Friday, October 17, 2014

Gregarious Cellars 2012 Release Party

I just discovered Gregarious Cellars during a trip to Pine Creek Nursery in Monroe, where they do tastings on the weekends. Pine Creek Nursery also does "Taste from the Garden" dinners during the summer and Gregarious Cellars is always there to pair their wines with the four course meal. We attended three of the dinners this year and got to try different wines each time. The dinners are only $40 per person and come with a complimentary glass of wine. Any additional glasses are extra.

Gregarious Cellars hasn't been around for very long but word of mouth is getting out there and their business has been steadily growing over the past couple of years. They've doubled their wine production in the last year. The wines are very impressive for such a young winery and it's no surprise that they have grown so much every year.

Two of their wines deserve special mention because they are wines I typically don't care for and actually ended up buying bottles of them.
  • 2011 Roussanne: A white wine that we actually preferred served at room temperature. Mark and I are not normally white wine drinkers though we drink it on occasion and we were talked into trying it at the first "Taste from the Garden" dinners we went to. It seemed very different from any white wine we've had before. It didn't seem to have as much acid. We liked it so much that we bought a bottle to bring home with us for $15. Before I move on to the 2nd one I also had to mention that the 2011 Syrah is fabulous. It is very peppery, just the way I like it. Unfortunately they are sold out of it and their 2012 doesn't have the same amount of pepper but they promise that with age that peppery taste I like will be there.
  • 2011 Merlot: If you know me, you know Merlot is probably my least favorite red. I don't like the dry chalky coating most of them leave in your mouth.  I tried Gregarious' 2011 Merlot during the release party paired with mushroom cream cheese puffs and wouldn't you know it, it was my favorite wine of the whole release party. They have very limited quantities so if you want a bottle you better hurry on down to Pine Creek and get one because as of last Friday they only had a case and a half left and I went home with a bottle for $25. I think I will store it for a year or so and see if it gets better with age.
They had a 2012 release party at Pine Creek Nursery where they served 6 different wine and food pairings all for free! My favorite bite was probably the dark chocolate brownie and as mentioned before. the 2011 Merlot was my favorite wine. The best food and wine pairing however probably went to the 2012 Cab Franc with Tuscan Bean Soup. We had the Cab Franc again at the last "Taste from the Garden". It was recommended as a good pairing for the entree which was pork tenderloin, butternut squash and potatoes and it was a good pairing indeed. It might be my next bottle of wine purchase.

There was a 2012 Red Blend that was paired with a sausage pizza that was pretty good too. The blend was actually created by a guy named Mike at one of their blending parties. They had a little contest to see who could come up with the best blend and he ended up winning. They may be doing another blending party next year so I'm going to have to keep my eye out for that, it sounds like a lot of fun.

Rosato and Hemplars Sausage
2013 Rosato and Hemplar's Sausage

Merlot with Mushroom Cream Cheese Puffs
2011 Merlot and Mushroom Cream Cheese Puffs

Cab Franc with Tuscan Bean Soup Mike's Red Blend with Spicy Italian Sausage Pizza 
Left: 2012 Cabernet Franc and Tuscan Bean Soup  Right: 2012 Red Blend and Spicy Italian Sausage Pizza

Cab Sauvignon with Hearty Beef Stew
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and Hearty Beef Stew

Gregarious Cellars Release Party

Be sure to follow Gregarious Cellars and Pine Creek Nursery on Facebook to find out about upcoming events.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Garden Carrot Soup

Garden Carrot Soup Recipe I've got a bunch of carrots in my garden that are over due for picking and thought a soup would be a good way to use them up. I coincidentally got an email from Blendtec today with a carrot soup recipe and was my inspiration for this recipe.

I normally make my own broths and stocks but I received a box of Aneto chicken broth from the swag suite at the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) so thought it would be perfect for this recipe. Aneto is all natural and doesn't contain any MSG or unrecognizable, hard to pronounce ingredients like many others do. Ingredient list only contains water, chicken, onion, carrot, leek, cabbage, celery and marine salt. This is stuff I would use to make my own broth and tastes just as good. Another thing I got from Aneto on the first night of IFBC is a nice personalized apron with my blog name on it.
Aneto Broth Aneto Self Portrait
Another item I picked up at IFBC was one of my favorite olive oils, California Olive Ranch. It's my go to olive oil and almost always have a bottle of it on hand. California Olive Ranch was at IFBC in 2013 too and did an olive oil tasting that opened my eyes to what makes a good and a bad olive oil and how to taste the difference. Olive oils don't age very well so it's important to get the freshest bottles you can and store them in a dark cool place. You always know what you're getting with California Olive Ranch because they put the olive harvest date right on the bottle so you know how fresh it is. I wish all olive oils had dates like that. It's just something to look out for when you're olive oil shopping. Most olive oils are imported from Italy so it's nice to know there is a good olive oil made right here in the US with olives grown in California.
Chopped Veg Blendtec

Recipe: Garden Carrot Soup

Yield: 6 Cups
Total Time: approximately 1.5 hours

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups peeled carrots, chopped
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary, chopped
  • 1.5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 box Aneto chicken broth or 4 cups homemade chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp thyme, dried
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425ᵒF.
  2. Add chopped carrots, apple, onion and rosemary to a 9x13 baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Bake until carrots are tender, approximately 45 minutes.
  4. Heat broth in a saucepan and add cooked vegetables, thyme, salt, pepper and celery seed. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Pour half or less of mixture into a blender jar and blend until smooth. Empty into another container and blend the remaining mixture in one or more batches.
  6. Add additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.
  7. Sereve, topped with a fresh herb garnish of your choice.