May 31, 2014 Breakfast Lax sandwich, Wine shopping, and Dinner Roasted tarragon chicken, coleslaw and steamed asparagus with Béarnaise sauce
I rode 13 miles and then I made us each a lax sandwich. I first toasted a piece of 9 grain bread and spread cream cheese on it and then sprinkled capers on the cream cheese and sliced a vine ripe tomato (Sprouts $.98/lb.) and then thinly sliced lax and then thinly sliced red onion. We ate in the garden and enjoyed the blooming water lilies.
I then went out for a series of errands that included voting and going to Trader Joes, where I bought a Josefina Rosé of Syrah ($5.99), two bottles of Le Ferme Julien rosé, two bottles of Tuella red from the Douro Valley of Portugal ($6.99) and a bottle of French Brut Rosé for $7.99.
Then I drove to Total Wine and bought 9 more bottles of wine (if you buy six of more bottles you get a 10% discount, so these prices reflect that discount: two Eguren Tierra Castillo tempranillo rosés for $6.29 each, a 2013 Marques de Riscal Rueda for $9.89, a Domaine Fontanyl Rosé de Provence, a 2013 D’Autrefois Rosé of Pinot Noir for $10.79, a Bougreier Famille Vouvray Chenin Blanc for $11.69, a Principessa Gavi di Gavi for $10.79, A Val Do Sosego Albarino for $13.49 and an Eguren Tierra Castilla Viura for $6.29 and a six pack of Mangers Irish Apple Cider ($7.49).
As you can see Total Wine’s selection of wines is more extensive and more interesting and the wines are generally more expensive. The only concern i have about shopping at Total Wine is that they have a lot of proprietary brands and when they help you pick a wine, they will try to lead you to their proprietary brands. Sometimes that is a good thing, because they have people who go out and find some great selections, but sometimes it is not. It is like learning to play poker by playing with pros; you will learn to play the game well but it will cost you a lot of money. In other words, you must learn to evaluate your specific tastes and learn how to make your own selections. It will make you a more knowledgeable wine drinker, but you will need to try a lot more wines. But, like learning a game like poker, that is how you learn anyway, so it should not be considered a negative. Just think about all the great and not so great wine you have drunk for the amount of money you devote to the endeavor. The only shortcut I can suggest is to find a type of wine you like, "Do you like reds or whites better? Then find a grape variety you like. Hopefully it will be a less popular grape. In our case, a couple of years ago we discovered the white grape, Chinen Blanc when Gruet produced a chinen blanc. I did some research and discovered that another bottle of French wine we had had at a fancy restaurant in Laguna Nigel was produced in Savennières, France and that the Savennières region along the Loire River was considered to produce some of the finest chenin blanc wines in the world along with Vouvray. So we took a trip to the Loire and drank our way up and down the Loire River Valley and found out that we liked the sparkling white Chenin Blancs with about a 2 to 4% residual sugar content the best. There are also some powerful still chenin blancs, that go great with food, but they are not as much fun to drink. In fact we discovered that we did not like the usual Loire sparkling roses, because in the Loire they usually mix cabernet franc instead of pinot noir to make their sparkling roses. And we found we are used to and preferred champagne made by mixing in pinot noir, our favorite red grape variety, to make rose.
So when I asked one of total Wine's wine counselors if they had any sparkling Chenin Blancs and we found out they did not, but she volunteered to inspect my selections, I think I got the seal of approval on my selections when she said, when she looked at my cart of wines, “You are ready for the Summer!”
Let me make a suggestion based upon my years of searching for the best rose wines. If you like rosé wine you should always try to find the freshest vintages, because they are fruitier and fresher tasting. They are made by bleeding off about 20% of the red wine juice after about 12 to 24 hours on the skins and are fermented separately in metal tanks, so, because they are usually not aged on oak, they are generally released with the whites from the middle to the end of May, so early June is a good time to look for them. The 2013’s are coming into the stores now and I found three or four of them today. Rosé is my favorite summer wine and it must appeal to many others because I am seeing more stores with rosé displays with lots of choices.
Before Suzette left for work we discussed dinner and decided that she would bring home a roasted chicken from the Greenhouse Bistro and Bakery. We also said we would fix a simple meal with the PPI pineapple and corn coleslaw and steam some asparagus.
When I returned from Total Wine, I chilled the Eguren Viura in the fridge. I really like Spanish Viura with roasted chicken because it has a complexity and dryness that complements chicken.
Around 7:00 we steamed ten stalks of asparagus and took the coleslaw and PPI Béarnaise Sauce out of the fridge and removed and heated up the two leg quarters of the chicken and in about ten minutes we dabbed a Tbsp. of Beranaise on the asparagus when we removed them from the steamer and were ready to eat. I have no objection to buying prepared foods when they are as good as we can make or better because that makes preparing a meal easier and quicker. Using one of the Greenhouse Bistro's roasted chickens was an easy choice because the large five to six pound chickens roasted at the Greenhouse Bistro ($9.99) are delicious and an exceptional value.
We had another great meal by the pool in the garden and then did a little gardening.