French Wine Cruise – Paris to Vernon

Escargot! Bon Appetit!

Escargot! Bon Appetit!

Bonjour to our WineStyles family!

After a fabulous day and a half of eating, drinking, and sightseeing our way through the romantic city of Paris, we were warmly welcomed aboard the river cruise ship AMALegro.

The Louvre at Night

The Louvre at Night

We checked in to our beautifully appointed stateroom, and, after meeting Captain Franck and his crew, dined with new friends, enjoying a 6-course welcome dinner including a salmon and crayfish appetizer, Normandy mussel soup, grilled fillet of butterfish and prawn with Pernod sauce and saffron risotto, and, of course, a glass or two of Beaujolais!

Shimmering Eiffel Tower

Shimmering Eiffel Tower

After dinner, the ship set sail on the Seine, pausing at the Eiffel Tower for us to watch a delightful light show, as thousands of bulbs affixed to the tower lit up the nighttime sky over Paris in synchronized splendor.

Seine River at Night

Seine River at Night

Despite a chill in the upper deck air, our hosts kept us warm with “vin chaud” (hot wine), roasted chestnuts, and their gracious hospitality.

Bartender Plamen with French Varietals

Bartender Plamen with French Varietals

We ended the evening with a glass of Prosecco at the piano lounge, where we got to know the most important person on the ship besides the captain, our Bulgarian bartender Plamen!

On Friday morning we found ourselves well into Normandy Provence, marveling at the precision with which our floating hotel was navigated through the narrow locks system on the Seine.

La Roche Guyon - Romme's HQ

La Roche Guyon – Romme’s HQ

On river right, before arriving at Vernon, we viewed La Roche Guyot, complete with castle ruins and the stately residence which at one time served as the German General Rommel’s headquarters during the Nazi occupation of France.

Barry Wiss of Trinchero Family Estates

Barry Wiss of Trinchero Family Estates

After a briefing from our Cruise Director John on the many exciting excursions planned for our journey on the Seine, we were treated to our first educational wine presentation from Barry Wiss, Vice President of Trade Relations for Trinchero Family Estates in Napa Valley, California.

Fruit & Cheese from the Galley

Fruit & Cheese from the Galley

His opening topic addressed the important role aroma plays in the enjoyment of wine, and how to most effectively sniff and swirl in order to identify primary, secondary, and tertiary aromas.

We got to practice on two very nice Napa selections, Gott un-oaked Chardonnay and Sea Glass Pinot Noir.

Riverbank Chateau

Riverbank Chateau

Presently, we are off to visit Chateau Bizy in the riverfront village of Vernon, our first port of call.

Griffin at St. Michael's SquareBe sure to check in with us tomorrow on the WineStyles blog, where you can hear it through our grapevine!

 Cheers,
Tiffany & Micheal Reynolds
WineStyles Greensboro, NC

Winter Brews

BobBrewmasterInterview with Bob the Brewmaster

Our own craft beer enthusiast, Bob the Brew Master, has been keeping busy scooping out the latest in the world of craft beer. Today, he shares with us the latest trends and pairing ideas for the big games and the holidays.

What are the latest brew trends we’re seeing this winter?

Winter brings out the higher alcohol beers that are typically darker and often spiced. Although with the popularity of IPA’s I’m looking forward to some aggressively hopped double IPA’s this winter.   This Saturday, November 8th is International Stout Day — another beer style to consider this season.  While stout beers appear dark, most are creamy and rich, sometimes even sweet. If you’re traveling this holiday season, I highly recommend tasting some regional stouts when you are in town.   Whether you pick up a local brew at the nearest WineStyles or local brewery, it’s all about “taste, learn and enjoy”.    I recently had the opportunity of enjoying a St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout in Montreal, a rich brew punctuated by espresso and chocolate notes, topped with a thick, creamy head with just a hint of mocha.

What beers would you recommend to enjoy with big games?

There are some great seasonal beers available now, like Goose Island Mild Winter, Bells Winter White Ale, Sam Adams Fat Jack and Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. These are great selections on game day.

rogueturkeyAny recommendations for which craft beers to pair with a Thanksgiving feast?

Malty beers tend to go well with turkey & stuffing things like Stone Brewery Levitation Ale, Flying Dog Old Scratch or Oskar Blues Old Chub and for dessert Southern Tier Choklat Stout.

Any recommendations on what beers would make a great gift for beer connoisseurs?

Seasonal Holiday beers always make a great gift basket or stocking stuffer like Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve.

 Why do you think the beer club is a great idea?

