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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

Dunham XIV Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Dunham XIV Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Dunham XIV Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

 

The Dunham XIV Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 hails from Washington State, U.S.A. This is yet another excellent example of the beautiful wines being produced in America. Washington State is a hidden gem and the Columbia Valley should not be overlooked when choosing wines to drink now or wines to cellar for later. The 2008 Dunham Cabernet is a medium-full bodied red wine with a 14.1% alcohol level, the sweetness descriptor is extra dry, 1,528 cases of this beautiful red wine have been produced. The 2008 Dunham Cabernet drinks extremely well now and should do so for the next 2-3 years. The Dunham has a deep ruby colour and has scents of oak, cherries and blackberries, the flavours of plum and chocolate are pronounced and bring this wine together gracefully, it is truly pleasurable to sip. This wine pairs well with grilled and roasted meats, we opened ours with a roasted beef tenderloin and it stole the show! Wine Spectator scores this wine a 93. Alla Salute!

Summary:

Dunham XIV Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Sweetness: XD – Extra Dry

Style: Medium – Full Bodied

Grape Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon

Size: 750ml bottle

Alcohol: 14.1%

Price: $47-$67

Score: 93 Wine Spectator

 

The Prisoner 2012

The Prisoner CorkThe Prisoner 2012

 

Napa Valley, U.S.A. brings us yet another treasure with The Prisoner 2012. The Prisoner is a Zinfandel blend comprised of the following grape varieties: 66% Zinfandel, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Petite Syrah, 12% Syrah and 2% Charbono. This wine is medium to full bodied, I would say more full bodied, has a dark ruby purple colour and exudes the flavours of pepper, bay leaves, black currents and unsmoked cigar tobacco. This wine drinks well now but can be cellared for the next 3-4 years to allow its flavours to become more intense.  The prisoner will pair exceptionally well with grilled hamburgers, a barbequed steak, lamb or veal chop and works best with hard and firm cheeses like an Asiago or Grana Padano. The Prisoner comes in with an alcohol level of 15.2% and has a score of 90 from erobertparker.com. Enjoy with family and friends over the holiday season! Alla Salute!

Summary:

The Prisoner 2012

Sweetness: D – Dry

Style: Medium – Full Bodied

Grape Variety: Zinfandel Blend

Size: 750ml bottle

Alcohol: 15.2%

Price: $40-$60

Score: 90 (erobertparker.com)

Weekend Wine Additions!

Labelling

As the order arrived it became clear that it would take some time to properly label and store the new additions. This does not have to be a cumbersome experience, in fact, it can, and should be, one of the most enjoyable parts of the process, besides consumption of course! My suggestion is to always start with the drinking window of the wine. From there you can strategize on how to store, you can store by country of origin, type of wine, or even cost. The reason for storing by cost is typically that your lower costs wines will be consumed earlier in their life cycle so they would most likely be stored in a more accessible location in your wine cabinet, whereas, more expensive wines may require additional time to age in order for them to develop and can be stored in a deeper, less accessible location. A trick that can be used here is colour coding, whichever way you have decided to store your wine can have a colour. For example, France = Blue, Italy = Green, U.S.A = Red, Spain = yellow, this can also be done based on pricing/value levels or drinking window, this makes it less stressful when looking at your collection and knowing that your investment will be treated properly. You can use coloured stickers from your local craft store or professional bottle tags, wineenhtusiast.com sells them for $19.99 for 100 tags.

http://www.wineenthusiast.com/100-wine-enthusiast-color-coded-wine-bottle-tags.asp

These are of course just some suggestions, there is really no right or wrong way to store your collection, it comes down to personal preference in terms of strategy of organization. Organization being the key word here, putting bottles away without being properly organized and having a strategy by which to do so is risky, this may result in wines over aging past their optimal drinking window and turning. There are several wine cellar management software systems that exist to help if you choose, most are free and can easily download to your smart phone or tablet. Having gone through most of them myself, vinocellar appears to be the most encompassing, this one however, it $9.99 and can be downloaded from iTunes. My personal preference is to label myself, this is part of the fun and an enjoyable part of this hobby, the thrill of the hunt comes to fruition and is seen first hand when the labels are stuck to the neck of your bottles and you know you have a successful storage and cellar management strategy.  If your collection becomes too much to handle, never fear, wine cellar management consultants are available to help, but this will come at a cost. In my opinion, the most important thing is to have fun, it is your hobby after all! Alla Salute!

