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Continue to cellar your 2011 Rudius Wines, Fion Bainise

Lou kindly shared this bottle of 2011 Rudius Wines, Fion Bainise, North Coast with me.  Good timing as I had tasted some Rudius Syrah not too long ago with Mannie Berk.  I tried this particular bottle of Fion Bainise on the second and third nights.  At first it came across as a firm, clean take on a Grenache and Mourvedre blend.  On the third night is was quite enjoyable leaving the strong impression that this wine will develop and open up over the next couple of years.

2011 Rudius Wines, Fion Bainise, North Coast
This wine is a blend of 75% Grenache, 23% Mourvedre, and 2% Syrah.  Alcohol 14.8%. The nose is generally higher toned with hints of dust but the Grenache richness is there.  With extended air there is focused ripeness but it takes some effort to work out the black fruit and spices.  The flavors turn black towards the finish with a hint of bitterness.  It wraps up by leaving fine plus drying tannins on the gums and a spicy impression. Cellar further.  *** 2018-2027.

“Customary Before Prohibition”: Moving back in time with food and drink through the Picayune Creole Cook Book

February 19, 2016 1 comment

As I have previously described in my wine cookery posts the post-Prohibition years in America saw the rise of recipes where wine is an ingredient.  These recipes appeared in both newspaper articles and cook books.  There were indeed several books dedicated solely to wine cookery but other well-established cook books were updated to include sections or simply recipes involving wine.  One such cookbook is the Picayune Creole Cook Book.

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The Times-Picayune is a newspaper which originated during 1837 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  In 1900, the paper published their first edition of the Creole cookbook.  A number of editions were published over the last century introducing new formatting and additional recipes.  The sixth and seventh editions, published during Prohibition, do not contain any recipes that require wine or liquor for both food dishes and drinks.

Back in December, I was showing my wine cookery books to my friend Sudip as part of our general discussion about the history of cookery books.  Sudip loves to cook and in his exploration of Creole and Cajun cooking he purchased a facsimile of the 1901 second edition of the Picayune’s Creole Cook Book.  We quickly decided it would be fun to cook a few recipes involving wine so I purchased the ninth edition published in 1942.  Titled The Original Picayune Creole Cook Book the title page notes that it was Reprinted from the Fifth Edition, Containing Recipes Using Wines and Liquors Customary Before Prohibition.  As this edition is, in effect, a restoration of original recipes with wine, there is no wine cookery chapter nor wine specific indexing.  Instead the wine inclusive food recipes are integrated throughout.  The wine and liquor based drinks appear in the chapter “Domestic Wines, Cordials, Drinks”.  Here you may find Moselle Cup, Elixir of Violets, and Louisiana Orange Wine.

Sudip and I coordinated our menu which we prepared at my house.  We could not just jump straight into cooking so we started with a bowl of Ponche au Vin de Champagne a la Creole or Champagne Punch a la Creole.  I made sure to include good wine in the form of The Rare Wine Co, Les Mesnil, Champagne and Pierre Ferrand’s Dry Curacao.  The punch was pretty good.  With added sparkle from seltzer water the sweetness from the shaved pineapple and strawberry slices were balanced out by the lemon juice.  It was a rich punch so after two small glasses it was time for Sudip and I to move into the kitchen.

Ponche au Vin de Champagne a la Creole

Ponche au Vin de Champagne a la Creole

The punch recipe and indeed everything else we picked pre-date Prohibition.  Thus we were not looking at a new post-Prohibition flavor profile, instead we went straight back more than 100 years.  My ninth edition notes that some recipes may be made without wine, as even some Creole cooks object to wine, but for other recipes it is essential.  This includes our venison and chicken dishes for “the success of the dish depends greatly upon the flavoring given by  a small addition of wine.”  That is about the extent of the discussion on wine in food.

Our menu consisted of Gumbo aux Huitres (Oyster Gumbo), Supreme de Volaille a la Reine (Breast of Chicken, Queen Style), and Salmi de Chevreuil a la Creole (Stewed Venison a la Creole).  These dishes were accompanied by macaroni with cheese and roasted carrots.  The chicken and venison dishes both include wine.  I picked the chicken recipe because the breasts are stuffed with quenelles (forcemeat) and mushrooms then simmered in Madeira.  Likewise the Venison is stewed in Claret.

