All posts in Wine Class

My Love for Clotilde on Mothers day!

This Mother’s day, I’m celebrating my love and memories of Clotilde, with a glass of Clotilde Davenne Crémant de Bourgogne!

A few years ago, I discovered Clotilde Davenne on the wine list at Camerata at Paulie’s Wine Bar, and had to try a bottle! Clotilde Davenne is not a champagne, but a Crémant de Bourgogne: both are French, coming from different regions but made in the same traditional manner. I found Clotilde Davenne Cremant to be extraordinary, and in my opinion competes right along with the best champagnes and other popular sparkling wines in the same category.

Another reason why I was so compelled to try Clotilde Davenne is I have a personal connection to the name Clotilde, You see, my aunt, Clotilde “Lillie” Castillo-Serna, was my Godmother. Godparents in the Latino community are very special and have an important role in one’s life. My “Madrina” (“Godmother” in Spanish) —”Nina” for short — took her position very seriously and I so appreciated her guidance, love and friendship throughout my life and Catholic upbringing.

Having brunch with Clotilde “Lillie” Castillo-Serna in September 2012, and we ordered Mimosa’s with no orange juice!

 

My Nina’s given name was Clotilde, named after a female heroine in a Spanish novel my grandfather was reading at the time (we’re not sure which book). Growing up, “Clotilde” eventually shortened to “Lillie”. Lillie loved her family, family-style celebrations and especially Thanksgiving. She also liked the bubbly and was partial to sparkling wines from northern California. One funny, sweet memory we have of my Nina goes: while enjoying dinner at a posh restaurant in northern California, she asked the waiter, “Please do fill my glass with more shrimp (and in her warm silly giggle)…I mean please…more champagne.” LOL! For years after, she never lived that moment down… and smiled every time we remembered.

For this upcoming Mothers Day, a highly Latino-celebrated holiday, we’re cooking a feast and toasting to my Nina in heaven for her love of family, friends and good food with a Crémant De Bourgogne instead of champagne.

For your Mothers’s day celebration, you can also find Clotilde Davenne Crémant De Bourgogne @WholeFoods in their sparkling wine section.

Clotilde Davenne Brut Extra “Cremant De Bourgogne,” which I purchased @WholeFoods for $27.99.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Santa Margherita…it’s Spaghetti Margherita!!

Spaghetti… the world’s favorite pasta! The love of pasta, especially spaghetti, needs no intro… however, an introduction to my Margherita-style spaghetti does! So, as part of my special contribution for the upcoming event, Authentic Italian Table: A Celebration of Pasta, Italy’s gift to the world, I’m sharing my recipe below for Margherita-inspired spaghetti. If you’ve ever had Margherita pizza, and like it, then you’ll LOVE this pasta dish, too.

This recipe makes approximately 6 servings (depending on how hungry everyone is).

Get ready! In addition to about a pound of spaghetti (16oz package) you will need:

  • 1 cup fresh sweet basil, chopped; and few extra sprigs for garnish
  • 6 0unces fresh Mozzarella cubed into 1/4 inch squares
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • Bay leaf…2 or 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped extra fine
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb. cherry tomatoes, cut in halves (I use approximately 1.5lbs… I like lots of tomatoes)
  • 2 tsp. pepperoncino (crushed red pepper)
  • Touch of salt, as needed
  1. Prepare spaghetti adding a few dried bay leaves in water while cooking. Bay leaf adds a slight sweet herbal taste to your pasta. I’m pretty sure you will like it! Plus, bay leaves simmering in boiling water generate a lovely scent.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan begin sautéing garlic under low to medium heat until fragrant (approximately 2 minutes), then add tomatoes with a touch of salt and pepperoncino. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes. Try not to overcook the tomatoes. At this point, add pasta. (Note: I prep spaghetti “al dente”, since the pasta is going to cook an additional 3 minutes under low heat.)
  3. Right before you’re ready to serve, pour spaghetti into large serving bowl folding in diced fresh mozzarella, grated parmesan cheese, and chopped basil. Finally, garnish pasta with a few whole basil sprigs then dust top of the dish with finely chopped Italian parsley.

An optional thought: since it has always been in my nature to jazz things up a little bit, I do add extra pepperoncino. By now, everyone knows I love my cuisine on the spicier side!