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Beringer

 

The 2011 Beringer cabernet sauvignon is a medium to full bodied dry wine with exceptional flavours and aromas such as chocolate, fresh herbs, currents and oak. This beautiful Nappa Valley creation drinks very well now but could cellar for a few more years with a maximum drinking window of 2020, it may develop more intense flavours over time but again drinks very well now, so why wait! The 2011 Beringer cabernet sauvignon is comprised of 95% cabernet sauvignon, 3% cabernet franc, 1% petit verdot and 1% merlot grape varieties. We paired this wine with chicken parmesan and rigatoni pasta with homemade tomato sauce, decanting this wine for an hour and giving it time to open up does it wonders. This wine also pairs very well with grilled red meats and firm cheeses, try it with an aged white cheddar! A very solid creation from the United States with a score of 90 from winealign.com. This is yet another fine example of some of the brilliant wines coming out of Napa Valley, California, U.S.A. Alla Salute!

Summary:

Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Sweetness: D – Dry

Style: Medium – Full Bodied, Firm

Grape Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon

Size: 750ml bottle

Alcohol: 14.5%

Price: $40-$60

Score: 90 (winealign.com)

IL Poggione Riserva Vigna Paganelli Brunello Di Montalcino 2003

The IL Poggione Brunello is deep in flavor exuding rich dark fruit tasting notes, with hints of leather and tobacco. This wine is rich and heavy but at the same time has great balance and structure, it drinks extremely well now but has a long-term anticipated maturity date of 2032. A Sangiovese blend true to it’s Tuscan form with firm tannins, for best results decant and give this wine 1 – 2 hours to open up, it is a sacrifice worth waiting for! We purchased this bottle in the 1500ml magnum format, not a typical habit, but this came in very handy for our Sunday family gatherings over dinner. IL Poggione Riserva has an alcohol level of 14.5% and has been scored a 95 by erobertparker.com. Try with penne arrabiata with spicy Italian sausage, Italian cheeses work best with the Poggione Riserva, try it with Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano.

Here is a recipe worth trying with your IL Poggione or your next Brunello di Montalcino:

http://feelingfoodish.com/penne-arrabiata/

Summary:

IL Poggione Riserva Viga Paganelli Brunello Di Montalcino

Origin: Tuscany, Italy

Sweetness: XD – Extra Dry

Style: Full Bodied

Grape Variety: Sangiovese Blend

Size: 1500ml bottle

Alcohol: 14.5%

Price: $118-$138

Score: 95, erobertparker.com

L’Aventure Optimus 2011

Is there anything that is produced by L’Aventure that is not a winner? Absolutely not! The 2011 Optimus is certainly no exception and is a great example of the quality wines being produced in the U.S.A. This beautiful wine is comprised of 50% Syrah, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Petit Verdot, this is a full bodied wine with a smooth finish. This wine delivers the flavours of black and blue fruits, floral notes, tobacco and cedar aromas. L’Aventure Optimus is produced in California by Stephan and Beatrice Asseo with careful selection given to the sloping hills in the west side of Paso Robles. This is an extra dry wine with an alcohol level of 15.6%, this wine has been scored a 94 by erobertparker.com. This wine drinks extremely well now but is also worthy of holding, those with the patience to do so can enjoy the sure to develop exuberant polished finish and mouth feel until 2021. Try this wine with grilled and roasted meats and vegetables and Asian cuisine flavours. We opened this bottle to accompany our homemade carbonara pasta with bacon and nothing could have served a better companion! Other notable submissions from L’Aventure include the Cote a Cote and the Estate Cuvee, both more than worth the price of admission and the time to age! Alla Salute!

Summary:

L’Aventure Optimus 2011 Origin: California, U.S.A

Sweetness: XD – Extra Dry

Style: Full Bodied & Smooth

Grape Variety: Syrah Blend

Size: 750ml bottle A

lcohol: 15.6%

Price: $45-$65