We continued the use of good beverages that day by using Blandy’s 15 year old Malmsey for the chicken and 2008 Domaine de la Solitude, Pessac-Leognan for the venison.  The later was a tasty wine, already taking on a firm, mature profile.  If I faulted the wine it would be for a lack of weight.  Regardless, we all practically finished the bottle while cooking.  In keeping with the menu suggestions in the cookbook we should have started with a Sauternes but with punch and four bottles of wine already selected for the evening, adding one more bottle would have done the four of us in!

Gumbo aux Huitres

Gumbo aux Huitres

The Oyster Gumbo, made without wine, calls for a tremendous volume of oyster liquor. Quarts of it in fact.  We wonder if the fresh oysters were kept at home in water due to a lack of ice or refrigeration.  In that case the home cook would have access to as much oyster liquor as needed.  We drank this with our white wine being the  2008 Varner, Chardonnay, Home Block, Spring Ridge Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains.  Lou introduced me to Varner many years ago with the 2008 vintage.  Based on his recent experience I opened this bottle which was drinking perfectly.  Though you get the butterscotch and pineapple flavors the wine remains flavorful rather than overbearing in any sense.

Supreme de Volaille a la Reine

Supreme de Volaille a la Reine

The Chicken Queen Style requires chicken breasts to be stuffed with a chicken forcemeat and mushroom mixture.  On top of the breast is place the fillet.  The whole piece is then basted with melted button, sauteed on the bottom then cooked for 15 minutes in Madeira with a lid on the skillet.  Our chicken breasts were rather large so did not complete in time.  Perhaps chicken breasts were smaller back then.  I have noticed a number of wine cookery books utilize Madeira for flavoring.  I find this fascinating as Madeira was no longer the wine of choice in America during the 1900s.  Perhaps it is a holdover from the last great Madeira decades of the mid to late 19th century when it was still widely drunk.

Salmi de Chevreuil a la Creole

Salmi de Chevreuil a la Creole

The Stewed Venison Creole style reminded me exactly of boeuf bourguignon.  It is essentially the same recipe but with venison.  Which is not surprising given this is a Creole recipe.  Sudip found that after the recommended 45 minutes it was still very liquidy so he doubled the cooking time to reduce it.  I should add that Sudip used fresh mushrooms instead of the canned mushrooms despite the claim that “This dish will be improved beyond estimation if a can of mushrooms is added”.

With the chicken and venison we drank two mature red wines.  The NV (1960s) Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast Counties turned out to be a cleaner version of the magnum of NV Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 271, North Coast Counties which I opened in November.  It had an old school, sweet red wood profile with only some funk.  A solid enough wine which remained drinkable for a few days.  The 1974 Veedercrest Vineyard, Petite Sirah, Batch 2, Cask YUG 77, Sonoma County proved to be the best bottle I have yet opened of this wine.  It sported fresh and clean red fruit with supporting leather.  Whereas the Sebastiani leaned towards the funky spectrum, the Veedercrest was an elegant example of Petite Sirah that many would enjoy.

It was all great fun and you can be assured that another dinner will be in the works.

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2008 Varner, Chardonnay, Home Block, Spring Ridge Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains
Alcohol 14.3%.  The rich nose yielded aromas of butterscotch and yellow fruits.  In the mouth the wine was still fresh and drinking very well. There were butterscotch flavors that mixed with pineapple and some toast.  All of this was delivered with weight.  Best on the first night.  **** Now – 2017.

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2008 Domaine de la Solitude, Pessac-Leognan – $25
Imported by MacArthur Liquors.  This wine is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The nose reveals hints of maturity.  In the mouth the red and black fruit mixed with leather and watering acidity.  The wine is firm with apparent structure.  It is actually rather tasty but could stand to have more fruit weight.  It eventually took on some licorice and mature notes in the mouth.  *** Now but will last.

