Category Archives: sauternes

Wine Pairings from a Novice


I hosted October’s Dead Grapes Society Meeting and decided to concentrate on pairings. It was definitely a challenge deciding what recipes would bring out the flavors of each type of wine not to mention could be prepared in a reasonable time frame. So I decided to go with a wide variety of flavors to try and cover all our bases.

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Here is our menu with pictures, recipes, and tasting notes to follow

SAVORY

Cheeses
Blue Cheese
Port Salut
Brie (Double Cream)
Polder Blanc Goat Gouda
Raspberry Jam to complement

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Mains
Polenta Fritters seasoned with red pepper flakes, oregano, and parmesan
Mini Beef Wellingtons
Bacon Wrapped Dates with Parmesan Cheese
Chicken Kebabs with Red Peppers, Onions, Crimini Mushrooms, and Bacon Wrapped Prunes

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SWEET

Chocolates
Dark Lindt Thins 85% Cocoa
Bittersweet with Nouguat 72% Cocoa
Milka Milk Chocolate 50% Cocoa
Milka White Chocolate 0% Cocoa

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Fruit and Nuts
Fresh Fruit- Pears, Bananas, Honey Crisp Apples, Cantalope, Strawberries
Dried Fruit- Dates, Prunes, Apricots, Cranberries
Honey Roasted Almonds

Dessert
Cream puffs with Bittersweet Chocolate Whisky and Cherry Liquor Sauce and Homemade Caramel Sauce

RECIPES

I gathered most of these off the net with some minor adjustments.

Mini Beef Wellingtons
1 Steak cut into rough 3/4 inch cubes
Chilled Refridgerator Crescent Dough (makes four per crescent, wraps 48 cubes per tube)
Boursin Cheese

1. Quarter a piece of crescent dough
2. Place a 1/4 teaspoon dollop of boursin cheese in center
3. Place a cube of steak into the center a wrap dough around it, try to fuse all the seams
4. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown
Can be made ahead and frozen, bake straight from the freezer, no need to thaw.

Bacon Wrapped Dates
Seeded Dried Dates
Parmesan (not grated)
Bacon Strips
toothpicks

1. Cut parmesian into match stick pieces
2. Place cheese into date
3. Wrap with bacon (1/3 of a strip will do it)
4. Secure with toothpick and bake at 400 degrees, turn after 10 minutes, bake until bacon is browned

Chicken Skewers
Red Peppers
Chicken thighs cubed
Mushrooms
White Onions
Italian Seasoning
Prunes
Bacon
Bamboo Skewers

1. Chop onions, red peppers, chicken and mushrooms into bite size pieces
2. Wrap prunes with bacon (1/3 strip)
3. Skewer each alternating
4. Dust with italian seasoning
5. Place on baking tray
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, until bacon is browned and chicken well done

TASTING NOTES

Chateau de Beauregard-Ducourt 2005 (80% Merlot/ 20% Cab)-$13– beef wellington, bacon dates, dark and bittersweet chocolate, port salut, brie, chocolate covered fruit
Despite being decanted for 1+ hour, the majority of us felt that this was a harsh minerally bordeaux that definitely needed food to take away from its chalky finish. It was noted that it brought out the meatiness of the beef wellington and paired particularly well with the bacon dates. The tannins in this pour definitely calls for a rich dish to cut through.

Domaine des Chazelles Vire-Clesse 2005 White Burgundy-$17– chicken, polenta, goat cheese, port salut, brie,
This was one of the favorites of the night. It had a savoriness to it that was described as cheesy and rich flavor. The polenta and goat cheese went particularly well with it as well as the chicken kabobs. Mellow and deep, this white burgundy paired easily with a wide variety of foods.

Domaine des Gatilles Chiroubles Cru du Beaujolais 2004-$13– bacon dates, strawberries, raspberries, port salut, brie, dark, bittersweet chocolate
This wine paired beautifully with strawberries and on the savory end the beef wellingtons. It was very fruity and light, a very drinkable wine although not very distinctive.

Les Tours dโ€™ Amelie Viognier 2005-$12– chicken, polenta, bittersweet, milk chocolate, blue cheese, goat cheese, dried apricots, dates
Crisp and tart, this viognier went well with fruit, particularly cantalope, pears, and dried apricots. The blue cheese and chicken went well with it too. Most felt that it was high in acidity and was complex. More on the mineral side of the spectrum and less floral, this pour showed good depth of flavor. On the nose it was surprisingly savory reminiscent of aged cheese, but on tasting had the characteristic crispness of viognier. This was definitely another favorite of the night.

dโ€™Arenberg Vintage Fortified Shiraz Port 2002-$30– milk chocolate, caramel, white chocolate, fruit, brie, cream puffs, almonds, dried fruit, chocolate covered fruit
Although described as being part of the tawny spectrum of ports by the wine sellars, we felt that this definitely hovered towards the ruby style of ports. There wasn’t the sense of caramel or raisin notes that you would find in tawnies. However, the more caramel toasted nature came out with honey roasted almonds, and it paired wonderfully with chocolate. Notes of chocolate were found by most everyone in our group. Things to avoid were lighter sweet fruits like strawberries that brought out the berry quality of this port and made it border on cough syrup.

