Swirl Wine Bar & Market

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wine of the Moment, 2007 Sineann Abondante

With his winery located in the Yamhill Carlton district of Oregon, Sineann winemaker Peter Rosback takes advantage of his proximity to Washington State vineyards by producing both Oregon and Washington wines. He sources his fruit from some of the best vineyards in the region; Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley and the Hood River Valley, Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel from the Columbia Valley, Gewurztraminer from the Willamette Valley and the Columbia Gorge.

Peter is known for being a meticulous winemaker. Only the best fruit is selected then hand sorted, delicately destemmed, punched down by hand, gently pressed and gravity racked. The wines are aged in new and one year old French oak.

We've been in love with his whites for awhile now with the Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer holding a regular spot on our shelves. Lately I've had many requests for Peter's red wines, so be on the look out for more of the amazing, small production wines from the Pacific Northwest!

The Abondante is a gorgeous blend of Cabernet, Syrah, Grenache, Zinfandel and Merlot. The nose is filled with plums and cassis, with cedar and smoke...medium in body, with dark and black fruits and chocolate notes and a luxurious mouthfeel, a great addition to our wine bar menu!

Available at the bar only, $11/glass.

The Fig Report

I've had quite a few people inquire about the status of my fig cutting from Sicily. We now have three nice sized leaves and I feel like it is probably getting to be time to put it in a bigger container. Hopefully in the next few months I'll actually be putting this thing in the ground! Kerry brought back quite a few varieties of peppers also and it is getting time to plant them and see what happens. We'll keep you posted. Click here for the story on how this cutting made it all the way from Sicily: For the Love of Figs

Pasta e Ceci

A classic Italian soup, I fell in love with this the first time I had a version of it at Ristorante Del Porto in Covington. I've been thinking about it ever since, so I played around with a recipe last week and was very pleased with the outcome. It is rich and creamy even though it has no dairy or cream and was the perfect meal on Ash Wednesday to wind down after a LONG Mardi Gras season!

Like the Holy Trinity of New Orleans cuisine, a "soffritto" is the starting point for many Italian soups, sauces and stews. While locally we use equal parts onion, celery and green peppers, in Italy the base is usually a combination of carrots, onion and celery with the proportions of each depending on what you are cooking.

If I had more time I would have soaked dried chick peas overnight and made a homemade chicken stock. But, it was the day after Mardi Gras and I just couldn't deal with all of that! So here is a relatively quick version of this delicious, hearty, Italian classic!

1/3 C. olive oil
1 med. onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 6" sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
2 cans chickpeas
3 T. tomato paste
3-1/2 cups chicken stock
3-4 ounces small pasta shapes (ditalini are preferred, but I used orecchietti)
1/4 -1/2 tsp peperoncino
grated parmigiano-reggiano
basil chopped
premium olive oil
Salt and pepper to season

1. Pour the olive oil into a heavy based saucepan and heat gently. Add the rosemary to the pan and fry over a gentle heat till it begins to release its aroma.
2. Add the onions, carrots and celery to the pan and fry over a gentle heat till soft and golden.
3. Add the tomato paste and fry for just a couple of minutes before adding the cooked chickpeas, stock and peperoncino. Simmer for approx 20mins, then remove about half of the soup and process through a food mill (use a blender if you don't have a food mill). Return the pureed soup to the pan.
4. Add the raw pasta then simmer gently, stirring regularly to make sure the pasta doesn't start sticking to the base of the pan. Add a little more water/stock if necessary.
5. Once the pasta is done, let it rest for a few minutes before serving.
6. Sprinkle with cheese, basil, salt and pepper and serve with a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wine of the Moment, Farnese Montepulciano D'Abruzzo

My love for Italian wine keeps me constantly on the look out for lesser known wines that represent great values and easy drinking. After our food and wine tour of Sicily, southern Italy is where it's at for me right now. And while Abruzzo is just barely considered part of the Mezzogiorno, its mountains have shielded it from the northern influences, aligning its culture, cuisine and wine making styles more closely related to that of the south.

If you head due east from Rome, you'll run into the region of Abruzzo, bordered by the Appenines Mountains to the west, the Adriactic Sea to the east and home to the Montepulciano grape. Montepulciano is one of Italy's most important grapes, and it is the defining variety for Abruzzo just as Sangiovese is for Tuscany and Aglianico is for Campagnia.

Stylistically you have two different wines that are produced from the Montepulciano grape; the young, more common fruit forward type seduces the palate with velvety mouthfeel balanced by a rustic edge that keeps it intriguing and the more tannic, ageworthy style from the Colline Teramane zone.

