Monday, November 30, 2009

Jambalaya and Marechal Foch - Who Knew ?

Saturday was wife's birthday. Wife does not celebrate her birthday, rather she tolerates it, which is fine by me as it relieves pressure from me to create a special moment.

Saturday she spent primarily sleeping and reading and the birthday dinner was postponed until Sunday due to my work schedule. Wife's birthday is easy for me, as mentioned, because all I really have to do is come up with a well thought out gift and then cook her something of her choosing. Wife's original request was for Chicken Enchiladas but somewhere during the week I mentioned Jambalaya and that struck the chord.

I too enjoy Jambalaya and was happy to prepare it but there was the wine issue, my jambalaya is medium hot but elements like andouille sausage, cayenne, bell peppers and shrimp make for a difficult choice.

Under normal circumstances I'd have opted for a Riesling or Chenin Blanc but wife eschews white wine much the same way I do a 40 hour work week so I had to come up with an alternative. My first thought was sparkling but then I recalled that I had a bottle of Quail's Gate Old Vine Foch, 2006 sitting in the rack and thought: "Hmmmmm, why not".

Marechal Foch is really a hybrid known as Kuhlmann 188-2, one of whose parents is Goldriesling, but it was renamed after the great French General (how often do you see those words together ?) Foch. Marechal Foch, along with any other number of hybrids, were the workman like grapes of the Canadian wine industry from the mid 1940s onward. These varieties were bred to ripen early, withstand freezing winters and yield large quantities of fruit. Besides Marechal Foch the best known of these hybrids, in the Okanagan, are Baco Noir, Chelois and De Chaunac all prominent in the Okanagan in the eighties when I was first learning the wine business so I'm particularly fond of Marechal Foch.

Back on point: Why Marechal Foch with Jambalaya ? My process was that since Marechal Foch, in the proper hands such as Quail's Gate, has a Burgundian Pinot Noir character with rich berry fruit flavours, medium body and good acid. This bottle was a beauty, making me wish I had more but it can be found at private stores these days in the $25-30 price range. I recommend having a bottle or two in stock or see if you can locate Kettle Valley's Naramata Bench Reserve which is Foch based and a bit easier on the wallet.

The end result at dinner was Win/Win - great Jambalaya, an excellent wine and a good pairing, maybe not perfect but certainly eminently enjoyable. In addition, since Marechal Foch is very dark in colour, daughter got to laugh at our purple tongues ........ so I guess win/win/win.

As a last note, speaking of wins I'm sure everyone is in agreement that Sports Illustrated choice of Derek Jeter as Sportsman of the Year was an excellent choice.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Am I the Kiss of Death for Sports Teams ?

Ok so I used to be a huge sports fan and I am still passionate about The Leafs but in reality I think My Teams should take up a collection, it wouldn't have to be much, to persuade me to spurn them and give them a fighting chance to win.

Honestly my record is pathetic, we all know the Leafs story, 42 years and counting since a Championship, but I was born into that so there is nothing to be done. I, and countless others, must wear the shame proudly and always remember that the Red Sox actually won something so all is not lost. However my legacy of fan failure is not limited to hockey, in the NFL my team is the Washington Redskins, a once proud organization that have played in five Super Bowls but have not won a Championship since 1992.

In major league baseball I get a bit of a mulligan because although my Toronto BlueJays have not won the World Series since 1993 I do have great man-love for the Yankees who have had some success recently, but really the Jays are pretty much in the toilet.

On the collegiate level, I root for UCLA in basketball and Alabama in football so to the casual observer I'm doing well there but in reality. although both teams consistently compete for National Titles, UCLA has been shutout since 1995 and Alabama has not "roll Tide roll"ed to a title since 1992. I won't bore you with the gory details of Hearts of Midlothian or Scottish football in general but I'm sure you can sense the pattern.

I have, however, saved the "best" for last in that my team of choice in the NBA are the Utah Jazz. The Utah Jazz have never won a championship, that's never ........ not ever, kind of like the Canucks without skates.

A couple of wine notes:

There is a nice Spaghetti red on sale currently at the BCLDB, Montepulcianno D'Abruzzo 2007 from Spinelli, CSPC#454629. Montepulcianno D'Abruzzo is the name of the principal grape and the region of production and it is the every day house red in Abbruzzo and much of Rome as well, the region lies just east of Rome. This version from Spinelli is light to medium bodied with decent fruit and enough acid to cut through the tomato sauce. The wine is currently retailing for $8.99 but the distribution is spotty.

Had a braise of blade steak last night, lots of braising these days, with garlic, rosemary, onions and cremini mushrooms. I was looking for something big and brooding to go with the beef and so I picked up a bottle of Poupre de Grezette, CSPC#549147 a Malbec from the Cahors region in SouthWest France. Cahors is one of the oldest viticultural regions in France and the dominant grapes are Malbec, which is listed on the label of this bottling, and Tannat.

The wines of Cahors are often referred to as "black Wines" due to their deep colour but this one is self described as purple (pourpre). The wines of the region are generally harsh in youth and this bottle was a 2004 so the bottle age had softened the wine, but maybe too much. There was lots of black fruit and jammy flavour and a nice juicy spicy nose and the mouth feel is excellent with a long smooth finish but the acidity was a bit light.

Still for $15.99 this wine delivers rich varietally true flavour and is a nice change from many of the rough and ready Malbecs of Argentina, once again distribution is not great but reasonable.