Rigatoni à la Bordelaise with Bordeaux

TalesoftheCork wine reviews

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.

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.

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


Burgundy: First things first

Despite London getting a large share of the holiday and travel press this year, I decided to kick off Tales of the Cork with a visit to Burgundy, France, in June. But before a visit to taste Burgundian wine or savor a local, traditional meal, some planning is in order. I begin this segment with some tips for anyone looking to create a trip to the French Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wine growing region.

The following is the first post in a series meant to help everyone prepare for a trip to Burgundy, France. The first steps include flights, rental car and international phone service.

A trip to Burgundy must include the village of Meursault: the center of the wine white world. Tools of the trade? A bottle of white and two 100-year-old instruments.

Getting started: Flights

Assuming France is the country of choice, and wine and food are the reason to travel, I found my trip to Burgundy made easier by flying into Paris-Orly Airport rather than into Charles de Gaulle (CDG). While CDG is often the airport of choice, it is located 16 miles northeast of the city. A better choice for Burgundy-bound travelers is Orly, as it is 11 miles south of Paris.

Orly however, can only be reached via other European airports, so your flight path will include places like London’s Heathrow, Germany’s Frankfurt or Munich and the Netherlands’ Amsterdam airports; however, most of the time, layovers are only 90 minutes. This is easily made up on the other end, traveling to and from the airports via rail links, rental car or cabs (A cab ride to Paris from Orly is about 30 Euros). Also when booking your flights, it may be a good idea to choose your seat immediately, but you will have to pay a premium for this option. I did and was able to choose a “twin” seat in coach with more room (also opt for an exit row or bulkhead seat). I figured comfort was worth the extra money on long flights.

With Orly already south of Paris, traffic snarls and delays are less traveling south. The bonus is that car rental and pick up is within a minute walk of Orly’s front doors.

Getting started: Rental car

Like most metropolises in the world, traffic and navigation are always an issue for a newcomer. I was required to present an International Driver’s License/Permit at the rental counter. These only cost about $15 and need to be obtained at your local AAA office. (Make sure you bring along recent standard passport photos, as they will be needed for the permit) I added a GPS system to my rental car and was out of the airport, traveling south, within the hour of arrival. I found this extra $12 expense worth it because, even when adding an international plan, overseas cellphone roaming charges can be expensive. Plus it is comforting to know I would be “told” in advance by the GPS when and where to turn. This is a good option for a newbie visitor, and driver, in a foreign country.

NOTE: Smartphones can use data for free if used in Wi-Fi hotspots. But good luck getting that option when you are in the middle of nowhere. (See International cell phone plans*)

I rented a Renault Megane from Europcar. Perfect compact 4-door hatchback for my wife and I for an 8-day trip to Burgundy.

A few notes about rental cars though: Be sure to prebook the car before leaving the U.S. and confirm it is for unlimited milage. Also, check with your credit card company that they will cover collision and theft so there is no need to add an extra policy at the rental counter. Plus, if you add coverage, make sure the credit company is listed first on the policy.

In fact, it would be prudent of you to print a copy of your credit card Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver page and note their phone number. In fact often the travel service number should also be noted. The rental company should cover liability.

When booking the car rental from home, be sure to bring along your pre-paid voucher that the agency emailed you. You will need to present it when you check in. You will most likely also have to show your passport and it must match your name on the voucher. Simply presenting your credit card may not be enough and could cause a delay in receiving your car.

Finally, walk around the car with a rental agency person. Make sure any and all dings, scratches or marks are noted. I found multiple errors on the contract. The company quickly corrected the forms upon my inspection.

NEW POLICY: As of July 1, 2012, each car driven in France must carry two breathalyzer kits. The new law is meant to keep inebriated drivers off the road. There will be a four-month grace period before fines the equivalent of $14 will be assessed if drivers are found not to carry them. France also has very strict and harsh penalties for drinking and driving.