Important to note, for Italians…WINE is very much considered a “food” category too! That being said, I just had to complete my food-and-wine experience with an Italian Pinot Grigio, and of course it comes from Santa Margherita.

There you have it — Spaghetti Margherita paired with Pinot Grigio from Santa Margherita. Salute y Buon Appetito!

 

Santa Maria…No, It’s Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio & Spaghetti Margherita!

 

P.S. This post is entered in the Pasta Blogger Competition Houston 2018. Try to follow all the fabulous food posts via Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: #TrueItalianTaste

Please join us for:

Authentic Italian Table: A Celebration of Pasta, Italy’s gift to the world!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

 2 – 5 p.m.

Bayou City Event Center

9401 Knight Road

Houston, Texas 77045

$35 per person

Click here for event registration information:

Weekend with Lucas & Lewellen

Springtime means wines for warmer weather! Then, just like that… last Friday afternoon, Spring literally arrived to my front door! My friendly FedEx representative pleasantly greeted me with some new wine samples from Lucas & Lewellen Estate Vineyards, of Santa Barbara County, California. In the package: Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc — perfect  for casual get-togethers. So, I made it a Lucas & Lewellen weekend having some neighbors over Saturday for lunch, and pairing these wines with Spring-inspired dishes.

Mind your peas & carrots… we’re having herb baked chicken breast seasoned with fresh coriander, lemon-thyme, and marjoram!

Lucas & Lewellen 2017 Rosé of Pinot Noir, comprised of 94% Pinot Noir and 6% Viognier. Those citrus blossoms with the essence of fresh raspberries, strawberries, and pear, plus crisp acidity, complimented my baked chicken breast, peas and carrots, and saffron rice.

Lucas & Lewellen 2017 Sauvignon-Blanc
, made up of 90% Sauvignon-Blanc and 10% Viognier. Boy, those tropical aromas on the nose and peachy palate paired perfectly with my crab-cake in mango salsa made with fresh cilantro, and Hatch New Mexico mild green chiles.

These wines were so refreshing and fun! My neighbors loved them, and the food. Salud!

Mango salsa, cilantro, mild green chile with my crab cake!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nemea Agiorgitiko & New Wines of Greece

Today, Palm Sunday, I’ve been thinking ahead to Easter next week. This year offers two great opportunities to celebrate the Easter holiday: with traditional Western countries on April 1st, and then again Orthodox Christian Easter April 8th. Plus, it also offers additional options to expand my wine-and-food-pairing thoughts with some New Wines of Greece, which I have been eager to try.

I’ve been fascinated with the country of Greece from early childhood. My Grandpa, Angelo Dallas, came from the old country — a little village outside of Athens — and settled in Carlsbad, New Mexico, where he opened a diner called The Deluxe Restaurant. There at The Deluxe Restaurant, Grandpa Angelo met my beautiful Grandma Francis!

With fond memories of both my grandparents and their love of  home-style cooking, I learned to master roasted lamb and lemon herb potatoes. I invited friends to come over and try my lamb-and-potato dinner with a bonus taste of a new wine from Greece… 2014 Driopi Nemea-Agiorgitiko, purchased at Vinology Houston for $28.

Seasoned lamb with Pensey spices, olive oil, and lemon juice!

Roasted Lamb and potatoes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agiorgitiko is a Greek red wine grape traditionally grown in Nemea, a region north of the Peloponnese close to the narrow strip of land joining the peninsula to the mainland of Greece. This glorious red Greek grape is used to make light rosé-style wines and also fragrant, rich, full-bodied red wines like the Driopi (featured above). Paired with roasted lamb, it’s a match made in heaven. Lately, drinking Greek wines has become quite fashionable! Good for Greece, too, since the increasing number of boutique wineries are producing some excellent wines.

A special note to you grandpa, from your grandchildren who still smile, laugh, and cherish your silly nickname!  With love…  αναποτελεσματική μαϊμού (maimou fafoútis).

Cheers to you both in heaven, Grandpa and Grandma! Your family loves, and misses you!!

Grandpa Angelo Dallas “The Greek”

Francis Dallas, my beautiful and loving Grandma!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discovering Cantele Negroamaro Rosato

Negroamaro is a red wine grape widely grown in Puglia, Italy, used to make big beautiful red wines like the most recognized DOC Salice Salentino. It is also used to make one of the best Rose wines I have ever tasted: Cantele Negromaro Rosato.

