Monday, December 12, 2011

Bold Pinot Noirs

2009 Bel Canto Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir

I barely ever get excited about Pinot Noirs since I like my wine big, bold, and full of flavor. However, every once in awhile I come across a Pinot worth bragging about and the Bel Canto is definitely at the top of my list; Jim Olsen has done it again! He took the most exciting AVA in California for Pinot Noir right now and pushed it to the limits. The result is amazing—the 2009 Bel Canto from the Santa Lucia Highlands. Jim had a great vintage on his hands, and harvested late at the last possible minute. I can tell you, this totally stands out starting with the color; a deep, heavy purple—darker and fuller than most Pinot. There is rich black plum, coffee, and a bit of licorice on the nose. The palate is loaded with raspberry jam, and cherry compote—tall woven with layers of earth and fresh herbs. The finish is so great with notes of coffee, spice and mocha along with the fruit. The way Jim used all new French oak for 12 months was spot on. Everything is wrapped up in bold, sweet tannins—balancing the rich, juicy fruit perfectly. Serve this with grilled pork tenderloin with a coffee-vanilla bean spice rub and Portobello risotto for a great match!

Production Notes:
  • Jim Olsen is the wine maker
  • Bel Canto is an Italian opera term for “beautiful singing”
  • Vineyard at 1100 ft elevation
  • 2009 vintage is considered by many as the best showing ever in California for Pinot Noir, with small yields and intense concentration
  • 15 to 20 years-old vines of clones 113, 115, and Pommard#4
  • Aged 12 months in new French oak
  • 450 cases produced

Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir:
  • High above the Salinas Valley, with a reputation for producing wines with intense fruit character
  • Enjoys one of California’s longest growing seasons, benefiting from cool morning fog and afternoon breezes drawn into the Salinas Valley from Monterey Bay
  • This north-south oriented alluvial terrace benefits from well-drained granitic soils and shelter from the Pacific Ocean by the Santa Lucia Mountains
  • The AVA officially starts just 40 feet above the valley floor, but vineyards can be found at elevations as high as 1,200 feet where fog burns off much earlier than below
  • These higher altitude vineyards have the advantage of more direct sunshine—coupled with the natural southeastern exposure of these vineyards, the Santa Lucia Highlands have a specific terroir unique for Monterey

Clone Information:
  • Blending clones has been compared to voices in a choir, beautiful as soloist voices but when you hear the choir together, you realize the difference and what you’re missing
  • Clones 113 and 115 are known as “Dijon” clones, with smaller clusters, moderate crop levels, and slightly earlier ripening than other selections
  • The Pommard #4 clone is known for larger clusters, with jammy character, excellent texture and minerality.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Story Behind the Story

2009 Chateau Petrus-Gaïa—L’Élue

Last year during Primeurs (2010) Fonda (Founder of Montesquieu Wines), Helene, and Stéphane had dinner with Roland Guerin, the owner of Chateau Petrus-Gaïa, at La Plaisance in St. Emilion. He was a fascinating man—passionate, full of life, and much more energetic than most men his age with a real zest for life and a twinkle in his eye. He took particular pleasure in how unsettled the Bordeaux old-guard establishment felt that his property held the name Petrus-Gaïa. He was constantly battling the Moueix family and others in the French courts over his possession of the name Petrus as part of his estate, but he never tired of the battle—it only energized him.

Turns out that that earliest maps made for king Louis XIV (1638-1715), mention “Petrus” in connection with Roland’s property in Ruch (in Entre-Deux Mers), NOT in connection with the famous Petrus of Pomerol, which is how the courts decided to let Petrus-Gaïa keep its name of “Petrus”. The twists and turns of the four-year David-versus-Goliath legal struggle resulted in Chateau Petrus-Gaïa (David) and Petrus of Pomerol (Goliath) both retaining the use of Petrus.

