The Nitty Gritty Details of Portugal’s Past

One can’t quite tell the story of modern Portuguese wines without starting with the history and the fall of their wine industry.  The tales of exploration, maritime trade, wars, disease and of course scandal is the backbone of Portuguese wines.  Hundreds of years ago, Portugal was placed on the map of wine fame with its fortified wines: Port and Madeira.  The happenstance luck of these wines were based on centuries of trade with England and long distance travel.
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Imagine 1200 AD:  The Portuguese livelihood was centralized around maritime trading routes and exploration.  It was the discovery of an abbot in the mountainous region in the Douro Valley that shined light on the sweet fortified wines (“port”) of Portugal and, of course, the late 1600’s ban on French wine in England.  In an effort to supply demand, English tradesmen and Portugal began production of these fortified wines. The travel time to England enhanced the flavor and richness.   Unfortunately, demand over reached supply and cheap knock off wines and fortified fruit wines were introduced to the market.

The market rebuked!  The price of “port” dropped drastically as the Portuguese and their investors scrambled to build back confidence.  In turn, the Douro Wine Company was formed by the Portuguese government to create structure and methodology of  “port”.  One house to regulate creation and exports as well as  fixing prices on  the entire process from vineyard management to final prices.  Since this was a business and not a government entity, many questioned its motives (especially other larger houses that were not in charge!).
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As this transpired, British tradesmen looked beyond “port” and  discovered the sweet liquids of the island of Madeira.  A similar story however it is the story of eager business men trying to make up the missing spot of port in the market with Madeira instead.   By happenstance (again) traveling with Madeira creates richness, that is– oxidation. It was the new Americas Englishmen that embraced Madeira.  So well received that some barrels would travel around the world to cure Madeira for higher prices.

Back to our story of “port”…  The Douro Wine Company solidified the styles of port as a Portuguese wine and its popularity in England and now Russia increased until the French and Spanish attack in 1807.  War shook the base of wine production, especially  export.  Then of course, the unfortunate parasite phylloxera hit in the late 1800’s.  Instead of rebuilding the wine community, Portugal focused its wine industry on cork production.  We do not see Portuguese wine (not “port”) until WWI then it was extremely cheap.

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However, in the mid 1980’s, Portuguese wine recognition began to slowly transform.  Entrance into the European Union (then European Community) “insisted” that the government dissolve several monopolies of cooperatives (the Douro Wine Company) that had been in control of the wine program for decades. Tearing down these walls allowed for investment (especially from other countries such as Australia), as well as development of wine styles. Many small estates (quintas) severed their ties with “co-operatives” and started making their own wines. Portugal devised a new appellation system in line with EU standards, designating Regiões Demarcadas as Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC).

Back on track, Portuguese wines currently offer us value and quality.  Will they become as big of contenders to the world of wine as they were in the past is yet to be seen; however there are several producers that are showing high quality work.  It is definitely not just plonk wine.  Passion is brimming!

Read more here in our September 2015 wine club on Portuguese varietals >>
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Image creditBoat | Workers | Current Vineyards

Archive: FOOD + WINE by Jaci

Food + Wine

Ballard Bakeries – A Tribute

Ballard is bursting at the seams with businesses.  One does not have to go far to have their needs met.  And one of those needs in my family is a weekly trip to the bakery.  Now, let me precursor here- I am Celiac, but my children are not.  That doesn’t stop the weekly trip.  This month, in honor of sweets and love, my daughter and I took a trip to some of our favorites (but not limited to these, mind you).

Our tasting exposition with quotes by Keskah June:

Is only a block away. We ordered the Kouign Amann ($2.75) for Keskah and the Almond Croissant ($3.95) for Julie.  “My Honoré pastry was super yummy, crunchy and flakey on the outside and soft on the inside. The bit of carmelized sugar or whatever gave it a good kick of sweet but the salt in each bite from the bottom gave it back that savory flavor.” Pair with Lustau Pedro Jimenez  (Jerez, Spain) — Reg $39.99 | Mixed Case $31.99

Scandinavian Specialties
If you have never been in this shop, turn around and get to it.  Not all pastries- they have excellent deli foods (all Scandinavian) as well as a killer cheese and salami section, and of course, all the fairs from cute souvenirs to tasty candies too. But we were on a treat mission, so Keskah picked the Verdens Beste Kake.  It is a double layer of almond meringue with vanilla custard cream center ($4). “It’s super airy and not too sweet, I love it.  It’s delicious 20 out of 5 stars!” Pair with Bodegas Maset Cava Lleo (Penedes, Spain) — Reg $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case $11.19

Cafe Besalu
The creations out of this bakery are well worth the line.  As one would see on a daily basis, the line out the door is all the locals and many who know exactly what they want.  When I could eat gluten over a decade ago, I would have the ginger biscuit.  I waited to snap a photo of it, but someone bought the entire plate before we arrived at the pastry box.  Keskah could not decide.  The problem is- everything is amazing.  So, she got a few!
Gruyere and Onion Pastry — “Besalu onion and Gruyere was delicious. I couldn’t stop eating it, just the perfect combination of savory in a pastry.”
Pair with Château des Roques 2012 Vacqueyras Southern Rhône Reg. $22.99 | Mixed Case 18.39