This young, easy, Farnese Montepulciano D'Abruzzo is the former and made by a prodcuer that’s been making wine for over four centuries in the Colline Teramane zone. An incredible value, it brings ripe, luscious fruit, satin-textured bramble, black cherry and wild berry flavors with soft leather and a touch of earth. This wine will be an ideal pairing with the Creole Daube featured recipe this week!

A steal at $12.99!

Delectable Daube

"A Sunday Morning Breakfast". Photo of interior of Madame Begue's Restaurant, 1894

In a New York Times article dated December 29, 1907, readers learned the secrets behind making Daube d’Italienne according to a recipe from the restaurant made famous by Madame Begué in New Orleans. The restaurant’s namesake had died the previous year and operations were taken over by her daughter and son-in-law, the Anouilles.

“Lard a nice piece of beef,” the recipe stated, “about three inches thick with strips of fat ham and pieces of mashed garlic.” Louisiana colonial cooks routinely used hog lard and bear fat for their flour-based thickening agent (or roux). Then “brown the meat thoroughly on both sides,” adding both “carrots and onions, and enough water to cover the whole.” The suggested seasonings were “salt, pepper, cloves, bay leaf and parsley.” After putting this over the fire early “in the morning” and cooking “slowly without interruption at least eight hours” (and with a few other steps), one was to serve the meat that evening over macaroni along with “a good sprinkling of grated Italian cheese”. (click here for a PDF scan of the original NYT article)

From its humble beginnings, the New Orleans Beef Daube is a wonderful example of how French and Italian cooking merge in this food mecca, be it in restaurants or at home. In its classic French form, daube (pronounced dohb) is a beef roast that is larded or stuffed with salt pork slivers and cooked in broth and wine until tender. But the simple, home-style version that developed over the years adds a Sicilian twist that can be as simple as a beef roast cooked in red gravy until falling apart and served with spaghetti.

So here is the classic New Orleans Creole Daube recipe that Dale Curry and New Orleans Magazine put out in an article in 2005 on "Saving the Daube". Don’t be off put by the long slow-cooking process. The dish can simmer on the stove with little attention while you catch up on rest and relaxation.

Creole Daube
  • 3-pound rump roast
  • 5 cloves garlic, 2 slivered and 3 minced
  • Salt, Pepper, Creole seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper chopped
  • 2 ribs celery chopped
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 14-ounce can beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne to taste
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

With a sharp knife or ice pick, punch holes in the roast about 2 inches apart and stuff with slivers of garlic. Rub roast generously with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning. Heat oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven and brown roast well on all sides over medium-high heat. When browned, take roast out of pot and set aside.

In the same oil, sauté onion, bell pepper and celery over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic and cook for 5 more minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it almost begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Add tomato sauce and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes. Add wine, beef broth, Italian seasoning, cayenne, salt if needed and sugar and stir well.

Return roast to pot, fat side up, turn fire to low, cover and simmer for 4 hours or until roast is very tender. Stir well every hour and turn roast over halfway through cooking. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with spaghetti. Serves 6.

Pair with the Farnese Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, this weeks wine of the moment!

Recipe and photo from myneworleans.com, New Orleans Magazine February 2005, "Saving the Daube".

Ex-Saints Player Makes Extraordinare Wine

What do you get when you combine an ex-NFL safety with a degree in genetics and a passion for farming? Terry Hoage, the two time All-American from Georgia, actually spent a year with the Saints after being drafted by Bum Phillips, but was waived the next year by new coach Jim Mora. He then went on to a very successful 5 years with the Philadelphia Eagles, followed by another 6 years playing with Washington Redskins, Houston Oilers, San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. Terry retired from football in 1996 the rest of the story goes like this:

Terry Hoage's transformation from highly regarded NFL safety to highly regarded vintner began like a bad joke: "A guy walks into a bar. . . ." In 2000 the guy, Hoage, moved with his wife, Jennifer, and two children from Phoenix (his 13-year career with six teams had ended with the Cardinals in 1996), to California, eventually landing in Paso Robles, a burgeoning wine center two hours north of Santa Barbara. Hoage stopped by a local watering hole and hit it off with a group of thirtysomethings who happened to be oenophiles--"the wine geniuses of Paso Robles," he calls them. Under the guidance of his new friends, Hoage bought a 26-acre plot, where one of the geniuses, Justin Smith, helped him plant vines and provided him with the facilities and equipment to make his wine. Within a few years Hoage had his own 3,000-square-foot winery; his first vintage, in 2005, produced 100 barrels.