Chateau Huradin Ceron Sauternes 1999-$20– white chocolate, blue cheese, cream puffs, almonds, dried fruit, caramel, pears
Golden yellow in the bottle, this Sauternes was rich and sweet, some felt however that it lacked much depth or flavor. Although for the price and for the concentrated sweetness, its not bad for a Sauternes. This particular year is supposedly one of the better ones for the vineyard in terms of forming the nobel rot. However, most of the group felt it fell flat on its own. However, it paired well with blue cheese, cream puffs, caramel, and fruit. The food brought out interesting notes of apricots and burnt sugar.

Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail: Part II

These are the middle of the road wineries that are worth while to hit, but wouldn’t be a great travesty to miss.

Lemon Creek Winery

Doubling as a pick-your-own fruit farm, this is a bustling little winery just across the street from Domaine Berrien. It’s got a rather sparse tasting bar, and the servers get you moving so you can mosey on to their fruit stall.

ORGASMIC ๐Ÿ˜ฎ : Moon Shadow Cabernet Franc Ice Wine ($45)- With the same subtle raisin and nuttiness as a good Madeira, I was pleasantly surprised by this unique ice wine. Touted to be the only Cabernet Franc ice wine in the United States, this little gem is for those who like sweet fortified wines and their port on the tawny side.

NOT BAD ๐Ÿ™‚ : Silver Beach Sauternes ($9)- Although watery and thin for a Sauternes, this bottle is definitely worth the price. It drinks like a nice fruity Riesling. Clean, citrus, and refreshing, this would go perfect with seafood or any lighter fare.

KarmaVista

Among the wineries on the northern end of the trail, this small vineyard definitely has a vibe of serenity and calm. The tasting room is a cozy area with tons of trinkets and wine whatsits to buy.

NOT BAD ๐Ÿ™‚ : Ryno Red ($8.50)- Fruity and dry, this is a good basic table red. One of the better reds of the bunch I would say. Would go well with pasta or any meaty dish.

Warner Vineyards

The tasting room for this particular winery is full of character, featuring a random train car in front and a restaurant attached. The tasting room itself is a nice open space where you can sip and peruse. The wines here are decent, but do not back the pomp of being one of the oldest wineries in Michigan.

NOT BAD ๐Ÿ™‚ : Grapes of Love ($10)- This is a good fruity white with nice complexity and is on the sweeter side. Understandably their best selling wine, this is an all around good buy. Would go well with a chocolate or a fruity dessert.

Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail: Part I

As the other Asian who did not venture on the Memorial Day Michigan wine trip, I felt obligated to go on my own outing and explore the wine region closest to the Windy City, the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail. The trip was a great break from the city. We managed to fit in all the wineries. So there is A LOT to review, hence the “Part I.”

We stayed at Benton Harbor (features much cheaper lodgings) and drove the 5 minutes into St. Joseph’s and toured the local wineries. We used the handy dandy wine trail map provided by the wineries

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There was a lot to do and see, especially since this was a first visit for all of us. So I want to keep this short and informational. We went to almost all of the wineries in the region, and almost all of the tourist attractions in there area. First the WINE…Some general comments:

  1. Stick to the whites, the reds fall a little flat and can be a little too tannin. Rieslings abound, many of them are styled more in the California or French style, meaning less fruity, more mineral
  2. Do leave room to try the fruit wines and dessert wines if you have a sweet tooth
  3. ALL of the tastings were FREE

THE WINERIES IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE

Best: Round Barn, Domaine Berrien, Tabor Hill

Eh, So-So: Karma Vista, Lemon Creek, Warner

Pass: St. Julian, Contessa, Free Run, Hickory Creek

Round Barn Winery

By far the best experience we had. The winery is nestled in a scenic spot. The tastings are generous and we felt it a rare treat to find a place that makes wine, beer, and vodka.

