South Africa: This Year’s Hottest Wine Destination

South-African-VineyardWith stunning scenery, excellent restaurants, and exceptional wines, South Africa’s Western Cape has become a must go wine destination. Add the American Dollar presenting a favorable exchange rate to the South African Rand, and the Western Cape’s proximity to Cape Town, arguably Africa’s most beautiful city, and it’s easy to see why South Africa is this year’s hottest wine destination. Stellenbosch along with nearby Franschoek, Paarl and Swartland dominate the wine production on South Africa’s Western Cape. Some must-see wineries include the iconic Klein Constantia estate known for fashioning excellent Sauvignon Blanc as well as Vin de Constance, one of the world’s greatest dessert wines; Black Pearl, Mary-Lou Nash’s pearl of an estate for fabulous Shiraz; Edgebaston, the source of David Finlayson’s very impressive age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignons; Rustenberg, the home of the John X. Merriman which might be the best Meritage offering anywhere for the money; Eagle’s Nest, an upcoming star for Shiraz and Viognier; Downes Family, outstanding producers of incredible Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc; and Barista, a leader in the burgeoning Pinotage market.

Don

Long Island Wines: No Longer a Best Kept Secret

Long Island Wine CountryFor more than forty years Long Island has been a budding wine region and increasingly a source of excellent red and white wines from traditional European varietals. With soils and a climate similar to that of Bordeaux, we should all be wondering why it took so long for anyone to plant vines there, especially on the island’s North Fork, the warmest and sunniest spot in all New York State. And why has the rest of the nation been deprived of these wines, many of which are truly world class?

Although the total Long Island acreage under vines remains relatively small and densely concentrated on the island’s North Fork, Long Island’s some 50 commercial wineries turn out a dizzying array of red and white wines that are snapped up by local restaurants and the hordes of summertime visitors to the Hamptons and other East End vacation spots. Hence, the reason the rest of the country has been so long deprived of Long Island’s wines. Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Syrah and plenty of blends from a litany of varietals abound and attest to both the quality and variety of wines to be found on Long Island. But change is on its way. More and more Long Island wineries have begun allocating some of their production to national markets. Here are some Long Island wineries to look for.

Bedell Cellars: Excellent Merlot and Bordeaux style reds. Musée is the winery’s Top Performer.

Castello di Borghese Vineyard and Winery: Noble wines as the name suggests from Long Island’s oldest winery (formerly Hargrave) dating to 1973.

Lieb Cellars: Sustainably farmed award winning Pinot Blanc and Merlot are stars.

Paumonok Vineyards: First rate Chenin Blanc along with a fine collection of other varietals.

Pellegrini Vineyards: Excellent Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

For anyone visiting New York City, why not leave the din of Manhattan behind for a day or two, drive east onto Long Island and head to the island’s North Fork where fresh air, light sea breezes, warm sunshine, and plenty of good wine awaits?

Don

Shrimp Tostada Bites

This fast and easy recipes is great for your next Cinco de Mayo party or any party for that matter! Make them full size for a delicious weeknight meal that comes together in a snap!

Shrimp Tostada BitesIngredients:

  • 20 mini round tortillas (cut from large flour tortillas – 1.5-3″)
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded white cheese (I used a queso blanco)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 20 small shrimp (tail-off, de-veined)
  • 3 tablespoons fajita seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Use a small round cutter to create mini rounds from larger flour tortillas. Bake at 350 degrees for 3-5 minutes or until toasted.
  2. When cooled enough to handle, spread on refried beans and top with diced tomatoes.
  3. Sprinkle with cheese.
  4. Dice cilantro and green onions and add on top.
  5. In a grill pan, saute the shrimp in 1 tablespoon olive oil with fajita seasoning and black pepper until thoroughly cooked.
  6. Top each tostada bite with a sauteed shrimp.
  7. Keep warm on a baking sheet in a warm oven.

Recipe and photo from: www.pizzazzerie.com

Grilled Shrimp and Noodle Salad

Perfect for a weeknight dinner, this fast and zesty Thai-inspired dish features grilled shrimp and Spring vegetables.

Serves 4

Grilled Shrimp and Noodle SaladIngredients:

14 ounces flat rice noodles
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
1 pound medium-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 medium bunch asparagus, trimmed
5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, trimmed
1 medium carrot, shredded
1/2 cup fresh cilantro

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs; drain and rinse with cold water.

Meanwhile, whisk the lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, garlic, chili sauce and 1/3 cup water in a medium bowl. Transfer 1/4 cup of the marinade to another bowl and toss with the shrimp. Toss another 1/4 cup marinade with the asparagus and mushrooms in a third bowl. Let the shrimp and vegetables marinate 10 minutes at room temperature. Toss the noodles with the remaining marinade.

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. Grill the shrimp, asparagus and mushrooms until the shrimp is just cooked through and the asparagus is slightly tender, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Halve the mushrooms and cut the asparagus into pieces.

Divide the noodles among bowls and top with the shrimp, asparagus, mushrooms, carrot and cilantro.

Recipe and photo from: www.foodnetwork.com

What’s New in Italian Wine?

Tuscany - San GimignanoItalian wine often gets overlooked with the proliferation of New World wines invading the market, but Italy continues to be a source of new and interesting wines.  Although much of what is new in Italian wine stems from recent releases rather than new wineries, there is no shortage of the latter.  And many first time Italian wines to our shores may indeed issue from centuries old wineries.  After all, what are a few centuries to Italy?

Most intriguing to me from Tuscany are the 2012 Rosso di Montalcino and 2010 Brunello di Montalcino wines from Le Potazzine Gorelli, both of which are a home run.

Equally compelling are the organic wines from newcomer Monterotondo.  Monterotondo’s 2010 Chianti Classico Riserva positively sings from the glass.  It invokes the fecundity, purity and everlasting charm of Tuscany.

Not to be outdone, Alesandro Sderci’s Il Palazzino Chianti Classico estate has recently released the family’s outstanding 2010 Chianti Classicos.  Sderci also introduced Bertinga, an elegant Tuscan Cabernet blend, to the U.S. for the first time with the 2008 vintage.

Lest we think southern Italy the neglected step child, there are plenty of exciting wines flowing from the fabled Amalfi Coast as well as the hinterlands of Campania and points south.  Benito Ferrara, Caggiano, and Colli di Lapio make some of the best red and white wines in southern Italy.  Colli di Lapio’s outstanding 2013 Fiano di Avellino and 2010 Taurasi Vigna Andrea might be the two best white and red Campanian wines to start and finish a meal, though every wine from the diminutive Colli di Lapio estate merits seeking out.  White and red wines from Benito Ferrara and Caggiano stand out as well.

Don