I cannot count how many times I have heard this. For me, this statement opens up an opportunity for some good conversation.
I start asking questions;
What has been your experience with this wine?
Do you remember what regions that wine came from?
Did you have Chardonnay’s from Napa Valley or Sonoma California, Willamette, Oregon, Burgundy, France or Casablanca, Chile?
What don’t you like about Chardonnay?
Many responses are: They are over-oaked or it tastes too much taste like a “Butter Bomb”. Chardonnay is the third most planted grape in the world and its beginning go back to Burgundy, France and there are different ideas from each vintner was the final result should be.
One example I like to speak of is Russian River Chardonnays from Sonoma, California. Many of my clients love Russian River Chardonnay, but they know the microclimates (a very small restricted area; in comparison just think of smaller neighborhoods within a city) can give different bouquets and flavors.
Russian River has distinctive neighborhoods that offer different types of profiles depending on the terroir (terroir, pronounced “ter-wahr”, is a French term that expresses the combination of soil, weather conditions and style of winegrowing and winemaking). I know you are taking mental notes. There is a test at the end J.
Middle Reach creates wines with texture, lush and rich.
Laguna Ridge/The Golden Triangle has soft round wines with complexity.
Sebastopol Hills wine typically produce wines that are lean and high in acidity.
Green Valley which is a recognized sub American Viticultural Area of Russian River is noted for its fog which creates extended ripening period for lean and firm wines.
Santa Rosa Plains develop soft and fruit forward wines.
The greater the proper knowledge, the easier it is to make to educated decision. So now my educated clientele will say I like Chardonnay that is soft and fruit forward. Do you carry wine from Santa Rosa Plains?
An example of a great Chardonnay is offered to us from the Benovia Winery located in Santa Rosa. For the family of this winery, creating great wine is a life’s work.
Winemaker and co-owner Mike Sullivan grew up in the wonderful area of Sonoma Mountain tending the family vines. He has an enology degree from Fresno State. This means he knows wine grapes.
Proprietors Mary Dewane and Joe Anderson were both raised on hard work by their Fathers, Ben Dewane and Novian Anderson; thus, the name Benovia. They would say “Be the best at what you do. Surround yourself with good people, and let them get to work. Never, ever produce anything that wouldn’t make you proud.”
The grapes of this Chardonnay are sourced principally from the Martaella Estate Vineyard which develops incredible and alluring wines with notes of orange blossom and nectarine.
The grapes of this wine are harvested at night and then hand sorted before whole-cluster pressing. Oak aging adds hints of toasted almond and spice cake with a soft mineral finish. This wine is a classic and limited production.
Now, remember class, if someone says they love Russian River Chardonnay, you should reply, from what neighborhood?
I want to thank the professional team of Benovia for the great pictures and creating such a wonderful wine.
Did you know that Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day in 1966? Later, President Richard Nixon signed into law in 1972. For me, every year spending this day with my Dad has been very special.
Golf, Golf, Golf is the rallying cry for the day. I always picked out a Father’s Day card that had a funny golfing theme like Bob Hopes classic line “If you watch a game, its fun. I you play at it, its recreation. If you work at it, it’s golf” or what about Gary Player’s famous saying, “Golf is a puzzle without an answer. I’ve played the game for 50 years and I still haven’t the slightest idea of how to play”. After the presentation of the card, the ultimate Father’s Day gift. Three golf balls, all new ones!
Then Mom’s breakfast; two eggs any way she wants to make them, a slab of bacon, well done rye toast and Dad’s favorite, Mom’s home fries. Mom could never quite cut the potatoes evenly, so when she served them the textures of each slice was a little different, from well done to well, shall I say not quite done. It always amazed me how she could be so detailed about those gnocchi’s, but the home fries not so much. Oh, those were the days!
Dad and I played a lot of public golf courses.
It seems like yesterday he would tell me the day before, “ Now remember we have 6:52 starting time”. I would think to myself, is the sun up, yet. When we played, every shot was analyzed and critiqued with compliments along the way for making that 20 foot put that took a hard break to the right. For me it was a time where my Dad and I could “right the world’s wrongs” and while playing the same hole, discuss why I got a “C” in math.
