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Posts Tagged ‘Louis/Dressner Selections’

On Sunday morning I woke up early and went to the market. Overnight, we had what I hope will be the last snow of the winter and it seemed like perfect weather for meatballs. I got home from the market and went to work. I like to make my meatballs and sauce in the morning so it has the day for the flavors to marry. After I had completed my work in the kitchen, I headed downstairs to continue work on my cellartracker project and kept an eye out for a good pairing.

The Meatballs
I have always loved a good meatball, probably because my mom’s are so good. I remember her meatballs from when I was a little and she still often makes them when we go home. Her spaghetti and meatballs are one of my favorites meals as they deliver a lot of comfort, love and flavor.  In developing my take on meatballs, I have tried to measure up to my mom’s while also doing a few things to make them my own.

One of my takes on meatballs has to do with how I handle the breadcrumbs. I incorporate breadcrumbs three ways — sautéed with the garlic, shallot and onion; soaked in milk; and added to the ground meat. I use ground beef, veal and pork (about 2 parts beef to 1 part veal and 1 part pork). I sauté some garlic, shallot and onion with garlic salt, celery salt, salt and pepper, poultry seasoning and the breadcrumbs. While that is on the stove, I soak some breadcrumbs in milk and when done I combine everything in a bowl and combine the sautéed ingredients with the meat, add the breadcrumbs soaked in milk  and then add more bread crumbs, dried parsley, parmesan and pecorino cheese, a couple of eggs and some chopped pine nuts. I cook the meatballs in a pan at a gentle heat and pull them when I think they are about 75 percent cooked. By this time, I have made a basic tomato sauce and add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

For a wine pairing, I actually considered pouring a red wine from Jura. I really like the wines from Jacques Puffeney and Jean-François Ganevat — they are bright and acidic and seem like they would pair well with Italian fare. I also considered something from Arianna Occhipinti, but inventory is starting to dwindle and all of her wines had been entered in cellartracker and I wasn’t inclined to undo any of my work quite yet. In the end, I found the perfect candidate — a Dolcetto d’Alba from Cappellano.

The Wine
Teobaldo Cappellano is considered a legend and one of the last great traditionalist winemakers in Barolo. In 1983, he banished all journalists from his cellar unless they agreed to review his wines without scores.  As a result, he is not very well-known in the United States — but is held in very high esteem in the wine world. He was once quoted as saying, “If there is one thing that makes me crazy, it’s spitters of wine…the ones who taste a wine by rolling it around in their mouths and then they spit it out. I worked my butt off to make wine to drink, not to spit!”

He has been described as a “wine artist,” and a “poet, philosopher and winemaker in his spare time.” He was also president of the influential Vini Veri group and a longtime leader of Italy’s sustainable agriculture movement. He was best known in Italy for his Barolo Chinato, a tonic of wine, spirit and herbs, chiefly quinine, invented by his uncle Giuseppe at the end of the nineteenth century. Endorsed by the House of Savoy, the former Kings of Italy, Cappellano’s Barolo Chinato became the standard by which all others were measured.

The estate produces 2 Barolos, 2 Barberas and a Dolcetto. Annual production is around 15,000 to 20,000 bottles. The wines are fermented along traditional lines for 2-3 weeks, without added yeasts, in stainless steel (designed by Cappellano himself) and glass-lines cement vats. Then they go into barrels for a minimum of 3 years, sometimes longer. They are bottled without filtration. His wines are imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.

Teobaldo Cappellano died February 20th, 2009 after a serous illness. He slipped into a coma while undergoing surgical treatment and never recovered. He was 65 years old. His son Augusto carries on his legacy.

His Barolos will put you back at least $90 a bottle, but his Barbera and Dolcetto are good values, the Dolcetto is available for about $25 a bottle. Aromatics of red fruit and some Old World funk on the nose. Red fruit with sour cherry and cranberry, some vegetal notes — good acidity and soft, dusty tannins. This bring a bit more structure than some of the more fruit driven Dolcettos, certainly a more soulful and thought-provoking example of the varietal. The wine is very food friendly and comforting — a very good wine and a solid pairing with the spaghetti and meatballs.

