Garlic Parmesan chicken in cream sauce

As social media wine and food pairing posts continue to be successful, we increasingly field requests to share recipes and/or how to adapted the ones we are using. So that said, TalesoftheCork will occasionally post behind the scene looks, sharing mistakes, messes, and triumphs as we plate and pair food.

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With the potatoes roasted separately and the garlic cream sauce made, I combined them to the herbed seared chicken breasts in a baking pan.

As with most, meal preparation and execution takes some planning before placing any ingredients on the counter. While many serve garlic chicken and may be a household classic, we thought to share a base recipe from DamnDelicious.net, tweaked to fit our taste profile.

This brings me to my wife’s first suggestion to any budding home chef: Try a recipe as listed before you engage with recipe creation. We included an altered Damn Delicious.net ingredient list at the bottom of the article for a lovely, yummy, easy to create one-dish dinner.

Enjoy a single-pan Parmesan garlic cream chicken dinner with roasted potatoes and spinach this week. The key to any meal is prepare a grocery list over the weekend make sure your staples are stocked.

Directions for Parmesan garlic cream chicken: 50-60 minutes

1. Coat both sides of the skinless chicken breasts with olive oil. Rub cracked pepper, Italian and rotisserie seasonings on the chicken then sprinkle Kosher salt to taste. However, our preferences are WalterSalt.comTangerine Wheat salt because of their subtle citrus and umami, savory flavors. We think the key to delicious meat preparation is bringing it to room temperature and seasoning at least 30 minutes before cooking. Let set.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. If you have the ability to use a convection oven, this will spend up the process, reducing cooking times.

3. Pour a couple of ounces of olive oil in and heat in a large skillet. Then melt a couple of tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Be careful not to burn the butter.

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You might choose to taste your wine or beverage during dinner preparation. This week we tried a Sonoma County Maldonado Chardonnay.

4. Sear the meat on both sides until flesh is golden brown. Do not over cook, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside on separate dish.

5. I like to roast my Yukon gold potatoes before cooking them with the chicken mixture. Chop them into quarters (or smaller chunks) and mixed them in olive oil and cracked pepper. Put in a open roaring dish and place in the 400 degree F oven while preparing rest of meal (15-20 minutes). This will ensure they will bake all the way through but also have that roasted aroma and flavor we love.

6. In a sauce pan, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and a splash of olive oil then add chopped garlic over medium heat. Continuously stir to avoid burning garlic for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Overcooked garlic will become bitter tasting. Whisk 2-3 tablespoons of flour into the butter and garlic, staring until lightly brown, about a minute.

7. We like adding a splash of dry white wine at this point (our preference is a light oaked Chardonnay) at this point to further infuse the mixture with flavor. Slowly add the chicken broth, fresh thyme and a basil leaf. Cook and whisk the mixture thoroughly until consistent–another minute or two.

8. Slowly incorporate the half and half and sprinkle in the grated Parmesan cheese a small handful at a time. Keep stirring. The heat should remain medium yet hot enough to melt the cheese to create a creamy consistency. This will take a couple of minutes. Adjust Parmesan to thicken or adjust density. Add more salt and pepper as per personal taste.

TIP: Add some extra half and half if mixture is too thick. If cream sauce is too thin, add a teaspoon of flour to a splash of cool milk and shake in a separate container to dissolve. Add to hot cheesy cream.

9. Place seared chicken breast on bottom of greased/prepared baking pan. Remove roasting potatoes from oven and place on and around seasoned chicken breasts. Pour prepared garlic and Parmesan creme sauce over the ingredients.

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As a one-dish meal, the garlic Parmesan sauce carries the dish. Add the spinach and parsley in the last minute of baking just to wilt the greens.

10. Place in middle of hot oven and roast until chicken is completely cooked through, reaching internal temperature of 165 F. Use a thermometer to check temp. This should take about 25-30 minutes or quicker depending on whether you are using a conventional or convection oven.

11. During bake time, chop the spinach and parsley to add near the end of the cooking time. As temperatures in the chicken reach the safe zone, pull dish from oven and use a large serving dish to spoon the spinach into the hot dish and garlic sauce to cook for the last five minutes. Most vegetables break down and lose their nutrients if they are overcooked. Remember, after washing spinach, it can be eaten raw so just cook it enough to wilt it in the garlic sauce.