Tasting: $8= 5 wines, 1 dessert, 1 vodka, 3 beers + Free Glass + Free Tastings at Free Run Cellars

ORGASMIC ๐Ÿ˜ฎ : DiVine Vodka ($34.99)- A unique grape vodka, this stuff is smooth, so very smooth, makes-babies-bottoms seem-like-sandpaper smooth
DAMN GOODS ๐Ÿ˜‰ : Gerwurstraminer ($15.99)-floral, honey, spice, complex
NOT BADS ๐Ÿ™‚ : Artesia Spumante ($14.99)– fruity, refreshing, sparkling…you could get worse with the price, but you could get better
Golden Ale-
refreshing light, hoppy
GHETTO HOOCH ๐Ÿ˜ฆ : Pale Ale, Amber Ale, most of the dry reds

Domaine Berrien Cellars

Although this has less of the fun and flair of vineyards like Round Barn, St. Julian, or Warner, the wines here are surprisingly good and very drinkable. There is a nice outdoor deck where you can enjoy your wine and they will fix you a nice picnic basket of local treats from their fridge case so you can have a little snack. Try the local buffalo and venison sausage. Laid back and unassuming, the standout thing about this place is its wine.
ORGASMIC ๐Ÿ˜ฎ : Cabernet Franc Ice Wine ($50.00)– A cool half a benji this ice wine is unique and flavorful. If you like madeira and sherry, you might find yourself forking over the cash for this tasty liquid. With hints of toasted almonds, walnut, caramel, and raisins, its a complex rich drink. I did not regret giving up my 5 bucks for a taste, but unfortunately felt that I could get a better madiera like experience with a true $50 madiera. Still it is neat to see such a rare type of ice wine.
DAMN GOODS ๐Ÿ˜‰ : Vignoles 2006 ($10.50)– A nice summer white, it has hints of pineapple, apple, and citrus. Its a great clean and fruity pour and well worth the price tag.
Marsanne 2006 ($14.50)– I preferred the Vignoles, but this is less sweet and has a lot of great complexity. Hints of spice and honey, this has good body and is very light and drinkable.
NOT BADS ๐Ÿ™‚ : Crown of Cabernet 2004($23)– has good body, fruit, hint of oak. Not sure if its worth the $ Viognier 2006 ($18.50)– viogniers are so great in general, complex, flowery, fruity, this one is okay, but again you can get better for the money
GHETTO HOOCH ๐Ÿ˜ฆ : Grandma’s Red

Tabor Hill

Probably one of the most successful wineries on the trail, Tabor Hill is definitely has the feel of a larger more professional winery. The restaurant features fine American dining. There are several tasting rooms in the area so where ever you go it is worth a stop to sample. 8 Free Tastings offered.

DAMN GOODS ๐Ÿ˜‰ : Angelo Spinazze’s Spumante ($13.45)- Good complexity, sweet, bubbly, fruity, and floral. Worth the price, especially if you are a fan of sweeter spumante or asti
Classic Demi-Sec ($8.45)- One of their most populat with good reason. A very good basic fruity wine, refreshing and crisp.

NOT BADS ๐Ÿ™‚ : Blanc de Blanc ($13.45)- Not as sweet or complex as the Spumante, but definitely in the same vein of style. It is more of a mellow, fruity sparkling white. Some may prefer it over the Spumante if they lean more towards salt than sweet.

TO BE CONTINUED!!!

 

 

Sauternes: A little fuzz ain’t so bad

A rich golden yellow, Sauternes just looks heavenly. I would have included a picture, but its so gorgeously golden you might go blind looking directly at it. In any event, if you noticed an Asian girl rubbing her hands together in front of the Sauternes section of a wine shop it was most likely me. This beautiful dessert wine is a combination of three grapes: Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle. However, its not the combination grapes that give Sauternes its lovely richness, honeyed flavor, and raisiny notes its a fungus that some call the Noble Rot. This little fungus helps the grapes collect high amounts of sugar and alcohol while they ripen. Unfortunately, its quite difficult to grow proper grapes and most bottles can be quite pricey, hence all the hand rubbing..sigh ๐Ÿ˜ฆ In terms of taste and luxury, Sauternes is the Apollo of wines, pure sunshine, honey, and to savor, but a little unattainable and fickle. Lucky me managed to snag a bottle though after all my lusting. In keeping with the fungus theme, I chose a salty blue cheese…mmm…amazing what a little something gross can do, Anjou pears, and some mellow cream crackers to balance out the sweetness of this wine. The combination was definitely tasty and appropriate for the lazy summer days.

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Chateau Broustet Sauternes 2001 (France) $30 – Damn good ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Sniff, sniff…..look how little I have left. You know why?…because it was damn good. (as in damn that girl is fine….or damn this chicken is tasty) Anyways, down to the knitty gritty. This particular bottle, although on the cheaper spectrum of Sauternes, is fantastic. It had a little nutty raisiny tones to it and was refreshingly sweet but not cloying. Fruity and vibrant with a hint of pear, this would make for a lovely start or end to a meal, day, or night. For those not into sweet at all it may be a bit much, but paired with salty treats such as blue cheese or cured meats this can definitely please anyone.

Sniff- honey, mild sweet

Sip- raisin, honey, pear, green grape (the real stuff, not the articial flavoring pop rocks kind)

Eat- salty fair balanced with fruit- cured meats, blue cheese, gruyere, feta, any salty cheese…would go well with goat cheese and light fruit