An evening of Liquid Minerals

 

These wines never get old. By these, I mean natural, living, mineral driven whites from the Loire Valley. Where else in the world can you taste the true expression of nature for well under $22.00 from top notch, benchmark estates? Take Muscadet for example. The tip top wines from vignerons like Claude Branger, Marc Ollivier, SergeBatard, Guy Brossard, and Jo Landron retail for well under $20.00. That is an absolute steal in a world full of wines which are expensive and under deliver(not a good combo I might add…) and offer nothing but one dimensional vanilla fruit bombs. Any fool can soften a wine and add oak to be a crowd pleaser. But as you know, I believe wines which are made to be what they are, offer a more profound and meaningful wine drinking experience than wines made just to please–and nothing else. Listen, I am not complaining that I can build an illustrious cellar of Loire whites for the same price as a bottle of obnoxiously overpriced classified Bordeaux. I smell greed when I lower my nose to 9 out of 10 red Bordeaux. Most of those guys are about snuffing out terroir anyway. Please don’t ask me to explain that opinion, I can’t. I just feel it in my gut. My point is though, that you don’t need to spend over twenty five dollars to have a compelling, truthful, terroir driven wine experience.

Speaking of minerals and rock scents, I had a moment while sifting through a book last week. I am sure you have had similar experiences when you read a wonderful passage from an articulate, thoughtful author and say to yourself, ” Holy shit, I have been wanting to say just what he said, but couldn’t figure out a way to express the idea so clearly.” Well it happened to me again. So now it’s my turn to use the foundation he set and explain to you, in my own words, why my best wine drinking adventures have always been when I can smell minerals and taste rocks. Unfortunately, this will use up way–way too much space, emotion and time on this post. Look forward to that explanation later. Now, on to the Flinty Wine Adventure of last night…….All wines were paired with slices of saucisson I bought from Murry’s and six briny oysters. Delicious, real and simple. It’s the way I like things.

2007 Francis Blanchet Pouilly-Fume Cuvee Salice: Coming from a parcel of 20 year old vines planted on 100% silex or flint. Blanchet’s wines are so transparent and full of Mother Earth. Their link to Chablis through the soils is undeniable. Often, the beauty and truth of his wines gives me the chills. I like getting the chills when I drink wine. The nose on the ’07 is all minerals and high toned, bright green fruits. If you like, they were soaring like cathedral arches. So intense and focused the aromas were, that my eyes rolled to the back of my head!!! Not joking. The palate is marrowy yet trenchant and incredibly long. I love the texture of this wine. Oh, and don’t overlook the color in the glass, which we often do……It’s a delightful yellowish green which reminds me of springtime.

2007 Domaine Claude Branger Muscadet Sevre etMaine ‘Le fils des Gras Moutons’:

Claude Branger and his son Sebastien are doing some wonderful things in their little corner of the earth. Like many great artisan vignerons in Muscadet they are restricting yields, harvesting by hand, and using only native yeasts. Harvesting by hand is a bitch, I know, I did it for three weeks in a row last year in Minervois. My body is still aching almost a year later; I am truly humbled by the sacrifices the Branger family(and many others) make in the name of history,tradition, and terroir.

The U.S. importer of Domaine Claude Branger described their wines as refined; I couldn’t agree more.“Le fils des Gras Moutons is the base cuvee of the estate coming from various parcels throughout the appellation with vines averaging 35 years of age. The 2007 vintage landed recently, so I wasn’t surprised to find that on the first day this wine was terribly tight and muted. Day two it was better and then , then on day three it exploded like fireworks!!!! Gobs of minerals and earth on the nose hit the senses like a Mack Truck!!! You can feel the ocean speaking through the salty melon, sea waterish-like flavors on the palate. A wine like this can only be made by a vignreon who subordinated their own ego and allowed nature to sing its beautiful song. Thank you Claude and Sebastien for allowing us to touch the beauty of nature through your wine. Bravo Domaine ClaudeBranger. By the way, their luxury Muscadets are even more inspiring. More on that later.

Jaime Brockway Warning: Drinking Less Than One Bottle Of Loire Wine Per Week Is Detrimental To Your Health. Approved By The Surgeon General.

Beaten Down

 

Maybe it’s the weather, or the overall bad vibe in the nyc air………. but recently I have been unmotivated to babble on about wine or its esoteric qualities. In fact, the other night, I poured a spicy Cotes du Rhone into a tumbler just so to avoid the sniff and swirl associated with thinking. Anyway, tonight, in my cozy studio on the west side, I am going to take writer and philosopher Jim Harrison’s advice. See below.

“Whenever life begins to crush me I know I can rely on Bandol, garlic, and Mozart”

I will let you know if it works……….to be continued.

Beaujolais Blanc and Eating Well

For those of you who have read Jaime Brockway before, you know well that I shop weekly at the Greenmarket in Union Square. And better yet, I do it on the cheap. Remaining loyal to the farmers during the heart of the winter months is painful, in many ways. First, a sub 10 degree day makes the beautiful walk to Union Square less so. And second, seasonal choices are slim during December, January, February and March. Nevertheless, I still thrive on the human interaction with local farmers and thirst for the knowledge they offer.