Roland’s renegade style was a perfect match for Stéphane, deemed “Bordeaux’s Favorite Rebel” by the Wine Spectator. Stéphane was introduced to Roland through a mutual friend, Ambroise Chambertin, and when they met, the synergy was perfect in both—the personalities involved and the singular terroir of stunning inherent quality and character (which Stéphane immediately recognized). What ensued was a very deep connection and beautiful, expressive wines.

Sadly and unexpectedly, Roland Guerin passed away late last year of a suspected heart attack. As friends and colleagues are saying goodbye, there is much speculation about the future of the estate, with reported interested buyers including the Moueix family of Chateau Petrus in Pomerol. It would be a very common turn of events for Roland’s widow to accept an offer that would incorporate these unique, premium vines into another winery forever.

“It is a privilege to have known Roland, a kindred spirit who wasn’t afraid to buck the system” said Ambroise Chambertin in his farewell, “I was lucky to know Roland, to see him navigate the intricacies of Bordeaux and to see him fight like Don Quixote against the windmills. I can assure you he was a fabulous man, happy, honest, and humanistic.”

This 2009 Chateau Petrus-Gaïa L’Élue is the last vintage ever made under the ownership of the highly esteemed Roland Guerin, perhaps the last ever to be produced. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Happy Birthday

Art is true in its still form
Viewing indebtedness for stillness
Uncultivated by its form
And inebriated by its worn out places

Sit and listen
Stop and understand
Oblige the stillness
Inebriated by places

A mad world it is
Watching everything
Still having no control
Life is standing still
Now we can appreciate it            
Subsequently still
With no tomorrow
To drown all sorrows

Dreams make no sense
While you run in circles
In a completely mad world


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'm back in the kitchen!

I've been wanting to do this for awhile now, and am happy to share with you what makes me happiest; COOKING! Although my boyfriend may beg to differ, I feel that I am definitely a genius in the kitchen. My Portuguese and Brasilian background, mixed with Jersey Italian and SoCal Mexican, gives me a niche of spice with flavor like no other. Enough of talking about myself for now, let’s get to the meat of life; EATING:


  1. Jasmine Rice
  2. Canned corn
  3. White beans
  4. Kielbasa
  5. Onions
  6. Bay leaves
  7. Garlic
  8. Jalapeno peppers
  9. Broccoli
  10. Olive Oil
  11. Salt
  12. Pepper

  • Sautee the garlic and throw the rice in. Regardless of how much rice you want to make, the secret is to always use 2 cups of water per 1 cup of rice.
  • Throw in the can of corn after the rice has been cooking for at least 10-15 min. (low fire--I always remember my grandmother saying, "The slower you cook things the better it'll taste!).
  • Meanwhile you should be cooking the white beans in a pressure cooker (either that or let it soak in water overnight before cooking it for about 1 ½ hrs.).
  • Throw in a whole onion cut in quarters (there will be 4 pieces :) and some bay leaves to cook with the beans. Don't forget the salt!
  • Fill a small pot with about 2 inches of water and let it boil. Once the steam is going, get the broccoli in there with some salt, pepper, and I used garlic powder but that's your choice. Cover it up to let the steam cook the broccoli. Better than submerging the vegetable in a full pot of water.
  • Once the beans are ready (30 min. in the pressure cooker, 1 hr. 1/2 in a regular pot), Sautee the jalapeño peppers with olive oil, then throw in the kielbasa.
  • Once the kielbasa has had a chance to fry a bit, throw in tons of garlic and fry it a bit more.
  • When the kielbasa has been frying for about 5-10 minutes, scoop up some beans with tons of liquid and throw it in the mix which contains the garlic, kielbasa, and jalapeno peppers. Swirl it around and quickly throw all of that into the pot of beans.
  • Let everything stand under fire for another two minutes or until its boiling and you’re ready to SERVE!
  • Voila! Eat and enjoy
  • I recommend some Cholula/Chili Garlic Hot Sauce with it.
  • Delicious!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Para a comunidade: Eu quero justiça – Meu filosofo favorito

Não falo de pessoas pobres
Falo de pessoas realmente pobres
Os fracos e os hipócritas

Você me ensinou a ser forte demais
Me chamam de maluca e de sem educação
Será que já não e obvio?
Sou sua metamorfose de garra e determinação

Você me ensinou a lutar
A escolher para não ser escolhida

Que culpa tenho se a minha tolerância não se transforma?
Foi assim que me ensinas-te a ser

Você acha que eu deveria ser diferente?
Deveria ser eu mais compreensiva,

Mais reservada
Menos teimosa 
Um pouco menos agressiva
Mais magra
Mais baixa
Mais nova
Mais reservada
Menos atrevida

Mais inocente
Mais não tão convincente,
O que querem de mim realmente?

