Wednesday, February 28, 2007

the joy of cooking: chicken piccata

Tonight Sara and I had the 2002 Red Diamond Shiraz. Since I have previously reviewed the 2001, and this isn't significantly different (I think the '01 was slightly richer), I'm going to talk about food instead.

Sara was still doing work when I got home, so cooking dinner fell to me. A quick inventory revealed my only options were really Matzo Ball Soup and something chicken-based. So I pulled out our trusty copy of The Joy of Cooking and flipped to the poultry section. The first entry under sauteed boneless, skinless chicken sounded good: Chicken Piccata. It's a pretty straight-forward recipe, but I had never made it. Further inventory investigations revealed I had no capers, no lemon and my shallot had gone bad. So I had to make a grocery store trip. I also got some salami and mozzarella cheese, so if I screwed the pooch on the chicken I could still make pizza. :)

I must say, in the end it turned out pretty damn good. Here is what I learned:
  • The Joy recipe said it would make 3-4 chicken breasts, but it was really only enough for three. Luckily I only had three.
  • When they say saute four minutes on each side, they mean it. I flipped one early out of paranoia, but I was wrong. And I made lots of cuts to see how the inside was doing. However, four minutes on each side was exactly right.
  • Three tablespoons of lemon is enough. Don't put four.
  • Use this truffle salt instead of regular sea salt. It's awesome.
  • Use the minimum amounts of better in the ranges they suggest.

It wasn't the best wine pairing, but it was cheap!

Monday, February 26, 2007

2001 Castello Sonnino SanLeone

Sunday once again found me singing the praises of Tuscany. Vinny had us over for dinner and, since he has been known, on occasion, to cook in the Italian style, I decided I had best bring an Italian wine. After many minutes in the cellar, I decided to try the 2001 Castello Sonnino SanLeone, another Super Tuscan.

The blend on this wine was a bit unexpected: Merlot, Sangiovese and Petite Verdot. As a result the wine was darker-purple in color than most Sangiovese based wines. The wine was very rich, with licorice and minerals very apparent, in that order. I would comment on how it went with the food, but we finished it long before the meal was served. This wine was $28 and Parker gave it 91pts. Apparently the Sonnino family has a long history of inconsistent wine making, but they have renewed drive and a new winemaker and have begun producing consistently good wines.

This is a very unique wine, at least in my experience and I think I'll be looking for more of it soon.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

2004 Gaja Ca'Marcanda Promis

Sangiovese blended with Merlot and Syrah by winemakers who truly know what they're doing makes this wine a Super Tuscan in both the literal and classification senses. This wine, the 2004 Gaja Ca'Marcanda Promis is pretty much everything I look for in an Italian wine. Fruit and spice in the nose, fruit and leather in the taste and smooth on the back end. You can really taste the unmistakable elegance of the sangiovese. I picked this bottle up from Nabil's shop for $35. I know, it's a bit on the pricey end, but this wine is worth every penny for those who are willing to pay for quality Italian reds. All of the tastiness and none of the disappointment that seems to so often accompany Brunellos.

We drank this with pasta in a garlic-cream-tomato sauce (with lots of garlic; I've got Sara tuned to my garlic-needs) and it was a great match-up. I would think almost any pasta will compliment this wine. It was a bit young-tasting and really opened up after the first hour, so I'd recommend buying a case and letting them age over the next five years, tasting them at intervals to track their progress.

Friday, February 16, 2007

2004 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon

I love it when my wine club wines are awesome.

Justin is the only winery of which I am currently a club member. That's not because I think they are the only one worth joining... it's just that I can only afford so much wine. The first time I had the Iscosceles I fell in love. It was teh awesome.

The other night Sara and I decided to open one of the 2004 Justin Cabernet Sauvignon bottles that came in the last shipment. I am happy to report that it was everything I've come to expect from this producer. The wine was a wonderful dark purple, the kind you can't see through when you hold it up to the light. There was fruit--cherry, blackberry--on the front and lots of oak in the back. It really made my night.

We drank the wine with Vegetable soup. Which seems like an odd pairing, but the soup had chunks of steak in it. I guess, maybe, technically, it wasn't what a purist would define as Vegetable soup. Anyway, it was a pretty decent pairing.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

2005 Columbia Winery Cellar Master's Riesling

Got this for a guest. It was around $10. It's pure sweet, cheap crap.

2004 Domaine de Piaugier Sablet

Lucas and Jen came over for dinner last Sunday. Sara made a crab and ricotta stuffed manicotti (which was excellent). Tradition would dictate that I should open a white wine of some sort, but I just didn't have any. That's not true, I have some, but I didn't want to open them. So I decided to pull a southern Rhone wine out of the cellar.

The 2004 Domaine de Piaugier Sablet (appellation Cotes de Rhone Villages) was perfectly suited for the task. I picked it up for $10 a bottle. The wine was a wonderful drinker; well-suited to accompany the crab. Lots of blackberry in the front and just a hint of pepper in the finish. The wine is aged in concrete casks, so there's no oak to it. Incredibly smooth for a wine at any price point, but especially this one. I'm a convert. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up some more.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

french wines

I have two french wines I need to review, a CDP and a Rhone wine. I'll be posting those as soon as I get some free time. In the mean time, Nabil is tasting some interesting looking french wines this friday at Seattle Wine Co. If you get a chance, you should head over and check them out. I'll be there when I can get free of work.

Nabil says:
"Friday, February 9th, 4pm - 630pm - FRENCH WINE TASTING - Unbelievable French wines, come taste the 2004 Janasse Cuvee Chaupin Chateauneuf du Pape, 2005 Janasse Vin de Pays Principaute d'Orange "CDP", 2003 Calvet-Thunevin Les Dentelles, 2003 Calvet-Thunevin Hugo and the 2004 Calvet-Thunevin Cuvee Constance. These wines are amazing and you will fall madly in love with them. "

Thursday, February 1, 2007

screw tops

Yesterday The Washington Post posted an article on screw tops. In summary it says that people think screw tops are for cheap wine because only cheap wines have screw tops; expensive wines are going to have screw tops because less wine will go bad due to cork issues; it's hard to change peoples minds once they associate cheap with something.

Most of this is obvious. Personally, I like the whole process of removing a cork. I don't mind buying wines with screw tops. What I hate is bringing a wine with a screw top to a resturaunt and then paying a corkage fee. I paid $20 for you to twist off the cap? Down with corkage fees.

There's also a bit about an expensive NZ Merlot going "pop." I'm not sure what that's all about. Maybe I just haven't been drinking enough expensive NZ wines, but I generally associate corks going "pop" with bubbly wine.