Swirl Wine Bar & Market

Friday, April 30, 2010

Finally!! The 2007 Pietradolce Archineri Etna Rosso

You may remember that I first talked about the 2007 Pietradolce Archineri when I posted my top 10 wine experiences of 2009. Brought in by our friend Matt Lirette, who thankfully has come to share my love for the Etna region and the Nerello Mascalese grape, this is such a beautiful, approachable expression of the varietal that I could hardly contain myself when it arrived in the shop on Friday. I've been bugging Matt about this wine ever since he got me a sample from North Berkley imports 6 months ago. He promised he would order it for me, but he thought the 2007 was out of stock, so it would probably be the 2008. Well I can't tell you how ecstatic I was when I open the box and pulled out a bottle of '07 and thinking it was just a fluke, I pulled out every bottle and all were the of the same delicious vintage I had last year. So I called him to please send me more.

View of the terrain near Solicchiata, Sicily

Anyway, since that evening when I first had it back in December, I've done a bit of research on the wine. The grapes for the Pietradolce come from vineyards near Solicchiata, on the north eastern slopes of the volcano where many of the prominent producers such as Passopisciaro, Frank Cornelissen, Terre Nere and a handful of others have staked their claim on the ancient volcanic soils. Winemaker Michel Faro at Pietradolce uses grapes from 50-60 years old vines grow at a dizzying 2,600 foot altitude, pushing their way up out of thick, black soils, a generous gift of the Etna, which are a mix of sandy loam, volcanic rock and mineral elements. It is 100% Nerello Mascalese and spends 14 months in French oak. And believe it or not, the 2007 was their first vintage!

Black volcanic soils of the Etna

I also found out that a few other also thought this wine was pretty spectacular as Gambero Rosso gave it their prestiges Tre Bicchieri award, given to less than 300 wines per year. So just what do you get with the Archineri? Another wine that reinforced for me the amazing things that can come from this grape! A heady perfume of red fruits, baking spices and caramel literally jump from the glass, with lush, almost jammy flavors of plum, raspberries and oranges coat your palate. And it is approachable now, unlike some of the other Etna Rosso I've had recently. But, quantities are very limited and I can sell no more that 2 bottles per person, so call if you are interested.

A Tre Bicchieri wine, from the slopes of the Etna, of this caliber and in my shop at under $40 a bottle...unbelivelable!

Thank you Matt!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Over Achieving Bodegas El Nido Clio

What do you get when you combine one of Australia's top winemakers, the leading Spanish wine importer and a family with a hundred years of winemaking experience behind them? Bodegas El Nido is the result of this passionate endeavor taken by Chris Ringland, Jorge Ordonez and the Gil Vera family (Bodegas Juan Gil) and their belief that the Jumilla region of Spain could produce world class wines. Featuring the Monastrell as their rock star varietal, the wines from this Bodegas El Nido are highly sought after and their fans anxiously await the arrival of the new vintages.

Somewhat controversial because of their nontraditional approach to Spanish wine, Bodegas El Nido is not about old world subtlety or finesse, but pure power and a hedonistic richness much more reminiscent of Napa or Australia. Adored by Robert Parker whose scores have never dipped below 93 points, they produce 2 wines the Clio ($45.99) and the El Nido ($100+).

So for those of you who are fans and some of you who might now be curious, call me to reserve your bottles of the Clio because there is very little to go around. Only 180 bottles make it to the state of Louisiana and believe me, it goes fast. And at it's modest price point it truly over delivers if you are looking for a wine with a big time "wow" factor!

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 94 points: The 2007 Clio is made up of 67% old vine Monastrell sourced from a vineyard planted in 1944 and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon from a vineyard planted in 1979. The alcoholic fermentation is in oak followed by ML in new barrels and aging for 26 months in new French and American oak. A glass-coating opaque purple color, it displays an in-your-face bouquet of wood smoke, underbrush, incense, blueberry, and black currant. Dense, chewy, packed and stacked, the fruit quality is superb, the balance impeccable, and the finish lasts for nearly a minute. It will be controversial with those who prefer low alcohol and finesse in their wines. Those who like unrestrained power and richness will adore it quite aside from the fact that it over-delivers for its relatively modest price. Drink it from 2011 to 2022.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What Are You Drinking? April's Best Sellers

