Tuesday, December 15, 2015


by Dwight Casimere

Healdsburg, CA--Dry Creek Vineyards has been making terrific Bordeaux style wines for decades. The Dry Creek appellation located 70 miles north of San Francisco Bay and just 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean offers the perfect combination of warm afternoon sunshine and cool, fog-shrouded nights and mornings for ideal grape growing. The valley's unique tapestry of soils, which combine Pacific tectonic plates with exposed fossilized marine material also adds to the lush, complex flavors of the wines. The combination of intense sun in the upper valley and cooler conditions toward the Russian River creates a daily cycle of heat and cool the provides grapes that are rich with crisp, fruity flavors with a balanced finish. 

One of the best examples of the rich, complex flavors from the winery, which was recently named one of the Top 100 Wineries 
Wineries of the World in 2015, is Dry Creek 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel ($30). 

The wine shimmers with a deep purple color with flecks of sapphire that glint like semi-precious stones. The first thing that grabs your attention is the aroma of exotic Middle Eastern spice; cardamom and a hint of star anise with white pepper almost prompting a sneeze. Black cherries and ripe plums account for the dominant flavors with blackberry and blueberry notes rounding into some  hints of baking spices from 16 months of aging in a combination of French, American and Hungarian oak. 

But, that's just where the flavor fun begins. The wine has a long finish with added hints of licorice, espresso and dark chocolate coming through with each sip. The longer this wine breaths in the decanter before serving, the more expressive it is n the palate.

Along with Roast Turkey or game meats, such as a Christmas Goose, Pheasant stuffed with chestnuts and fresh sage, or a Standing Rib Roast smothered in Rosemary, Dry Creek Old Vine Zinfandel will fit right in as part of the centerpiece for any Holiday table. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015



2015 Wine and Food Fall Gala Highlights Ideas for Holiday Entertaining

The Fireside Lodge  of the William Tell Holiday Inn in Countryside, Illinois was the perfect setting for a Holiday themed Wine and Food Fall Gala that featured area's best chefs paired with wine and spirits from the top producers around the world. All of the "big guns" of the wine world were on hand, including Nicolas Feuillatte Brut NV Champagne ($34.99), Terlato Family Pinot Grigio from Friuli, Italy (($19.99), Fess Parker Chardonnay from California's Santa Barbara County ($16.99), Davis Bynum's eponymous 2013 Pinot Noir ($32.99), and the outstanding 2012 Vina Robles Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, California ($22.99), Palazzo Della Torre from Allegrini in Italy ($19).

Top chefs paired their most sumptuous specialties with the wines, giving patrons a plethora of new ideas to grace the Holiday Table with standard items giving way to ethnic favorites prepared and served with a holiday twist. Chef Chen Villalobos of Cafe Salsa in Countryside prepared a variety of freshly made tacos, featuring flavors of Chicken Limon and Camarones A La Diabla (sauteed garlic shrimp in a spicy chipotle cream sauce), Natalie Espinosa of Bella Banquets set out a smorgasbord of Italian American favorites, Taste of Home Catering shared its opulent dessert display, as did TONI Patisserie and Cafe. La Buona Vita of LaGrange presented an array of Italian Antipasti and Emilio's Tapas of Hillside and Chicago served Spanish delights.   Among the visiting winemakers was Elio Pisoni of the Pisoni Winery of  Trentino, Italy and Marco Firriato from the Firriato Winery of Sicily's Mount Etna region. The international flavors abounded and gave attendees plenty of fresh ideas for enlivening their holiday meals with festive new offerings from around the globe.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Holiday Food and Wine Pairings Abound as Passport to France Welcomes Beaujolais Nouveau 2015!

In the face of the tragic events in Paris on November 13, 2015, Passport to France was the definitive culinary event marking the release of Beaujolais Nouveau 2015.Top Chefs from more than 60 bistros, brasseries and restaurants, as well as bakeries, cafes, and cooking schools turned out at the prestigious and elegant Union League Club of Chicago to create a pre-Holiday Wonderland of wine and food pairings.

