Pre-Order your Winelandia Holiday 6-Pack!

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, we are ramping up to offer a 6-pack of Holiday wines perfectly suited to the month of December. There will be celebrations with friends, office parties, holiday meals, gift-giving, and New Year’s Eve. We are putting together a collection of wines that will pair with all of your events, which will include three fuller-bodied red wines and three sparkling wines in the $20 range. The total price of the 6-pack will not exceed $125, excluding tax and shipping.

The best thing about the Winelandia Holiday 6-Pack is that you needn’t be a Wine Club member to buy it – it’s available as an a la carte purchase to everyone. So if you’ve been on the fence about joining our wine club and want to see what we have to offer before making a commitment, this is the perfect time to do it.

We are finalizing the list this week but we are taking pre-orders. We will be shipping & delivering early next week. Sign up at https://signup.winelandia.com. We will get back to you to finalize your order. Delivery within San Francisco is free and there’s a $5 delivery fee for orders within the Bay Area. If you are outside of the Bay Area, UPS shipping is billed at cost.

Support small businesses this holiday season and give happiness! Give wine!

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Recipe: Roasted Little Birds with Garlic-Herb Butter

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese delicious little birds are a fantastic Thanksgiving alternative for those who don’t have the time, space or appetite for a whole turkey. They take just an hour or two from start to finish and make the perfect serving size.

This recipe will serve 2­-4 people, depending on how hungry you are. I like to cut the finished birds in half, down the middle, and serve 1⁄2 per person… but I could easily eat a whole one.

We recommend pairing these delicious little birds with a bright and fresh Pinot Noir like the Verse Carneros Pinot Noir, or a full-bodied white wine with acidity and herbal notes such as our La Clarine White Blend No. 1. Both of these wines are offered in our Fall wine club lineup.

If you want to create a complete meal, you could serve these guys with our Raw Kale Harvest Salad and Savory Chanterelle & Gruyere Bread Pudding. All of these dishes are amazing together and would be sure to impress your Thanksgiving guests!

Special Tools:
Butcher’s twine
Meat thermometer
Oven­proof skillet (stainless steel, cast iron, etc) 

Ingredients:
2 Cornish Game Hens, about 1 or 1.5 lb. each.
Salt
Pepper

For the garlic herb compound butter:
2 tsp finely chopped oregano
2 tsp finely chopped thyme
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
Pinch of salt
1⁄4 cup butter (1⁄2 stick)

Method

  1. Pre­heat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rinse cornish hens and pat dry with a paper towel, inside and out. Salt the cavity of the bird liberally with sea or kosher salt.
  3. Make the compound butter by fork­-mashing the butter with the chopped herbs, garlic and salt.
  4. Run your forefinger between the hen’s breast meat and the skin (making a pocket), then stuff some compound butter under skin. Distribute it evenly under the skin and over the breast meat by patting it down from the outside. Do not put butter on the outside of the bird, as it will prevent the skin from crisping in the oven.
  5. Truss your hens with butcher’s twine. This makes the birds more compact, and they will cook more evenly. Trussing also makes for a more visually appealing finished product. Click here for instructions on trussing.
  6. Salt & pepper the outside of the hens.
  7. Heat a large oven­-proof skillet over medium-­high heat. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil & heat until the oil shimmers. Once hot, place the birds breast-­side up on the skillet. Brown the bottom of the birds and the sides of the birds, but NOT the breast of the birds. This should only take a few minutes.
  8. Once the sides and bottoms of your hens are crispy and brown, pop the whole skillet into your hot oven. Roast for 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your hens. Baste the birds with the pan juices every 15 minutes or so. Your birds are finished when a meat thermometer inserted into the dark meat reads 165 degrees and the skin is brown and crispy. Let rest for 5-­10 minutes.
  9. Butterfly and separate into halves with poultry shears or serve them whole with a sprig of thyme as a garnish. I like to serve them with a little side of dijon mustard.