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I spent much of the weekend entering my wines into cellartracker. Though it is rather time consuming process, I had come to the conclusion that I need to do something to track my wines. In the process of getting organized, I realized I had more Muscadet than I had thought. I decided to do something about that and set aside a bottle from Luneau-Papin. I thought it would be fun to cook something on Sunday that might pair well with it. I have had the wine on three previous occasions and really liked it. It’s an interesting example of the varietal in that it offers just a touch of residual sugar. It spent 42 months on the lees — it’s a bit rich and almost creamy, but brings all the acidity you would expect from a Muscadet.

There’s nothing like Muscadet with fresh oysters or clams and it is always a great choice for seafood dishes. That said, the varietal is very versatile and pairs well with many things beyond just seafood. I happen to love it with spicy Asian dishes.  A few weeks back, I made curry laksa — and was eager to make it again. The Pueri Solis seemed like a perfect pairing. The spice would work well with the touch of residual sugar and acidity. In addition, the soup’s broth has some sour and citrus flavors (in part from the fish sauce, lime juice and red curry paste) that would pair well with the wine’s citrus notes.

Unfortunately, this time my curry laksa was not quite as good as the previous effort. I made the chicken broth from scratch, buying a whole chicken and cooking it with water, a couple of celery stalks, a couple of carrots, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, lemongrass, a little fish sauce, soy, mirin, fresh thyme, curry powder, tumeric and various other spices. After the chicken was cooked, I removed it and let it cool and then pulled all of the meat. I put the broth through a strainer and put it aside.

In a dutch oven, add some curry paste and oil over medium heat. After about 7 minutes, add shallot, ginger and garlic. After 5 minutes, add the chicken, serrano pepper, green onions and spices (curry powder, tumeric, poultry seasoning). Add chicken broth, 2 star anise, 2 cloves and a small handful of chopped cilantro and simmer for 30 minutes. At this point, you could also add shrimp if you like and simmer until cooked (about 5 minutes). Add coconut milk, more cilantro and baby bok choi and let sit for 10 minutes.  In a bowl, place bean sprouts, green onion, cooked Chinese noodles and bean thread, add the soup and 1/2 of a boiled egg.

The last time I made this, I only used chicken thighs that I dry rubbed with curry, tumeric, cumin and salt and then grilled. I thought the meat was much more flavorful and resulted in a better bowl of soup. I was able to improve this on the second night by adding some grilled chicken that I had marinated. I also opted for David Chang’s Slow-Poached egg that puts the standard hard-boiled to shame.

The Muscadet did pair very well, though a riesling, grüner or chenin blanc might also be good options.

The Luneau-Papin Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Pueri Solis 2005 is imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Pierre and his wife Monique are the seventh generation to run the domaine, though their wines are more likely to be found listed under Luneau-Papin or even Pierre Luneau, than under the estate’s true name (Domaine Pierre de la Grange). There is a broad and varied range of cuvées produced at Luneau-Papin, which in many cases reflect vineyard or terroir of origin.They have approximately 40 hectares of vines, with 38 hectares planted to Melon de Bourgogne and the remaining 2 hectares committed to red varieties. The vineyards are situated in Le Landreau, Vallet and La Chapelle Heulin, about 20 kilometres from Nantes itself. The vines average forty-five years although some are well into their seventh decade.

Related posts:
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Le L d’Or 2005
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sevre et Maine L D’Or 2002
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sevre et Maine “3″ 2005
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Granite de Clisson 2007
Domaine de la Pépière “Vieilles Vignes” Clos des Briords Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2007
Michel Brégeon Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2002

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Domaine Pierre de la Grange is considered one of the best domaines of the Nantais, a region that marks the most northwestern point of all France’s vineyards. Pierre and his wife Monique are the seventh generation (the family has owned the property for more than 200 years) to run Domaine Pierre de la Grange, though their wines are more likely to be found listed under Luneau-Papin or even Pierre Luneau, than under the estate’s true name. They have approximately 40 hectares of vines, with 38 hectares planted to Melon de Bourgogne and the remaining 2 hectares committed to red varieties. The vineyards are situated in Le Landreau, Vallet and La Chapelle Heulin, about 20 kilometres from Nantes itself. The vines average forty-five years although some are over seventy.

