Posted in Wine

Wine: Château Mondésir-Gazin Blaye 2014

Château Mondésir-Gazin Blaye 2014

In my last post, we had a brief discussion about the red wine blends of Bordeaux, and the differences between the so-called Left and Right banks regions. The wine I featured in that post was a Moulins de Citran Haut-Médoc 2009, and you may recall that it is a left-bank wine and that the dominant varietal in the blend is Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, our selection comes from the Blaye AOC, which surrounds the town of Blaye on the right bank of the Gironde River and, as such, it features a blend in which Merlot dominates. Unusually though, whereas Cabernet Sauvignon is quite often the secondary varietal, in this wine, there is no Cabernet Sauvignon at all and the blend is an interesting 65% Merlot, with the remaining 35% being Malbec.

I bought my bottle for $29.75 from one of the SAQ stores in Montreal. It has an alcohol content of 14% and contains 1.7 grams of sugar per litre. It is very dry with moderate acidity, has a nice full-bodied silky texture, and a smoothly tannic finish. The nose is surprisingly aromatic with black plum and blackcurrant and floral highlights, and there is also a little cedar, some herbaceous notes, and just a faint touch of barnyard muskiness. This last may signal the influence of Brettanomyces but, if so, the effect is not pronounced enough to be considered a flaw and, in any event, did not seem to come through in the taste.

On the palate, the blackcurrant gives way to sour cherry and the faint floral notes on the nose resolve into a very definite violet quality, with the cedar being a little more pronounced. The herbaceous notes are less noticeable but there is a little peppery spice near the finish that is very pleasant. Overall, I thought this excellent for the price and I would say that it is a wine worth buying and aging for a bit in order to see what else develops.

Posted in Wine

Guilty Men (Merlot Blend) 2015

Guilty Men 2015

I was rather intrigued by the name of this wine but, after having a look on-line for an explanation, I am still in the dark as to the inspiration. The bottle simply declares it to be a blend without specifying any varietals, but the vintners website lists the composition as being Merlot 56%, Cabernet Sauvignon 41%, Pinot Noir 2%, Cabernet Franc 1%. The sugar content is quite high but, ultimately, the actual effect is not that sweet…

  • Winery: The Malivoire Wine Company
  • Price: $15.95 at LCBO
  • Alcohol: 12.5%
  • Sugar: 13 g/L

The color is a fairly dark cherry red with a faint purple tint. An aromatic nose is dominated by red fruit and ripe dark berries and there is a pleasant sawdust quality with light floral notes and just an ephemeral hint of vanilla. It is medium bodied with a fairly smooth texture and the moderate sweetness is nicely offset by a medium acidity that rises just after the beginning before the nicely smooth and moderate tannins develop. The fruitiness is more sour than is suggested on the nose, having an almost citrusy character, but there is a nice blackcurrant note right at the start. There is a bit of oakiness, and just a hint of spice coming through near the end, but the finish a little short. Still, it is not a bad sipping wine and should appeal to a broad range of tastes and do well as an aperitif.

Posted in Spicery

Spice Blend: Lemon-Cardamom Masala

Lemon-Cardamom Masala 1

A few years back, I posted a recipe for Cardamom-Lemon Chicken that I very much liked and I have long wanted to put together a ‘wet’ Masala, or spice paste, based on the central flavors that could be made ahead and used for several dishes. As I mentioned in the original post, the recipe there, as with this current blend, is not a traditional Indian recipe but both, at the very least, are very Indian in spirit.

It has taken me a while to actually get down to creating this paste and, after testing it, I found I was a bit disappointed in one regard… In the original recipe, I noted that the flavor of the cardamom did not come through very noticeably and I said that I would increase the amount of this spice component in future attempts. As it is, I put a pretty hefty amount of ground cardamom into the current mix, but, to my surprise, it, again, didn’t exactly dominate. That being said, though … the end result was really terrific and so I will be adding this particular spice blend recipe to my repertoire… Continue reading “Spice Blend: Lemon-Cardamom Masala”

Posted in Spicery

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”

Posted in Spicery

Spice: Homemade Madras Curry Powder

Madras Curry Powder 1

At one time, a ‘Madras Curry’ was a standard on Indian restaurant menus in the west, and was also a fairly common recipe entry in Indian cookery books. It seems, however, to be a little less frequently encountered these days and this is perhaps because the Indian City of Madras (whence the name) is now known as Chennai, and the eponymous curry was probably more of an Anglo-Indian, rather than a purely Indian creation. Whatever the case, the Madras Curry is still something of a classic and well worth adding to one’s culinary repertoire.

In my research of a wide variety of spice blends, I have found that the Madras Curry blend is the closest to what most westerners would call the ‘curry flavor’ and the typical ingredients are much the same as found in the generic ‘Curry Powder’ you can find in almost any supermarket. The one major difference between the two, as far as I have seen, is that the generic type tends to be high in Turmeric and low in Chili, while, in a Madras blend, the reverse is usually true. In this post, we will have a quick look at the general composition and then I’ll provide a fairly straightforward version that you can use as a starting point for your own culinary creations… Continue reading “Spice: Homemade Madras Curry Powder”

Posted in Foodstuffs

Dunya™ Vindaloo Masala

Dunya Vindaloo Masala 01

Most everyone with even a passing acquaintance with Indian cuisine will be familiar with the very popular Vindaloo style curry, and regular readers will recall the loose interpretation of the basic dish I made with my Gomanchala Pork Curry some time ago.

The commercial Vindaloo spice powder you see pictured above was a gift from a visitor this past summer. I have not come across the Dunya brand before (they are an Indian company) but I note that their packaging is very similar to that of Sharwood’s, whose Tandoori Masala I reviewed last year. In any event, I thought that the best way to test this product would be to try out the recipe the manufacturers thoughtfully provide on the label of the container…  Continue reading “Dunya™ Vindaloo Masala”

Posted in Foodstuffs

Tandoori Masala – Kissan™ Brand

Kissan Tandoori Masala 01

Not long ago, a visitor from down south brought my wife a ‘care package’ of various Indian food products which included the commercial Tandoori spice blend you see pictured above. I have not come across this particular brand before and I thought I might test it with a very simple Tandoori Chicken preparation on my barbecue… Continue reading “Tandoori Masala – Kissan™ Brand”

Posted in Spicery

Spice Blend: Panch Phoron

Panch Phoron 1

Panch Phoron, sometimes spelled ‘panchpuran’ along with a host of other variations, is a blend of whole spices (as opposed to ground) that is native to north-eastern India in general, and the state of Bengal in particular. Because it is typically composed of 5 different spices, it is often called ‘Bengali five-spice’ although, as we shall see, there are variations not only in the types of spice, but also the number… Continue reading “Spice Blend: Panch Phoron”

Posted in Spicery

Spice Blend: Chaat Masala

There is a whole range of snacks in Indian cookery, somewhat corresponding to Chinese Dim Sum, or Spanish Tapas, that known generally as Chaat, or Chat. The name is commonly translated simply as ‘snack’ but it is actually derived from an onomatopoeic  Hindi word that captures the sound of smacking lips. A Masala, as I have mentioned in many previous posts, is a common term in Indian cuisine meaning spice blend, and, not surprisingly, there is a specific mixture, albeit with many different permutations, specifically used for these tasty treats.

I have experimented with some different blends ever since my wife brought home an excellent commercial variety from New Delhi several years ago and I decided that I would like to do a bit of an in-depth study of the various versions and then come up with something of a definitive basic blend for my own use… Continue reading “Spice Blend: Chaat Masala”