Rail Europe to Beaune or Dijon

For those of you who wish to take the TGV from Paris to Burgundy the trip is made effortless by Rail Europe. For as little as $114 return, you can have an airline-style seat (with more legroom) and access to a bar-buffet car, taking in the French countryside through its large windows. If you want more comfort you might check out the first class cabin. Depending on the time you choose to leave, comfort level and number of stops, the trip will take from 1 hour, 37 minutes to 2 hours, 52 minutes. You can rent a car near each station.

Getting started: International cell phone plans

Before a trip overseas, I added three additional items to my cell phone plan. While service providers vary, I use AT&T. The plans are as follows: WORLD TRAVELER (monthly service $5.99). This brings the cost of calling to $.99 per minute. When traveling outside the U.S., I alter my texting plan to 200 texts per month for $30.00 (Overage $0.35 per message). Under this plan, picture/video messages were sent for $0.50 and I also increased my data plan to 120MB per month for $30. Just remember to cancel this service when you return. Now, in the months and weeks to come, this cost vary and may not be needed if you only use your phone in Wi-Fi hot spots.

The village and 11th century Château de la Rochepot is just a short drive south of Beaune. It just goes to show that you never know what is just around the corner in Burgundy.

If you have further questions about your ATT account, please refer to ATT Global or call 1-800-335-4685. Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile customers should contact their providers. I do not promote any particular plan but also want to point out that renting a European mobile phone from companies like Mobal.com may be a good alternative. The company touts recommendations from a variety of sources.

While the decision to travel and setting side time for a vacation is the first step, scheduling the dates and flights are the most important. In my next post on or before July 13, hotel, house and/or apartment rental will require most of our attention. I look forward to sharing behind the scenes stories of those who bring food and wine to us soon.


Côte de Beaune introduction

Burgundy is a triangular region in central France. The area includes Chablis, about three hours south of Paris, to Dijon in the North and Macon to the South. The Côte de Beaune appellation incorporates the southern villages of Cheilly Les Maranges and Santenay to northern village of Pernano Vergelesses. Beaune is the largest village. A sub appellation includes the villages of the Hautes-Côtes de Beaune. These villages and vineyards are on the plateau above the Côte de Beaune.

Almost every Saturday morning, starting at 7:30, Beaune’s old city center comes alive with a farmer’s market. Be sure to grab a coffee creme and croissant at one of the patisseries or cafes.

Value, vision and verve

Tales of the Cork is organized into three categories: California’s Central Coast, California’s Central Valley and Burgundy, France. In addition, expansion is planned in the future.

TalesoftheCork seeks to listen to the stories of those who have spent years in the art of crafting wine and food experiences. Often that will require a conversation with those who work behind the scenes to create a culinary experience.

In the months ahead, each category will house behind-the-scenes stories from chefs and viticulturists to sommeliers and wine merchants. Utilizing personal interviews with visionaries of gastronomy and wine making, Tales of the Cork will not only provide insight into the value, vision and verve of those who dream to create food and wine experiences, but will share inspiring stories that yet remain untold.

My dream intertwines with theirs. I long to learn from and be inspired by their struggles and ability to overcome obstacles. My dream is to build relationships and share the stories they are compelled to tell–stories that have shaped them and their community.


Greg D. Stobbe

Welcome to Tales of the Cork

Welcome to Tales of the Cork. The vision of this blog is two-fold: 1) Introduce followers to inspiring stories as told by chefs, winemakers, sommeliers, and wine merchants in California and Burgundy, France. These tales are not meant to boast of their accomplishments but to share behind-the-scenes accounts of their journeys, both struggles and triumphs. 2) To provide travel tips, plans and opportunities for culinary food and wine adventures from California, including Paso Robles to Santa Barbara, and Burgundy, France.

At first, I will update the blog with bi-weekly posts on Tuesdays, beginning July 10, and Fridays, starting July 13, 2012. The vision is to move this to a five-time per week communication in the months to come. Future plans are to include Oregon wines and gastronomers as well as expanding into other regions of France. Tales of the Cork also welcomes comments, emails, tweets and suggestions for future stories and culinary adventures.

Thanks for visiting Tales of the Cork; I look forward to sharing wine, food and travel experiences with you.

Greg D. Stobbe