Friday, December 26, 2008

The Widow Clicquot: it's delicious but you can read it too!

“Because of her willingness to take risks without fanfare, the Widow Clicquot became one of the most famous women of her area. For decade after decade, her name was heard on the lips of soldiers, princes, and poets as far away as Russia. Before long, tourists came looking for a glimpse of the woman whom the writer Prosper Mérimée once called the uncrowned queen of Reims. In the Champagne, she was known simply as La Grande Dame—The Great Lady.”
The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It

In 1798, Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, the daughter of a prosperous Reims merchant marries François Clicquot, a textile merchant with a small wine business. But in 1805, François dies and Barbe-Nicole, now a widow, chooses to defy convention and take the reins of the fledgling wine business. After multiple political and financial reversals, she becomes one of the first great businesswomen and one of the richest women of her time.

This is a fascinating story about an audacious and intelligent woman, a bold risk taker, a daring and determined entrepreneur, the first woman in history to run an international commercial empire.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Find me on Facebook!

I just released a version of my Cellar Management application for Facebook.

If you're a Facebook user, ManageYourCellar for Facebook allows you to access our extensive database of wines and tasting notes, view and update your wine collection, rate wines, and this from within your Facebook account.

With ManageYourCellar for Facebook, it is easy to share your wine purchases and reviews with your friends, see which wines your friends have enjoyed recently, and get recommendations, as the application publishes stories displayed on the user's wall and friends' News Feeds when users buy, drink, or review wines.

So try it now and tell all your friends about it!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More on Thanksgiving leftovers: if you're ambitious, make a Turkey Mole

Two days after Thanksgiving, our friend and gifted cook Catherine was still full of energy and undertook the ambitious project to make a mole.

In Mexican Spanish, mole simply means sauce or mixture (like in guacamole, avocado mole) but in the US, mole usually refers to a specific sauce called Mole Poblano. Mole Poblano is a thick, rich, sweet sauce prepared with dried chile peppers, ground nuts, seeds, raisins, spices, and chocolate, and traditionally served with turkey. This is a recipe that requires long preparation times but the result is totally rewarding.

Mole mixture before being blended

Blended mole cooked with turkey stock

Now, what kind of wine can stand up to those strong, complex flavors? We tried a Zinfandel from Opolo Vineyards, a winery located in Paso Robles. Opolo co-owners Rick Quinn and Dave Nichols own about 280 acres of vineyards, most of them situated in the Adelaide range of the Santa Lucia Mountains. The name Opolo is a reference to Quinn's Yugoslavian heritage, and is actually the name of a blended rose-style wine found on the Dalmatian Coast.

The 2003 Opolo Mountain Zinfandel Paso Robles is a big, alcoholic wine (16.6% ABV) with a opulent, full-bodied mouthfeel and rich, sweet aromas of raisins and other dried fruits. Not the kind of wine that I would drink everyday, but with the mole, it made a interesting pairing.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

After Thanksgiving, what to do with the leftovers? A tortilla soup

Come Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and what do you do with all the leftovers? If you had saved some of the stock that you used for the gravy, you can make a tortilla soup, a tasty soup with vegetable, spices, and fried tortilla strips, which is served with diced cooked turkey, cheese, and avocado, and topped with chopped cilantro and a lime wedge.

It is never easy to choose a wine that goes well with Mexican food. Many would argue that beer should be the beverage of choice but I was pretty happy with the wine we had with the soup: a 2006 A Coroa Godello Valdeorras.

Valdeorras is located in the Galica region in northwestern Spain, close to the border with Portugal. The name, which means golden valley, refers to the fact that gold was mined there in ancient times.The climate is continental, characterised by hot summers and cold winters, with a long autumn season.

The local grape Godello is the rising star of Valdeorras. The white variety produces crisp, fresh, aromatic wines and new planting has been encouraged in the region in the last few years.

The wine had a light straw color and a fresh citrus nose. On the palate, it was fleshy and crisp with a mineral finish. Definitively, a wine with a distinguished personality.

Tortilla Soup

With leftovers from a garnet yams and marshmallows gratin, my daughter made some delicious sweet potato rolls.

Sweet Potato Rolls

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