3 TBSP butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 OZ button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup minced shallots
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme
4 5-ounce filet mignon steaks (each about 3/4 inch thick)
1/2 cup Madeira
1-1/2 cups beef stock or beef broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
Salt and Pepper
Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 TBSP olive oil in heavy large skillet or pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes until tender. Add 1/4 cup shallots and half of garlic, sauté until shallots are soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in thyme; season with salt and pepper. Transfer mushroom mixture to medium bowl.
Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plate, cover with foil.
Add remaining 1/4 cup shallots and garlic to same skillet. Sauté 2 minutes. Add Madeira and boil until reduced by half. Add broth and boil until mixture is reduced to 2/3 cup. Add cream and boil until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Return steaks to skillet, cook to warm up, about 1 minute. Transfer to plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.
A meal as regal as this one calls for an exceptional wine. So far in 2009, the Spann Vineyards Cabernet from Sonoma is the best Cab I've had all year at any price. For $35 you would expect a good wine. The Spann Cabernet is a GREAT wine and could easily fetch $60. This is an "OMIGOD" wine to be sure. At least one person lucky enough to get a glass will inevitably blurt out something along those lines. It's rich, it has depth, it's like cashmere in a glass balancing sweet jammy fruit with elegant nuances. Peter and Betsy Spann have the ability to create beautiful wines that aren't over the top or overpowering, yet show layer after layer of interesting notes. This reminds me of the 1988 Cheval Blanc I had last fall. Perfectly balanced between sweet, sour, salty and bitter, it compliments the Filet pefectly.
Pairing Local is all about finding localized wine+food pairings in each region of the world. In this episode I visit Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander in Yarra Valley, Australia and meet a man who knows something about how your palate works. Winemaker, cheese maker and trained chef, Steve Flamsteed took time out of harvest to create pairings that feature the best of what Yarra Valley has to offer.
The first pairing was King Fish in a soy broth paired with Giant Steps Chardonnay, and the second pairing baby chicken with Pinot Noir. It goes to show Mother Nature gives us everything we need to eat and drink well in many regions around the world.
WINES TASTED IN THIS EPISODE:
2008 Giant Steps Chardonnay - Yarra Valley is a place where top notch Chardonnay and Pinot Noir flows like a river. Giant Steps has a unique production facility tucked neatly into into a building that features a bakery, restaurant, wine shop and wood fired pizza ovens. You could spend a week in there and be perfectly happy.
In the glass, this beauty shows candied meyer lemon peel, hawaiian pineapple, yellow carnations and baked bread. There's slight hints of toffee suggesting a deft balance of oak integration married with bright acidity. Yarra Valley is cold enough to give the wine the acidity it needs. It worked with the local king fish because the acidity cuts through the fattier fish, then compliments it with a backbone of minerals aka mild wet rocks (which sound weird but you want that), meyer lemon, honeydew, pineapple, marmalade and other tropical fruits. A ying to the yang of the soy broth on the fish.
2008 Giant Steps Pinot Noir - Australia makes some damn good Pinot Noir. Many wine lovers in the states may not realize it's not all about Shiraz and Cabernet. The Yarra Valley reminds me quite a bit of my beloved Willamette Valley in Oregon. The lush, rolling green hillsides are dotted with green grass and groves of big, bushy trees. It's farmland, and it's cooler than the Barossa or McLaren Vale.
Beautiful aromas of dark cherries, roadside raspberries and rose petals drift out of the glass. You can smell the wine even as it's sitting on the table in front of you. I also found some faint tertiary notes of asian spices. Like many Yarra Pinots there was a light body style, but focused intensity with soft, rose petal texture like cashmere. I liked the almost-chocolate-covered black cherry and RC cola notes, combined with raspberry tart, anise and smoky minerals. The Sexton vineyard fruit provided a fun experience and an exotic, sassy Pinot that paired nicely with the grilled chicken. But the secret to making this dish work was the onion cooked in stock for added complexity and savoriness.
Peter Gago is the man responsible for creating one of the world's most iconic wines, Penfold's Grange. On a recent visit to Adelaide, Peter was nice enough to sit down and talk about the current vintage as well as share some amazing bottles of wine. During my visit Peter opened a younger Grange from the 2004 vintage along with a 2008 Yattarna Chardonnay and 2004 Block 42 Cabernet.
Peter also gave a tour of Magill Estate, where many of the higher end Penfold's wines are crafted. Pinot Noir grapes were just arriving and being crushed during the visit, so it was a rare opportunity to sit down with one of the world's most famous winemakers:
.WINES TASTED IN THIS EPISODE:
2008 Yattarna Chardonnay - Much has been made about this wine being the "white Grange". When Peter mentioned half the fruit was sourced from Tasmania, I got excited because world class Chardonnay's often have higher acidity and less winemaking fluff like overly oaked malo textures. Growing grapes in colder areas that are either higher, or farther away from the equator boost the acid in the wine grapes. It makes a statement to grow half the fruit in their vineyard in Tasmania that's both higher and southerly.
