Sunday Baking: A Pomerol & Double Chocolate Cookies

2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise CorkWhile the new house has been renovated inside, many of the walls and open spaces are awkwardly sized.  Since we’re having trouble finding shelving and furniture to fit the space, Hubby and I have decided to do a number of small do-it-yourself projects like building shelves, an deck box for outside, etc.  As you can imagine, though, these projects require spending an inordinate amount of time at Home Depot.  There is at least one trip a weekend, and often there are more.  The first weekend in February was one of those two-trips kind of weekend, not to mention a trip Bed, Bath, & Beyond, World Market, and Michael’s Arts & Crafts.  We spent the whole day running errands.  Hubby and  I are not big football people, so we skipped the Superbowl in favor of before coming home to an evening of sorting through everything and baking cookies.   And, of course, there was a good bottle of wine to go along with the activities.

2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise

2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise

The 2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise (winery, snooth) is from Pomerol, which is on the Right Bank in Bordeaux, France.  The wine is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes, and had a dark ruby color with a garnet rim.  On the nose, there were blackcurrants, roses, and hints of cedar and meat.  In the mouth, there were dark berries, meats, and cedar mixed with hints of licorice and chocolate.  The wine was medium-to-full bodied with medium tannins and acidity.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one!  What are you waiting for? At an SRP of $60, this bottle of wine was fantastic.  Admittedly, though, this is when my impatience gets the better of me.  The winery recommends that it continue to be cellared for several more years, and after having tasted the wine, I can only imagine how beautiful it would have been if I had let it continue to age.

2006 Close de la Vieille Eglise and Double Chocolate OriolosHowever, I didn’t let it age.  This wine was actually given to Hubby and me as a present from our loan officer at the closing of our new house, so opening it after a successful day of doing house stuff seemed appropriate.  Once the wine had a little bit of a chance to breathe, it was incredibly food-friendly.  I paired it with Hubby’s homemade meatloaf and roasted potatoes, which was a great pairing as the wine was flavorful and savory enough to stand up to the big flavors of the dinner.  After dinner, I baked the Double Chocolate Oriolos, which made for a very different, but equally delicious pairing.  I actually enjoyed the wine enough that I will

Overall, the cookies weren’t anything particularly different, but they were easy to make and were a big hit in the office.  The wine, on the other hand, offered something a little more special than usual, which was a nice treat on a Sunday night.  I actually enjoyed it so much that I’m planning to go to Schneider’s of Capitol Hill and buy several bottles, both to drink now and to cellar for later.  Together, the pairing of the wine and the cookies was a huge success.

Question of the Day: Did you watch the Superbowl?  Is it the type of event where you think about opening wine or is it strictly a beer drinking night?


Double Chocolate OriolosDouble Chocolate Oriolos
(*adapted from Rose Levy Beranabum’s recipe in The Baking Bible)
Yields: about 3 dozen


  • 1/2  cup walnut halves
  • 10 tablespoons butter (1 1/4 sticks)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup powered sugar (lightly spooned and leveled off)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup bleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (for coating)


  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • Spread walnuts evenly on baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times to toast evenly.
  • Once done toast, put on clean dish towel and rub to loosen skins.
  • Break nuts into bowl, discarding the skins.
  • Let cool.


  • In food processor, mix walnuts, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, powdered sugar, salt, and cocoa powder until walnuts are finely ground.
  • Add butter.
  • Pulse until butter has absorbed the cocoa mixture.
  • Add flour.
  • Pulse until there are a lot of moist, crumbly pieces and no dry flour.
  • Divide dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Line cookie sheets with parchment or silicone mats and place in refrigerator to chill.
  • In small bowl, place granulated sugar for coating.
  • Remove 1 of the dough halves to begin shaping cookies.
  • Take a rounded tablespoon of chilled dough and roll between the palms of your hands to create 1-inch balls.
  • Roll balls in sugar mixture until coated.
  • Place cookies on lined, chilled cookie sheets.  Keep cookies about 2 inches apart and press them down so that each is about 1/2 inch high.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes.
  • Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack


Price: $60
Overall: 4.5 Corks

Red C Cabernet: Classic California Cab in Every Sip

The first two days of Rosh Hashanah are important religious days, but they aren’t very what I consider a “fun” way to celebrate the New Year.  Hubby lucked out that I had to be at synagogue by 9am because it meant that I dropped him off at work instead of his having to take the metro.  Morning services were four hours long, after which I came home for a couple of hours before heading back to synagogue at 5:30.  The evening services were much shorter, and many of us ended up at the Rabbi’s house afterwards to mingle and celebrate.  Admittedly, I didn’t stay more than an hour because, while I enjoyed the services, I was ready to be home, eat dinner with Hubby, open the bottle of Cab that I was dying to try, and just relax before doing it all again on Friday.

The 2006 Red C Cabernet Sauvignon (winery) was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with a nice, deep purplish-ruby color.  On the nose, there were blackberries, black cherries, pomegranates, and cedar.  In the mouth, there were blackberries, pomegranates, cedar, and a hint of mint.  The wine had low acidity, medium tannins, and a medium body.

This wine is actually the second label for Covenant wines.  While I haven’t reviewed Covenant’s Cabernet, I thoroughly enjoyed their Chardonnay during Passover this year, which is why I bought the Red C to begin with.  Convent’s website explains that the Red C Cabernet includes wine barrels that didn’t make it into their $90 premier label bottling, and I will say that if the Red C Cabernet wine is made from juice that isn’t “premier” quality than I’m even more excited to try the 2007 Covenant Cabernet that is sitting in my wine rack because this second label is definitely not a second place wine.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely!  If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At $35, this wine may be a little more expensive than what most folks want to pay for an every day wine, but if you’re willing to spend a little extra, this is a wine that’s worth thinking about regardless of whether you’re looking for something kosher.  It’s just that good.  It’s smooth.  It’s luxurious.  It’s food-friendly.  It’s everything you want from a California Cab.

I paired the wine with a soy sauce and garlic-marinated filet and steamed broccoli that Hubby made for dinner, which was a nice combination.  After dinner, I continued to enjoy the wine on its own, paring it with some knitting and an episode of Castle.  What was particularly nice about this Cab is that, while it wasn’t quiet as good two days later when I finally came back to it, the wine definitely held up well in the bottle and was still very drinkable and enjoyable.

Question of the Day: Have you ever had a kosher wine?  What did you think of it?

Price: $35
Purchased at Lot18
Overall: 4 Corks

Tweeting & Tasting Navarra Wines

*** I received this wine as a sample. ***

I’ve mentioned the five Wine Ladies that I regularly get together with before.  They’re are a great group of women who live in my condo building, love wine, always bring delicious food, and are great conversationalists.  So, when I was asked to participate in the Wines of Navarra Twitter TasteLive event, I knew they would be the perfect group to join me as I tasted the 10 Spanish wines.

After a busy day at work, we all gathered in the lounge of our condo building.  Supplied with some Spanish meats and cheeses, water, and the Navarra wines, I signed online to check us in for the tasting, opened all of the wines, and got everyone settled.  There was definitely excitement in the air, as this was the first TasteLive event for all of them, but everyone quickly fell into the groove of tasting and talking about the wine.

