December 28, 2010
Posted by John Cesano under Uncategorized
| Tags: 2002 Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards Royal Cuvee Carneros $32
, 2005 Carol Shelton Wines Karma Zinfandel Rue Vineyard Wood Road Russian River Valley $33
, 2005 Parducci Grenache Mendocino County $25
, 2005 Saracina Syrah Mendocino County $32
, 2005 Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir $34
, 2005 Swanson Vineyards Merlot Oakville $36
, 2006 Parducci Petite Sirah True Grit Mendocino County $30
, 2006 Petroni Vineyards Sangiovese Rosso di Sonoma $28
, 2006 Saracina Atrea Old Soul Red (Zin - Syrah - Petite Sirah - Malbec) $25
, 2006 The Cutrer - Sonoma-Cutrer - Estate Bottled - Russian River Valley Chardonnay $35
, 2007 Petroni Vineyards Estate Grappa di Cabernet Sauvignon $50
, 2007 Trinchero Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Clouds Nest Vineyard Mt. Veeder $50
, 2007 Trinchero Napa Valley Meritage Napa Valley $50
, 2008 Carol Shelton Wines Black Magic Zinfandel Sonoma County $20
, 2008 McDowell Valley Vineyards Viognier/Roussane $22
, 2008 Toad Hollow Dry Pinot Noir Rosé Sonoma Eye Of The Toad $9
, 2009 Kenwood Vineyards Pinot Gris Sonoma County $14
, 2009 Mill Creek Winery Gewurtztraminer Estate Vineyard Dry Creek Valley $19
, 2009 The Natural Process Alliance Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley $12
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Here in the final week of 2010, I looked back at the wines I tasted this year. I tasted many wines, but not nearly as many as I wish I had. Most were good, quite good. There were a number of exceptional wines. Today’s post is a list of my favorite wines, tasted in 2010, by varietal. I loved every wine on the list when I tasted it. More than one was tasted with food, many were tasted with the winemaker or winery owner, and every wine on my list was tasted for free at a tasting room or event. My tasting experiences led me to purchase several of these wines to enjoy at leisure. I recommend every wine on this list, if you are fortunate and find a bottle in your local wine shop. Enjoy.
Blush 2008 Toad Hollow Dry Pinot Noir Rosé, Sonoma, Eye Of The Toad $9
Bubbly 2002 Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards Royal Cuvee, Carneros $32
Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Trinchero Napa Valley, Clouds Nest Vineyard, Mt. Veeder $50
Chardonnay 2006 The Cutrer, Sonoma-Cutrer, Russian River Valley $35
Dessert/Port 2008 Carol Shelton Wines, Black Magic Zinfandel Sonoma County $20
Gewurtztraminer 2009 Mill Creek Winery, Estate Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley $19
Grappa 2007 Petroni Vineyards, Estate, Grappa di Cabernet Sauvignon $50
Grenache 2005 Parducci, Mendocino County $25
Meritage 2007 Trinchero Napa Valley, Napa Valley $50
Merlot 2005 Swanson Vineyards, Oakville, $36
Petite Sirah 2006 Parducci True Grit, Mendocino County $30
Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio 2009 Kenwood Vineyards, Sonoma County $14
Pinot Noir 2005 Sonoma-Cutrer, Russian River Valley $34
Red Blend 2006 Saracina Atrea Old Soul Red (Zin, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Malbec) $25
Sangiovese 2006 Petroni Vineyards Rosso di Sonoma $28
Sauvignon Blanc 2009 The Natural Process Alliance, Russian River Valley $12
Syrah 2005 Saracina, Mendocino County $32
Viognier 2008 McDowell Valley Vineyards, (64%)Viognier/(36%)Rousanne $22
Zinfandel 2005 Carol Shelton Wines, Karma, Rue Vineyard, Wood Rd, Russian River Valley $33
December 27, 2010
This year, we were invited to share Christmas dinner at the home of my son Charlie’s Uncle Mark and Aunt Mary. Charlie’s grandparents, Dee and Joan had moved in with Mark and Mary. Mark and Mary’s children, Amy and Travis, Charlie’s closest cousins by age, would also be there, of course, as well as other members of the family.
