Chocolate & Wine for Valentine's Day

A local Chocolatier, Kevin Roblee of Kokku Chocolate, was on ABC 7 pairing our wines with chocolate!

Talbott Pinot Noir, Perrone Bigaro and Cal Blanca Tempranillo are the featured wines. Watch the video to learn how he pairs the wines and what rules to follow.

Kevin Roblee participates in many chocolate and wine pairing classes throughout the city. You can find him at Life's a Cabernet in Wicker Park where he and Janel Syron provide a dialogue about single origin chocolate's artisan qualities and marriage to wine.

Cocktail Corner: Verjus in Winter

by Christophe Bakunas

Verjus, or sometimes spelled Verjuice comes from Old French "jus verte" or green juice. Green was not a denotation of color but rather a reference to young fruit that still maintained high acidity while harvested underripe. In the Middle Ages (500 A.D. - 1400 A.D.) verjus was often used to enhance flavors in stews, condiments and sauces. Most modern cooks now use lemon or lime for lively tartness. Interestingly lemon trees were not introduced to Northern Europe until 1000 A.D. when the Mores brought lemons to Sicily. By the end of the 15th century we see the first cultivated lemon orchard in Genoa, and it was "downhill" for verjus. Lemons, being perfectly portable little darlings usurped the quotidian use of verjus, which is unfortunate because verjus has a few distinct qualities that for certain functions far exceed the tartiness of a lemon.

Verjus is not quite as acidic as a lemon (see Chart A. below) and offers a wider range of flavors that can complement beverages and dishes without overwhelming. And because verjus' type of acidity is tartaric as opposed to citric in lemons, it has an inherent balance to wine and food that citric acids typically overwhelm. Cocktails with verjus have the pleasing uplift that acid from lemons or limes offer and typically create more aromatic complexity and subtlety. We have a few of our favorites from our test kitchen below for winter cocktails.
All cocktails made with Bonny Doon's 2011 'Verjus de Cigare.' Please grab a bottle as soon as you can and send us your recipes and comments!

Chart A. pH 0-14 (7 neutral measurement between acid and alkaline)
Lemon pH 2.2-2.4
Bonny Doon Verjus de Cigare 2.92
Milk pH approximately 6.7
Average red wine will range between 3.65-3.8 pH


1:1 Henry du Yore's Bourbon: Bonny Doon Verjus
Orange Bitters
Splash of Aperol
Stir till very chilled and serve up, garnish with a burnt orange rind

2:1 Bonny Doon Verjus: Fidencio Classico Mezcal
1 bar spoon of Royal Rose 3 Chiles Simple Syrup
Dash of Jerry Thomas Bitters
Stir and serve up in a coupe glass

1:1 Bonny Doon Verjus: TuB 80 proof Gin
Tenneyson Absinthe rinse
Mint leaf garnish (or tarragon)
Stir till very chilled, serve up in a rocks glass

1:1 Bonny Doon Verjus: TuB 80 proof Gin
1/2 oz Cynar
Orange Bitters
Stir till very chilled, serve up in a rocks glass

Bernabeleva's Incredible Vina Bonita

-Complementary from our friends at The Rare Wine Co.-

Today, Garnacha is being born again in Spain, this time thanks to the survival of some spectacularly old, remote mountain vineyards. The world's first brush with the greatness of Spanish mountain Garnacha came in the 1990s, when the first few vintages of Alvaro Palacios' great L'Ermita-from Garnacha vines planted around 1940-were released.

Other Garnacha-based wines have followed, but few have been more compelling than those of Bernabeleva, a property in the mountains just west of Madrid. This project is the obsession of the descendents of Dr. Vincente Alvarez-Villamil, who originally planted Garnacha vineyards here in the 1920s.

The Buzz
The first Bernabeleva vintage to appear in the U.S. - and to be imported by The Rare Wine Co. - was the 2008. And each vintage since, Bernabeleva has given us something new to be excited about.

As 2013 begins, the excitement continues to be about the extraordinary 2010s, clearly the finest vintage yet for the estate. A year ago, news of the vintage's greatness was broken by San Francisco Chronicle wine critic Jon Bonne, who included Bernabeleva in his Top 10 Most Memorable Wines of 2011, writing: "Here's Garnacha unbound. Aged in neutral, large casks, it's packed with a volcanic dark-stone presence and savory power. You forget how big and powerful the wine is, and just admire its almost weightless bayberry fruit and brilliant acidity."

Vina Bonita
(Cream currently has some 2009 left in stock; the info below highlights the 2010 vintage)
Bernabeleva's top 2010 cuvee is Vina Bonita.

The estate's dominant soil type is sand, hence the logical comparison to Ch. Rayas. But Vina Bonita's soil is shallower than the rest, with just 18 inches of sand covering the crumbly granite bedrock.

Here, the roots have to work their way deep into the rock in order to sustain themselves. Like Romanee Conti, Bernabeleva believes that Bonita brings together the best qualities of the estate's other vineyards into a single wine.

It has the bright aromatics of Arroyo, but shares the rich texture of Carril del Rey and Navaherreros Tinto.

It is a remarkable wine, thanks not only to the shallow soil, but also to the mountains' warm days and cool nights, as well as winemaker Marc Isart Pinos' desire to produce wines of great purity and site expression. His methods are thrillingly old-fashioned, with foot treading of grapes, a 45-day maceration with the stems and little use of new wood.

Bernabeleva is one of the most exciting (and potentially influential) new Spanish wine estates to emerge in the past decade. And, so far, the 2010 Vina Bonita is its Masterwork. 

Vina Bonita 2010 is sold out and the 2011 will be released in the Fall of 2013.

Events Calendar

Happening Now on Twitter

Follow Cream on Twitter