Search Results for black bean mollie

White Bean and Kalamata Olive Soup, Pizza, and La Fin Du Monde

This past weekend saw my wife and I making pizza and some lovely White Bean and Kalamta Olive Soup. The link to the recipe was the best I could find on the web. The one I use is from Mollie Katzen’s cookbook, which I have no right to place on my blog, please buy her book she is a genius!

The soup is simple to make, and I follow her recipe to the tee, short of adding in a wee bit more wine than her recipe calls for. Personally, that is the ultimate compliment, using someone’s exact recipe, with little or no change, because it is perfect as it is.

Besides the soup, we made some pizza as well. I must say that making kosher pizza now days is really quite simple. We buy ready made whole wheat pizza crusts that are very tasty, reasonably priced, and a cinch to complete.

All we do is take the ready made crust out of the package, or freezer, throw on some tomato sauce, pre-shredded pizza cheese, sliced onions, and olives. On top of that we throw on some herbs and we are good to go!

Benyamin from Four Gates Winery was by, and we tasted through the new wines that will soon be available on the website, stay tuned for those notes! Though some of the wines could have held up against the pizza, I went a different route for the meal, we bought a bottle of La Fin Du Monde. This is a Belgian Tripel style Ale, which has lovely bits of yeast lees that the beer can lie on and age for a few years, if stored properly.

The beer’s rich mouth, along with its mild bitterness, and unique spice flavor profile makes this a perfect compliment to pizza, rich pastas, light to medium meat or seafood, and rich deserts.

The beer note follows below:

La Fin Du Monde – Score: B++
The nose on this cloudy light gold colored beer starts with sweet malt, banana, heady spice, cloves, lots of foam and nice effervescence. The mouth on this medium bodied beer is rich and spicy with a frontal attack of cloves and coriander, followed by rich yeast, and toasty malt. Apple comes in along with a bit of citrus, all clinging to the rich head and mouth and making for a lovely spicy experience. The finish is long with more spice, honey/caramel, apple, citrus peel, and pepper. The high alcohol does not affect the taste, but beware of this puppy as it can catch up to you quickly if you take it for granted.

 

Kosher European Wines, Hagafen Wine, Kosher Meat Lasagna, White Bean and Kalamata Soup, Vegetable Kugel

This past weekend we had a bunch of friends over to the house and we were so happy to celebrate the good health and recovery of a dear friend of the family who honored us by coming on over for the meal. It is starting to feel a bit chilly around here, so we thought it would be great to try some lovely White Bean and Kalamta Olive Soup. The link to the recipe was the best I could find on the web. The one I use is from Mollie Katzen’s cookbook, which I have no right to place on my blog, please buy her book she is a genius!

The soup is simple to make, and I follow her recipe to the tee, short of adding in a wee bit more wine than her recipe calls for. Personally, that is the ultimate compliment, using someone’s exact recipe, with little or no change, because it is perfect as it is.

We then cooked up meat lasagna. I have modified the lasagna many times, as I am constantly looking for the perfect lasagna that is not too dry or too runny. I think I have finally done that! This past week the lasagna was killer, very tasty, and it was solid without being the least bit dry. The recipe is a change from another cookbook I use, but I have modified this one to not worry about sharing it. Also, I wrote a lot about the process, so the recipe looks long, but I am just adding in my years of struggle with these recipes to make sure you do not. Overall a pretty easy recipe:

Meat Lasagna Recipe: (Makes two pans of lasagna)
2 Tbsp. Oil
2 chopped onions
5 garlic cloves smashed (or just use the frozen garlic)
2 lb. of ground meat
1 sliced green pepper
1 sliced orange or yellow pepper
3 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
2 15 oz. cans of tomato sauce
12 oz. of red wine (more acid and tannin the better)
4 to 5 Tbsp. parsley
2 tsp. sugar
3 tsp. of basil
salt and pepper to taste

16 oz. (18 pieces) of dry lasagna noodle (normal pasta that needs to be cooked)
1 LARGE eggplant sliced 1/2 inch thick

In a large Dutch oven or tall walled pan, heat up the oil until shimmering and then throw in the chopped onions and cook them till they are close to being browned. Then throw in the crushed garlic and as soon as it starts to smell garlicky, throw in the ground meat. Be careful never to burn the garlic, as that is nasty! Move around the meat and make sure it nice and browned. Now throw in the sliced peppers and lets cook until tender. Then throw in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, red wine, herbs, salt and pepper. Now mix the pot around a fair amount until the wine color disappears and the tomato color is bright. Keep cooking the sauce until it reduces by 20% or until the sauce looks nice and thick. This step is VERY important, so do not skimp on this, it takes time but you will be generously rewarded.

