To Our Customers:
Otherwise, it is business as usual, doing what we do to make life a bit more pleasant and flavorful for our customers, while enjoying ourselves at it. What to say about 65 years of commercial activity? Perhaps, if we keep trying, we will get it down so that we can continue to offer high quality service and goods to our customers for, say, another 65 years.
The First Three Vintages of Tunkalilla Riesling from Oregon: 2008, 2009, 2010
This tiny vineyard in the Eola Hills of Oregon is owned by Ann and Brian Croser, the founders of Petaluma in South Australia. Tunkalilla is named for the beach on the Southern Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia adjacent to where they farm pinot noir and raise lamb. They thought turn about was fair play, since Petaluma–in Sonoma County–was used as the name for their Australian winery founded in 1976 in the Piccadilly Valley, South Australia. Tunkalilla, in the local Australian aboriginal Kaurna dialect means “place of many smells” due to the whale carcasses that used to wash up on the beach’s seven kilometers of shore.
Tunkalilla vineyard (a former Christmas tree farm, on the western boundary of Cristom winery, where the original vintages were produced) is at 600 feet above sea level at the opening of the Van Duzer Corridor, on Jory soil, Oregon’s highly prized red, basaltic soil. This soil absorbs heat during the day, reducing day temperature and releasing heat at night. Thus the vines are able to work the full 24 hours of the day, keeping the vines growing and producing fruit ripening hormones. Humidity is more than 50% during the afternoon reducing transpiration and vine stress, allowing the vines to fully ripen grapes at moderate sugar levels and high natural acids. The vines are grown without or with only minimal irrigation. I am pleased to offer these first three vintages made--and up to now, never sold.
Two point eight acres were planted to riesling at Tunkalilla in 2005 with five acres of pinot noir planted in 2008. Riesling is cane pruned on a vertical canopy, replacement spurs are left with 16 buds, and each shoot is thinned to one bunch of grapes.Tunkalilla 2008 vintage produced 250 cases with 13.14% alcohol, 0.96 % total acidity, ph 3.00, with 0.86% sugar. A cooler than average year produced wines with fresh aromas, delicately floral with a hint of citrus. Flinty and dry with fruit sweetness to balance.
Tunkalilla Reisling Wine 2008 $18.49 750ml (#2900)
Tunkalilla 2009 vintage produced 380 cases with 12.9% alcohol, 0.9% total acidity, ph 2.96, with1.15% sugar. Just cooler than average, and significantly warmer and earlier than 2008, this vintage has more peach and tropical fruit aromas and the flavor is richer than 2008 with higher sugar offsetting high natural acid.
Tunkalilla Reisling Wine 2009 $18.49 750ml (#2901)
Tunkalilla 2010 vintage produced 260 cases with 11.5% alcohol, 0.99% total acidity, ph 2.96, with 1.76% sugar. According to Brian Croser, this wine is “a pure expression of a unique terroir.”
Tunkalilla Reisling Wine 2010 $18.49 750ml (#2902) This trilogy of tunkalilla rieslings we are offering can also be had as a mixed case of 4 bottles of each vintage, just for tasting and watching their development.
Tunkalilla Reisling Wine Mixed Case (#2903)
They should have happy aging and be even better with more time in bottle. Of all the white wines that age well, riesling wines probably age the best. From the hands of a master like Brian Croser, we drinkers and the State of Oregon can only benefit.
This Chinuri from Iago Bitarishvili was a wine I tasted during the Qveri Symposium held at Alaverdi monastery in Georgia in October, 2011. Towards the end of our day of a delicious lunch, followed by visit to the State Viticultural Station at Saguramo, a group of us was taken to visit Iago’s winery in the village of Chardakhi, in the Kartli region, before going to Alaverdi.
We saw the traditional equipment in the small cellar and then were led to an ajoining cellar, where Iago ceremoniously opened for us his last qvevri for bottling filled with wine from 2010 vintage. It was this special Chinuri. (To see all of this, please just go to the Corti Brothers web site, www.cortibros.biz and click on corti tv. There are 487 photos and 81 videos of our five days in Georgia.)
