Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bridlewood Estate Winery, Paso Robles, CA

BRIDLEWOOD ESTATE WINERY

Paso Robles, California

the town of Monterey in northern Central Coast AVA
the town of Monterey in northern Central Coast AVA

Santa Barbara in November is a place of magic; where long beaches kiss the ocean under blankets of undulating sheep's-wool-fog and dew hangs heavy on every early morning branch. This was where I took my wife, pre-kids, for a little getaway that included just the right balance of mimosas for breakfast, Chardonnay for lunch and Syrah for dinner. In that stillness before Californians start their hustle and bustle I would sit on the balcony and be lulled by the murmur of pulsing surf only a few hundred feet away.

That siren's-call has been luring people to the shores of Central Coast AVA (which stretches from Santa Cruz just north of Monterey all the way to Santa Barbara in the south) for centuries. The Spanish missionaries in the 1700's, the Gold Rush in the 1800's and these days it must be called the "Grape Rush" with so many new faces in the wine industry here!

In few parts of California is this more apparent than Paso Robles AVA; having grown from about 5 wineries in 1980 to 20 in the early 1990's to over 200 in 2014. And 2014 was a big year for these wineries: having gone through the (slightly) controversial subdividing into 11 sub-AVAs. This was a move that at once gave credence to the thought that Paso Robles carries an incredibly diverse array of soil compositions, slope/aspects, rainfall and flora. Hard to believe that this could be realized in only three decades when Burgundy took centuries to come to the same conclusions about their region. Burgundy: that archetype of classification for wine-regions, is only 3 times larger then Paso Robles AVA and yet has 9 times as many sub-regions (known as AOC in France). Yet remember; we know that wine has been produced in Burgundy for about 2000 years and in Paso Robles for maybe 200. 

Well done Paso Robles! Though many of the successful winemakers here have found more victories with Rhone varietals than Burgundy, in this instance Cabernet Sauvignon has found a home. While the Napa fans will (most likely) say that this is too light for their tastes it reminds me of cool, or classic as the Bordelais would say, vintage Bordeaux. And indeed, swirling this in my glass as I write, the term "Cru Bourgeois" springs to mind the moment I smell and sip. 
People are what make the story...
People are what make the story...this is San Francisco in November

I wish that this could have been an article to enlighten about the team hard at work at Bridlewood but, alas, I cannot. For all of my research I couldn't find any real information about who the winemaker is, who the vineyard manager is or what was the inspiration behind creating this visually stunning winery. A shame Gallo Family Vineyards; we consumers are looking for more than just a good bottle of wine for a decent price! This is the "Golden Age" of wine and there are more choices for us than ever before.
We're looking to be inspired!

Inspiration comes, in most instances, from people. Tell us the who! Share with us about the hard-working people who are crafting your products. They deserve to have their stories told and we yearn to hear them. For surely the people who crafted this wine, with it's dimensions, it's finesse and generous palate - surely those people have a story to share.

Bridlewood CabSauv 2012 PASO ROBLES2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

88+ points, Very Good Value

$19 CAD in BC

$10-$14 USD in USA

... this wine shows impressive skill for it's modest price; generously layered aromas carry rich tones of red and dark berries, warm scrub-brush and impressive dark floral notes such as irises and peonies with a hint of tomato leaf... the palate is ultra-crisp and clean! Certainly not what one would expect from such an incredibly hot growing zone, this wine is full of life and fresh fresh fresh! Perky full- acid carry flavors of young raspberry and cherry and fine/chewy tannin. The only thing missing for the Bordeaux-lovers in the audience would be that graphite-minerality but I imagine these are still young vines and are more then capable of giving more to the wine in successive vintages. FOOD PAIRING would be simple for me: play the wine off local cuisine! I love Mexican food in places like San Luis Obispo or Pismo Beach or Santa Ynez... and I'm told by friends that even Mexicans consider it some of the most authentic Mexican food around. I'm partial to a great Carne Asada myself; the heavy char flavors, the smokiness, the grilled jalapeno sets everything perfectly and the bright berry tones in the wine will give this terrific balance. If this isn't close-by, try venison! Wild game always works well with wine that conveys flavors like blueberry and dark cherry which this wine has.
the coastline by Paso Robles AVA
the coastline by Paso Robles AVA



