Solving the artichokes and wine pairing dilemma: try the Kogl Magna Domenica Albus

Why are artichokes so hard to pair with wine? The main culprit is cynarin, a chemical compound that changes the way our taste buds perceive flavors. After eating artichokes, many people experience extra sweetness in their food and drinks, while a few others may taste more bitter flavors. My problem is that I love wine and I love artichokes, especially when signs of springs are starting to be seen all around. So the other night, I made one of my favorite spring recipes, pasta with braised artichokes, green beans, lima beans, and bacon lardons. As for the wine, I decided to try the Kogl Magna Domenica Albus 2009. Home of the Cvetko family since 1820, the Kogl Winery is located in Northeastern Slovenia, not very far from the borders of Hungary, Austria, and Croatia. With a humid continental climate and prolongued freezing periods during wintertime, the region is famous for its white wines. The Magna Domenica Albus (Latin for “Grand White Estate Wine”) is the winery’s flagship wine. It is a blend of Riesling, Yellow Muscat, and Auxerrois, aged in traditional big wooden barrels. The wine had a light golden color and a lively flowery nose. The palate was dry, … Continue reading Solving the artichokes and wine pairing dilemma: try the Kogl Magna Domenica Albus

Its Dungeness crab season, its Grüner Veltliner season

One reason I love the holidays is that they mark the beginning of the Dungeness crab season. This tasty treat is harvested from mid November to the end of June, along the Pacific coast from Santa Barbara to as far as the Aleutian Islands in the Bering Sea. Being simply cooked in boiling water, its meat is sweet, tender, and slightly nutty. It is, I think, my favorite crustacean and the way I like it best is with just a squeeze of lemon, some bread and butter, and a glass of dry, mineral-driven, white wine. So the other day, we ate our first crab of the year with some delicious 2010 Geyerhof Grüner Veltliner Rosensteig. Grüner Veltliner is Austria’s national grape, accounting for more than 30 percent of the country’s vineyards and it is at its best along the Danube river were it grows in terraced vineyards on slopes so steep they can barely retain the soil, producing mineral-driven wines that can age well. The Geyerhof winery is situated on the southern slopes of the Danube Valley east of Krems. The owners, Josef and Ilse Maier, have 15 hectares of dry-farmed vineyards on loess, sand and tertiary gravel soils and … Continue reading Its Dungeness crab season, its Grüner Veltliner season

Shucking Plavac

powerfully flavored wild Belon oysters Most of my family holidays are spent on Peaks Island, Maine. A 30 minute ferry ride from the city of Portland, it is one of the most populous of the 365 Calendar Islands. In the summer tourists rule the place, gobbling up lobster and overloading the ferry, winter belongs to the wicked Nor Easter storms and the fishermen. Albeit unknowingly; I must thank my parents, for relocating from Southern California, to this, one of America’s great food destinations. Recently, my mom made friends with a favorite local oysterman. It was rumored that his were the best, so for this most recent visit she order 3½ dozen for just 4 of us. The guy hand delivered his day’s catch to the door. Most were these deliciously fresh, even sweet locally farmed ‘America’ oysters, but the real treat were the dozen strongly flavored wild Belon. Forgoing the typical compliment of Muscadet, or Chablis, I selected something more appropriate for the season. After all, in Maine, winter is the best season for oysters; so why should we drink summer wine? Receipt for the oysters My wife Kristyn and I were on the Peljesac Peninsula in Southern Croatia a … Continue reading Shucking Plavac

Invite Austria to your Thanksgiving table

Finding the perfect wine that can go with all the rich flavors found on the Thanksgiving menu, the turkey, the stuffing, the gravy, the cranberries, and the various side dishes, can be challenging. Nonetheless, I think that a wine that is bright and fruity, and not too tannic nor alcoholic, is always a great choice. So when I recently tasted the 2009 Juris St. Laurent Selection, I thought that this year, it was time to invite Austria to our Thanksgiving table. Owned by the Stiegelmar family, Juris farms 17 hectares of vineyards in the Neusiedlersee wine region, half way between Vienna and Budapest. This is the warmest part of Austria with climatic conditions well suited to red varieties, which explains the winery’s special focus on St Laurent and Pinot Noir wines. The Stiegelmar family has been cultivating grapes in this area since the 16th century. One of the winery’s underground cellars was built in 1756, Mozart’s birth year. It was dug 52 meters long, 12 meters below the surface, and maintains a stable temperature of 10°C (50°F). The underground cellars. But over the past 10 years, Axel Stiegelmar and his father Georg have developed a modern winery. The transport of … Continue reading Invite Austria to your Thanksgiving table

A Bikavér for Halloween

“As we leave our outdoor grill to gather dust and cobwebs and start dressing our house for Halloween, it is time to cozy up with harvest reds,” says Patrick Comiskey, a senior contributor for Wine & Spirits Magazine, in his latest article for the Los Angeles Times. Harvest reds are wines that taste like early fall, warm without being too bold, fruity with savory flavors that evoke wood smoke, fallen leaves, and wild mushrooms. But where to find them? “Lately there is no better place to start than the lap of Europe, which on my map is Austria and Hungary”, says Comiskey. “Both countries are enjoying a resurgence among their red wines; each has an interesting collection of oddly named indigenous (or nearly so) varieties that are being revived.” In Hungary, he adds, “your options are more limited but potentially more exciting. Importers such as Blue Danube are bringing small-production wines into the market, like the Soproni Kekfrankos made by Pfneiszl (about $15). Kekfrankos is Blaufränkisch, a bit more gripping and rustic than Austrian versions. Hungary is also the continent’s last great repository of Kadarka, a thin-skinned red variety thought to have originated in Romania, with a clean and peppery … Continue reading A Bikavér for Halloween

Making Shrimp Curry for a glass of Bott Határi Hárslevelű

2009 Bott Határi Hárslevelű It was close to dinner time and I had just opened a bottle of 2009 Bott Határi Hárslevelű. As I swirled the wine in the glass, catching the wine’s fragrant aromas, I realized that it was screaming for South Asian spices, rich spices like turmeric, clove, ginger, coriander, nutmeg, cumin. The Bott Határi Hárslevelű is a dry white wine from Tokaj, home to Tokaji Aszú, the world’s oldest botrytized wine, although Tokaj is increasingly well-known for its distinctive dry wines. It is produced by Bott Pince, a small winery founded by Judit and József Bodó in March 2006. Bott is Judit’s maiden name and she is the one crafting the wines while her husband focuses on the vineyard. The majority of the region’s vineyards are planted with Furmint but Hárslevelű is Judit Bodó’s favorite varietal as she explained in a recent New York Times interview: “Sometimes the furmint is too harsh,” she said, “too ‘gerade’ in German, too ‘straight’ and harslevelu has more play. It’s more layered, it has more nose, it has more nuance.” The Bodó family has 1.5 ha of vines on a west facing terraced slope in the classed vineyard of Határi. The … Continue reading Making Shrimp Curry for a glass of Bott Határi Hárslevelű