Having a beer expert suggest fantastic new craft beers for me to enjoy every month – what’s better than that?

Want to learn more about craft beer or submit a question to Bob? Send your questions to info@winestyles.net to be considered for the next posting. Cheers to your holiday celebrations!

Giving thanks for Olianas Italian wine!

Cherry Corn Bread Stuffing

Cherry-stuffing-recipeINGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. frozen sweet cherries, thawed
  • 1 lb. sweet or hot Italian sausage (or turkey sausage)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  •  6 cups crumbled day old corn bread
  •  1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:Drain cherries in a sieve and press between several layers of paper towels to remove excess moisture and coarsely chop; set aside.

Remove sausage from the casings and crumble into a medium skillet.  Cook for 10 minutes or until no longer pink; drain excess fat.

Melt butter in a large skillet.  Add the onion and celery; cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft.  Mix together the sausage, vegetables and corn bread in a large bowl with the broth and rosemary.  Season to taste with pepper and fold in the cherries.  Makes enough stuffing for a 16 lbs. turkey.

Or transfer to a buttered 13” x 9” baking dish and bake at 375 °F for 45-60 minutes or until heated through and lightly browned on top.  Makes 12 servings.

Bold_stickerOlianas_Cannonau_NVOlianas
Cannonau
Cannonau di Sardegna DOC, Italy

Olianas is the first entirely Bio-integral winery. Over the years they have developed a new concept of ethical agriculture that is based on the protection of the environment as an essential prerequisite for the future. Olianas works their soils with cart horses, to improve the vitality of the soil and allow the plants to root in the deeper layers of the soil to ensure the longevity of the plants.  A young, fresh and lively wine, ideal with appetizers and main courses.

An explosion of small berries with hints of dark chocolate and tobacco, on the palate shows silky tannins and a good concentration, well-balanced by the pleasant acidity.” - Stefano Casadei, winemaker

winemaker-StefanoWinemaker: Stefano Casadei
Appellation: Cannonau di Sardengna DOC, Italy
Varietal: Cannonau
Analysis: 14% alc/vol
Aging: Partially aged in French oak barriques of second use for 5 months.  Rest aged in stainless steel for same period.

Tuscan Roasted Chicken Breasts with Thyme and Potatoes

shutterstock_203107033INGREDIENTS:
•  4 boneless chicken breasts
•  4 twigs of thyme
•  4 twigs of rosemary
•  2 cloves of garlic
•  3 medium sized potatoes
•  5 large carrots
•  Dash of salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Rub the chicken with thyme, rosemary and garlic, then salt and pepper.

Coat a roasting pan with oil, place the largely cut potato pieces in the bottom and arrange the chicken on top of the pieces.  Place chicken in oven cooking at 375 °F for about 40 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven when it has browned and keep it warm.

Peel and slice the carrots and partially boil in salted water for 2 minutes.  Drain and add carrots to the pan, cooking them in the natural juices from the chicken.

Cut up the chicken once it has cooled a bit and serve warm with the potatoes and carrots.  Top it off with a drizzle of the chicken’s natural juices.  Serves four people.  Recipe adapted from Gallo Winery.

Bold_stickerCasadei_sardinia_2013Casadei
Sardinia Blend
Isola dei Nuraghi IGT, Italy

Made from the best selection of Bovale, Carignano and Cannonau, the most representative varietals of Sardinia, this wine of great complexity, power and elegance is the flagship of Casadei’s  estate in the middle of the Mediterranean sea.  The result is superb grapes which magnificently express their terrior.  Like an orchestra conductor, the most difficult task is to find the perfect melody, blending these “natural talents.”

Casadei-winemaker“It has very appealing and intense aromas with notes of blackberry, blueberry and chocolate. On the palate it is dry but silky and mouth-filling, with a very long and pleasant aftertaste with hints of toasted coffee beans.” – Stefano Casadei, winemaker

Winemaker: Stefano Casadei
Appellation: Isola dei Nuraghi IGT, Italy
Varietal Blend:  50% Bovale, 50% Carignano + Cannonau
Analysis: 14% alc/vol
Aging: 12 months in new French oak barrels

Roasted Pumpkin & Feta Frittata Pairing Recipe

WC_Nov_2014_Olianas

Roasted Pumpkin & Feta Frittata

pumpkin-frittataINGREDIENTS:
•  2 tablespoons vegetable oil
•  1 small onion, diced
•  6 oz. pumpkin (butternut squash), cut into 1/2 dices
•  6 medium eggs
•  1/2 cup milk
•  4 oz feta, crumbled
•  1 teaspoon dried oregano
•  1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
•  salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Heat oil in an ovenproof pan.  Add onion and pumpkin and cook for 2 minutes.  Place the pan in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.

