What to Look For In August

paraisoIn August The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series offers exceptional wines from three continents. The 2010 Paraiso Vineyards West Terrace Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir leads the way. This is a fleshy, full-bodied Pinot Noir with excellent ageing potential. The cool, extended 2010 vintage in the Santa Lucia Highlands rendered the 2010 Paraiso Vineyards West Terrace Pinot Noir especially fine, highly aromatic and packed with flavor. It also imparted an elegance and suavity typically reserved for fine red Burgundy. Rich in color and extroverted in personality, the 2010 Paraiso Vineyards West Terrace offers deep berry flavors along with complex floral and spice tones that made our tasting panel members beg for more.

Grown in one of the highest vineyards on earth at an altitude of 6,320 feet, the 2015 Mayu Valle de Elqui Huanta Vineyard Pedro Ximénez offers an intriguing mineral-driven aroma and an abundance of citrus and orchard fruit flavors to please both the nose and the palate, and at the same time slake the thirst. The 2015 Mayu Valle de Elqui Pedro Ximénez possesses crisp acidity and laser-like precision to accompany its wealth of unique white and yellow fruit flavors and exceptional minerality. Light on its feet yet long on the finish, Mayu has fashioned a distinctive, character-filled wine in the 2015 Mayu Pedro Ximénez from the lofty Huanta Vineyard.

Next in line this month is the 2013 Mayu Valle de Elqui La Compañia Vineyard Carmenère-Syrah, a unique blend of two of Chile’s finest red varietals that offers exceptional drinking pleasure. Made in the finest Old World tradition, Mayu’s 2013 Carmenère-Syrah sports a deep purple color and exudes juicy blackberry and plum aromas and flavors. Add perfect balance and hints of exotic spices from the Syrah, which blend harmoniously with Carmenère’s racy fruit and delightful earth tones, and the 2013 Mayu Valle de Elqui La Compañia Vineyard Carmenère-Syrah adds up to one tasty, fine drinking red.

A superlative French rosé rounds out this month’s Premier Series selections. Mâitres Vignerons de la Vidaubanaise’s 2015 Le Provençal Côtes de Provence Rosé captures the warmth of the sun-drenched Provençal countryside along with the region’s rarified air and illuminated landscapes, all of which shimmer beside the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. Le Provençal is bottled in the traditional “flute à corset,” the distinctive bottle of the Provence region, that recalls charming flower-bedecked villages, colorful outdoor cafés, and fun in the sun. Delicate in color, much like the lightest of pink roses, the 2015 Le Provençal Rosé enchants the eye as well as the nose and palate. Enjoy!

dog-pointThe International Wine of the Month Club’s Collectors Series is proud to offer three exceptional highly allocated wines in August from three countries. Ernesto Catena’s sophisticated 2012 Tikal Júbilo, an artful blend of Malbec (60%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), leads the way. For our money and palate, high-end Bordeaux blends such as Júbilo from top Argentine producers represent Argentina’s finest oenological endeavors. And apparently we are not alone. Wine Spectator awarded the 2012 Tikal Júbilo 94 Points. Deep in color, the 2012 Júbilo offers an amplifying bouquet followed by layers of blackberry, currant, black cherry liqueur, raspberry, spice, and dark chocolate flavors that glide gracefully over the tongue. Medium-bodied but amply structured, the 2012 Tikal Júbilo unfolds gracefully in the glass, becoming lush but never heavy, recalling the much beloved style inherent in the best wines from Pomerol.

Next in line is the 2013 Dog Point Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc, a wine widely touted as New Zealand’s premier Sauvignon Blanc. Dog Point spares no pains in fashioning their wines, especially the vineyard’s premier offering, Section 94. The Dog Point 2013 Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc readily affirms the estate’s acumen with Sauvignon Blanc: it garnered 96 Points from Bob Campbell MW, New Zealand’s wine specialist, and 93 Points from Wine Spectator. The 2013 Section 94 offers an attractive pale straw color, wonderful aromatics replete with savory scents of herb, melon, nectarine and orchard fruits, a textured, smooth mouth-feel, and a delicious mélange of herb, fruit, and well-integrated oak flavors. Rich, expansive, and powerfully structured, there is no wimp in this wine.

Last but hardly least in this month’s Collectors Series is the 2013 Franklin Tate Estates Alexanders Vineyard Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes for the 2013 Franklin Tate Estates Alexanders Vineyard Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon were sourced from a single block of low yielding Cabernet Sauvignon. Enchanting to behold with its purple robe and emitting aromas of ripe blackberries, cassis, cinnamon, dark chocolate, eucalyptus, and mint, it takes extraordinary patience not to quaff this wine and make short order of this gracious Cabernet. Thanks to basket pressing, the 2013 Alexanders Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon offers a soft, rich mouth-feel of delicious fruit and fine-grained tannins, which add body and complexity. Enjoy!