Secret Wine Club: Jura

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis weekend, Colleen and I hosted another wine tasting for our friends. The theme was Jura wines.

The Jura is a a cool-climate, mountainous region in France between Burgundy and Switzerland, and is composed of six regions including Arbois, Macvin du Jura, Côtes du Jura, Crémant du Jura, Château-Chalon, and L’Étoile. Within these regions, wines are produced from poulsard, trousseau, savagnin, chardonnay, and pinot noir. White, red, rosé and sparkling wines are produced from these grapes.

The most famous wine from the Jura is called vin jaune (literally, yellow wine). This wine is made from the white savagnin grape which is picked when it’s very ripe. The finished wine is put into large oak barriques, and is allowed to evaporate through the staves of the barrel until a pocket of air forms at the top. A special strain of indigenous yeast forms a veil (or voile, au Français) over the surface of the wine, imparting a unique salinity and oxidative quality that gives vin jaune it’s trademark aroma and flavor. Vin jaune is quite intense, an acquired taste, and very hard to find.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany white wines from the Jura have a similar (but not as intense) oxidative quality to them, since they are often made in the same method. However, the difference between vin jaune and standard white wine from the Jura is the duration for which it’s aged. Vin jaune must be aged for a minimum of 6 years, while other white wines aren’t required to age for as long. Some whites from the Jura are aged in a barrel without that pocket of air, creating wines that are still very uniquely Jura, but much fresher in flavor and less intense.

The red wines from the Jura are very unique as well, and a little more approachable than their white counterparts. The reds are light but structured, with aromas of fruit, spice and earth. Poulsard makes the lightest of the red wines, while trousseau makes more robust (but still pretty light) reds. Pinot noir is also grown in the Jura and made into red wine, but the straight varietal wines are difficult to find.

Our wine list for the evening:
2011 Les Dolomies Savagnin, Côtes du Jura
2009 Domaine de Montborgeau Chardonnay/Savagnin, L’Etoile
NV Phillipe Bornard “Tant-Mieux” Pétillant Naturel of Poulsard
2012 Michel Gahier Trousseau, “Les Grands Vergers”, Arbois
2011 Jacques Puffeney Poulsard, Arbois
2006 Jacques Puffeney Vin Jaune, Arbois

Choosing the correct food pairings for these wines was really fun, as they are wonderful with food and the Jura has some really interesting regional culinary specialties. Wild mushrooms seemed to be quite common in the Jura, and in the winter I’ve been told that potatoes topped with melted raclette are a staple. The Jura is also a fly-fishing destination (weird, right?), so I wanted to make something out of freshwater fish. We also found some regional cheeses, and a rustic cream tart sort of thing called a Toétché, for which I could only find a recipe in French. Our resident Francophile Colleen was able to follow it just fine, no surprise there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur menu for the evening:
Toétché (above)
Trout rillettes
Fresh baugette
Sautéed wild mushrooms (yellow foot, black trumpet, oyster, hedgehog)
Warm salad of roasted rose finn potatoes and wild mushrooms
Morbier & Comté cheeses
Wickson apples
Breakfast radishes with cultured butter and grey sea salt
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe found that the Toétché paired perfectly with the vin jaune. This made me very happy, since I wasn’t sure what the Toétché would even taste like. Big ups to Colleen for making it come out perfectly, it was absolutely beautiful and delicious. The morbier and comté cheeses were also wonderful with the white wines, although they did not pair particularly well with the reds. The trout rillettes were lovely with all of the wines, while the apples provided a nice, palate-cleansing counterpoint to all of the savory foods. I especially loved the breakfast radishes with cultured butter and sea salt, while others in the room weren’t so enthused (I learned of this snack from a Frenchman who was so graciously hosting me at a winery some time ago). Perhaps it’s an acquired taste, but I find that radishes are an excellent vehicle for butter. The sautéed mushrooms were lovely piled atop fresh bread and enjoyed with the poulsard and trousseau.