Many thanks to Gallo for the generous sample bottles: I hope that I get to share your story of Who as well as What. As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and my notes on premium distillates and cigars on:

Monday, November 10, 2014

LAKE CHELAN WINE VALLEY HOSTS FALL BARREL TASTING

sunset on Lake Chelan
sunset on Lake Chelan


Regular readers of mine will know of my admiration for the winemakers in LAKE CHELAN AVA, Washington... here's the scoop on a terrific event happening there at the end of November. There's no denying the quality coming from this, one of the most northerly wine producing regions on Earth. Make some time to visit these budding viticulturists (pun intended) - you'll be glad you did! Read more about my experiences at Lake Chelan at :



LAKE CHELAN WINE VALLEY HOSTS FALL BARREL TASTING NOV 28-30
Wineries Open Cellar Doors for Behind-the-Scenes Look at Winemaking


Lake Chelan Wine Valley will kick off the holiday season with a weekend of tasting future wine releases straight from the barrel from November 28 through 30. Fall Barrel Tasting takes place each year on the weekend after Thanksgiving and offers visitors the rare chance to experience young, unfinished wines before they’re released to the public. Guests will explore the use of different oak treatments and their impact on the taste, color, tannin and texture of the wine. Guests can visit winery cellar rooms for exclusive tastings with local winemakers and purchase upcoming vintages of some of their favorite wines.

Wines that will be offered to taste throughout the weekend include the following. For a full list and more details, visit www.lakechelanwinevalley.com/events/fall-barrel-tasting/fall-barrel-events.html.
  • Atam Winery - Syrah & Barbera
  • Benson Vineyards - Two new 2013 vintage wines
  • Cairdeas Winery – 2014 Port-style Petite Sirah
  • Chelan Estate Winery - 2012 C E Vineyards Reserve Red
  • Hard Row to Hoe - 2013 Barbera
  • Lake Chelan Winery - 2013 Malbec, a Chelan AVA wine
  • Rio Vista wines - Tempranillo
  • Tildio Winery - 2013 Malbec and Grenache
  • Tsillan Cellars - 2013 Estate Syrah/Malbec
  • Tunnel Hill Winery - 2013 Estate Pinot
  • Wapato Point Cellars - 2012 Merlot

“Fall Barrel Tasting is such a fun way to taste wines that are so young with our customers and see them light up when something hits them as amazing only a year into the barrel,” said Tsillan Cellars winemaker Shane Collins. “It’s also great to see and chat with people who come every year and reminisce on previous wines and how they now taste in the bottle.”

Guests that extend their wine tasting visit can enjoy some of the wonderful fall recreation Lake Chelan has to offer, including golf, mountain biking and hiking. Small-town charm abounds in Downtown Chelan and Manson, with shopping and dining options for every taste.

About Lake Chelan Wine Valley: Lake Chelan Wine Valley is a thriving community of 21 wineries that are attracting attention from winemakers, grape growers and wine enthusiasts. The Valley was recognized as an AVA in the Federal Register in April 2009. Located in the heart of Washington’s Cascade Mountains, Lake Chelan is a scenic destination three hours east of Seattle, situated on a pristine 50.5-mile lake. Throughout the year, Lake Chelan visitors tour vineyards, meet the winemakers, taste award-winning wines and dine at many winery restaurants – the perfect wine-lovers destination. Some of the varieties that flourish in the Valley include Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Viognier. Learn more at www.lakechelanwinevalley.com.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lake Chelan: stunning vistas
Lake Chelan: stunning vistas
As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and my notes on premium distillates and cigars on:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

BC Uncorked: a gathering of greatness

http://bcuncorked.ca

BC Uncorked logo

What compels a man to tear himself away from his family at the end of a long work week? Well in this case the man in question is John Gerum; a lover, a most ardent fan, of BC wine and the evening in question is "BC Uncorked: the Art of Food and Wine".