At this point, bring a very large pot of water to boil and then place the lasagna noodles and cook them 1 to 2 minutes before al dente. We do this because we want them to finish in the oven. NEVER TRY the already cooked or NOT cooked pasta – it does not work. Cook the pasta and you will get the lovely texture that is not available any other way. Once cooked, pour out all the water, and put in some cold water in the pot to keep the pasta from drying up. Read the rest of this entry

Kalamata Olive and White Bean Soup, Lion’s Head Meatballs, and Le Mourre de L’Isle Cotes du Rhone

This past week we faced a conundrum which was totally my fault. A few weeks ago we enjoyed a lovely roasted butternut squash soup and I thought maybe I could add some coconut milk to the soup recipe. I opened a can of coconut milk and once I tasted the coconut I realized it had no place in the recipe. So we were faced with an open can of coconut milk juxtaposed with a deep desire to have some meat, in any format. A family member sent us the Lion’s Head Meatball Recipe which I thought came out quite nicely. Even before I looked at the ingredients, it had me at Lion’s Head! What a great name for a meatball recipe, it is a dish from the Huaiyang cuisine of eastern China, consisting of large pork meatballs (about 7–10 cm in diameter) stewed with vegetables. We substituted the pork with beef and turkey and added in more vegetables to give the meatballs more lift and softness. The sauce that is paired with the spicy and lovely spiced meatballs was the centerpiece, as it consisted of this week’s secret ingredient 🙂

The sauce was one of those Aha moments in my cooking experience. I did not see how coconut, soy sauce, and curry powder would work together, wow I was wrong! When I placed the ingredients into the pot I did not like what I smelled. However, once the combination came to a boil and cooled down, I was hooked! The sauce was smooth both in texture and flavor, the curry powder’s extreme astringency melded into the coconut, while the soy sauce’s salt and acid added balance and lift, quite a nice combination. We had some nice brown basmati rice and a fresh green salad to pair with the Lion’s Head meatballs.

To start the meal we had a lovely bowl of our now signature olive soup, that I modified from Mollie Katzen original vegetarian cookbook, which is getting harder and harder to find.  The soup is so nice because of the Kalamata olives that are used in the recipe.  We tried to cook this soup once without Kalamata olives – and in the end, you could have just eaten the olives, it would have been a better use of them.  The soup loses all reasons to exist, without the Kalamata olives. The lima beans that are in there as well complete the flavor and texture profile of the soup.

When I went looking for a wine to enjoy with our meal, I needed a wine that could handle the spice and heat, while also playing nice with the coconut and soy sauce, so I went with a bottle of the 2009 Vignobles David Côtes du Rhône Le Mourre de l’Isle. Recently this wine was discussed on Rogov’s forum, and was given a low score. I bought this wine with the sole interest in attempting to find the flaws that Daniel saw, and with the score he gave it, a backup was warming (or cooling in this case) in the bullpen. When I opened it, I did not sense any volatile acidity or off balance characteristics. It is a wine that starts off very tannic but that calms down after a few hours, and is one that easily live another year.

I will be very interested indeed to hear from others who may try this new vintage as I found it quite enjoyable and accessible now and one that has the enough stuffing to stay around for a few more innings.

The wine note follows below:

2009 Vignobles David Côtes du Rhône Le Mourre de l’Isle – Score: B to B+
The nose on this dark ruby to garnet colored wine starts off a bit closed, but quickly opens to black cherry, red berries, raspberry, perfume of dark chocolate, coffee, bramble, blackberry, and rich oak. The mouth on this medium bodied wine starts off with astringent tannin, but they calm into nice mouth coating tannin, along with black cherry, blackberry, mineral, green notes, and plum. The green notes blow off over time, with the plum, black cherry, oak, and blackberry coming to the forefront. The mid palate is balanced with acid, coffee, chocolate, oak, and more mouth coating tannin. The finish is long with green notes, that burn off over time, along with plum, coffee, and oak.

