Celebrating "Women in Food & Wine"

Written by Rebecca Sodergren on . Wine

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The Hartwood Restaurant is celebrating women’s increasingly influential role in the food and wine industry with a "Women in Food & Wine" wine dinner at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 17.

The Indiana Township (Glenshaw) restaurant chose "wines that stood out and winemakers who are doing interesting things," said General Manager John Muth. For instance, Cheryl Indelicato, one of the winemakers (above), produces a HandCraft Cabernet Sauvignon and donates a portion of her profits to breast cancer research.

With Breast Cancer Awareness Month just past and Mother’s Day just around the corner, Mr. Muth said this seemed like a good time to highlight the contributions of women in the industry.

Once they'd selected four wines, the restaurant staff dreamed up a food course to accompany each. The food is "inspired" by famous women chefs, though the restaurant will use only one of the chef’s actual recipes – Julia Child’s Queen of Sheba Cake.

"We drew philosophical rather than literal inspiration" from these chefs, Mr. Muth said, noting the restaurant will use local and sustainable ingredients as these chefs often do.

Here’s the full menu:

First course: 04112014Elena

Alice Waters-Inspired Smoked Local Trout with Accompaniments

Wine: Ferrari Carano Bella Luce

Winemaker: Sarah Quider (at bottom)

Second course:

Susan Spicer-Inspired Peppered Lamb and Goat Cheese Grissini with Cream of Garlic Soup 

Wine: Campo Viejo Garnacha, Rioja

Winemaker: Elena Adell (at right) 

Third course:

Lidia Bastianich-Inspired Roasted Cornish Game Hen with Balsamic Glaze, Skillet Cauliflower and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

Wine: HandCraft Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Cheryl Indelicato (at top)

Fourth course:

04112014OndineJulia Child-Inspired Queen of Sheba Cake

Wine: Geyser Peak Uncensored Red

Winemaker: Ondine Chattan (at left)

Cost for the dinner is $65 per person, and the restaurant will limit the guest list to about 40 or 50 people. For reservations: 412-767-3500.

Photos from the winemakers' respective wineries

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Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day!

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Wine

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I have a soft spot for Beaujolais nouveau that goes back to college, when it was the first wine I learned to drink (if you don't count the bottle of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill that my high school friends and I found along the railroad tracks on one of our overnight country hikes).

One of my college roommates was from a family of Italians who lived in France and much more worldly than the rest of us at the time. He worked as a maitre d' at a local hotel restaurant, and he often managed to come home with the kind of treats we didn't know and certainly couldn't afford to buy -- New York strip steaks, baguettes and bottles of Georges Duboeuf Beajoulais.

The nouveau, or new wine -- released soon after the Gamay grapes are made into wine -- is especially light and fruity and drinkable, which worked for our young palates. Lots of people still love and look forward to the annual release, which occurs on the third Thursday of November.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is marking the occasion, having proclaimed today as  Beaujolais Nouveau Day here, too. The PLCB is doing complimentary tastings at restaurants in Philadelphia, Hershey and, here in Pittsburgh, at Spoon, 134 S. Highland Ave. in East Liberty. That event runs from 6 to 8 p.m.

There are additional tastings happening at Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores across the state, where the 2013 vintage is on sale for $10.99, a $3 discount, today through Nov. 24.

The stuff will go well with your Thanksgiving meal.

I'm going to try to get a couple of bottles, and raise a glass to my old roommate.



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A new Pennsylvania wines mobile site

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Wine

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The Pennsylvania Winery Association, which notes that "You're always less than a 45-minute drive from a winery or tasting room" here in the Commonwealth, has launched a mobile website to help people find and explore the state's nearly 200 wineries, and just in time for the fall harvest. Not to mention Pennsylvania Wine Month.  10222013winelogo
 
The site, m.PennsylvaniaWine.com, works on smartphones, tablets, and laptops and desktops, and is part of the PWA's marketing campaign that includes the new logo at right (wine-colored, of course), tagline and more.
 
The site uses GPS to recommend nearby wineries and provide basic contact information and hours about them as well as information about upcoming events.

The goal is to highlight the diverse experiences at wineries and tasting rooms across the state, according to PWA’s Executive Director Jennifer Eckinger, who notes in a release that "however you pace yourself, there is a lot for you to discover" on the state's dozen wine trails. 

 

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"Grape Expectations" is great

Written by Elizabeth Downer on . Wine

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If you are among the throngs of wine lovers who have harbored fantasies of owning a vineyard and living the glamorous lifestyle of the chatelaine of a wine domain, then you might want to read "Grape Expectations: A Family’s Vineyard Adventure in France."

Caro and Sean Feely developed a love of wine as young yuppies in South Africa and that grew after they moved to Ireland. For 10 years they saved all available cash in their "vineyard" account while dreaming of owning a vineyard in France. The fact that neither spoke French nor knew anything about vineyard management or winemaking didn’t deter them. 

