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Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot 1998

This really was an absolute special treat to be able to drink, my wife and I slowly sipped away in order to savor every last drop of this French Bordeaux. The optimal drinking window of this wine was 2002-2016, so it could hold for another year, in my opinion there is really no point as the Beau-Sejour Becot 1998 is drinking very well now and has developed adequate sediment, aromas and flavor. Erobertparker.com scored the Beau-Sejour Becot 1998 a 91 in 2001, in fairness, my personal opinion is that time has done this bottle well and it is drinking now in 2015 at a 93. This is a full-bodied wine that is powerful in new oak. The red currents, black currents and blackberry fruit are all evident but the power of the vanilla notes shine through most notably, making the finish lighter and very palatable. There was really no special occasion that prompted opening this bottle, deciding to do so made a weeknight special, every sip was pure pleasure.

Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot 1998
Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot 1998

 

Sediment in general is not a bad thing and should be expected from a bottle of wine of this age, in fact, wine makers who produce bottles for long term aging will purposely add more tartrates and phenolics in order for the wine to develop the sought after aromas and bouquets, this is perhaps the discussion of another post in greater detail. A bottle of wine with sediment should not be viewed as faulty in any capacity, sediment is harmless and good bottles of wine will develop more over time. The most important point is to remember that a bottle like this requires special attention before serving. Some of the things that you can do to ensure that the majority of the sediment does not meet your serving glass are: stand the bottle up right for a day or two before serving, this will allow the sediment to reach to bottom of the bottle; restrict excessive movement and shaking of the bottle, decant with an appropriate wine accessory designed to catch sediment; and lastly, pour slowly, and in front of a light source so you can view the sediment and try to trap as much as possible before it reaches the neck of the bottle. Perhaps appropriate wine decanters designed to catch sediment can be the topic of another future post as well.

Alla Salute!

Salami Making 101

This post is not specifically wine related but wine was included in our age old family tradition and recipe, of which I am about to share! Here are all of the steps in our process to making fantastic salamis, these will taste great in the end and bring your family together for a weekend of hard work and fun. Proper temperature and humidity control are needed in order to cure the meat properly, this is a serious endeavor so please take all of the necessary precautions to ensure this is done properly, remember, these are not store bought and do not contain nitrates, sulfites and/or starter cultures.

Salami Making

 

Step 1: Clean the intestines. The best method to do this is to rinse 2-3 times right side in and then do the same inside out, you want the inside of the intestines to be on the outside of your salami’s, for obvious reasons. Once turned inside out, leave the intestines in a bowl of water and add squeezed lemons, limes and oranges, you don’t have to be specific with the ratios, this is meant to diminish the odor. For salami’s, cow’s intestines are preferred due to their size, pigs intestines are more suitable for sausages.

Step 2: Choose the right amount of pork leg and pork shoulder, fat is important in salami’s, too much is not good. I personally used 2 pork legs and 2 pork shoulders, this yielded me 72 salami’s in total. If you do not have a grinding machine, your butcher should be able to do this for you with little problem.

Step 3: Pick fat, this is an important step. You do not want to eliminate good fat, these pieces are easily visible to you, small oblong pieces of fat are acceptable, these will cure into flavor in your meat. What you want to do here is pick out pieces of bone, fat strands, cartledge, veins and any noticeable pieces of meat that are blood stained.

Step 4: Season your meat, mild and hot recipes are as follows, remember that salt is the most important ingredient, it is easiest to make 1 kilo piles to ensure you have seasoned appropriately:

Mild (per 1kg of ground pork): 1-3/4 tablespoons of salt, 3/4 tablespoon of fine black pepper, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of paprika, 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1/4 cup of white wine (Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio of course)

Hot: (per 1kg of ground pork): all of the above, plus 1 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon of crushed red chili flakes

Step 5: Mix your meat, this is an important step as it helps bind the seasoned meat together. You basically want to knead the meat the same way you would dough, to the point where it is becoming a paste and is sticking together in large clumps, if you do not do this properly you may see holes in your finished salami’s, they are still eatible but it is not visibly appealing. Once this is complete, cover and let you meat stand over night before you begin casing.

Step 6: Begin casing your meat in the intestines. The important jobs you will need here are: a) a stuffer pushing the meat into the machine b) someone taking the meat into the casings c) someone tying the ends of the salami’s, arguably the hardest job d) someone to tie the salami’s into 2 pieces per string and pin the meat, pining the meat will help the salami’s breathe, a safety pin is more than acceptable, you want to make sure there are no air pockets at this stage:

Step 7: Let your salami’s cool over night, preferably in the place where they will ultimately be hanging them.

