25 March 2015

2013 Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz-Viognier

Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier is an Australian winery founded by Anthony J. Terlato and Michel Chapoutier based on a friendship that goes back to the 1980s.

I've said it many times before, but Viognier does such a great job of softening the edges of Syrah/Shiraz in the style of Côte Rotie. Not to say that the latter grape is harsh, but it's a pairing that works so well and in such a peculiar way. Just a little splash of the white wine and you've got a lovely and different red.

Though made in Australia, this Chapoutier collaboration includes his standard Braille labeling in honor of a friend and family member who found purchasing wine difficult while sight-impaired.

2013 Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz-Viognier
Victoria, Australia
95% Shiraz, 5% Viognier
$18, 14.5% abv.

Light cherry and violet aromas with delicate red stone fruit flavors. On the palate it shows medium tannins with a lovely finish. This is a tremendous bargain and I'd serve it with a pork tenderloin, stuffed with walnuts and apricots and lightly seasoned. It's one that doesn't need too strong of a food pairing so as not to miss the lighter elements.

Note: This wine was provided as a sample for review.

17 March 2015

St. Patrick's Day Pairings for Snooth

My latest article for Snooth is up... Switch Things Up: St. Patrick's Day Wines. I have a lot of fun with these wine and food pairing pieces for them. I take a lot of the wine samples I've tried recently (or some that are theme-appropriate) and check out interesting combinations at local restaurants that don't have wine lists and employ a friendly BYOB policy. It's fun to share with friends and staff and recommend local wine shops where they can find these bottles. Always happy to make converts and get people excited about trying wine in new ways.

Check it out--there's more of a connection between wine and Ireland than you may have first thought! Sláinte!

11 March 2015

Lean Manufacturing for Nomacorc

Many people wonder what I do for a living when I'm not trying wine and food together, and while I don't go into specifics due to media policies at my employer, I can talk a bit about the concepts of quality assurance in an article for the synthetic cork factory called Nomacorc:

Getting the Muda out of Your Gemba: Lean Manufacturing at Nomacorc

The title of the article sounds cryptic but a big part of Lean Six Sigma and related efficiency philosophies is that you start learning some Japanese and begin integrating the phrases into your everyday conversation.

03 March 2015

NV Cooper's Hawk Meritage "Lux"

You don't really think of Chicago as a winemaking region, but back during Prohibition it was second only to New York City as a market for California grapes. Most people don't know that you could legally make 200 gallons of wine a year for home use during that time, with other exemptions for religious consumption. According to When the Rivers Ran Red: An Amazing Story of Courage and Triumph in America's Wine Country by Vivienne Sosnowski (which I reviewed in 2009), lots of west coast fruit made it to the Windy City via train:
Chicago, California's second most important grape market, took 7,000 cars of California wine and table grapes in 1924. Nearly one-third of Chicago's inhabitants were foreign born, including 138,000 from Poland, 112,000 from Germany, 59,000 from Italy, 30,000 from Austria, and 5,000 from France. On one day alone--October 20--289 cars of California grapes arrived in the city, most of them destined for wholesalers on South Water Street.
Cooper's Hawk is a winery and restaurant based out of Orland Park, a suburb of Chicago. Sourcing grapes from California, Oregon, and Washington, they make wine at the main facility and distribute it to their restaurants in Illinois, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin, as well as through their website.

The company has recently launched a green initiative involving recycling wine bottles. From the press release:
In 2012, founder and CEO Tim McEnery installed a state-of-the-art wine recycling line (the only one in the US) that de-labels and sanitizes up to 2000 wine bottles per hour. This year alone, Cooper’s Hawk has saved over 215 tons of glass from landfills and 1 of every 5 bottles is reused again for upcoming vintages.