Top 10 Under $10
1. Le Lapin Multiplicity, California
2. Apaltagua Pinot Noir, Chile
3. Arancio Grillo, Italy
4. Segura Viudas Brut, Spain
5. Louis Bernard CDR, France
6. Moreau Blanc, France
7. Los Cardos Sauvignon Blanc, Argentina
8. Mil Piedras Malbec, Argentina
9. Lagaria Pinot Grigio, Italy
10. Paul Bouchard VdT, France

Top 10, $10-$20
1. Lurton Pinot Gris, Argentina
2. La Poema Cava, Spain
3. Gloria Ferrer Va de Vi, California
4. Domaine St. Peyre Picpoul, France
5. Domaine Les Grands Bois Rose, France
6. Silver Palm Cabernet, California
7. Cooralook Pinot Noir, Australia
8. Novellum Chardonnay, France
9. Windmill Estate Zinfandel, California
10. Masroig Sola Fred, Spain

Top 10, $21 and Up
1. VMW Loula's Revenge, California
2. Red Head Studio Barrel Monkeys, Australia
3. Hartford Court 4 Hearts Chardonnay, California
4. Usseglio Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc, France
5. Gain Bay Cabernet, California
6. Louis Roederer Brut, France
7. VMW Crooked Mayor, California
8. Twenty Bench Cabernet, California
9. Mumm Cremant, France
10. Moises Vieux Carre Pinot Noir, Oregon

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Savory Bites

...offering tidbits of information on interesting discoveries in the food and wine scene of New Orleans.

Satsuma Cafe in the Bywater - Looking for fresh, local ingredients served to you in a cool, funky, New Orleans atmosphere? We took a break from the Jazz Fest crowds on Friday and snuck out for a quick lunch to check out this great little spot in the Bywater. Eclectic art, lots of recycled furniture and a colorful palate, give you lots to look at as you patiently wait for your food to be prepared in the open kitchen behind the counter.

The menu board offers everything from freshly squeezed juices recipes concocted from local produce, creative breakfast dishes, sandwiches and salads at great prices. We started with shots of wheat grass juice, followed by the kale salad made with lacinato kale, shaved fennel, tomatoes and crispy bacon served up with just the right amount of their delicious house made parmesan dressing. We also split the MLT sandwich made with fresh mozzarella, basil pesto spread, tuscan salami and dressed with garden fresh lettuce and tomatoes, of course served on home made bread.

An awesome, light, healthy lunch followed by a great cup of espresso. Why oh why don't we have something like this in Mid City???

Satsuma Café, 3218 Dauphine St. (504) 304.5962. Open Daily 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. They get much of their produce from Hollygrove Market & Farm.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Savory Bites

Those Fleetingly Fresh Fava Beans - April is always exciting month at our Crescent City Farmers Market. The warm days and cool nights of spring in the south encourage lots of new growth at our local farms and the market has plenty to show for it. It also marks the entry of one of my most favorite spring time vegetables, fava beans. I was so excited to see those heaping baskets of beans that I quickly began to come up with a recipe based on the favas that I could cook that night using ingredients available at the market (click here for Orchietti with Fresh Fava Beans and Gulf Shrimp).

The pale green beans in the big floppy pods have been a beloved early spring food on much of the planet for centuries. Usually available here from April to early June, they have a buttery texture, slight bitterness and lovely, nutty flavor they are well worth the time it takes to remove them from their pods and outer shells.

These ancient beans, whose most common alternate name is the Broad bean, were the primary legume grown in Europe before the introduction of the of the great diversity of New World bean varieties. Because of this history, Fava recipes are primarily based on European cooking traditions. Fava beans have been found in some of the earliest-known Old World human settlements. It is currently believed that they became part of the eastern Mediterranean diet at about 6000 BC and possibly even earlier. Favas are particularly used as a staple in Italian cuisine though they are generally associated with all Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cooking traditions. Favas also have an equally ancient association with Chinese cuisine. The most frequently heard alternate names for Fava beans are Broad beans, Windsor beans, Horse beans, and Pigeon beans.

