Archive for the ‘Burgundy’Category

Jordan captures the luscious bounty of Sonoma

John Jordan of Jordan Vineyard and Winery

You can be forgiven if you rub your eyes at first sight of Jordan Vineyard & Winery (1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-5250, It looks like a mirage. Tom and Sally Jordan established the 1,200-acre Alexander Valley estate in 1972 as an homage to Bordeaux. True to their vision, the ivy-covered manse overlooking gardens and vineyards appears to have been transported whole from the gently rolling hills of Entre-Deux-Mers. Now their son John Jordan (above) continues the tradition of crafting Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Russian River Valley Chardonnay in the Old World style.

Vineyard at Jordan WineryProducing two superb wines—one modeled on Bordeaux’s Saint-Julien, the other on Burgundy’s Montrachet—gives Jordan Winery a clarity of focus. But following the model of Napa, Jordan is a destination winery. The Jordan family has made it a showcase of Sonoma’s bounty. The land was originally covered in prune plum orchards. The Jordans have preserved nearly three-quarters of the property as natural habitat, full of ancient oaks and populated with wild ducks, turkeys, and rabbits. Two lakes and several pastures remain among the 112 acres of grapevines.

The estate maintains an active apiary—all the more important after so many wine country hives were lost in the fall fires. The bees pollinate the entire landscape, including the highly productive one-acre chef’s garden that produces much of the bounty for the culinary program.

Wines at the table

Chef Todd Knoll of Jordan WineryIn keeping with the Old World style of the wines, Jordan holds the philosophy that wine requires food and vice versa. The winery hosts a lot of dinner parties and culinary events as well as offering some limited food with wine tastings. We visited for a special buffet lunch, and feel pretty confident stating that Chef Todd Knoll is a pairing genius. He prepared a beautiful beet salad of mixed red and golden beets and roasted a loin of lamb to accentuate the dark fruit of the 2008 Cabernet. A pomengranate with fresh honeycomb highlighted the stone fruits—and the austere Chablis-like minerality—of the 2015 Chardonnay. The mix of Marcona almonds, estate-cured green olives, and local charcuterie rounded out the bright flavors of the 2013 Cabernet.

At the end of the meal, Knoll sent out a dessert that really spoke of place. Jordan maintains 18 acres of olive trees and presses its own luscious olive oil. The Italian Frantoio, Leccino, and Pendolino olives give the oil grassy, green-almond flavors while the Spanish Arbequina olives make it round and buttery. The olive oil cake topped with olive oil ice cream was the perfect conclusion to a taste of Jordan. The winery was kind enough to share both recipes (below).

Jordan olive oil cake and ice cream


Vanilla extract can be substituted for the vanilla bean, but the bean does give the cake a richer flavor. Made without butter or baking soda, this recipe produces a light and fluffy cake.

Serves 8


2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
half a lemon, zested
half a lemon, juiced
3 vanilla beans, scraped (1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract may be substituted)
7 ounces Jordan Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 cup sugar, divided in half
7/8 cup cake flour, sifted*
3 egg whites, room temperature

*All-purpose flour may be substituted, but will produce a slightly more dense cake.


Preheat oven to 350℉ (325℉ for convection).

Prepare 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and a round parchment liner on the bottom.

Whisk together egg yolks, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla beans, olive oil, and half of the sugar. Sift the flour into the mixture in three stages. Set aside.

Using a standing mixer, whisk egg whites on high. Once egg whites begin to foam, slowly stream in the remaining half of the sugar, adding up to one tablespoon at a time. Whip the meringue until white, thick and shiny.

Fold one third of the meringue into the batter. Repeat until all the meringue is incorporated evenly, then pour cake batter into the prepared springform pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife or spatula around the edge and remove the side of the springform pan. Allow to cool for an hour, then remove the bottom of the pan and peel off parchment.

Cut into eight slices, dust with powdered sugar, top with fresh cut strawberries, whipped cream or Jordan Olive Oil Ice Cream. Drizzle with Jordan Extra Virgin Olive Oil and serve.


Serve a scoop of this ice cream on the olive oil cake—or serve it alone with a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of Jordan olive oil.

Makes 1 quart


1 3/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup Jordan Extra Virgin Olive Oil


In a medium saucepan, heat milk, cream, sugar and salt over medium heat until the mixture reaches a slow boil.

In a medium bowl, temper the eggs by slowly whisking half of the hot liquid into the yolks. Slowly whisk the hot liquid and egg mixture back into the saucepan. With the heat on low, continue whisking until the ice cream base thickens slightly.