After, a great round of golf we would settle in front of the T.V. and watch The U.S Open and Mom would make Dad’s favorite sandwich; ham and cheese with lettuce, tomato with plenty of Hellmann’s mayonnaise. A barrel dill pickle on the side and never forget a tin full of Charlies Chips. Dad grew up with his Mother’s (my Nana) homemade apple pie. So it was always fitting that we finished with my Mom’s Pie, topped with plenty of whipped cream. I hope you’re getting this story. Mom was very busy on our special day.
This month is not about food and wine pairings, my wine choices, or my travels. This month is about one very special person in my life. Thanks Dad for being the best Father a son could ever have. I miss you very much.
This article is for all the great fathers who set the bar for their sons and daughters, period!
Tell everyone my Mother made the best homemade Gnocchi’s.
I remember on those special Sunday mornings as a child leaving my bedroom after a great night’s sleep entering into the kitchen and seeing the table full of flour, eggs and the potatoes boiling on the stove. It was fun watching my Mother working diligently rolling out the dough like little snakes then cutting them into ¾ inch pieces. She said ½ inch pieces were to small and 1 inch were too large. I asked her once why the Gnocchi’s would disappear quickly in my mouth. She said one of her secrets was to whip the eggs first before kneading them into the potatoes and flour.Another secret I found out was Mom used different potatoes. She combined Russert’s for the starch and Yukon Gold for the nutty flavor.
She took this pretty seriously.
On the other side of the stove was Mom’s red sauce made with the canned tomatoes my Father had made her earlier in the year. Of course, the tomatoes came from our garden. I remember those days like yesterday when Dad would say to me “got nothing to do, go weed the garden”. Every time Dad got me in his sights I always tried to show him I was busy doing something.
Boy we loved Mom’s sauce. She used all fresh ingredients, tomatoes, onions, a carrot or two, garlic, oregano, parsley and OH, those meatballs.
If we didn’t grow it my parents went to the Trenton Farmers Market on Spruce Street to get it. Barbara you know exactly where it is! In those days we did even know how good we were eating. There were no words used in my house as organic or sustainable because everything we ate was clean and fresh. Just for the record, I drank water from the garden hose.
Cyndie promised me she would try to make Mom’s Gnocchi’s for Mother’s Day. I am sure they will come out great.
I am going to pair this traditional dish with a wonderful Podere Brizio Brunello Di Montalcino 2012. This higher rated wine hits all the positive palate notes. After two weeks of natural fermentation in stainless steel the wine is transferred to untoasted French oak casks where it sits comfortably for 38 months. Minimum bottle aging is 7 months. The nose gives off a bouquet of intense ripe red fruit, black pepper and cloves. The wine is elegant yet unyielding in flavor of wild berry, red cherry, licorice and orange zest. This wine is perfectly balanced and a great pairing with Mom’s Dish.
Mom, thanks for all those great memories. We truly miss you!
A special cheer; to all the great Mothers who bring us so much joy in our lives.
Happy Mother’s day,
Today there are over 500 wineries in Napa alone that encompasses 45,000 acres and of that 18,200 acres dedicated to Cabernet Sauvignon.
That is why I am always suggesting to my readers to take a chance and explore all that the world of wine has to offer.
Hunting for fine wine is great fun and when I find a wine like the Macauley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, I get really excited. It is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, and 6% Petite Merlot and has aged 21 months in French Oak. Introducing wines such as these to my friends is an experience. The expression after a sip of great wine from one of my crystal glasses gives me pure pleasure.
This wine is sexy, exciting with complex dark berry flavors. Deep purple in color, the sweet incense leaves the glass to fill the senses. The wine has plenty of crème de cassis that is followed by licorice and mocha.
This wine does not need a supporting cast of food. It is a show unto itself.
However, I am going on the extreme side and creating a sauce for my Prime steak that is perfect for this wine. My ingredients are cherry preserves, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, fresh tomato sauce, and the best malt vinegar I can find; all equal proportions. Mix all the ingredients, place in a small pan and slowly watch it reduce until the sauce comes together. For the support side dishes I am roasting a tomato covered with Parmigiano-Reggiano and some delicate sautéed asparagus.
Of course, my favorite baker is going to create individual servings of Grand Marnier cake dipped in my favorite Lake Champlain 57% Dark Chocolate.
Speaking of exciting all the senses, this cake has an explosion of flavors with the Grand Marnier, vanilla, orange peel and dark chocolate.
