Bearing Much Fruit
How Panther’s newest wine salesman went from business major to Fenway Park usher to wine enthusiast 
Bearing Much Fruit
How Panther’s newest wine salesman went from business major to Fenway Park usher to wine enthusiast 

7/28/11


Pretty in Pink

Staying cool and sexy with a glitzy glass of that shimmering rosé

It is hot, the kind of hot where sweat doesn’t just bead, it boils. In this heat, kiddy pools look inviting and ice cream is the only acceptable option for dinner. When temperatures rise this high, one has to wonder where a glass of wine fits in. Fear not, for there is only one type of wine capable of standing up in this heat… the all-mighty rosé. If you’re like me, all summer you’ve been tasting, swallowing – heck -- even gulping those summer whites; and while certainly satisfying, a new twist on something crisp is always appealing. 

 

Enter rosé. 

 

It is beautiful to behold in its entire pinkish, cherry-hued glory.  Such wine is a perfect blend of something red and something white and something altogether beautiful. During these dog days of summer, embrace the heat and hug the mug with Panther’s two favorite rosés:  the Shot Bull or the Hugger-Mugger. 

For the past several decades, rosé has carried with it a bad reputation. Many have viewed it as a wine for the very old or very young. This is due in part to the popularity of California’s version, known as White Zinfandel, a blush wine made from the Zinfandel grape that produced an off-dry to sweet wine typically enjoyed by grandmothers and ladies of less distinguished character. The wine was made during the 1970’s, when the demand for white wine was higher than the availability of white wine grapes and California producers decided to make “white wine” from red grapes:  specifically, Zinfandel. 

 

This is not to say that White Zinfandel should cause one to blush if seen drinking it. Though it became categorized as an "unclassy" wine -- taking with it the good name of rosé – its stigma is changing. Rosé is making a stellar comeback, with enthusiasts seeking the original, dryer, delicate version first produced in France by Anjou Rosé from the Loire. 

In other words, pink wine is cool again!

 

This is exceptional news, not just because it is always fun expanding the repertoire of wines to consume during any given season, but also due to the fact that so few present a color as romantic and feminine as rosé.  It is beauty in a bottle. Let’s not also forget the immense versatility so graciously administered by this supple wine. It simply extends romance and passionately flirts with the lips of every indulger daring to partake.

 

It is for these reasons that rosé makes such a beautiful beverage on hot summer days. It has greater flair than a typical white and does not carry the more intense nature found in a red. It is pretty and pink and delicate. It is summer.

Keeping all that in mind, the Shot Bull rosé and the Hugger-Mugger are two pink beauties that keep us coming back for more. 


Linda Domas "Shot Bull" Rose

The Shot Bull from Linda Domas is a crisp, garnet -hued spitfire from the Fleurieu Peninsula sub-region of McLaren Vale SA. Thanks to the altitude and coastal influence, the temperatures are up to 10 degrees cooler where these grapes are grown than on the McLaren Flat. The cooler Shiraz grapes make this a totally chilled-out rosé. It is dry and more reminiscent of the traditional European style. Overflowing with aromas of berry and a flavor profile weighted towards raspberries, it delivers a superb, clean and crisp finish.


Bergevin Lane's "Hugger-Mugger" Rose

Our Hugger-Mugger 2010 from Bergevin Lane is new to our portfolio of products and for good reason. It was a great year for wine production in Washington's Columbia Valley. Cool temperatures and higher than usual precipitation led to extraordinary results. Thanks to new techniques employed during the crush -- not previously tried in the history of winemaking -- the Merlot and Syrah grapes stand out, giving depth and chewy mouth feel. The late ripeners, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, reveal more classic and complex “Bordeauxesque”undertones of earth and spice. The color is fresh and ruby-esque, making this rosé not only a delight to drink, but also a pleasure to gaze upon while enjoying. 

 

             

I highly recommend swirling either of these gems in your glass in between sips, as the light reflects off their color with a splendid sparkle, making it feel more like your holding a glass of crowned jewels than a simple rose.