Ok. That could get me out of the house on a Saturday night as well.

But John is more then just a devotee to the oenological adventures of BC winemakers; he's their cheerleader as well. For this event is his brainchild and has been gathering groups of grape-lovers to the furthest side of the GVRD (Greater Vancouver Regional District) for going on 6 years now. And it's amazing!

Under the humble eaves of a high school come to gather some of the finest winemakers in the province and, for those readers unfamiliar with British Columbia viticulture, that's an impressive line-up. It's a funny kind of system that the residents of any particular region seldom truly know the adventurous pioneers working in their very midst and when it comes to wine this is most certainly a truism: BC winemakers are crafting greatness.

Are some of the prestigious competitions where BC has garnered respect in 2014, to name a few - many thanks to Wine BC! ( http://www.winebc.org/press_room/awards/)

 And here in the town of Port Moody, nestled against the base of the mountains and sitting squarely in the rain-shadow, these champions come to gather. With a kind of Zen tranquility they set-up their tables; pulling bottles of chilled Chardonnay from thermal-bags and cases of Pinot Noir and Bordeaux-styled blends from their trolleys. The room begins to hum as the crowd tries to appear patient with the rows and rows of bottles being arrayed just beyond reach.

Then the chefs appear and all sense of patience quickly dissipates; barbequed ribs start glazing over hot coals, fresh truffled popcorn is tossed in caramel and seasalt, tart-shells are patiently filled with infused mousses and fresh fruit... like I said, what could possibly compel someone to leave their kids on a Saturday night?

But BC Uncorked is about more then just delighting one's senses with world-class wines and fine victuals. Have a listen to my interview with John Gerum and co-conspirator Steve on their decision to craft this "Ode to Art" into something with a deeper resonance:


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Haywire “Lunar New Year” wines

 http://www.haywirewinery.com/

 haywire branding
The challenge with many people in the wine business is that they start treating wine as art and forgetting that it is a business. In and of itself there’s nothing wrong with viewing wine as art but when it interferes with a business’ ability to remain fiscally viable then the vision needs to change. This has never been a problem for the wise folks at Haywire who manage to blend art and function in virtually every endeavor they create: Lunar New Year wines being the example today.
 When I first heard that someone was crafting a special release for the Lunar New Year I thought “Capitalism at its finest; these folks are just chasing the market” which, really, isn’t such a bad thing if it’s done well. China is now poised to be the largest consumer of wine on the planet… who wouldn’t want a piece of that?!
But as my step-family is Cantonese I cringed inwardly. I had visions of ginger-infused syrupy sadness lacking depth beyond Beaujolais Nouveau and tasting more of my morning ginseng tea. I couldn’t have been any further from the truth. Here are wines that any winemaker would be proud to put his/her name to and showcase not only varietal correctness but also speak in sophisticated ways of their terroir. Truly finessed, each of them, I was a bit humbled and started my due diligence in researching just what this could portend: after all, it was only a few years ago that one of the most highly regarded houses of Bordeaux put a Chinese symbol on its bottle.
It caused a wave of sales that outstripped anything conceived.
So the savvy craftsmen at Haywire decide to follow, but, in an unexpected way; you see, this is one of their first releases and it’s for the “Year of the Sheep”. This is considered a very unlucky year by many Asians and this is especially true for children’s birth years and business. Creating a new wine is certainly like a kind of “birth” and this is most definitely business, so why do it? It wouldn’t be the first time a winery created a release on only certain years.
Well as I pondered this I looked at my 8-month old son who was helping me with this article *(all punctuation is his, not mine). Adam is half Italian and half Irish; his Italian family name actually meaning “sheep” in their dialect. It seemed to me, in that moment, that sheep were actually very lucky for some people like me. And I got past the nay-sayers who conjecture doom and gloom at every corner and found the beauty of the “Year of the Sheep”.
Loyalty. That’s a quality to those born in this lunar year. So is generosity. And kindness. Hard for me to imagine bestowing those traits just because of the month they’re born in, but, I’ve heard crazier explanations for the cosmos before.
And I went back to the wines I was making notes on: so filled with generosity of flavor, brimming with “loyal” representation of the grape and the land and with very “kind” pricing… and so it seems, to this writer, that 2015 will be one lucky “Year of the Sheep”.