  • 2010 Castillo de Monjardin Finca el Cerezo Chardonnay (suggested retail price $12) (winery)—Medium lemon-yellow color, subtle nose with some good grapefruit and pineapple.  In the mouth, there were citrusy fruits, pears, and granny smith apples.  Maybe some sour patch kids, too.
    3.5 Corks
  • 2009 Otazu Chardonnay (SRP $14) (winery)—Very different from the ElCerezo.  The nose was beautiful and full of promise…oranges, apricots, peaches, maybe some mango…but the finish left us a little disappointed. Lots of mineral & acid, but not much else.
    2.5 Corks
  • 2010 Gran Feudo Rosado Garnacha (SRP $12) (winery)­­—Great color! I loved the bright pink with a twinge of orange. The wine had some pink grapefruit, apples, and raspberries with nice acidity. Perfect for the 90-degree weather.
    3 Corks
  • 2010 Señorio de Sarría Vinedo no. 5 Rosado (SRP $16) (winery)—One of my Wine Ladies described this wine as Sex in the City pink.  The wine was like a grown-up version of the Gran Feudo Rosado with nice fruits and refreshing acidity.  It also paired amazingly well with the Jasper Hill Cabot Cloth-Bound Cheddar we had.
    3.5 Corks
  • 2010 Señorio de UNX Garnacha (SRP $8) (winery)—I was the only one who didn’t dump this wine, and I actually enjoyed it. It was big on the blackberries, blueberries, & cherries with touches of vanilla and leather. 1WineDude suggested that it would go well with Tennessee BBQ, and I agree.
    3 Corks
  • 2008 Malon de Echaide Tinto Roble (SRP $1.50)—The wine had an interesting nose…blackberries, blueberries, and my grandmother’s cedar chest. It was definitely a “wine & cheese” wine, pairing well with both the Spanish goat & the Jasper Hill Cabot Cloth Cheddar.  At $1.50, this wine has one of the best quality/price ratios I’ve ever seen in a wine.  It’s certainly my new “Two Buck Chuck.”
    3.5 Corks
  • 2006 Marco Real Crianza (SRP $15)—One of the Wine Ladies said described it as the color of OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark nail polish.  The wine, which was a Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon blend, had dark fruits combined with a bit of forest after a rain.
    2.5 Corks
  • 2008 Inurrieta SUR (SRP $13) (winery)—A blend of Garnacha, Syrah, Graciano, this wine had big dark fruits, some nice spices, and lots of oak.   It could have benefited from more air than I gave it, but was absolutely lovely with the Spanish fig almond cake I bought from Arrowine.
    3 Corks
  • 2007 Albret French Oak (SRP $8)—This wine was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Tempranillo that the group found to be very drinkable.  With dark fruits and woodiness, it tasted like the type of you could take to a party when you don’t know what people will drink.
    3 Corks
  • 2010 Ochoa Moscatel (SRP $20)—Unfortunately, our bottle of the Moscatel was tainted, so all we were getting was a lot of wet wool mixed with peaches.  It sounded like others who did the TTL were pleasantly surprised by this dessert wine, though.

I was the only one who had ever had wine from Navarra, so it was fun way to introduce my friends to a new wine region of Spain.  It’s also nice to do a tasting like this with other people who like drinking and talking about wine because we all have different ways of describing what we like (or don’t like).  All in all, it was a lot of fun and very educational, plus I think there are several wines we’re all going to keep an eye out for.


Top 5 Kosher Wines

Passover starts tomorrow night, which means I have a week of kosher wine drinking to look forward to.  Admittedly, the thought of kosher wine used to make my stomach turn, but over the last few years I’ve started discovering that there are a few gems out there.  This year, I have a few new ones to try.   I’m particularly excited about the Ella Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and the Covenant Chardonnay “Lavan.”

Before I get to those, though, I thought it would be fun to look back at my reviews of kosher wines from the last few years.  One thing I realized is I need to find some good sparkling and white kosher wines because most of the ones I reviewed leave much to be desired.  The red wines, on the other hand, regularly surprise me with their quality.  The 5 kosher red wines that earned 3 or more corks are:


2006 Petit Castel

2006 Petit Castel

The 2006 Petit Castel (winery, snooth) was a blend of was Bordeaux blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, and 5% Petit Verdot grapes.  The wine had some complexity that made it particularly enjoyable.  It was a bit pricey for not being outstanding, but it was a solid choice and one that could definitely go over well at a Passover Seder.  I gave the wine 3 corks and purchased it $40.