 

 



 

7/27/11

A Tribute to Springfield’s Legendary Silvano’s Restaurant – A relic of our formative years reclaimed

by Tony Ravosa, Co-Owner, Panther Distributing  


During the 1980s and early 1990s, Silvano’s Restaurant on Worthington Street in Springfield became a second home for us, literally!  Far from ever being called “fancy” or “upscale,” Silvano’s simple but solid home-style Italian-American fare, worn 1950s living room décor, and staff of characters kept us coming back nightly.  The house salad dressing couldn’t be beat.  The gnocchi to die for!  The baked stuffed shrimp and lobsters christened with a touch of Red’s famous spaghetti sauce and just a hint of tarragon were simply the best.  In the years since Silvano’s demise, my many attempts to duplicate the flavor of that stuffing have always come up woefully short.  And who could forget the veal cutlets parmigiana, the scaloppini alla marsala, or the tagliatelle with meat sauce – to this day, unsurpassed by any other!  Simply put, this was not refined, but rather, “stick to your ribs” Italian at its finest. 

In the aftermath of owner and host Jeanette Anton’s retirement, things began to change and we held out hope that our humble little establishment would persevere and survive the times.  But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.  Jeanette would later pass in October 2009.

We celebrated countless birthdays, first dates and New Year’s Eves at Silvano’s over the years, but mostly, on a regular basis, we celebrated the camaraderie of a tight group of friends who loved the food and reveling nightly in the atmosphere of what was.  Looking back, every meal there was a special occasion and a great memory.  When Silvano’s finally closed, I viewed the event as I would the loss of an old friend.  While I’ve always tried to adhere to my late father’s words of wisdom, “Always look forward, never backward. . .”, so many times in the years following the restaurant’s demise I have found myself driving up Worthington Street looking at the vacant building with its famous “chicken” sign still holding court out front beckoning me in for one last meal.  So many great dinners, so many wonderful evenings past. . .

Late last year when I learned that the city of Springfield had planned to auction off the building and property to reclaim back taxes owed, I decided to monitor the outcome and hatched a plan.  I was thrilled to learn that a good friend, Don Agnoli of Agnoli Sign, had acquired the property to expand his business.  Founded by Don’s father more than 80 years ago, Agnoli Sign is a Springfield institution that continues to thrive even in these challenging economic times.  In fact, given the times we’re in, the company stands out as one of Springfield’s bright and shining success stories.  While many political pundits, talking heads and respected economic gurus eschew deep macroeconomic theory in speculating about the end of the national recession and prospects for our economic future for a far simpler methodology – that being the volume of packages being handled by Federal Express.  I suggest to you that, locally, we might embrace a similar theory.  I’m confident that there’s hope for better economic times ahead based on the level of current activity at Agnoli Sign and Don’s need for room to grow his business!

In the days leading up to the tax title auction, I had become a man on a mission to reclaim a piece of our glorious past, lest it be demolished and destined for the trash heap.  I contacted Don to inquire about his plans for the Silvano’s sign, as I had interest in acquiring it.  Initially confused as to the nature of my request, Don thought that I was looking to have the entire sign, post and all.  He explained that the sign was a “non-conforming” use and needed to be maintained – with the faces replaced – to advertise his own business.  Once I informed Don that the faces were the only thing I was interested in, he readily agreed to give me one while retaining the other himself as a memento.  You see, Don’s father had built and installed the original Silvano’s sign decades before. 

Following demolition of the old restaurant several weeks ago, I received a message from Don informing me that the portion of the sign he had promised me was available for pick-up.  When I arrived at his office a few days later, Don explained to me that one of the two faces had cracked and broke while being gingerly dismantled by his guys.  Regardless, Don never wavered in his commitment to me and, for that, I’ll always be appreciative to him and the entire Agnoli Family.

