Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops with a Black Truffle Foam and Crispy Wine Battered Curly Parsley

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A Day at Azienda Agricola Poliziano



Recently on a trip to Tuscany, which I have been to numerous times, I decided to take a drive to Montepulciano. Believe it or not, Siena and the Chianti Classico area from Siena to Florence is what I know, and of course Bolgheri and Montalcino… Vino Nobile is a very elegant and well-known wine as well so this adventure was bound to be a fun one.

Poliziano is a wine that I have drank before and really think the quality is great. So I decided why not go to Azienda Agricola Poliziano and get to know this Tuscan area of Montepulciano on the border of beautiful Cortona? Afterall, being based near the Medieval town of Siena, Montepulciano is definitely a feasible day trip.

It was a beautiful, Sunny day and upon arrival, men were busy in the vineyards with their tractors. Springtime in Tuscany is the time where pruning of the vines and pesticide spraying is done, so there was a very lively buzz to Poliziano. I met my guide Jennifer who is an American that lives in Montepulciano. She was pleasant and very informative. Upon arriving at Azienda Agricola Poliziano and looking around, I had imagined a medium production winery but Jennifer informed me that annual production at poliziano is of 600,000 bottles per year. This is not a small production winery by any means but their harvesting and winemaking techniques are meticulous nonetheless and resemble those of a “boutique” winery.

All the harvesting at Azienda Agricola Poliziano is done by hand so as not to squish any grapes out in the vineyard or harm them in any way. Machines tend to be quicker but rougher. Also, something I really love is that the agronomist at Poliziano decides not to use any chemical fertilizer but instead is strictly 100% organic.

A lot of wineries use a system of irrigation for the months when mother nature decides to stay dry. In Poliziano, they do not use an irrigation method. This is because naturally, Vitis Vinifera Vine roots tend to dig really deep to find water. This in turn gives the grapes a more concentrated minerality aspect because the roots have to go to the subsoil to get water and this is where tons of natural minerals are found. If an irrigation system were used in the vineyards, the vines would find their water source with more ease near the topsoil and would not reach the minerals below.

The vine training system at Poliziano is the Cordone Sferonato where the vines grow on trellises close to the soil. This is done on purpose so that the Sangiovese grape clusters that hang down can get some humidity from the soil at night.

All in all, the day spent in Montepulciano was great. The Wines at Poliziano are top class and the Winery is very mindful of all their winemaking process and procedures. A visit I highly recommend!

The Global Grape


Grapes have gone global! Really, have they?…

Cabernet grapes are synonymous of Bordeaux or California right? Well hold it right there. Just as world economies become more global and mass migrations of people make their way to different countries in search of new horizons and opportunities, so is Vitis Vinifera (or the wine grape). Think of Malbec and your mind automatically wanders to the Southern Hemisphere, a grape ravished in France by Phylloxera. Just as a certain terroir brings out a wines “sense of place”, modern-day vintners are looking to achieve new nuances and characteristics to grapes and wines typically from a certain area…

Wait a minute… Malbec wine from Australia? Yes…

I have been holding on to this interesting find in my cellar for two years. The summer heat is definitely over and it’s time to drink big bold reds and eat richer foods again.

The wine I will break down today is the 2011 Vinaceous Voodoo Moon Malbec. This wine is from a single vineyard site in a town in South Western Australia called Margaret River. The town is located 6 miles inland from the Indian Ocean and it’s climate is humid Mediterranean, with an average annual rainfall of around 44 inches. This would tell me that the days are hot and the nights get the cool Indian Ocean air, perfect for grape growing.

Upon first appearance, the Voodoo Moon Malbec is clear with no sediment. Slow and sleek legs give signs of a higher alcohol wine. The color is a beautiful rich, deep and inky purple with a ruby rim.

On the nose, stewed plums, sour cherries and dark berries abound. Dry dark soil, wet river stones and a hint of vanilla baking spice permeate the air.