So don't wait, get out and buy some fresh Favas! There are plenty of recipes online or you can check out mine from Saturday night, Orrechiette with Fresh Fava Beans and Gulf Shrimp. And here are the directions for prepping them so you can use them in recipes:

Before you begin to shell the beans, bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Snap the stem of each pod and use it to pull off the string that runs the length of the pod along the seam. Open the pod along this seam and brush the beans into a bowl.

Add the beans to the boiling water and cook them just until you can see a dark spot in the center of the bean's skin, about 3 minutes. Drain the beans and refresh them with cold water until they are cool enough to handle. Drain them well. With a pairing knife, pull off the dark, crescent shaped marking at the end of each bean. Squeeze the bean out through this opening. Discard the shell. The favas are now ready to eat or use in a recipe.

Orrechiette with Fresh Fava Beans and Gulf Shrimp

A delightful surprise this week at our local Crescent City Farmers Market was the appearance of one of my favorite very seasonal vegetables, Fava Beans! I was so excited to see those heaping baskets of beans that I quickly came up with a recipe and found most of what I needed there at the market.

We served this with one of my favorite Sicilian whites, that I'm sure I have written about before, the Principe Butera Insolia. This is such an amazing food wine and the lemon zest in the recipe brought out the delicious lemon and honeyed notes in the wine. Great acidity yet a nice full, roundness on the palate it is a staple on our shelves and we even visited the winery on our wine and culinary tour of Sicily last year. Click here for my post on our visit and the wine, Butera Insolia.


* 1 lb Fresh Fava Beans, in the pod (yields about a cup when shelled)
* 3 T Olive Oil
* 1 T Butter
* 2 Cloves Slivered Garlic
* 1 oz Pancetta Cut Into Tiny Dice,
* 3/4 lb Large Shelled Gulf Shrimp
*1/3 Cup White Wine (I used the Insolia)
* 1 Big Pinch Red Chile Flakes
* 2 T Chopped Fresh Basil
* 1/2 Cup Ripe Tomato, seeded, diced
* 2 t Grated Lemon Zest
* 8 oz Dry Orecchiette Pasta
* Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper

Garnish with
* Freshly Grated Parmesan
* Basil Sprigs


Remove beans from the pod and drop into boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes. Strain and immediately drop into ice water to stop the cooking. When cool, drain and remove the tough bitter outer skin. Set beans aside.

Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet and saute garlic over moderate heat until soft but not brown, add pancetta and saute 1 minute longer until translucent.

Turn up heat, add shrimp, fava beans, chile flakes, wine and basil and toss until shrimp just turn pink, about 2 minutes. Add tomato, lemon zest and pasta and toss to warm through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with shavings of cheese and basil sprigs.

Wine of the Moment, 2007 Feudo Principi di Butera Insolia

One of the stops on our wine and culinary tour of Sicilia, the drive alone to Feudo Principi di Butera was absolutely breathtaking. Winding roads took us from the sea, through the undulating sepia toned hills to the vineyards at 1000 feet in the province of Butera. We were meet by our hostess Irene Malazzo, in the tasting room of the beautifully restored baglio. Our day began with a glass of the refreshingly clean Zonin Prosecco, another wine produced by the Zonin family at their Veneto estate.

We toured the vineyards with Irene, impeccably maintained rows planted with indigenous and international varieties, such as Insolia, Nero d'Avola, Syrah, and Chardonnay. As they are used in vineyards across the world, rose bushes were planted at the head of each row to help determine the health status of vines. The rose acts like a sentinel of the vine as they are both susceptible to the same diseases. They assist the vineyard managers in detecting early symptoms of disease and so they can treat the vines accordingly.

We did the usual cellar tour and then headed to another building on the property for our wine tasting and lunch. The property itself was one of the most beautiful of the entire tour. While walking the grounds we were treated to views of the olive groves, tropical gardens and perfectly restored 18th century buildings that housed the winery and all of its workings.

Our lunch and the setting were simply amazing and we were joined by winemaker Antonio Cufar, a recent addition to the Zonin owned estate. We sampled all of the local products paired with the wines and spent a delightful afternoon with Irene and Antonio. Afterwards they took us to the tower on the estate where we were treated to more breathtaking views of the property.