As you can see from the photo above, this vintage relic from this storied establishment is now proudly displayed in Panther Distributing’s warehouse and offices in Wilbraham.  What the hell does any of this have to do with fine wine?  On its surface, not a damn thing, particularly given the best Silvano’s had to offer was always a cheap bottle of Principato White, which always seemed to pair well with anything we ate there 25 years ago.  But, it was during those many evenings that we further solidified our decades-long friendship and formed the basic  philosophies essential to us when we decided to launch Panther.  While we’ve grown more mature and our palates decidedly more sophisticated than those days, I can honestly say there’s not a day that passes that I still don’t pyne for a plate of that delectable Silvano’s gnocchi and a glass of Principato! 

In conclusion, to the Silvano’s crew – Jeanette, Jean and Ida who have since left us to provide their “unique” brand of hospitality in the heavens. . .Red, Joe and Chris who adeptly handled kitchen duties in the cramped basement and always managed to send the food up piping hot in the ancient dumb waiter. . .and the younger waitress corps: Brenda, Lynne, Sandy and, of course, Diane -- thanks for so many great memories.  Long before the television show “Cheers” made its debut, there was a fantastic little place in Springfield where everyone truly knew your name.    

                  

              

 

7/19/11

Culinary Bliss or Abyss in the Land of Sarah Palin

Searching for Sophisticated Sustinance along Alaska's Inside Passage

By Tony Ravosa, Co-Owner Panther Distributing

A few days prior to departing on a week-long Alaska cruise through the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay

with my family, I found myself inevitably pondering the question, “What’s a foodie to do in such far-flung outposts as Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, Alaska?” I knew there was salmon up there and lots of it, but no Zagat guide to direct me. With sweat beginning to pour off my brow contemplating the thought of no upscale dining options or sophisticated wine lists readily available at these ports of call and in a total act of desperation, I launched a Google search to determine what kind of culinary abyss I was about to fall into. Come on, you know that feeling. . .before traveling to a new city that incessant need to immerse yourself in learning about the local food scene, seeking out tips and formulating a strategy to visit the best restaurants in that city! Yes, if you’re like me, your entire itinerary is generally constructed around where you will be dining and when.

With the cruise line being Holland America, I knew the cuisine would be solid, if not excellent, but I needed to experience some genuine Alaska fare. My on-line search yielded little in the way of exciting dining options, but I was determined to make the best of it. The one place that did peak my interest touted itself as having the “best legs in Juneau” – no, not a strip joint, but rather, Alaskan king crab – and Tracy’s King Crab Shack did not disappoint.

As our ship approached its berth in Juneau on an overcast morning last week, I spotted the non-descript Tracy’s through the mist behind the cruise terminal parking garage. Incredibly, the one establishment in Alaska that I did hope to visit I could actually hit with a pitching wedge from my cabin’s balcony (which I never could see Russia from). With my family in tow, I made an instant beeline for Tracy’s as soon as the gangway hit the pier. Simply put, Tracy’s is a cross between Arnold’s Drive-In on the Outer Cape,Woodman’s in Essex, or Ogunquit’s Barnacle Billy’s and a food truck serving up street fare near Boston City Hall Plaza. “No frills” crab-in-the-rough is an understatement!

We ordered the king crab bisque – in a word, “exceptional!” – and a bucket of the most delectable king crab legs we’ve ever tasted (accompanied by the freshest, creamiest and best homemade cole slaw), all scarfed down in record time as we had a bus to catch for the Tongass National Forest and Mendenhall Glacier. Not even time to fire back an Alaskan Brewing Company Summer Ale, but I certainly made up for that later on in the day. While no refined dining here, simply outstanding! Just remember, it’s all about the food, but the klatchy dockside setting does manage to grow on you after a few minutes. Having watched “The Deadliest Catch” on countless occasions with my sons, I was certainly not daunted by the $72.00 per order cost of the king crab (which feeds 2-3 people with three large legs and a claw). The guys on those crab boats deserve every penny, as far as I’m concerned. Better them than me out there on the Bering Sea in those gale force winds, rogue waves and squall conditions! In my view, 72 bucks is a small price to pay to experience the bounty of their catch.


