Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wine of the Week: Guenoc Wines Petite Sirah 2013

Founded by actress Lillie Langtry in 1888, Guenoc Wines is part of the 21,349-acre Langtry Estate, which lies sixty miles north of San Francisco in the Guenoc Valley.

Wine of the Week: Guenoc Wines Petite Sirah 2013

Tasting Notes:
86% Petite Sirah, 14% Pinot Noir; dark ruby red color; cream soda, red berry, sweet plum, and black pepper aromas; prune, red berry, blueberry, leather, and tart cherry flavors; twist off closure; SRP $7.99.
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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lunch with a Legend: José Galante

I’m not worthy. I’m not worthy. If you’re a fan of “Wayne’s World,” you’ll recognize my lament when I was told I’d be having a lunch with José Galante, whose winemaking career has spanned nearly my entire life (this is the fortieth year that he has made wine in Argentina). Talk about pressure.

Lunch with a Legend: José Galante

I walked into the Tavern on Rush to be greeted by José and his PR and Luxury Portfolio Manager,  Matias Bauzá Moreno, both slightly formal in the way foreign visitors sometimes are. Sitting down, I couldn’t help but notice that there were quite a few bottles lined up for a lunch. I sincerely hoped I could keep up and not make a fool of myself.

I needn’t have worried – both men were friendly and excited to share the great work they were doing at Bodegas Salentein in the Uco Valley of Argentina. And this quality is seen across the three levels that were presented: Portillo, entry level; Killka, a step up and labels bearing art from their art museum; and Salentein, which covers all the wines that are considered their best.

Many wines poured, discussed, and related to not just to what was in the glass, but everything that went into the making of these bottles. Their grapes all come from the Uco Valley, which sits at elevations ranging from 3,000–4,000 feet or so above sea level, southwest of Mendoza. Alluvial soil, minimal rain (water is used from the surrounding Andes Mountains) and 250 plus sunny days a year mean that vine growing is tough, but doable. Winds keep pests away and warm days, cool nights make for high quality production.

I'd love to visit Bodegas Salentein. At almost 5,000 acres, this is a huge estate, including 1,124 acres of grapes, the winery, a 125-acre nature preserve, an art museum (Killka Center for Culture and the Arts), and the Posada Salentein, where one can stay to take it all in. From photos, the Uco Valley is very beautiful and not large, so driving down from Mendoza is easy if you're not staying in the valley itself.

Lunch with a Legend: José Galante

Highlights of the Tasting:
2013 Salentein Numina Gran Corte: the "Great Blend," made up of 62% Malbec, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc; the handpicked grapes from the El Oasis estate; separately fermented and aged in 7,000 liter oak casks; blended after 6 months, then aged 16 months; this is an orchestra of grapes deftly handled by José, the conductor; beautiful nose, with fruit through mid-palate and  throughout the finish; cork closure; MSRP $40.
2012 Salentein Single Vineyard Malbec: hand harvested grapes from La Pampa estate; 95% fermented in 7,000-litre oak casks and 5% in 225-litre first use French oak barrels.; cold macerated, then racked to oak barrels for malolactic fermentation; lovely fruit on the nose and once again, through mid-palate and into the finish; if the Numina is an orchestra, this is a deft solo artist; cork closure; $50.
2012 Salentein Single Vineyard Chardonnay: hand harvested grapes from San Pablo estate; 6 month oak barrel fermentation; aged sur lie; total malolactic fermentation; straight forward Chardonnay flavor, reduced to its essence, easily the best Chardonnay I've ever had - worth searching out, but only 500 cases made; cork closure; SRP $50.
What was most noticeable to me, across the board, was that the Salentein portfolio shares similar high-quality characteristics. Whether you buy a less expensive Portillo or go for a single vineyard Salentein Chardonnay, you’re going to find fruit at every step of tasting: up front on the nose, through the mid palate, and all the way through the finish. The fruit flavors are straightforward, not masked, and the wines are all beautifully balanced, with acid backbones that make them a pleasure to drink, either on their own or especially with food.

Thanks to José and Matias for sharing their wines, knowledge, and friendly company. Special thanks to Balzac Communications & Marketing for setting up this lunch.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wine of the Week: Hand of God 2010 Old Vine Malbec

For our recent Anniversary, I pulled out a wine I expected would be special, the Hand of God 2010 Old Vine Malbec, and we weren't disappointed. Tasted with a grilled steak, potatoes au gratin, and asparagus spears. Held up and evolved with every minute and bite.

