as their father Paul, continue the family tradition. The family has a deep appreciation and respect for the achievements of their ancestors, however, they seek to build on this history by perfecting the traditional practices of the Domaine. To that end, the brothers work entirely organically in the vineyards and continue to move towards biodynamic methods. It’s hard not to admire the humble ambitions of these soft spoken farmers to make what Lorenzo refers to as “tasty wine” - if only more wines were produced with such a concise vision.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Wine & Sprits Magazine Names its Top 100 Wineries of 2018

Congratulations to Domaine de la Pousse d'Or and Drew Family Wines on being named to Wine & Spirits Magazine's Top 100 Wineries of 2018!

Tickets are now on sale for the 15th Annual Tasting Event October 9th, 2018 at the City View at Metreon, 135 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94103.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Recipe Thursday: Thinking Outside the Pairing Box


While traditional food and wine pairings are considered classic for a reason, it doesn’t take much imagination to pair a red Burgundy with boeuf Bourguignon or coq au vin. Sometimes it’s nice to venture out a bit and try an unlikely pairing that may surprise you with how good it tastes. One such pairing is Japanese beef katsu, or Gyukatsu, with Pinot Noir. Gyukatsu is essentially deep-fried breaded beef cutlets, often served alongside an umami-rich sauce. You can easily make katsu at home, and Serious Eats will show you how to do just that, even using chicken or pork.

Photo: Lewd Foods

Not all Pinot Noirs are created equal, and something like Gyukatsu takes a truly special wine to enhance and balance its flavors. Drake Whitcraft’s Pence Ranch Pommard Clone Pinot Noir is an excellent choice, with its meaty edge and pure dark fruit notes. This remarkable pairing will surprise you, but also feel familiar, like they were meant to be together.