Still glowing in the aftermath of a historic Stanley Cup victory, the benefit of proudly wearing my Boston Bruins cap to Tracy’s that misty morning? A new acquaintance, the chef, who asked if I was from Boston or Massachusetts. To which I replied, “absolutely” to Jeff Andolina, a Worcester native who grew up on Grafton Street. Happy to have another Bay Stater in his midst in this distant corner of the world, we instantly hit it off and Jeff promptly beefed up our order.


In short, a phenomenal experience that should give any foodie something to look forward to when heading north to Alaska. So, yes, you can find culinary bliss in our largest, population-wise least dense, 49th state!!

Our visit to Tracy’s also got me thinking about which of Panther’s wines would pair best with Alaskan king crab legs. Could it be our Vista Hills “Treehouse” Pinot Gris from Oregon’s Willamette Valley (you’d have to give the edge to a great bottle from the Pacific Northwest going in), or perhaps our Minnow Creek “Silver Minnow” Sauvignon Blanc from the McLaren Vale region of South Australia? Or, just maybe, our newest release, Sada Vermentino from Tuscany? We’ll have a chance to find out later this summer as Jeff, who returns to the Worcester area a couple of times a year to visit his family and catch a Sox game, has promised to bring 40-50 pounds of king crab back with him in August to help us answer this challenging question. 

Should your travels take you to Juneau anytime in the future, be sure to include Tracy’s on your list of “must do’s” -- the foodie in you will rejoice. Just be sure to tell Jeff that Tony Ravosa sent you.

7/14/11

A Tuscan Tour with Red White Boston

Written and photographed by guest blogger, Justin Ide





Our host for the evening, Chef and Owner Joe Pagliuca of Pagliuca's in Boston's North End

The North End of Boston lends a perfect ambiance to taste the wines of Tuscany.

 

In the 1980's I spent almost two years in France, consequently when faced with choosing a wine I would always default to something from Ancient Gaul.  Until now.  Since traveling to Italy in January of 2010, I've consumed more Italian wine than wine from any other region of the world, and the majority of that has been from Tuscany, where we visited.  Red White Boston is a location-based wine recommendation service that has partnered with local retailers and importers, one of which is Panther Distributing in Western Mass, so when Cathy Huyghe of Red White Boston posted a tasting with a vintner from Tuscany, I was all in, in the blink of an eye. 



The tasting with was with Tony Ravosa, co-owner of Panther Distributing in Western Mass, along with vintner  Davide Sada who ended the evening with a quote to remember by saying "The right wine is what you like the best," and that you should "Drink what you like."  The event was held at Pagliuca's Ristorante Italiano in Boston's North End.  There couldn't have been a better, more authentic place to taste these four Tuscan wines outside of the vineyard itself.  Tony from Panther brought along four wines from the Sada Vineyard, one white and three reds.  The first wine we tasted was a 2010 Vermentino IGT, which was a bright, clean and crisp white wine perfect for a summer afternoon. Recently the Wall Street Journal wrote about Vermentino so I was excited to get a crack at it my self.  Light and fresh it was quite enjoyable and as owner Davide Sada put it, "Vermentino is the new chic drink in Europe. Pinot Grigio is lovely but Vermentino is special."

Davide Sada, the wine maker, left, and Tony Ravosa, Principal of Panther Distributing of Western Mass who was there to introduce Sada Vineyards
Davide Sada, Winemaker

Next up were three different reds from Sada, starting with a "baby Super-Tuscan," the 2009 "Integolo" IGT.  It is made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Montepulciano grapes and was light and velvety with a soft finish that made it an easy choice as an everyday drinking red.  The second red, the 2008 "Baldoro" IGT was a true "Super-Tuscan" that packed a fruity punch and a long smooth finish that went well with the antipasti provided by Pagliuca's for the evening.

The last wine of the evening, as expected, the highlight of the night, was the 2006 "Carpoli" IGT, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot grapes that had an intense ruby red color and a complex bouquet that left me with reminders of fruit and the earth.  This wine was made to be shared with great friends while lingering over a dinner of wild boar or another flavor-filled red meat like venison or lamb.