Viognier, Chardonnay, Kosher Korbel, Black Bean Soup, Lemon Rosemary Chicken, and Portabella Risotto

This past week we spent time with friends and family and it was a lovely time for all. Family came in from out of town and we were excited to see them and spend time with them. We started the meal with Brazilian Black Bean Soup. We have made this soup a few times already and the recipe is from the classic Mollie Katzen Moosewood Cookbook. The soup hit the spot given the colder temperature that has hit our area. The Viognier was nice with Kiddush, but it is over my friends – drink up or cook with it. My hope is that the 2008 or 2009 Goose Bay Viognier is coming out soon. The Goose Bay Viognier was lovely for some time with a classic perfumed and flowered nose, but those days are well past and please heed my advice – drink up or dump it. Once the wine was gone, we moved on to another bottle – which may well have been the biggest surprise of the evening!

Benyamin came by again this week and he brought a bottle of wine that I thought was going to be a total waste of time, but was more than happy to try out of sheer curiosity. In the end, it turned out to be my favorite wine of the evening. It was not the highest scoring wine, but it was the most enjoyable wine because it shocked me so and was downright tasty still after all of these years! The wine I am talking about is the N.A. Kosher Korbel Brut Champagne from 1997! This puppy is more than 13 years old! This wine sold for 13 dollars at the time. The wine was all the rage in 1995 and the re-released with a different vintage in 1997. The wine was never released again after that, which was a shame, but for those two years the wine was great. I do not remember it very well from back then, but from what I remember, I was not a huge fan. That all changed last night! The bubbles were lovely and soft, the mousse was almost foamy with a continuous attack of effervescence that did not let up all night. The bottle disappeared quickly, but even the bit that we left to the side was wonderful throughout the meal.

Following the sparkling wine and the soup, we moved on to the main course of Portabella Mushroom and Sweet Potato Risotto, Lemon Rosemary Pepper Flake Roasted Chicken Recipe, Cold Roasted Green Bean Salad, and Fresh Green Salad. To match these dishes, I pulled out an interesting pair of Yarden Chardonnay. Both of the wines hail from the 2007 vintage, a 2007 Yarden Chardonnay, and the 2007 Yarden Odem Vineyard Chardonnay. The wines were way too young and are not ready to drink – either of them. The wines were tight and not open, almost DOA out of the bottle. After a few hours, long after the meal was over, the wines were open and nice, but I do not think that even they are hitting their stride. These wines are way too young, maybe asleep, and need another year before they will show their best stuff. Right now my money would be on a Four Gates Chardonnay, if you are looking for a full bodied, fruity, and luscious California Chardonnay. We have tasted them in the past few months, both the 2004 and 2005, and they are both stunning. That said, in a year or a bit longer the two 2007 Yarden Chardonnay wines will be ready to party and show their white stripes.

For dessert our friend brought us another masterpiece, Kahlua Chocolate Cake! The cake all but about disappeared, and that was because we pulled it from the table before that could occur. Our many thanks to our friends and family who joined us for the meal and who were very kind to share their wonderful cake and wine with us.

The wine notes are listed below in the order they were served:

2007 Goose Bay Viognier (New Zealand, North Island, East Coast) – Score: B
This wine is on its way out 😦 The perfume is now gone. The nose on this light gold colored wine has grapefruit, lemon, slight floral notes, cut grass, smoky and tasty oak, honey, and citrus. The mouth on this medium bodied wine has lost its original oily and perfumed charm, now it has only a citrus body, with peach and pear along for the ride. The mid palate is bracing with acid, toasty oak, and lemon. The finish is long with more acid, caramel, straw, toasty oak, and lemon/grapefruit. It is a shame as this was once one of my favorites. I hope there is a new vintage coming out soon.

N.V. Korbel Brut California Champagne (USA, California) – Score: B++
This wine is from 1997! Are you kidding me! It was the second and final kosher run of the winery. The nose on this straw colored wine was filled with a yeast and mushroom nose, toast, herbs, asparagus, and lemon. The mouse on this medium bodied wine was filled out by the small bubbles of the lovely and still very alive mousse, toast, yeast, mushroom, and lemon. The mid palate was bracing with core acidity, and toast. The finish was nice along with more nice small bubbles, toast, mushroom, and lemon. It was a lovely wine that was drunk quickly and one that paired well with our hearty black bean soup. Really a shock that this 13 dollar wine survived this long and was more than acceptable! Kudos to Benyamin Cantz for keeping it so long and in such good quality, and for sure to Korbel for making a reasonably priced kosher wine that could live this long and taste maybe even better than I remember it tasting originally!

