April 9 Newsletter
We still have some seats available for our Jim Clendenen Wine Dinner at the Bay Wolf on Tuesday 4/21. Jim is the mind behind Au Bon Climat, one of the best winemakers on the planet, and one of the main forces behind the great wines being made in Santa Barbara County. His wines are elegant, well balanced, vinted to both drink well now and to age beautifully.
The dinner features six courses dinner and seven wines is priced at $89 per person, plus tax and tip! (that's $115 per person or $110 total per person including gratuity and tax for Farmstead Wine Club members in good standing). The Baywolf is located at 3853 Piedmont Avenue in Oakland.
Prepaid reservations are a necessity and can be made by calling Farmstead Cheeses and Wines at 510 864 9463. For further information, please click here.
Holiday Wines - I wrote about our fine selection of Kosher Wines for Passover last week, and wanted to alert you to our great selection of wines to go with your Easter meal.
I'd pair Ham with an off-dry Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc or an Alsatian wine (try the Sinskey Abraxas - a locally made, organically farmed Alsatian-style blend, Pino e Toi a northern Italian blend or one of the great Rieslings from the Terry Theise portfolio).
For Spring Lamb, think Rhône varietals - especially Syrah and Grenache, or maybe a California Pinot Noir. The C & L Griffin's Lair Pinot is drinking really well right now, as is the Guigal St Joseph (syrah), and the Grand Veneur Champuvins Côtes du Rhône Villages - all of which would go very well with your dinner.
For Asparagus, there's really only one wine that will do -a Grüner Veltliner, and for the dessert course, I'd pair Chocolate Bunnies with a Banyuls Rimage and a Muscat-based sticky wine is a perfect foil for my favorite, Marshmallow-filled Peeps.
Bufala and Burrata - We've had such a great response to our weekly Burrata shipments, that we'll be bringing in weekly shipments of Bufala Mozzarella, starting tomorrow (Friday). These fabulous balls of milky, creamy, supple goodness are amazing - by themselves, as part of a cheese plate, on a pizza, whatever. That's right, nothing soothes, satisfies, and stimulates like the fresh milky taste of Mozzarella di Bufala.
Whether served on a bed of arugula, alongside fresh tomatoes, on a bruschetta with a savory jam, or (as I eat it) drizzled with EV olive oil and sea salt, these fresh cheese products need to be tried to be believed. Shelf life on the Bufala is two weeks, on the burrata seven days.
What's Mozzarella di Bufala? It's a PDO* cheese made from Buffalo milk. No, not from Home on the Range Buffalo** milk, but from the milk of asian Water Buffalo (which were brought to Italy in medieval times by the Goths). Soft and creamy with a slightly runny interior, Bufala is great on pizza, crsotini, or pasta; perfect with tomatoes, arugula, radicchio; or eaten slightly salted, with a knife and fork and a glass of Nero d'Avola.
What's Burrata? It's a combination of fresh cow's milk mozarella and panna (or Italian style cream), and it's quite frankly too good to be believed. The outer shell is solid mozzarella while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream, giving it a unique soft texture. It is served fresh, at room temperature. The name burrata means buttered in Italian. Our version is made by Gioia, a fabulous, local cheese producer (Los Angeles is way local compared to Puglia, Italy!!).
*PDO= Protected Denomination of Origin, a system for protecting, promoting and preserving the names and recipes of traditional European foods. ** Those are actually called Bison.
Weekly Tastings: We welcome Robert Morrison to the tasting bars this week, where he'll be pouring some well-made and well-priced wines from the Adventures in Wines portfolio.
On Friday 6-8 in Montclair and on Saturday 2-5 in Alameda, RoMo is presenting:
- Lauren Miquel Chardonnay/Viognier - bright and lively, perfect for Springtime
- Schaetzel Pinot Blanc a great match for your Easter Ham!
- Laurent-Miquel Syrah deep and rich flavors
- Hedges CMS Red 2007 a staff favorite!
- La Planta Ribera Del Duero nice acidity and balance from Spain
Quicos! We're always on the lookout for great new products, so when we tasted these salty, sweet, crunchy explosions of flavor at the Fancy Food Show, we had to have them.
After a few months of waiting, having the wrong product delivered, and, well, drooling, they arrive tomorrow (Friday)!
What's the big deal? Quicos are basically corn nuts that have been dipped in chocolate and then dusted in cocoa powder. OMG!!
They are great on their own, perfect with a rosé or a red wine, and delightful as a cheese accompaniment.
New Wine Arrivals
Comte Lafon is arguably the finest producer of Meursault and Volnay around (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Burgundy), and we're privileged to be able to get teensy amounts from our distributor, Beaune Imports of Berkeley. These coveted wines are made with extreme precision and care, from low yielding biodynamically farmed vineyards.
The wines are amazing - the Chardonnays are crisp yet lush, with a great skeleton of minerality; the Pinots are velvety and sleek, and watching them evolve over the course of an evening is a crash course in what great Burgundy can be.
They ain't cheap, and they live in Montclair (Alameda customers, we'll bring them over if you're interested). Very limited.
The Orphan Every year, our friends at Justin make this fabulous, low-cost, luscious blend of (mostly) Cabernet Sauvignon and (just a dash of Syrah); every year, we buy as much as we can; and every year we sell out of it in about a month.
This year is not and will not be an exception: you were warned.
In other words, it might be a good idea to lay down a case if you like the wine. To paraphrase the winery's story, not every lot fits into the final blend of each wine. So as not to deprive these "orphan" lots of a home, they are combined into this wine. A blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, the wine spends 14 months in oak (French and American) before it is released. Lots of cherry and dark berry fruit with a splash of vanilla make this one of the friendliest wines in the store.
Charles and Charles Rosé - How many Charles' does it take to make a great rosé? Well, in this case, two - Charlie Bieler (winemaker for both 3 Thieves and Routas) and Charles Smith (K Syrah, Magnificent Wine Company) got together and concocted this AMAZING rosé of syrah that tastes like it's from Provence, not Washington. Smith and Bieler made this wine from the Talcott Vineyard from the Wahluke Slope AVA in the traditional Provençal way--grapes picked at the early edge of ripeness, sent straight to the press without any extended cold soak, and fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks at cooler temperatures. New World fruit, Old World methods, what's not to like?
The Velvet Devil - We love the wines of Charles Smith (K Vintners) and have featured them prominently in the shop (K Syrah Cougar Hills, El Jefe Tempranillo, Boom Boom Syrah), in wine clubs (Chateau Smith Cab), so we weren't surprised when we tasted The Velvet Devil Merlot - a juicy, well balanced Columbia Valley Merlot -sinfully smooth, rich and explosive. Think red plums, bittersweet cocoa with hints of smoke and cedar.
Cheeses Back in Stock - back on the shelves after a short absence:
Leonora - ashed, natural rind goat cheese from Spain
Wavreumont - complex washed rind cow's milk from Belgium
St Maure Cendrée- raw soft ashed goat cheese from Belgium.
Wine Clubs - April Allocations will be released next week; club members, if you haven't done so, please come in and pick up your March wines.