12. Garnish dish with parsley and serve immediately.

We paired our Parmesan garlic cream chicken with a Maldonado Vineyards 2010 Parr Vineyard Chardonnay. The Sonoma County wine was fabulous with the dish. This  cool Chardonnay has green apple and citrus notes but amazing depth. It also has ripe stone fruit, vanilla and toasty nuts but its minerality comes through with a light creamy texture. This is a big wine and is rich and can handle a wide variety of foods.

Look for their 2012 vintage online. Maldonado Vineyards also has other Napa Valley Chardonnay examples.

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Chardonnays are a good choice for creamy, mild and buttery foods and pair well with this roasted herbed chicken in a garlic cream sauce.

However a wide variety of Chardonnays are a good choice for this one-dish meal. Look for Chardonnays that are lightly oaked, with ripe fruit, and hearty. They pair well with simple dishes that are mild, creamy, silky and buttery. Foods that are grilled or roasted do well as risottos and cream-enhanced soups or pastas. Also meaty fish like halibut, cod and rich tasting shellfish.

INGREDIENTS:

4 skinless organic chicken breasts

Italian seasoning (to taste)

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper (to taste)

4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

2 cups of washed baby spinach, roughly chopped

4 Yukon gold potatoes, cut and quartered

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

CREAM SAUCE FROM SCRATCH:

1/4 cup unsalted butter

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In 50-60 minutes, you can serve a hot and healthy one-dish meal.

6 cloves of chopped garlic

2-3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

a splash of dry white wine

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme

1/2 cup half and half

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Thanks again to the original chicken and potatoes recipe on Damn Delicious.

Be sure to read TalesoftheCork’s previous blog post, “Lodi Wine Country: Boutique winery innovation.” And if winemakers, wineries or restaurants are interested in a TalesoftheCork wine and/or food review on the blog, InstagramTwitter and/or Facebook, please send us a request via email: talesofthecork@gmail.com or use DM on social media. TalesoftheCork also offers social media seminars for businesses.

Five Thanksgiving sparkling wines

With the holiday season just a few days away, its time to put your Thanksgiving dinner menu together and put some thought to sparkling wine choices for the table.

Whether your holiday meal includes turkey, stuffing, cranberries and candied yams/sweet potatoes or beef brisket, roast/mashed potatoes, orange duck or goose, there are many choices and price points to consider.

Whether the following five choices fit your taste profile or pocketbook, sparkling wine can be a great way to open a gathering or holiday meal. The most important aspect to remember when trying something new is to take note of your preferences, and drink what you like.

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Segura Viudas Cava Reserva Heredad makes a nice opening beverage for your Thanksgiving table.

There may be non or occasional wine drinkers at the holiday table who would rather have a glass of bubbly, Beaujolais or a light white wine with appetizers and, in some cases, with dinner. There may also be others who’d prefer a craft beer.

Sparking wine and/or Champagne are great choices for Thanksgiving and holiday meal times as their bubbles go so well with cheese, nuts and fruit to spicy foods as well as potato chips and popcorn. Whether your sparkling is only for the opening toast or with shellfish or cheese pasta, egg rolls and Japanese food or quiche, crispy French fries and mussels, it is bound to bring smiles and get the holiday atmosphere rolling.

While a Blanc bubbly is often a celebration starter, an aperitif or paired with a starter, sparkling Rosè, with its heavier fruit, will go very well with your turkey dinner as it can help tone down garlic and savory tastes in the meat and can handle sweets like candied yams and cranberry sauce.

Five Thanksgiving sparkling wines:

While I like the Best Cheap Champagne choices the WineTurtle suggests, I also want to add a couple of sparkling bottles I’ve come across.

1) Segura Viudas Cava Reserva Heredad Brut ($20): The sparkling Spanish Cava winemaker’s notes include yeasty and smoky aromas with hints of brioche, honey, fruit and flower petals. This is a full flavor dry Cava with dried fruits and a touch of honey and apple on the finish. I love its elegance, luxurious and tart mouth feel. Heck the bottle gives the table a stately look.