Mary’s sister Sherry, and Sherry’s daughter Joy, a vegetarian and vegan respectively, were going to be joining us for Christmas dinner as well, and Mary asked me to cook a vegan dish for Christmas dinner.
20 years ago, I cooked a delicious vegetarian nut and carrot loaf for a potluck, at a time I was dating a vegetarian.
A google search found Sherry Barber from Whittier, California posted a recipe online that was nearly identical to the 20 year old potluck recipe. The recipe was well rated by users and had many positive comments.
A similar vegan recipe was rated very low, and the comments were damning.
I decided to modify the recipe, using ingredients bought at Ukiah’s hippie grocery, the co-op, including using all certified organic produce for the recipe.
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
5 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup unsalted sunflower kernels
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups soft whole wheat bread crumbs
1. In a nonstick skillet, saute onions, mushrooms and green pepper in butter until tender. In a bowl, combine the mushroom mixture, carrots, celery, eggs, walnut, sunflower kernels, salt, basil, oregano and pepper. Stir in bread crumbs:
2. Coat a 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray, then line with waxed paper. Transfer vegetable mixture to a prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees F Let stand for 10 min before slicing.
Butter, eggs, bread, and the non stick spray were a concern for me, as they either were clearly not appropriate for a vegan, or might not be – I am enormously ignorant where veganism is concerned.
I bought and used Buttery Spread, a vegan butter substitute, largely vegetable oil based, in place of both the butter and the non stick spray, sautéing the vegetables and coating the loaf pan with it.
Ener-G egg replacer is a vegan egg substitute, a powder that when mixed with water can be used for baking needs. I used it in place of the eggs to aid in binding.
Bread is trickier. I spent a ton for a dense, un-risen, loaf of gluten, egg, milk, butter, and preservative free quinoa-millet bread.
I am told subsequently that most bread is vegan, PETA famously claimed that Wonder bread is vegan, but saying it does not make it true. Many bread brands vegans eat include yeasts, and as vegans hate killing things to eat them, I was concerned about yeasts. Worse, most breads contain mono and diclycerides, which more often derive from animal rather than plant sources. Just as milk from cows is forbidden by vegans, the natural sweetener honey is similarly forbidden. Many larger commercial bakeries alternate vegan and non vegan bread making and the cross contamination that occurs means your vegan bread isn’t really vegan. There are so many hidden pitfalls to buying a vegan loaf of bread, that if it really matters to you, you will need to spend a premium for vegan identified bread from a vegan only specialty bakery, or make your own.
Okay, that is what I went through in making the vegan nut and carrot loaf, but the result was worth it. Sherry and Joy were able to enjoy a vegan safe and delicious holiday dish with family, and everyone who tried it was surprised to find the dish substantial and tasty.
I will make the dish again, but being comfortable consuming meat, I will go with Sherry’s vegetarian (much more relaxed than with the vegan substitutions) recipe. If you are a vegan, you have the ingredient substitutes in your kitchen already; but if you are new to the recipe, eggs cost less than egg replacer, commercial bread costs less than specialty bread, and either butter or ordinary margarine cost less than Buttery Spread. Bottom line: the dish is great, make it how you feel comfortable, with the ingredients you have on hand or can access easily, and enjoy.
I created a mushroom gravy in case the dish turned out dry. It was unnecessary, the loaf was wonderfully moist, but a nice accompaniment.
In addition to the vegan loaf, I brought two bottles of wine, a 2006 Salinia Pinot Noir W.E. Bottoms Vineyard $45 “Russian River Valley Occidental tree shaded vineyard below the fog line but protected from the afternoon sun’s intense heat. Gorgeously round, round, round. Nose: smooth, completely lacking any harsh notes, rose petal, cherry, spice. Many noted, integrated. Mouth: Oh, my God. Gorgeous flavors. Easily, one of the best Pinot Noir I’ve tasted this year. Beautiful, cherry, cranberry, herb, spice. Drinkable, accessible wine. (– my own review from 10/18/10 post)” and an Alaskan Chardonnay.