Monday, January 31, 2011

My first restaurant review!


Everyday that I wake up and remember my dreams, I am thankful.  Last night in my dream, I was back at the farm in Warren, N.J. One of the thousand places I have had the pleasure to call home throughout my lifetime. There was a beautiful sunset and one of my roommates was  excited to have found a rare perennial and was getting ready to plant it.  I asked if I could have a piece to plant myself and he gladly handed me a branch and showed me how to sow it.  Needless to say I woke up inspired! An interesting detail is that it is his birthday in a couple days and we haven't spoken in awhile.  I actually only found out it was his birthday, after my dream. 

What I realized was that my subconscious was telling me that I had gotten through some of my fears by letting go of things which no longer served me.  This dream was a reassurance that  I am finally headed in the right direction and that once again I can believe in friendship and move forward.  For awhile, I had terrible nightmares of being chased by someone or something that wanted to harm me.  I now know that the only harm chasing me were my fears of letting go and the walls I had built were keeping me stranded.  I was running away from myself!  My essence had been stained to the core, and that had left me exposed and weak to deal with my own demons.

I also looked up what it meant to dream of sowing and here is what I found: "To dream that you are sowing seeds, represents new beginnings or a major project for which you are laying the groundwork for.  The dream may also be a metaphor for sex or some sexual act.  Seeds, represents new". 

That is it!!!  My idea to publish a newspaper and the research I've been doing for it is helping me break through those walls.  I am learning!  I am growing!  Phew, what a relief! I was becoming a grumpy pessimist. 

The sex thing is a given, I am always thinking about sex.

So today I took the time to reflect on the last year of my life.  Thinking about where I was and where I am, reminding myself of the possibilities for change and becoming a better me. It is also planting season and as in my dream, I started sowing my seeds.  Today I planted cherry Tomatoes, Basil, English Thyme, Parsley and of course, more dreams.

Later I decided to make a delicious meal in my new pressure cooker.  While cooking, I was brought back to my grandmother's kitchen almost eighteen years ago.  The loud sound of the steamer, instantly reminded me of a simpler time, a time that I now strive for.

A panela de pressão gritando no meu ouvido, cheirinho de alho frito e Kid Abelha tocando na minha pandora.  Dezoito anos antes e eu me encontro na cozinha da minha avó, meu irmão na sala assistindo televisão e minha mãe correndo de um lado para o outro, limpando alguma coisa.  Meu pai, com certeza de cueca e se pendurando da porta para esticar o corpo e falando como isso faz bem para sua coluna.   Se tento forçar  a lembrança da minha infância, me encontro cheia de perguntas e esquecendo quase tudo. Mais quando vem assim derrepente, e como se eu estivesse voltado no tempo.

...It is now the next morning and I am finishing up yesterday’s post.  Had another dream, this time with friends that weren’t so encouraging and supportive and are no longer in my life.  In the dream, they did exactly as expected, thought of themselves and ran right over me.   Reflecting on both dreams and realizing their relevance, I concluded that it was only the beginning of my growth. 

The roads we travel are filled with obstacles and bad people.  Whether you choose to follow your dream and fight for what you believe in, or if you allow life to just carry you through, there will be hardships.  Bad people are everywhere because we are all bad.  Must us realize our faults and learn from our mistakes to be good.  Ultimately,  you control many things in your life. 

I just hope to have the strength to forgive myself and not to forget that I am human too.  I hope to grow and learn through all my experiences as I walk through life and evolve my soul as much as I can while I am here.