It was a wonderful evening with some great wines and lovely hospitality, and I look forward to other similar events with Red White Boston and Panther Distributing in the near future. 

 

 

7/4/11

Unwind in the Summertime with Lab White Sangria 
"Lab" White Sangria

  White Sangria is a classic summertime favorite. There is something so fun about a drink that includes fresh fruit bobbing along its surface. Especially wine, since traditionally it’s viewed as a sophisticated beverage not to be meddled with. Of course, if it is one thing summertime wine calls for, it is meddling, or in this case, muddling.

  There are a hundred different ways to make sangria. A person could go crazy spending hours Googling the perfect recipe. While taste varies from person to person, the important thing to remember is to find a recipe that brings out the flavor of the wine, not mask it with a lot of sugar and juice. The other key factor is patience. Sangria is not a drink that can be made on the fly. In order for the flavors to pop, they need time to meld, so it is best to let the sangria sit over night before serving. 

  Sangria being a type of punch; is often confused as a beverage that can be made using cheap wine. This is because ingredients high in sugar are typically found in sangria and tend to cover up the distinctive qualities of the wine. However, this recipe follows the principle of less is more. The wine is the key ingredient and thus, all other components of this sangria are added to boost its qualities, not cover them up. So, while a twenty-dollar bottle is certainly too high a price to pay, it is wise to not go much lower than a $7 bottle.

  Sangria is a wine punch that first began in the regions of Spain and Portugal, so it seemed only fitting to use our Lab Portuguese white as the headliner for this recipe. Sangrias are more noted as red, however, the white variation, known, as Sangria Blanca is just as enticing.

  If a red is preferred, white wine may be substituted for a merlot or light bodied cabernet if desired.

  All the ingredients in this recipe are fresh and refreshing. Organic Strawberry lemonade is used instead of the typical orange juice most often found and seltzer water adds a light, sugar- free zing.

  Incorporating muddles strawberries and raspberries adds flavor without extra sugar and calories found in heavy syrups and juice.

 

 

Panther’s Sangria Blanca

 

1 bottle good white wine (preferably one from Panther Distributing ;)

4 oz Brandy

4 oz Peach Schnapps

4 oz Strawberry Lemonade (Santa Cruz organic from Whole Foods)

8 oz seltzer water

1 peach, diced

1/2 cup of strawberries sliced,

1/4 cup strawberries for muddling

1/2 cup of raspberries,

1/4 cup raspberries for muddling

1 Tbsp

 

Muddle the strawberries and raspberries in a large glass pitcher. Add the wine, followed by the Brandy, Schnapps and Lemonade. Top off with the seltzer and sliced fruit. Let chill in the fridge for a minimum of 8 hours.

 

7/3/11

Good Things Come in Pairs

 Panther & Sada team up with Esquire Magazine's

 John Mariani to celebrate the Boston release of his new book at Osteria Bina

 




From left to right, owners of Panther Distributing, Dan Paquette, Tony Ravosa, Esquire Magazine's John Mariani, Winemaker, David Sada and son, Alfonso Sada

  Few things evoke as much pleasure as authentic Italian food and wine.  The mere thought of fresh antipasti, hearty spaghetti and Italian wines as far as the eye can see is enough to put any food lover’s hunger into maximum overdrive.

  Though many can give directions to a favorite Italian restaurant, few can instruct on the impact these Italian favorites have had across the globe.

  That, however, is about to change, thanks to Esquire Magazine’s esteemed food and travel writer, John Mariani.

