The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Inside IWM, May 18-21, 2015, Memorial Day Countdown Edition

Posted on | May 22, 2015 | Written by IWM Staff | No Comments

The author with his dinner

David Bertot salutes summer

Who isn’t excited about the official start of summer? Everyone at IWM is, and this week our blog showed it. We kicked off the week with a look at Amarone–what it is, how they make it and why it’s so very delicious. We ended the week with a quintessential summer recipe, David Bertot’s nostalgia-filled recipe for sautéed bay scallops with beurre blanc. In between, Julia Punj poured out a delicious $20 organic Sangiovese rosé and John Camacho Vidal made us the perfect summertime margarita!

Like Julia, Crystal Edgar was looking at the summer through rosé-colored glasses, picking a pair of blush wines from Domaine Roucas Toumba and Billecart-Salmon. Also like Julia, John Camacho Vidal was preoccupied with Sangiovese, but he picked a pair of full-throttle bottles from iconic producers Montevertine and Fontodi. Will Di Nunzio was inspired by unexpected pleasures–this time of an under $40 Brunello di Montalcino and a vintage Champagne.

Here’s to you and yours and a wonderful start to your magical summer!

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Sautéed Day Boat Scallops with a Buerre Blanc Sauce

Posted on | May 21, 2015 | Written by David Bertot | No Comments

The author with his dinner

The author with his dinner

Some of my most cherished childhood memories involve a warm, clear ocean, spending favorite weekends in the Florida Keys diving and spearfishing with friends and family. There is nothing better than a big family dinner in the Keys using fish and lobster you caught yourself that morning. My personal favorite has to be a dinner featuring hogfish snapper. This fish has a delicate, flaky white flesh with a unique, almost lobster-like flavor. It’s impossible to find up north—living in New York City, I would do terrible things to get my hands on high quality, fresh hogfish snapper.

When I moved up to New York I quickly realized how much I missed my fresh Florida fish and shellfish. Then I discovered the fishmongers at the farmers’ market. My favorite question to ask them is “When were these scallops harvested?” The answer is consistently perfect: yesterday. The Union Square Green Market has several incredible purveyors; one of my favorites is Pura Vida Fisheries who offers fresh scallops, oysters, tuna, striped bass, swordfish, and black sea bass depending on seasonality and the fishermen’s luck. The farmers’ market folks catch the seafood themselves and simply bring it to market the very next day. This brings me to this simple, elegant scallop recipe using day boat scallops.

Sautéed Day Boat Scallops with a Buerre Blanc Sauce

Ingredients:

One pound fresh day boat scallops, from Suffolk County Long Island

One shallot, minced

Butter, 3 tablespoons

Thyme, 3 sprigs

Wine

Salt and Pepper

Directions:

In 2 batches, sauté scallops in a little butter over medium high heat for 45 to 60 seconds each side. Set aside to rest. Lower heat to medium low.

Deglaze pan with one cup neutral white wine (Champagne also works nicely).

Add half cup minced shallots, and thyme.

Reduce to half cup stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes). Turn off heat.

Whisk in cold butter one tablespoon at a time.

Serve immediately over scallops.

For the wine pairing, I would go with a balanced, complex white with nice acidity to complement the butter, but not overpower the delicate fresh scallop flavor. The Querciabella Batar 2006 would work incredibly well, and Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne 2012 would be equally fabulous.

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The Perfect Summer Margarita

Posted on | May 20, 2015 | Written by Camacho Vidal | No Comments

"Margarita" by Jon Sullivan -  Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

“Margarita” by Jon Sullivan – Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

This weekend is the official start of summer, and when the heat is on, I little salt around the rim, a bit of citrus (preferably lime) and an overflowing shot of Tequila. Simple and so tasty, tart and refreshing. Margaritas are a beloved summer drink so much so that they are the most common Tequila-based cocktail in the United States. This drink is served shaken with ice, on the rocks or blended with ice (what’s colloquially called a frozen Margarita); basically any way but lukewarm is all right.

As with all epic creations, there are numerous origin myths for the Margarita but no real proof as to who invented it.

My favorite version is that Carlos “Danny” Herrera created the Margarita around 1938 at his Tijuana-area restaurant Rancho La Gloria. As the story goes, Herrera came up with the cocktail for one of his customers, an aspiring actress named Marjorie King who was allergic to all hard alcohol other than tequila. To make the liquor more palatable to his client, he combined the elements of traditional Tequila shot, salt and a wedge of lime and turned them into a refreshing drink.

I have many Mexican friends and they all tend to say that it was simply made to cater to the gringos who came to Tijuana and could not enjoy tequila on its own. The cocktail has come a long way since then. Just go to any Mexican restaurant or popular bar and you will most likely be inundated with choices: regular, made with premium tequilas or frozen with fruits like strawberry, mango, watermelon or passion fruit; on the rocks, chilled and served straight up, or blended like a slushie; with a delicately salted rim or naked as your God intended–a Margarita’s many permutations can make your head spin, and you haven’t even got a drink in your hand yet.

