Domestic (Ostrich) Disappointment

A few years ago I traveled to South Africa.  In addition to having some of the best wine in the world, I enjoyed some of the best meat I’ve ever had.  One of my two favorites was Ostrich.  It was so lean and had a very unique flavor.  So when I got home I searched and searched.  You can occasionally… find it, but for a price.

I was recently able to get some.  Cheaper than before.  Ok, it was $40/lb. They sell it in 8 oz. packages for $19.99. Yes, GULP!   And it was ground, so we were making burgers.  My rationale on buying this stuff. You go to a restaurant and spend $10-$15 for a (beef) burger.  You buy the Ostrich, it’s $10 a burger and it’s good, healthy unique meat.  Then you serve your own good wine with it. That’s cheaper, or can be so, than wine per glass in a restaurant (which you wouldn’t likely order with a burger anyway in a restaurant) and get healthy sides vs. fries.  Perfect rationale, right?  You also don’t have to include tax and tip.

So it was purchased, we grilled.  Served it with kale chips and one of the great Trader Joe’s grain blends…oh and an amazing red!  Took a bite of the Ostrich meat. Really, that’s not what I had in South Africa.  I know it’s farm raised here and I was beyond disappointed.  But, you learn by trying and it was worth the experience.  To the next taste test.

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Newbies

Always great to pop a new cork or have somebody pour you a new brew.  The two most recents…

Was in Rehoboth Beach so had to of course visit one of my favorite breweries, Dogfish Head.  They have some brews on tap they you can only get while standing under that roof.  The one I opted for was the QuatroSanque.  ‘an intensely citrusy IPA made with blood orange juice, sliced lemon and orange zest. Dark and medium crystal malts provide a deep amber color and sweet caramel/toffee notes to balance the the tartness of the citrus. Generous dry-hopping with Centennial and HBC431 dry-hops at a massive 2 pounds per barrel pushes the citrus and tropical juiciness to the next level. ‘  7.25% ABV (served in 10 oz. pours).  This stuff was smooth, not too hoppy and just refreshing.  I was close to buying a growler…

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LAM Pinotage.  A bit earthier than normal, some tobacco in there, had minimal leather and smoke notes, but very interesting.  I tasted some fizz, but it was a ‘normal’ bottle.  It was a VERY light red.  Was definitely the most unique Pinotage I’ve tasted.  About $20/bottle.

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Ultimate Pinot Party

I’m part of a Meetup group that is in love with wine and hosted an event last night with the theme — Ultimate Pinot Party.  Guests had to bring a wine related to Pinot — Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinotage, Pinot Gris/Grigio/Blanc, etc.

Quite the selection came to the table.  I think the breakdown was roughly

3 Pinotage (my favorite, love South Africa)
Many Pinot Noir (Mendocino, Napa, Willamette Valley, other)
Pinot d’Alsace a blend of 3 Pinots: Blanc, Gris, Noir and Auxerrois
Pinot Meunier
Pinot Grigio
Pinot Blanc

There were likely a few others.  Some of them were empty come the end of the night!  Amazing to smell and taste the differences in vintages and regions, and of course varietals.  Cheers!

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South Africa or Spain?

I think I’ll have them both, if you don’t mind.  While enjoying a couple of the recipes I’ve posted recently, my friends were so kind as to bring over some great wine to pair with the food!  So, of course we had to open them.

One was simply masked in a nice Williams Sonoma bag.  I pulled it out and could not have opened that bottle fast enough.  It was my favorite varietal — Pinotage, from South Africa, of course!  Oh Pinotage, how I love thee.  I was so happy it was a  screw top to quickly open it.  My only problem was that I did not have a (wine) glass at my fingertips.  It was the Spier (Signature) Pinotage.  It had very nice fruit to it, though it did not hold the traditional smokiness of Pinotage.  It was light and had great character.

Then we decided to open the second bottle to do some comparison.  This was from Spain, the El Burro Kickass Garnacha.  Love the name.  And let me tell you, it lives up to it.  The first thing I tasted was chocolate!  There were also some berries in there.  Nowhere did they mention chocolate on the label, but even having some the next day…chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.  Amazing.

It was a great evening of friends, wine and food.  Can never go wrong with that.