I first sampled a variety of Cantele wines last October during a dinner hosted by wine writer Do Bianchi at Houston’s Italian restaurant Mascalzone. Enjoying the Cantele wine dinner, pairing presentation and experience, especially the nuance of Negroamaro … I selected their Rosato as an ideal choice for my own Italian celebration — a friend’s 50th birthday party. I needed a special Italian wine for my party … delicate, aromatic, and unique to match my friend’s lovely character and chic Italian style! And it was the perfect party pairing, along with antipasto, assorted cheeses, and music by her favorite Italian singer, Laura Pausini, as our soundtrack for the evening. It was such a great night, filled with lots of food, family, close friends, and my friend telling me she felt so loved.

A big thank you to Vinology Houston for special ordering and finding Cantele Negromaro Rosato for me; apparently, the importer only sends a small allocation to Texas.

Thanks also to Do Bianchi for the invitation to the Cantele wine dinner, and the introduction to their awesome wines! P.S. I promised to save Do Bianchi a bottle of Rosato, and I did 🙂

The Birthday Girl!!!

Concannon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Yesterday, August 31st, was #CabernetDay and for Conconnan Vineyard the celebration of Cabernet Sauvignon continues through September!

Last year in August at the Wine Bloggers Conference, I had first-hand experience of a special excursion trip hosted by the Livermore Valley Wine Country to Concannon Vineyard for an elegant dinner, unique conversation with winemakers, and lovely visit with the Concannon family. The featured picture of Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon was a gift from the winery thanking all the wine bloggers who came out to visit that evening. The experience at Concanoon was so memorable, I saved my gift for a very special occasion — a birthday dinner for a dear friend. On the menu, for my dinner party: filet mignon. And, yes, it was incredibly heartwarming to hear my guests enthusiastically comment, “What a stellar wine!” “What is this?” And, “Where can I get this? I love it!”

My thoughts: wine paired for special occasions should be chosen based on an experience, feelings and memories. Happy Cabernet Day, and thank you, Concannon Vineyards!

The dinner table is set at Concannon!

Sunset over Concannon Vineyard!

Concannon Vineyard House in evening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring the Lost Grape of Bordeaux

Bottle of Carmenere

A bottle of Marques de Casa Concha 2011 Carmenere

After previewing a very nice selection of wines last week in WSET 3 class, the final blind taste assignment turned out to be a Carmenère — the lost grape of Bordeaux. Who would have thought this grape would possess such a mystique, and carry with it such an interesting history?

Related to the Cabernet family of grapes, the Carmenère share some similar characteristics in flavor and color, yet still maintain a uniqueness. They were thought to have been extinct when they disappeared from European vineyards in the mid-19th century. But then, they somehow reappeared a hundred years later — a world away, flourishing in Chilean vineyards! Now rarely seen in France, Chile claims the Carmenère with pride, producing some impressive wines in a class of their own.

I got some mixed reviews from my peers in class, but personally, I found the Carmenère to be very interesting. I tasted a lot of robust black fruits, a light herbaceousness, figs and red hot pepper elements. To be honest, I loved the Carmerère’s spicy character — I guess it’s my hot-blooded Latina nature and the wine’s agility to pair with Latin American cuisine.

With all the recent hype surrounding Carmenère and the many countries considering growing the varietal, it seems to be a great Karma Carmenère for Chile!

 

Sip, Swish, Spit

Sip, Swish, SpitBlind wine tasting – or “the systematic approach” as it’s termed by the WSET – is 99% determination, 1% inebriation. The system itself is so structured, even down to the type of glassware, so as to enable the blind tester to identify certain flavor characteristics of the wine being tasted. As wine enthusiasts and students, we spend a lot of class time in serious contemplation, zeroing in on the mystery of flavor and aromas. After tasting, we try to determine what country the wine comes from, the region, and the type of grape.

There’s a certain camaraderie when you’re all spitting out at the same time. But make no mistake: we’re a group of competitive overachievers! Things get really entertaining during the discussions that follow, when everyone shares their perspectives on the wines in question and hopes that their observations are on track. I have to admit, it does feel good to get some or most of the details correct.

And as for spitting out expensive wine – that’s definitely a talent that will always be under professional development status.