The immediate expression of Yattarna is elegance and refinement. I was thinking it was going to be over the top, but is was very much restrained in the same way automobile designers at Mercedes use restraint when designing a new car. This baby had the Mercedes body with detailed leather seats and fat chrome wheels. It's less oaky and less fruit forward than past vintages. Pouilly-Fuisse lovers would likely enjoy this vintage with its crisp acid backbone, framed up with golden delicious apple, meyer lemon and lees, toasted biscuit notes. You don't have to search for the fruit on your palate, you get it front and center first, followed by refined oak nuances.
2004 Grange - If you've ever had Penfold's Grange, you get a sense of its place in history (and collector's cellars). This is not only one of the most iconic wines in Australia, but also worldwide. From its humble beginnings, Grange has been made as a wine that needed age before drinking. Collectors tuck bottles of Grange away in their cellars without even thinking of touching them for at least ten years, but knowing they'll be rewarded the longer they wait. Over time, Grange develops into a "first growth" type of wine with wonderful Cabernet and Shiraz characters along with exotic spices, shoe leather, cedar and cigar box among other notes.
So it was a bit of a surprise to see the 2004 drinking so well at this stage. I expected it to be a bit closed down, as if asleep in a long slumber. But it was lively and approachable now. It was neither tight nor overly oaked. The 2004 was a decidedly relaxed version of Grange that still exhibited the pedigree you'd expect from Grange. Somewhere along the way it seems Peter realized people want to wait, but not wait their whole life to enjoy Grange.
Dark brooding crimson color in the wine, with so much depth you could get lost staring into the abyss. Dark red fruits waft out of the glass unraveling a mystery of cassis, cocoa, vanilla, stewed plums and tertiary notes of menthol and blueberries. This was cashmere in a glass, exhibiting a more open and refined style than one would expect. It'll only get better with age, but if you have more than one bottle in the cellar take a look at it to see where it is, but also where it's going.
2004 Block 42 Cabernet - As a sommelier and wine blogger, I get to taste all sorts of different wines from around the world. Wine bloggers in general are called upon to share their thoughts, notes and experiences on the wines they taste. When Peter poured this wine everything stopped. This was a wine unlike anything I've ever tried, and quite possibly one of the finest Cabernets I've ever tasted. It was magic in a glass.
As if in a movie, I felt like I was in a slow motion scene drawn out for drama. This wine is not a wine you drink. This is a wine you experience. The Block 42 has only been made four times ever and with good reason. Penfold's uses fruit from the world's oldest operating Cabernet vines to make Block 42 in exceptional years, otherwise the fruit goes into Grange or possibly Bin 707 Cabernet.
I could try to describe what I tasted by pecking away at some tasting notes but my notes wouldn't do justice. The power and finesse on display create an amazing tension between the elements. There was purity and precision as if the winemaking team was saying, "yeah, it's Cabernet from some of the oldest vines in the world". They got out of the way and let the fruit put on a show. Then Peter put an exclamation point on the end and stated the alcohol was only 13.5%. I nearly fell out of my chair. I was guessing it was closer to 15% based on how much impact came across. I hope to be able to try this wine again in my lifetime....what a treat!
One of my favorite wines at St. Supéry is the Elu Bordeaux style blend. Some of the grapes you might find in Elu are Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cab Franc. Why am I talking about Elu? Because the St. Francis Claret reminds me very much of Elu, only more affordable.
The St. Francis Claret is made with the same grapes, but is 1/3 the price. It's the Mini Me version of Elu. If tasted blind, you might be able to pick out the Elu but at $22 a bottle why bother? 2007 St. Francis Claret has a different blend of 26% Merlot, 25% Cabernet, 23% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Franc and 7% Petit Verdot. Both are estate grown. Both have a sweeter, jammy profile with vanilla oak. The 2007 Claret gets a nod because the '07 vintage was incredible in California. Winemakers were licking their chops when fruit came in 'cause the fruit was big, ripe and there was lots of it.
When we visited St. Francis in February, we had tasted through the lineup. I hadn't tasted anything I was going to buy and take home, but overall their lineup was a solid representation of Sonoma wines. They poured the Claret as an, "oh, by the way just try this" as we're getting ready to leave.