As for the wines, we found that most people loved the ‘Les Dolomies’ ($28)– a white savagnin aged in a topped-up barrel. It was fresh, rich, and awesome with food. The Gahier trousseau ($39) was definitely the stand-out, everyone really loved it (it was my favorite as well). The Puffeney vin jaune ($80) was intense, too intense for a lot of people in the room. I also wish I’d opened it earlier and possibly decanted it, but my decanter was full of the Bornard ‘Tant-Mieux” ($32)which was absolutely reductive, sweet, and generally awful (not surprisingly, it tasted much better the next day). A friend also brought a bottle of Chardonnay from Côtes du Jura, which was great to balance out all the savagnin in the room.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI hope everyone who came had a great time and learned a lot about these rare, unusual wines. I had a blast curating the list and finding foods to pair. I hope that everyone took away some useful knowledge and would feel confident ordering a glass from the Jura section on the wine list at their favorite French restaurant.

Introducing the Winelandia Fall Lineup

The Fall 6-pack is sold out. Contact orders@winelandia.com if you have questions about re-ordering any of these wines by the case.

We’re very excited to introduce you to the delicious wines in our Fall offering!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn this lineup, we have included some outstanding wines from lesser­-known regions all over California. These are all sustainably produced, food­-friendly wines with a sense of terroir. We wanted to focus on local, artisanal, natural, small-production wines to pair with your favorite Thanksgiving foods and really show you what New California has to offer. We currently only have these wines available to wine club members, and we are almost sold out. Register for our wine club at https://club.winelandia.com if you wish to get in on the action.

Deux Punx 2011 Grenache Noir
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Winemakers: Dan Schaaf & Aaron Olson
Bio: Dan Schaaf and Aaron Olson are the Deux Punx. Living in San Francisco, Schaaf and Olson started making wine at home and the project just ballooned from there. They work with several vineyards in both California and Washington, and prefer a hands-­off, experimental approach to winemaking. Always willing to take chances, Deux Punx are still finding their style and perspective, and we’re excited to be part of that journey with them.
Deux Punx are wine lovers and music lovers, their labels are creative and done by artist friends of theirs, and they definitely think wine is meant to be shared and enjoyed, not cellared and ignored – that’s how we feel too! We just can’t believe that both of these guys have full­time “day jobs” and families in addition to making and selling this wine. Superhuman!
Region: Lake County
Vineyard: Tejada
Blend: 100% Grenache
Aging: 18 months 100% neutral French oak
Production Notes: Produced from sustainably farmed Grenache grown by the Tejada family, this is a pure expression of warm­-climate Grenache. Native yeasts were used for fermentation and aging was done in 100% neutral French oak to show off what was done in the vineyard. 125 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of ripe red fruits & spice with firm tannins and juicy acidity. This would be a great wine to have with anything grilled, roasted, or barbecued.
Food Pairings: Burgers, grilled lamb, pizza, sausage, roasted poultry, BBQ red meat.

Verse 2012 Pinot Noir
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemakers: Ryan & Megan Glaab
Bio: Ryan and Megan Glaab have been making wine as Ryme Cellars for only 6 years, which is hard to believe considering how good this Pinot Noir is. Ryan is the assistant winemaker at another of our favorite wineries, Wind Gap. They met and fell in love during a harvest at a winery in Australia, and, now married, turned their relationship toward business too. Ryme wines ­and their accompanying Verse label ­are all made from Sonoma county grapes, and seek to highlight restraint and food friendliness. We really think these two have a bright future in winemaking and can’t wait to drink what’s next.
Region: Carneros
Vineyard: Las Brisas
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir
Aging: 10 months neutral French oak
Production Notes: This bright & fresh Pinot Noir is a blend of two different clones – Swan and Gamay Beaujolais (which is neither gamay nor from Beaujolais). It’s made from 20 year old sustainably farmed vines grown near the convergence of the San Pablo Bay and the Petaluma Wind Gap in the Carneros AVA. The grapes were mostly de-stemmed but 25% were left whole cluster and they were fermented with native yeasts in open-­top fermenters. This wine was aged for 10 months in neutral French oak and bottled without fining or filtration. 290 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of red raspberry, wild fennel and tarragon, rounded out by dusty red clay earth and juicy cherry on the palate. This bright and juicy Pinot Noir has a beautiful texture and will be sure to dazzle on your Thanksgiving table!
Food Pairings: Roasted cornish game hens, duck breast with pomegranate gastrique, aged goat cheese, pork loin, wild salmon.

