Winexpression to Close

I must fly away to another flowerAfter almost 8 years, I have decided that my Wine Blogging journey has come to an end. Thanks to all the readers, PR staff, and fellow wine bloggers that supported me through this journey. I have a few posts to finish up and will explain a bit more, but basically this forum has run it’s course in my life and I am ready to move on. I have valued the feedback I have received and thank you all for your support. Stay tuned for a few more posts with the most valuable wine lessons I’ve learned, tips for wine bloggers, and some final reviews and notes from recent tastings I have attended.



Ratings: Wily Jack’s Latest Releases

Wily Jack offers 3 Wines

Need a good wine to pair with dinner? Wiley Jack aims to fill those boots. The brand that launched less than a year ago by wine behemoth Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines offers three simple wines for only $8 each. An easy to make recipe is provided for each wine, and additiional recipes can be found on the Wily Jack website. The label is great and was designed by Michael Schwab.

Disclosure: These wines were sent to me as a press sample. Please find my tasting notes below.

2007 Wily Jack Cabernet Sauvignon

13.5% ABV
Notes: Raspberry and blackberry notes with firm tannins and a structured mouth-feel. Tons of fruit on the finish that lingers on your tongue.
Score: 88pts (B+)

Recipe: Grilled Steak with Porcini Red Wine Butter

Serves 4

  • 4 –  8 ounce sirloin or rib eye steaks
  • 2 tbsp EVOO (or Extra Virgin Olive Oil as my buddy Rachel Ray would say)

Porcini Red Wine Butter

  • 1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1/4 cup minced shallot (1 large shallot)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp minced flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Preparation Instructions

Place dried porcinis in a small strainer and briefly rinse under cold water. Transfer to a non-reactive pan with wine and shallots. Cook on low heat until wine is reduced to an almost syrup-like consistency. After mixture cools, place with butter, garlic and parsley in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cooking the Steaks

Preheat grill to medium high heat.  Lightly coat meat with oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill to your desired doneness, about 4 -5 minutes per side for medium rare. Serve with a spoonful of porcini-red wine butter sauce on top Pair with mashed or baked potatoes or oven baked French fries.

2007 Wily Jack Zinfandel

13.5% ABV
Notes: Somewhat hidden aroma with cherry and mineral notes on the palate. Medium to light bodied with a nice simple finish. A little tart but overall a nice effort.
Score: 84pts (B)

Recipe: Winemaker Jason Becker’s Rosemary Scented Tri-Tip

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons steak sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 5 to 10 cloves minced fresh garlic (to taste)
  • 1 beef tri-tip roast, about 4 pounds
  • salt and pepper

Preparation Instructions

Combine and whisk all marinade ingredients into a small bowl.
Trim fat off tri-tip roast; spread marinade evenly on all sides of roast.  Cover in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 4 to 24 hours.
Lightly season roast with salt and pepper, and grill on barbecue pit (preferably charcoal) over medium heat until your desired doneness, about 35 minutes for a tender and juicy medium.  Remove and let sit for 3-5 minutes before slicing.

2008 Wily Jack California Chardonnay

13.5% ABV
Notes: A very crisp and buttery chardonnay with green apple notes on your tongue. A smooth finish with a clean mouth feel.
Score: 86pts (B)

Recipe: Sautéed Salmon with Lemon-Ginger Wine Sauce

Serves 4

Lemon-Ginger Wine Sauce

  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut in large cubes
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sautéed Salmon

  • 4 8-ounce salmon filets, boneless and skinless
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation Instructions

Sauce: In a non-reactive saucepan on medium heat, reduce the wine with the shallots, bay leaf and ginger until about ¼ cup of liquid remains. Reduce heat to low. Using a whisk, briskly stir in the butter one cube at a time and then strain through a fine mesh strainer into another small saucepan or sauce boat. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep in a warm area.

Salmon: Season the salmon filets with salt and pepper. Pour olive oil into a large sauté pan on high heat and lay the seasoned salmon filets skinned side up. Cook the salmon for 4 minutes on each side.

Ladle sauce over and around the salmon. Serve with steamed rice and vegetables.


Atlas Olive Oils – Tasting and Recipe

atlas_olive_oil_desert_miracle(Posted by T.A.P.)
I’m definitely not an expert on olive oil, the way it should taste, the different nuances, the proper color, etc.  But, much like wine, I do know what is pleasing to my palate.  So when Atlas Olive Oils asked if I would sample their olive oil I thought I’d give it a try.  I wouldn’t be able to offer an “expert” opinion, but I would be able to give it a review based on my taste.

Atlas Olive Oils estate (Website) is located in the dry areas of Morocco where they cultivate over one million olive trees.  The olives are harvested directly from the tree, never coming into contact with the soil, and the time period between harvesting and crushing never exceeds 20 minutes.  It’s the attention to details such as this that make for a very high quality product.  Just taking a look at their website one comes to see that olive oil is a passion for those at Atlas Olive Oils, not just a business.
They offer two olive oils.  Desert Miracle, aptly named because it seems a miracle to be able to produce olive oil out of a desert, and Les Terroirs De Marrakech which is their ultra-premium extra virgin olive oil and has a limited production of 25,000 liters. (Note: The oils recently won 3rd best olive oil in the world for 2009 at the MARIO SOLINAS olive oil competition. Website [])

The following are my tasting notes on these oils. Since I don’t consider myself an expert, you’ll notice that ratings were foregone.