I had the "omigod" response and immediately bought 6 bottles. Cashmere in a glass smoothness, plus sweet plum, black cherry, cedar and baking spices. The Hungarian, French and American oak impart yummy vanilla, baking spice notes with a kiss of sweetness. It's not just vanilla, it's french vanilla. I picked the St. Francis Claret as a Rick's Pick because the quality for the price is awesome (QPR). This is a great everyday drinking wine, especially if you like Bordeaux style blends like Elu.
Social gatherings used to be limited only to people in a single physical location like a bar or conference. Now social gatherings extend past the walls of one location to the online social sites where conversation around a single subject can be scaled up. “Tweetups” blur the lines between in-person and online participation. For businesses big and small, these global niche events — such as Mashable’s Social Media Day or St. Supéry's #Cabernet Day, can be a great way to target and connect with people around a single subject.
On September 2nd, St. Supéry winery used meetup.com to engage people around the world in a celebration of wine called #Cabernet day. Over a 24 hour period, over a thousand online wine drinkers and people at 75 real life meetups all posted messages across social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, Gowalla and YouTube.
Mobilizing a global audience online and offline can be organized by one or two people using these strategies:
Have one central RSVP page- Keep it simple by driving everyone to one single page. One page is easier to measure metrics from and it’s easier to organize one single event, even with multiple locations. Jazz the page up a bit by adding a Twitter stream of tweets featuring the hash tag. Popular RSVP sites for social events are:
Eventbrite.com – Eventbrite is a solid option for posting and tracking RSVP’s. Organizers can customize their page with graphics, Google Analytics, custom headers, links to the organizer and export tools for attendees to export to their calendar and announce it on their social sites.
MogoTix.com – Deliver tickets to attendees on their phones. MogoTix will text you an image of your ticket with a scanable QR code.
Establish a unique short hash tag- Hash tags are the thread that hold the online conversations together. They’re also what make a global conversation possible. Every tweet, Facebook post, location check in or blog post in any country can be tracked real time using Twitter Search, Tweetdeck, or Booshaka for Facebook. No matter where people are located, they can send or search posts using the hash tag.
Add the hash tag to the tagalus.com directory and open a search column in Tweetdeck to track the tag.
Engage participants- Online conversations work well when they’re extensions of in-person interactions. Facilitate satellite events in different cities. For #Cabernet, meetup.com/anywhere was used to schedule in-person gatherings in cities around the globe. In the meetup descriptions, attendees were prompted on what the bigger social media message was and which hashtag to use. For global events, it’s a good idea to make it a full day so “attendees” in different time zones can plan accordingly. Another great tool is Plancast. Plancast.com has a similar feel as Twitter, but instead of tweets you post plans. People can subscribe to your plans, and they can opt in.
Add a Twitter stream everyone can see- Duing the event, make the conversation visual. No matter how loud it is in a venue or a tweetup, you can still see what people are saying. Twitter streams are often projected onto a large screen to show the real time conversation. Twitterfall.com displays tweets with a keyword (you define) in a constant stream similar to a water fall. You can set more than one search term—each one will be color-coded.
Share the Love- If you want to witness the power of social media, give all sponsors, hosts and contributors visibility equally. You create a community-driven event where everyone has a vested interest in the overall success. Show the logos of contributors on the main (Eventbrite) page, so they in turn have a reason to promote the event to their community. The more they promote the event, the more they’ll collectively drive a larger audience to the main event page.
Have additional tools for engaging a global audience? Leave them in the comments below.
Thursday September 2nd is #Cabernet day on social media sites around the globe. A popular question I keep getting is “how do I be a part of it?” Here’s a few quick tidbits to give you the how and why of #Cabernet day:
1. Use the #Cabernet Hash Tag in Your Posts:
Post tweets, videos, Facebook posts, blog posts and check-ins including the “#Cabernet” hash tag on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Foursquare, Gowalla and others. This is one half of the conversation. You want to send out messages about Cabernet. For wineries, this can be content about your vineyard, winemaker, terroir, recipes, etc.. For wine drinkers, this can be what you’re tasting or who you’re tasting it with.
2. Search the #Cabernet Hash Tag:
If sending posts with “#Cabernet” is the first half of the online conversation, tracking the hash tag is the other half. It’s all about talking and listening, but using social tools to do it. On Twitter you can use Tweetdeck, Twitter Search, Google, Twitterfall, Radian6, JIVE, etc to see what people are saying.
Like Brian Solis says, Engage! You have hundreds, maybe thousands of people talking about Cabernet. Find people you want to connect with and engage with them. “Like” Facebook posts, RT tweets, share or reply to other people’s postings.
You have a captive audience all tuned in to the same thing. It’s an opportunity to form new connections online.
Why would you want to do this? A large, captive audience will be talking about the same thing at the same time. Technology allows us to find and connect with people we want to keep connected with going forward.