Cherry Clafoutis Celebration: Vive La France ūüáęūüá∑

The French people had lots to celebrate over the past weekend:  the victory of the French national football team, commonly known as Les Bleus, in the FIFA finals as well as their traditional July 14 Bastille Day holiday.    Invited to celebrate over dinner with friends, I couldn’t resist making the quintessential French dessert of Cherry Clafoutis.

Surprised to not find a recipe in my library of cookbooks I turned to the internet and found one I liked by SimplyRecipes.  Here’s their recipe:

Ingredients

2 cups of fresh sweet cherries, pitted

2 tablespoons of blanched slivered almonds

3 eggs

3/4 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of brown sugar

1/2 cup of an all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of milk

3/4 teaspoon of almond extract and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

Powdered sugar for dusting

Method:

  1.  Butter and flour baking dish, scatter with cherries and slivered almonds. Preheat oven to 350’ F
  2. Make batter with eggs, sugar, salt and flour
  3. Add the milk, almond extract and vanilla extract
  4. Pour batter into the baking dish over the cherries and slivered almonds
  5. Bake at 350’ F for 35-45 minutes or until lightly browned
  6. Remove from oven and cool
  7. Dust with powdered sugar to serve.

I tweaked the recipe a little by reducing the amount of sugar, adding the almonds to the food processor and puréeing them with the batter ingredients, and using half cream and half milk.    I used an apple corer to remove the cherry pits, which left much of the cherry intact and looking good.    The  result was a creamy and not too sweet baked cherry custard and the verdict was overwhelmingly positive: delicious in fact!

This is the season for cherries.   British Columbia cherries are so sweet and full of flavour at this time of year that a Cherry Clafoutis is a great way to enjoy them cooked.

The question is:  what wine would I select to serve with this?  In keeping with the celebration,  my inclination would be a French wine, either a sparkling rosé or a light Beaujolais, fruity and lively.

I made two Cherry Clafoutis with one in the freezer, ready to be enjoyed at a later date.    When I serve that one  I will decide on which of these wine choices to serve.   Other wine suggestions are welcome!

Bon Appétit

 

Reference

For full recipe details check out the Cherry Clafoutis Recipe at http://www.simplyrecipes.com

 

 

 

elizabethsvines 2015 through the rear view mirror

 

We are in the in-between zone, that time between Christmas and the New Year: recovering from the wonderful festive time and not yet in the grip of New Year resolutions. Sometimes, these few days can provide an opportunity to catch up on outstanding items. For now, it’s a time for reflection.

This includes reflecting on elizabethsvines. I look back at my 10 published postings over the year. My aim is always to write about wine in the context of art, music, literature, science, recipes for cooking, history, restaurants and about wine as an expression of culture, as in the Confréries in France.

In 2015, my wine repertoire includes the Bergerac Wine Region in SW France, a specific British Columbia wine and references to particular South African wine, to Champagne, Port and hot punches (aka the Dickensian Smoking Bishop). It’s a personal focus.

Here are a few updates related to wine stories I have written about in 2015.

JAK Meyer of Meyer Family Vineyards in Okanagan Falls in British Columbia has mentioned to me that their Pinot Noir is now available in 169 stores across the United Kingdom with Marks and Spencer, the food retailer. This is an exciting development for this British Columbia winery. Last February, I wrote about their wine in: ‚Äú From Terroir to Table: Meyer Family Vineyards wines from Okanagan Falls, British Columbia to Mayfair in one leap‚ÄĚ.

Klein Constantia Vin de Constance and Warre‚Äôs Port which I wrote about last January in ‚ÄúThe Wine Ghosts of Christmas Past (with a toast to Charles Dickens)‚ÄĚ, were featured in the menu for the October 20th State Dinner at Buckingham Palace for the President of China, Xi Jinping. More specifically, the Palace menu includes Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2008 and Warre‚Äôs Vintage Port 1977.