Wine of the Week: Hand of God 2010 Old Vine Malbec

Tasting Notes
From vines vines planted in the 1920's in the Stolen Horse Vineyard (Cruz de Piedra, Maipu, Mendoza, Argentina); aged 20 months in 100% new French oak; super dark and opaque wine; smoke, earth and dark fruits on the nose; dark fruit, earth, subtle tart red berry and a touch of cassis flavors; beautifully balanced with a nice acid backbone; flavors continue through long and smooth finish; cork closure; SRP $75.
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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Wine of the Week: Black Sheep Le Grand Noir Rosé 2014

"The select vineyards used to produce the wines of Le Grand Noir are located in the notable regions of Minervois and Carcassone. Situated among rolling uplands and broad plateaus between the Pyrennes and “Black” mountain ranges, the diverse soils are comprised of limestone, chalk, clay, granite, and schist. The mild Mediterranean climate provides ideal conditions for producing high quality fruit. The wines are bottled in association with Celliers Jean d’Alibert."

Wine of the Week: Black Sheep Le Grand Noir Rosé 2014

Tasting Notes:
85% Grenache, 15% Syrah; beautiful pale coral color, tending to orange almost; subtle floral, tart red berry, citrus aromas; red berry, subtle tropical, and citrus flavors into a tart acidic finish; dry and refreshing with enough fruit to keep it interesting; twist off closure; SRP $10.
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Friday, October 2, 2015

Barbakoa Tacos and Tequila, Downers Grove, IL

A partnership between Jerry Kleiner and the Buonavolanto family, Barbakoa Modern Latin Bistro is slightly out of place in the suburbs, feeling more like a hip downtown restaurant than the typical fare usually found. The menu is puzzling at first, until you realize that there is a creativity and whimsy at work here – Chef Dudley Nieto has reinterpreted Latin cuisine through the lens of an outsider, respectful of, but not bound by traditions. Served semi-tapas style, with mostly shared plates being the plan, it’s a place to go have fun and not be too stuffy.

Barbakoa Tacos and Tequila, Downers Grove, IL

We dined on a relatively quiet Tuesday evening (though it was getting busier as we left), so hearing our waiter John explain the menu was easy enough. And what a menu it is. Tacos, ceviche, guacamole, and lots of meat slow cooked (hence barbakoa) – there are twists on pretty much everything (shrimp taco, pineapple laden guacamole, etc) and everything is really, really good. Order anything with the “B” denoting a “Barbakoa must have!” and you won’t go wrong. We enjoyed each and every dish and would order them again, except I’m betting that everything else on the menu is equally good.

Barbakoa is not just about food, however, with an extensive bar to support the food. With “Tacos and Tequila” prominently on the façade and a library of more than 100 tequilas, it makes sense to order that drink, and I highly recommend going with a flight or two to get the full experience (also, the “sangrita” that is served as a palate cleanser is out of this world tasty, I kind of wish they served full size glasses of it). The Barbakoa Margarita is worth ordering if you’re not into drinking tequila straight up, served with a side of Grand Marnier so you can adjust the taste to your liking (it’s a fantastic margarita that really showcases the Avion Reserva 44 Ultra Premium Extra Añejo which is used as the base). Don’t like tequila? (Probably just haven’t tried the good stuff.) Beer and wine are available, and I can personally vouch for the mojito, super minty and refreshing.

Barbakoa Tacos and Tequila, Downers Grove, IL

The restaurant is bright, colorful, open and, I’ll bet, pleasntly abuzz on a rockin’ weekend night. A large dining room has ample seating, with a separate room that is available for parties or as overflow for really busy times. The Lounge also has an additional adjoining room with its own personal bar, perfect for a party or group luncheon. The outdoors eating is clearly a patron fave, with its colorful seats and fireplace, and had the most people the night we were there.

Looking for something out of the ordinary out in the western suburbs of Chicago? Make your way over to Barbakoa Modern Latin Bistro and get ready for something unique and really tasty. Looking forward to returning and also the next partnership effort, which we hope is forthcoming in our neck of the woods.

This meal was provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

Barbakoa

Barbakoa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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