2007 Yarden Chardonnay (Israel, Galilee, Golan Heights) – Score: A–
This wine was closed and tight to start, it took it a good hour or two to come out of its shell. This wine is still not ready to enjoy at its fullest without a fair amount of up front effort. The nose on this lemon colored wine has butterscotch, butter, lemon, toasty oak, mint, pear, peach, and apple. The mouth on this full bodied wine has toasty oak, pear, peach, lemon, apricot, and apple. The mid palate is heavy with acid, toasty oak, butterscotch, and a touch of mint. The finish is long with more oak, butter, butterscotch, bright citrus, lemon, and toasty oak. The toasty oak, butterscotch, and lemon linger on the palate.

2007 Yarden Odem Organic Vineyard Chardonnay – Score: A– to A-
This wine takes a very long time to open up – clearly not it’s time to be drunk yet. Once it opens, the nose on this gold colored wine is filled with toasty oak, honey, ripe fig, caramel, butter, spice, rose notes, apple, grapefruit, and lemon. The mouth of this full bodied wine is mouth filling with ripe fig, apple, grapefruit, lemon, cloves, and toast. The mid palate is balanced with bight acidity, caramel, butter, and spice. The finish is long with more toast, oak, ripe figs, right citrus, and butter. This is a lovely wine, but not yet ready to show its best stuff. Leave this one alone for a year and come back.

Bean and Rice soup, Roast, Meat Sauce, Roasted Vegetables, Rice Pilaf, and a bunch of wine…

On the weekend of January 8th, we had a Friday night party, with my nephews from Chicago and from around the Bay Area, and Benyamin Cantz.  The meal started with a wicked cool soup that we made for the first time and then followed it with a roast, some meat sauce, brown rice, roasted vegetables, and fresh salad.  The soup recipe is below, and is from a recipe book – fittingly called – Soup!  We laughed about the soup book, because my Sister is the owner of Source Books, and we bantered around about how much time she would have spent on just the picture on the front of the book, which of course is a bowl of soup!  After the soup, we made some roasted vegetables (sweet potatoes, beets, rutabagas, parsnip).  The vegetables were so good because we roasted them until they released their water and started to crystallize the sugars – which makes them extra yummy!  They went along nicely with the roasted shoulder meat, which was braised with peas and carrots, and a bunch of wine – recipe can be found here.  The meat sauce was a lot like this one, without trying to make meatballs out of it.  They were all paired with a lovely brown rice pilaf and a fresh green salad.

Rice & White Bean Soup Recipe
9 oz of white beans
Olive Oil
Onions
Garlic
Diced Carrots
Diced Zucchini
Diced Red peppers
Cubed Soy Sausage
Thyme
Bay Leaf
Chicken or vegetable stock
Half a cup of brown rice

Place the beans in water over night and then drain and rinse a few times the next day.  Sauté the onions and sausage until browned.  Add in the garlic, and once browned nicely, throw in the diced zucchini, carrots, and peppers.  Wait for the vegetables to give off their liquid and then add in the herbs and vegetable stock.  Wait for the soup to boil and throw in the washed and rinsed beans.  Lower the heat to simmer and stir the soup every so often until the beans are softening (about an hour).  Then throw in the rice, and whatever other seasoning (salt, pepper, etc.) to taste, and wait another 30 or so minutes.

The wine we chose to pair with this food was partly from Four Gates Winery and partly from our cellar.  One wine from my cellar was a massive and huge dud, while the other one was OK.  Both of the wines from Four Gates (one of which is still unreleased), were quite nice indeed.

The wine notes follow below:

2006 Cantina Gabriele Sangiovese – Score: B+
The nose on this dark ruby colored wine is rich with loamy notes, black cherry is ever evident, some violet, and a bit of plum. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is mouth coating with integrated tannins, plum, and concentrated cherry flavors. The mid palate is balanced with integrated tannins and acid. The finish is long with loamy soil, a hint of floral notes, and a ton of cloying tart cherries at the very end. The tart cherries throw off the finish and ruin the wine, which is a shame, because of the rest of the package.

2006 Hevron Heights Mount Hevron Red – Score: C-
This bottle was either really wrong or it is flawed at birth. The bottle had way too much volatile acidity, which messed up an already not so great wine. The nose on this vibrant garnet – purple colored wine is over the top with Volatile Acidity, cherry, plum, and coffee. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is flush with cranberry, plum, and eucalyptus. The rest of the flavor profile is cherry and coffee and not much more than that because of the VA.