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New Pinotage

Pinotage is one of my favorite wines with that smokey nose and taste.  Then, the subtle leather notes, as well.  And, whenever I can find it in the States, it is always a bonus.  Sometimes it can be hard to get, or you always find the same ones.  So, when in CO the past week or so, I got totally different distributors than what I am used to in DC, MD and VA.  I came across a Pinotage I had never seen before — Barista (2012) Pinotage.  The name itself does it justice — Barista — coffee.  It also has the traditional notes of Pinotage with the smoke, subtle leather and some fruit.  It was in the mid-teens, price-wise.  If you’re looking for a looking for a new wine and/or are a fan of this varietal, totally try it (assuming you can easily find it).IMG_1781[1]IMG_1780[1]

Multiple Continents of Tastings

I figure since you can’t easily travel the world (time, money, etc), why not just grab a bottle of wine to check it out.  So, the past few weeks I’ve explored most of the world.  Between the Georgian wine I posted about recently (have some new bottles to be opened soon…) I have also checked out the following great vinos…

1) Chateau St. Jean, Pinot Noir, CA — (though this is Sonoma, think of Napa and support the locals by buying a bottle of Napa wine.  They’ve had aftershocks after the big quake on Sunday.) Amazing, amazing CA Pinot — cherry and some leather.  Was enjoyed with salmon.

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2)  Phebus, Malbec (Reserve), Mendoza, Argentina.  Very nice.  Berries, some chocolate.  Can find it for about $10.

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3) Klein Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa.  Light, pineapple, peach and grass notes.  Great for enjoying on a sunny afternoon or with fish or salad.  And, screwtop for easy access.  About $12.

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4) Pfeffingen Weilberg Riesling, Germany. (Note: that site doesn’t stay in English the whole time)  Nice and dry!  Some stone fruit, various other amazing mineral flavors.  Paired it with a pea and garlic gazpacho with grilled chicken.  Perfect!  It’s been in my wine rack for awhile so not sure the cost, but online I’m finding about $30.

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African Meat Tastings

When on my trip to South Africa, I was able to try several meats I had never had the opportunity to sample before.  I wanted to take every opportunity I could to go local with what they had.  I was about 50/50 on them.

First was a Kudu loin.  It was served grilled with a cranberry & carrot sauce, spicy parsnip shavings, roasted garlic polenta, and these DELICIOUS, addictive sesame brinjal batons. I didn’t actually know what brinjal was until writing this post and looking it up.  It’s eggplant, just the name they use for it in South Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia (you learn something new everyday).  The meat was very, very chewy.  Glad I tried it, not my favorite.

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Next one I tried was a Springbok Carpaccio.  It was a bit ‘tasteless’ — but still nice to have a wild game carpaccio!

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Third new meat I tried was Ostrich.  Super healthy/lean.  According to the American Ostrich Association (there is an association for everything…), “ostrich is similar in taste, texture and appearance to beef. It’s comparable to beef in iron and protein content, but ostrich has less than half the fat of chicken and two-thirds less fat than beef and pork. Ostrich beats the competition with fewer calories, too. That’s why ostrich is the choice of health-conscious consumers who refuse to sacrifice flavor.” It’s tough to determine if this falls under poultry, game or other, but it is classified as red meat.  What I do know is that I loved it!  So lean, tasty and I wish we could easily get it here!  I did research when I got home and the couple places in the DC-area who used to carry it can’t get it anymore because at last count it was $60/lb.  Ouch!

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The last one I tried that was unique was Warthog.  OMG!  AMAZING!  Get me a warthog farm here in the States.  I can’t begin to describe how flavorful this stuff was.  Unreal.

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Another great part of the trip — some unique food to South Africa, some of which we can’t get here in the States.  Just another reason to go back.

 

SA Winery Visit #4 — Muratie

We were very fortunate on our winery tour because there were only 3 people in the group (vs up to 16).  Our guide was also amazing.  Based on the great blend of people, the guide made sure that we fit 4 wineries into the day and finished the outing with an amazing vineyard.  The close the tour, we visited Muratie in the Stellenbosch.

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It’s one of the oldest estates in South Africa and that is evidenced by the amazing wine, stories and other things you see.

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IMG_0509They have not cleaned spider webs off some things to maintain ambiance…nice.

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At Muratie we were once again able to choose which wines we would like to sample, and shared amongst each other.

I started with the Melck’s Rose, which was made with Cab Franc.  Nice, crisp and refreshing.  And a steal at R45.

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Next I went to their Laurens Campher (Blended White).  It’s 46% Chenin Blanc, 25% Sauvignon Blanc, 19% Verdolho, 10% Viognier.  Buttery was my take on it. R95.

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Then I had a quick sip of their Lady Alice Methode Cap Classique.  Was this beer?  The reason I say that is that it tasty yeasty.  R120.

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Ok, red time!!!  Started with the Melck’s Red, a 50/50 Shiraz/Cab blend.  Just a nice, easy dinner wine.  R50.