The qvevri filled with this Chinuri 2010 is 300 years old and holds 150 liters, producing 150 bottles of wine. Chinuri is a Kartli region variety--a late ripening variety, producing flavorful wine with a greenish cast and almost exotic, fruity scents.
Foot trod in a traditional “satsnaheli,” (a hollowed out tree trunk used as a treading vat) and then fermented and aged in qvevri, this particular Chinuri was not fermented on its skins, but qvevri fermented and aged. The fifty year old vines that produced this wine should happily continue to produce fine wine for some time.
When the qvevri was opened, the first glass was taken out and drunk down by Iago before he allowed us to taste the wine. When I tasted it, I asked what the capacity of the qvevri was, and that I would buy the entire quantity. The wine was a marvel! Its greenish color was immediately attractive and its fragrance was beguiling: not just fruity but like an amalgam of scents and flavors that I had never experienced before.
Iago’s Chinuri will be available by the end of March. Unfortunately, the newsletter will have gone out before its arrival, but if you order this wine, it will be shipped directly upon arrival. Remember there are only 25 cases of 6 bottles available.
Iago’s Wine Chardakhi Chinuri 2010, 11.5% alcohol $19.99 750ml (#2904)
La Cucina Medievale: Lessico, Storia, Preparazioni
La Cucina Medievale is a unique book just published which deals in synoptic form with Late Medieval Italian cuisine, the basis of modern Italian cooking, as a lexicon, history book and recipe collection. There is one drawback: you must be able to read Italian. Written by Enrico Carnevale Schianca, it is 756 double columned pages and is in dictionary form. To give you a sample of what lies to be discovered in this book, there are 16 column pages of text on Pasta; 9 on the terms Olio and Oliva; 21 column pages on Salsa, and 16 on Vino. Seven thousand recipes have been examined from original extant texts, and 2500 terms have been selected and systematically compared. Recipes, when given, are all reproduceable and in fact unexpectedly pleasant to present day palates. All it takes, in the words of the eminent Terence Scully, is a “willing, open minded cook.”
The author has worked with the history of cuisine in Italy for more than 30 years. He is a member of the Study Center for the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, and a contributor to the scholarly Italian journal Appunti di Gastronomia edited by Claudio Benporat which unfortunately, at the end of 2012 will cease publication after 22 years.
If you are interested in Italian cuisine and read Italian, then, this book belongs in your library. If you do not read Italian, you probably should start learning. The book still belongs in your library.
La Cucina Medievale, Enrico Carnevale Schianca, 756 pp $89.00 plus tax (#2905)
The Colomba is the traditional Italian cake for Easter. The Focaccia is a different cake made for use during the Easter period and thereafter. The Veneziana is the everyday cake used in Venice and the Veneto for breakfast, snacking and dessert all year round.
For spring 2012, I have selected two different types of Colomba from the Loison catalogue to delight our customers. Of course, we have the classic Colomba which are in four sizes. The new types are the Colomba with Lemon Cream and Colomba with Zabaione. Both of these are made, as are all Loison products, using only the finest ingredients and without recourse to artificial anything. The Lemon Cream is a pastry cream, made as you would at home and flavored with lemon liqueur. The Zabaione is made from fresh egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala, again, just like homemade. Both of these creams are injected into the freshly made Colomba. The Colomba, Focaccia, and Veneziana will stay fresh for up to six months given the baking procedure and quality of ingredients.
Focaccia is the word for something baked. It is a sweet cake in this instance, not the savory flatbread. The dough is not baked with candied fruit. Instead, it has an almond topping. It is a wonderful base for making fruit desserts, Trifle, and other goodies needing a plain, somewhat firm cake base. There are two Veneziana, each made with the same base but two different ingredients: one is a cream of the famous Pistacchio di Bronte, the other is peel of the late Mandarin of Ciaculli. Both of these elements are Slow Food Presidiums since they are both rare and on the verge of extinction. Using these special ingredients helps to preserve them from becoming extinct.