Beat eggs and milk.  Stir in the cheese, herbs, salt & pepper.

Lift the pan from the oven and pour over the egg mixture. Cook for 4-5 minutes on stove top until eggs start to solidify.

Take the pan back to the oven to finish cooking, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing to serve warm.  Recipe courtesy of Peter Howard and Gallo winery.

Olianas_Vermentino_NV_webcrispOlianas
Vermentino
Vermentino di Sardegna DOC, Italy

It was 2000, the dawn of a new millennium and dawn of Olianas in the heart of Sarcidano, north of Caglirair, Italy.  Olianas’ bio-integral philosophy involves the utmost respect for grapevines and soils.  The use of herbicides, chemical fertilizers and synthetic products for pest management of the plant is banned. The use of tracked or rubber-tired vehicles is limited, as they involve excessive soil compaction; instead they favor the use of animals, including horses. The harvest is strictly manual, with selection of the grapes in the field. The management of soil fertility is through organic fertilization and green manures.  A straw yellow color, this Vermentino has strong aromas and orange blossom floral notes. In the mouth it is fresh, fruity and elegant.

Casadei-winemaker“Intense and clean notes of grapefruit and citrus with hints of spice and bread crust.  On the palate is refreshing and quite round with a very pleasant finish.  Perfect as aperitif and with dishes based on fish.” – Stefano Casadei, winemaker

Winemaker: Stefano Casadei
Appellation: Vermentino di Sardegna DOC, Italy
Varietal:  Vermentino
Analysis: 13% alc/vol
Aging: Partially aged in small barrels for six months, the rest refined in stainless steel for same period.

Grgich Hills Winery Spotlight Tasting Event

November Tasting Event

>> RSVP at your local WineStyles <<

Mike_cheersThe Story of Grgich Hills Estate

Miljenko “Mike” Grgich first gained international recognition at the celebrated “Paris Tasting” of 1976. Then, in a now-historic blind tasting, a panel of eminent French judges swirled, sniffed, and sipped an array of the fabled white Burgundies of France and a small sampling of upstart Chardonnays from the Napa Valley. When their scores were tallied, the French judges were shocked: they had chosen the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, crafted by Mike Grgich,  as the finest white wine in the world. Mon Dieu! The results stunned the international wine establishment and immediately earned Mike a reputation as one of the greatest winemakers in the world.

The Paris Tasting served notice to the world that the California wine industry was on the move, and it laid the groundwork for the creation of Grgich Hills Cellar. After his victory in Paris, Mike sat down with Austin Hills and his sister, Mary Lee Strebl, from the Hills Bros. Coffee family, and on Independence Day 1977, they gave birth to Grgich Hills.  With his fierce commitment to making wines of the highest quality, Mike began producing what immediately became signature wines: the exquisite, richly complex Chardonnays that win awards and delight wine lovers across America and throughout the world.

Now 91 years old and still sporting his signature blue beret, Mike was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame in 2008 in honor of his many contributions to the wine industry. While many other Napa wineries pursue strategies of expansion, Mike, along with his daughter, Violet, and his nephew, Ivo Jeramaz, prefer to stay small. Their aim, year after year, is to improve the quality of their grgich-wine-bottlevineyards and their wines, relying on Mike’s unique artistic and intuitive touch. This strategy continues to pay significant dividends.

Committed to natural winegrowing and sustainability, they farm five estate vineyards without artificial fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides, rely on wild yeast fermentation and use our passion and the art of winemaking to handcraft food-friendly, balanced and elegant wines.  In keeping with Grgich’s goal of sustainability, the winery switched to solar power in 2006. As Mike often says, “From our vineyard to your glass, naturally!”

Grgich Hills remains committed to making distinctive wines with quality, consistency and longevity.  World leaders such as Presidents Reagan and Clinton, Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand chose Grgrich wines to serve at state dinners.  More importantly,  Grgich is equally proud that every single day discriminating wine drinkers count on Grgich Hills to turn their own dinners into special occasions.

Grgich-hills-winesFEATURED GRGICH HILLS WINES AT TASTING EVENT:

Chardonnay
Fume
Zinfandel
Merlot
Cabernet

LIMITED SEATING
Contact your local WineStyles to RSVP!