La Clarine Farm 2012 White Blend No. 1
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemaker: Hank Beckmeyer
Bio: Run by Hank Beckmeyer, La Clarine Farm is a principled stand out in California winemaking. A follower of Masanobu Fukuoka’s “Do Nothing Farming” methods, Beckmeyer has created a holistic vineyard and winery experience, trying to leave the grapes alone to, in a sense, make the wine themselves. Beckmeyer sees himself as a guide for the transformation of grapes into wine. Beckmeyer understands that terroir is constantly changing, and everything he is doing to the vines, the grapes, and the land, is changing the terroir – he is trying to keep it as pure and unadulterated as possible.
Beckmeyer has been quietly making wines in the Sierras since 2001, and has a diverse lineup, comprised largely of Rhone wines, both white and red. Hank’s laid-­back winemaking approach produces wines with texture and tons of interest – he simply let each wine, each vintage, become whatever it might. Very different from most California producers, that’s for sure.
Region: Sierra Foothills
Vineyard: Various
Blend: 47% Viognier, 41% Marsanne, 12% Petit Manseng
Aging: 100% Stainless steel
Production Notes: Produced from organically grown grapes, fermented with native yeasts, aged in stainless steel, and unfined/unfiltered prior to bottling – this is about as real as wine gets. Minimal SO2 used. Only 155 cases of this wine were produced, which means it won’t be around for long.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of white flowers and herbs with tons of mid­-palate richness, medium body and zingy acidity on the finish.
Food Pairing: Roasted game hens, chanterelle & gruyere bread pudding (see recipe), cheeses, smoked meats, fish, Indian food, lobster, salads.

LIOCO 2011 Indica
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemaker: John Raytek
Bio: Started by two sommeliers who wanted to make the kinds of wines they loved to drink, Lioco has developed into a great example of clean, food-­friendly, cool­-climate winemaking. Matthew Licklider and Kevin O’Connor are endeavoring to make transparent wines – wines where the customer knows what goes in, and comes out of the wine. Lioco has only been around since 2005, and recently one of their proprietors took over as winemaker, so we’re looking forward to the next evolution of this label. Their lineup includes the Indica wines, which are food-­friendly, drinkable, and affordable, as well as some single­vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays that are at a higher price point. Something for everyone!
Region: Mendocino County
Vineyard: Various, Redwood Valley
Blend: 98% Carignan, 2% Grenache
Aging: 11 months neutral French oak
Production Notes: Produced from organic, dry­-farmed, head trained, old vines. 25% whole cluster fermented, and bottled without fining or filtration. Neutral oak aging brings out the best in this wine. This wine will drink beautifully now, as well as age for a few more years. 684 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of sour plum, red licorice, and lavender with blackberry, salted plums and orange pekoe tea on the palate. This rustic red wine with medium body is extremely food friendly, so don’t be afraid to experiment with pairings.
Food Pairings: Cracker crust pizza, carnitas, sausages, barbecue.