There is a broad and varied range of cuvées produced at Luneau-Papin, which in many cases reflect vineyard or terroir of origin. The leading cuvées are the L d’Or (a weighty expression of Melon de Bourgogne) and the Semper Excelsior Clos des Noëlles.

L d’Or is sourced from vines more than 45 years old grown on granite and mica terroirs in Vallet, one of the Sèvre et Maine communes. The vines are cared for along the lines of lutte raisonnée, and are nourished with just a little organic manure. The fruit is harvested by hand, pressed using pneumatic equipment, and the juice is then allowed to settle before a four week temperature-controlled fermentation by indigenous yeasts, regulated to 20ºC. There is also a warmer macération pelliculaire, a period of skin contact, at 30ºC. The wine is then stored sur lie for nine months before bottling.

The nose is a bit reserved with some citrus, mineral and floral notes. It’s a bit more revealing on the palate. Stony minerality with citrus, orchard fruit and some creamy almond notes. Rich and broad, good acidity and complexity.  A great example of what some age can do with Muscadet — and I wouldn’t hesitate to sit on this for another 5-7 years (or more). Recommended and an outstanding value at $22 a bottle. 12% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner.

Related posts:
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Le L d’Or 2005
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005
Pepiere Muscadet Sevre et Maine “3″ 2005
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Granite de Clisson 2007
Domaine de la Pépière “Vieilles Vignes” Clos des Briords Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2007
Michel Brégeon Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2002

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Marie and Marcel run Domaine Richaud, with Marcel as winemaker and Marie as manager. Marcel makes some wonderful wines, mostly of the little known village appellation Cairanne. Many consider him one of the top 2 or 3 producers in the appellation. His estate is made up of plots inherited from his parents as well as rented parcels, so some grapes are sold to the local co-op or to négociants. The wines are made in the vineyard by pruning short, never using synthetic fertilizers, keeping the average age of the vines over 25 years old and keeping yields low. His wines are made in large capacity cement vats, each varietal is vinified separately and blended some 8 months later. The wines are not frequently racked and are not fined or filtered.

Richaud’s wines are said to be very popular in France, selling out almost immediately after release. I have read that sales at the estate’s tasting room account for the majority of all sales (though I find that difficult to believe).  On a trip to Paris last September, we went to dinner at Le Gorille Blanc on our first night. They had Richaud’s ’07 Galets by the glass. I took that as a sign that it would be a great meal — and it was (a wine list can often tell you a great deal about a restaurant).

In the United States, it takes a little bit of work to find his wines. Chambers Street in New York is one of the best bets (they currently offer the ’05 l’Ebrescade and the ’08 Galets) or K&L on the left coast, but I have also been pleasantly surprised to find some of his wine at Arrowine in Northern Virginia. Recently, I was very pleased to see Richaud’s ’06 Cairanne at Ripple in DC (and reasonably priced at $40 and change a bottle).

The 2007 Cairanne is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Carignan. 70% is aged in cement tanks, the rest in barriques, some of them new. Deep, dark purple in color. Aromatics of black cherry, violet and some garrigue. Ripe, juicy dark fruit on the palate. Velvety, but with a bit of chew. A wee bit of a brawler this one, weighing in at 15% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Recommended, though if memory serves I slightly prefer the ’06…

Other wines from Domaine Richaud:
Domaine Richaud l’Ebrescade 2005
Domaine Richaud Côtes du Rhône Terres de Galets 2007
Domaine Richaud Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne 2006

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Arianna Occhipinti is from the Vittoria region of Southern Sicily. She has been making wine for ten years under the tutelage of her uncle, Giusto Occhipinti, who owns the well-known winery COS. She produces first rate wines from biodynamically grown local varieties such as Nero d’Avola and Frappato. In her mid-20s, Arianna already seems to know exactly what she wants to do with her life. She is the sort of driven young winemaker who is bound to be become an important figure in Sicilian wine.

Nero d’Avola is the primary red grape of Sicily, and while capable of making very fine wine, most examples tend to be a bit ordinary. Many expressions of the varietal tend to be over extracted and muscular. Occhipinti’s is soft at its core, refined and almost feminine — while still retaining some of the heartier elements expected from the grape. Dark ruby garnet in color. Nose of dark cherry, earth with some brett (eau de merde) and clove. On the palate, bright, tart and acidic with dark cherry, currant, rhubarb and a little twizzler. Pure fruit, chalky minerality with earth and vegetal notes.