Cooper’s Hawk other ‘go green’ initiatives include reduced energy consumption, increased recycled component usage their wines and reduced water consumption. The winery also tries to make socially-responsible investments, whether by purchasing a Bottle Recycling & Sanitizing equipment or investing in smarter technology.
NV Cooper's Hawk Meritage "Lux"
59% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Malbec
American (sourced from multiple states)
$40, 13.9% abv.

The blending makes it difficult to determine the age of this wine, but on whole this release presents as relatively young. It shows firm tannins with dominant aromas of plum, and black cherry. Dark fruit flavors follow through with a long finish. While a great steak wine at the moment, it will definitely show some improvement in the next five years as the bold body softens.

Note: This wine was provided as a sample for review.

24 February 2015

North Carolina Winemaking for Nomacorc

My latest post is live on the Nomacorc Blog:

Stomping Grapes with the Tar Heels: Regional Spotlight on North Carolina

It was fun interviewing the winemakers remotely, which is why the only North Carolina wines I've tried have been from The Biltmore Estate.

P.S. Check out Wine Turtle for a roundup of the 103 Best Wine Blogs. Your humble correspondent plus a bunch of other friends and great writers are represented!

21 February 2015

Ty & Maddy's Southern Sweets & Treats

I've got a complicated history with popcorn. I enjoyed it as a kid at the movies and at home with our little electric popper that had a slotted tray for butter on top. When I first visited the Mall of Memphis in the early 80s, I was amazed at a shop that sold nothing but popcorn in dozens of different colors and flavors... not to mention that said shop piped the smell of popcorn throughout the mall, luring everyone.

In 5th grade, I got my first set of braces and suddenly popcorn created a nightmare of picking and prodding. I avoided the treat for orthodonture reasons until my senior year, by which time I'd lost the taste for it. Flash forward twenty years, and I discover that the sister of a friend has a little shop right around the corner specializing in homemade popcorn blends. Hmmm...

Ty & Maddy’s Southern Sweets and Treats
1150 Dexter Lane
Suite 105
Cordova, TN 38016
(901) 359-1010

The brick and mortar shop grew out of a school and sports team fundraising operation led by a former math teacher named Michele Murgatroyd. Pictured above is the Chocolate Dream popcorn, made with dark chocolate. I didn't actually get to try this because I gave the bag to Julia as a gift. But I'm sure it is as delicious as...

I got a bag of the Buffalo Chicken & Ranch and a bag of the caramel cashew. I lean more savory than sweet but on a rainy Saturday afternoon it's nice to go back and forth. Both were delicious and tomorrow I'm going to find a good movie to watch at home while the weather continues to be bad here in our dear River City.

But Ty & Maddy's had more to offer...

Homemade dog treats! In many flavors and sizes. It was important for me to buy a mixed bag and bring it home for my blogging intern to sample.

I'd like to share a better photo of Bella devouring one of the baked cheese hearts, but it was difficult to keep her in check while balancing the camera. Suffice it to say that she is a big fan and I look forward to parceling out the other treats over the next two weeks.

17 February 2015

Ethiopian Coffee

I was sad to see the previous Cordova Ethiopian restaurant close, but a new one opened up a couple of months ago. And it was a joy to have lunch there this weekend with dear friends including Jennifer Biggs of The Commercial Appeal.

Ethiopian Restaurant and Coffee
8195 Dexter Road
Suite 104
Cordova, TN 38016

Biggs recommended the coffee ceremony, which I was not previously aware of. It starts with roasting yirgacheffe over medium heat until the beans are properly roasted.


While our hostess took the beans to grind by hand, sprigs from the coffee bush were burned in a clay pot like incense.


I said thank you in proper Amharic (አመሰግናለሁ) but managed to spill coffee on my shorts, so that's kind of a wash on the etiquette front.


I had mine with just a pinch of sugar as recommended by our hostess. While I love dark, bitter coffee, the sugar was a nice countermeasure to the smokiness of the freshly roasted beans. I hope to return with friends and will try to do a better job of balancing the demitasse and saucer.