The Segura bubbly pairs well with pasta in cream, butter or truffle oil along with most shrimp and shellfish dishes. I know biased meats can even be served with this Cava. We toasted our daughter’s acceptance into her diabetics internship program and we will serve this Champagne at the start of our Thanksgiving meal.

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The Ferrari Brut Rosé can be a wonderful celebration sparkling or used at the holiday table as a versatile bubbly with most dishes.

As I posed earlier, a Champagne Rosé can go so well with a turkey or other meat Thanksgiving dinner. With so many competing flavors on the table, you might add a a pink version as well depending on your meal choices.

Sparkling Rosés have deeper depth, more acidity. Many have more body and fruit. Champagne is so versatile. Take the time to research whether the bottle is sweet, semi-sweet or dry and how much or the variety of fruit flavors burst on the palate.

2) We enjoyed a bottle of Ferrari Brut Rosé Trentodoc ($30) earlier this year. It is a classic Italian sparkling with gorgeous aromas of wild strawberry, flowers, red currants and fresh baked bread with an old copper hue. Whether its sipped alone or with dinner, the wine is fresh, fruity and has a sweet almond elegant aftertaste with its dried fruit.

The Ferrari Rosé is made with Pinot Nero (60%) and Chardonnay (40%) created under the metodo classico style that is delicate with a gorgeous mouth feel and light citrus notes, finishing with a hint of musk.

Additionally, I like what Fiona Beckett posted in her Best food pairing for Rose article last year. Rosé wine and sparkling are no longer just spring and summer wines. Depending on your choices, you could move from one style of Rosé to another as the appetizers move to entrees and beyond the holiday meal.

3) Roederer Estate Brut Rosé is one of California’s most consistent, well received sparking year after year from the Anderson Valley ($29). This is a food-friendly, medium bodied bubbly which can easily move from the family or living room toast to the table. The Brut is 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay. Oak-aged wines make up 10-20% of each cuvée, adding consistency year after year.

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All three of the Varichon & Clerc, Rogederer Estate and Lucien Albrecht sparkling wines have their appropriate places for Thanksgiving and/or holiday celebrations.

While an elegant wine, its gentle Pinot Noir nuances of gentle cherry, raspberry, light pear, red apple, graham cracker and hints of spice and almonds with pineapple aromas create the illusion of a more expensive wine. There is a touch of ginger and vanilla on the finish to cleanse the palate. Bring on the holiday dinner!

4) Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’ Alsace Brut Blanc de Blancs ($18) is one of the most versatile sparking wines on the market. Whether its Easter Sunday, birthday celebrations, a popcorn party or a toast on Thanksgiving, this French Brut is inexpensive for a toast or with a variety of foods. It also comes in a Rosé version that is bound to please. The Brut Blanc is 80% Pinot Auxerrois, 10% Pinot Blanc and 10% Chardonnay, delicate and crisp, straw color with grapefruit and citrus flavors along with a yeasty finish. 

With a beautiful brilliant golden colour, it exhibits a predominantly floral nose, has fine and persistent bubbles and is both elegant and balanced on the palate. As an aperitif, at cocktail parties or receptions, it is the classic drink for all festive occasions.

5) Lastly a bottle of Varichon & Clerc Brut Privilège Blanc de Blancs might fit the budget minded host(ess) who is looking for more than a grocery store bottle of bubbly and needs to find one around $11. Created near the mountains of Lake Geneva and Lake Bourget near the Alpine Savoy region of France, this sparkling producer has continually produced classic “Methode Champenoise” wines since 1901.

The bubbly is smooth, creamy with gentle pear, apple, vanilla a hint of exotic fruit notes along with a toast and nice minerality. While this bubbly may not be for the entire Thanksgiving meal, it would make a nice toast and apertif. Serve with light appetizers, cheeses such as Brie and Camembert.

All five Thanksgiving or holiday sparkling wine choices can be ordered online via their websites and through most local wine shops in your area. As I live in Central California, most of these and many other choices are available via The Grape Tray in Fresno.

All five Thanksgiving or holiday sparkling wine choices can be ordered online via their websites and through most local wine shops in your area. As I live in Central California, most of these and many other choices are available via The Grape Tray in Fresno.