Having made a career enlightening food enthusiasts about what to eat and where to eat it, Mariani’s no spring chicken when it comes to culinary consciousness. In many ways, Mariani is the Yoda of the culinary universe; instructing and guiding followers with sound wisdom and a supernatural intellect. Keeping in tow with his passion for food writing, Mariani has recently expanded his resume to include “author” as well. His book, How Italian Food Conquered the World, has just been released and it could not have come at a better time -- coinciding perfectly with Panther’s Masachusetts release of the Sada portfolio of "Super Tuscans." We are very excited about these wines, as they have never before been enjoyed in the United States. They hail from Tuscany's enchanting region of Bolgheri, situated south of Livorno on the Ligurian coast. Settled in close proximity to the Tyrrhenian Sea, the area has been described as ‘the golden oasis of the Maremma.’ The particular dry climate created by an intense light and gentle breeze that blows off the sea gives the grapes an unsurpassed beauty both on the vine and in the bottle. Davide Sada is the estate owner and mastermind behind Agricola Sada. In 2007, Sada embarked on a series of geological studies of land stationed between Casale Marittimo, Bibbona and Bolgheri in search of plots perfectly suited for growing high-quality grapes. Sada’s old-world style and serious respect for land has resulted in crafting wines that are a true exemplar of nature personified. Mariani and Sada are two men with a passionate connection to their Italian roots and culture. Both men contribute immensely to the world of food and wine, making it no secret why a joint celebration of their accomplishments seemed in perfect order. On June 13, our good friends, Marlo Fogelman and Dina Trueheart of Marlo Marketing and Communications in Boston and Babak Bina, owner of Bina Osteria, hosted a private party to celebrate the Boston release of Mariani’s new book. At Marlo's invitation, Panther Distributing was honored and thrilled to pour our Sada wines exclusively for this fantastic event. Among the attendees were several notables from Boston's restaurant scene, industry insiders and personal friends, including Boston Mayor Tom Menino. Participants dined on a dazzling array of creatively prepared shellfish and other superb antipasti.

Dan Paquette, Osteria Bina owner Babak Bina, and Tony Ravosa
6/13/11

Teaming up to Raise Relief
Panther Distributing and The Vienna Restaurant host a fundraiser for tornado victims.

Jonathan Krach, left, owner of Vienna House Restaurant & Historic Inn, Winemaker, Tony Walker

You'd have to be living under a rock (a very, very heavy rock) not to be aware of the EF- 3 level tornado that barreled its way through Western Mass June 1, 2011.

It was the first tornado to hit this area in 16 years, leaving in its wake a scene like something on a Hollywood disaster film set.

 Lush trees that once prominently lined stretches of highway along the Mass Pike are now nothing more than graveyards of haggared trunks and broken branches. 

Streets where just a few weeks before, children rode bikes and happy pet owners walked their dogs, are today, covered under entire tree trunks, house debris and broken glass.

Even Springfield's Cathedral High School, where Tony, Dan and Jim first became friends, has fallen victim to the tornado. Ruined beyond repair, the school was recently condemned.

Last Thursday, June 9,eight days after the tornado hit, a previously scheduled wine tasting was put together by Panther Distributing at the Vienna Restaurant & Historic Inn in Southbridge, MA. The tasting was to honor the arrival of Tony Walker, Minnow Creek's Proprietor and Wine Maker. 

Our dear friends, Jonathan and Lisa Krach, owners of the Vienna Restaurant, planned to pair delicious hors d'oeuvres to compliment Tony Walker's Minnow Creek wines. 

 In the wake of tornado, it became apparent to us all that this event still be honored but that all proceeds go towards helping victims of the storms destruction.  

Though time was short, immediate action was taken. A $50 donation in cash or the equal sum in canned goods was asked of all participants, the  collected funds to be delivered to the American Red Cross of Central Mass. 

Phone calls were made. Newsletters sent out. Media notified. 

Within a few days enough buzz was generated, informing the community of the Panther Distributing and Vienna Restaurant wine and food benefit.

The evening was a delight.

With the sound of rain beating off the window panes of the Inn, guests clinked glasses filled with Minnow Creek Sauvignon, Shiraz or the Cabernet blend. 

Large platters of homemade bruschetta, shrimp cocktail and fried sauerkraut balls were passed around the quaint, lower rooms of the Inn.