Yes, you read that right, an Alaskan Chardonnay. NV Bear Creek Winey Alaskan Chardonnay, made from 50% grape wine from concentrate bought from somewhere south of Alaska, and 50% rhubarb grown near the winery, $18. Bear Creek blends fruit wines made from local berries and fruit including raspberry, blueberry, strawberry and rhubarb, with grape wine made from concentrates of Shiraz, Chardonnay, and other varietals.
I received the Rhubarb/Chardonnay as a gift, and while thrilled to taste something new, different, novel, I was not expecting much – if anything, I expected the wine to suck.
I was pleasantly surprised. The wine was very much a Chardonnay. The rhubarb note was underneath a pile of typical Chardonnay notes, both in the nose and the mouth. I don’t love rhubarb, and it was most noticeable on the finish, remaining after the Chardonnay notes had faded away. This wouldn’t be the first wine I would reach for if it was on a shelf in my local market along with other, more familiar wines, but if I was anywhere near Homer, Alaska, I would make it an absolute priority to find the Bear Creek Winery tasting room to sample their fruit wines and other fruit/grape wine blends.
Mark cooked a perfect roast, delicious, and together we worked in the kitchen on side dishes like salad, potatoes, and green beans, while enjoying a nice Anchor Steam.
It was nice to spend time with family, and fun to cook a little bit. I hope you all had a nice Christmas dinner with friends and family too.
December 24, 2010
Merry Christmas, dear reader. Thank you for coming here, or finding here, to share what I write. I appreciate you, and thank you. I hope you find something special under the tree, in your stocking, or in your heart this Christmas season.
Here’s a piece for the holidays, not about wine and not by me, but about trees by one of my favorite American poets.
|Robert Frost (1920)
(From A Christmas Circular Letter)
The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
“There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”
“You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north. He said, “A thousand.”
“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”
He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”
Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.
December 17, 2010
I can’t believe I am going to pass on one winery’s holiday offer, I feel like a bit of a shill, so some justification is in order.
First, I recently wrote about this winery’s wines, and positively raved about them.
Second, I live in Mendocino County, the greenest wine producing area in California and perhaps the world. Our wineries and vineyards compete to announce the degrees of greenness they take their grape growing and wine making. Everything I have experienced convinces me that this is a laudable goal, an ideal that should be emulated by all wineries everywhere.
Third, I started this blog to write about great wines that cost little, wines that can be paired with meals and make the food taste better. This wine fits the bill very nicely.
Okay, today I want to point you to an offer from The NPA, The Natural Process Alliance, in Santa Rosa. Out greening Mendocino County wineries, The NPA is offering cases of wine with zero waste.
This holiday season, gift a case of wine without generating any waste.
Through 12/31/10, you can give a case of NPA Sauvignon Blanc– 1 Kanteen and 12 refills. No corks, no glass, no landfill, no recycling- 100% re-use. 100% real.
Pricing: $145 gets you a canteen and a 12 refills that can be filled throughout 2011.
Availability: The NPA wines are available at our Santa Rosa winery.
Need something to give? We’ll be happy to send you an empty Kanteen or Card.
To place an order- Call (707) 527-7063 or email email@example.com
Happy Holidays from The Natural Process Alliance!
Here is my review of The NPA’s Sauv Blanc from my piece on the winery: “2009 The Natural Process Alliance Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley The aroma rocked my head back. Incredibly fruity, it reminded me of a Jimmy Buffett song, “Grapefruit – Juicy Fruit.” The wine was unfined and unfiltered, a little cloudy, darker in color than ordinary. Made from foot tread grapes, 1/3 direct pressed, 1/3 skin fermented, and 1/3 whole cluster fermented, neutral oak, no additives, no nothing. Just fermented Sauvignon Blanc grape juice. Just wow. Hardy smiled a knowing appreciative smile as, from my stunned, amazed, thrilled look, he knew I got it. Citrusy lemon, lime and grapefruit, apricot, pineapple, coconut. Juicy, bursting with flavor, delicious, different.”
