Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pairing with spiced duck

Yesterday I posted a recipe for Grilled Spiced Duck with Blackberry sauce and as promised, here’s the wines we had both the first night and with leftovers:

The first night we had it with the 2007 Simi Valley Petit Sirah, which we bought at a Black Friday cyber sale for half off - thanks to Scotchguy:

100% Petite Sirah; Inky, almost black in color with powerful flavors of intense, jammy fruits that mingle with dark chocolate and pepper. The tannins are firm and muscular creating a luscious mouthfeel and smooth finish.

It was FANTASTIC with it. The fattiness of the duck really needed a tannic wine and this was perfect with it. It really picked up the blackberry in the sauce and was complementary with the spice rub. If I recall, we poured the glasses about 30 minutes before we ate, so it got some air. If you're drinking it without food, I'd recommend at least an hour, but it really is a food friendly wine.

For leftovers a few days later, we had the 2004 Red Head Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, a selection from Gold Medal Wine Club:

Red Head Ranch sits on one of the oldest recorded vineyard sites in San Luis Obispo County, planted in Paso Robles by the Klintworth family over 100 years ago. This 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Petit Verdot, expresses Red Head Ranch's signature style: elegance and focus of fruit, producing wines that are supple and accessible. The wine press seems to agree, as Wine Enthusiast magazine names the wine among the Best of the Year and calling it "rich and robust, this soft, full-bodied Cab has a nice array of red and black cherry, black-berry jam, cedar and coffee flavors. Polished tannins help make it classy." The 2004 Red Head Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon was also awarded a Gold Medal at the Orange County Fair Commercial Wine Competition, in addition to a Silver Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. The Petite Verdot was of excellent quality in 2004, hence a greater percentage (25%) of the blend as compared with the previous bottling. Its addition to the wine adds robust character that has resulted in a more complex, cellar-worthy wine. Try pairing the Cabernet Sauvignon with braised lamb shanks, burgers, and anything off the grill.

It was excellent as well. Very smooth – the age of the wine smoothed out the Cabernet, but the 25% Petite Verdot and the 50% new wood adds some additional tannins that once again, go great with the duck’s fat.
Both wines had typical dark berry characteristics which went well with the blackberry sauce, and the cedar notes paired well with the spices used. I'd say I liked the Petite Sirah a bit more with the duck, but loved the Cab as well and it was possible to drink it without food. Its rare you can order a wine with so much age on it – actually I just checked the winery website and they are sold out of EVERYTHING! Guess I’m hitting GMWC’s website for some more!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Grilled Spiced Duck with Blackberry Sauce

A couple weeks ago Mr. Lush and I tried our hand at grilling a duck again. We’ve done it before, but duck is very fatty and it comes frozen solid, so it takes some planning. It actually came out fantastic, here’s the recipe. Stay tuned for the wine pairings tomorrow!

Grilled Spiced Duck with Blackberry Sauce

Blackberry Sauce: 
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 quart blackberries
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Mix vinegar with cornstarch. In a medium saucepan, boil the vinegar mixture over high heat until reduced by half, about 7-10 minutes. Add the blackberries and cook, stirring very gently, until they are just softened, about 3-4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the blackberries to a bowl. Add sugar and coriander and boil the liquid over high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 3-5 minutes. (this is a good point to pause if desired, you can resume this next step when the duck is off the grill and is resting before cutting) Carefully pour the accumulated juices from the blackberries in the bowl into the saucepan and boil for about 1-2 minutes longer. Season the reduction with salt and pepper.

Spiced duck

Take 1 whole duck, thawed (ours was about 7 lbs), skin on. Score with a knife in crosshatch pattern. (“score” in this case means really cut through as much of fatty skin as you can)

Mix together the following seasonings and rub all over duck:
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

Prepare grill/coals. Put drip can directly underneath duck and arrange hot coals around the pan. Grill the duck breasts side up for about an hour. The fat from the duck breasts will drip down through the rest and keep it moist, although be careful when you remove the duck from the grill – the fat will also sit in the cavity of the duck, so tilt it when you remove it so the fat drips to the pan. Transfer the duck to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve the duck with the blackberry sauce.

This was a slightly modified recipe from Food & Wine magazine - we used whole duck instead of duck breasts and tweaked the spices, plus we personally preferred the sauce without the blackberries, it was fairly sweet, but you can pour the sauce over the blackberries.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, May 20, 2011

An alternative for those of us who can't purchase a case of Silver Oak

Just got this email from, looks like they bought some of Silver Oak’s cellared wines…. While you likely could’ve always bought them from Silver Oak, its nice to see them on a general wine merchant site, so you can get one or two bottles and fill up a half case or case with something less costly. (for those of us who can’t afford a case of Silver Oak!)

From their email:

Today marks our most expansive and exciting Silver Oak Cellars offering. Beginning with Silver Oak's latest 2006 Napa Valley and Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon releases, we've also sourced an incredibly rare allocation of Silver Oak's library wines with vintages dating back to the early 90's, including Magnums, Double Magnums and 6 liter Impérial formats. Quantities are extremely limited and we strongly encourage collectors to make their selections as soon as possible. If you don't see some of these on our site, it means that we've sold out!

Twomey Too! With a dedicated following of its own, Silver Oak’s sister winery, Twomey Cellars, skillfully produces hand-crafted Merlot, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. By design, these wines are food-friendly and enjoyable upon release.

Click here to visit the site.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinqo De Mayo wine deals and recs...and tequila too!

Many think Cinqo De Mayo is just for margarita lovers, but I had a couple of wine specials hit my inbox today that I thought I’d share with you…. 

If you do want a wine today, I'd recommend a white spanish wine (for obvious reasons); a Verdejo or Albarino. Iff you're going for something spicy to eat, maybe a white blend from California that has a little bit of Viogner, Riesling, or Gewurztraminer in it, to balance out the spicy, with a little bit of Sauvignon Blanc, to pair with the cheesy goodness that most mexican food is known for. I'd recommend a few readily available at most grocery stores such as 7 Daughters, Shoofly Buzz Cut, Kendall Jackson Summation or Conundrum, althought that one is typically a bit more full bodied/closer to Chardonnay.
Now if you’re in the mood for a high class margarita or just something smooth to sip on, ScotchGuy recommended some good tequilas in a recent article, Some tequilas are worth sipping, not swigging. We gave El Espol√≥n Repasado a try and it’s excellent for the price (we got it for $18- a Resposado for $18!). We are margarita snobs - Jose doesn't even make it into the house - so we had it in our Lush Margaritas with Cointreau.