When they found a 25-acre domain with an 18th-century farmhouse for sale in Bergerac in Southwestern France, they felt their decade-old dream would finally come true. The fact that the estate was in bankruptcy should have been a clue for what was in store but this pair were determined! 

Within days, they sold their house in Dublin, quit their 9-to-5 salaried jobs, packed up a toddler and a newborn and set out for France. They left the urban rat race behind but were welcomed to their dilapidated farmhouse by more daunting dilemmas: mouse infestations, leaking roofs, outdated plumbing, broken-down winery equipment and no extra cash to deal with the multitude of problems.  Add to that the 24/7 work obligations of running a winery with no salaried help and it is hard to imagine how this couple maintained their sanity.

I had my own business in France for 15 years and am fully aware how maddening and unreasonable French red tape and bureaucracy can be. That the Feelys survived and today make acclaimed biodynamic wines from both the Saussignac and Bergerac appellations -- what a tribute to a determined pair of dreamers! Chateau Haut Garrigues is the realization of their dreams and "Grape Expectations" is the story of how they got there.

The new book, which lists for $13.95, is published by Summersdale Publishers Ltd. in the United Kingdom and available online, including, to residents of the European Union, copies that ship with bottles of wine from the Feely's website.


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Pennsylvania gets an F in wine

Written by Elizabeth Downer on . Wine

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Someone must have been reading my mind when they created the new, membership-supported lobby for wine consumers. 

The American Wine Consumers Coalition was born in June of this year and is already busy stirring up the status quo. Today the group issued a press release that graded some states on their wine-sales policies. The report gives Pennsylvania an F for "some of the most anti-consumer wine laws in the country."  You can download the report here.


I suggest wine drinkers give the entire website a thorough looking over. You will likely find other interesting articles. I know I did.

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Two standout Bolla wines

Written by Elizabeth Downer on . Wine

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Wine writers sometimes receive unsolicited samples of wines. I’d like to share some of that wealth with readers here.

Despite my request to marketing departments that they not send wines that are not stocked in our PLCB stores, and not ones that have to be special ordered here, I still end up with a certain number of wines that either aren't available at all or must be purchased by special liquor order, or SLO, which requires waiting 72 hours after purchasing the wine to remove it from the store as well as buying a certain number of bottles.  

This month, for example, I received a luscious bottle of Smith and Hook Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Hahn Family Vineyards on mountaintops behind Monterey, Calif.  At $26.99, it seemed an excellent value and I was ready to grab a few bottles ... until I discovered that anyone who wanted to try this cab in Pennsylvania would have to order an entire case of 12 bottles.  Another appealing SLO sample was Chateau Tanunda (PLCB No. 519923, $16.59). This classic 2010 Barossa shiraz comes from a winery that was awarded “Australian Producer of the Year” medal in 2010.  It would pair nicely with any grilled meat but if you want to try it, you must purchase at least three bottles.
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08012013BollaBardolinobottleSo what did I receive in the “on the shelf” category? Two Italian wines from Bolla stand out.

Bolla Bardolino 2011 -- (PLCB # 6628, 750 milliliter, $9.49; No. 8351, 1.5 liters, $12.99

A blend of Corvina and Rondinella grapes from vineyards overlooking Lake Garda in Italy's Veneto region. A light-body red with crisp acidity and sour cherry and raspberry fruit flavors. It can be slightly chilled to accompany summer barbecues. The 1.5-liter bottle would easily serve eight for a picnic.

Bolla Pinot Noir 2011 -- PLCB No. 5917, 750 milliliter, $9.49;  No. 9011, 1.5 liter, $12.99

This is a light- to medium-bodied Pinot with attractive aromas of wild cherry, black currant and spring flowers. Neither complex nor long-lived, it produces a pleasant quaff for simple meals.

I hope that there will be more on the shelf wines among future samples.

Bolla, meanwhile, included a recipe for a mushroom sauce that's also worth sharing.

BOLLA PORCINI MUSHROOM SAUCE FOR PASTA OR VEAL

½ pound fresh or ¼ pound dried porcini

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups beef broth

2 heaping tablespoons flour

1 ounce sweet vermouth

1 tablespoon tomato paste dissolved in warm water

Black pepper to taste

Detach stems and cut into 1-inch pieces, cut caps into 1 inch strips,

For dried mushrooms, break into small pieces and soak in large bowl warm water for 30 minutes. Drain and strain through cheesecloth.

Heat oil in saucepan and add mushrooms. Saute 5 min.

Bring broth to boil in separate pan.

Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and stir with wooden spoon to incorporate flour.  

Gradually add broth and stir.

Add vermouth and tomato paste, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Season with black pepper

Serve over pasta or veal with Bolla Pinot Noir.

-- Bolla

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