For more information, read The Grape Tray reopens in Fresno’s Opus I Center. Call owner Stan Kato at 559.226.6828 for these and other suggestions. Be sure to visit his shop at 6023 N. Palm Ave., Fresno, CA 93704. The Grape Tray can also be reached via email: stan@grapetray.com and on Instagram: @GrapeTray.

Be sure to read TalesoftheCork’s previous blog post, “Sipping a Cambria Moonstone Cellars Tempranillo.” And if winemakers, wineries or restaurants are interested in a TalesoftheCork wine and/or food review on the blog, InstagramTwitter and/or Facebook, please send us a request via email: talesofthecork@gmail.com or use DM on social media. TalesoftheCork also offers social media seminars for businesses.

Sipping a Cambria Moonstone Cellars Tempranillo

TalesoftheCork wine reviews

moonstone1Visitors planning a trip to Cambria, California, often stroll along the wooden boardwalk, go whale and elephant seal watching, visit Hearst Castle and dine at one of Moonstone’s beach-side restaurants.

But in downtown Cambria, a small boutique winery and wine shop should be on your list, besides window shopping. Pencil in Moonstone Cellars.

While we don’t get over to Cambria very often, a leisurely walk in the picturesque town and nearby ocean boardwalk, visitors will find boutique and antique shops, mom and pop cafes and restaurants and the local wine shop and winery: Moonstone Cellars.

Located in West Village on the corner of Main and Sheffield streets, Todd Clift and his dad, Muril, opened the family-owned winery and began producing wines since 1998. Todd proudly creates his wines made from Central Coast grapes.  Moonstone Cellars offers a wide variety of varietals. From a lighter style Grenache to a full bodied Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc to a dry Riesling, there is bound to be something for everyone.

While I did not travel this week, I sat down to post with a glass of Moonstone Cellars 2009 Paso Robles Tempranillo beside me. The Spanish varietal and Central Coast grown was splendid. With notes of cherry, ripe plum, cracked pepper, spice and a rivulet of vanilla flowing through it, the medium bodied wine and tannins lingered.

moonstonetempranilloWhile I sipping the wine, purposely on #TempranilloDay, I soon wanted an afternoon snack to pair it with. The point of this is I did not plan this particular pairing or ‘event’ but rather just quickly looked what we had in the fridge. We had some Asiago, Manchego and a blue Camembert, olives, salami, grapes and pistachios in the pantry. I quickly put them on a black serving dish beside me and I continued writing.

While most of these appetizers went well with the Tempranillo, I hold and share a common wine lovers phase often: “Drink what you like.” For me these cheeses pair well with the terroir and flavors of the wine.

My point is simple: Take the time to explore the wineries in the places you visit and taste the wines they are pouring in the tasting rooms. And while you may not like all you try, purchase a bottle or three of the variety you like to take home. Then later at home, if you’ve kept the notes you were given or wrote down your own, open the bottle and imagine what food will go well with it. And if you need help, follow a blogger, Instagramer or Twitter feed of someone you trust and ask or email them. You might even follow this feed or keep TalesoftheCork a favorite on your device.

The Moonstone Cellars Tempranillo will also go very well with beef stew or a backyard BBQ. The wine will go very well with tacos, burritos, pizza, polenta dishes. Heck, I could have even served it with our lasagna the other night. Take the time to try wine with the foods you like. Some will go better than others.

It’s your table. You create the food. Own the right to serve what you like.

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Moonstone Cellars is moving from its location on Main Street. Go around their former location to a building just behind them on 812 Cornwall Street in Cambria (as pictured).

Moonstone Cellars can be found at 812 Cornwall Street in Cambria’s West Village. The staff welcomes walk-ins daily between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Walk right up to their U-shaped bar and ask Todd for a tasting, which cost $8 for 6 wine pours of varying varietals. Moonstone Cellars wines are also available online or call them at 805.927.9466 or 877.517.9463. Or just send them a note via their contact page. Moonstone Cellars also belongs to the Pacific Coast Wine Trail whose organization stretches from Morro Bay up to San Simeon.