The Focaccia ,Veneziana, and Colomba have wonderful applications with spring and summer fruit. They can be used very nicely as the base for desserts with sliced peaches, strawberries, or other fruit and whipped cream. Just slice the cake the thickness you like, layer with sliced fruit that has been slightly sugared to make a syrup, slather on whipped cream, let sit in the ‘fridge for a while (or make in the afternoon), slice, and serve. Their delicate flavor lends itself wonderfully to this kind of preparation. Since the breads keep very well, having several in the cupboard for quick summer desserts could be a real help.
Colomba Classica 1kilo, wrapped pink paper, candied peel, almond topping, $29.99 (#2906)
Colomba Al Limone 1 kilo, wrapped pink paper, lemon cream, almond topping, $32.99 (#2907)
Colomba Allo Zabaione 1 kilo, wrapped pink paper, zabaione cream, almond topping, $32.99 (#2908)
Colomba Nocciolata Alla Pesca 1 kilo, boxed, candied peaches, hazelnut topping, $33.59 (#2909)
Colomba Classica 750g, clear film wrapped, candied peel, almond topping, $27.29 (#2910)
Veneziana al Pistacchio di Bronte 750g, boxed, Bronte pistachio cream filling $32.99 (#2911)
Veneziana al Mandarino di Ciaculli 750g, boxed, bits of mandarino peel throughout the cake $32.99 (#2912)
Focaccia Mandorlata 750g, pink paper wrapped, almond topping, $18.99 (#2913)
Colomba Classica 3kg, clear film wrapped, $69.99 (#2914)
Colomba Classica 5kg, clear film wrapped, $108.49 (#2915)
Frankly, we have a stock of this tuna which I would like to reduce in size. Hence, this sale of it.
Ventresca is the most expensive cut of tuna corresponding to the “toro” tuna of sushi and sashimi. It is the tuna belly, the most delicate and delicious part of the tuna. We are going into warmer weather and season when this kind of tuna would be delicious as a dish by itself or as a major ingredient with good pasta. This sale is to get you to buy some Ventresca, try it, and then buy some more.
Consorcio Bonito Del Norte Ventresca Tuna 115g tin reg $15.59 On Sale $12.49 (#2916)
Consorcio Atún (Yellowfin) Ventresca Tuna 112g tin reg $ 8.99 On Sale $ 7.19 (#2917)
Save even more by the dozen:
Merken and Espelette : Chile Peppers with Differences
Chile peppers come from the New World. Before 1492–you all know what happened then–they did not exist anywhere except in the New World. After Columbus, chile went all over the world from Europe. In some instances, chiles returned to the New World completely changed. What would Hunan and Sichuan cooking in China be without them? What would Indian cooking, Thai cooking, and other “hot” cuisines be without them? I find it curious that no one asks what these cuisines were like before chiles.
I would like to introduce you to Merken and Espelette powder and sauce, all products of chile peppers but from different parts of the world. Merken comes from Chile, the country. Espelette, rather Piment D’ Espelette, comes from the French side of the Basque country in Europe.
In our Mid Summer 1999 newsletter, I wrote extensively about Espelette pepper. It was the first time we had imported it. I first experienced it in the fall of 1998, in its home in southwestern France. Firmly rooted in Basque culture on the French side of the Pyrennes, it is now controlled by an Appellation of Origin, one of the few peppers so protected due to its origin and flavor.
The Piment D'espelette we offer is available as a powder and as a salsa (sauce) made with a vinegar base. Very aromatic, with layers of scent, comprising a fruity, sweet, toasted tone of some intensity, it has a rich, round, deep flavor with heat present, lifting flavor, but not intrusive. Espelette’s hotness falls between bell pepper and Cayenne pepper. It is quite addictive.