 

 

Costero Bay Chardonnay

WC_Oct_2014_CosteroBay


DOVER SOLE WITH BROWNED CAPER BUTTER

INGREDIENTS:Dover-sole-recipe
•  4 Dover Sole Fillets
•  1 Cup Flour
•  2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
•  1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
• 1/2 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
•  3 Tablespoons Butter, unsalted
•  White Wine
•  1 Lemon, juiced
•  2 Tablespoons Capers
•  2 Tablespoons Parsley Leaves, chopped
• Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350° F.  Mix flour, salt and pepper in a pie pan. Lightly dredge Dover sole filets in seasoned flour. Heat olive oil in an oven proof skillet. Sauté sole 1 to 2 minutes per side. Place skillet in oven for 4 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat butter in a small pan until butter gets brown. Add lemon, capers, parsley, salt and pepper. Pour over fillets before serving.  Recipe courtesy of Costero Bay.

Costero_Bay_Chardonnay_2013Silky_StickerCostero Bay
Chardonnay
Monterey, California

Above the rugged coast of Monterey are fertile vineyards, ideal for growing premium chardonnay.  Nestled between the pacific ocean and the Santa Lucia mountains, the vineyards enjoy warm days and cool nights.  This vintage especially enjoyed a very mild, warm spring and a sun-drenched, consistent summer. This lead to one of the longest growing seasons in over a decade and allowed grapes to reach full maturity before harvest.  With a brilliant balance of acid and natural sweetness, this vintage is rich with developed fruit flavors. With a nose of ripe apricot and Asian pear leading to a creamy mid-palate, this Chardonnay has flavors of crisp pink lady apple and toasted vanilla bean pod that linger on the finish.

winemaker-Douglas“Golden Delicious apple, pineapple and apricots fill the nose.  Medium-bodied with creamy mid-palate, this  wine offers flavors  of peach and hints of toasty vanilla spice” – Douglas Danielak, winemaker

Winemaker: Douglas Danielak
Appellation: Monterey, California
Varietal Blend:  100% Chardonnay
Analysis: 13.5% alc/vol
Aging: 35% French Oak, 65% temperature controlled, insulated stainless steel tanks

Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon Pairing Recipe

WC_Oct_2014_Limited

Beef-stew-red-potatoesBEEF STEW with MUSHROOMS and RED POTATOES

INGREDIENTS:
• 3 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 pound medium-size mushrooms
• 1 pound small (1 to 1 1/2-inch) red potatoes, scrubbed
• 2 1/2 cups canned beef broth
• 18 shallots

DIRECTIONS:
Place beef in large bowl. Sprinkle with flour, thyme, allspice and generous amounts of salt and pepper; toss to coat. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add beef and sauté until brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer beef to large dish after each batch; reserve any flour in bowl. Add mushrooms and potatoes to drippings in pot. Stir 2 minutes. Return beef, any collected juices, and reserved flour mixture to pot. Add beef broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until beef is almost tender, about 45  minutes.

Drop shallots into pot of boiling water; cook 1 minute. Drain and peel shallots. Add to stew and simmer, uncovered, until beef and vegetables are tender and sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Recipe courtesy of Cambridge Cellars. 

Bold_stickerLimited_Cabernet_2013Limited Cambridge Cellars
Cabernet Sauvignon
Central Coast, California

Cambridge California Cellars was founded by Kim and Bruce Cunningham – two Aussies who were drawn to northern California people and place. They have been intertwined with California’s wine industry for 20+ years.  It is here where they fell in love with the community and moved to Novato, CA. Limited by Cambridge Cellars represents premium, small parcel wines from the finest California appellations. This Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from the Central Coast region of California.  Here, valleys run from west to east, drawing on fog and wind into the vineyards just off the Pacific Ocean.  These grapes soak up afternoon sun and are then cooled by evening fog.

winemaker-DouglasThis wine exhibits rich layers of cherry and black currant fruit, framed by nicely integrated oak.  It’s a soft, friendly Cabernet Sauvignon.” – Douglas Danielak, winemaker

Winemaker: Douglas Danielak
Appellation: Contra Coast County, California
Varietal Blend:  100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Analysis: 13.6% alc/vol
Aging: 75% American Oak, 25% French Oak, aged 14 month

Gold rated wine paired with Grilled Filet Mignon

WC_Oct_2014_MrRiggs

 

filet-mignonGRILLED FILET MIGNON WITH GORGONZOLA BUTTER

INGREDIENTS:
•  4 filet mignons, each 1-1/2 inches thick
• 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
• Vegetable oil cooking spray
• 1 to 2 teaspoons coarse salt
• 4 tablespoons Gorgonzola butter

GORGONZOLA BUTTER:
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
• 4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled, at room temperature
• 1/4 cup chopped scallions
• 1 teaspoon coarsely ground fresh black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS GORGONZOLA BUTTER:
Using a hand-held mixer or a mini food processor, blend the butter and Gorgonzola until smooth. Add the scallions, pepper, and vinegar and blend for about 1 minute longer until fully incorporated. Alternatively, mix the ingredients by hand.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter top. Scrape the butter onto the plastic and, using the plastic wrap as a guide, form the butter into a log. Fold the ends closed and refrigerate until ready to use.

