Cupcake Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Cupcake Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

The rather cutesy name of this particular selection made me suspicious that it might be an over-sweet wine with little in the way of complexity but, to my pleasure, it turned out to be very nice. I ended up giving it a five star rating because the general quality is deserving given the decently low price. Even those who prefer whites to reds may find this pleasing…

  • Winery: Cupcake Vineyards
  • Price: $14.65 CDN
  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • Sugar:  3.7 g/L

This Californian table wine is actually a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (84%) and Merlot (16%).  It is a very dark ruby in color and medium-full bodied with a smooth texture. The nose is quite aromatic with red fruit and blackberry along with some jam-like notes and just a hint of vanilla. It is off-dry with mild acidity and smooth tannins that balance very well. The taste is boldly fruity, with plum, ripe raspberry and elderberry in the mix,  and there is a floral component along with a pleasing spiciness. The acidity picks up into a decently long finish and , right near the end there is a faint woody, even slightly earthy, quality. This is a very nice wine that should have a broad appeal.

Notable Nosh: Steamed Oysters

Steamed Oysters 1

With a couple of exceptions, these oysters I was served in Vancouver’s Chinatown this past summer were the largest I have ever see, let alone eaten. Even having them steamed was something of a novelty for me as when I manage to get fresh ones from time to time, I usually can’t bear to do anything with them but eat them raw.

Anyway, you get a pretty good idea of the scale of these things from the above picture. You may also be able to tell, if you look closely, that each pair of oysters is prepared in a slightly different way. Gain Wah, the restaurant where I was served these, lets you select from three different styles. I went with all three… Continue reading “Notable Nosh: Steamed Oysters”

Buissonnier Montagny Premier Cru 2014

Buissonnier Montagny Premier Cru 2014

As I have mentioned before, the wine classification scheme in Burgundy is the most complex in all France, with geographical location being supplanted by a classification system of all. The top-most of these is the ‘Grand Cru’ designation, with the second being Premier (1er) Cru. Today’s Chardonnay, is from the Cote Chalonnaise subregion of Burgundy, where there is not only a Montagny AOC, but 49 vineyards in the district that are entitled, as with this selection, to carry the Montagny 1er Cru AOC on their labels…

  • Winery: La Cave des Vignerons de Buxy
  • Price: $24.95 CDN
  • Alcohol: 13%
  • Sugar < 1.2 g/L

The color of this Chardonnay is a very pale, slightly greenish yellow. The fruity component of the nose is muted, but slightly aromatic, and there is a flinty, mineral quality with some notes of grass and hay. The texture is smooth and the brisk acidity strikes sharply at first, but in a way that is refreshing rather than overwhelming. There are green and yellow apple notes beneath a very pleasant woodiness, and these components are rounded out by a faint smoky honey effect. This a very decent Chardonnay, and probably one of the better ones I have tasted thus far.

Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers

Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers 1

The filling for these Jalapeño peppers is very straightforward and simple… not much more than ground pork with scallion and garlic, really. It is the sauce, though, that I think makes this dish. It is based on Oyster Sauce mixed with some rice wine and a little chilli oil, and the sweetness of the primary ingredient is just right without needing any added sugar… Continue reading “Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers”

Notable Nosh: Crab meat dumpling

Crab Meat Dumpling 1

I have featured the above item as a ‘Notable Nosh’ because it was a little unusual and not at all a typical dim sum selection. The Chinese name on the menu did indeed indicate ‘Crab Meat Dumpling’, but the character for dumpling was referred to “Jiao’, which tend to be made with wheat flour and have certain standard forms. The ones pictured above, however, have the typical ‘Shu Mai’ shape but they are not that sort of dumpling either since the wrapper is the same translucent, rice-flour type you see in Har Gow.

Anyway, the dumplings did indeed contain crab meat (the real sort, not imitation) and there were some nice chunks along with the more finely minced flesh. There was some sort of chopped green vegetable in there too (not sure what) and a little touch of Coriander leaf, which I don’t generally care for but which was in small enough amount here that I didn’t mind it. The only problem with these dumplings was that they were a little too large for a single mouthful but were exceedingly difficult to manipulate with chopsticks. The filling would pop out of the wrapper and the wrapper tore very easily making it a bit of a messy operation all around. They were tasty but not well executed construction-wise. Interesting though…

Bouchard Père & Fils Gevrey-Chambertin 2014

Bouchard Père &amp; Fils Gevrey-Chambertin 2014

This selection is a Pinot Noir from Burgundy’s Gevrey-Chambertin AOC in the Cote de Nuits Subregion. At $56, it is approaching the upper limit of what I will generally pay for a bottle of wine outside a restaurant and, unfortunately, it was a bit disappointing. I might have given a three star rating if this had been a relatively cheap purchase, but, given the price-tag, I only rate it at two…

  • Winery:  Bouchard Père & Fils
  • Price: $56.25 at SAQ
  • Alcohol: 13%
  • Sugar: 2.1 g/L

This Pinot Noir medium ruby with a slightly rusty quality. The nose is quite aromatic featuring cherry and raspberry, with robust floral notes and a faintly vegetal, forest-floor undertone. It is medium bodied and quite dry with an acidity that kicks in immediately and then mellows as the tannins develop. The latter are smooth at first but get a bit jarring towards the end and leave a faintly acrid taste in a finish that is quite short. The dominant taste is sour cherry with some plum, and the floral quality of the nose comes through but is more muted. There is a woodiness but no special highlights. Possibly a few more years will improve the roughness of this vintage.

Parsnip and Red Pepper in Lemon Butter

Parsnip and Red Pepper in Lemon Butter 01

The above pictured preparation was a side dish I put together as a side for steak. I most commonly roast parsnips and glaze them with a little butter but, on this occasion, I decided to use parsnip batons in a melange with red bell pepper and some onion. I would have liked to use a splash of sherry here but I didn’t have any and the improvisation with lemon butter worked very nicely… Continue reading “Parsnip and Red Pepper in Lemon Butter”

Spice Blend: Madras Curry Paste

Madras Curry Paste 1

Indian spice blends, collectively known as ‘Masalas’, can be dry powders or ‘wet’ pastes. Typically, pastes are made by combining dry powdered spices with a liquid (vinegar especially) and then either using as is, or else storing after cooking the paste in oil until the blending liquid evaporates out.

About two years ago, I posed my recipe for a Madras Curry Powder and, today, I used the basic recipe, with some additions, to make a paste… Continue reading “Spice Blend: Madras Curry Paste”

Baron du Pin 2016

Baron du Pin 2016

I am loathe to ever give a single star rating to wines… chiefly, that means they are virtually non-drinkable. This specimen, being a Merlot blend from Bordeaux, came very close to such a rating….

Producer: Union des Producteurs de Rauzan-Grangeneuve

Price $12.65 at SAQ

Alcohol: 12%  Sugar: 2.8 g/L

Blend: Merlot: 75%   Cabernet Sauvignon: 25%

 

The color is a very opaque red-purple. There are very muted dark-red fruits on the nose coupled with the sweetness of jam and a vaguely,meaty, animal quality. The body is medium and the effect off-dry with an acidity that rises at the start and  fades quickly. The tannin are quite smooth generally, but lurk in the background and only really assert themselves as a slight acerbity near the finish. The dominant mouth effect is of cherry cough syrup and candy floss along with a woodiness paired with a burnt paper quality. In all, this is not a complex wine or nice tasting and not one I would even buy for cooking, much less drinking.