Be sure to read the previous TalesoftheCork blog post: “Rigatoni à la Bordelaise with Bordeaux.” And if winemakers, wineries or restaurants are interested in a TalesoftheCork wine and/or food review on the blog, InstagramTwitter and/or Facebook, please send us a request via email: talesofthecork@gmail.com or use DM on social media. TalesoftheCork also offers social media seminars for businesses.

Rigatoni à la Bordelaise with Bordeaux

TalesoftheCork wine reviews

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After reading about the Chateau Haut-Sorillon Bordeaux Superieur online, I decided to try the 2014 version with a classic French dish.

While I often shop at Trader Joe’s for staples, I rarely purchase wine from them. However, after repeatedly hearing from a number of followers and seeing a few of their choices on blogs online, a bottle of Chateau Haut Sorillon Bordeaux Superieur 2014 ended up on our table last night.

A Trader Joe’s find at $8.95, the Chateau Haut Sorillon Bordeaux Supérieur 2014 medium bodied dry Bordeaux is not a special occasion or weekend wine per se, but it seemed to fit what I was looking for as Geena and I were preparing a French inspired dinner: Rigatoni à la Bordelaise with mushrooms.

While the wine is not as rich and lush as a classic Bordeaux, my intent was to pair our Rigatoni with a wine that might match up with an “everyday dish” that folks could make without a lot of pretense. And, for the most part, this value wine fits the bill.

Now, I’m not saying I’d skip on the opportunity for a higher value Merlot, but for the simple, earthy one pan meal, we enjoyed the Chateau Haut Sorillon Bordeaux Supérieur 2014.

However, here’s a TalesoftheCork tip: Definitely open your bottle hours in advance as the wine will be tight and needs to open up. We gave it three hours but as the evening went on, the Merlot blend got smoother and allowed the dark fruit flavors to advance. Patience helps. Open early. I might even try the night before next time.

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Rigatoni à la Bordelaise and mushrooms.

The light style 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet blend is from a family estate 5 km from St. Emilion, France, will show its fresh dark fruit, pepper and spices and a dry finish, highlighting a good but thin blackberry and smoky finish. It is a value buy but went well with our Tuesday Rigatoni à la Bordelaise and mushrooms.

While we looked up a few recipes, Geena and I created our own version of the dish based on the  Manger site recipe by Mimi Thorisson.

Heat 2 table spoons of olive oil add cook one finely chopped leek and 3 cloves of minced garlic in a hot pan. Cook 3 minutes or until golden.

In a separate pan fry the pancetta and/or thickly sliced bacon to crisp them until brown.  Then add a tablespoon of flour to the leeks, garlic and the bacon bits to help thicken.

Add tomato passata (ready cut plain diced tomatoes) to the leeks, garlic and bacon mixture. Cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Later we added 1/3 cup chicken broth and 3/4 cup red wine (the Chateau Haut-Sorillon Bordeaux) along with butter, pepper, salt and a pinch of Chipotle chili pepper to create a saucy soup-like mixture. But it is important to reduce the mixture over medium to low heat up and simmer for 30 minutes so it is lush but not runny.

Many will fry or cook the mushrooms (we used dried porcini and shiitake mushrooms) in a separate hot pan with butter and garlic to sear and cook those earthy items until golden and add to the other mixture.

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The earthy flavors of the Rigatoni à la Bordelaise with mushrooms pairs well with the Chateau Haut Sorillon.

As the mixture is reducing, boil your water and cook the rigatoni. While you are waiting, you might start your meal with a garden salad. Dry the rigatoni and dish the mixture over the pasta, stirring the sauce in. Sprinkle with Parmesan, fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

With a long decant the Chateau Haut Sorillon Bordeaux Superior 2014 wine will pair well with chicken and meat dishes as well as cheese and charcuterie plates. This is a good party wine with finger foods as well. A Trader Joe’s value wine from $7-9.

Be sure to read the previous TalesoftheCork blog post: Simple Caprese lunch with Emmolo SauvBlanc. And if winemakers, wineries or restaurants are interested in a TalesoftheCork wine and/or food review on the blog, InstagramTwitter and/or Facebook, please send us a request via email: talesofthecork@gmail.com or use DM on social media. TalesoftheCork also offers social media seminars for businesses.