Yesterday, I gathered up the ingredients for a Moroccan sweet potato salad(sweet potato, thyme, parsley, ginger, papirika, cumin, saffron, olive oil, fresh lemon juice). The dish was inspired by Alice Waters and a cinch to prepare. First, cube two large sweet potatoes and roast at 375 until done. While the potatoes are doing their shimmy in the oven, mix in a bowl the olive oil, ginger, cumin, paprika etc. Pour the marinade over the cooked potatoes and let sit for thirty minutes. The deep, savory character of the dish is intense and filling enough to be a main course. Serve over couscous.

To pair with the meal I had a limy, Alsace like bottle of the 2007 Domaine des Terres Dorées Beaujolais Blanc($15. Louis/Dressner). While I would never dismiss J. Paul Brun’s brilliance with the Gamay variety, I think his work with Chardonnay in this region is fascinating and inspiring. We should expect greatness to come from one of the Cru; not from Beaujolais Blanc. This bottle should change our expectations. And that is what great artists and thinkers do.

Jaime Brockway Warning: Drinking commercial, grape based beverages can be detrimental to your overall health and personality.

Jonathan Saruk Photography: A Must See

I diverge from usual business again. Apologies, but after checking out this site, you will thank me–endlessly. Yesterday, through a close friend, I met a young photo journalist from NYC named Jon Saruk. For the past several months, Jon has been in Jerusilem covering the atrocities taking place over there. His photos are a moving,vivid, and honest depiction of life in a small town in the West Bank; a reminder to me that we need to put more and more energy into fighting for peace, equality and justice. His work gives me the chills. This guy is going places; a brief glimpse will convince you of that.

 

Tonight, I am going to a new paella bar in my hood( I think it’s called Soccarat) with friends from the shop. The restaurant is BYOB for the time being until a liquor liscense is procured. So, look forward to a post later this week on our dinner and the corks we pull. This could be a lot of fun. I am bringing the 2006 Alice et Olivier De Moor Sauvignon de St. Bris. 

Muscadet Monday 2

 

Most likely when you think about decanting a wine, you envision a pitcher or fancy crystal decanter holding red wine. However, there are numerous white wines which  benefit from a rough decant. Take for example the 2005 Andre- Michel Bregeon Muscadet Sevre et Maine(Kermit Lynch $14.00), which I bought the other evening from a savy nyc wine merchant. The estate and vineyards of Andre-Michel are located in the commune of Gorges within the Muscadet Sevre et Maine AOC. Ok, so what makes Gorges different from other communes like say, Vallet?  Well,like most minute differences in wine, it comes down to the earth–the soil. Gorges is blessed with a unique black schist called gabbro which imparts a burly, distinct mineral quality to the wines of the region. Again proving the point, that in Muscadet, differnces expand much further than whether or not a bottle is marked sur lie. Kindly,I was warned by this savy nyc wine merchant, to decant for several hours in advance–and it certainly needed it!!  Tight as nails upon opening, but after a few hours it blossomed like a spring flower. Intense, piercing aromas;with mineral and a gout de terroir which is just so French. Long, persistent and fine. This wine has breed……and I imagine it will benefit from a  long nap. Attention my friends, not only expensive wines benefit from cellaring.

Jaime Brockway Warning: If You Drink A Bottle Of French Wine Per Week Then You Will Die A Happier Person !

 

Naked Wine

In preparation for my post this upcoming Wednesday on the brilliant, crystalline 2007 Francis BlanchetPouilly-Fume(Salice) I offer you this quote……

“Pouilly-Fume remains the most naked of wines. No other wine presents itself so naturally without artifice or anything to hide its true nature.”-Pierre Brejoux(1956)

I adore wines which don’t hide their true nature or being. We all abhor self haters, or at least I do.

To be continued……..

Oui, Je l’ai fait!

 

After 1 and 1/2 years of french study, I think I reached a major milestone……Last week, I went to Alliance de Francaise uptown and borrowed Le Comte de Monte-Cristo from their library. And to my surprise , I tore through the book without much difficulty or need to pull out the dictionary. This feels good. So to celebrate the achievement, a good bottle of Loire wine will be opened with dinner. Stay tuned.

Socarrat Paella Bar Sings

As I mentioned in my previous post, last night a few of us from the store went to Socarrat Paella Bar in Chelsea. I have been wanting to try this new spot out for a few weeks, and glad I pulled the trigger. It was absolutely fantastic. There is one long table which runs down the center of the small, cozy restaurant which seats around 35 people…so expect a wait whenever you go. We arrived around 9:30 and didn’t get seated until 10pm . No worries though, because your patience will be rewarded with friendly, attentive service and delicious, flavorful tapas and paella. The menu offers around 10 small plates and four to five different types of paella to choose from. For me, pork is as natural and necessary as breathing; so if you feel the same then this place will certainly be up your alley. We sampled a wide variety of tapas; there wasn’t a dog in the bunch. The three of us shared one paella, which was fully satisfying and plenty enough after the small plates. Socarrat is just around the corner from where I live; a return visit is certainly in the works. At this time, they have a BYOB policy until they secure a liquor license…..so take advantage of it while you can. Now on to the wines…….

