Friday, January 7, 2011

Food and Wine in December

December tends to be my busiest time of year and usually keeps me away from tasting as much as I’d like. Luckily, I was still able to find a few diamonds in the rough. Through December, I was able to taste an amazing white from Piedmont that anyone who loves white wine should know about, some great vintage Vin Santo that’s available and affordable, and a truly exciting yet stylish Cab Franc from Long Island.

However, December wasn’t all about wine. What’s Cookin’ also released one of my newest articles “Eric Guido’s Eggplant Parmigiana” a recipe that comes right from my heart. This is serious Italian American homestyle cooking that was taught to me by my grandmother and hardly changed by my trained hand. Why mess with perfection?

Eric Guido's Eggplant Parmigiana

If you were to ask any of my friends or clients about my specialty, they would quickly inform you that it’s risotto. However, it wasn’t always so. Long before my professional career and formal training, I was a cook that depended on what I learned as a child. The rich Italian-American cooking of my family was my strong suit and, more than anything else, it was my grandmother’s Eggplant Parmigiana... (For the full article and recipe, visit: What's Cookin

On to the wines:

Arneis is a white grape indigenous to Piedmont, Italy. Many bottles of Arneis are easily forgettable, but in the hands of some producers (Bruno Giacosa & Vietti come to mind), they are gorgeous, showing white flowers and citrus fruits, with a mix of richness and finesse on the palate. This one is the best I’ve tasted to date:

2009 Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis - On the nose, I found white flowers and citrus zest with hints of honey and slight toastiness. The palate was crisp and fresh yet still showed weight with flavors of sweet peach, apricots and cream. The finish was fresh and floral. This may be the best Arneis I’ve ever had. (91 Points)

Find it on Wine-Searcher!

The North Fork of Long Island continues to push its way into the world of fine wine but it’s an uphill battle. Nonetheless, many quality producers are determined to show what the North Fork is capable of (Shinn and Paumanok come to mind). The bottle below, from Vineyard 48, was thoroughly enjoyable. Think an official visit to the North Fork is in order for later this year.

2007 Vineyard 48 Cabernet Franc Reserve - The nose showed licorice and cherry liquor with a hint of musky animal fur and new oak. On the palate, I found strawberry fruit, milk chocolate and sweet vanilla on a full bodied frame. The finish was long and fresh with red fruits. This was very enjoyable and with enough character to cut through the rich fruit. (90 Points)

For more information, visit: Vineyard 48

Vin Santo is not a wine you see at many tastings and events these days. The fact is, dessert wines fell out of style a while back and it’s because of this that you don’t see quality Vin Santo adorning the shelves of your trusted wine merchant. However, this almost forgotten style, in the United States, is still the pride of many Tuscan winemakers portfolios. I was lucky enough to taste a ’90 Vin Santo about two years ago and it changed the way I thought about this wine. So it might be sweet… but it also possesses depths of flavors and nuances unheard of in dry wines. I highly recommend that my readers try a good aged Vin Santo, and the one below would be a great place to start.

1994 Isole e Olena Vin Santo del Chianti Classico - Roasted almond, varnish, orange peel, chestnut and smoke filled out the nose of this beautiful Vin Santo. The palate was perfectly resolved, yet lively, with acidity and sweet caramel followed by roasting nuts and a hint of tropical fruit. The finish was over a minute long with vibrant acidity, showing nuts and orange that faded into warm wood tones. (92 Points)

I found this great bottle at: Grapes: The Wine Company

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