At Chicago Gourmet 2009

WCWG & Wife at Chicago GourmetIt was a cloudy, but beatiful weekend, and a great chance to enjoy outstanding wine and local food at Chicago Gourmet 2009.  My wife and I headed down on the Green Line, and then walked over to beautiful Millenium Park, where all the festivities were being held.  There were tents set up everywhere- in case of rain, each one filled with samples from Southern Wine & Spirits brands or local food and beverage options.  It was time to dive in, eat, drink, and enjoy!

Pig from Mercat a la PlanxaWe darted for the food tents first, to see what was cooking.  We were greeted by a huge pig on a grill, being cooked and sliced by the chefs from Jose GarcesMercat a la Planxa.  This was extremely delicious, and started us off with a popular theme now being used by many chefs- pork.  Just recently looked down upon, the "other white meat" is reaching new heights in culinary acclaim.  I have always been a fan, and use pork as a key flavor component in many of my own home dishes.  This can also be served in a group setting at Mercat with advanced reservations.  We also started off with some great pork belly served up by the Four Seasons, smoked sturgeon from Blackbird, and heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella from Keefer's.  Countless other restaurants were onhand, giving out great samples like The Gage, Sunda, Spring, Arun's, Japonais, Hugo's, Mexique, Piccolo Sogno, L20, Carnivale, and C-House.  This was an awesome display of the Chicago culinary scene- one of the best in the world.

Next we headed for the Terlato tent, which was definitely the most awesome wine display.  Many prestigious brands were being poured like Two Hands, Sokol Blosser, Il Poggione, Bollinger (James Bonds' fav Champagne), M.Mr. Anthony Terlato with WCWG & Wife Chapoutier, Chimney Rock, Rust en Vrede, and Terlato Family Vineyards.  Credenzas and couches were set up for ambience and comfort, and it may have been the most relaxed, yet festive tastings I've been to.  We had the fortune of running into Anthony Terlato, who could not have been more inviting.  We were looking forward to his cooking demo with Fabio Vivani.

Chefs Izard, Segal, and KimWe made it to a few demos, which were held in the Jay Pritzker Pavillion.  The first we witnessed was with a great trio of chefs: Mindy Segal of Hot Chocolate, Bill Kim of Urban Belly, and Stephanie Izard of highly anticipated The Drunken Goat.  They would be cooking with pork and peaches, with recipes that may be included on their own menus.Pork Belly Sandwich  Chef Kim went with a pork belly sandwich, which may be featured at his new restaurant, Belly Shack, while chef Izard went for pork belly over Pork and seared tofuseared tofu, for a healthy, yet savory offering.

Next, it was time for Anthony Terlato, offering his Santa Margherita Prosecco to the audience, and Fabio Vivani, of Top Chef and Cafe Firenze, cooking up some simple seared tuna.  This was not only a very good sparkling wine,Fabio's seared tunaAnthony Terlato & Fabio Vivani but also an excellent pairing.

There were also many other great demos, including the artistry of seafood & salt, seasonal cuisine, asian delights, and farm to table. 


I was amazed by all the fine food, wine, and spirits onhand.  It was filled with delight after delight for the senses!  If you have never been to this 2nd annual event, make sure to be looking for Chicago Gourmet 2010.  It will be worth it!

Chimney Rock Romance

Valentine's Day was upon us and my wife and I were ready to relax with some good food, wine, and eachother.  We've img_0995never habitually celebrated Valentine's Day, due to the fact we treat our relationship special all year round, but felt like enjoying a romantic evening at home.  Thanks to my friend Lara from Terlato Wines, we were about to enjoy a bottle of 2004 Chimney Rock "Elevage".  Chimney Rock was created by the Wilson family over thirty years ago to create Bordeaux style wines in California.  Elevage is their proprietary blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.  I opened and tasted it while the food was on the stove.  It has a dark ruby color and aromas of both red and dark berries, along with spiced plums.  Oak spices aplenty are present: cappucino, nutmeg, and cocoa.  The wine is fruity and full on the palate, with soft tannins.  I would have liked a longer finish, however, and expected more grip with the varietal make up.  It went well with dinner, but even better with dessert- organic dark chocolate chip cookies.  (WG 88pts.)

Tangley Oaks Wines

home11I have been a fan of Anthony Terlato and his company, Terlato Wines International (TWI), for my entire wine career.  I have respected him as a member of the Italian American community, a wine enthusiast, his business savvy, and am currently reading his memoir entitled "Taste".  It is also great to see one of Chicago's own on the international wine scene.  I recently contacted TWI, hoping for an interview with Mr. Terlato, and I was informed he is staying at his estate in Napa Valley, but will be available in the spring (stay tuned for the interview!).  In the meantime, they wanted the Windy City Wine Guy to review their Tangley Oaks wines.The Tangley Oaks wines were created to give wine newcomers a "luxury" line of wines from select vineyards in Napa Valley and Santa Barbara County at an affordable price ($15-20).  They are name after Mr. Terlato's Tangley Oaks Estate  in Lake Bluff, IL., and meant to offer value and reflect the terroir of their respective regions.  TWI offers three different varietals, and here is how they rate:

  • 2005 Tangley Oaks Chardonnay Lot #3.  A light golden color gives way to smells of honey cream and golden apple.  Flavors of ripe pears and apples, slightly charred oak, cinnamon and vanilla spices.  A full body and a medium length.  This is a very nice chardonnay for the price, without all the typical California oak.  88 pts. WG

  • 2005 Tangley Oaks Merlot Lot #7.  Very light ruby color with a very cherry bouquet: cherrywood, cherry pie, cherry cough syrup, cherries!  The tannins are very light, making an extremely easy drinking wine.  The texture is smooth with a flavor profile consistent with the bouquet, but with a touch of cocoa.  I like a bit more from my Merlots, and the length was lacking.  82 pts. WG

  • 2005 Tangley Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon Lot #9.  The color was a bit more intense on this red, with purple on the meniscus.  Smells of sugar plums, cedar, and potpourri were clearly evident.  Medium tannic grip on the gums gave way to juicy plum and cherry flesh, along with some tobacco on its medium finish.  Another easy drinking wine, but with a bit more structure and body.  85 pts. WG

These wines offer some definite value, as it can be hard to find vineyard specific Napa Valley reds in this price range.  The chardonnay was my favorite, and can see myself having it with some lemon marinated grilled bass.  Overall, a pleasing experience.  A hint from the WCWG in regard to Terlato wines: you have to try Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz- Viognier.  The winery itself is a joint effort by the Chapoutier (of French Rhône fame) and Terlato families in Australia.  The grapes for the Shiraz (95%) Viognier (5%) come from central Victoria, and the wine exhibits excellent dark fruit flavor, spice, and body to go with its rich, dark color.  It retails for around $19, making it a great buy.  

Try one of these wines, or some of the many in TWIs portfolio- over 13% of all wines priced over $14 in the US are marketed by Terlato!