April Wines

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La Perdrix is a Roussanne/Grenache Blanc from Nîmes that retails for $16.

The Cuvée Vincent is Côtes-du-Rhône 100% Syrah that retails for $19.

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French map

I am addressing the next phase of my wine education by trying to learn where the wines I enjoy come from with an eye to elevation and soil.

Michelle Gibson, the owner, manager, former wine distributor and all around sweetheart at the Cork and Cow is always very informative if I know the correct question to ask.  But, my geography class was a very long time ago.

I found this map of France and have saved it so that I can have a peek at the topography of where the French wines I like come from.

French regions

The wine shop in Hillsborough has maps on the walls that I can use when I’m there and my iPad has begun traveling with me to Burlington.

March wine

My choice at the monthly wine club was 2 bottles of Oak Farm Vineyards Zinfandel from Lodi, California. The vineyard was installed in a place that had an oak grove and the owners refused to remove the trees in order to plant the grapes, thus, the name. The wine is aged in oak casks, too. This gives the wine a delightful and unexpected spiciness.  It retails for $20.

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Friday is usually “shopping in Hillsborough night” with a stop at the Hillsborough wine store for a taste and a glass followed by dinner and grocery shopping at the Weaver Street Market coop.  There is usually a distributor doing a little wine tasting at the coop, too.  So, between Tuesday at the Cork and Cow and Friday in Hillsborough, we have a nice range of opportunities to taste a lot of fermented grape juice.

Last Friday netted us 2 whites that are intended to go with mussels the next time we find them.

The Maz Caz is a 2016 French blend from Costieres de Nimes in the southeastern region near Marsailles made of 60% Grenache Blanc and 40% Roussanne. We got that from the tasting table at the wine shop.  It retails for $19, but was on sale for $14 because it was part of the tasting.

Our second purchase was a surprising Muscadet that is absolutely not sweet and has a nice body. Château de l’Oiselinière is in the middle of the west coast southeast of Nantes. This one cost $11.

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December Club Wine

We are members of a wine club.  The wine bar we frequent has weekly wine tastings that cost $5/person for 4 tastes and a bite of cheese. Club members (and their significant other) don’t pay for the tastings. And the tasting the first week of the month is “club wines;”  you choose 2 bottles to take home.  Those tend to be in the mid- to upper teen$.   It saves us money by not paying for 8 tastings a month plus 2 bottles of wine.  It costs us for the additional glass of wine and snack we usually have when we go to a tasting.  I think everybody wins.

I am bad about remembering where we have gotten various wines.  So, I’m planning to try to remember to at least post our club wine selections here. I may run out of steam.  We’ll see.

This month we brought home 2 bottles of Shebang! Red from Sonoma, California.  It is “Mostly Zinfandel blended with Carignane, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Alicante Bouchet, Grenache, Syrah, Alicante Bouchet, Grenache, Syrah, Barbera and a touch of whites for aromatics.” Thus, the Whole Shebang.  Cost at Cork and Cow is $16/ bottle, $7/glass.

Today is my birthday.

I started celebrating yesterday and intend to continue through tomorrow. 😀

Yesterday, Carolyn and I had Spa Day (she had a facial while I had a 30 minute massage followed by a manicure and we finished with pedicures together), then mid-afternoon wine and cheese. We came home, dolled up and went out for dinner to Piedmont, a wonderful farm-to-table restaurant in Durham.

We started with d’Arenberg Winery “The Hermit Crab” 2014 Viognier/Marsanne from MacLauren Vale for Chuck, Reynolds Family Farm 2012 Chardonnay from Napa Valley for me and a Coon Rock Farm Spritzer for Carolyn made with grapefruit mint (I never knew there was such a thing), vodka, lemon, grapefruit and soda. It was delicious and refreshing.

Appetizers were Coon Rock Farm’s mixed greens salad, wild green onions, Loaf Bakery rye bread, chioggia beets and a sprinkle of Anson Mills’ benne seeds, a kind of hummus made of caramelized summer squash, chickpeas and smoked paprika with lavash crackers, and Coon Rock Farm’s heirloom tomatoes with basil sorbet, olive oil, pickled and fried okra and chia seed crackers.

The tomatoes were perfectly ripe and the basil sorbet was amazing. Concentrated basil like I have never encountered before. The paprika on the hummus was heavy enough to be a flavor rather than a garnish and it was wonderful. The chiogga beets were sliced very thing, so that they added a hint of flavor, but didn’t overpower the rest of the salad.

Chuck and Carolyn both had the vegetarian dish for their entrees. It was preparations of local eggplant prepared 4 different ways, heirloom tomatoes, housemade ricotta, sungold tomatoes, shaved radish and pea tendrils. I had crispy Carolina mackerel with warm gazpacho, leeks, cucumber, shiso and pepper.

I love how we share forks around the table.

Because we couldn't decide on just one

Birthday cake!

(middle) NC peaches, pecan caramel, blueberry sorbet, white chocolate brittle, vanilla sponge cake

(bottom) chocolate chip fritters, cherry gastrique, kheer ice cream, pistachios

(top) green tomato tart, shortbread, lemon basil, green tomato marmalade, basil-buttermilk ice cream

We were shocked to find that the tomato tart was the most interesting,  Tomatoes just don’t seem to led themselves to a dessert.  But, BOY! were we surprised. The basil ice cream was subtle and smooth and perfect. The white blob on the chocolate chip fritters on the bottom was kheer ice cream with a strong cardamom flavor. The blueberry sorbet had a stronger blueberry flavor than simple blueberries. It was a hell of a finish.

Today, I’m finishing a batch of sweet pickles, going to the gym and going to a wine tasting followed by sushi for dinner with my loving spouse.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate with dinner at Mez, a “contemporary Mexican” restaurant, on the way to a Punch Brothers concert at the art museum in Raleigh.

After a restful Friday, I go back to work on Saturday.  My co-workers are plottin’ and schemin’ something.  But, I don’t know all the details, yet.  I know there is a Triple Chocolate cake from Ketchie Creek Bakery involved.

Jeannie doesn’t call it the Festival of Kitty because I celebrate in half measures. 😉