Word on the winners of the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition is spreading like wild fire! A preview tasting for the media last week in Beverly Hills has generated a lot of buzz that we are really excited about! Take a look at some more posts:
Archive for the ‘Wine blogs’ Category
Two weeks from today, nearly 100 international wine judges will converge on Fairplex to sniff, swirl and spit their way through more than 3,000 wines – all in attempt to crown the best of the best.
The Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition begins May 27. Right now, wine staff are busy preparing the thousands of bottles of wine, spirits and extra virgin olive oil for judging, washing thousands of glasses and printing thousands of labels for the blind testing. It’s a huge undertaking, our competition!
Keep checking back to find out the behind-the-scenes buzz. We will also have some special guests blogging their thoughts about the competition, so stay tuned.
And don’t forget the public’s first opportunity to taste the medal winners is June 20 at Wine & Cars Under the Stars - a fun evening of classic wine and classic cars which benefits the foundations at Fairplex.
Last Saturday I was lucky to be able to attend the Zinfandel Festival at Fort Mason in San Francisco. ZAP, The Association of Zinfandel Advocates & Producers celebrates Zinfandel America’s Heritage Grape and is dedicated to preserving the history of Zinfandel through the Heritage Vineyard at UC Davis. It is the largest single varietal tasting in the World with more than 300 Zinfandel producers featuring barrel samples, new releases and premier Zinfandels.
For me it’s a great opportunity to taste many of the wines that enter the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition, meet the winemakers and thank them for entering the competition and meet new producers as well. It was such a fun experience to compare and taste so many different styles and characters of Zinfandel.
Michael David Vineyards which has consistently won Gold Medals with “7 Deadly Zins,” “Earthquake Zin” and “Lust” released a new Zin called “Gluttony.” This wine was produced from their two best vineyards of 2006. It was rich and juicy with an abundance of blackberries and raspberries on the palate with soft vanilla spices on the finish.
Carol Shelton Wines, Maple Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley, 2005 had deep blackberries, black pepper with a touch of chocolate on the finish.
Maple Vineyards, located in the Dry Creek Valley have consistently produced great Zinfandel for several wineries for many years, including last year’s Best of Show Armida Winery, Zinfandel, Maple Vineyards, 2006. They have launched their own label using their style of winemaking. The wine is really delicious with floral aromas and intense fruit of dark plums, rich blackberries with nice spice on an elegant finish.
Davis Family Vineyards, Russian River Valley, Old Vine, 2006 has lots of red raspberry and dark plums, very rich and luscious.
Peachy Canyon Winery, is located in Paso Robles. They had three different Zinfandels, all excellent. My favorite was the 2006 estate vineyards, which had rich raspberries with a spicy peppery finish.
C.G. Di Arie Vineyard & Winery had a barrel sample of their 2007 Di Arie Sierra Foothills. It was full of rich juicy raspberries and blackberries with a fresh lively finish.
I could go on and on. There were so many delicious Zins, it definitely was the ultimate “zinful experience.”
FINAL NOTE: The Cellar Master will be pouring Gold Medal Wines from the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition at Tutti Mangia, Tuesday, February 10 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. The cost is $10.
Just a few weeks into 2009 and all of those resolutions are looking harder and harder to keep, especially the one about cutting back on the wine budget. In these hard times we need wine more than ever! Many of us will be trading evenings out with friends where wines by the glass or bottle can be pricey for quiet evenings at home with a more affordable bottle. Here are a few suggestions from the 2008 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition that will be kind to your new budget without having to sacrifice good flavor.
The Little Penguin, Pinot Grigio, South Australia, 2007…$8.00 – Gold Medal
This wine has a fragrance of lime, lemon and honeysuckle, is sweet on the tip of the tongue, soft body with light citrus flavors on the palate and a zesty finish. Perfect with shellfish or fresh salads.
Alice White, Chardonnay, South East Australia, 2007…$8.00 – Gold Medal
This is really a simple pleasant wine that is guaranteed to bring a smile. It has a pleasant nose reminiscent of white flowers and pineapple with citrus on the tongue and a bright fresh finish.
Redwood Creek, Merlot, California, 2006…$7.99 – Gold Medal
Flavors of black cherry, black berries, plums, baking spices, vanilla with a soft smooth finish and would go well with grilled meats. Pairs well with roasted red meats and meaty pasta dishes.