Cyndie, can you make some homemade whipped cream too? PLEASE!
Some people would suggest, just a French way to say peppered steak.
Not exactly, Steak au Poivre is unique with the preparation of the classic Cognac sauce. We can find many versions of this recipe online but as far as I am concerned nothing fits the recipe better than a Prime New York Strip. The marbling in the steak makes it tasty, juicy and most of all tender. Crush the whole black peppercorns and press into the steak on both sides. Then melt butter and olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Watch to see the butter and oil turn golden brown then lay the steak away from you in the skillet. The searing will lock in the juices. I like this steak done rare. Remove the steak and set aside to rest. Take the hot pan off the heat and add some Cognac and red wine, then add a little cream. Stir until completely blended. It’s easy; just make enough to coat the steak. This is a rich sauce and should not be treated as ordinary gravy. I have a variation here of the classic recipe. I do not light the Cognac in the pan to burn off the alcohol. After all, it’s Cognac! And I like my kitchen. As you might expect I can be particular with my dinners, so I always ask for the sauce on the side. This way I can decide how much sauce I want with every slice of steak.
I chose this recipe after I recently shared a great bottle of wine with my wife Cyndie on our back porch. While enjoying The Lail Vineyards “Blueprint” Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Cyndie asked me what I might suggest as a food pairing? The first thing that came to my mind was Steak au Poivre. This wine is outstanding and deserves all the acclaim it is awarded. It is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot. As the winemaker notes “it is refined, seductive and muscular”. It is called “Blueprint” in recognition of the owners highly regarded architectural achievements and is an expression of dark fruits with blackberry, blueberry, a balance of dark chocolate, spice and caramel.
One flavor profile does not dominate over the other but there is an explosion on the palate. The wine is ready to enjoy today but can be cellared to mellow and will even be better.
Happy January 2018!
Pork Chops with Pinot Noir
When I think pork chops I inevitably think Pinot Noir. I ask my clients to remember “P” & “P”, Pork and Pinot. This wine is delicate and pairs with cuts of lean meat.
When pork chops are at our dining table I am always looking for the side of apple sauce. Again, the acidity of the apple sauce goes well with the lean pork. So, why not put them all together and enjoy a pleasure party on your palate.
Sautéed Pork Chops, Caramelized Apples with Walnuts created in a seasoned cast iron skillet.
First, heat up a large skillet and brush center cut pork chops with olive oil then place them in the pan. When cooked on both sides place chops in a low heat oven to keep warm.
In a small bowl combine brown sugar, a little salt and pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add unsalted butter to the pan and stir in the brown sugar mixture and diced apples. When the apples are tender remove from the pan and place on the chops. Continue to cook the remaining sauce until reduced. After plating, spoon sauce over apples and chops then top with crushed walnuts.
I paired this dish with The Siduri Parsons’ Vineyard Russian River 2015 Pinot Noir. The wine has big red and black fruit with a bouquet of flowers. It is impressive with hints of earth and herb on the palate. The complexity strikes every sense with a welcoming spice finish and will age gracefully for the next several years. If you have a love for Pinot Noir then Siduri has to be on your list. They have many choices of wines that span from Oregon to California, each with their own personality.
To complete our dinner Cyndie made her wonderful Pumpkin Pie with fresh whipped cream. I don’t mind saying she has spoiled me with her great baking. Sometimes I go right for the dessert, first.
Wishing everyone a great autumn season,
Rich in history the Rancho Carne Humana, located in northern Napa Valley was over a 17,000 acre Mexican land grant given by Governor Juan Alvarado to Dr. Edward Turner Bale in 1841. The area stretched from what is known today as Rutherford, Calistoga and St. Helena. Dr. Bale’s daughter Caroline Bales as part of her dowry received 540 acres of land from her father. Married to Charles Krug they later planted grapes. Today, we know Charles Krug as a pioneer in winemaking.
Celebrating this region is a wonderful wine Carne Humana created by winemaker Joseph Wagner. His family founded Caymus Vineyards.
I had the pleasure of drinking this wine a few months ago and found it to have a bouquet of blackberry, dark chocolate and black Licorice. Dark fruit follows through on the palate with, cranberry, licorice and sweet oak on the finish. This majority of the wine is a blend of Petit Sirah, Zinfandel, Petit Verdot and Syrah. The grapes are co-fermented and barrel-aged as a single blend. This crucial step allows the grapes to integrate with each other to make a well balanced experience. One flavor does not dominate over the other. The depth of wine is noticeable with a long finish. Many other wines ferment the grapes separately then blend.