Haywire-2012LunarRed2012 “Lunar New Year Red”

blend of (mostly) Gamay Noir, small amount of Syrah

89+ points, Very Good Value

$22.90 in BC

*DOES NOT REQUIRE DECANTING

… to get this quality in Gamay Noir from Beaujolais in the south of Burgundy one would need to invest more then $23 CAD and invest it wisely. This wine carries rich aromas of warm earth, dark cocoa, stewing blackberry/plum/raspberry and the hint of Schezuan peppercorn on the finish (thank-you Syrah). The bright, full, fresh palate carries lively medium+ currant acids that titillate the tastebuds and are a brilliant way to start any meal or simply enjoy on their own as the guests are arriving. The medium fine/slightly grippy tannin carry their weight deceptively as they are finessed well beyond the price-point of the wine and deliver a performance more in line with wines twice the cost. This is a wine that at the same time will impress the ardent connoisseur in your midst and be perfect for the friend who “really is more of a beer person” – or so they say. Food pairing options abound from ginger and lemongrass infused beef/pork to the salty treat of soya crispy skin duck; the bold red and black fruit tones will balance salt and yet the warm earthy/spice/pepper tones will delight in bringing balance to Asian flavors. Meant for consuming now (Stelvin enclosure) this wine can age well for several years but will not develop in bottle. Enjoy 2014-2017

2013 “Lunar New Year White”Haywire-LunarWhite

blend of Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Viognier

90++points, EXCELLENT VALUE

$19.90 in BC

*DO NOT SERVE TOO COLD; 12C MINIMUM TO PRESERVE THE AROMATICS

… this might be the prettiest wine I tried in 2014! Whilst normally this style isn’t a “go-to-wine” for me, this particular blend is impressive on many levels: aroma, balance, structure and value. The aromas are seductively layered with notes of lychee fruit, pink grapefruit, honey and exotic flowers… it’s an incredibly easy wine to want to drink which brings me to the palate. The balance and structure are absolutely flawless for under $20; bright/fresh/zippy medium+ lemon and grapefruit acid dance in unison. This wine loves south Asian flavors: Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai… coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass and galangal all delight in the nuanced levels here. Which brings me to value: STUNNING. Want a blend like this from outside of BC? Firstly I don’t know any region blending these varietals but secondly something similar would start at $25 and work its way up… buy a few extra bottles as this gem will easily last a few years in the cellar/wine-fridge if you can resist :)

"lucky money" from Canada in the Year-of-the-Sheep
“lucky money” from Canada in the Year-of-the-Sheep
Many thanks to Haywire Wines and their PR firm TownHall Brands (  http://townhallbrands.com/ )for taking the time and expense to send these lovely wines to me.
As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and
my notes on premium distillates and cigars:
on Twitter @AStudentofWine

Thursday, September 18, 2014

COLOR: BC wine tasting at Canada Place, Sept 2014

  http://www.winebc.org


It's always a good afternoon when I get to meet with friends, and how much better could it be than meeting those self-same friends in the hallowed halls of Canada Place with a banquet hall full of BC wine, artisanal cheese and handcrafted chocolate?

Simple answer: it doesn't!

the unfatigueable Michael Bartier
the unfatigueable Michael Bartier
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to sample through the Fall releases from some of the best wineries in our little corner of the winemaking world; ripe Viognier, lip-smacking Sauvignon Blanc, elegant Chardonnay... the list goes on. And through it all I was  welcomed with warm smiles (like Michael Bartier's).