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Moving down the line, next came the George Paul Canitz Pinot Noir.  It had a black pepper nose and for the taste — a bit of green pepper, chocolate and some berries.  Quite unique.  R165.

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Then came Shiraz time, Ronnie Melck Shiraz to be exact, from the family selection.  NICE!!!!!!  Normally it’s not available for tasting but we lucked out.  Smoke, tobacco, smooth…very similar to a pinotage.  Very worthy of the price of R350.

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To wrap up the tasting there was the fortified wine, Ben Prins Cape Vintage.  With 19.5% alcohol, it was a bit chewy with notes of chocolate and blackberry.  R170.

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This winery was great to just look around and see fun parts of.

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Amazing winery to wrap up an amazing day!  It’s tough to get these/their wine in the States but I am going to keep working on it to continue enjoying amazing vino.  Cheers!

SA Winery Visit #3 — Solms Delta

After the 2nd winery, we put the bikes away and took a long enough drive (as in too far to ride) to Solms Delta.

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Here we started with their Vastrap, a white which is a blend of Chenin Blanc and Semillon.  It was a dry white, nothing to write home about.  R50.

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Next we went to the Amalie, which is a blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Grenache.  Smells like chard, has some oak flavors, but I would characterize it as a ‘light’ chard.  R110.

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Third one presented was the Lekkerwijn, which means ‘nice’ or ‘yummy’ wine.  It’s a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache Noir and Viognier and is a Rose.  It was sweet and not great.  R55.

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Reds, finally reds!!!  Langarm, pronounced Long-arm, a blend of four varietals — Pinotage, Touriga Nacional, Shiraz and Mourvedre.  The nose had tobacco and was sweet.  The taste was light and peppery.  R55.

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Next red was one I look for a lot and can be hard to find — sparkling Shiraz.  This one is their Cape Jazz Shiraz.  Subtle, fruity, per them. Light, refreshing, 9.9% alcohol.  Yes, oh yes.  I left with a bottle.  R580.

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We then hit a fortified wine, the Gemoedsrus, made with a Shiraz grape.  The style ‘An entirely new concept in port-style wine; Shiraz desiccated on the vine, then fortified with Shiraz grappa.’  18.5% alcohol, NICE and SMOOTH.  R150.

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Finally we sampled an experimental wine, Perry, a lightly sparkling pear fermented beverage, 6% ABV.  Crisp and refreshing.  The problem here is that you could not taste any alcohol so you could easily just be sitting outside enjoying this on a beautiful summer day and that bottle would be gone quickly…and you would be too…without realizing it.  R50.

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Three down, and since we had such a small group, our guide made sure we hit one more winery before the day was done!

 

SA Winery Visit #2 — Franschhoek Cellar

To get to our 2nd winery, we only had to ride about 5K from the first.  Not too shabby.  Still very scenic!

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This next winery we visited was Franschhoek Cellar.

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For the tasting, we got to pick six to sample from the entire menu (versus being given specific wines).  That was great because between the entire three of us on the tour, we were able to taste almost everything!  And off we went.

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Statue de Femme Sauvignon Blanc — In the top 10 last year.  Light and crisp.  Another typical SA bargain at R50.

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La Cotte Mill Chenin Blanc — Tropical, pineapple taste.  R40!  Really, $4 for a bottle.  Love this place.  Note on the dates on the back labels, they write day/month, versus how we do month/day.

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Club Hose Rose – a blend of Pinotage, Shiraz and Cab.  The best way I can describe it would be powdery rose petals.  GREAT!!!!  R40.

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The Old Museum Merlot — Very berry-y.  NICE, for a Merlot.  There seemed to be quite a difference in SA Merlots.  I don’t normally like them but down there they are quite unique!  R50.

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Stone Bridge Pinotage — Nice, light and smoky, oh yes.  R50.

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The Churchyard Cabernet Sauvignon – Thick, chocolate, tobacco are the best notes to describe this one. R50.

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Last but not least was a limited release.  The Franschhoek Vineyards Shiraz, cellar door exclusive, no info about it anywhere except on the tasting sheet.  “The Shiraz grapes for this wine are from one of the highest most rugged vineyard sites in Franschhoek with singular personality and expression that compelled our winemaker Richard Duckitt to go to great lengths to preserve the tremendous concentration and purity of fruit in this exemplary Franschhoek wine.” — ‘sweet’, thick and smooth. R100.

Mid-way through this tasting after everything was poured, lunch was served and we were able to take our glasses outside to enjoy some great food and drink in the amazing weather.

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