2006 Four Gates Merlot M.S.C. – Score: A
When we last tasted this wine it was a bit redder.  Now the wine has turned black (as has its younger brother the 2006 Merlot La Rochelle), and it is a crazy joy to drink and share with your friends and family.  The interesting thing is that, while there are some red characteristics to this wine, the black ones clearly stand out.  Who knows, it may well go back to its red past, which was still one wonderful wine as well.

The nose on this purple to black colored wine is screaming with rich oak, cassis, blackberry, plum, raspberry, tobacco, chocolate, and licorice.  The mouth of this full bodied wine is full of raspberry, cassis, plum, and blackberry.  The mouth’s tannins are slowly integrating and creating a lovely mouth coating experience that fills out the already full wine’s body, and the layers of fruit accentuate the palate with nice oak notes.  The mid palate is balanced with acid, chocolate, nice tannins, and spicy oak.  The finish is long and rich with red fruit, more spicy oak, licorice, and chocolate.  The wine is a massive black Merlot that is layered, complex, and screaming with black fruit and extracted flavors.

2006 Four Gates (Yet Undisclosed Name) – Score: A-
The nose on this royal purple to black colored wine is filled with raspberry, plum, floral notes, kirsch cherry, oak, and spice.  The mouth on this full bodied wine is hopping with raspberry, plum, and cherry.  The mouth comes at you layer after layer on a plush mouth with mouth coating tannins.  The mid palate is balanced with acid, integrating tannins, and coffee.  The finish is long with red fruit, vanilla, lovely tannins, coffee, and a hint of leather.

Some great kosher Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot

I have been flying far too much for business reasons this past year, and this past week is a perfect example of the madness. I flew 20 hours of plane time in a day, and I never left the country. Sure, part of that was mileage running, but the first part was business. So, that left me very little time to cook before some of my favorite guests, what I call the “gang” was coming over for a Friday night meal.

To fix that I made all the food the day before I left, froze it and unfroze it on Friday and served it Friday night. Do not fear, there were no leftovers. The wine selection was meant to be 2013 Cali Pinot Noir, but thanks to the generosity of many of the gang, that was thrown for a loop, and I am very thankful for that, as I got to taste some epic wines indeed.

So, instead of just 2013 Cali, we started with a very nice 2007 Gush Etzion Spring Red, brought by AS and that was followed by a wine that I loved very much the last time I had it, the 2014 Eagle’s Landing Sauvignon Blanc. Sadly, something went VERY wrong, since we tasted it in the summer at the winery. Gone was the ripping acid and saline, in its place is more tropical fruit, banana and sweet notes. Sadly, I was not the only one to say this, as others I respect told me this very same thing a few weeks ago. I was shocked and argued vehemently that this was just not true. Sadly, once I tasted the wine that was shipped directly from the winery as part of the wine club, my friend’s allegations were brought to the forefront. This was a real shame and one that left me wanting information – if it was available.

After that we started with a run of Pinot Noir wines, starting with 2012 Makom Pinot Noir, which was as good as it was last week! That was followed by the 2009 Four Gates Pinot Noir – which is hedonistic and rich in so many ways, a wine that was not appreciated at release, but one I held onto. This bottle in particular was brought by its creator – Benyamin Cantz and it was just lovely! The next wine was the 2011 Gvaot Gofna Pinot Noir, and what can I say at the meal it was DEAD! DOA was all I could say, I triple aerated it and nothing helped. THANKFULLY, I saved a bit and after 24 hours the wine was alive and beautiful. In hindsight I should have just read my own notes about this wine – and I would have seen that the wine was closed and sleeping a year ago, sadly it has yet to waken. Give this wine another year or decant it for 12 hours – which I think is absurd! Buy the wine and wait – you will be happy for it.

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Petite Sirah – it is not Petite, it is not Syrah or Shiraz, rather it is another name for Durif

Petite Sirah grape (image from Israeli Wine website)

This past weekend I was really excited to go through all the kosher Petite Sirah (PS) wines that I have. Before you ask, Petite Sirah is NOT a Syrah or Shiraz grape in any way. I hope that was informative – LOL!! You see, PS is NOT a Syrah grape with a stupid name. Rather , it is a hybrid of Syrah and an obscure grape called: Peloursin. It has some similarities to Syrah and to many it is considered more Syrah than Rhone, but it is not a Syrah grape. Dr. Carole Meredith and her colleagues at UC Davis, in 1998, ran DNA tests on thousands of grape vines throughout California and came out that PS and Durif are one the same.