It was too short a time for such a dizzying array and by the end of the afternoon I found myself more then a little chagrined; what had I missed?! There were still tables I hadn't even visited, much less made the time to speak with the viticulture masters ensconced there. But, as fate would have it, there was a terrific experience waiting for me to wrap things up... a quick interview with Jak Mayer from Mayer Family Vineyards ( http://www.mfvwines.com/)

Jak has been involved in the BC wine industry for years now, and has brought international recognition with him: the likes of Jancis Robinson, Stephen Spurrier and Decanter Magazine know a bit more about BC's capacity to produce world-class wines because of the work of Jak Mayer and his dedicated team. Obviously, I had questions for this man that three hours of tasting BC wine had only accentuated.

Stay tuned for that article coming shortly but, since I've let the cat out of the bag, I'll share perhaps one of the most important subjects we touched on. I asked Jak:
"More developed appellations... are they important to the BC wine industry and will we see them in our lifetimes? Currently there are 5 appellations that cover an area larger than France: can we progress to sub-appellations? Mayer Family Vineyards certainly takes care to put the name of the individual vineyards on its labels!"

JAK MEYER
"Yes, they are important - but not the most important thing that we in BC need to focus on. Let's be honest; most wineries here simply don't know enough about their land to even begin a sub-appellation process. People are still trying to figure out what grows best where and that process takes time. Nothing can change that. But what we can do is recognize that with such a (relatively) small growing area and expensive land, bulk wines are not the future of BC. We as a collective need to show the world our quality - not quantity."

** British Columbia is larger in square acres then France and Germany together, though it has total area of planted vineyards at approximately 10,000 acres/4,000 HA compared to France at 850,000 HA**
And in a heartbeat, I understood what had happened for me that afternoon: I had witnessed yet another level of quality being presented by BC winemakers. Sauvignon Blanc on the same level as some of the best work in the Leyda region of Chile, intricately developed Chardonnay to rival California or Burgundy, sparkling Blanc-de-Noirs that dollar-for-dollar are easily equal to the sublimely quaffable products of Champagne.

If the rest of the wine-world could be characterized as Goliath then BC can start to be seen as David; for this speck on the northernmost tip of the grape-growing map is showcasing time and time again wines that match the efforts of much "mightier" magnates. If you haven't yet tried wine from this region, small wonder; Algeria produces more wine the BC does. But your search may yield great rewards my friends... enjoy the slideshow!
http://www.cinco.ly/~A4IAZ8LMrhkj


Many thanks to the Wine BC and to the innumerable wineries, winemakers and merchants who took the time and expense to put together a brilliant afternoon.

As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and my notes
on premium distillates and cigars:
on Twitter @AStudentofWine



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

LAKE CHELAN WINE VALLEY HOSTS ANNUAL CRUSH FESTIVAL

LAKE CHELAN WINE VALLEY HOSTS ANNUAL CRUSH FESTIVAL

OCTOBER 4-5 AND 11-12

21 Boutique Wineries Open Cellar Doors

for Behind-the-Scenes Look at Winemaking


 ** Loyal readers know of my deep-set admiration and respect for the hard-working folks tending vines in the Lake Chelan AVA. You have no further to look then the article I wrote last summer about my visit there ( http://thechefandthegrape.com/wordpress/lake-chelan-ava-washington-state/) . Of course, no visit to Lake Chelan would be complete without the small vital excursion north to Veranda Beach! ( http://thechefandthegrape.com/wordpress/veranda-beach-cellars-washington-state/). And so when my friends in Chelan told me about their upcoming "Crush Festival", I knew I had to spread the word to the people I knew would enjoy a weekend there: You! **


PRESS RELEASE
LAKE CHELAN, WA (August 13, 2014) — The Lake Chelan Wine Valley will kick off the month of October with two weekends of wine tasting, grape stomping and fall fun. The annual Crush festival will take place on October 4-5 and October 11-12 and will allow guests to experience harvest and the winemaking process firsthand.
Throughout both event weekends, local wineries will open up for live concerts, barbecues and more. Visitors can taste wine, meet winemakers and even have the chance to stomp grapes.
Besides wine tasting, guests can enjoy some of the wonderful recreation Lake Chelan has to offer in the fall, including golf, boating, mountain biking and hiking. Small-town charm abounds in Downtown Chelan and Manson, with shopping and dining options for every taste.