2003 Carmel Kayoumi Shiraz

The 2003 Carmel Kayoumi Shiraz (winery, snooth) was 100% Shiraz grapes and was a wonderful addition to last year’s Seder.  The wine had a nice, big body.  Not only were there black fruits and smoke, but also a touch of meatiness, followed by coffee grounds and a hint of leather.  It was a wonderful food wine and worked perfectly in the charoset (chopped apples, ground walnuts, cinnamon, and wine) I made for the holiday.  I gave the wine 3 corks and purchased it for $33.


2006 Bazelet HaGolan Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 Bazelet HaGolan Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2006 Bazelet HaGolan Cabernet Sauvignon (winery, snooth) was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  The wine had a nice black fruits, followed by hints of vanilla and olives.  It had a good body, nice acidity, and was very food friendly.  I actually reviewed the wine as part of Wine Blogging Wednesday #56, which was all about kosher wines.  I posted about 4 wines, and the 2006 Bazelet HaGolan was by far the best.  I gave the wine 4 corks and purchased it for $27.


2006 Galil Mountain Yiron

The 2006 Galil Mountain Yiron (winery, snooth) was 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% merlot, and 5% Syrah grapes.  The wine had a nice mix of black fruits, cloves, thyme, and cedar.  It was a big wine, with medium-to-high acidity and tannins that definitely benefited from time to breathe.  Once decanted, the wine’s harshness was really toned down, transferring it from one that needed to be paired with food, to one that was food-friendly, but also enjoyable on its own.  I gave the wine 4 corks and purchased it for $20.


2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon (winery, snooth) was by far the best kosher wine I’ve reviewed over the last couple of years.  It’s made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and it dispels all of the stereotypes about kosher wines.  It’s still a little young, so black fruits dominate the wine, but it has a surprising smoothness and promises to develop into a beautifully complex wine.  Even if you’re not looking for something kosher to drink, this is worth picking up.  It will definitely surprise you.  I gave this wine 4.5 corks and purchased it for $16.

Celebrating with Chateau Montelena

Back in October, when Hubby and I both started our new jobs, everything seemed to happen very quickly.  I was working on a major project, so I gave two and a half weeks notice to allow for enough time to finish what I was working on and transition my portfolio over to a coworker.  Three days after I started my job, Hubby started his, and we both hit the ground running.  Once we were settled into the new routines, Thanksgiving was here, and it occurred to me that we never actually celebrated the exciting changes.

So, two weeks ago, Hubby made us a nice dinner and I opened a bottle of 2006 Chateau Montelena.  I used my going away presents, U.S. House of Representatives wine glasses and a U.S. House of Representatives corkscrew, for the first time, as I was waiting for the perfect opportunity to break them in.

2006 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2006 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon (winery, snooth) was a nice, deep ruby.  On the nose, there big blackberries, plums, and blackcurrants, mixed with cloves, cedar, and cinnamon.  The wine almost smelled like a warm campfire.  In the mouth, there were blackberries, plums, cedar, and cloves.  The wine had high alcohol, medium tannins, and a medium body.

Is this worth a glass after work? Sure…you won’t be drinking anything out of the ordinary, but you’ll have a decent, reliable glass of wine. At $79, this wine was enjoyable, although a little off balance.  When I poured the wine, I was excited because the nose offered a complexity and depth that I couldn’t wait to taste.  In the mouth, though, the wine just left something to be desired.  When I spend that much money on a bottle of wine, I want it to knock my socks off, and this bottle just didn’t do that.  It was good, and paired nicely with the steaks and sautéed broccoli that Hubby made for dinner.  I’m glad I tried the wine because it’s one that has been on my list for a long time, but for $79, I want more than a “good” wine, I want to be blown away.  Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a $79 bottle of wine for me.

Price: $79
Purchased at: Grand Cru Wine Bar & Euro Café
Overall: 3 Cork