Hazelnut Twist  “The hazelnut twist was good, just not my sort of flavor I guess. It didn’t have a good nutty to sweet balance.” Pair with  Domaine d Moltes Riesling Reserve (Alsace, France) — Reg. $19.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59

Quiche Lorraine — “The quiche Lorraine was awesome as usual. It had a great egg to other ingredient ratio and the bacon was cooked just right!” Pair with Domaine d Moltes Pinot Blanc (Alsace, France) — Reg $19.99 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59 or Domaine Claude Nouveau 2010 Santenay Premier Cru Grand Clos Rousseau (Burgundy, France) — Reg $49.99 | INSIDER $47.99 | Mixed Case $38.39

As I mentioned, those were only a few to stop at.  We frequent these ones as well, for the following reasons:
Larsens Bakery-  Not fancy but still delcious.  My son LOVES to get donuts and the gigantic M&M cookies.  I of course stock our house with the cheesy croissants or small rolls for afternoon snacks.
Tall Grass Bakery- Any time I have guests in town, we stop by for a few loaves to enjoy fondue. ( I make my own GF bread fyi).
Fresh Flours- excellent macaroons and the coffee is always fantastic.
MIRO Teas-  A wide selection of Gluten Free pastries.  My personal favorite is carrot cake.
If you have a favorite in Ballard, please let me know!  Keskah always loves a pastry date.

All the best-  Jaci


Food + Wine

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What is a Pulse?  It is a legume or “grain legume” and internationally recognized as a vital player in crop rotation world wide.  2016 is the International Year of the Pulses by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  Washington State is the largest producer of garbanzo beans in the world as well as one of the large producers in legumes in the United States.

Morroccan Lentil Soup  –  Pair this with Vinchio Vaglio Serra Nebbiolo Lange Piedmont Italy  Reg. $19.99 | INSIDER $18.99 | Mixed Case $15.19 — Light bodied, yet expressive tannins, plum skins and cherry.

Mung Bean – Pair this with Bodegas Rauda Tinto Roa Crianza Castilla Y Leon Ribera del Duero Spain — Reg. $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39 — Ripe raspberries, red currant & blackberries delicately meshed with notes of toast and balsamic

Black Eyed Pea and Collard Greens Soup – Pair this with La Fleur Chazal Rouge Bordeaux France — Reg. $15.99 | Mixed Case $12.79 — Blue currants, black raspberries, plums with medium tannins, structure and depth.

Vegetable Chickpea Curry – Pair this with Petit Romain Rouge Costieres di Nimes France  Reg. $15.99 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $11.99 —  Dark rich summer cherries, white pepper, hillside herbs and soft tannins.

Smoky Chili – Ashobourne Red Hemel en Aarde South Africa — Reg. $44.99 | Mixed Case $37.49 — This Pinotage blend is expressive with rich cranberries, cherries, black raspberry, iron, leather, smoke and earth.

Brazilian Freijoada (Black Bean Pork Stew)  – Pair this with La Puerta Gran Reserva Blend La Rioja Argentina  Reg. $55.99 | Mixed Case $44.79 — Malbec, Bonarda and Syrah.  Intense dark plums, Rainer cherries, wood smoke, peppercorn and vanilla.

Red Beans and Rice – Pair this with Casto Pequeno Cotoval Castilla Y Leon Spain Reg. $14.99 | INSIDER $13.99 | Mixed Case  $11.19  —  Summer fruits- blackberries, raspberries, wild strawberries mixed with black peppercorn, soft tannins and subtle hints of vanilla

Here’s to your health!  Enjoy!  Jaci
Food + Wine_ legumes
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Food + Wine

Dilemma with Dessert- Pairing

Pairing with desserts can be a challenge- already a treat and sweet, yet the wrong combo can be so wrong.  Like ying and yang, food pairing should keep in mind complementing as well as contrasting.  Most people assume dessert wines are syrupy sweet, but several are not.  And dessert wines don’t have to be what one pairs with dessert- sometimes a beer, cider, cocktail or wine is a better choice.  And if all else fails, have a few options and make it a fun end of the meal conversation!

Since many of you are entertaining the holidays, here are a few ideas to strike your fancy as well as some fun reading links!

Apple based:  cider, hot cider with rum or whiskey, Alscaian Rielsing, or Kabinett Riesling, Oregon Gewurtraminer, Sauternes, Blanc du Blanc Sparkling (100% Chardonnay)
Berry based:  Australian muscat, brachetto recioto di valpolicella, sparkling rose, sparkling shiraz or red wine (Malbec, Syrah, Tempranillo), Campari

Rich cream based, such as custards or creme brulee:  (Matching weight) Amontilado (nutty), Tawny Port, Sauternes (esp if fruit), LH Alsacian Riesling, Trocken Riesling, Moscato (for light and floral)

Chocolate based: Bual or Malvasia Maidera, Ruby Port, Dark German Ales, Porters, California Cabernet, WA Syrah, Austrailian Shiraz

Caramel, butter based: Bual Maidera, Single vintage or white Tawny port, Pedro Ximenez, Belgium beer

Cookies and simple cake/cake breads:  Trocken Riesling, Moscato (for light and floral), Beaumes de Venise (Eames), vermouth, Lillet, Sparkling Cider, Rose, Lambrusco
Coffee and cream based: Chocolate or Espresso Martini, Amarone, Barolo, Stouts, Malvasia Madiera

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