Wine Club Newsletter - October 2017
Musings on Lisbon, Portugal
By: Gary Parker
This year, our annual WineSellar Wine Tour has taken us to the country of Portugal. We’ve sold out two groups, and invite you to join us next year, as we consider South Africa, Chile, or Sicily. For more information, please feel free to email me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. OK, commercial break is over now.
Upon our arrival in Lisbon, we were greeted by 80 degree weather, with a penetrating sun. The shade, as well as the breeze blowing off the Tagus River, was most welcoming.
Lisbon itself was devastated by a huge earthquake with subsequent fires and a tsunami in 1755, which leveled over 90% of the buildings in the city. An aggressive rebuilding campaign saw the city structures rising once again, and the continuous style of architecture reflects that era.
Walking around the city center, you will discover small shops, many restaurants, monuments, and museums, essentially begging you to spend a few days discovering this famous port city. As you endeavor to discover areas along the city edges, you will find the walking a bit more challenging, as streets elevate a couple hundred feet or more.
Adding to the strain are the cobblestone walkways, which can be quite narrow, especially when vehicles want to share the same path as yours. However, you will be rewarded for your efforts, as the tour and views, especially from the Castelo St. George, are stunning with 360 degree views for miles.
We stayed at the Palace Avenida Hotel, a four star hotel in the city center. From there, it was a quick walk down to the Tagus River waterfront, which has miles of walkways through industrial zones, historical points of interest, and of course, restaurants.
Along the river I am reminded somewhat of our own San Diego harbor. The natural beauty of the area of is blighted by industrial commerce, somewhat like San Diego’s harbor/shipyard south of the Coronado Bridge. Bringing some familiarity, Lisbon has a bridge identical to the famed “Golden Gate”, yet the surrounding oil and gasoline related structures along the banks seem to be out of place, given the locale. I understand those needs, but hope someday both these areas can be restored to a more natural and appropriate landscape.
Among the global board of competitive epicurean centers, Lisbon ranks high in my book. For excellent seafood, very fresh oysters, clams, salmon, octopus and sea bass are prepared in both classic and contemporary fashions. Every restaurant I visited seemed to burst with pride over their preparations and the bounty they have to draw upon.
One particular fish is omnipresent, salted cod. Long a staple in Portuguese cuisine, I cannot recall any one of the twenty restaurants I visited not having served this fish in some way or another. While it is not my favorite way of having seafood, a visitor must try it for reference.
No matter what seafood you select to eat, you’ll find the crisp, dry, mineral-laden white wines perfectly match the offerings. They are typically inexpensive, yet provide unique flavors and characters, as I found varietals such as Albariño, Encruzado, Arinto, and Fernao Pires a joy to have on the table.
The Portuguese do love to BBQ, and I really loved the various pork and beef dishes with red wines made from Touriga Nacional (Portugals finest red varietal), Trincadeira, Trina Roriz, Castelao, and Touriga Franca.
Wonderful climate, world class wine and foods, to be sure. English is spoken everywhere, and tourists are a welcomed commodity. Put Lisbon on your bucket list, and expect me to be bringing our WineSellar wine club members a couple of my best finds to your door.
2013 Albariño, Per Cazo Cellars, Edna Valley
Growing Region: Paragon Vineyard, Edna Valley
Varietal Composition: 100% Albariño
Fermentation: Neutral Oak
Alcohol Content: 14.0%
Suggested Retail: $24.99
WineSellar Club Price: $22.49
This is a high body white wine from Paragon Vineyard within Edna Valley that has a round texture with great length and complexity. The Per Cazo Cellars transports their wine from Edna Valley to Paso Robles to be fermented. Made from the Albariño varietal, which is traditionally grown in Northwestern Spain, this wine presents the floral, minerality you would expect from Spain, but also the body and fruit notes you would expect from California.
The wine has a brilliantly bright yellow core and slight tints of green. The yellow is a medium-pale concentration with great clarity that lets you easily see through the wine. It has good viscosity, and leaves thick tears dripping down the glass.
