Bartender. Pre-med student. MBA recipient. Medical device salesman. Chris Carpenter is a man who’s worn many hats over the years. His most noteworthy, however, is perhaps the one he’s been wearing for the past twenty: Winemaker for Jackson Family Wines’ esteemed Lokoya, Cardinale, Mt. Brave, La Jota and Hickinbotham labels.
So just how does a Biology major from the University of Illinois become one of Napa Valley’s most well-respected winemakers making some of its most highly acclaimed wines? While studying at Illinois, Carpenter worked at Butch McGuire’s, an iconic Irish pub in Chicago, where he developed an affinity for the restaurant industry. He eventually discovered a passion for food and wine and ultimately decided to pursue a career that would marry his science background with his love of hospitality. Making wine allowed him the perfect opportunity to combine both.
In 1998 Carpenter received his MS in Horticulture from the University of California, Davis and, in the same year, joined Jackson Family Wines. Since then, he has become an expert on the mountain appellations of the Napa Valley. From Mt. Veeder to Howell Mountain, he is intimately acquainted with the subtle nuances each has to offer.
Whether he’s making site specific wines which reflect unique mountain terroirs, or orchestrating vinous symphonies which marry a variety of sites, Carpenter has garnered much praise over the years from consumers and critics alike. During a recent visit to Napa Valley, we were fortunate to sit down with him and taste through a selection of his 2013 offerings.
On a crisp, sunny Fall morning, we met Carpenter at the Jackson family’s Cardinale winery, located in the heart of Napa’s Oakville district. The smell of fermenting grapes perfumed the air as we proceeded up the long, winding driveway to the winery. The building’s rustic, stone architecture beautifully complements its surroundings which features sweeping, panoramic views of the Napa Valley.
At about 6’5″ tall, Chris Carpenter is not easy to miss. A ruggedly handsome blend of Paul Bunyan and Tom Selleck, circa his Magnum PI days, he arrived straight from the vineyard, walkie talkie in hand and fingers stained a deep, inky purple. His team was just pressing the last of 2016’s harvest which he emphatically declared, “an outstanding vintage from a flavor and tannin standpoint.”
True to his love of hospitality, it was soon evident Carpenter is as passionate about sharing his wines as he is about making them. During our visit, we tasted the La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, Mt. Brave Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon and Cardinale, all from the 2013 vintage, “a near perfect year” by Carpenter’s standards. Prior to tasting, he passionately explained his personal approach to winemaking, which consists of three essential elements:
“First, you absolutely have to make wines about place. We’ve broken up this valley into 16 smaller appellations…and each has their unique flavor profile or character relative to one another,” Carpenter reflected. “As a winemaker, my job is to preserve that character so that when you’re tasting you can get a sense of the diversity.”
“Second, the wine absolutely has to be made in the vineyard first.” He continued, “By that, I mean the raw product ultimately drives the finished product. If you don’t make the grapes as great as possible, you’ll never make great wine.”
Which led to Carpenter’s third tenet, “If I’ve done everything in the vineyard that I can, then when it comes to the winery, I can keep it as simple as possible. I preserve the characteristic of the grape versus my winemaking which can mess with the character of the grape.”
We began with the 2013 La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon ($85) crafted from fruit grown in the historic La Jota and W.S. Keyes Vineyards on Howell Mountain. Established in 1898 by Fredric Hess, the winery was named for its location on the Mexican parcel, Rancho La Jota. Carpenter described this wine as, “our most Bordeaux-like appellation, due to the region’s wetter, cooler climate which is influenced by the nearby San Pablo Bay.”
This Bordeaux-style blend contains all five Bordeaux varieties, 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10.5% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4.5% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec. Following fermentation using only native yeasts, the wine underwent malolactic fermentation to soften its acidity and was then aged for 19 month in French oak barrels (89% new). The end result is a wine with an inky purplish hue and enticing aromas of black fruit, licorice and spice. On the palate, mouth-filling flavors of blackberry, black currant, licorice, graphite and savory herb accompany a gravelly minerality and food friendly acidity. While this powerful, full-bodied wine will undoubtedly reward over the next 7-10 years, the generous dollop of Merlot also makes it imminently enjoyable now.