Using a chinoise or fine strainer, strain the base into a medium bowl set directly over an ice bath. Stir in olive oil.

Allow the base to cool completely (or refrigerate overnight for a creamier texture). Spin in an ice cream machine, following the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer ice cream to an air-tight container and freeze for 3-4 hours, or until firm.


12 2017

Thomas George evokes Burgundy in Russian River

Vineyard at Thomas George

Westside Road in Healdsburg is the cool end of the Russian River Valley. That’s just fine by Thomas and George Baker, founders of Thomas George Estates Winery (8075 Westside Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-8031, When geography gives you cool vineyards in this part of Sonoma, you focus on the stars of Burgundy: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

concrete eggs at Thomas GeorgeSince launching the winery in 2008, the Bakers have assembled four select vineyards to grow both varietals. These small-lot artisanal wines tend to spotlight individual vineyards, although the winery does make one blend from each grape. The winery tunnels into the hillside beneath the Baker Ridge Vineyard. Although the operation does have some stainless steel tanks and oak barrels, the dominant vessels are concrete eggs. The vessels have been gaining a lot of traction in Burgundy, and U.S. winemakers have been adopting them, especially for Pinot Noir and Burgundy.

Nico with tanks at Thomas GeorgeDuring fermentation, the corner-free eggs allow the wine to circulate naturally, constantly stirring itself. This movement keeps the cap submerged without having to punch it down. By submerging the skins, the winemaker can extract maximum fruit flavor and—with reds—maximum color. Aging in concrete provides micro-oxygenation to the wine in a manner similar to oak, but without the added wood flavors. The resulting wines have the mouthfeel of barrel fermentation with the neutrality of steel. Winemaker Nicolas “Nico” Cantacuzene, shown at left, jokes that the wine “makes itself” in the eggs. But judging by the few we tasted, there’s a lot more of the winemaker’s art involved.

Tasting in the vineyard

:auren Helm at Thomas GeorgeSince it was a nice fall day, we followed hospitality director Lauren Helm to the top of the hill above the winery for an open-air tasting. We were looking down the hill (photo at top of the post) from the Baker Ridge vineyard. The first wine she poured was the 2015 Estate Chardonnay Sons & Daughters. Made from grapes entirely from the Sons & Daughters vineyard in the Chalk Hill sub-region, it is a splendid example of everyday unoaked chard. Whole clusters of the handpicked fruit were racked off to a mix of stainless steel tanks and concrete eggs. The resulting wine stock aged on the lees without secondary malolactic fermentation before blending to bottle. The nose shows a lot of peach and plum with a bright citrus zing that hints at the wine’s minerality. In the mouth, it’s a full, lush wine with notable lime and green apple flavors. The acidity makes it a great food wine at only $20.

The 2012 Estate Pinot Noir was made more traditionally. The hand-picked, destemmed grapes were allowed to soak cold for five days in open-top fermenters. Fermentation proceeded slowly over 16 days, and the skins were pressed after draining the tanks. The wine aged on the lees for nearly a year, mostly in French oak. (A small portion was aged in concrete before blending and bottling.) The resulting wine is very fruit forward on both the nose and the palate. Wild berries, cherries, and Damson plum are tempered by notes of thyme and rosemary. The tannins are nicely structured, though the wine should soften nicely with a little more age. Pricing ranges $37-$43.

Wine tasting is available at the winery and its picnic grounds without reservations daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Notably, Thomas George has good national distribution.


12 2017

Burgundy eggs in red wine sauce

Of all the wonderful food in Burgundy, I have a special soft spot for the bistro staple known as oeufs en meurette. The dish is hearty and warming on a cool autumn night and it is a classic in the region. Maybe I like it so much because sauce meurette is very similar to the sauce in coq au vin. Despite its rich flavors, French cooks usually pair meurette with mildly flavored proteins, like poached eggs or a poached fish. Restaurants in Burgundy often feature this dish as a first course (one egg per person) because everything but the eggs can be prepared ahead and re-heated, making it a quick dish to assemble.


Most of the ingredients for this dish are readily available in the U.S., though a light pinot noir from Oregon or Washington can be substituted for the Burgundy. And, in a pinch, so-called “Italian bread” will substitute for a pain de campagne. The key, though, is to use great eggs – ideally from free-range hens. The yolks have a deeper color and the eggs are easier to poach without making a mess of them. This recipe serves two as a main dish, or four as an appetizer, with a little extra sauce to go around.