The wines themselves have always been popular at Swirl. They offer a fruit forward, easy to drink introduction to Sicilian wines with the Insolia always being my personal favorite as it is the most terroir driven of the entry level lineup. Their single vineyard Nero d'Avola, Deliella is a frequent Tre Bicchieri winner and is the shining star of the estate. Winemaker Antonio took us to the fermentation room to try the first vintage of the Syrah he is producing and you can taste that he is taking the entry level wines in a more serious, structured direction. I am anxiously awaiting the release of his first vintage, the 2009's.

But the Insolia from any vintage is not to be missed. The 2007 is aging beautifully with lemon oil and honeyed almond notes and a full, roundness on the palate followed by a clean, crisp, acid finish. It is a staple in the store and a personal favorite with or without food. I had it Saturday night, paired the Orrechiette with Fresh Fava Beans and Gulf Shrimp and the pairing was divine. At $14.50 a bottle it is an exceptional wine and a delicious introduction to one of the island's indiginous varietals.

And Feudo di Prinicipi di Butera is a must visit if you ever travel to Sicilia. The warmth, hospitality, astounding beauty and amazing food and wine that we were treated to that afternoon was one of the highlights of our trip and remains one of my fondest memories. I hope to return soon!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Savory Bites

...offering tidbits of information on interesting discoveries in the food and wine scene of New Orleans.
The Farm to Table Movement Picks up Steam in New Orleans!

It is hard sometimes to think of the positive things that have resulted from hurricane Katrina and the failure of our levee system. But they are there, if you open your mind to the fact that having to rebuild has allowed us to make many things better than they were before, in fact better than I ever dreamed they could be. Two very prominent issues for me in my daily life are the amazing things happening at City Park and the increasing awareness of the importance of the farm to table movement. While the Crescent City Farmers Market has lead the way in introducing local farmers and their wares to us city dwellers, Katrina has somehow shown us the importance of supporting each other economically as well as how eating local not only tastes better but is better for you nutritionally!

In addition to our wonderful CC Farmers Market, we have many prominent community vegetable and fruit gardens, Hollygrove and Mid City to name a few, an active Slow Food chapter, an increase in backyard, urban gardening, many local chefs who are seeking out farm fresh meats, poultry and produce and a population of socially aware foodies who want the best on their tables without the big box price tags.

Also, edible community magazine, a national publishing and information services company that creates editorially rich, community-based, local-foods publications in distinct culinary regions throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, has started "edible new orleans". An absolutely beautiful local magazine, they connect consumers with family farmers, growers, chefs, and food artisans of all kinds through their publications, supporting websites, and events. The current issue has a lot of information on local gardens so pick one up at the shop on your next visit!

Now enter Jack and Jakes, something Kerry and I have wanted for years, an alternative to Whole Foods that offers truly fresh products – typically available at the Market within 3 days of harvest. Their mission, from the Jack and Jakes website: "Our food is truly local and is harvested within ~65 miles of the heart of the city. Our farmers and food artisans cultivate local varieties and use organic products that produce food that tastes better, retains more nutrients, and meets special dietary needs. We are proud to tell you that our fresh produce comes with seeds because we do not support or promote the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Our farmers use open pollinated and heirloom varieties that don’t ship well but taste great! We are working to save and promote our local food heritage through sustainable food practices that utilize locally adapted plants and animals."

A much needed service, Jack and Jakes will be opening this spring at 8300 Earhart Blvd., near the Carrollton intersection. Their model will reduce your food miles by bringing you fresh, local, and organic foods under the roof of a full service 7 day a week grocery store. Dry goods, dairy, pastured meats, local seafood, and seasonal local produce is their mission. Local first, everything else is second! I'll keep you posted on their progress or got to their site to check them out: Jack and Jakes

The Fig Report

I have not given an update in a while on my Sicilian fig cutting since nothing much was happening. Well Kerry fed it a little miracle grow last week and suddenly 3 new leaves have sprouted!

For the full story on my fig cutting's journey given to me the Planeta winery in Sicily by Chiara Planeta, click here: For the Love of Figs


Related Posts with Thumbnails