Fetzer Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Valley Oaks California, 2006…$8.99 – Gold Medal, Best of Class Award
Layers of rich explosive flavors, with black cherries, plums with a hint of chocolate and aromas of vanilla and spice. Pairs well with beef, lamb and pork.
Rosemount Estate, Shiraz, Diamond Label, South East Australia, 2005…$10.00 – Gold Medal
Full bodied, plenty of depth, ripe blackberries, bold spices with a long rich finish. Pairs well with pasta and grilled meats.
I recently heard someone say, “I wouldn’t dare give a wine that came in a screw top bottle.” Well that is sooooo wrong. There are many wonderful wines that you would miss out on.
Natural corks are made from the bark of cork trees grown in Spain and Portugal and sometimes contain a chemical compound called TCA (trichloranisole). TCA can interact with wine and cause taint. If this happens, we say the wine is “corked.” The aroma is similar to smelly cardboard, which is not a good smell coming from a wine bottle. It is estimated that 7 percent of natural corks have developed taint, which his why many winemakers are turning to alternative closure methods.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are now made exclusively with screw tops and many of their Pinot Noirs are screw tops as well. New Zealand is making some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world right now. We had several gold medal winners during the 2008 Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition.
All of Australia’s white wines and many of its red wines are made with screw tops as well. Here in California there are many wonderful wineries that are using the screw top and alternative closures, such as the Zork, and plastic corks. Bonny Doon Winery promoted the death of the cork with a whole series of new bottle designs. Now many winemakers have developed new bottle designs that include the closures.
Among the Gold Medal Wines in the 2008 wine competition about 20 percent were alternative closures. I love the romance of opening a bottle of wine and saving the cork. During the gold medal tasting at the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Marketplace, if a person loved the wine we would give them the cork as a souvenir. It often contains the winery website or fun info and it’s a way to remember the wine.
So put aside your prejudices. If someone gives you a bottle of wine with a screw top give them a nice hug and drink up.
The 2008 L.A. County Fair Gold Medal Tasting Bar offered more 300 gold medal winning wines. All types of varietals, from bone dry to very sweet and from very affordable to very expensive joined the line-up. These wines were selected from 3,523 wine entries judged by 75 international wine judges during the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition.
It’s a wonderful opportunity to work the Gold Medal Tasting Bars during the Fair because we offer several wines that people usually do not have the opportunity to taste such as international wines or varietals that are new to them. We also serve a wide variety of guests from novice to very experienced wine drinkers (note: only 12% of wine drinkers
consider themselves knowledgeable, according to one source). It’s fun to discover new wines and share your passion and love of wine and wine experiences with other people. We also learn from our Fairguests and there is a “buzz” about which wine is the best. This year we served more than 50,000 tastes. Listed below are Fairguests’ favorites – we couldn’t keep these wines in stock.
1. Borgo Maragliano, Sparkling Wines, Moscato D’Asti, La Caliera DOCG 2007
Gentle effervescence, fragrant and lightly sweet, almost like candy, long finish, nicely balanced. Everyone loved this wine from Piedmont, Italy. unpopazzo.com
2. Cantina St. Paul’s, Pinot Bianco, Exclusiv Plotzner, Alto Adige DOC, 2007
Exhibits characteristics of apples and honey with strong minerality. It’s a lovely wine with lingering flavors, a nice surprise from the very beautiful Alto Adige in North Italy.
3. San Simeon, Chardonnay, Monterey, 2005
Nicely balanced with hints of citrus, green apple, pear, and vanilla and oak on the finish.
4. Frank Family Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2004
Very elegant, juicy blackberries, dried black cherries, toasted caramel and choclate on the finish. frankfamilyvineyards.com
5. Summerland Winery, Pinot Noir, Monterey County, 2006
Lighter style Pinot Noir, silky texture with fresh Bing cherries and vanilla and spice on the finish.
6. Clos du Bois, Merlot, Reserve, Alexander Valley, 2005
Aromas of violets with flavors of black cherries and plums and a lingering chocolate finish.
