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Domaine de Vaccelli Cuvée Roger 2009 with Meadowood Farm Lamb Chops and Red Fire Farm Brussels Sprouts.

Domaine de Vaccelli Cuvée Roger 2009
with Meadowood Farm Lamb Chops and Red Fire Farm Brussels Sprouts.

France’s Île de Beauté (Island of Beauty) lies one hundred miles south of France’s Côte-d’Azur and just over fifty miles west of Tuscany. This wildly majestic island enjoys some of the hottest, driest conditions in all of France (it holds the record for the most annual sunshine), and is where the Greeks first cultivated vines back in the 6th Century BCE. Despite this long history of production, it was not until the 1960s, when a horde of skilled wine-makers fled Algeria (the so-called French pieds noirs) for Corsica, that it became known for wines of quality of distinction. One of these wine-makers was Roger Courrèges, who founded the Domaine de Vaccelli in 1962 outside of Corsica’s southern capitol, Ajaccio. In Ajaccio, one of Corsica’s two AOC’s (designations of protected origin), southeastern facing granitic slopes have provided an excellent environment for indigenous varietals like Sciaccarellu, a thick-skinned grape that is literally translated from the Corsican dialect as “crispy-crunchy between the teeth.” Corsicans are often viewed as fiercely nationalistic, refusing to identify as French or Italian, and the Courrèges family is no exception, focusing on native vines and traditional practices to make wines truly representative of Ajaccio–the island’s oldest wine region.

Roger’s son Alain took over Domaine de Vaccelli in 1974 after his father’s death, restructuring the 28 hectare vineyard around the three most noble of Corsican varietals: Sciaccarellu, Niellucciu, and Vermentinu. Today, Alain works with his son Gérard to produce a range of reds, a white, and a delightful rosé (Juste Ciel) aged in caves beneath the winery, where natural granite walls are covered with Alain’s carvings. One of our favorites from Vaccelli is the Cuvée Roger Courrèges, a blend of Sciacarellu (70%), Grenache (20%), and Niellucciu (10%), that is a nod to the domaine’s founder. Cuvée Roger is dark and brooding, with a deep ruby color that hints at something sinister yet seductive. Rich aromas of red berry and spice give way to a stunning textural experience that is reminiscent of eating a low-hanging, super-ripe strawberry just after a rain storm. The fruit is ripe and laden with earth, and the warm, spicy finish recalls the wild mountain herbs, or maquis, that pepper the Corsican hillsides. These herbs are so distinctive–and remarkably aromatic–that their scent is said to have made native Corsican Napoleon Bonaparte weep when he was in exile on Elba, an island 50 miles to the east!

This herbacious, full-bodied red makes an excellent pairing for rich, meaty fall feasts.  The most classic pairing would be wild boar, or sangliers, marinated with red wine, herbs, and garlic, but alas, I was unable to wrangle any wild boars in Cambridge!  The next best thing is lamb, however, and I managed to procure some lamb chops from one of our favorite cheesemakers, Veronica Pedraza, who raises lamb and beef in addition to making cheese at Meadowood Farms in Cazenovia, New York. I rubbed the chops with whole-grain dijon, salt, pepper, and plenty of thyme (a nod to the Corsican maquis), and seared them until golden brown and medium rare. Paired with some roasted Brussels sprouts from Red Fire Farm in Granby, Massachussetts this gut-warming, hearty, harvest meal brought me right back to the Île de Beauté. I could almost imagine the lambs grazing amongst the rugged vines and kicking off the smells of the maquis–it’s enough to make anyone weep!

 

Rory Stamp is a classroom instructor, Wine Buyer, and cheese monger at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.

Dark Milk Bar

Patric’s Dark Milk Bar – an example of craft chocolate’s dark side!

This post is part three of three of my interview with Carla D. Martin, “Professor of Chocolate” and Lecturer in the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Part one discussed the meaning of “craft chocolate” in North America, and part two questioned the idea of terroir and craft chocolate’s cost. Today’s post looks at North American craft chocolate’s dark side — so much of it is dark chocolate! What’s a milk chocolate lover to do?

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Milking the goats at Big Picture Farm

Milking the goats at Big Picture Farm

Big Picture Farm has caught the attention of many a candy-eater, gift-giver, artisanal-food junkie and Tumblr user, and the farm’s award-winning goat’s milk caramels are fully deserving of hype and high praise. We proudly stock their precious packages in the bakery window, and hold onto their idyllic postcards behind the bakery to cheer us up. Behind their stunning pictures and doodles of goats, dogs, and garden harvests, however, is a working farm and growing business driven by passionate people.

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Get ready for Thanksgiving turkey!

Get ready for Thanksgiving turkey!

As a young girl my family would travel every year to share Thanksgiving dinner with family. I remember singing “Over the river and through the woods…” ad nauseam at least one of those trips. I grew more and more excited as the car crossed the Connecticut River, then through the mountain forests; the Appalachian Mountains. I knew with each landmark I was that much closer to seeing my cousins and the feast they would have prepared. Images of the giant bird, dripping with juicy gravy, made me anxious to arrive.

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Clos Cibonne Cuvee Speciale Tibouren

Clos Cibonne Cuvee Speciale Tibouren

We’re so excited to share the Clos Cibonne Cotes de Provence red with you, as this is one of our favorite wines for late summer and early fall!

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Chocolate Terroir

A sampling of our selection of Madagascar and Ecuador bars

Earlier this month we posted part one of my interview with Carla D. Martin, “Professor of Chocolate” and Lecturer in the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. In part one we talked about the meaning of “craft chocolate” in North America, both to the producer and the consumer. In this post I asked Carla to talk about what I consider to be two of the most interesting aspects of food production — terroir and cost.

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Clos de l'Origins Soif de Plaisir 2011

Clot de l’Origins Soif de Plaisir 2011

Southwest of the Languedoc lies Roussillon, a region that has too often been reduced to mere suffix. Roussillon stretches from the river Aude in the north to the border of Catalonia in the South. In the West, the snow-capped Pyrenées rise above 2500m in places, with the jagged peaks of Pic du Canigou at 2,786m (9.140ft) above sea level. A sharp descent eastward brings you to back to the stifling heat of the Mediterranean coastline, where Vin Doux Naturels reign supreme. Roussillon is primarily known for these wines, which are made from partially-fermented grape juice that is fortified with alcohol before it fully becomes wine. Made from the most common regional varietal, Grenache (whether is be Noir, Gris, or Blanc) , these aperitif “wines” benefit from early ripening fruit in some of the hottest, driest vineyards in all of France. Overall Roussillon produces 90% of all French Vin Doux Naturel, the most famous of which is Banyuls, made in the southeasternmost corner of the region. In Banyuls-sur-Mer, Grenache grapes are grown on steeply-terraced schist slopes, allowed to shrivel on the vine, fermented, fortified, and aged in barrel for years at a time at which point they can achieve a depth comparable to vintage port.

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