If you were going to buy someone a case of wine this Christmas, or wanted to get yourself something really special, and you live in or near Santa Rosa, California, then this is a great offer. 12 750 ml “bottles” of a natural, far more flavorful than ordinary, Sauvignon Blanc for $145. No bottles. No corks. No waste. One cool 750 ml metal kanteen that you bring to the winery for filling. The kanteens typically run $20, the Sauvignon Blanc goes for $12 per 750 ml kanteen fill, or $144 for 12 fills. This offer gets you, or your giftee, 12 bottles of delish wine, saves you $19, and saves the Earth a bunch of waste.
By the way, your kanteen is taken from you at refill time, cleaned and sterilized. Pay for one, and it is traded for a clean one at refill time. The NPA saves you a little time too.
The offer was just too cool not to share.
December 13, 2010
Posted by John Cesano under Uncategorized
| Tags: Been Doon So Long
, Forge de Laguiole Corkscrew
, International Wine Accessories
, Private Preserve
, Randall grahm
, Terra Sávia
, The Corker
, The Wine Steward
, Tres Classique
, Vindel X Glass
, Vivid Wine Decanter
, Wine Country flavored Oils and Vinegars
, Wine Enthusiast
, Wine Hardware store
, Wine Preserva Wine Shield
, Zinfandel Advocates and Producers
, Zinfandel Festival 2011
| 1 Comment
Here are a dozen possible wine gifts for the holidays; call ‘em John’s dirty dozen, or John’s twelve gifts for the twelve days of Christmas, or whatever you want. They are presented in no particular order. If you click on the name, you will be taken to a webpage where you can find out more about the product, or order the item. Cheers!
Vindel X Glass
21 oz., Set of 4,
Sale Price $10.72
Available from the Wine Hardware Stores, Napa, Sonoma, Walnut Creeek, South San Francisco and online. Wine glasses without the stem means no broken glass stems and fewer accidents as sweeping hands (I’m Italian and there are lots of sweeping hands in a family conversation) move above these stem free wine bowls. Nice shape, nice size, nice weight, nice glasses. GREAT price, buy 8 or 12 at this price.
1 at $39.95, 2 or more at $29.95 each
Available at the Wine Hardware Stores and online. I have written in wonder as just opened, closed nose, not ready to drink bottles are transformed by this amazing little device. Just hold it over your glass, pour your wine from the bottle through this aerator, the wine bubbles, burbles, breathes, and in just seconds the wine in your glass is drinkable, open, enjoyable. I am skeptical of gizmos and gadgets, but this is an amazing wine tool for the impatient.
Forge de Laguiole Rosewood Handle Corkscrew
Available at the Wine Hardware Stores and online. In Laguiole France there is a Forge, the Forge de Laguiole, and artisans produce the most amazing cutlery and corkscrews in the world. There are a number of folks who sell knock off junk from Thiers France or Asia with a Laguiole name. IWA (International Wine Accessories) tried to pass off just such a mass produced cheap knock off using video of hand crafting from the Forge to sell their inferior items – some people believe lies and deception are just marketing tools in service of sales. Not inexpensive, but heirloom quality, hand crafted corkscrews from the Forge de Laguiole run from $160 to over $200, and are the ultimate gift for the wine connoisseur in your life.
Available online and in better wine shops. This magical gas in a can is heavier than oxygen and doesn’t so much displace all of the oxygen laden air in an opened bottle of wine as it sinks below the oxygen laden air and blankets the wine from oxygen, protecting and preserving wine (and oils and vinegars) between glasses. Keeps wines yummy, keeps oils from going rancid and vinegars from going musty.
Available online, and possibly the sale table at Blockbuster. A lot of wine folks mock this movie, and it interesting to note (if you are a wine geek) that the featured character Miles’ treasured Cheval Blanc often possesses a considerable percentage of Merlot, a varietal which Miles detests. That said, I love this movie. There is one passage that brings tears to my eyes, for what I think is a beautiful expression of the wonder of wine. Walk in the Clouds and Bottle Shock together don’t reach the greatness of this best wine movie ever.