Hoage does everything from marketing his product and leading tours (with Jennifer's help) to fixing the tractor. He produces roughly 2,000 cases a year of wines that bear sly names like The Hedge Syrah, referring both to a pruning technique and to a fabled feature of the stadium at Georgia, where Hoage was an All-America both on the field and in the classroom. (He graduated with a degree in genetics and a 3.8 GPA.) Far from being an aspiring Mondavi, Hoage has capped his production and says he's happy to remain a boutique winemaker. For him the business is less a moneymaking venture than a means to challenge himself. "I tend to get bored pretty easily," he says. "But here I get to be a scientist, an engineer, a marketer--I even taught myself to weld. I can be killing gophers in the afternoon and leading a wine tasting at night!" (article from sports illustrated)

One of the true "Rhone Rangers" of California, Terry's small production, highly rated wines made exclusively from Rhone varietals, Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre, Counoise, Cinsault, Grenache Blanc and Roussane are extraordinare examples of gorgeous, rich, lush wines that embody the spirit of the Rhone, in a ripe, California style. The wines blew us away when we tasted them, and with Parker scores rarely under 90 points, I think you'll be very impressed as well! In his August 2009 edition of the Wine Advocate, Parker says of the 2006 Block Five, "This is the kind of wine the Central Coast should be producing more, an intriguing blend that is both hedonistically and intellectually pleasing".

We are excited to have Terry and his wife Jennifer in the shop on Tuesday, February 23 at 6:30pm for a tasting of his wines. Meet the Hoage's, taste some great wine, get your bottles signed and have a little fun with us. Here's what we'll be tasting:

“The Gap” Cuvee Blanc 2008 -Fragrant jasmine and marmalade mingle with dried apricot and perfumed powder, a medium bodied white blend of Grenache Blanc and Roussanne has a juicy intensity and a lingering floral honeysuckle finish with terrific crisp acidity. 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Roussanne. 100 cases produced

Bam Bam” Estate Rose 2008 - Aromas of juicy ripe strawberry and cherry blossom entice the nose of this lovely pink rose. Showing nice weight on the palette, and displaying excellent fruitiness and great acidity. Excellent for enjoying on a hot evening. 80% Syrah 20% Grenache. 110 cases produced.

“The Hedge” Syrah 2006 - (RP 89, WS 92) Pure ripe chunky fruit with boysenberry, ripe black cherry,and wild blackberry. Layered with Vosges chocolate and dried black Þg, and nuances of sweet tobacco, loamy earth,and perfumed purple violets. Finishes with pure fruit and spicy licorice. Firm tannins mellow with airing. Long and lingering finish. 100% Syrah. 405 cases produced.

“5 Blocks” Cuvee 2006 – (RP 90, WS 90) Uncommon depth and concentration of huge blackberry, huckleberry and cassis with subtle notes of smoke and creamy stewed caramelized morel mushroom. This lovely blend is fleshy and concentrated with long spicy pepper and anise finish. Firm ripe tannins will further smooth with cellaring. 57% Syrah, 29% Grenache, 7% Mourvedre and 7% Cinsault. 365 cases produced

“The 46” Grenache-Syrah 2006- (RP 90, WS 92) Has amazing fruit purity and range of flavors, from freshly picked blackberries and ripe plums, kirsch, mineral, spice and earthy truffle. Graceful mouthfeel with velvety tannins on the intense lingering finish that has a touch of bittersweet chocolate and just the right amount of acidity to carry the long finish . 50% Grenache 50% Syrah. 485 cases produced.

“The Pick” Cuvee 2006 - (RP 90, WS 89) Bright fruit of wild blackberry with cranberry notes that are vivid and youthful, yet intense and focused, herb de Provence, white peppery spice, earthy mushroom Þll the palette. Finishes long and persistent with forest mushrooms, spice and smoky toast. 54% Grenache, 23% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre and 8% Counoise. 310 cases produced.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Club Swirl February Selections From Spain

Part wine club, part discount program, "club swirl" offers a great way to try new and exciting wines from around the world. Benefits include our 2 wines of the month, discounts on all wine purchases and tastings, invitations to special members only tastings, advance email notices on special wines brought into the store and more for only $39.99/month! Memberships applications are available, call 504.304.0635 for more details.

2007 Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat

If anyone embodies the promise and spirit of “The New Spain,” it is 43-year-old Alvaro Palacios. His L’Ermita is widely considered—along with Peter Sisseck’s Dominio de Pingus— to be the most important Spanish wine in a generation.

One of nine children born to the owners of Rioja’s respected Palacios Remondo, Alvaro studied enology in Bordeaux, while working under Jean-Pierre Moueix at Chateau Pétrus. He credits his tenure at Pétrus for much of his winemaking philosophy and for showing him “the importance of great wines.”