Step 8: Hang your salami’s, the most optimal temperature of 1-6 degrees Celsius, the most optimal humidity is between 70-80%, I would recommend a thermostat and humidistat, these can be found at your local hardware store. You will need electricity in your cantina/cellar or other storage area, this will operate your humidifier and oscillating fan, air movement is very important.

Step 9: After 5-7 days, press your meat, this can be done with plywood and any type of weight (steel weights, cinder blocks, etc.), you want to help the meat congeal at this stage by putting pressure on it, I use 250-300 pounds of weight. Temperature, humidity and air movement must be maintained during this step. Pressing should be done for another 5-7 days.

Step 10: Hang your meat again for 5-7 days.

Step 11: repeat step 9 for 5-7 days, you can slightly increase your weigh, I would not do so by more than 25-50 pounds.

Step 12: rehang your meat, this is the final step and the waiting game, you will be able to feel when your salami’s are done based on how hard they are, the firmer the better. This step should take another 60 days on the low end to 90 days on the high end. If you see white mold, this is completely fine, if black mold arises at any point those salami’s should be discarded.

Step 13: Wash your salami’s with red wine (I use Rocca della Macie) to clean to outside casings, vacuum pack and store in a cool area. I put mine back in the cantina and have never had a problem. Once I open a salami and do not go through it, I put the remainder in the fridge until it is used next.

Happy salami making, I would gladly answer any questions should they arise. Make no mistake about this process, it is a lot of work, but if you make the most of it with a group of family and friends, it can also be a lot of fun!

Homemade Salami

Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico Riserva 2006

Il Molino di Grace
Il Molino di Grace – Chianti Classico 2006

 

The 2006 Il Molino Chianti Classico is a fantastic bottle at an affordable price. At approximately $23.95 per bottle, with a score of 93 from winespectator.com, the il Molino is a welcomed addition to a wine collectors cabinet or to a wine enthusiasts rack as an everyday drinker. The Il Molino 2006 Chianti can hold until 2024, but I strongly recommend not doing so, this bottle is already deep in flavor and exudes the aromas of dried cherry, tobacco, sweet fruits and truffles. The finish is complex, deep and rich, more than expected from a chianti, the 2006 Molino is already experiencing sediment, which will only increase in time. The il Molino Chianti Classico 2006 pairs well with roasted and barbequed meats, red sauced pastas and homemade soups, we tried ours with French onion soup and roasted Atlantic salmon portions and it was an excellent pair. Alla Salute!

Summary:

Il Molina di Grace Chianti Classico Riserva 2006

Origin: Tuscany, Italy

Sweetness: XD – Extra Dry

Style: Medium-Full Bodied, Smooth Finish

Grape Variety: Sangiovese Blend

Size: 750ml bottle

Alcohol: 13.5%

Price: $18-$28

Affordable Champagnes – Top 10 List

Given that 2015 is now upon us and we have all celebrated the New Year with a bottle of bubbly at least once or twice! Let’s take a moment to look at some champagne bottles that won’t break the bank, well maybe some of the top picks will, but every one deserves a treat once in a while, life is short after all!  This is a more unconventional post that doesn’t focus on wine specifically, but champagne is a close cousin of wine, so why not! I feel it’s most pertinent to count down the top 10 based on the variables of price and flavour, all are great for any special family occasion. Alla Salute!

Here are my rankings:

10. Champagne Victoire Brut Prestige – Fine bubbles, soft apple and pear aromas, medium bodied, $34-$45

9. Lamiable Brut Grand Cru Champagne – Raspberry, fig and pickled ginger flavours, a clean extra dry finish, $38-$48

8. Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champage – Straw colour, citrus and apple aromas, crisp and clean finish, $45-$55

7. Piper Heidsieck Brut Champagne – Citrus, apples and hazelnut aromas, medium bodied, $50-$60

6. Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial Champagne – Apple, pear, citrus, crisp medium bodied finish, $58-$68

5. Mumm Carte Classique Extra Dry Champagne – Citrus flavours with an extra dry fruity finish, rich and complex, $60-$70

4. Veuve Cliquot Brut Champagne – Citrus, apple and pear aromas, extra dry, medium to full bodied, $63-$73 (My wife’s personal favourite!)

3. Moet & Chandon Nector Imperial Champagne – Flavours of apricot, tropical fruit and toast, gold in colour, rich and complex, $63-$73

2. Laurent Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut Champagne – Black current, strawberries and licorice finish, extra dry, $90-$110

1. Dom Perignon Brut Vintage Champagne – Bread, apple, pear and mineral notes, why not try with fresh fish, one of the best! $195-$245