But first off, I have already given away the punch line, here is the story. In the last 10 or so years petite syrah has veered from its path of being a great blending grape, to one that is a very popular and successful single varietal.

Petite Sirah has more in common with syrah and shiraz grapes then just phonics. They share viticulture roots that we will unearth as we unfold the legend of the syrah and petit sirah grapes. Our journey starts in Shiraz – a large city in the southwest of Iran. Known as the Garden City of Iran, as it flows with fruits and grapes, Shiraz was thought to be the birthplace of the shiraz/syrah grape. Winters are mild here, and its summers are moderate – which makes for an ideal climate for grapes. Legend has it that a Frenchman named Gaspard de Sterimberg took grapes he found here while crusading through Iran in the 13th century. Upon his return to southeastern France, he
planted his sapling on a rolling hill near the Rhône River. He established a sanctuary on the hill and settled down in hermit-like seclusion – from where we get the Hermitage AOC (Appellation d’origine controlee) today. This is how syrah was supposed to have become dominant in this region.

There are many different syrah wines in the Rhone Valley, but each is named for its specific place and not the grape. The wines of the Hermitage region (mineral and tannic in nature) have different styles and characteristics then syrah wines from the Cote-Rotie region (fruity and perfumed in nature). Since the 1800’s Hermitage has been one of the most famous Syrah wines in the world, though recently, syrah from Australia, California and Washington state have gained worldwide fame.

Unfortunately, the Shiraz legend is just that – all myth and no fact. In 1998, research at the French National Agronomy Archives in Montpellier and the University of California at Davis (UCD) cut through the romantic marketing and discovered the real source for the shiraz/syrah grape.

Carole Meredith from UCD and Jean-Micel Boursiquot of France tested syrah grapes. They found that syrah grapes were, in fact, indigenous to France and not a transplant from Iran. Our story of syrah ends here, but the story of petit sirah is just beginning. In the 1880’s, Dr. François Durif promoted a cross of syrah and peloursin to combat syrah’s biggest issue – powdery mildew. Dr. Durif named this grape Durif eponymously. Then In the 1890’s phylloxera decimated the syrah crops within California. When replanting started in the
late 1890’s, much of the new acreage was of this Durif. The first importer started calling the Durif grapes ‘petite sirah’, for no particular (or known) reason. It was planted because of its dark color, fragrance, and abundant yields. It became the main blending grape for the top red wines in the state. It was not until the very same Professor Carole Meredith’s study, published in 1998, that it was conclusively established that about 90 percent of the old vines known as Petite Sirah in California are actually Durif and not Syrah, Shiraz, or Sirah. Read the rest of this entry

Lovely Sausage Stew, Quinoa, vegetable kugel, and current kosher Cabernet Franc wines

This past weekend I finally got around to something I have been planning for sometime, which was my Cabernet Franc Horizontal. To be fair, it was more like two horizontals, one for 2006 and one for 2007, along with a 2005 wine thrown in. So I guess I am using the term liberally, but hey, this is my blog! Anyway, the wines were quite lovely, with the only real loser being an a fore mentioned wine that was previously in a dumb period, and now I think it is just going down hill, that being the 2007 Hagafen Cabernet Franc. My deep love for all things Franc is clear and documented here.

That said, though the wines were great to exceptional, none of them exhibited anything Franc’ish. I say this because, there was almost no vegetal notes (even from Four gates), and little to no floral notes or even floral perfumes. Instead, what we had was deep and expressive wines that were nice, but more Cab’ish than Franc’ish. The common notes were, Oak/Cedar, Chocolate, Tobacco, and red fruit. There were a couple of wines with black fruit and rich flavors as well.

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Lasagna, Cotes Du’ Rhone, Segal Dishon Cabernet Sauvignon, and Psagot Cabernet Sauvignon

This past week we had a table full of friends and family that went late into the night.  It was a grand time for sure, and the table was graced by a few bottles of yet unreleased wines, along with some enjoyable wines that are readily available as well.  The evening started with my now signature olive soup, that I modified from Mollie Katzen original vegetarian cookbook, which is getting harder and harder to find.  The soup is so nice because of the Kalamata olives that are used in the recipe.  We tried to cook this soup once without Kalamata olives – and in the end, you could have just eaten the olives, it would have been a better use of them.  The soup loses all reasons to exist, without the Kalamata olives. The lima beans that are in there as well complete the flavor and texture profile of the soup.