On the palate, the Vinaceous Voodoo Moon Malbec has a full bodied mouthfeel with medium plus tannins. Notes of sour cherries, unripe plums, blackberries, violet flowers, delicate notes of vanilla baking spice, black peppercorns, with dry soil and river stones coat the palate in an elegant well balanced manner.

In conclusion, I find this Malbec to be a true gem… In comparison to most Argentine Malbecs, I would say that the 2011 Vinaceous Voodoo Moon Malbec is a much less rustic and earthy wine with less minerality than its Argentine counterpart. This is by no means a Monday night wine. With structured body and tannins this wine is made in a very modern Australian screw cap manner. Almost like a jammy Shiraz…

Imported by The Country Vintner, Ashland Virginia and with a 14.5% alcohol level, I would forget the churrasco and Chimichurri and “turn on the barbie mate” for a juicy Australian Kobe beef or pair with a burger with beetroot aioli or a typical Australian meat pie… For $13-19, find this wine online at wine-searcher.com… Cin Cin and enjoy!

Thanksgiving and it’s Wines and Food


It’s been a while since writing a post… I have taken a personal sabbatical to better my wine and food skills and create a different philosophy through it all. As I feel that less is more, I have been experimenting in the Cantinetta Vintners test kitchen with various modernist techniques, studying the techniques of my favorite Michelin Chefs, the history of certain foods and gathering my conclusions through my experiences around the world.

During this time of year, I feel it is very important to give thanks. We tend to take things for granted. If we have a tight family and good health all is ok. And let’s not forget about good food and wine.

As an idea for those who did not invite like fifty people over for this Thanksgiving, try making a roulade of Turkey breast instead. One roulade is enough for 2 people.

Buy some turkey breasts, usually 2 per packet. Butterfly a turkey
breast at a time, (run your knife lengthwise through the thick part of the breast as to be able to fold open). Open flaps and place upside down between 2 seran plastic wraps and pound flat with a rolling pin or mallet. When flattened, flip over and remove top plastic wrap. Stuff the breast with stuffing and roll like a cigar in the plastic and place 1/2 hour in fridge. Unwrap and tie in kitchen twine. Douse in olive oil sea salt, pepper and place in a parchment paper lined baking tray. Bake for 40 minutes.

For my stuffing, I used crushed pistachios, diced Kings Hawaiian sweet rolls, finely diced onion, garlic, diced dried cherries, diced apricots, Italian seasoning and ground pepper.

For your side of cranberry, dissolve 1 1/2 cans of cranberry sauce in a saucepan with no heat. Stirring and slowly adding water until a juice consistency. Then follow the instructions on a box of unflavored gelatine. In modernist cooking this is called gellification. It gives your boring canned cranberry a new look and mouthfeel that will wow your guests.

Then either make or buy some good ol’ southern skillet cornbread and cut into small 1 inch squares (homemade is best). Boil some diced peeled baby sweet potatoes and when tender to a forks touch, add to a blender with a bit of the water used for boiling. The starch in the water binds the potatoes into a velvety sweet potato puree. Place puree in a pastry bag and create rosettes on the plate. See where I’m getting at… Trying new techniques and creating a different, deconstructed and plated Thanksgiving meal for fewer people… Oh and by the way, if you have the privilege of buying produce at a farm, choose baby veggies and greens. They are much more tender and create a more visually appealing plate.

Many people still get confused and ask me what wine to pair with their gobble gobble. Remember that I said before that regional wines go best with regional cuisines… Think that as American as Thanksgiving is, you want to stay local with your wine too. Go American. Light meat, light flavors, light wines. I’m thinking a lightly oaked California Chardonnay such as the Sonoma Cutrer from the Sonoma Coast (buttery and lush) or a light bodied Oregon Pinot Noir such as the Atticus Pinot Noir From the Willamette Valley with hints of smoky bacon and strawberries these wines will be crowd pleasers. Cin Cin and give thanks!