Sunday, July 29, 2012

2009 Ferraton Pere et Fils "La Matiniere" Crozes-Hermitage

The Northern Rhone really has a lot to offer.  The finesse of Cote-Rotie and the power of a great Hermitage are well known and delicious, but they can often be out of the average wine lover's budget.  The good news is there are plenty of other regions in the Northern Rhone that are producing more budget friendly wines.  Cornas in the southern end of the Northern Rhone produces some rustic but very interesting Syrahs that aren't necessarily budget friendly, but they do provide a nice value relative to Hermitage.  Saint Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage on opposite sides of the Rhone are both larger regions that produce some average stuff as well as some really great values.  Today's subject is not in my $15 and under category, but it is a Crozes-Hermitage that provides great value in the low $20s. 

The 2009 "La Martiniere" is 100% Syrah that is grown in rocky soils and aged for 12 months in oak before bottling.  The wine is a deep reddish purple in your glass.  The bouquet brings pretty intense blackberry and raspberry fruit with some black pepper and a bit of vanilla.  In your mouth you get more mixed red and black berries, but the fruit is much more subdued on the palate than the nose.  Decent acidity and some mild tannins make this a very nicely balanced offering.  All of this is brought to a close by a very subtle but long finish.  The bottom line is that this wine has a little something for everyone.  Fruit lovers will fall for the bouquet, and those who like a little more finesse and balance will not be disappointed. 

This is not a hard wine to pair with food.  It could go with the usual Syrah suspects of lamb or other grilled red meats, but it could also work with braised chicken dishes like coq au vin or even pasta with a meat sauce.  It would also be a great red to serve with fine cheese and elegant hors-d'oeuvres.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Mako Shark with Lemon Tarragon Butter

If you're looking for something different to cook on the grill during this hot summer weather, here's a quick easy recipe that's simply delicious.  There is very little work involved, but you can easily impress your friends with this low maintenance meal that takes less than 20 minutes to make.  The hardest part of the whole thing is finding some great quality fresh fish.  If your local fishmonger doesn't have Mako shark, you can substitute fresh swordfish or even halibut steaks.  What's important for this is making sure whatever kind of fish you get is fresh caught and not frozen.  Here's the ingredients you will need to serve 6.

  • 6 fresh Mako shark steaks about 1.5" thick
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Start by melting 4 tablespoons of butter and add lemon juice and tarragon to the butter and salt to taste.  I split the butter between two ramekins, but you could put it all in one small bowl.  Once the butter mixture is in the bowls, set it in the fridge so that the butter hardens.  Preheat your grill to medium high heat and make sure the grates are well brushed and oiled.  While the grill is heating coat the Mako shark steaks with the olive oil to prevent sticking.  Grill steaks for 3 minutes a side so that fish is just cooked through but still nice and moist. Serve the fish and then top with a bit of the lemon tarragon butter and enjoy. 

We've paired this with a few different white wines that all have nice acidity.  My personal favorite is a nice Spanish Albarino.