In April, when I wrote, ‚ÄúBergerac Wine Region ‚Äď Chateau Le Tap addresses customer interests‚ÄĚ, I jokingly referred to Bertie Wooster of P G Wodehouse fame and his apparent love of ‚Äúhalf bots‚ÄĚ of wine and commented on a noticeable consumer interest in smaller bottles of wine. This consumer interest was brought home to me again the other day in a supermarket in Paphos, Cyprus when I saw on display a large selection of wine being sold in small wine bottles between 187 ml to 200 ml.

Small bottles of wine meet consumer interests - Paphos , Cyprus

Small bottles of wine meet consumer interests – Paphos , Cyprus

I hope you have found the 2015 posts informative, interesting, perhaps entertaining. I am always interested to know.

In the spirit of Robbie Burns 1788 poem, Auld Lang Syne, let’s raise a cup of kindness. ¬†Best wishes for 2016.

elizabethsvines

South Okanagan Valley Wines, British Columbia, Canada: Letting the photos tell the story

“Tell me more about B.C wines”, a friend said recently. ¬† “Funny you should ask”, I say to myself as I put fingers to the keyboard to add a post about wines from the South Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.

The tourist industry marketers call B.C.: ¬†“Super, Natural British Columbia.” ¬†¬†The Okanagan Valley is such an area of natural beauty that this time I’ve decided it’s easier to let the scenery tell its own story and that of the wines. ¬†We have some particular wine favourites and I am going to mention these as well as mention some new wine acquaintances as we progress with a few photos.

In 2013, I had the opportunity to go to the Okanagan twice: ¬†once to the Wine Bloggers’ Conference held in Penticton on Lake Okanagan and again for our annual September visit to the South Okanagan around Oliver and Osoyoos. The South Okanagan is about a four to five hour drive eastwards towards the Rockies from Vancouver. ¬†Once we drive beyond Hope, literally the name of the last small town, where we have a coffee before starting the main part of the journey, it’s mountains, forests, grassland, and wild sage hillsides until we finally see the vast Okanagan Lake.

Many people don’t realize that the Okanagan is home to a desert. ¬†The Sonoran Desert extends from Mexico all the way into British Columbiia in the South Okanagan, continuing past Osoyoos Lake to Skaha Lake and west up the Similkameen Valley. ¬†This “Osoyoos Arid Biotic Zone” ¬†accounts for the semi arid climate and hot and dry summers where it can reach 104 degrees in Oliver and mild winters making Osoyoos Lake the warmest fresh water lake in Canada. ¬†The desert has plants and animals that are found nowhere else in Canada. The Okanagan Valley is home to the First Nations of the area and Osoyoos is an Aboriginal word meaning the narrowing of the Lake.

Grapes have been grown in the South Okanagan as far back as the late 1800s but it is only in the recent past that the 100 miles of the Okanagan Valley have gained international attention for the quality of the wines produced here.   The arid climate with sunny days and cold nights is ideal for the wine industry.  With typical Canadian low-key friendliness, the many wineries welcome visitors to their tasting rooms.

These photos tell the story of the geography and start with a map of the area.

The Okanagan is known not only for wines but also for the quality of restaurants and fresh produce; peaches, apricots, cherries, and many vegetables. We have several favourite restaurants in the area that are attached to wineries. ¬†At the Terrafina restaurant at Hester Creek we like their Merlot. ¬† ¬†At the Miradoro restaurant at Tinhorn Creek, the Oldfield Series 2 Bench Red, a Bordeaux style wine, is a new find adding to our good experience of Tinhorn Creek wines and is excellent paired with Miradoro’s flank steak. ¬† ¬†At the Sonora Restaurant at Burrowing Owl, we have discovered their Athene red – a blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon – a delicious, rich wine. Burrowing Owl’s Pinot Gris has long been a favourite of ours.