Available online (sort of) and at art and craft shows. This is the best bottle stopper ever. One size fits all. No flavor transfer bottle to bottle. Easy to Use. Wines don’t leak on their side in the fridge. Champagnes (and two liter sodas) stay bubbly upright in the fridge. Oils and vinegars stay yummy longer. Break it by accident, or through clumsy mishap, and they fix it for free. I often pair this with Private Preserve (above) for long term storage of liquids with great effect. Online is difficult because these guys are on the road all the time, and because their website sucks. Best thing to do is find the Corkers you want online, over 100 decorative images can be seen online, and send an email directly to Fred, the cork boss. Let him know the corks you want, he’ll send you a quote, you send him credit card info, he sends you cork; weird, but it works, as they don’t really have operators standing by, bins of separated corks, item numbers, or a shipping department. They are old school crafters and artists in a studio. Corkerguy@aol.com is Fred’s email to get the ball rolling.
Been Doon So Long
Available directly from the author through the book’s website. You can even get signed, first edition, copies of the book. I was lucky enough to get a review copy of this book just before I was going to buy it, unexpected, unsought, but incredibly welcome. This was, far and away, my favorite book of the year, and I read a ton. I reviewed this book earlier this year, and simply gushed with praise. The author, Randall Grahm, is a winemaker I revere, and a brilliant writer who used his prodigious writing skills in marketing service of his wines. This book is a collection of those writings, a greatest hits if you will. Parody, satire, wit and a reinvention of literature’s most famous works. This book brought me great joy. I imagine anyone who loves wine, literature, or ideally both will cherish this book.
Available from the Wine Hardware Stores and online. This is one of the quirkiest, oddest, yet brilliant and effective wine preservation concepts ever. Each individual package contains one flexible plastic floating disc, self adjusting for interior bottle width, that can be inserted into a bottle and floats on the surface of the wine protecting the wine from oxidation. Great for a stocking stuffer, I reviewed these positively this year in an earlier article and think they are great for packing away in a suitcase for traveling wine lovers – perfect for wines in the hotel room.
Wine country flavored Oils and Vinegars
Available from Tres Classique and online. Wineries typically have olive trees and make and sell olive oil, because the harvest, press, and bottling schedule is complementary for wine making operations. Many wineries produce and sell their own oils and vinegars. Terra Savia and Saracina are two of my favorite local wineries producing olive oils. There is a company in wine country that doesn’t make wine, but concentrates strictly on the most delicious gourmet flavored oils and vinegars. I have purchased cases and cases and given away dozens of bottles over the years, often paired with a Corker above, and everyone has loved them. From individual bottles of Lemon Splash, aged Balsamic and Truffle infused oil to gift boxes containing an assortment of delicious treats, Tres Classique is a wine country favorite of mine.
Vivid Wine Decanter
Available from Wine Enthusiast online. Face it, most people don’t have a decanter, and although largely unnecessary, they are cool. This one is a great size, shape and price. Winner, winner, duck with cherry reduction dinner.
Available from Wine Hardware Stores and online. These are a cool, at home, solution for wine bottle storage. These precut wood pieces can be fit together to make a freestanding wine rack, and as your wine collection grows you can just add more levels. The Wine Steward, a great wine shop in Pleasanton California, uses double deep Modularack with optional display topper wine storage and display in their store in a richly handsome manner.
Tickets to 2011 ZAP Zinfandel Tasting
Jan 29, 2011 Grand Zinfandel Tasting $70
Jan 27, 2011 Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing, Jan 28, 2011 Flights, Jan 28, 2011 Evening With The Winemakers Dinner, and the Jan 29, 2011 Grand Zinfandel Tasting $500
Available online. Almost a year ago, back in January, I wrote some pretty good pieces (modesty and humility are overrated – no one wrote a better recap) about attending three of the four tasting events. Each event was incredible. I grew up with Zinfandel, it is one of my favorite wine varietals, and the ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) Zinfandel Festival is one of my favorite events each year. Tickets to the Grand Zinfandel Tasting is a must, but if you are fortunate enough to be well off, go for full immersion and buy tickets for all four events.
Thanks for perusing my 2010 list of 12 favorite wine related gifts for this holiday season. Any, or all, would make great gifts for a wine lover. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and feel the touch of Christmas spirit and cheer.
Disclosure: I worked for Wine Appreciation Guild (Wine Hardware Stores are WAG’s retail outlets), sold The Wine Steward their floor racks, sold Corkers for Fred, and applied to market ethically for VWE (parent company of IWA).