Grocery list for Rigatoni à la Bordelaise with mushrooms:

1 pound of rigatoni pasta
7 slices of thick bacon or pancetta (diced)
8 ounces of porcini mushrooms,
8 ounces of shiitake mushrooms
2 leeks (finely chopped)
4 garlic cloves (finely minced, 2 for the sauce, 2 for the mushrooms)
1 15-ounce can of ready cut plain diced tomatoes
3/4 cup red wine (I used the Chateau Haut Sorillon Bordeaux Superior 2014)
14 ounce can of chicken broth
1 tbsp plain flour
Olive oil (for frying)
1 tbsp butter (for mushrooms)
1 tbsp butter (for pasta)
Salt and pepper (for seasoning)
1 pinch chilli powder
Grated parmesan cheese (for topping)
Parsley to garnish

 

Simple Caprese lunch with Emmolo SauvBlanc

Young winemaker Jenny Wagner continues the family tradition established by her great-grandfather as she creates Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot.

TalesoftheCork wine reviews

Whether busyness takes you away from what it is otherwise important or too much has already gone under the bridge, take a moment for yourself soon. A 30 to 60-minute vacation from all that is distracting you is necessary to regroup, rebuild and refocus.

Today that is exactly what I needed and created a simple side dish that became a Caprese salad lunch and glass of Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc with my wife after a busy week for both of us. I needed a ‘place’ to forget about a couple of issues and took advantage of a sunny moment in the kitchen.

Fresh home grown tomatoes were on the counter and a quick trip to a market served to add a couple of whole milk fresh Mozzarella balls and some lush, sweet smelling basil. In this case, Trader Joe’s a half mile away had me in and out of the store fast.

We love the aroma of fresh cut tomatoes and basil and the addition of lush Mozzarella coated with extra virgin olive oil and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar as hits the spot like no other. A little cracked pepper sprinkled over the plate adds a final layer of spice to an amazing lunch.

Today’s choice to whet our whistle is a small glass of Emmolo 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from Rutherford in the Napa Valley. Pour yourself a small glass of EmmoloWines 2014 #NapaValley Sauvignon Blanc to sip and appreciate what Jenny Wagner is creating, adding to her great-grandfather’s winemaking tradition.

With just a quick stop at the market, a caprese salad can be created in just minutes.
With just a quick stop at the market, a Caprese salad can be created in just minutes.

According to their Wagner Family website, “the Emmolos have a long history in Napa Valley with Jenny’s great-grandfather, Salvatore Emmolo, starting the family’s grapevine rootstock nursery in St. Helena in 1923. Her grandfather, Frank Emmolo, not only managed the nursery, but also grew Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot on their family property.”

The Emmolo #SauvBlanc is dry, refreshing, crisp and tart. The light wine is smooth and balanced with a hint of peach & Kiwi with melon and and lime notes. Love the minerality and herbal overtones and allow the pear and and citrus aromas tempt you. This is a winner!

We’ve enjoyed this wine with oysters and scallops in the past but would also love it with shellfish pasta and chicken salads. While their website is not yet complete, check out EmmoloWines soon. #TalesoftheCork loving their simple elegance.

Wagner Family Wines and Emmolo Wines can be tasted and purchased at Camus Vineyards, 8700 Conn Creek Rd., Rutherford, CA 94573. However, it is not always on the tasting flight menu. Call ahead at 1.707.967.3010 to check for availability. If a trip to Napa is not in the works, try their Wagner Family Wines finder.

Be sure to read the previous TalesoftheCork blog post: Pre travel checklist for overseas visit. And if winemakers, wineries or restaurants are interested in a TalesoftheCork wine and/or food review on the blog, InstagramTwitter and/or Facebook, please send us a request via email: talesofthecork@gmail.com or use DM on social media. TalesoftheCork also offers social media seminars for businesses.

Grocery list for Caprese salad:

One ball from an 8-ounce container of Whole Milk Fresh Mozzarella in lightly salted water

One container of fresh leaf basil or one sprig of basil

Two vine ripe whole tomatoes

Cracked pepper to taste

Olive oil and Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena to taste