Full Disclosure: The following oils were sent as press samples.
Desert Miracle
Recommended Retail: $11.29 USD
Notes: Hints of dried pineapple and banana on the nose, with a buttery and lovely palate that leads to a slightly peppery finish. Very nice and great as a salad dressing. See note below.

Les Terriors de Marrakech
Recommended Retail: $11.86 USD
Notes: A very green smelling and tasting olive oil, a bit like cut grass with a mellow palate that leads into a buttery aftertaste that shows no bitterness. Great drizzled on a variety of foods.

basic_saladSalad Recipe

Mixed Baby Greens
Baby Spinach
Strawberries – sliced
Red Onion – very thinly sliced
Crumbled Feta Cheese
Sweet & Spicy Walnuts
Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette (See Below)

Sweet & Spicy Walnuts

Brown sugar
Cayenne pepper
Black Pepper
Non-stick spray

Spray pan with non-stick spray and place over medium heat.
Add desired amount of walnuts to pan.
Sprinkle brown sugar, (white sugar can also be used), a pinch of salt, fresh ground black pepper, dash of cayenne pepper and a sprinkle or two of cinnamon over the nuts.
Stir the nuts continually until all of the sugar has melted and each nut is coated.
Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Once nuts are cooled, sprinkle over salad and enjoy!
Specific amounts are not given as the spices can be adjusted to taste.  This recipe is more of a method rather than exact measurements.

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette

The Desert Miracle is a great oil to use in this vinaigrette as the green notes of the Les Terriors de Marrakech and other subtle flavors would probably be overwhelmed and masked by the flavor of the vinegar. We choose to use an Industriale type of affordable balsamic vinegar available from most grocery stores. The ratio of oil to vinegar keeps the subtle flavors in the oil from being overwhelmed, and the addition of a bit of sugar helps to cut through the acidity of the vinegar. Salt and pepper balance out the flavors.

Serves 6 well dressed salads:
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons Desert Miracle Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch of cane sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Measure the vinegar into a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the Olive Oil, whisking briskly to emulsify the mix until there is no separation between the oil and vinegar. Add a pinch of sugar and season with salt and pepper. Whisk until fully combined then drizzle over salad until lightly coated.

For more info visit

Note: The oil will be available for purchase in the USA very soon.

The Best Pizza Ever – Off the Grill

Pizza and David ArthurThis is possibly the best pizza I’ve ever had, and it’s a recipe that anyone with a Barbecue (Preferably Gas) can make. My father came to my house one day when my wife and I planned on making pizza in the oven as we normally do.  Larry recommended throwing it on the grill and the idea at first struck me as odd. Do you rub olive oil on the dough to keep it from sticking? Isn’t it going to burn?

Turns out, this is the best way to cook pizza at home, in fact, I don’t think I’ve had a better pizza from home. So here it is, give it a try and I’m sure you’ll be a believer. This isn’t a new method, as I have seen a similar set of instructions in the Dean and Deluca cookbook, but I think it’s one that people are scared to try. So, if you are trying it for the first time, comment on it here and let me know what you thought.

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Yield: 4 Servings

16 oz (1lb) Pizza Dough divided into two halves
1 8 oz Can Tomato sauce
2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Chopped
½ Medium Onion
5 Medium (or 10small) Cremini Mushrooms, Thinly Sliced
Sliced Black Olives
3 Links Sausage (Cheese and Wine or comparable)
Cheese (4 Cheese Blend, Parmesan, Asiago, Fontina, Mild Provolone)
Olive Oil
Dried Oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste
Fresh Basil

Preheat Barbecue to medium high heat
Separate dough into two equal halves and stretch (don’t roll) into 8 inch Diameter rounds on a floured surface.
Place directly on Barbecue (no need to oil grill or dough) and cook for 4 minutes. Flip and reduce heat to med-low and cook for an additional 3 minutes

Remove casing from Sausage, crumble and cook in a medium sauce pan on medium heat. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Add sliced onion and mushrooms to same pan and cook over medium high heat until onions are tender but not caramelized.
Return sausage to pan and remove from heat.

Place cooked pizza dough with the side you cooked first, facing up on a baking sheet.
Spoon on a thin layer of tomato sauce
Sprinkle salt, pepper, oregano, and chopped garlic to taste
Add a thin layer cheese
Layer the Sausage/ onion/ mushroom mix and black olives over the cheese
Add another thin layer of cheese
Drizzle olive oil around the crust
Place the pizzas on the center of the grill and reduce the temperature to low (I have a three burner model and I turn off the middle burner). In 3 Minutes rotate the Pizza 180 degrees (for even cooking) and leave for another 3 minutes.

Remove pizza, add fresh chopped basil and allow to sit for 2 minutes.

Cut and serve.

Wine: I paired this with a 2001 David Arthur Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine had an amazing nose bursting with blueberries and cocoa. The mouth feel was impressive and had the distinct flavor of rich black cherry with a very long finish. The wine is still a little young and was a little hot on the finish, but as it opened with air, it became more refined. A very impressive wine.
94pts – JAT