This past week was Shavuot and though we had no friends over we did get to enjoy some lovely kosher wines from around the world. Along the way, we had some delicious meals at friends homes and ours as well. We made some tasty beef tongue, using a very simple and basic recipe, and we had some great braised meatballs. To complement these lovely dishes my wife made her killer spinach kugel and we had some fresh green salad and quinoa.
Wine wise we had some very interesting wines from around the world, wines that many would belittle but ones that I liked, though none were anything to write home about. Still these are all reasonably priced wines that are also mevushal and taste fine. Some are plain quaff wines and one was a bit above that level.
We had a bottle of the 2010 Weinstock Cellars Alicante Bouschet, a wine we enjoyed some six months ago and my how the wine has changed! Gone are the violet and heady spice and in their place – rich cedar and forest berries demand your attention. The wine showed itself quite well and is one that will live well till 2015. Read the rest of this entry
This past week my wife and I went to dinner at the famous Tierra Sur Restaurant, which is located inside the Herzog Cellars Winery. The restaurant is run by the head chef Todd Aarons and is always a culinary treat. We have enjoyed his handiwork before when a few times at the Herzog International Food & Wine Festival held every year at the winery, around February. This year the event will be held in the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, in Los Angeles, CA. Tickets for the upcoming event on February 15th, at 6 PM, can be purchased at the Herzog Wine Cellars web page here.
As we entered the winery we were greeted by the nice lady at the front desk, as we made our way to the restaurant we passed the Herzog Tasting Bar.
Traffic getting to the winery was so crazy busy that we barely made our appointed time. We entered the lovely restaurant and were seated immediately, and were given the current menu. The menu changes often, as the restaurant is proud of its local sourcing and its rich and bountiful flavors. According to the website: Tierra Sur continually strives to bring the best produce and ingredients to its customers by buying from local, small family farms. We are proud to participate in the Growers Collaborative Program under Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF). CAFF is a statewide non-profit organization that works to build a movement of rural and urban people to foster family-scale agriculture that cares for the land, sustains local economies and promotes social justice.
Given the complexity of building a menu around what is available locally, even in California, Tomatoes are pretty much over now, as are zucchini, and fresh bell peppers. So the menu is filled with fresh winter salads, chard, and beets, all lovely tasting winter California bounty, with tomatoes and other Summer Solstice vegetables used as adornments. For starters we chose the Chorizo lamb sausage and black olive piadina flat bread with watercress, cherry tomato salad and zahtar dressing. The small pie was lovingly adorned by rich and spicy lamb sausage, along with black olives and a couple of tomatoes on top. For entrees, my wife chose the braised brisket and I chose the duck. After makes our choices, we made our way to the tasting bar and we sampled four of the red wines that were available.
I started with the 2008 Baron Herzog Zinfandel, which is a fine enough wine, but one that does not stand me up on my ear and make me take notice. For 10 bucks or so a bottle, at most local shops, it is the best of the baseline Baron Herzog wines. We than had a taste of the 2009 Herzog GPS (Grenache Petite Sirah) blend. According to the back label Joe Hurliman, the head winemaker at Herzog, has been wanting to make a wine from the Grenache grape and personally, he has made a wonderful wine that emotes whimsical and light white chocolate, flowers, and rich fruit. We followed that with a testing of the 2010 Weinstock Alicante Bouschet. Do not worry, I never heard of this one either before my friend told me about it when he received it in his Herzog Wine Club delivery. For some quick history and viticulture the Alicante Bouschet, it is an intensely red grape with a somewhat dark and infamous past. It was the number one grape used during the prohibition, and widely planted in California during the prohibition, because its color and thick skin allowed for the long trip to the east coast and to be diluted without discoloring the wine too greatly! The grape makes for intensely dark wines, with somewhat high alcohol, and average quality wine.