Two Shepherds 2012 Grenache Blanc
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemaker: William Allen
Bio: With a name like Two Shepherds, you’re probably surprised to find out that William Allen is a one-­man show. Allen is a longtime wine industry professional, and garagiste (home winemaker), who decided to start a professional winery with an emphasis on Rhone varietals. His first release was only in 2010, but he’s called on many of the great low-­intervention winemakers in California for advice, and it shows in his wine. He works out of a small winery in Santa Rosa, shared with two other wineries.
Allen only works with Rhone grapes, and even planted his own vineyard of Grenache recently. His wines are balanced, with both texture and acid, and really shine with food.
Region: Santa Ynez Valley
Vineyard: Saarloos
Blend: 100% Grenache Blanc
Aging: 80% 7 months sur lie neutral French oak, 20% 6 months in stainless steel
Production Notes: The winemaker aims for long hang­-time with these grapes, allowing for flavors to become more complex while preserving the grape’s acidity. This wine is from a particularly cool site in the Santa Ynez Valley. The wine is barrel fermented in neutral French oak, and then aged on the lees for another 7 months. It is then blended with 20% of the same wine aged in stainless steel, adding freshness and balance. Serve slightly below cellar temperature, do not over-­chill. 125 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Aromas of green apples, white peach, orange blossom and honeydew with juicy acidity and elegant minerality.
Food Pairing: Miso­-cured Black Cod, chanterelle & gruyere bread pudding (see recipe), ceviche, grilled chicken, pasta with lemon & spinach.

Porter Creek 2012 Rosé
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWinemaker: Alex Davis
Bio: Porter Creek sits in a quiet corner of West Sonoma County, with a tiny tasting room and several lovely chickens you can visit and talk to. Winemaker Alex Davis has been profiled by many media outlets, but that doesn’t diminish the understated character and approach that he takes with all of Porter Creek’s wines. Their backbone is cool­-climate Pinot Noir, but Porter Creek produces a variety of other wines as well. The winery and vineyards have been organic for some time, and they are currently pursuing Demeter Certification – that’s the certification for Biodynamics. Davis speaks of being a wine crafter rather than a wine maker, because he feels it implies the minimal intervention approach he takes in all he does.
All of Porter Creek’s wine are consistent in their balanced profile and food friendliness. While each is different, they all possess acid and texture, and even the higher end, single vineyard pinot noirs are affordably priced for how much technique and skill went into their production.
Region: Sonoma County
Vineyard: Various
Blend: 75% Zinfandel, 25% Carignan
Aging: 6 months neutral French oak
Production Notes: Made from organically farmed, head-­trained grapes, this is a rosé for people who love the rosés of Provence and Bandol. Bone dry and balanced with delicate acidity, this wine was fermented 100% whole cluster with 95% native yeasts. 620 cases produced.
Tasting Notes: Focused aromas of spice and fruit with a mineral finish.
Food Pairing: Raw kale harvest salad, roasted cornish game hens, salads, pizza, salmon, hard winter squash, wild mushroom risotto. 

Recipe: Savory Chanterelle and Gruyere Bread Pudding

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a recipe featured in our Fall wine club shipment. We chose to feature this recipe because it encompasses everything we love about fall food, and it perfectly compliments several of the wines we are offering in our Fall club shipment. Made with chanterelle mushrooms and delicious cave-aged gruyere cheese, this vegetarian dish is sure to delight your guests. It’s fancy enough for a holiday like Thanksgiving but easy enough to make for any day of the week. We really love it’s umami flavors and creamy/crusty consistency.

You can find Chanterelle mushrooms at your local specialty store during the rainy months. Right now we are getting Oregon chanterelles as well as Pacific Golden chanterelles. I prefer the Oregon variety because they are cleaner, have great flavor, and a better texture (in my opinion). They are smaller and more orange in color than their California-grown counterparts. Chances are you will see only one variety, so get whatever you can. You want to pick out the chanterelles that look the best. Look for firm, dry chanterelles without any red rot or raggedy edges.

Don’t skimp on the Gruyere, either. Get a good-quality cave aged gruyere from France, if possible. This should not be hard to find, as I believe even Trader Joes carries one.