Alvaro could have returned to the security of his family’s domaine. Instead, he was drawn to remote and wildly beautiful Priorat, 60 miles from Barcelona, which had been one of Spain’s important pre-Phylloxera wine regions. With its unique terroir of steep hills and terraces Alvaro believed that here he could make a wine that was like a cross between Pétrus and Grange.

In 1995, the flow of critical praise for Alvaro’s L’Ermita began, and it hasn’t stopped. But while L’Ermita has received most of the attention, Alvaro produces other wines compelling in their own rights: Finca Dofí, Les Terrasses and Camins.

The 2007 Camins del Priorat marks the first year for this exciting entry level Priorat by the man considered the region’s greatest producer. It is a blend of 30% Garnacha, 60% Cariñena, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah made from vines that are 10-50 years old, aged in 100% French oak for 8 months, then bottled unfiltered. Red berry fruits, meat, spice, pepper and oak on the nose. It's a medium bodied Priorat, with lovely dense plum and red berry fruit, lots of pepper and spice and a real juicy core, oak is integrated and crucially the tannins are ripe making it very approachable now. It's got a lovely meaty savory character along with the berry fruits. It's a delicious approachable style with fabulous fruit. A real winner for drinking over the next 3-5 years, though really enjoyable now.

2007 Bodegas Zarate Albarino

Bodegas Zarate is among the oldest family growers of Albariño in Galicia, with their first release in 1950. This tiny 7 hectare farm with very old vines and single vineyard releases is the most eclectic and terroir-driven estate in Galicia. Ernesto Zarate was one of the pioneers in the production of Albariño in the 1950s.

Today winemaker Eulogio Pomares Botana studied in both Bordeaux and then Germany to investigate parallels between Albariño and Riesling. His first vintage was 2000 and he has steadily been upgrading technology but, mainly, improving quality in the 11 vineyards which they either buy from or own. Average vine age is an impressive 35 years and some are being planted, ungrafted, with a view to biodynamic viticulture. As in so much of this area, granite soils predominate.

The estate is dedicated entirely to the Albariño variety and it’s century-old vineyards, expressing the character of each vineyard in the wines. The 6.54 hectare estate and it’s 11 vineyards are located in the villages of Sisán and Padrenda which lie in the Salnés Valley (the northwest subzone of Rias Baixas). All of the family vineyards are planted with Albariño and this level of focus and dedication to quality puts the wines in high demand, leaving only tiny quantities for markets outside of Spain.

The Zarate is 100% estate grown Albarino, aged in stainless steel with 6 months sur lie. It is pure and unadulterated Albariño fruit that is strongly mineral and very focused and tight. Unlike some paler versions of Albariño, this wine should drink well for the next 2-3 years.

2005 Bodegas Castano Solanera

Located in Southeastern Spain, the region of Yecla lies to the east of Jumilla and to the west of Alicante. The Yecla region’s progressive leader, Bodegas Castaño, has long been an advocate of the Monastrell varietal, also known as Mourvèdre. The varietal is best regarded for its influence on the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape where the terroir and climate is not dissimilar to that of Yecla. Both benefit from a very warm, Mediterranean climate with warm days and nights.
Created by Ramon Castaño Santa and his 3 sons, Bodegas Castaño is not nearly as old as the vines it owns. Starting quite small, the family has nurtured old plantings and re-planted other parcels and now owns about 400 hectares (10% of the D.O.) in four prime vineyard estates.

Bodegas Castaño, as it is known today for its entrepreneurial spirit, focus and vision, really begun in the early 80’s when it slowly and carefully started to experiment with bottling and its state of the art winery facility. The family’s commitment to both quality and the Monastrell variety is unparalleled. Today, Daniel Castaño, one of Ramon’s sons, runs the winery with the help of other members of the family.

The 2005 Solanera is a blend of 65% Monastrell, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Garnacha Tintorera aged in French oak. It reveals an expressive perfume of underbrush, licorice, graphite, blueberry, and black cherry. This is followed by an elegant, intense, smooth-textured wine with tons of red and black fruit, excellent balance, and a lengthy finish. This tasty effort will drink well over the next four years.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

Krewe of Cork Parade

Celebrating in the streets with Jeanne and Bruno.

What an amazing day! Six straight hours of Taittinger Champagne, lots of fun with our friends from Republic and the shop, great costumes and a festive parade through the Quarter. And of course Clovis was the perfect Grand Marshall for the event!

Photo by Michael DeMocker, Times Picayune


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