It is never a tough decision to open up a bottle of wine from Bonny Doon. The wines always seem to show off the grape without much interference from outside factors; which is something I really admire from Bonny Doon’s founder, Randall Grahm. Grahm is also a pioneer of Rhone varietals in California and has really made invaluable contributions to the history and future of wine in CA.
I recently opened a bottle of Bonny Doon 2009 Syrah Le Pousseur and enjoyed the complexity of flavors. 100% Syrah from several Central Coast vineyards, it really is an interesting wine for around $20 a bottle.
This wine opens with aromas of black cherries, licorice, white pepper, and hints of earth. The savory palate features dark fruit, anise, and smoke along with soft tannins and healthy acidity. A very nice Syrah from Central Coast! (13% alcohol)
My Wine Rating – B+
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with steaks, BBQ ribs, or a pizza topped with sausage.
I bought some beautiful, organic figs over the weekend and decided to make fig jam for an upcoming wine tasting party I am hosting. A few people asked me for the recipe so I wanted to share it. It is an adaptation from a recipe I found in Food and Wine Magazine. I altered the sugar a bit (lowered it from 1 1/2 cups to 1 cup and used raw, cane sugar) and cooked it a little longer. The jam turned out great and I can’t wait to serve it with goat cheese and crostinis!
2 lbs of fresh, purple figs (remove stems and cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
1 1/4 cups of sugar (1 1/2 cups if you prefer sweeter jam)
1/4 cup of lemon juice plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 cup of water
In a large, nonreactive saucepan, combine the fig pieces with the sugar and let stand until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Stir occasionally. This should take about 15 minutes
Add in lemon juice and water. Allow mixture to come to a boil then cut down to a simmer. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a syrupy liquid (fruit will be very soft). This took me about 25 minutes.
Spoon the jam into 1/2-pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top. (I made 3 with a little bit left over in the pan). Close jars and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate and store for up to 3 months.
I recently received a couple of beautiful Maine lobster tails from my friends at Lobster Anywhere (www.lobsteranywhere.com), so we cooked up a huge seafood feast with grilled corn on the cob. With our meal, we enjoyed a delicious white Rhone blend from Two Shepherds. The 2011 Pastoral Blanc is a blend of 40% Roussanne, 20% Marsanne, 20% Viognier, and 10% Grenache Blanc. This wine really elevated the flavors in the lobster without overpowering them (by the way, the lobster was pretty darn good too!).
Opening with aromas of jasmine, peach, and herbs, this Rhone blend has incredible texture and balance. The palate includes crisp, light flavors with healthy acidity that made it easy to sip throughout the meal. An amazing pairing with our lobster as well as crab or other shellfish! ($28, 13.8% alcohol)
For the past couple of vintages, I have been a big fan of Kermit Lynch’s Cypress Cuvee (review – http://wp.me/p1vdhr-17T), which is a delicious red Rhone blend. Over the weekend, I uncorked his 2011 white Rhone blend made by Louis Barruol, the “Sunflower Cuvee”, and was easily won over by its clean, beautiful palate. It is definitely the style of white Rhone I gravitate toward with its blend of Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Picpoul.
This blend has a beautiful, floral nose that awakens your senses. The palate has tastes of melon, citrus and pear with some hints of spice and minerality. There is a nice depth of flavor and the finish lingers as I wish the bottle would have! ($18)
My Wine Rating – A-
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with lobster, curries, or oysters.
Once again (I hope no one is getting bored!), I want to highlight a natural wine made with an undervalued grape grown in an underappreciated wine region. Tami 2012 Frappato comes from Sicily and is unoaked and made with native yeasts. Winemaker Arianna Occhipinti is also committed to biodynamic and organic farming practices. It is an excellent everyday value at around $16 a bottle.
This wine opens with aromas of plum, black cherries and red berries. The palate is definitely what I look for in a straightforward, easy drinking wine. Light, bright and fresh with red fruit, floral undertones and healthy acidity. I think I may have to pick up a few more bottles!
My Wine Rating – A-
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with simple Italian fare such a pizza, antipasta, or pasta.
I am pickling garden fresh cucumbers with dill and garlic tonight and am wondering if anyone had ever tried pairing wine with pickles? It seems like a very odd combo but I am thinking something sparkling? I would love to hear your thoughts!
I am an oyster fanatic. Raw, steamed, fried…I will take them pretty much any way they come to me. Over the last week, I have indulged in fried oysters not once but twice! The first time around, I had them in South Carolina and, later, enjoyed them in Malibu. I tried a couple of different wines with the oysters and, while sparkling wine was a no-brainer pairing, I also really enjoyed a crisp Albariño with them as well!
One of my favorite Albariño wines comes from Abacela Vineyards. The 2011 is from the Umpqua Valley in Southern Oregon and packs tastes of pear, tart citrus, and green apple with healthy acidity. Mineral notes are also woven throughout the wine and followed with a citrus-filled finish. This is an excellent match for oysters, fried or on the half shell. Definitely check it out if you have the chance! (12.9% alcohol, $18)
There are so many great values coming out of Bergerac yet so many wine drinkers have never explored what this sub-region in South West France has to offer. I just had the chance to uncork a bottle of Chateau Poulvere 2010 Bergerac Rouge and was impressed with what I tasted. This blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice for mid-week sipping.
This red, aromatic Bergerac opens with notes of licorice and berries. The smooth palate features influences of licorice, strawberry, blueberry, red currant, and dark cherry with a lingering, spicy finish. A fantastic find for a mere $10 a bottle. If you haven’t explored wines from Bergerac, I highly suggest you do so! (13% alcohol)
My Wine Rating – B+
Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with sausage, grilled chicken, or pork…it is a great grilling companion!