Savory Chanterelle & Gruyere Bread Pudding
Adapted from 100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy with Wines You Love by Jill Silverman Hough

Special Tools
One 2 qt. casserole dish or six 1½ cup individual ramekins

Ingredients
3 cups milk
1½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. chopped fresh sage
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the pan
12 oz. chanterelle mushrooms, coarsely sliced OR 2 medium leeks (white & light green parts only), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 tsp. fine sea salt
5 large eggs
12 oz. crusty artisan French or Italian, with crusts, torn or cubed into ¾” pieces
8 oz. gruyere cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)

Method
Butter the casserole dish or ramekins and set aside.

Combine the milk, chopped herbs, and pepper in a medium pot with a heavy bottom. Set over medium-high heat until the milk just begins to simmer. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a wide skillet over medium heat. Then add the mushrooms and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. (If substituting leeks, cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat if necessary to prevent browning.) Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then temper the eggs by whisking in ⅓ of the warm milk mixture. Once combined, slowly whisk in the rest. Add the bread cubes, shredded cheese, and mushroom or leek mixture and stir until well combined. Set aside for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to let the bread absorb the liquid.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the center.

Spoon the mixture into the casserole dish or ramekins. Bake until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve hot.

Additional Wine Club Memberships Are Now Available!

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If you missed out on the first round of wine club subscriptions, we have decided to release another batch due to popular demand. We have a very limited number of spaces available, so if you want to secure your spot, be sure to sign up at http://club.winelandia.com ASAP!

If you are just learning about our club, read below:

Join our boutique wine club to receive four annual 6 bottle shipments of wine (2 cases total per year). We are offering small-production, hand-crafted, terroir-driven wines that will never exceed a $25 bottle average price (no more than $150 per shipment, excluding tax & shipping). Our focus is on wines that are made with minimal intervention, farmed as sustainably as possible, and fermented with native yeasts. These are the types of wine that we like to drink, and more importantly, the types of wines we wish to share with you.

We will have our first offer ready to ship in early November, just in time for the holidays. The wines that we have selected will all pair beautifully with your holiday meals. With this shipment we will include recipes, food pairing suggestions, and information about the winemakers & production.

Join today to secure an allocation of these six fabulous wines! We won’t be releasing another batch of memberships until the next shipment, so get on it!

http://club.winelandia.com

Sign up for Winelandia’s Inaugural Wine Subscription!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADo you love wine? Do you find it difficult to select good wines from the vast, overwhelming walls of plonk at your local market? Do you have trouble picking the perfect foods to pair with that delicious wine you bought? Do you drink 2 or more bottles of wine per month? We have a solution for you!

Sign up for Winelandia’s inaugural wine subscription, which will ship just in time for the holidays. We will pack and ship 6 bottles of awesome wine to your doorstep for no more than $25 a bottle. With your shipment we will include recipes, food pairing suggestions and tons of information about the wines you receive. Click the link below and join the waitlist – we have a few more slots available in our current allocation and will send you an email confirming your spot.

http://club.winelandia.com

We are looking forward to helping you impress your friends and elevate your wine-fu to a new level. Join today!

Varietal 101: Cabernet Sauvignon

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am feeling pretty inspired by our trip last weekend to Perrucci Family Vineyards. Harvest was in full swing, and we watched them pick thousands of pounds of beautiful fruit. The Perrucci’s produce a lot of wines, but their flagship is made from Cabernet Sauvignon. Above is a photo of some of their estate fruit, hiding safely behind some bird netting.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. That’s right, it’s half red grape and half white grape. Totally odd, but grapes are funny like that. It originated in southwestern France in the 17th century, and since then it’s become the most widely recognized grape in the world. It’s planted in nearly every major wine producing country and makes some of the world’s most sought-after, expensive, and powerful wines. It’s pretty easy to grow, due to its thick skin and resistance to rot and frost. It’s America’s darling for sure.