About Lake Chelan Wine Valley: Lake Chelan Wine Valley is a thriving community of 21 wineries that are attracting attention from winemakers, grape growers and wine enthusiasts. The Valley was recognized as an AVA in the Federal Register in April 2009. Located in the heart of Washington’s Cascade Mountains, Lake Chelan is a scenic destination three hours east of Seattle, situated on a pristine 50.5-mile lake. Throughout the year, Lake Chelan visitors tour vineyards, meet the winemakers, taste award-winning wines and dine at many winery restaurants – the perfect wine-lovers destination. Some of the varieties that flourish in the Valley include Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Viognier. Learn more at www.lakechelanwinevalley.com.


# # #

As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and my notes
on premium distillates and cigars:
on Twitter @AStudentofWine

Thursday, July 10, 2014

the simply sensational Summerhill sparkling blanc-de-noirs

http://www.summerhill.bc.ca/


IMG_6007Champagne: beverage of the ultra-elite, the glittering nectar that deities of real estate and rap music use to wash away their troubles. Most highly regarded region for the production of said effervescent treat.
For now.
Winemakers the world over are starting to challenge the “Goliath of Bubbly”: Spain has their dry Cava, Italy the floralMuscato and stonefruit Prosecco and, more recently, the New World has also joined the fray. Meet Eric von Krosigk,über winemaker atSummerhill Pyramid Winery. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Eric for years and call him friend, having sat on panel-discussions with him as well as sharing meals and family time together. Knowing Eric has developed my appreciation for the intricate art that is winemaking and the arduous labor that is vineyard management.
Eric von Krosigk, winemaker
Eric von Krosigk, winemaker
It is these two skills, along with a myriad of other tools that a winemaker gathers over years upon decades of dedication, which can result in true understanding of the land. And it is only through this fundamental empathy with their soil, their vines, that winemakers can ever hope to craft truly expressive wines; wines that speak emphatically and passionately about where they come from.
Or, so I’ve been told by those who know far more then I do.
And so when Ezra Cipes, CEO of Summerhill(http://www.summerhill.bc.ca/Story/Biographies/Ezra-Cipes) , sent me a few of the new releases from the winery, it was with no small amount of zeal that I started digging into the box. Like my 3-year old at Christmas: paper flew, cardboard tore, and the treasure that had been locked within was soon perched on the kitchen counter gleaming in the summer sunlight.
And, of course, it was the sparkling wine that first caught my eye… This is the sparkling producer that has my attention these days; their recent accomplishments nothing short of tremendous:
“Sparkling Wine of the Year” 2014 All Canadian Wine Championships
Gold Medal, Top 10 Sparkling Wines of competition - 2013 Effervescents du Monde
Gold Medal – 2012 World Wine Awards, Chicago, Illinois
“Best International Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wine” – IWSC, London, England, December 2009
Serious wine-making. And yet not so serious that these fine folks can’t crack a smile more often then not; their love for the land directing the course of business. This is the heartbeat of bio-dynamic viticulture in the Okanagan and, as such, the Cipes family treat their terroir like the living, breathing organism it truly is… fields are doted over, natural ecosystems restored, and bio-diversity has been recovered. To some people this is the most progressive style of farming or viticulture that we know of. Others, myself included, refer to this instead as ancestral farming for, coming from a lineage of Irish farmers, this is in fact what my grandparents taught me in their garden and through the stalls of our local Farmer’s Market many decades ago.
Call it what you want “the proof is in the pudding” and from the moment I opened this bottle of Blanc de Noirs I knew I was in for a treat:

2008 Summerhill Blanc de NoirsIMG_5839

100% organic Pinot Noir, hand-made

92 points, EXCELLENT VALUE

$35 approx.
**DO NOT SERVE TOO COLD! NOT UNDER 12C/55F FOR BEST RESULTS
… almond/Macadamia nut dusty mineral driven aromas make the mouth water and are followed quickly by notes of baked Golden Delicious apples, ripe Anjou pear and alluring cherry blossoms in springtime. The mousse is world-class; fine pearled bubbles carrying flavors that mimic the fruit of the bouquet brilliantly yet driving home that utterly Burgundian sense of precise minerality. Exemplary balance, this is a wine that shines with craftsmanship… truly a food wine, it will find it home as easily with the Boursin and fresh basil thin-crust pizza I made my girls for lunch as it did with the recipe that follows – but was an utter delight to savor on its own, needing nothing more then a great vista as company. Excellent structure and long length on the palate, this threat to French Greatness will age gracefully for years and, based on previous wines from this producer, with stunning results. Enjoy 2014-2020+
My daughter, age 2, with Ezra's daughter at the winery
My daughter, age 2, with Ezra’s daughter at the winery. #Inspiration
This wine inspired me.
I followed in the footsteps of yesteryear, and went grocery shopping just for dinner that night: no massive Costco shop, no bulk section, no “buy 5 and get the 6th free”. I went looking for what was best right then, for dinner that night. Lucky for me, I have champions of  #Fresh #Local #Seasonal at my butcher http://www.hopcottmeats.ca/

Double-smoked Swiss Farmer’s sausage roast local chicken,

wild rice and quinoa pilaf, BC chèvre finished leeks,

fireweed honey and seasalt glazed carrots

IMG_5828
THE CHICKEN
this may be the easiest chicken recipe, ever:
2 pieces double-smoked Swiss Farmer sausage, thinly sliced
1.5 lbs chicken thighs (bone-in always has more flavor) or about 6-7 pieces
1 Tbsp dry Italian herbs
1. saute the sausage in a pan on the stove; medium heat only as you want to draw out the fat or render
2. pat the chicken dry with paper towel, dust with dry herbs
3. saute on medium skin side down until the skin turns golden brown
4. turn over in the pan and place in the oven, 300F for 12 minutes+ or internal temp read 165F
THE LEEKS
rich creamy goodness, this is almost a condiment for the protein!
2 leeks, julienne (about 3 full cups)
2 cups milk
1/2 cup chevre (goat’s cheese; can sub Boursin as well)
1 Tbsp butter
*sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. wilt the leeks in the butter on medium or medium low heat; the key is to cook them gently and not brown them
2. when the leeks start to soften, add the milk and continue to cook on medium until the milk is almost evaporated (takes about 30-40 minutes)
3. add the goat’s cheese, stir to smoothness, season to taste
Simple food really, but rich concentrated flavors: the cheese balances the poultry, the clean carrot balances the richness of the smoked sausage and all the meal needed was the crisp, vibrant sparkling wine to pull everything into focus. This meal was a breeze as well, taking only about 10 minutes to prep and 45 minutes to cook: total time from start to finish was just under an hour.
Eating well, and drinking well, doesn’t have to be complicated but it does take effort. In this Golden Age of wine, when there are more choices then ever before, it’s difficult even for people who work in the wine industry to keep on top of it all. My suggestion, humbly, is not to choose wines at all:
Choose wineries you respect.IMG_5836
Choose winemakers you admire.
I don’t love everything that my local butcher does; sometimes I think they over-season the marinated chicken or make the Thai chili jerky too spicy… but I respect them and I know that by supporting them with my purchasing power I am enabling a company people I admire. And I’m doing something good because of how they work with the land, the environment, their community. And I love the food!
Why would choosing wine be any different?
Many thanks to Hopcott’s meats where I purchased the fresh sausage and locally sourced chicken (http://www.hopcottmeats.ca/and to Ezra Cipes at Summerhill Pyramid Winery  (http://www.summerhill.bc.ca/) for the generous sample bottles.
As always you can find more recipes, free wine reviews and my notes
on premium distillates and cigars:
on Twitter @AStudentofWine