There are blogs and newsletters aplenty about food and wine pairings and what wine goes with a holiday turkey, etc. Fairplex has its own wine e-newsletter called Uncorked, the official e-newsletter of the Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits Competition. It’s filled with ideas about wine and recipes, design tips and award-winners from each year’s Los Angeles International Wine & Spirits and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competitions held in May and June.
But what putting wine in the dishes you prepare? Chefs agree that a judicious application of your favorite wine can deepen the flavor of a dish, adding a dimension that’s sometimes subtle and sometimes intense.
First, forget “cooking wine.” That was in your grandmother’s day. The rule is to only put into food a wine that you would enjoy drinking. Depending on the sophistication of your palate, this actually gives you quite a lot of wiggle room. Most recipes that incorporate wine into the ingredients list use only a cup or so, so you’ll want to be sure the remainder of the bottle is suitable for sipping. . . maybe while you’re cooking.
Things to remember: Wine, by nature, is a complex blend of flavors that come from the type of grape, where it was grown and how the vintner made it into wine. You don’t have to understand the implications of each of those components to choose a suitable wine for your recipe, however. If you want to be creative, you can study up on a wine’s particulars so that you can choose a wine that compliments the flavors in the dish you’re cooking. To a greater or lesser extent depending on when the wine is added and at what temperature, the alcohol in wine tends to evaporate during cooking. If it’s a concern to you, you should know that in most cases, some alcohol remains in the dish. What’s more important is that as the alcohol cooks off, the flavors of the wine become more intense. For a very good primer on cooking with wine, go to The Global Gourmet and look for The Nuances of Cooking with Wine by Dr. Joe LaVilla.
The traditional favorite wine-infused dish is Coq au Vin, which originally called for a rooster (coq is rooster
in French), according to Chef Jeff here at Fairplex. The wine was added as flavor and to tenderize the rooster. The rooster has been replaced by your standard grocery store chicken now, but the dish is still a favorite among chefs and gourmands who appreciate its flavor complexities. Note: This recipe completely debunks the theory that you only need a cup or so of wine. Coq au vin frequently calls for a bottle or two.
Here’s a 5-star (out of five) brisket recipe that uses a modest amount of wine and a lot of garlic from Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, a writer and food service industry professional, who says: “Don’t be afraid of the garlic. This may well be the best brisket you’ve ever tasted. Roasted whole garlic cloves have a delicious mild nutty taste with just a hint of garlic flavor. This brisket is moist and tender.”
Beef Brisket with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Don’t be afraid of the garlic. This may well be the best brisket you’ve ever tasted. Roasted whole garlic cloves have a delicious mild nutty taste with just a hint of garlic flavor. This brisket is moist and tender.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 (5 to 6 pounds) beef brisket, rinsed and patted dry
• Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
• 40 large cloves garlic, peeled (about 3 to 4 heads of garlic – see Notes)
• 1 large sweet onion, sliced and separated into rings
• 1/4 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
• 2 to 3 cups beef or chicken broth
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed
• 1 teaspoon dried basil
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Season brisket liberally on both sides with kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy, deep-sided, oven-proof skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to coat the bottom. Sear both sides of brisket, beginning with fat-side down, until golden brown. Remove to a platter.
Add garlic cloves and sweet onion rings to the remaining oil in the pan. Cook and stir until garlic begins to turn golden and sweet onions are limp.
Add red wine or balsamic vinegar and deglaze the pan, stirring for 1 minute while scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add beef or chicken broth, oregano, and basil. Bring back to a simmer, then turn off heat. Move garlic and onions to the side and return brisket to the Dutch oven or skillet. Spoon garlic and onions over the top of the brisket, cover tightly, and place in the oven.
Bake for 1 hour at 325 F. Reduce heat to 300 and bake an additional 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until brisket is fork-tender. Remove brisket to a platter and cover to keep warm. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Remove half of of garlic cloves and most of onions to a bowl. Skim off excess oil from the pan gravy and discard. Blend pan gravy and garlic until smooth. You can add a flour or cornstarch slurry to thicken gravy, if you wish. Return reserved whole garlic cloves and onions to the gravy.
Slice brisket diagonally across the grain. Serve with pan gravy.