Some guests chose to munch on cheese and fruit in the parlor as they tapped their feet to the rhythmic sounds of live jazz. 

Others decided to make camp by the Panther Distributing wine table and sip hearty samples of Mr. Walker's wine while asking the man himself questions about his creations.

In the adjoining room, Pioneer Brewing Company set up a tasting, offering  home-crafted IPA and Kolsch beers. It was not long before Mr. Walker and Head Brewer, Christopher Courtney were talking shop and swapping samples of each other's products.

Towards the close of the evening, two personally autographed bottles of Minnow Creek wines were raffled off. The winners being Martin Devine and Christopher Courtney. Devine is a huge fan of the Minnow Creek Sauvignon and Courtney was thrilled to bring the bottle he won home to his wife for the two to share.

The heartwarming outcome of this bennefit was beyond what we could have imagined. Despite heavy rains and rapid thunder, 53 of the 60 participants who R.S.V.P'ed braved the storm to show support for the cause. Close to $3,000.00 was raised.

Throughout the evening, minds were distracted from devastation and hearts lifted by fellowship and response of our community.



 

 

 

 


 

Dan Paquette and Winemaker Tony Walker
Dan Paquette, Jim Ross, owners of Panther Distributing
Tony Walker,left, Christopher Courtney, Head Brewer at Pioneer Valley Brewing Company
Patrons,Chris and Trisha, sampling Minnow Creeks "Black Minnow"
Dan Paquette sampling the hors d'oeuvres
Tony Walker, Lisa Krach, co-owner Vienna Rastaurant & Historic Inn
5/28/11

Juicy Reds with Juicy Burgers:
How to choose the right wine with that Memorial Day Weekend Grilling.

It's Memorial Weekend and the official start of grilling season. Though choosing the right toppings for those hamburgers and hot dogs may be no hard feat, deciding what wine to pair can be. Keep in mind that grilling is a laid back task. It's about letting loose, getting messy and strutting around in a BBQ stained apron with a perverted catch phrase on front. The atmosphere is causal, the food is casual and so should the wine be.

A mellow Merlot or light bodied Cabernet is a good choice for no- fuss burgers. If a dollop of mayo, a leaf of lettuce and a slice of tomato is all that is required then go for the Brookman Merlot or Brookman Cabernet/Merlot. Both wines are easy sippers. They are fruit forward and well balanced enough to cut through the fat of the beef without overpowering the flavor.

For those that prefer more regality on their buns, such as crumblings of blue cheese and a few manly slabs of smokey bacon, a robust red is a must. The HawkEye Cabernet/Shiraz/Petit Verdot is a nice blend with good flexibility with enough body and character to handle the richness of the more intense toppings. Another option is Conte Estate Gondola Grenache/Shiraz. This wine is velvety and smooth with a little added heat. 

While the options may seem endless, narrowing the results doesn't have to be. Stick to these simple suggestions and make that Memorial Day BBQ celebration one that is remembered not just for the juicy burgers but for the juicy reds as well.

5/25/11

Don't Bogart that Boedecker


Boedecker Cellars is a winery with morals. That isn't to say the wines produced here are boring or bland. On the contrary, husband and wife team Athena Pappas and Stewart Boedecker create fun wines with sophisticated flavor. So flavorful, patrons would be wise to keep a second, even a third bottle on hand if they plan on sharing with friends. 

The wines are  all given the white-glove treatment with Athena and Stuart thoroughly hands- on from the grapes to the glass.
Think big, bold Pinot Noirs prepared in the old world style and classic Pinot Gris and Pinot Blancs so balanced they could walk a tight rope. 
 Founded in 2003 and located in the Wilamette Valley of Portland Oregon, Boedecker prides itself on being a boutique winery that remains as natural as the land its grapes are farmed on. Everything is crafted au naturel, with no enzymes or thickeners added.
Athena and Stuart are so hands-on that they even "hug" the small fermenters used during harvesting to feel the temperature.
The wines themselves are bottled in light weight bottles, another example of Boedecker's consideration of the environment.
Two stand-outs amongst the selection at Boedeckers is the 2008 Athena Pinot Noir and the Papas 2010 Pinot Gris.
The Pinot Noir is a perfect example of a smooth- bodied Pinot. It carries notes of pepper and nutmeg along with flavors of black currant and plum that linger effortlessly on the finish. 
The Pinot Gris is light and refreshing. It exhibits a bouquet of flowers with melon and citrus. It is bright, light in color and a perfect accessory to any sunny, springtime afternoon.
With passion and care, Athena and Stewart have mastered the art of making sensational wine worth savoring. 