Salud!
Don

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella

Grilled-Portobello-MushroomsIngredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing grill pan
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms (about 5 inches in diameter), stemmed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 small to medium sized vine ripened tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces fresh water-packed mozzarella, drained, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions:

Drizzle 3 tablespoons of olive oil over both sides of the mushrooms. Sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil on grill pan to prevent mushrooms from sticking. Grill until the mushrooms are heated through and tender, about 5 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, whisk the extra-virgin olive oil and garlic in a medium bowl to blend. Add the tomatoes, cheese, and basil and toss to coat. Season the tomato salad, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Place 1 hot grilled mushroom gill side up on each of 4 plates. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Spoon the tomato salad atop the mushrooms, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil to finish, about 1 tablespoon and serve.

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis from www.foodnetwork.com

Casas del Bosque: Winery of the Year and the Source of Chile’s Best Wines

Casas del Bosque not only holds the distinction of Chilean Winery of the Year, having been so chosen two years in a row at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London, it may also be the “hottest” winery on the planet with more recent 90+ scores than anyone of us can count. Located just 40 miles from Chile’s capital of Santiago and a mere 18 miles from Chile’s principal port of Valparaiso, it is almost mind boggling to think that Casas del Bosque sprang to life in 1993, yet this seeming upstart has already garnered worldwide attention with a plethora of delicious, hedonistic wines at all levels.

casadelbosque
Casas del Bosque Winery

Although Casas del Bosque cultivates nearly 500 acres, it very much remains a boutique operation. In addition to its vineyards in Casablanca, the preferred South American locale for Pinot Noir, Syrah and premium white wine production, Casas del Bosque also possesses significant vineyard holdings in the premier red wine producing valleys of Maipo and Rapel south of Santiago, areas noted for fashioning exceptional Carmenère and Cabernet Sauvignon. Casas del Bosque’s meticulous attention to vineyard management and careful site and varietal selection guarantee superior fruit for the winery’s extensive portfolio of high quality wines.

Most premium wineries specialize in one or at most a few varietals that burnish their reputation and earn them medals at competitions and points from leading wine critics. In the case of Casas del Bosque, it is difficult to decide which wine stands out, as each varietal offering seems to have been blessed by the Midas Touch. Perhaps it is the fact that Casas del Bosque’s vineyards have been meticulously selected for the right varietal and are spread throughout Chile’s best viticultural valleys and microclimates. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling hail from the winery’s superb Casablanca holdings and form the backbone of the estate’s white wine portfolio. Exceptional Pinot Noir and Syrah are also cultivated by Casas del Bosque in Casablanca. Casas del Bosque’s exceptional Carmenère and Cabernet Sauvignon emanate from the warmer Rapel and Maipo valleys, while the winery’s Pequeñas Producciones (very limited productions) of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Syrah are Casas del Bosque’s ultimate luxury offerings. Among all varietals and at every price point, no one appears to be offering finer quality and value than Casas del Bosque. From Casas del Bosque’s entry level 2015 Reserva Pinot Noir (92 points James Suckling) and 2015 Reserva Sauvignon Blanc (91 points Descorchados) to the estate’s hallmark Platinum Award recipient 2014 Pequeñas Producciones Syrah (96 points Decanter), which was also Decanter’s “best Rhône style wine in Chile,” no one tops Casas del Bosque right now for quality, value, and variety. Enjoy!

Salud!
Don

Mussel and White Bean Stew

mussel-and-white-bean-stewIngredients:

  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
  • 3/4 cup dry sherry
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Thai or other small red chile, minced
  • Two 14-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Directions:

  1. In a deep skillet, combine the mussels, sherry and wine. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over moderate heat until the mussels open, 3 minutes. Remove the mussels from their shells. Strain the broth; reserve 1 cup.
  2. Wipe out the skillet and heat the olive oil in it. Add the garlic and chile and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Stir in the beans. Add the broth, season with salt and bring to a boil. Add the mussels and the parsley and heat through. Serve the stew with crusty bread.

Recipe contributed by Alex Raij courtesy of www.foodandwine.com.

Paula Deen’s Crab Cakes

paula deen crab cakesIngredients:

  • 1 pound crabmeat, picked free of shells
  • 1/3 cup crushed crackers (recommended: Ritz)
  • 3 green onions (green and white parts), finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Flour, for dusting
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • Favorite dipping sauce, for serving

 

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, except for the flour and peanut oil. Shape into patties and dust with flour.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, carefully place crab cakes, in batches, in pan and fry until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip crab cakes and fry on other side until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Serve warm with preferred sauce.

Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen from www.foodnetwork.com