A Dream Come True

For years I’ve heard colleagues and friends speak of the beauty of South Africa’s Winelands.  Comments such as “the Western Cape is the world’s most beautiful wine country” and “you can’t imagine how beautiful Stellenbosch and the surrounding Winelands are”, have made me want to see for myself.

I have always dreamed of coming to South Africa.  However, if truth be known, I had often wondered if some of the talk about the Cape’s beauty might be a bit of hyperbole.  After all, I have been fortunate to have visited most of the world’s wine regions, and I have found each to exude a distinctive charm and give me pause to wonder.  Burgundy, Germany’s Rheingau, Napa Valley, Provence, Tuscany, and Chile’s Colchagua Valley whose vineyards soar skyward on the majestic slopes of the towering Cordillera of the Andes, to name just a few special wine regions are all quite special and offer excellent photo ops.  However, after visiting South Africa’s Western Cape to sample the wines of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, and Swartland, I must confess there is no more dramatic and stunningly beautiful wine region on earth than South Africa’s Western Cape.


A Votre Santé!


A Barrel and Wine Marriage

I decided to try out a new Chardonnay tonight and I noticed some nice smokey, vanilla notes which caught my curiosity as to what type of barrel they could’ve used to age this wine.  You can find a ton of wines aged in an American Oak, French Oak, or even Stainless Steel Barrel and they could all bring about different notes in your wine.  The type of barrel a winery decides to use will basically intensify or subdue various flavors and ultimately bring about a more complex product.

I’ve been drinking wine for some years now, but feel my palate still doesn’t have a firm hold on this whole barrel thing, so how about you – have you ever been able to tell the difference in your wine?  Do you have a preference?  I know mine, it’s French Oak, just like the one used to age this lovely Chardonnay.





Don’s January Collector’s Series Top Picks

I must confess that red Bordeaux was my first wine love, but rather than have that youthful romance create a tender spot on my palate for the oceans of mediocre red Bordeaux that flow to our shores, it has made me hypercritical of Bordeaux reds that don’t measure up or simply under deliver.  Happily, this month’s feature, the 2008 Château Boutisse St. Emilion Grand Cru, is no under achiever.  In our panel tasting, it shone when others fell flat.  Granted, good Bordeaux can close up after a year or two in bottle and need some additional time to emerge from its dormancy.  In short, it can make a liar out of you on any given day.  However, I think you’ll find that the 2008 Château Boutisse has all it needs to please.  Moreover, it will only improve in bottle for at least five more years.  Consequently, it earns one of my two top picks.

To complicate matters, Barolo is my second love and a wine I enjoy more and more.  And to be fair, Revello’s 2006 Barolo is a beautiful Barolo from a splendid vintage, so it should rightly stand with the Château Boutisse.  That means I have a problem: the 2010 Adega O Casal Godello is delightful too, so what do I do?  If forced to choose, I have to go with the two reds, but frankly, I’m going to enjoy all three.  And you should too.  We can even pretend we never had this conversation and declare all three top picks.


A Votre Santé!


Don’s January Premier Series Top Picks

Well, a new year hasn’t made it any easier to come up with just two top picks, but the bottle stops here, so here it goes.  The Carmen Reserva Chardonnay and Reserva Carmenere are both splendid wines, and it is far more difficult than consumers realize for a winery to excel equally with red and white wines, but Carmen does.

Nevertheless, the thought of slighting the 2010 11 Pinos Bobal, a tasty and unique offering from a little known varietal, was simply unthinkable.  Hence, I have chosen two reds this month as my top picks.  No offense to the 2010 Can Feixes Blanc Seleccio, either.  It’s just that the 2009 Carmen Reserve Carmenere could serve as the poster child for the most beautiful Carmenere of the vintage.  Moreover, in one of our largest tasting panels (27 happy souls) the 2009 Carmen Reserva Carmenere was the unanimous choice for best wine of the evening.  Hence, it is the 2009 Carmen’s Reserva Carmenere and 2010 11 Pinos that get the nod.  


A Votre Santé!


11 Piños Bobal Old Vines and Pork Chops Anyone?

I’ve come to realize that I have a thing for Spanish wines.  Whether I’m perusing at a local wine boutique, trying the different varietals at a wine festival, or grabbing a bottle featured right here in our club, I’ll always give a wine from Spain a little more attention.  But when I see an old vines wine from Spain, it’s an automatic no-brainer for me.  I’ve come to love the robust and full bodied flavor that a wine incorporating old vines produces, and I’d like to share with you a great recipe idea that pairs perfectly with this month’s 2010 11 Piños Bobal Old Vines from Spain.  Pork Chops anyone?

Savory Marinated Pork Chops

1 cup olive oil                                               pinch of red pepper flakes

2/3 cup wine vinegar                                   2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

2 Tbl. lemon juice                                        1 1/4 tsp. black pepper

2 cloves garlic – chopped                            1 jalapeno pepper

2 shallots – minced                                      1 cup Italian Parsley

1 tsp. oregano


In a food processor, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, shallots, oregano, parsley, jalapeno, and crushed red pepper. Pulse until well blended but not pureed.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Remove 1 cup of the sauce from the processor and transfer to a non-metal bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Season the pork chops on both sides with the remaining 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt and the remaining teaspoon of the black pepper and place in a large, zip-loc storage bag.  Add the remaining sauce from the processor. Seal bag and refrigerate the pork chops for 2 hours (turning frequently).

Remove pork chops and reserved sauce from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature for 20-30 minutes. Brush the remaining sauce off the chops (discard that sauce) and set the chops over the hot grill or grill pan. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes on the first side. Turn the chops over and continue to cook until they are done, another 8 to 10 minutes. Serve with the reserved sauce over top and of course, enjoy!