December 8, 2010
Posted by John Cesano under Uncategorized  Comments
I have been away too long, I will try to be more diligent but I accept that a writer with a readership should write more often. I can only apologize, offer a brief apology, and accept the censure I deserve.
Alternately, considering the relative meaningless of censure, how about I just say that life happened, I have been very busy, time has been short, but I will make posting at least once a week a priority.
Lately instead of writing, I have been traveling, working, looking for new work, helping my son with his homework, guiding him back from the precipice of a bad grade toward a good GPA, helping his mother with her college writing, taking my son to practices and games for the three different basketball teams he plays on, shopping, cooking, doing laundry, staying abreast of new rulings for a game I judge, running as fast as I can but uncertain of my progress.
Writing makes me happy. It allows moments of reflection, consideration, ordering and reordering my thoughts. It is a welcome therapy. Writing about wine allows me to share my knowledge with others who didn’t grow up surrounded by vineyards and winemaking, who haven’t tasted thousands of bottles, who don’t drink wine with meals but might like to and just need someone to help them cut through the bullshit and snobbery that surrounds wine, wine marketing, and wine writing.
I am happier when I write, and that happiness makes the rest of the things in my life better. Writing is like spice. Without salt, many foods taste bland; with salt, desserts taste sweeter and savory dishes taste more delicious.
Wine is usually made from grapes. Other ingredients can include water, yeast, egg whites, ash, sugar, sulfites, bacteria, and a host of other additives. It is up to the winery owner and the winemaker to look at the grapes from each harvest and figure out what ingredients are needed, and in what measure, to make the best possible wine for that vintage.
The grapes themselves are not the same year to year, or vineyard to vineyard. The French have a word, Terroir, to describe the impact of place and time on a grape and the wine that grape can yield. The soil, slope, vine orientation to the sun, weather, and so much more are imprinted on each grape. Cabernet Sauvignon grown on Howell Mountain in Napa County tastes different than Cabernet Sauvignon would taste made from grapes grown in Dallas Texas. Terroir matters. Consumers search out Napa Cabs, Russian River Valley Pinots and Dry Creek Valley Zins for a reason; terroir.
On a recent trip to Denver, I wrote elsewhere about the great food scene I enjoy with each and every visit to that city. Specifically, I raved about the clean flavors at Panzano on 17th, a great Italian restaurant. Best dish was scallops on a broccoli and speck risotto with a nage of basil, leak, shallot, butter and wine. The nage was a light, green sauce of incredible flavor, and none was left on my plate but soaked up in bread every drop was enjoyed. I was so moved by this simple, yet unbelievably delicious, sauce that our waiter brought me the recipe. Few ingredients, but each high quality and essential to the delicious whole.
A friend, Leif, added his observation that in his travels to different states and countries, his cooking for others never quite tastes the same as it did when he was back in Sonoma County. Leif also shared that the garden grown veggies from his Wisconsin home tastes different than what he grew up with back home in California.
I had never thought about Terroir outside of wine, but of course the phenomenon would apply to any food grown. We are blessed in northern California with tasty veggies, fruits, beast, fowl, crustacean, bivalve and fish.
In my travels to Wisconsin, I met some of America’s nicest people. Sadly, Leif is right; some of the most muted flavor meals I have ever eaten have come from Wisconsin. That said, I have tasted delicious fresh cranberries from Warrens and apples from Bayfield in Wisconsin, and the best cheese curds I ever ate were served at CWA, Central Wisconsin’s airport, at the bar, with a simple marinara.
My son is 13 years old and at just a smidge over 6 feet tall is his middle school basketball team’s starting center, but he is not a star. Charlie is just one of five people on the court at a time, and each needs rest and there are 13 players on the team, allowing frequent substitutions. Each person on the team has unique talent. One boy is a great ball handler, another has athletic ball stealing moves, there are runners, passers, three point specialists, rebounders; it is together that they shine. The whole better for the perfect blend of ingredients.
I started with an apology for not writing more often, finished in the role of proud papa writing about my son, and shared some wine and food info in between. Another nicely balanced stew of ingredients; I hope I got the seasoning right.