Next, was the 2013 Mt. Brave Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon ($75) which sources grapes from the eponymous Mt. Brave vineyard located high atop Mt. Veeder in the western Napa Valley. The vines grow at an elevation of 1,400-1,800 feet where the thin, rocky soils and steep slopes present constant issues with water retention and soil erosion. This unique terroir, however, creates small, concentrated berries which produce wines of great concentration and complexity.
The 2013 Mt. Brave is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 6.5% Malbec and 4.5% Cabernet Franc aged for 19 months in French oak (80% new), then bottled unfined and unfiltered. The resulting wine is bold and powerful with a gorgeous deep, opaque purple color with fragrant aromas of ripe black fruit, violet and spice. On the palate, lush notes of ripe black currant, black raspberry, roasted plum, cassis and licorice accompany brooding tannins and a lengthy spice-tinged finish. A few years in the cellar, or some aeration either using a decanter or a Vinturi (which Carpenter dubbed, “the best gadget ever!”), will nicely soften this wine’s youthful intensity.
We finished our tasting with Carpenter’s sublime 2013 Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon ($275), historically a blend of only two grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon (86%) and Merlot (14%). While the previous wines have reflected specific mountain sites, Cardinale is an expression of Napa Valley as a whole, layering both mountain and valley floor fruit to ultimately create a wine of great complexity.
Vintage also plays an important role in making Cardinale, “In different vintages, different areas in Napa will perform differently, so one year [Cardinale] might be defined by a greater percentage of Mt. Veeder, and the next year it might be defined by Stag’s Leap.” As a result, Carpenter describes Cardinale as, “The most right-brained wine I make because I have to think in very creative terms. I have to think of the wines as pieces of an orchestra…each section has a very specific role in that piece of music. Individually, they don’t always make sense but when the composer layers them…they do.”
The stunning 2013 Cardinale Cabernet Sauvignon, comprised of predominantly Mount Veeder fruit, features a gorgeous purplish-red color and enchanting aromas of red and black fruit, sweet oak and spice. Opulent layers of black cherry, cassis, leather and mocha unfurl on the palate as the wine’s rich, silky texture gives way to a long, lingering finish. This sumptuous, sensory symphony beautifully transmutes the Napa Valley’s signature aromas, flavors and textures and this exquisitely balanced wine will continue to evolve over the next 15-20 years.
The post A Visit with Napa Valley’s Vinous “Mountain Man,” Winemaker Chris Carpenter appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.
Nothing says Valentine’s Day like something sweet for your Sweetheart. Especially something homemade with a glamorous flair! Our Glamorous Valentine’s Day Cookies fit the bill perfectly, are utterly delicious and super easy to make. In fact, they are in such demand here at Chez Miskew, I use this same cookie recipe for virtually every holiday. I simply swap out the cookie cutters and frosting colors to suit the season or holiday. The jig is up, my foodie friends!
While the recipe itself is pretty basic, I think what makes these cookies so darn special is the salt. I always use Kosher salt when baking and there’s just something about the balance of sweet and salty in this recipe that makes these cookies super addictive. So if you enjoy kettle corn, bacon chocolate bars, or Blue cheese and Sauternes you seriously need to try these cookies!
For Valentine’s Day, simply use a heart-shaped cookie cutter, I love the 4-inch Wilton heart cookie cutter pictured above, to create the romantic shape and then dress the cookies up with pink and red frosting and oodles of glamorous sprinkles. An oversize cookie cutter like this one makes the cookies feel more special. I also highly recommend pairing these cookies with a tall, cold glass of milk – preferably 2%.
Our Glamorous Valentine’s Cookies are perfect for bringing to school parties or giving as special treats for your friends, neighbors and, of course, your significant other. Just be sure to enjoy a couple yourself first because they have a habit of disappearing very quickly!
For more of our Glamorous Valentine’s deliciousness including wine recommendations, dinner recipes, gift ideas and other sweet treats, please click here. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy these cookies and have a fabulous Valentine’s Day!
I truly adore this quote and if one of your New Year’s resolutions is to travel more, you are in luck!
We’ve covered some fabulous getaways over the last couple years, Glamorous Getaways to be exact, that are perfect for food and wine lovers. From the charming L’Auberge Carmel in Carmel, California to the pet-friendly Park on Main Hotel in Highlands, North Carolina, grab a glass of wine and have fun planning your itinerary while perusing these wonderful options:
Be sure to send us a virtual postcard by using #Glamorous Getaways on social media! What are some of your favorite food and wine related travel destinations? I’d love to hear about them in the Comments section below.