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NV (1960s) Sebastiani, Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast Counties
Alcohol 12.5%.  There were sweet, old smells on the nose.  In the mouth were old school flavors, sweet red wood, and roasted earth by the finish.  The flavors were clean but certainly different.  With air the firm cherry fruit took on some foxy notes.  ** Now but will last for quite some time.

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1974 Veedercrest Vineyard, Petite Sirah, Batch 2, Cask YUG 77, Sonoma County
Alcohol 12.5%.  The tart red fruit was very clean with hints of leather and some old school notes.  There were minimal, fine tannins, a citric finish, and decent aftertaste.  Still fresh  *** Now.

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Three impressions of Arnot-Roberts

January 13, 2015 Leave a comment

It was all my luck that in recovering from a head cold I ingested something bad which kept me on the couch for two days.  I had, of course, previously opened up three different bottles from Arnot-Roberts.  Being in the extremely rare position of not wanting to taste wine I am left with only impressions of these wines from when they were first opened. I preferred the reds over the white.  I have been on a kick for Californian Trousseau ever since I first tasted William Allen’s version from Two Shepherds.  The wines are attractively distinct from those of Arbois.  The Arnot-Robert version continues in the Californian vein but was lighter and brighter.  The Syrah was engaging as well with its hard to describe flavors along with the comforting pepper and fat note.  My general impression is that these are wines of interesting nuances best appreciated a glass or two at a time.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Arnot-Roberts, Chardonnay, Watson Ranch, Napa Valley – $37
This wine is 100% Chardonnay that was aged for seven months in neutral French oak.  Alcohol 12.2%. There was a finely textured nose.  In the mouth were dry, floral white fruit flavors were lively and full of acidity.  There were chalk flavors, some toast, and a bright, long finish.  The wine was tight.

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2013 Arnot-Roberts, Trousseau, North Coast – $29
This wine is 100% Trousseau that was aged for 11 months in neutral French oak.  Alcohol 12.1%. There were ripe oranges underlying the red fruit before showing fresh, black minerals.  There were lighter flavors but the wine has strength.  I enjoyed the mix of fresh pepper and exotic spices.

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2013 Arnot-Roberts, Syrah, North Coast – $35
This wine is 100% Syrah of which 10% underwent carbonic maceration and was aged for 11 months in neutral French oak.  Alcohol 12.8%. The nose was scented with perfume with similar flavors in the mouth.  The wine was balanced and generally intriguing.  The flavors were fresh with a little pepper hint and an attractive surrounding of some fat.

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Entry-level Chardonnay from La Follette and Sandhi Wines

Andy showed me the new Californian Chardonnay which he recently put on the shelves.  While I have tasted a 2008 La Follette, Pinot Noir and a 2007 Tandem, Chardonnay (Tandem was renamed La Follette when Peter Kight became a partner) I had never had a La Follette Chardonnay.  I opted for the least expensive bottle and was certainly impressed.  It is the real thing and well priced.  Sandhi Wines is Raja Parr’s young project with Charles Banks and winemaker Sashi Moorman.  According to the website “Sandhi is dedicated to making wines of finesse, minerality, acidity, structure and balance.”  This bottle from Sandhi was certainly balanced, offering bright citrus flavors with plenty of acidity.  I actually liked the wine and think it is best drunk with food.  These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2011 La Follette, Chardonnay, North Coast – $20
This wine is 100% Chardonnay with that from Bennett Valley fermented in stainless steel tank and that of Russian River Valley barrel fermented.  It was aged in oak.  Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was light yellow.  The nose was interesting with weighty and floral yellow aromas.  In the mouth this medium bodied wine had ripe, floral, yellow fruit which was vibrant on the tongue and somewhat acidity driven.  There was a touch of glycerine to the feel and a barrel note in the expanding finish.  This held up well to both air and warmth.  *** Now-2014.

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2011 Sandhi Wines, Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County – $29
This wine is 100% Chardonnay sourced from Wente clones averaging 25+ years of age.  Alcohol 13.8%.  The color was a light yellow straw.  The nose bore weighty lemon and barrel toast aromas.  In the mouth the weighty lemon fruit returned and was very fresh.  There was tart acidity and a little barrel note.  Everything was there.  *** Now.

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