Notes: Peeling such a large amount of garlic can be time-consuming. You can cut preparation time by using a garlic peeler tube. If you don’t mind paying for convenience, some markets sell peeled garlic in sealed containers in the produce section. Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Ok. It’s blasphemous, but some people don’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Some people don’t eat meat at all and in a misguided effort to mimic the real thing, they prepare something called “tofurkey.” As its name suggests, tofurkey is a combination of tofu (soybean curd) and wheat gluten (a somewhat sodden mass you get when you wash wheat dough to remove the starch), also lovingly known as wheat meat.
Because every wine blog in the universe will suggest Thanksgiving wine pairings and we want to be fair to our non-carnivore friends, we decided to investigate what wine would compliment a tofurkey Thanksgiving dinner.
Mary Ellen Cole, Fairplex’s Wine Department Cellar Master, was frankly aghast at the thought of pairing any good wine with tofurkey, but she gamely suggests that a Riesling or Pinot Noir – a lot of it – might work.
Jason Hill, store manager and beer and wine buyer at Bloomingfoods Market and Deli in Indiana, suggests “Baronne Fini Pinot Grigio, crisp to the point of being ‘zippy.’ If you need a white to go with your Tofurkey feast, this is it.”
The Seattle wine blogger thinks you should try Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, or a light red such as Pinot Noir or Beaujolais Nouveau.
In the Wine Review Online, the blogger’s daughter-in-law, Kristin, likes to include tofurkey in the traditional Thanksgiving line-up from time to time. According to WRO, “Kristin recommends ‘a nice Oregon Pinot Noir or any wine you would serve with a turkey dinner.’”
If you want to try making your own homemade tofurkey, here’s a recipe from our friends at VeganFitness.net
Traditional Tasting Tofurkey
5 blocks firm/extra firm organic tofu
2 teaspoon vegan poultry seasoning (or more to taste)
1/4-1/2 cup fresh chopped herbs (I use savory, rosemary, sage and basil – but any herbs will work.)
1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable stock powder (or vegetarian chicken flavor if you can find it)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 – 1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (same as you used in tofu)
1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder dissolved in a couple tablespoons of hot water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of mustard (Dijon or seed works best)
add a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes if you like (I always do)
1. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together (or blend in the blender if you prefer)
2. Taste it.
3. Adjust the spices if you feel the need.
1. Blend tofu in blender or food processor until lumps are gone. You can mash by hand, but I prefer to blend it for a better consistency.
2. Transfer to a large bowl, stir in herbs, poultry seasoning, stock powder and salt and pepper.
3. Line a medium, round bottomed colander with one layer of cheese cloth or a clean dish towel. Put the tofu mixture in colander and fold remaining cheese cloth over the top. Place the colander on a plate (to catch excess water being squeezed out) and put a heavy weight on top. Put in the fridge and press for approximately 2-3 hours or overnight if possible.
4. After pressing and with the tofu still in the colander, scoop out the center, leaving about an inch of tofu around the edges. Place your stuffing in the cavity. Put the tofu mixture you scooped out over the stuffing and press down firmly.
5. Flip the formed “turkey” on to an oiled cookie sheet. Use the excess tofu to form the legs and wings if you want a “turkey” look. Brush the whole turkey with the marinade.
6. Cook at 350° for about 1.5 hours brushing with marinade every 15 min or whenever you remember to.
The tofurkey can cook for as long as you need it to. Once, I let mine cook all day, basting it about every half hour or so and it turned out great. I usually put it in the oven as I’m starting the rest of the meal. By the time the potatoes and all the veggies are done, the turkey is ready to go.
Serves: 6 or so
Preparation time: 30 minutes?
Again, risking blasphemy, why not bring any wine you like to the Tofurkey or Turkey feast? With the diverse range of flavors and textures in the typical American Thanksgiving dinner, i.e. white and dark meat, gravy, acidic cranberry sauce, rich-tasting sweet potatoes, stuffing (with every conceivable ingredient from chestnuts to oysters), whatever wine you choose is sure to compliment one of them. Alternatively, just bring lots of any kind of wine so you won’t notice that you’re eating soybean curd patted into the shape of a turkey. Yum.
My tofurkey has a first name
My tofurkey has a second name
Oh, I tried to eat it up one day
And if you ask me why, I’ll saaaaay…
‘Cause Sucky Yucky Tofurkey was in
my Lunch From Hell that day!