Finally, a few more photos from wine tastings in the South Okanagan last year. ¬† ¬† A long time favourite is Osoyoos Larose, a classic Bordeaux blend made through a partnership between Groupe Taillan in Bordeaux and Constellation Brands in Canada. ¬†The “Le Grand Vin” is a bold red with hallmark Bordeaux structure and complexity. ¬† ¬†We only recently discovered See Ya Later Ranch in Okanagan Falls and their wines. ¬†I particularly enjoy their ros√© which is a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir with lots of fruit aromas. ¬† ¬† Back on the bench lands, ¬†we visited Black Hills Winery. ¬† ¬†Noted for their Note Bene red, ¬†we also liked their very drinkable Alibi, a white wine blend of Sauvignon Bland and Semilllon with citrus and tropical fruit flavours. A new discovery last year has been Clos Du Soleil, a certified organic winery in the Similkameen Valley making a small quantity of high quality wines.

The South Okanagan continues to develop as a destination for its natural beauty and related outdoor activities and wine tourism.   It is popular with both British Columbians and Albertans and visitors from across North America and increasingly from other parts of the world.    Our verdict:  an area we really enjoy that is definitely worth a visit.

References:     See Ya Later Ranch  www.sylranch.com

Burrowing Owl  www.bovwine.ca     Tinhorn Creek  www.tinhorn.com

Hester Creek  www.hestercreek.com

Osoyoos Larose  www.osoyooslarose.com

BC Official Tourism and Travel website:   http://www.hellobc.com    Map of the Okanagan Corridor courtesy of the Tourism website.

Vancouver International Wine Festival, British Columbia, Canada, February 25 – March 3, 2013

Vancouver International Wine Festival 2013

Vancouver International Wine Festival 2013

The double doors open into a dimly lit meeting room of the Vancouver Convention Centre and in pour 100 wine aficionados, eager to taste the best of the pick at the Meet Your Match wine seminar hosted by Anthony Gismondi, wine columnist for The Vancouver Sun newspaper.

This is day 6 of the 35th Annual Vancouver International WIne Festival, this year celebrating California Wines and Chardonnay from around the world.

At the Meet Your Match seminar 10 international winery principals with their chosen wines sit at individual tables to greet the seminar participants divided into groups of 10. ¬† Argentina, Australia, Canada (British Columbia), France, Germany, the United States (California) are represented here. ¬† ¬†The event is choreographed so that the groups circulate clockwise from table to table after 8 minutes with each winery principal; ¬†each rotation signaled by the ringing of a bell. ¬† ¬†Standing to one side, it feels as though I am watching people dancing in slow motion around the perimeter of the room. ¬† Modelled on speed dating concepts, where people move from table to table meeting new people, it’s a popular event; ¬†fast paced and lively with great wines presented by the winery principal and often the winemaker. ¬† ¬†The sound of clinking glasses and general laughter increases with each rotation around the room.

This is my third event this day as a volunteer wine pourer. ¬† I’m asked to assist at the Sebastiani table where Mark Lyon, Winemaker is going to present Sebastiani’s Cherryblock Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. ¬† The first group of 10 people approach the tasting table where each small group will take up 2 rows in front of the winemaker. ¬† Mr. Lyon asks me to pour tasting glasses for the people in the 2nd row for each of the 10 groups he will present to during the event. ¬† This gives me a unique opportunity to learn about the Sebastiani Winery and the Cherryblock Cabernet Sauvignon by listening to his presentation about the history of the parcels of land, the cherry orchard pedigree, the grape varieties and the soil type.

The original block of old vines was planted on 10.8 acres of Sonoma Valley countryside in 1961 and 1962 by August Sebastiani.    In 1985,  Mr. Sebastiani renamed the estate Cherryblock with reference to its former life as a cherry orchard.    Replanting of sections of the vineyard that succumbed to phylloxera commenced in 1997.    The vines grow on Terra Rosa soil which is volcanic, rocky with low fertility yet good natural drainage.