The nose is extremely complex and jumps out of the glass that make you think of green leaves like a Sauvignon Blanc, but mineral salinity that remind you that you’re drinking an Albariño. It has intense aromatics of cantelope, honeydew melon, ripe peach, meyer lemon, lavender, and forest floor.
Medium plus in body and weight, it has a crisp, acidic entry, and an oily, waxy feel in the middle-palate showing its oak aging.
The wine is dry, but packs a punch with fruit. There is tropical fruit like cantaloupe and honey, but shows significant stone fruit like overripe peach, and apricot. The tart-like acidity on this wine reminds you of tangerine and lemon.
This is great with all kinds of fresh seafood. Particularly the seafood that has bold flavors to pair with this high body wine. Salmon with lemon butter sauce, fresh oysters, or calamari with a squeezed lemon. For those that stay away from seafood, this wine can pair great fresh vegetables like an arugula salad with a lemon vinaigrette dressing.
2015 Carignan Blend, Field Recordings, Santa Barbara
Growing Region: Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara
Varietal Composition: 90% Carignan, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Fermentation: 10 months in 100% Seasoned French Oak
Alcohol Content: 14.1%
Suggested Retail: $22.00
WineSellar Club Price: $18.89
Just 26 barrels of this lovely Carignan blend were made from Field Recordings’ vineyard, “Tommy Town”. This wine is rare in that it comes with 100% French Oak aging, but a price less than $20. It’s grown with 90% Carignan, which is a grape traditionally grown in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in France. Happy Canyon in Santa Barbara makes for a great microclimate that can mimic the Mediterranean climate found in the South of France.
The wine in the glass shows a bright, beautiful garnet at the core with some distinct ruby colors at the rim. As you swirl the glass, the red garnet leaves a very slight stain in the glass with slow, well-defined tears.
The aromatics are very fun and unique. The nose has a savory, meaty element that reminds you of BBQ ribs on a summer afternoon. Dig deeper and you’ll find a eucalyptus, menthol note. The fruit comes secondary to the other notes, but there is some dried raspberry and blackberry. Lastly, you’ll be able to smell the vanilla from the French oak aging.
Medium in body and weight, this wine has a round texture that feels heavy at first, but lightens up in the late-palate to show the fruit and acidity.
It is slightly sweet and transitions beautifully to a mixture of black licorice, black tea, then jammy raspberry, cherry, black currant, and blackberry. It has tremendous length that finishes with vanilla, spice, and herbal notes.
This is fabulous with any meat. Braised beef short ribs, ribeye steak, pork chops, BBQ pork ribs, or a burger would all be fabulous choices. Make sure to include the Worcestershire sauce or BBQ sauce as this pairs well with the slight sweetness and jammy characteristics in the wine.
2013 Charles Heintz Pinot Noir, Valentina, Sonoma Coast
Growing Region: Sonoma County, California
Varietal Composition: 100% Pinot Noir
Fermentation: New and Used Oak aging
Alcohol Content: 14% Alcohol
Suggested Retail: 48.00
WineSellar Club Price: $37.79
Well Club members, I believe you will find this stylish Pinot Noir much to your liking. The WineSellar & Brasserie has become a big fan of this winery, selling dozens of boxes of this Pinot Noir, as well as their Rose of Pinot Noir. By the way, the Rose was featured at the Fleet Science Center Fundraising Gala Dinner I directed last May, and it was a big hit.
Lovely, elegant, black and embossed silver and gray package. Check out the nice story on the back label. I love when wineries do this, especially when they do it well. The one thing to note is there was only 100 cases produced. The wine has a delicate hue of rose petal and strawberry skin. It gets quite light, almost clear when it gets to the edge of the glass. It appears unfiltered as well. Note, even though the color is light, the wine has excellent intensity.
Delicate, yet distinctive Pinot Noir fragrance. It reminds me very much of a well rounded, fine Pommard from Burgundy, France. It is elegant, long-lasting, beguiling, with black cherry, earth, some light herb nuances, soil, wood . . . Everything in an oh so sweet Pinot Noir. Notice some vanillas, roasted nuts and spices.
Medium to medium-light in weight. Here again, with Pinot Noir, it’s the texture that thrills. Silky, velvety, super-elegant feel in the mouth, almost like a rayon or something that slick. Even all the way through, balanced and thought producing finish is lengthy.