The style of Cabernet Sauvignon wines can range from low in alcohol, restrained, lean and austere to ripe, spicy, and powerful with lush flavors and round edges. Cab tends to be lower in acid than other grapes, which means that it has to be grown and made into wine very carefully if it’s going to be built for long-haul aging (acidity helps preserve a wine). Many high end cabs are built to age, but most of them you find in stores are meant to be consumed within the first 3 or 4 years. If you spent less than $40 on your bottle of cab, chances are you should drink it up sooner rather than later.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPairing food with rich, red wines can be a little tricky, but there are some rules of thumb you can follow to ensure the best results. First of all, tannin plays a major role in the types of food you can pair with a wine. Young, tannic cabs should never be paired with spicy food, because the tannins will make the spice even hotter (sometimes uncomfortably so). Additionally, tannins pair harmoniously with fatty meats, such as a rib-eye steak. Softer, aged, or less-tannic styles of cab are better off with leaner cuts of meat like a filet mignon. Acidity also plays a role – it helps cut through the fattiness like tannins do. Think of a rich, firm tannined, juicy young cab paired with slow-braised beef or lamb. YUM. Red meat really is the classic accompaniment to Cabernet Sauvignon, so you can’t really go wrong with it. Just be sure to match your tannin with the fattiness of the cut of meat and you will be in for a treat. One final thing to consider when pairing a cab with your meal is that it can clash with certain vegetables. Tannic red wines do not go well with brussel sprouts, asparagus, and artichokes. So if you are cooking up a veggie to serve along-side your delicious steak, steer clear of those.

Choosing the correct stemware for your Cabernet Sauvignon is also a great way to accentuate its complex flavors and aromas. I like to serve it in a “Bordeaux” style wine glass; a large bowl, tall sides, and tulip shape with bring out the best in your cab. The shape of the glass increases the rate at which the wine oxidizes, softening the tannins and showcasing the complexity. While it’s always best to drink your wine out of the proper glass, any large wine glass will do in a pinch.

The world’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the Bordeaux region of France, but Napa is making some strong contenders as well. We really love Cathy Corison’s cabs, made with organic, dry-farmed grapes grown between Rutherford & St. Helena in the Napa Valley. She makes wines with power, grace, and elegance. The style leans towards restrained and low in alcohol, which is unusual for the Napa Valley. She is one of the oldest-school winemakers in the area, her career starting in the 1970’s when it was unheard of to have a woman as a winemaker. She is an inspiration to us ladies in the wine biz, and having met her just once I was in awe. If you see Cathy’s wines for sale, be sure to pick a bottle up.

Whatever your persuasion is, Cabernet Sauvignon is a great grape to get started on if you are just getting into wine. It’s the “gateway wine” for many, and it might just make you fall in love. What are your favorite cabs? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

Secret Wine Club – The Loire Valley

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Last Saturday, Colleen and I hosted another Secret Wine Club with our awesome friends. The theme this time was the Loire Valley. We featured wines from all corners of this swath of land, which runs along the Loire River, just South-East of Paris. This region produces primarily Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne, and Cabernet Franc. The wines can be light and acidic with ample minerality or dark and brooding with weedy, earthy, red fruit undertones. I was on wine duty and Colleen was on food duty. We were quite excited to shop for the party.

Colleen and I like to do a mix of traditional and unconventional food pairings. We find that we are able to demonstrate “What grows together goes together” as well as “Look at everything you can do with California’s bounty” this way. Below you will find the wine list along with the foods we paired.

2010 Domaine de la Louvetrie Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur lie
Melon de Bourgogne from Muscadet
Manila clams sautéed in white wine, shallots, and butter with parsley.