Originally a single-vineyard designation, the Cherryblock Cabernet Sauvignon is now a proprietary blend supported by vines from nearby vineyards with similar Terra Rosa soils.  The wine is a Bordeaux style blend:  Cabernet Sauvignon (80 Р90%), with other Bordeaux varieties,  Malbec (0 Р15%), Merlot (0 Р10%), Petit Verdot (0 Р5%) and Cabernet Franc (0 Р5%).   The percentages vary relative to the vintage.    The blend produces a dense, structured wine with aromas of cherries, cassis, cranberries, cedar, leather, dried leaves. The Sonoma Valley climate is warm enough to ripen the Cabernet Sauvignon yet cool enough to retain the balance and acidity necessary for great wines.

Beneath these descriptions, ¬†I hear Mark Lyon’s passion for his craft, his knowledge and attention to the science of winemaking and the art and perhaps alchemy of each year’s

Vancouver International Wine Festival 2013

Vancouver International Wine Festival 2013

vintage together with his enthusiasm for making beautiful wine.   At the end of the event, when the participants have drifted happily away, I taste the Cherryblock Рa sublime experience of tasting a dense, greatly satisfying wine that according to Mr. Lyon will be even better in 5 years time.

The 2013 Vancouver International WIne Festival was attended by over 25,000 consumers.  175 wineries from 15 countries were represented together with 62 wineries from the theme region, California.

References:

Sebastiani Vineyards and Winery:    www.sebastiani.com

Vancouver International Wine Festival 2013: http://www.vanwinefest.ca

The Colours of Rose – South Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada

Okanagan Valley vineyards

Okanagan Valley vineyards

IMG_2984  Road 13 Winery, South Okanagan

Driving up the hill on Road 13 to the eponymous Winery in the South Okanagan Valley, we were in for quite a surprise. ¬† ¬†This wasn’t the usual West Coast timber and glass winery tasting room. ¬† A whimsical, tongue-in-cheek building that looks like a “cardboard castle” awaited us – a take-off on the classical wine chateau. ¬† As the photo shows, ¬†its all castellations, rounded and pointed towers and even the front door looks like a draw bridge!. ¬† We loved the humour of it.

Once inside, it’s clear there’s no joking about the quality of wine. ¬† The same innovative approach to its building seems evident in the Road 13′s winemaking practices.

We had decided to go in search of this winery after tasting their Rose earlier in the summer last year. ¬† The name was added to the list of “Must Sees” for the annual visit to the Okanagan.

Road 13’s Honest John’s Rose has that vibrant, crimson colour of merlot based Rose wines, ¬†reminiscent in a way of the Bergerac region Rose that we like. ¬† Honest John’s presentation is upbeat and optimistic from its colour and bottle labelling to its intriguing and refreshing flavours not only of soft fruit but also of spice!.

Spending time in the Tasting Room and exploring the Rose further provided the answer to our question of what was the blend of grapes used. ¬†It turned out that Merlot was only a part of the picture. ¬†The main components of the blend are Gamay and Pinot Noir followed by Merlot. Road 13 also adds white grapes to their blend with Viognier and just a hint of Chenin Blanc. ¬†Syrah, Rousanne and Malbec are also included in small percentages. ¬†Perhaps this is an unconventional blending and no doubt adds that “something interesting” to the taste that we liked.

While Rose is typically thought of as a great summer sipper,   Rose delivers on flavour and freshness at any time of year, if it is served lightly chilled so the range of flavours comes through.   This wine would be no exception.

Outside Canada, ¬†blank looks are the usual reaction to information about British Columbia’s wine areas. ¬† Surely BC is known for its skiing not its wine! ¬† Little do people know that beyond the coastal mountains surrounding Vancouver lies the spectacular ¬†Okanagan Valley with its vast lakes, ponderosa pines, fragrant sagebrush and desert areas where vineyards share the land with cherry, apricot and peach orchards. ¬†It’s a magical place. ¬† No wonder the whimsical castle at Road 13 Winery feels right.

References

Road 13 Winery: check out the website and tasting notes

http://www.road13vineyards.com

British Columbia Wine areas.   Super, Natural British Columbia Canada.  check out the extensive information.

http://www.hellobc.com