Merken is a product of a very special Chilean grown pepper called “cacho de cabra,” goat’s horn pepper and is a traditional product of the Mapuche Indian culture of southern Chile. Unlike Espelette, Merken is a cultural phenomenon. Traditionally used by this indigenous people living in the Auracanía Region of southern Chile, its composition has only recently been codified. Each family made it slightly differently. The Origen Chilean Gourmet brand is a wonderful example of Merken.
Merken is a condiment rather than just a pepper as Espelette is. The peppers are harvested when red and ripe, dried, then lightly smoked to further reduce humidity, and blended with toasted coriander seeds and a little salt. Thus, its name of Mapuche Spice is very apt, since it is a blend of ingredients. It can be used just as is, sprinkled on different foods or used as the flavoring in sauces like Hollandaise, or deliciously, in mashed potatoes. Its light smokey quality and heat fits well with many dishes. Be imaginative.
Origen Chilean Gourmet Merken 50g Jar $6.49 (#2920) )
Capital Vintage Marmalade is a marmalade which Corti Brothers has made since 1980. Its name is a pun, both on Sacramento as the State Capital and vintage since it is marmalade which is aged in glass once bottled. In early February 2012, we produced the marmalade for this year. The recipe remains the same one from Mrs. Beaton’s 1866 cookbook.
We make two kinds: one from Sacramento Seville oranges, and one from Sacramento Bergamots. Both are made as simply as possible using only fruit, sugar and water. Both age very well, but are not for everyone. They are for connoisseurs of traditional marmalade, dark colored, deep flavored, and intense.
When produced--only from fresh fruit--the batch is then jarred and aged so that what you are getting is a very traditional style and not something which is just fruity and sweet. The cut is thickish, so the marmalade is chunky. It is also dark since we make it that way, and it darkens further with age, becoming more complex in flavor. It is exceptional and unique in trade.
The Seville Orange Marmalade is highly distinctive with its penetrating flavor. The Bergamot is unique since it has a completely different flavor profile: highly scented and more delicate than the Seville orange. If you like Earl Grey tea, then you will definitely like the Bergamot marmalade. The current production for sale is Seville Orange 2008 and Bergamot 2010.
Reine De Dijon French Mustards
It seems very difficult to find a traditional, pungent Moutarde De Dijon mustard. But from Reine De Dijon, a Dijon , France, based company, there is one that also has the appellation control of Burgundy since both the mustard seeds and the Aligoté wine used to make it come from Burgundy. I tasted this just recently at the San Francisco Fancy Food show together with a Moutarde Proençal, with red pepper and tomato, and I think they are both lovely products and deserve to be on your table. Let me warn you though, you might not want to go back to the Grey stuff ever again.
Reine De Dijon Moutarde De Bourgogne A.o.c. $3.99 7 Oz. Jar (#2923)
Reine De Dijon Moutarde Provençal $3.99 7 Oz. Jar (#2924)
Torre Bianca Tuscan Oils 2011 Harvest
For the second year, Matteo Mugelli, son of Marco Mugelli, the late, noted Italian oil expert who left us suddenly in August, 2011, has produced some outstanding oils from his estate, Torre Bianca, in San Casciano outside of Florence, using the innovative equipment and techniques that his late father had developed for making outstanding oils with high polyphenols and great flavor. The oils we offered last year were Matteo’s first solo production about which his father remarked, “I am very, very pleased with the results.” This year I have selected some oils which differ from the normal oils produced in this part of Tuscany. They are unusual, distinctive oils from a very difficult production year.
Much like California, where the production level was low and harvest difficult, Tuscany, and most of Italy, had the same problems. Poor flowering, cool weather, and rain at harvest put a damper on fine oil production. I have chosen Torre Bianca oils this year which are slightly softer and not so aggressive as Tuscan oils can be. We do not have a lot of these oils. If you want to experience some new tastes from Tuscany, here is your chance.