Winter is prime “red wine” season and the topic of tannins is a hot one this time of year. For that reason, it’s our official Wine Word of the Week. But if you think you don’t know what “tannins” are, chances are good that if you’re reading this, you’ve encountered them before:
If you’ve experienced any of the above, then you’ve experienced tannins, my wine loving friends! But just what the heck ARE they?
Tannins are naturally occurring compounds which play an important role in a wine’s structure and directly affect its color, texture and aging ability. They are found in a host of plant species as well, and their astringent, bitter taste is intended to discourage predators and insects from consuming them. Similarly, tannins in wine are generally perceived as a drying, leathery sensation which is considered desirable by many wine lovers. This astringency acts as a preservative for wine, allowing it to age slowly with grace and not turn to vinegar.
Depending on the type and age of a wine, its tannins can be described as velvety, firm, ripe, chewy, tight, dusty or round. In older wines, the tannins often precipitate out of solution to some degree and collect at the bottom of the wine bottle in the form of harmless sediment.
Wines acquire tannins through contact with grape skins, seeds and stems as well as charred oak barrels the wine is aged in. For that reason, they are much more prevalent in red wine which remains in contact with its skins in order to obtain its color and is usually aged in oak barrels. Also, the deeper the color of the red wine, the more tannins it contains, so a Cabernet Sauvignon will most likely have more tannins than a Pinot Noir.
As far as food and wine pairing goes, protein actually mitigates tannins. Therefore, foods that are high in protein, like a juicy New York Strip Steak, pair remarkably well with high tannin wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, the three most tannic grape varieties are Nebbiolo, Syrah and Tannat.
While some studies have shown tannins have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health, some believe it is the chemical compound that wreaks havoc on migraine sufferers. So, if you experience migraine headaches after drinking red wine, it’s NOT the sulfites, my friend! White wine has approximately twice the sulfites as red wine and true sulfite allergies generally manifest as breathing issues, not headaches. So if you’ve got a tendency to get migraines, you may want to steer clear of high tannin red wines and opt for those with lower levels and see if it reduces their frequency and/or duration (for more information on this, please click here).
I hope you enjoyed our latest Wine Word of the Week and if you have any “wine words” you’d like to learn more about, please feel free to share them in the Comments section below. To see previous installments of this segment, please click here and, as always, thanks for reading!
This month’s Delray Foodie Fave features a glammed up guilty pleasure from a local Chef which incorporates one of my all time favorite naughty foods – Buffalo chicken wings.
Chef Clay Conley is perhaps best known for his James Beard Award nominations and uber-chic Palm Beach restaurants, Buccan and Imoto. And while we’re big fans of these wonderful places and his sophisticated cuisine, we were delighted to see something as fun and quirky as Buffalo Chicken Pizza ($20) on the menu at his newest, Italian trattoria-inspired West Palm Beach eatery, Grato. But forget the celery and carrot sticks, this delicious pizza is topped with mouthwatering accoutrements including Brussels sprouts, caramelized onions and Roquefort Caesar. Needless to say, my fellow foodies, I was ALL over it!
The flavors of spicy chicken, Brussels sprouts and Caesar dressing meld together beautifully on the Buffalo chicken pizza and the crust is fresh, flavorful and crispy. The creamy dressing also mellows the spicy heat of the chicken and the Brussels sprouts contribute fabulous flavor and texture.
And as most chicken wing aficionados know, when you’re making wings there’s really only one hot sauce that’ll do. Frank’s Red Hot is a cayenne pepper-based hot sauce that was the secret ingredient in the original Buffalo Chicken Wing recipe invented in Buffalo, New York in 1964. It is spicy and vinegary with a very distinct flavor and the minute I took my first bite of the pizza…I just knew. Conley later confirmed my suspicions.
And while the Hubs and I do enjoy the Buffalo Chicken Pizza at the restaurant, we officially have our own post-Grato ritual which only prolongs the deliciousness. When dining at Grato we fill up on our other favorite menu items such as the Meatballs with Parmesan Polenta (pictured above), Steak Tartare Crostini and Bucatini Carbonara (swoon!) and by the time the pizza hits the table…we’re too full to eat it! So with our precious take out box in hand, we head home, only stopping to hit Carvel for some ice cream on the way (no judgement, please!).