Presented by the French-American Chamber of Commerce, Passport to France was the closing night of the first edition of A La Carte Chicago, a celebration of ciontemporary French food, wine and art de vivre a la Francaise. The second edition of the Chicago French Food Guide 2015 debuted at the event, reflecting the desire to foster the discovery of French restaurants and food purveyors.

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2015 ($9), was the star of the show. The first arrival of wine from the new harvest is celebrated around the world, and this year's arrival was not dampened by the events of 11/13, but only heightened its significance. A sold-out event featured this bright, fruity expression of a wine that is perfect for the Holiday Day, with its panoply of flavors and culinary expressions. Beaujolais Nouveau announced itself with a lovely bright purple color, rimmed in crimson red, which is only a mask for the rich, red fruit flavors that lie beneath; ripe wild strawberries, red currants and the aroma of raspberries,  violet flowers and crushed rose petals. The wine has just a hint of cinnamon spice and cardamum, which makes it an excellent accompaniment to the savory herbed and spiced dishes of the Holiday Table, such as Turkey and Sage Dressing, Mac 'N Cheese, Cranberry Relish,  and Candied Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potato Pie, but an excellent companion with ethnic dishes that have worked their way into the lexicon of the traditional holiday meal due to the great diversity of America.

Passport to France offered a dizzying array of culinary treats with copious pourings of wines, sparkling wines, aperitifs and other libations, including  Luxury Spirits, featuring such premium delights as Angel's Envy artisanal, hand-finished Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Boisset Collection of unique wineries from diverse Franco-American terroirs, , CH Distillery, Chicago's only distillery making grain-to-bottle Vodka, Gerard Bertrand, dedicated to the art of wine as expressed in the unique terroirs of the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France and the gastronomic riches of the South of France and its Mediterranean Art de Vivre, Heavenly Spirits, from Daniel and Christine Cooney, promoting French Cognace, Armagnac and Calvados appellations, and Illinois Sparkling Co., the independent craft winery obsessed with making amazing sparkling wines.

Some of the culinary delights and Chefs included Bistro Zinc, serving up Lamb Stew with Cumin Carrots and Roasted Eggplant Puree, a terrific accompaniment to the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2015, Chef Dominique Tougne of Chez Moi, Bistro Dre's delicious interpretation of Lentil Soup, Executive Chef/Proprietor Marco G. Conte and his unique blend of Italian and French specialties at Cafe Amano, Christopher and Lucia Ala of Hemmingway's Bistro, Executive Chef/Ower Martial Noguier of Bistronomic with a phenomenal  fresh smoked lox with crispy carrots and vinaigrette glaze, and Pierre Olivier of Gerard Bertrand and his L'art de Vivre Les Vins Du Sud and his sparkling Rose' in a unique bouquet-of-roses bottle.

Not to be forgotten, the dizzying array of pastries and desserts from Alliance Bakery and Alliance Patisserie, Belgian Chocolatier Piron, Cafe Amano, French Quarter Biegnets, French Pastry School, La Biulangerie, La Fournette, Leonidas, Vanille Patisserie and Vosges Haut-Chocolat, among others.

Lentil soup from Lincoln Park's Bistro Dre

Pierre Olivier, Account Manager, Midwest, Gerard Bertrand and (below) the Bouquet-of-flowers sparkling Rose' bottle
Sir Quinn of College of DuPage
CBS 2 Chicago's Jim Williams and wife, Joyce

Dominique Tougne of Chez Moi, A Unique French Bistro

Hot biegnets from French Quarter Biegnet
Mark Fularon, the coolest guy in the room
Marine Royer, Diva Wine USA with Raymond wines of Napa Valley
Dan Keller and Margaret Holekampof Deutsch Famiy Wine and Spirits present Beaujolais Nouveau

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2015

Lori Cosley Independent Wine Ambassador to Boisset Collection

The chocolate Macaron tower of Vanille Chicago

Passport to France: A cornucopia of food and wine pairing ideas

                                                   Executive Chef/Owner Martial Noguier of bistronomic