DIRECTIONS GRILLED FILET MIGNON:
First of all, rub the steaks with olive oil and pepper. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes until ready to grill. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Lightly spray the grill rack with vegetable oil cooking spray. The coals should be moderately hot to hot.

Rub the salt into both sides of the steaks. Grill for 5 to 6 minutes on each side for rare meat or for 6-7 minutes for medium-rare meat. Brush a little more olive oil on the steaks after they are turned. Place a pat of the compound butter on top of each filet mignon as soon as it comes off the grill so that the butter begins to melt on top of the meat. Let the meat rest for a few minutes before serving.

Mr-Riggs---2012-Three-Corner-JackBold_stickerMr.Riggs
Three Corner Jack
Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot
McLaren Vale, Australia

DougFrost“If there is one simple attribute that Australian red wines are supposed to embody it’s “jam”: an intense and nearly confectionary kind of fruitiness that makes you just want to grin and drink more. One of the country’s top winemakers, Ben Riggs, has tossed Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot together for this fun brew, but he has always been adept at crafting rich and exuberant reds.” – GOLD RATING

Winemaker: Ben Riggs
Appellation: McLaren, Vale, Australia
Varietal Blend:  40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Shiraz, 20% Merlot
Analysis: 14.5% alc/vol
Critical Acclaim: GOLD rating – Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine
“Best New Wines” from Australia – Josh Raynolds – IWC 2013; 90 points 2011 vintage

Piebald Gully vineyard 1In South Australia, where the beloved McLaren Vale region is located, ‘Three Corner Jack’ is the name given to a three-spiked prickle which sticks to you and is hard to ignore! Perfect name for a wine that combines three of McLaren Vale’s finest grape varieties from three of their very best vineyards.  A tried and tested area for growing full-flavored Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, McLaren Vale has almost the perfect climate for grape growing: warm summers, low humidity, good winter rain and long autumns to ensure that grapes achieve ripeness, flavor, acid and balance.

 

Fall for Great Beers this Season

BobBrewmasterInterview with Bob the Brewmaster

Our own craft beer enthusiast, Bob the Brew Master, has been keeping busy scooping out the latest in the world of craft beer. Today, he shares with us the latest trends and pairing ideas for autumn.

What are the best beers to enjoy this fall?

Fall means Oktoberfest. The cooler fall weather makes the craving for hearty more flavorful and substantial beers arrive. As the leaves gets darker on the trees, so does the trend of enjoying darker beers and flavors that are typically more toasty and malty.

What are the newest flavors we’ll find on shelves this season?alltech

More and more craft brewers are showing off their brewing talents with some great pumpkin ales, brown ales, black IPA’s, Porters and Stouts.  Warmth inducing, stronger flavor and higher alcohol beer is great for cool weather.    Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale is aged in fresh bourbon barrels, the sweetness of caramel and vanilla are imparted upon the brew and complement its spicier base.  This robust, limited release seasonal makes for a flavorful sipping beer to slowly warm up with as the weather cools.

Pumpkin Patch Ale Product ShotWhy do you think pumpkin and other strong flavors have taken over as the newest fall traditional beers?rogue_farms_pumpkin_patch_ale

Beer geeks are always looking for new unique flavors and extreme beers.  American Craft Brewers continue to push the envelope on taste and style with pumpkin ales, strongly hopped double or Black IPA’s, higher alcohol beers and chocolate and coffee stouts.   I’m especially impressed with Rogue Ales, who grow their own ingredients from “patch to batch”, just look for their GYO label (Grow Your Own).  Whenever you see the Rogue Farms label, you’ll know they are farming their own ingredients.   Such as their Pumpkin Patch Ale, made with their own hops and pumpkins grown at Rogue Farms in Oregon, and brewed with a touch of ginger, cloves, vanilla bean, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg.  This craft beer pairs especially well with pork or desserts.

 What’s your favorite craft beer and cheese pairing for the fall?

I like to pair a nice hoppy IPA like Stone Ruination IPA with an aged Gouda or an Oskar Blues Ten Fidy with a Strong Blue or Asiago cheese.