We have a Leccino which seems to have been the hit production this year. There were three Leccinos produced; I chose the one with the most typical characteristics of this variety: mildness, light fruitiness, and pleasant style, not an aggressive oil. This is for when you want oil that is flavorful but not aggressive. Leccio Del Corno, a unique cultivar, is very pleasant, with a great bouquet of spicy herbs. There is Misto, a blended oil of various cultivars (40% frantoio, 40% moraiolo, 20% leccino,) with a pleasant piquancy, (the “burn” in the back of the throat of extra virgin oils) and a notable flowery scent with a distinct artichoke tone, the hallmark of some great oils. The names of the oils are on the capsule, except for the Misto, which is blank.
Using freshly hand cracked eggs, Spinosi egg pasta (pasta all’uovo) is probably better than most homemade pasta. In fact, an Italian friend in the food business, seeing it in our store, commented: “You have everything! Even in Italy this is difficult to find and it is better than homemade.”
Recently, Corti Brothers has not been able to obtain Spinosi pasta. It is now back, and I recommend it to you for its delicacy of flavor, “snap” or texture, and cooking time. It takes a very short time to cook, so don’t overcook it. Its texture is wonderfully silky and its flavor is that of good durum wheat and fresh, deep colored yolk eggs. The color of this egg pasta is completely natural, its intense yellow coming from the deep colored fresh egg yolks. It might interest you to know that most other egg pasta is made with dried or frozen eggs rather than hand cracked, fresh eggs, as is Spinosi pasta.
Since spring is on its way, Spinosi pasta is imperative for pasta dishes made with new spring vegetables. I cannot think of a better accompaniment to thin, young asparagus, butter and cream for a splendid pasta dish. With spring morels, fresh peas, even beans, you would be hard put to find any pasta more conducive to making a superb dish. Using both the early produce from the garden and seafood, our Consorcio tuna for example, you have the makings of wonderful dishes with Spinosi egg pasta.
Spinosi is a company that has produced egg pasta since 1933 in the Marche, at Campofilone, in the province of Fermo, south of Ascoli Piceno, on Italy’s Adriatic coast. The cuts produced are tagliatelle, fettucine, pappardelle, tonnarelli, strozzapreti, tagliolini, the thin Spinosini, and square cut pasta called quadri and bentagliati, a take off on the pasta for “pasta e fagioli,” called “maltagliati.” I cannot recommend Spinosi pasta too highly. It comes in 8.8oz boxes, enough for 4/5 portions as a first course.
Please remember that Spinosi pasta, like all egg pasta, needs to be left slightly wet, not drained completely dry. Keep about a cup of the cooking water to add to the pasta, if necessary, when dressing, since it absorbs sauce quickly and will become dry. The added cooking water lessens this problem of the pasta seizing up when drained and drying up after absorbing the sauce..Spinosi Egg Pasta Long Cuts $10.99 8.8oz box:
Tagliatelle with Spinach (#2933)
Mature German Riesling
It seems that when it rains, it pours! We were just offered some mature German rieslings from their producer cellars and could not pass up the opportunity. I like mature riesling very much, and so do our customers. Here are four wines that should see us through a (possible) hot summer in fine fashion.
From the estate of C.H. Berres in Ürzig in the Middle Mosel, there is Ürziger Würzgarten Spätlese 1999 and Wehlener Klosterberg Kabinett 1998. Both wines have just been shipped from the estate cellars. Both are ready to drink and have that lively, vibrant flavor we like in Mosel wines coupled with great bouquet and delicacy.
Another wine is from a noted vineyard, Scharzhofberg, produced by the von Hövel estate, in Oberemmel in the Saar.
These three rieslings are ready for drinking, but are not getting old. In fact, the Scharzhofberg 2007 is a down right baby wine.