We followed the Olive soup with a meat only version of Lasagna.  We have made the meat lasagna many times, and its only real fault is that it is not as gooey as cheese lasagna.  The cheese adds the glue that is needed to keep the whole package together.  In its place the meat only lasagna, has no real glue, but the texture is still nice and the flavors are really well accentuated.  The recipe comes from a cookbook I have, but its main idea is browned ground meat, sautéed onion, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and mostly herbs – with a few spices.  Place the andante lasagna noodles on a layer of sauce at the bottom of a 9×13 pan.  Then place meat sauce on top of the bottom layer, followed by another layer of lasagna noodles, and then another layer of meat sauce, and then the final layer of lasagna noodles, followed by a light layer of meat sauce, to keep the top moist.

The 2007 Le Mourre de L’Isle Côtes du Rhône excites me because of its A.O.C., more than its score.  There are not that many Côtes du Rhône kosher wines around, and it gives us a chance to taste this interesting wine.  It is made with 60% Black Grenache – 40% Mourvedre, which are not very common kosher wine varietals.

We paired the lasagna with bold red wines and I think they paired well.  The wines notes follow below:

Psagot Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 – Score: B+
The nose on this garnet colored wine is another nice Israeli Cabernet. It is packed with chocolate, raspberry, blackberry, and serious amount of oak. The nose is not hot and is enveloping with heavy oak and chocolate. The mouth of this full bodied wine is soft and almost mouth coating. This wine required a long time to open up, and the patient wine connoisseur will be rewarded. The soft mouth melds well with raspberry, blackberry, and cassis. The mid palate is balanced with bright acidity, large amounts of oak, integrated tannins, and chocolate. The finish is long with more chocolate, leather, and a final dollop of oak. Another nice Israeli Cabernet that shows like a California Cabernet.

Segal Cabernet Sauvignon Single Vineyard Kosher Kerem Dishon 2005 – Score: A-
The nose on this red garnet wine is screaming with oak, cassis, blackberry, raspberry, and tons of dark chocolate. This nose on this wine is really quite special, and in many ways its nicest feature. This full bodied wine coats your mouth with oak first and foremost, almost reminiscent of a California Cabernet. The mouth follows with blackberry and cassis. The mid palate is packed with acidity, more oak and softening tannins. The medium long finish is flush with oak, coffee, and chocolate. This is a fun wine and one well worth the cost.

Le Mourre de L’Isle Côtes du Rhône 2007 – Score: B+
The nose on this purple colored wine is filled with blackberry, cranberry, cloves, coffee, and initially hot. After it has enough air, about 1 to two hours, the nose cleans up, and a bit of oak is noticeable, along with black cherry and more cloves. The mouth on this dense and interesting, yet not so complex wine starts with layers of black cherry, followed by hints of blackberry and a sensation that can only be described as chicken cherry cola. The dense flavors roll into a soft and oaky mid palate. The finish is medium long with a trail of oak, pepper and coffee.

Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon Special Edition, Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Superieur, Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon, and Yarden El-Rom Cabernet Sauvignon

I have been saving up my Cabernets for a special night with friends.  This past weekend I decided that it was time to open my Cabernets.  So we started the meal with a roasted butternut squash and onion soup.  I made it up myself and I am quite happy with it – though I am constantly tweaking it.  The recipe is quite simple really.  Roast a pair of butternut squash along with some red onions in an oven.  Then sauté onions and carrots in a Dutch oven.  Once they are soft, add in Cinnamon, Cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic, and all spice.  Then throw in the roasted vegetables and puree’ the whole mess.  Cook the soup for 30 or more minutes and then throw in a can of chickpeas for 10 minutes and bingo, you have soup!  We followed the soup up with my Sweet and Sour Brisket, white rice, Roasted Green Bean Salad (From Molie Katzen’s Classic Cooking Cookbook), and a nice sauté of onions, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes.  The soup and the later three worked out great for the vegetarians, while the brisket was just fine for us carnivores.

The evening started with 2 new wines from the Four Gates Winery that were barrel samples and as such I am holding judgment until they are officially released.  Parenthetically, they look to be real winners and ones that may be some of the more oaked Four Gates Wines I have tested yet.  But again, we must wait till they are released.  They were paired with the Roasted Butternut Squash soup – which was a hit and one that I am always pleasantly surprised about.  I had forgotten about it and my wife was the one who suggested it for this evening – a nice choice.