This might not reach the same heights as her Frappato, but I thought it really was a lovely bottle of wine — and it shows a unique expression of the Nero D’Avola varietal articulated by a very gifted winemaker. 13% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Recommended.

Related posts:
Arianna Occhipinti Il Frappato Sicilia IGT 2006
Occhipinti SP68 Rosso Vittoria 2008

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Marie and Marcel run Domaine Richaud, with Marcel as winemaker and Marie as manager. Marcel makes some wonderful wines, mostly of the little known village appellation Cairanne. Many consider him one of the top 2 or 3 producers in the appellation. His estate is made up of plots inherited from his parents as well as rented parcels, so some grapes are sold to the local co-op or to négociants. The wines are made in the vineyard by pruning short, never using synthetic fertilizers, keeping the average age of the vines over 25 years old and keeping yields low. His wines are made in large capacity cement vats, each varietal is vinified separately and blended some 8 months later. The wines are not frequently racked and are not fined or filtered.

Richaud’s wines are said to be very popular in France, selling out almost immediately after release. I have read that sales at the estate’s tasting room account for the majority of all sales (though I find that difficult to believe).  On a trip to Paris last September, we went to dinner at Le Gorille Blanc on our first night. They had Richaud’s ’07 Galets by the glass. I took that as a sign that it would be a great meal — and it was (a wine list can actually tell you a great deal about a restaurant). In the United States, it takes a little bit of work to find his wines. Chambers Street Wines in New York is one of the best bets, but I have also been pleasantly surprised to find some of his wine at Arrowine in Northern Virginia.

The 2006 Cairanne is a blend of 36% Grenache, 38% Mourvèdre, 18% Syrah and 8% Carignan. 70% is aged in cement tanks, the rest in barriques, some of them new. Deep purple in color. Aromatics of black cherry, violet and bubble gum with some garrigue, herb and spice.  Lots of ripe fruit on the palate — black cherry, black raspberry with a little  asphalt and cassis. Soft, smooth and velvety in the mouth. 14.5% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Another example of why Richaud produces some of my favorite wines in the $25 and under category from the Rhône valley, along with Domaine Gramenon and Les Aphillanthes. Recommended.

Other wines from Domaine Richaud:
Domaine Richaud l’Ebrescade 2005
Domaine Richaud Côtes du Rhône Terres de Galets

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Domaine Pierre de la Grange is considered one of the best of the Nantais, a region that marks the most northwestern point of all France’s vineyards. Pierre and his wife Monique are the seventh generation of to run Domaine Pierre de la Grange, though their wines are more likely to be found listed under Luneau-Papin or even Pierre Luneau, than under the estate’s true name.

They have approximately 40 hectares of vines, with 38 hectares planted to Melon de Bourgogne and the remaining 2 hectares committed to red varieties. The vineyards are situated in Le Landreau, Vallet and La Chapelle Heulin, about 20 kilometres from Nantes itself. The vines average forty-five years although some are well into their seventh decade.

There is a broad and varied range of cuvées produced at Luneau-Papin, which in many cases reflect vineyard or terroir of origin. The leading cuvées are the L d’Or and the Semper Excelsior Clos des Noëlles. I wrote about the Excelsior a couple of weeks back. Not a very expressive nose, but thought what it brought in flavor more than made up for whatever it lacked in aromatics.

The L d’Or is more aromatic with citrus and mineral notes. It is also a little more ripe on the palate. Citrus, orchard fruit with mineral flavors and a some herbs. Good weight and acidity.  This was very good as well, but for me the Excelsior had an ethereal quality that really captured my attention. Still, the L d’Or certainly delivers and I would certainly recommend it — and would not be surprised if many preferred it over the Excelsior. These wines are still young and have a lot of life, so it will be very interesting to see how they show in another 3-4 years. Given the quality of the wine, this is also a very good value at $18 a bottle. 12% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner.

Related post:
Pierre Luneau-Papin Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie Excelsior 2005
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Granite de Clisson 2007
Domaine de la Pépière “Vieilles Vignes” Clos des Briords Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2007

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