And yet. The Margarita in its classic form is simple. Tequila, lime juice and Cointreau or Triple Sec, chilled and served in a glass with a salted rim. It is a perfect combination of sweet, salty, sour and bitter. If you are in NYC, I recommend heading to Rosa Mexicano. In my opinion they have some of the best frozen Margaritas in the city (just be careful as they can sneak up on you).

For home drinking, here’s a basic recipe for a plain, easy, delicious Margarita that you can enjoy as is–or pull out a blender and use as a base for added fruits.

2 oz. tequila (I tend to use a basic white commercial Tequila, Cuervo Especial claims to be specially made for making margaritas; they even have a ready-made mix, if you’re into that sort of thing. I save the good stuff for sipping on the rocks or neat.)

2 oz. lime juice, preferably freshly squeezed

1 oz. Triple Sec, Grand Marnier or Cointreau

Salt

Garnish: lime wedge

Rub the rim of a Margarita glass with lime and dip it into salt. Shake tequila, lime juice and Triple Sec (or other liqueur) in a shaker with ice and strain into the glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and enjoy.

Summer just got a lot cooler.

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Expert Picks: Col d’Orcia and Jacques Selosse

Posted on | May 20, 2015 | Written by Will Di Nunzio | No Comments

will expertToday’s selections are an interesting odd couple—most people would spend more on one of the two and a lot less on the other. However, I had an amazing little tasting with my friends in the Dominican Republic on Friday, and I realized that while buying wines is not always about price, sometimes it is. Too often we find very costly wines that have no “oomph” and too often we feel cheated by this lack. At the same time, we look at inexpensive bottles and can feel overwhelmed by the quantity of producers, styles and wine types in our budget; the result is that we drink our regular go-to wine and never explore anything new. This reliance on the default setting is sad because wine is all about exploring and discovering new things. Today I chose a very affordable Brunello—indeed, it’s uncommonly affordable—and a Champagne that delivers that “oomph” we are always trying to experience.

Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino 2010 $39.99

Col D’Orcia is a wonderful estate in the southern region of Montalcino where there is plenty of great sunshine and the Orcia River provides a warm, protected microclimate that’s ideal for approachable wines. This microclimate is responsible for some of the most powerful and intense wines of Montalcino; it’s that big and bold style that some of us enjoy, and it’s where many modern style producers tend to have set up shop. 2010 is one of the most impressive Brunello vintages in a long time, so to get a great Brunello under $40 is a task that’s nearly impossible.

Jacques Selosse Champagne Brut Initial Blanc de Blancs NV $229

​Like his father before him. Jacques Selosse has been a revolutionary producer in Champagne. His father Anselme decided in the early 1970’s that he would make a wine that would be higher in quality than what was in the market. Selosse began using all organic viticulture techniques and his yields were extremely low; it’s the most natural and best way to make high quality Champagne. In the 1970s, this was a big deal and he inspired many to follow in his footsteps. Today, this Champagne house remains one of the very top and most impressive Champagne makers. The Initial is 100% Chardonnay with incredible minerality, laser-precise acidity and notes of honey and hazelnuts. It’s a glorious bottle of Champagne to pop for special occasions.

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Go-To-Wine Tuesday, Il Conventino Rosato 2013

Posted on | May 19, 2015 | Written by Julia Punj | No Comments

ROS19-2Growing up in the Midwest between corn and soybean fields, I have seen first hand the pesticides farmers spray on their crops. I remember playing outside and being rushed inside while the loud little crop dusting plane flies overhead. These memories are in party why I choose to eat organic foods as much as possible. And when I come across an organic wine that I love, I’ll tend to keep a few on hand.

This summer I’ll be keeping more than a few of the Il Conventino 2013 Rosato in my wine refrigerator. I have visions of returning from the Aspen Farmers Market with loads of red peppers to roast, sweet corn, Colorado peaches, and local cheese, all of which will pair extremely well with this food–friendly wine. This wine is delicious with opulent notes of strawberries, and red fruits, a hint of earthy minerality.

The Il Conventino Winery was among the first in the area to farm organically. They use pruning techniques to create a microclimate, grasses to stimulate nutrient competition and reduce insects, and choose their harvest exceedingly carefully. All these techniques create a fantastic grape that is reminiscent of the wild terroir. The grapes sit on their skins for two days before the juice is fermented in stainless steel for six months. The 2013 Il Conventino Rosato is made with 100% Sangiovese grapes grown in Toscana between Val di Chiana and Val d’Orcia, and the estate makes just 300 cases of this Rosato a year. Best of all, the under $20 price point will make the decision to stock your wine fridge for patio parties an easy one.

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