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2012 Thirot-Fournier Sancerre
Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre
Herbed mixed green salad

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Le Pepie rosé Loire Vin de Pays
Rosé of Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley
Sweet peppers stuffed with fresh goat cheese & herbs

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2012 Henry Marionnet Touraine
Gamay from Touraine
Sausage, watercress and gruyere flatbread

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2011 Tessier “Le Point du Jour” Cheverney Rouge
Gamay/Pinot Noir blend from Cheverney
Mushroom, onion & gruyere puff pastry tarts

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2011 Bernard Baudry “Les Grezeaux” Chinon
Cabernet Franc from Chinon
Bonne Bouche and Terra aged goat cheeses with Acme Bakery Herb Slab crostini

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2004 Jerome Lenoir Chinon
Cabernet Franc from Chinon
Home-made pork terrine with Acme Bakery Herb Slab crostini

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2009 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Petillant Naturel
Petillant-Naturel of Chenin Blanc from Vouvray
Apple cake with whipped creme fraiche

All of the pairings were an absolute hit. I especially loved the goat cheese & herb stuffed peppers with the rosé and also the clams and Muscadet, a classic pairing. The favorite wine of the evening was the Gamay from Touraine. The favorite snacks were the pork terrine (aka “Pork Butter”) and the puff pastry tarts with mushrooms, onions & cheese. I found it especially interesting to try a fresh Chinon next to one with some age. We also learned that Shelley does NOT like brett on her wine (“It smells like a corpse!”) and that sparkling Vouvray with a little age is quite delicious. Regardless, everything was great, and the best part of it all is that none of these wines cost more than $25 retail. They can be enjoyed any night of the week.

Do you have a favorite Loire Valley wine? Let us know in the comments.

Coming Soon: Purchasing Wine from Winelandia.com!

Dear Readers,

It’s been about 7 months since we launched our blog with the intent of bringing you closer to the wines you consume as well as helping you discover the joy of food & wine pairing, mixology, cookery, and baking. It’s been a great experience for us since the beginning, considering we have to learn everything we write about. It’s been a joy to watch our reader base grow, and it’s been our honor to have your attention every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

One of the longer-term goals of this project was the intent of launching a retail feature on the website, so you can buy wines curated by us and have them delivered to the doorstep of your home or office. We love natural wines, made in small batches, hand-crafted by real people. Moreover, we love to share these wines with others, exposing great producers to people who might not be able to find them otherwise. The whole idea of Winelandia was born after several friends who came to our educational tasting parties began asking us how they could buy these wines from us. All we could do was point them in the direction of the shop we bought them at, or tell them “Sorry, this one is from my cellar”.

The process involved in obtaining the appropriate licenses to buy and sell alcohol in the state of California is long, complicated, confusing, and at times, very frustrating. I am pretty sure the process is designed to be this way to weed out the riff-raff. Thankfully, we are not Riff-Raff, and the great state of California has approved and issued our license which allows us to buy and sell wine.

We are excited to announce that we are launching a wine subscription service to a very small pilot group of users in the state of California. The initial subscription is quarterly shipments of half-cases of wine. That’s 2 bottles a month, or 2 cases a year. The goal is to keep the price reasonable, around $25 per bottle on average. All of the featured wines will come with tasting notes, food pairing suggestions, and a recipe or two. We have some kinks to work out and need to test out some ideas on you guys, so if you are interested in joining the pilot program, please let me know by emailing me at tala@winelandia.com. We can only accommodate a small number of people, so be sure to let me know ASAP. Our goal is to have the first shipment out in time for Thanksgiving. If you are unable to get into the pilot group, we will have a wait-list up so you can be notified when we have room for more members.

The incentive for you to join our pilot program is not only the honor of being able to tell your friends you were one of the first people to use Winelandia, but you will also receive first dibs on any extremely small-production or cult wines that we may not be able to secure enough of to offer as part of the subscription, before we offer them for sale on the website. I am a collector at heart and will take every opportunity to secure a case or two of really special wines for you guys.

These are very exciting times for us, considering I have dreamed of owning a business since I was a little kid. Life is short; pursue your dreams, do things that are hard, and amaze yourself every time you accomplish something new. I’ll leave you with this photo of Colleen, being very excited, surrounded by food and wine. Basically, this is what we look like any time we are together. We hope that you will join us in this new chapter!

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