Following the soup and Four Gates Wines, we started the procession of Cabernets.  They are listed below in drinking order and paired nicely with the brisket.  The only issue I could say is that this brisket is sweet and sour, and as such, it takes a certain wine to cut through the noise.  Three of the four Cabernets had no problem, but keep that in mind when pairing a sweet and sour dish with a wine.  In hindsight, I would not have served my brisket, but something like a Burgundy Beef (Beef Bourguignon) or a Roast instead.  That said the wines were enjoyed by all, but the majority of the table liked the wines in this order: Covenant, Yarden, Herzog, Barkan.  The Barkan and Herzog had a harder time matching up against the brisket, with the Barkan being the weakest.

The wine notes follow below:

Baron Herzog Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Edition, Chalk Hill 2000 – Score: B+
Beware this note is valid ONLY for the first 30 minutes or so after the bottle is opened. Initially the cloudy and brooding garnet colored with an orange halo wine has a nose of chocolate, tobacco, blackberry, and oak. Wild and beautiful. The mouth of this palate coating full bodied wine carries the blackberry, and has cassis. The mid palate is acidic with lovely integrated tannins. The finish is long with oak, acid, more integrated tannins and chocolate. The bad news is that after 30 or 40 minutes the wine loses the chocolate, coffee, blackberry, and turns into a full bodied wine with almost no character – which is a shame. Drink this now and drink as soon as the bottle is opened.

Barkan Cabernet Sauvignon Superieur 2003 – Score: A-
The nose on this blue to purple garnet colored wine was hot initially, but blew off with air. There were aromas of tobacco, black cherry, and blackberry. The mouth of this full bodied wine followed the nose with blackberry, black cherry and mint. The wine is far from smooth and the tannins have still yet to balance nicely into the wine. The mid palate was chock full of tannin and acidity. The finish was medium long with chocolate and oak. Not a really complex wine, though large enough to satisfy many a drinker.

Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 – Score: A
I have had this wine a few times now and in different settings. Once was a few years ago, soon after release – big mistake. Once was a year ago and with a ton of air time. This time we also gave it air. Well, the results were all over the place. The initial time a few years ago, was way too early. Far too tannic, no life, almost bland. Last year was nice, but still pretty dormant. Finally, this past time, I could see what made Robert Parker and other stand up and take notice.

The nose on this garnet red wine is crazy loaded with cassis, raspberry, and tobacco. The mouth of this full bodied and coating/velvety wine has intense layers of cassis, blackberry and a slight hint of vegetal flavors. The mid palate is where this wine takes off – it is still acidic in nature, which gives it structure, and a fair bit of tannin as well. From there the oak overtakes the palate in a impressive, while not overpowering manner, and flows into a long and complicated finish of fig, tobacco and chocolate. Quite a nice showing and this gives me confidence to wait another year to open my next bottle of this vintage.

Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon El Rom 2001 – Score: A
This is one of the best wines I have tasted from Israel. The nose on this brilliant and deep garnet to black colored wine was a bit hot and simple out of the chute. However, as time progressed the nose turned to heavy layers of blackberry, cassis, tobacco, and oak. The mouth on this wine was also a bit slow out of the bottle, but that changed within an hour. The mouth was complex and multi layered. This is no simple wine, it hits you in waves. The mouth on this full bodied wine is rich and coating with blackberry, eucalyptus, and almost jam like – but not in a chewy annoying way – more in a rich and cultured manner. The mid palate follows off the first set of layers and is where the structure comes in. The structure is built on tannin, acidity, and lush layers of vegetal flavors. The finish is crazy long and is filled with chocolate, tobacco, and sweet wood. This is really quite a fine wine and one that is not yet peaked at all, though quite enjoyable now as well.

Château Le Crock 2002 – Score: B+
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine starts slow. Initially, it is hot with black cherry, blackberry, and oak. As time progresses the nose wakes up and the heat blows off. The nose then changes to a strong aroma of blackberry, chocolate, and coffee – very nice. The mouth is full bodied and very velvety – a truly full bodied and mouth coating experience. The blackberry carries over to the mouth along with some red fruit. The mid palate is still tannic with no heat and a nice spice. The finish is the real flaw – it is not so long but carries the chocolate and leather like qualities – albeit a short distance.

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