A wine of this stature should never go unnoticed so I paired it with a coffee cured filet mignon, loaded baked potato and fresh asparagus.
The filet recipe is not as difficult as you might think. Mix
Place filets in hot cast iron skillet or grill and sear on all sides; then place in 350 degree oven for desired temperature.
Still drinking the Carne Humana we finished with a creamy White Chocolate Cheesecake loaded with sweet cherries.
As somebody once said to me “This is the life”!
Sometimes there is no single explanation for the greatness of a wine. It is a combination of many smaller things that make the complete picture. I think this is true of Cakebread Cellars. Founded in 1973 by Jack and Delores Cakebread this winery produces some of the best in the Napa Valley. One thing for sure, it makes a great team to make an exceptional wine and Cakebread certainly has that. The love for producing their wines is present in every glass.
Since 2008 it has held the distinction of being a “Napa Green Certified Winery” and practices sustainable farming. I still remember years ago, my Wife’s first sip of The Cakebread Chardonnay. I knew by the satisfied gaze on her face that she was going to be a Cakebread fan forever. If I ask her what wine she prefers for the evening inevitably Cakebread is always on her list. We recently enjoyed a bottle of the 2014 Napa Valley Chardonnay with a Lobster Risotto, Butternut Squash, Lemon and Mascarpone recipe, created by Cakebread’s Culinary Director Brian Streeter. As you know by now, I like to tinker in the kitchen and this dish is pure genius. You can find the recipe on Cakebread’s website (Cakebread.com). Sharing each forkful of this meal with a sip of the Cakebread Napa Valley 2014 Chardonnay is an experience. The wine lives up to expectations with a bouquet of golden apple, Asian pear, ripe honeydew melon and a hint of sweet coconut. The palate is explosive with rich tropical fruits and a long finish. Cakebread has a complete inventory of wines to enjoy with any meal.
If you love wine like we do then this winery will be one of your favorites and as for Cakebread, thanks for giving us the opportunity to enjoy your great wines.
Lunch, a great time of the day to get together and discuss the successes of the morning and entertaining the experience we expect for the afternoon while having a great meal; a time to relax and converse about the events of the day.
In our area we are so lucky to have the choice of some fabulous restaurants. From deli sandwiches to fine steaks, we can dine with great ocean views, or simply enjoy a casual sidewalk cafe.
In my life, I have some of my most memorable experiences at this time of day. Just recently Cyndie and I had the urge to enjoy a relaxing Sunday. Lately, we have been busy with the everyday responsibilities of life and I think we both decided to enjoy each other’s company for lunch. We sat down at a window table in the restaurant and ordered one of our favorite cocktails, a Grey Goose L’Orange Vodka with a splash of cranberry topped with a hint of club soda. We like this particular vodka because it has a delicate balance of sweet oranges and a soft herbal bouquet. Overall, the vodka is clean with a zesty spiced feeling on the palate. I guess we can say this is our drink. Our pleasant waitress seemed to bring to us the cocktails in a flash. Cyndie and I know each other so well that our thoughts seem to resonate together so I just ordered a Caesar Salad and a Tuna Salad sandwich with lettuce, tomato and crispy French Fries.
I explained to our lovely server that we would like to split the lunch between the two of us. She returned with a beautiful salad that was offered in two smaller chilled plates. The leaves were crisp, the dressing divine. Next came out our tuna, again with two plates, each with a large half of a sandwich and a helping of crispy French Fries. We were excited and enjoyed every last bite. It was nice, Cyndie and I taking one hour just for us. I guess the moral of the story is, with the jam packed responsibility of our lives it is good to take the time at lunch to appreciate how lucky we really are.
The next time someone says to you “let’s do lunch” I hope your experience is as wonderful as mine, with my Cyndie.
3832 S.E. Dixie Highway
Stuart, Florida 34997
“The Sudnick Wine Press is my go-to shop for wine. Glenn and Cyndie take my stated preferences and match them to the distinctive wines they have found from across the globe. Their wine tasting events are informative, even for a wine aficionado like me. Arnie”