5/7/11
Spring Fling
Why We Can't Get Enough of K1 Gold Label 2009 Sauvignon and that Good Old Hadley Grass 




It's May, which means white wines across the country are bursting open as zealously as a new spring bud. For Western Massachusetts residents, it also means that asparagus season is in full swing.

So what does sipping a crisp white and snacking on native Hadley asparagus have in common -- How about everything.

This season, Panther is all about Geoff Hardy's K1 Gold Label 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. It is the perfect white to go along with all that fresh Hadley Grass.

The nose gives off bright aromas of guava, mango, blood orange and lemon zest. 

Inhale deeper and take in the vibrant scent of stewed peaches, white pepper and of course, fresh asparagus.

The K1 Gold Label Sauvignon stays true to the original French style of the grape. Its coloring is a dazzling white gold with a touch of green. It's clean, well balanced and divinely crisp. This sauvignon is bursting with fresh life, full of the flavors and smells of early spring. 

It is truly a spectacular sipper.  

Being a Massachusetts distributor, Panther loves to take advantage of local food in the area.

 Farm-stands and roadside trucks are popping up all over with bushels of freshly picked asparagus for sale this time of year. 

Our favorite is find is the quaint stand located on Farm Lane, in Hadley, Mass.

The owner of the stand, who goes by the name of Teenie, has been farming since he was a little boy. His is a family of farmers who have been tilling the rich soil of Hadley for over a century. 

The fruit of Teenie's labor is obvious. His asparagus is rich, creamy and as sweet as candy. No need to fret over frying, grilling or steaming these slender stalks. Each one is as delicious cooked, as it is raw.

To accompany this fantastic Sauvignon, Panther whipped up a delicious meal that included a lemon and garlic roast chicken and organic lettuce from Whole Foods, organic strawberries and goat cheese from Trader Joe's and, of course, a freshly picked bundle of Hadley asparagus from the Waskevitz Farm. 

 

See below for our recipe on Roast Chicken and Asparagus Spring Salad. 




Roast Chicken:

To make it easier on ourselves, we chose a chicken that was already doctored up with lemon and herbs. All we had to do was cook it.

Adjust oven rack to middle of the oven and pre-heat to 375 degrees.

Trim and dry the chicken, being sure to remove all the innards.  Make sure the chicken is dried well, as any leftover moisture will take away from the crispiness of the skin.

1 onion sliced
2 stalks of celery
2 carrots (peeled)
4 russet potatoes (peeled)

Spray a baking dish big enough to hold the chicken with some vegetable spray and lay the veggies inside of it. 
Place the chicken breast side up in the pan.
Brush with 1 tablespoon melted butter.

Roast chicken for 40 minutes.

Increase the temp of the oven to 450 degrees. Turn the chicken around and continue to roast the chicken for another 30 minutes until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breasts reads 170 degrees.

Asparagus Spring Salad:

1 bundle of fresh Hadley asparagus
1 cup sliced strawberries
3 ounces goat cheese
4 cups mixed field greens

Vinaigrette (compliments of Ina Garten)

3 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temp.
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Cut off the ends of the asparagus and steam until desired texture (7 to 10 minutes for crisper asparagus, 10 to 12 minutes for softer.)
Set aside.
For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, egg yolk, salt and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil in while whisking until the vinaigrette is emulsified. 
Toss with greens.
Add the asparagus and sliced strawberries. Crumble with goat cheese and enjoy!