Now, if you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook you might already know, my husband is the Breakfast Master. By that I mean, he loves turning a dish we’ve enjoyed the night before it into a delicious breakfast. This usually involves putting a fried egg on top of whatever the dish was, but he always does a fabulous job.
When he’s working with leftover Buffalo chicken pizza, he fires up the grill the next morning and heats the remaining slices until they ‘re warmed through and crispy on the bottom. While the pizza’s reheating, he also fries up a few eggs in a cast iron pan on the grill. For the presentation, he tops each piece of Buffalo Chicken Pizza with a sunny side up fried egg. The result is pure HEAVEN!
While he’s preparing the pizza, I do my part and open a bottle of bubbles. Sparkling wine just happens to be the perfect pairing for Buffalo chicken pizza, just in case you didn’t already know that (the Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs is one of our faves). When it’s a weekend brunch a deux, I usually forego the traditional method of opening the bottle in favor of the saber. Please see photo below which nicely captures the cork flying off the bottle.
Next time you’re in West Palm Beach, make time to stop by and enjoy Grato’s fabulous Buffalo chicken pizza. They have plenty of other wonderful options as well, please see below for more information. If you live in South Florida too, what are some of your favorite local dishes? I’d love to hear about them in the Comments section below.
The post Delray Foodie Faves: Grato’s Buffalo Chicken Pizza! appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.
Winter is prime time for red wine and one wine I get oodles of questions about is Beaujolais. With the release of Beaujolais Nouveau on the third Thursday in November, like clockwork, it’s easy for consumers to be seduced by all the advertising fanfare. Especially for a wine that’s under $10 a bottle! But, you know what they say, if something seems too good to be true…it usually is.
Unfortunately, Beaujolais Nouveau is essentially mass produced, poorly made wine that has marred the reputation of the region over the years. The upside to this situation however is, despite the jammy, insipid Nouveau wines, there are actually MANY fabulous Beaujolais wines worth exploring!
Located in the southernmost part of Burgundy, Beaujolais also produces charming, easy-drinking red wines from the Gamay grape. This thin-skinned grape variety produces wines with minimal tannins capable of displaying a variety of aromas and flavors including cherry, raspberry, blackberry, violet and peony, which are usually accentuated by black pepper, herbs or spice. So how can you find these special wines and avoid the plonk? Please scroll down, my wine loving friends, for all the deets!
The key to exploring and ultimately enjoying Beaujolais is actually quite simple: look for the name of one of the region’s 10 crus on a wine label. A “cru” is a specific vineyard site within the Beaujolais appellation known for producing wines which express characteristics unique to their region, a quality known as terroir. In Beaujolais, the crus include Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Fleurie, Regnie, Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Chiroubles, Juliénas, Chénas and Saint-Amour. Seeing one of these names on a label usually ensures you’re getting a quality wine.
Which leads me to this week’s featured wine, the 2011 Louis Jadot Château des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent ($20). This wonderful wine demonstrates much of what’s to love about Beaujolais. After opening it the other night, almost five years after bottling, we were pleased to find an utterly delicious, casually elegant and enjoyable wine. A true gem at the price point to be sure and I hope you take the time during red wine season to enjoy all Beaujolais has to offer as well!
Who it’s from: Maison Louis Jadot was founded in 1859 by Louis Henry Denis Jadot whose family settled in Beaune near the turn of the century. Maison Louis Jadot focuses on the purest expression of terroir through the medium of the vine. The historic Château des Jacques estate, located in the Moulin-à-Vent appellation, was widely considered one of the most prestigious estates in Beaujolais and was purchased by Louis Jadot in 1996. As a result, Jadot became the first Burgundy house to own a major Beaujolais vineyard. In 2001, Louis Jadot bought another vineyard in Morgon. In 2008, both vineyards were regrouped as the Château des Jacques Estates.
Where it’s From: This wine hails from the the village of Moulin-à-Vent (which translates as ‘windmill’ in English), between Fleurie and Chenas. The Moulin-à-Vent wines are referred to as the “King of Beaujolais,” and widely considered to be the most Burgundian “Cru” of Beaujolais. Unlike other crus, Moulin-à-Vent wines are often fuller-bodied and more complex with ample tannin and structure which allows them to age longer. The pink granite and manganese-rich soils of Moulin-à-Vent also promote the growth of concentrated grapes on the region’s Gamay vines, which produce more intensely flavored wines.