Ürziger Würzgarten Spätlese Wine 1999 7% $17.99 750ml (#2941)
Von Hövel Scharzhofberg Spätlese Wine 2007 8% $18.69 750ml (#2942) (#2942C)
Schloss Schönborn Erbacher Marcobrunn Spätlese Wine 1993 11% $97.49 magnum (#2943)
Tillen Farms Vegetables
Yes, I know we are going into spring and summer. Why do you want to tell us about jarred vegetables? Well, because they are probably better than what sometimes can be had fresh. Tillen Farms is a producer of jarred vegetables and cherries based in Washington state’s Yakima Valley. But I would like to tell you about two different products that are made to Tillen Farm’s specifications outside the United States.
Both are, new to the line: Haricots Verts Green Beans, and Crispy White Asparagus. Haricots verts are the slim, tender green beans found in France and the rest of Europe. They are really not available here except under special circumstances. But even in Europe, a lot of fresh haricots verts come, not from Europe, but from Kenya in Africa. When out of season vegetables and fruits hit Europe, they come mostly from Africa or the southern hemisphere, just as happens here.
Tillen Farms Haricots Verts come packed 140 or so, vertically positioned beans per 23.3oz jar, packed in water. Picked and packed to specification in Kenya, this is a vegetable which deserves to figure on your table. They are hand trimmed and packed in jars so that you only have to open the jar, pour out the water and used these thin green beans. They are cooked in the jar, and retain a definite, firm texture, that allows them to be used as fresh beans would be, or marinated for a salad. I can tell you they are, in any case, definitely better than out-of-condition raw green beans. When they are drained and heated carefully in some butter, you probably could not tell them from freshly cooked beans.
Tillen Farms Haricots Verts 23.3oz jar $6.99 jar (#2944)
Tillen Frms Pickled Crispy White Asparagus come packed in a pickle, tips down to insure no breakage. The pickle is a mild one with a bit of red pepper for liveliness. The 16oz jars contain pen sized thickness white asparagus grown and packed in Peru, where there are multiple growing seasons for asparagus, allowing for very high quality. The six inch long spears are peeled down to about two inches from the tip so there is a lightly crunchy and then tender character to each spear. The mild pickle contains a garlic clove, some chile pepper, and a bit of sugar in a white wine vinegar base. They have a delicious asparagus flavor. These are perfect for eating as they are or as part of a cold vegetable platter. If you have not tasted white asparagus, you should try these.
Tillen Farms Pickled Crispy White Asparagus 16oz jar $7.99 jar (#2945)
American Association of Wine Economists
Improbable as it may seem, the Association of Wine Economists (AAWE), is an important part of the discipline of Economics. Most people really do not equate wine with economics–more with business–but the study of wine really does imply the study of the other. There is even a learned journal, Journal of Wine Economics, published by this group of noted economists, whose president is Orley Ashenfelter of Princeton. The Journal is now published by Cambridge University Press. I note the AAWE and Journal in our newsletter since a lot of our customers may not know of their existence. I think both should be known to anyone who likes wine. The topics they deal with are of surprising importance.
The American Association of Wine Economists has an on-line presence, and the topics wine economists deal with can be fascinating. In the current Journal, an article entitled “Too Much of a Good Thing? Causes and Consequences of Increases in Sugar Content of California Wine Grapes,”deals with whether or not higher alcohol levels in California wines are mainly due to temperature or market demand. Read the article to find the answer.
Wine is not the only subject looked at by these economists. Beer, too, is fair game. The articles in the latest Journal deal with a number of fascinating beer questions, both at home and abroad. The Book Reviews are equally definitive.
The new series of AAWE Working Papers, deals with topics as varied as “The role of temporary involvement with appellation of origin in the purchase of wine”; “A Mathematician Meddles with Medals”; and “Quality Considerations for Coordination of the California Wine-Grape Supply Chain.” The titles may be academic, but the contents are fascinating.
Free access Working Papers can be found at http://wine-economics.org/workingpapers/ . The Journal can be found at http://www.wine-economics.org/journal/ . And one can become a member of the AAWE for $49.00 per year by signing up at http://wine-economics.org/membership/ . The managing editor of the Journal is Karl Storchmann of the Economics Dept of New York University.
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