Black tea and cherry fruit are forefront, with some leather strap, barnyard (the good kind) and a hint of black pepper. Spice of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, and then on comes a cherry compote mix with berries. There is a bit of tart cherry that kept this taster eager to see how it would resolve itself. It did wonderfully, showing the magic of Pinot Noir.
While this will keep for a few years, it’s a 2013, and is aged nicely as it is now. I have used this with chicken with mushroom sauce, which was lovely. This would also be excellent with risotto, truffle, and light cheeses.
2013 Correlation Cabernet Sauvignon, Vineyard
Growing Region: Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, California
Varietal Composition: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Fermentation: 95% New French Oak, 26 Months
Alcohol Content: 15.1% Alcohol
Suggested Retail: $115.00
WineSellar Club Price: $94.99
Wow, once again, look at the savings on this spectacular Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon! Achieving a 93-95 point rating from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate. From the winery: Vineyard 7 & 8 reflects the uncompromising pursuit and vision towards producing premium, handcrafted wines highlighting a sense of place within the Spring Mountain District, through experience, passion, and humility. The winery is at 2,020 elevation, and has an annual production of approximately 1,800 cases. The winemaking team consists of Martha McClellan, Associate Winemaker Wesley Steffens, and vineyard manager Pete Richmond.
Nice heavier bottle, presenting a classy, elegant package, with sophistication, elegance, and subtle but solid messaging. The wine is black at the core, bleeding out to only a dark ruby at the edges. It is super viscous, clinging to the bowl like forty-weight oil.
A very rich, concentrated nose holds back for quite some time before revealing very dark cherry fruit, fresh wood, vanilla oak, black pepper, the green bell pepper note of classic California Cabernet Sauvignon, licorice whips, and a hint of menthol. It is brash, unyielding, tight, even though you know it is full of power.
Big, animal like monster with substantial tannins, fruit and tannic acid. Focused and tight, with large, broad shoulders, this brute is a bit brackish at first, then giving way to an all-enveloping fruit bomb, with and settling into a long lasting creamy middle and finish.
As mentioned, powerful fruit flavors, starting with a tightly wound red raspberry component, as well as blackberry, deep, ripe plum and plum skin. There is a great mix of fresh herbs, including tarragon, rosemary, and thyme. This is also where the subtle green bell pepper notes pop up, along with some chocolate, biscuit, lead pencil, hazelnuts, and the vanilla oak. There is also a nice concentrated pomegranate character that is quite enjoyable.
The recommended drinking period is over the next twenty to twenty- five years. I am getting to the age where something like that gives me pause, but you have to believe! So I think this should be consumed over the next 15-20 years, and it will be a fantastic addition to our cellars.
Poached Salmon and Watercress Salad with Dill-Yogurt Dressing
Here’s a healthy recipe from Health magazine.
Serve with the 2013 Albariño, Per Cazo Cellars, Edna Valley
- 1 celery stalk, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 bunch scallions, greens sliced into 1/2-inch pieces, whites left whole, divided
- 1 lemon, halved: cut half into slices, zest and juice remaining half (1/2 teaspoon zest, 1 tablespoon juice), divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skinned (about 2 inches thick)
- 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill plus 1/2 cup fronds, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh horseradish
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 bunches watercress, thick stems removed (about 8 cups)
- 1 cup sugar snap peas, thinly sliced crosswise (3 ounces)
- 1 small bunch radishes, sliced (1 1/2 cups)
- Fill a high-sided skillet or large pot with 6 cups water; add celery, scallion whites, and lemon slices to pot.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat; cover, reduce heat, and simmer. Cook until fragrant (8-10 minutes). Add salmon (water should just cover fillets) to pot; cover and gently simmer until fish is opaque (5-8 minutes).
- With tongs or a fish spatula, remove salmon from broth; set aside on a cutting board to cool.
- While fish is poaching, make the dressing: In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, chopped dill, horseradish, lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, whisking well.
- Arrange watercress, snap peas, radishes, and dill fronds on 4 plates; top with salmon, and sprinkle with scallion greens.
- Drizzle with dressing; serve.