This Wine by the (Geeky) Numbers:
Grape Variety: 100% Gamay
Ageing: 10 months in French oak (30% new), 6 months in bottle.
The Glamorous Gourmet’s Tasting Note: This wine beckons from the glass with its beautiful bright ruby red color and enticing aromas of dark fruit, spice cake and lavender. On the palate, fleshy dark fruit predominates with flavors of ripe black cherry, blackberry and cassis balanced by supple tannins and a bright acidity. Even after five years in the bottle this dynamic wine could have definitely lasted another five!
Pair it with: This versatile wine would make a perfect match with a variety of dishes ranging from our recently posted Lamb, Harissa and White Bean Soup with Turmeric Yogurt as well as our super popular Quick Coq au Vin and Rosemary Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onion!
Suggested Retail Price: $20 – and while this vintage is no longer on the market, find the most recent year you can and enjoy either now…or in a few years!
The post Wine of the Week: 2011 Louis Jadot Château des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent, Beaujolais, France appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.
While our first recipe in this week of New Year’s healthiness was the perfect snack to get you through your January indulgence withdrawals, this recipe for Lamb, Harissa & White Bean Soup with Turmeric Yogurt is the perfect healthy meal.
Inspired by a vegetarian recipe I recently saw in Food & Wine Magazine that takes over 8 hours to make, I’ve reduced this recipe to under 2 hours (including prep!) without sacrificing one iota of flavor. I also glammed it up by adding some ground, grass-fed Australian lamb. Not baaaaaad, if you ask me. Apologies for the lamb humor.
And while you could omit the lamb, I must say the succulent meat melds deliciously well with the flavors of the spicy harissa, creamy white beans and sweet Hungarian paprika. While I originally intended to freeze some of the soup for later consumption, the Hubs had other plans. It was so delicious it disappeared from my kitchen in record time!
In addition to its fabulous flavor, this dish also contains some super trendy, healthy ingredients including (1) turmeric, (2) savory yogurt and (3) harissa.
Native to southern Asia, turmeric has been used in both culinary and medicinal applications for thousands of years. With its earthy flavor and bright orange-yellow hue, it is a key ingredient in Indian, Iranian and Pakistani cuisine and also gives curries their hallmark golden hue. The health benefits of turmeric stem from an active compound called curcumin which is known to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It is especially beneficial for cardiovascular health, join pain and diabetes.
Savory yogurt has also enjoyed a recent surge of popularity. This unsweetened yogurt offers the same nutritional benefits (i.e. calcium and protein) without the additional calories and sugars of fruit yogurts. Savory yogurts are also perfect for healthy add-ons such as chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and Kalamata olives or drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with flaky sea salt. Unsweetened yogurt can also be used in place of sour cream…imagine the possibilities! As with many dairy products lately, whole fat varieties are being recommended over slimmed down versions (i.e. non-fat, reduced fat) which don’t have as much staying power.
Move over sriracha, harissa is the new spicy condiment in town! This North African hot chili pepper paste is essentially a blend of chili pepper, olive oil and garlic commonly used in Tunisian and Moroccan cuisine. It can also include coriander, cumin, mint and a variety of other ingredients. Use any harissa you have left over from this recipe to flavor dishes ranging from fried eggs to roasted chicken for a delightful kick of heat. It’s metabolic boosting properties have even been touted by Dr. Oz! Also, for those of you doing the Paleo thang, harissa is “Paleo-approved” so feel free to get your spice on.
Since Old World wines are especially waistline friendly and on our agenda for January, we enjoyed a delightful cru Beaujolais from Maison Louis Jadot with the Lamb, Harissa and White Bean Soup. The 2011 Chateau des Jacques Moulin-a-Vent, made from the Gamay grape, had lovely notes of blackberry, plum, minerals and cassis with supple tannins and a delightful finish.
Since this dish is somewhat spicy, a light, fruity wine with friendly tannins is the best pairing. Bold tannins and hot, spicy foods tend to clash on the palate, creating a very unpleasant flavor situation. Another lighter red like Pinot Noir would also be a wonderful choice.
I hope you enjoy this healthy and delicious recipe for Lamb, Harissa and White Bean Soup with Turmeric Yogurt as much as we do! I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below. Stay tuned for more healthy, delicious goodness coming this week.
The post New Year, Healthier You Recipe #2: Lamb, Harissa & White Bean Soup with Turmeric Yogurt appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.