First up was a bottle of the 2006 Alice et Olivier DeSauvignon de St. Bris
This wine is no friggin’ joke. It changed dramatically throughout the meal……..though I am not surprised as their hyper natural wines are polite and shy upon opening; then they gently bring you into their world of nuance,complexity and grace. Savory, mineral laden, and long. It manages to balance the heat of 2006 quite well. Yes, the palate is more ample and the fruit riper than in past vintages–but this wine is harmonious and full of class. Alice et Olivier have been on fire the past several vintages and I am never–never left disappointed after pulling their corks. They are non interventionist vignerons with a sincere faith in Mother Earth and unyielding devotion for vins de terroirs. I see the beauty of life, humanity and nature with every compelling tip of the glass. Please I beg of you, drink their wines in the proper context–with food. They deserve more than a perfunctory, cold evaluation in a sterile environment away from the dinner table and good conversation.Help preserve traditional, artisan, living vins by buying the De Moor wines. NO FARMS NO WINE !!!

Batting next was a bottle of the 2006 Annie et PhilppeBornard“Le Ginglet ArboisPupillon(Biodynamic) Made with 100% Trusseauand hailing from the largest AOC in Jura. All of the grapes are sourced from the Cru of Pupillon. We poured the wine and a beautiful pale ruby color soared from the glass making the mouth water and the eye smile . More and more I am struck by the power color can have on the whole wine experience. It is certainly an essential aspect of the pleasure derived from wine, and particularly beautiful and moving when that color is natural and not forced by the hand of man’s ego. Have you seen those inky, Shiraz looking Pinot Noirs out there? Ya me too, and I am tired of that blatant dishonesty. Excuse the outburst….back to the wine.It took half an hour or so, but the aroma poked its head out with an inviting flowery, and savory Mother Earth quality. Its connection to its neighbor, Burgundy, is undeniable. In fact, the nose reminded me of a few of my favorite 2004 Burgs( I love that vintage, by the way; what perfume and head spinning femininity!!). My recommendation, serve the 2006 Annie et Phillipe Bornard “Le Ginglet ArboisPupillon cool, with a butter and ham baguette sandwich. Eating well isn’t only for the rich. This is what wine probably tasted like when Rabelais was partying his way through the caves of Chinon. Trinch !!!

Jaime Brockway Warning: Drinking Less Than One Bottle Of Wine Per Week Is Detrimental To Your Health. Approved By Me.

Muscadet Food

 

I pinned this post on top because I think this is the best and easiest recipe I have ever tried. Plus, it goes super well with my favorite wine! Hope you will enjoy this pairing too!

The wine I’m going to mention here this week is the Muscadet wine which I tried a few days back and trust me when I say that is terrific. With a smooth, golden and marrowy soft texture, the liquid tastes so heavenly that you can’t help the moan of delight once it goes down your throat. It smells like pine and herbs and rocks. And the mineral taste with a slight touch of grapes and citrus fruits. That makes it all the more intoxicating and fabulous.

The dish I recommend to perfectly complement this wine with is delicious deep fried shrimps. The crispy and crunchy shrimps taste so good especially when their taste is highlighted by the wine.
I think it will be good to share my easy-to-cook recipe for deep fried shrimps which is not only saving me time but also provides delicious food without putting much of an effort.
Take these ingredients:

  • Milk: 1 Cup
  • Butter Milk: 1 Cup
  • Hot Sauce: 1 Cup
  • Flour (Self-Rising): 2 Cups
  • Cornmeal (Self-Rising): ¼ Cup
  • Black Pepper (Coarsely Ground): 2 tablespoons
  • Salt: 3 Tablespoons
  • Peeled and deveined medium-sized shrimps with the tails left intact: 2 pounds
  • Peanut Oil (For Frying)

Here is how I cook it.

Preheat the oil to about 375° F in a deep fryer – mine is Presto one. Get a baking tray, line it with paper towels. Now pour milk, buttermilk and hot sauce into a shallow baking dish and whisk them together until they’re fully mixed. Once you’re done with that, take another shallow baking dish and whisk the dry ingredients i.e. flour, cornmeal, pepper and salt. Before you dip the shrimps in the flour and cornmeal mixture, make sure they are dry and there’s not even a single drop of water on them. Bury the shrimps in the dry mixture for just a fraction of a second, then take them out and dip them in the liquid mixture of hot sauce, milk and buttermilk. After that dip them again in the flour and cornmeal mixture and put them in the fryer to fry. Don’t forget to shake it a bit in order to remove the excess mixture from the shrimps.

Fry for two minutes or until the shrimps turn golden. Fry the shrimps in groups but try not overload the fryer by attempting to fry them all at once. Once golden, remove the shrimps from the oil with the help of a slotted spoon and place them on the baking tray lined with paper towels.

Advice: When I bought my deep fryer, I did a lot of research to find the best one. After reading my articles , I stumbled upon this website and my search was finished.  Highly recommend!

Jaime Brockway Warning: Eat Well. Be Good.