Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2009 Henri Bourgeois Pouilly-Fume La Demoiselle de Bourgeois

Sauvignon Blanc is an easy grape to love, and when it is grown in the Loire Valley of France, it's even better. I'm a big fan of Sancerre (another region in the Loire) and in general, Pouilly-Fume (not to be confused with Pouilly-Fuisse which is Chardonnay from Burgundy) doesn't disappoint.

Tonight's wine is a perfect example.  Yellow in color with a nose of dried apricots, grapefruit and wet rocks, there is nice bright acidity on the palate with hint of smoke and vegetation coming through. Very well balanced, drinking really smoothly, with a long finish and a fuller body than I would've predicted. This is happily enjoyed with dinner or all by itself.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tomato Soup

I have a confession. I really like Campbell's tomato soup. I always have and I suspect I always will. Heat up a can of that tomato goodness and serve it alongside a wonder bread grilled cheese sandwich (of course using American cheese singles, you know, the ones in plastic) and I am a happy girl. It seems like such a contradiction. I'm the girl who makes grilled cheese sandwiches with artisan bread and clothbound cheddar. I'm the girl who avoids pre-made, processed foods whenever possible. I champion made-from-scratch home cooking, and yet, canned tomato soup (and yes, boxed mac & cheese) still make my crave-able list.

2012 Gary Farrell Chardonnay Rochioli-Allen

Chardonnay, especially when made in the United States, was a tough sell for me. I found the overly oaky, buttery styles heavy handed, clumsy, and really out of balance. It's not that I hate oak in white wine, or that I dislike the flavor profile of Chardonnay. I was having a specific negative reaction to the trend towards big and oaky wine that had been the standard in California for years. Fortunately, there are more than a few American winemakers who agree with me and make Chardonnay that I want to drink.

One such producer is Gary Farrell. I fell in love with the winery a few years back when I first visited Sonoma. I find Gary Farrell wines to not only be consistently well-made, but beautiful expressions of the grape with power, big flavor, yet still finesse and balance. It was Gary Farrell that helped me love Russian River Pinots and old vine Zinfandel, and today's Chardonnay is another gorgeous example. Yes, there is oak and a butteriness from the malolactic fermentation, but the wine is still fresh and vibrant. There is stone fruit and apple on the nose with a hint of orange and buttered toast coming through. There is enough acid for structure and a smooth, long finish that keeps you coming back. Really enjoyable today and I bet it'll only get better over the next few years.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Coop

With the success of Cask & Larder, Orlando seemed ready for more Southern cuisine. Enter the folks of 4 Rivers Smokehouse (the BBQ joint that is an obsession for some Orlando residents) and you have The Coop, a casual take on classic Southern comfort food in Winter Park.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

2011 Frei Brothers Zinfandel Reserve

 I was a latecomer to the Zinfandel fan club. There are so many unbalanced, hot, jammy, fruit bombs out there that I didn't feel much love for the grape. Then I started drinking Ridge wines, and my world turned upside down. Finally, Zinfandel that held onto the luscious fruit, but with balance and restraint. From there I started seeking Zins out and my affection for the grape has grown larger and more fervent.

So when I enjoy a bottle like the 2011 Frei Brothers Zinfandel Reserve, I have to share. Here we have a classically styled California Zinfandel, high alcohol, jammy fruit, full bodied, but balanced. Tasty and complex enough that you can drink it by itself (while watching late night tv) or if you want something to enjoy with food. This is definitely a wine to go with meat, from burgers to steak, bbq and more, and at roughly $15 (and easily found in grocery stores), it won't break the bank on a Thursday night.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cask & Larder

The ham sampler that began my love affair.

When Cask & Larder opened in the fall of 2012, I was beyond excited. Sister restaurant to my favorite, The Ravenous Pig, my expectations were high and I was eager to try out their take on a Southern Public House. I was not disappointed. Yes, there were hits and misses, but the highs were so high, I keep going back.

Monday, October 06, 2014

2010 Alain Corcia Les Avaux Beanue 1er Cru Pinot Noir

Burgundy is tricky. As I've written before, some of my favorite wines are Pinot Noir from this prestigious region in France, but every time I try a new producer, I know it's a gamble.

I'm not going to say I lost that bet with today's wine, I just didn't win. For a Premier Cru, I was underwhelmed. The cherry fruit and Earth were there, but muted. It needed decanting to open up, but it never really reached the complexity or intensity I was hoping for. It was silky and well balanced, but on the boring side. Tannins were very light. It is not impossible that I opened it too early. The acidity in the structure shows it can age, but I'm not sure how much this wine has to give. I'll be looking for an earlier vintage before I make my mind up about this producer.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Michael's Genuine

Burrata and perfectly ripe peaches. Simplicity at its best!

I hadn't read about Michael's Genuine. It was only after I visited that I found out it had been featured on Food Network. It wasn't on my original list of places to eat in Miami, but friends of mine gave it such a glowing recommendation that I changed my plans just to check the restaurant out. I am very glad I did.

Friday, September 26, 2014

2013 Valley Vineyards, The Royal Chenin Blanc

I've been drinking a lot of Chenin Blanc recently, mostly Vouvray from the Loire region of France. So when I saw The Royal at Total Wine, I was curious to see what South African Chenin Blanc (also called Steen in South Africa) tasted like.

For less than $10, I've got to say I was extremely happy with the purchase. The wine was easy drinking, apple and passion fruit on the nose with a hint of minerality. The wine was clean with high acidity and good balance even if it was very simple. This is an excellent example of what to drink on a hot summer day when you want refreshment instead of complexity.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Caprice Cocktail

I was so excited when I heard about this cocktail. I've been playing with Bénédictine recently, mostly tinkering with the proportions of the Vieux Carré, and the idea of combining this spicy and sweet liqueur with clean and aromatic gin, made me giddy.