For the sauce
1 bottle (750 ml) light red wine (a simple négociant Burgundy)
2 cups strong homemade chicken stock
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced or grated
a bouquet garni of parsley, thyme, and bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
salt to taste

For the garnish
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced
1/4 pound piece of bacon, diced
12 baby onions, peeled

For the toast
4 diagonal slices of white country loaf
2 tablespoons olive oil

4 fresh eggs


1. Add wine, stock, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bouquet garni, and peppercorns to a large shallow pan. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer until reduced by half (about 20 minutes).

2. While sauce is reducing, prepare garnish and toast. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in saucepan, add mushrooms, and sauté until tender (about 3 minutes). Remove mushrooms and add remaining tablespoon of butter and bacon. Fry until bacon browns. Remove bacon to drain on paper towels. Add onions to fat and sauté gently about 10 minutes until tender and lightly browned all over. Remove and combine with mushrooms and bacon. Pour off excess fat from garnish pan (used in Step 2), then deglaze pan with some of the simmering wine. Return liquid to the wine/sauce.

4. Meanwhile, trim crusts from bread, making each slice about the size of a poached egg. Heat olive oil in small frying pan and fry bread until browned on both sides (about 1 minute per side). Drain on paper towels and set aside.

4. When wine-stock mixture is reduced, strain and return sauce to pan over low heat. Taste and add salt if necessary.

5. Blend 2 tablespoons each of flour and butter in a small bowl with a fork to form a soft paste. Whisk paste a little at a time into hot sauce. Stir constantly until all butter-flour mixture is incorporated. Bring sauce to boil, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 5 minutes).

6. Poach eggs for 4-5 minutes — until whites are set but yolks are still runny. Place two toasts each in shallow bowls and top with eggs. Spoon on sauce and add mushroom-bacon-onion mixture.

Serve with a glass of Burgundy.

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07 2010

The tang of Burgundy’s other signature taste

You literally walk on wine in Beaune, the center of Burgundy’s wine trade, because the town is honeycombed with cellars dug by the monks who were Burgundy’s first vinters. Millions of bottles sleep their way to perfection under the cobbled streets, and millions more are tucked into the cool, dark recesses of the town’s 15th century fortified walls. The rough streets, old stone buildings, and a profusion of statues of the Virgin Mary (including one where she holds the infant Jesus in one hand and a bunch of grapes in the other) make Beaune undeniably picturesque. But it’s even more fun to taste Beaune than to look at it. As close as I can tell, there are no statues of Mary hefting a bag of mustard seeds, but there should be.

Fallot moutarderie In the Middle Ages, mustard was made everywhere in France. Today the Burgundy region is best known for mustard, especially the Maille firm in Dijon, 25 miles/40 km north of Beaune. But Beaune’s own family-owned La Moutarderie Fallot (31, Faubourg Bretonnière, 011-33-0380-221-002, holds its own against the bigger, slicker operation. The last moutarderie in Beaune, Fallot began stone-grinding mustard seed in 1840 and still uses stone wheels to make mustard paste, which is still stored for 24 hours in wooden barrels before bottling. Tours are sometimes arranged through the tourist office (port Marie de Bourgogne, 6 boulevard Perpreuil, 011-33-0380-262-130,

Fallot mustards Given the French fixation with terroir, I was surprised to learn that most French mustards are made with seeds from Canada. Within the last couple of decades, the French have started to replant mustard, but the mustard fields can only meet about 5 percent of the demand. If you’re a purist, look for mustard labeled “made with mustard from Burgundy.” It is also made with white Burgundy wine (Aligoté) instead of vinegar to blend with the seed, water, and salt. Most processors also make flavored mustards — tarragon, cassis, gingerbread, etc. — but Burgundians far prefer the unflavored “natural” product.

Cheeses at Alain Hess I always bring home a few jars for the pantry, but some of Beaune’s mustard delicacies are best enjoyed there. I can’t visit the town without stopping at Alain Hess Fromagerie (7 Place Carnot, 011-33-0380-247-351), an affineur (cheese-ager) who also produces his own Delice de Pommard, a soft cow’s milk cheese rolled in mustard bran. It’s great first cheese for a picnic, ideally followed by a Cîteaux (a semi-soft cheese that Hess procures from a 12th century Cistercian monastery) and finally a spectacular Époisses de Bourgogne, a soft cheese whose rind is washed with Marc de Borgogne. The great epicure Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin called it the “king of cheeses.” To drink? A modest Burgundy, of course.

No surprise — the wine is also good with chocolate. Chocolatier Bouché (1 Place Monge, 011-33-0380-221-035) blends mustard seed into chocolate ganache, then enrobes the pieces in dark chocolate. Called Le Sénevé, the morsels combine a complex sweetness with bitter and salty undertones.

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07 2010