Weekend Wine Pairing – Lenny’s Quick Cassoulet and Château Maris Le Carignan de Maris 2013

Today, I present a recipe by special request. I was recently asked if there was a way of making cassoulet that didn’t involve all the time and work. So, here I give you a simplified version of the classic French Cassoulet.
Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the south of France, made with duck confit, sausage, and beans. Served with good crusty bread and a good bottle of hearty wine Cassoulet is just about the finest warden against the cold dark night.

If you are looking for a wine to pair with Casoulet you could go with a Cahors or Madiran, but many hearty country wines pair nicely. Take the Chateau Maris Carignan, the wine hails from Languedoc in the heart of the Minervois, in the Cru of La Livinière. This winery is quickly garnering worldwide acclaim for their outstanding line up of reasonably priced wines. Most recently Wine & Spirits Magazine announced that Chateau Maris as one of the top100 wineries in the world for 2016

Chateau Maris Le Carignan de Maris 2013 $14.99
“A great example of the variety, the 2013 Minervois Carignan de Maris offers classic plum and purple-like fruit, spring flowers, crushed rock and hints of charcoal to go with medium to full-bodied richness, beautiful purity and surprisingly polished tannin, which isn’t easy to do with 100% Carignan. Aged 10-12 months in concrete tank, drink this beauty over the coming 4-5 years” Jeb Dunnuck
91 points Wine Advocate 

This wine is a real beauty and perfect for cooler weather fare like lamb stew or cassoulet.
Chateau Maris is run by Robert Eden, who is the driving force behind the push toward biodynamic and sustainable farming in the region. Robert’s approach to winemaking is based on the fundamental premise that wine is “grown”, not “made”. The winery is certified Demeter biodynamic and Ecocert organic. The winery has zero carbon footprint, producing more energy than it consumes. He’s gone as far as building his new winery out of massive hemp “bricks”. Their work in the Languedoc is leading the wine world in sustainability. Their hemp brick winery is cooled naturally, without refrigerant and absorbs CO2 from the fermentation process. Water is recycled and solar panels provide power. Lightweight bottles and recycled paper are standard.


Lenny’s Quick Cassoulet

4 ounces bacon, diced

1 cups chopped onion (3/4 lb))

1/2 cup celery, diced

1/2 cup carrot, peeled diced

1 lb Sausage links, cooked and sliced

1 tsp finely chopped garlic

1 tsp thyme

1each bay leaf

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 (14-oz) can stewed tomatoes, chopped with juice

2 each confit duck legs*

1 14 ounce can white beans

2 cups beef broth

1 Tbl tomato paste

2 Tbl olive oil

1 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs

1/4 cup Parsley, chopped

salt and pepper

Printable Recipe and Instructions


Introduction to Wine by Arnie Millan

Esquin is delighted to offer wine classes, perfectly designed to bring out the wine expert in everyone! These classes make a great gift, too.

Sommelier Arnie Millan presents the Introduction to Wine Class series beginning Sunday January 15th, 2016 until March 5th. The program of six classes is scheduled every Sunday from 1:30 until 4:00 p.m. at Esquin Wine & Spirits at 2700 4th Avenue South in SODO.

Free parking is available in Esquin’s lot on the South end of our building.

The Seattle Times has named Arnie  “The Finest Wine Mind in Seattle.”

The classes include thorough tastings of 8 wines during each class and will be offered for $39 per class or $225 for the entire 6 class series.

Click here to purchase the series of 6 classes  

Topics covered will be:

January 15th – Grapes, Viticulture and Winemaking

We will learn a glossary of important wine terms, discuss the major international grape varieties as well as the basics of viticulture and winemaking

Click here to purchase this class

January 22nd – A Tour of Spain

Spain’s wine history is the oldest in Europe and its wine regions reveal a wealth of indigenous grapes far beyond the famous Tempranillo. Explore Spain’s dynamic and exciting wine scene.
Click here to purchase this class

January 29th – A Survey of Italy

Italy is one of the world’s greatest wine regions with an unbelievable treasure trove of terrific indigenous grape varieties. We will cover all 19 wine regions and taste 8 delicious wines made from native grapes.
Click here to purchase this class.

February 19h – A Tour of France

France is the touchstone for fine wine, the benchmark by which quality wine is judged. We will de-mystify and explain all their major regions including Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace and the Rhône Valley.

Click here to purchase this class. 

February 26th – New World Wines (U.S., Australia, Canada, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand)

If Europe is called the “old world” then this class covers everything else including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and China. Whew!
Click here to purchase this class.

March 5th – Wine/Food pairing, Germany/Austria

Germany and Austria make some of the planet’s finest wines but few are aware of this. This class will definitely change your perception of these wines. The second half of the class focuses on food and wine pairing with a handout detailing Arnie’s Rules of Food and Wine Pairing.

Click here to purchase this class.

Advance registration is necessary. Gift certificates available.


Weekend Wine Pairing – ROCO Gravel Road Pinot Noir and Turkey Paupiette

In 1987 Rollin Soles launched Argyle Winery and quickly became Oregon’s leading sparkling wine producer and was named “OREGON’S PREMIER WINERY” by Wine Spectator in 2000. Rollin’s wines have been named among the Top 100 Wines of the World by Wine Spectator thirteen times, a distinction matched by no other Oregon winemaker. And in 2013, he was named one of the “20 Most Admired Winemakers in North America” by Vineyard & Winery Management magazine.
In 2001 he left Argyle to focus on his own vineyard Wits End and winery ROCO. He still makes Sparkling wine as well as award winning Pinot Noir as matter of fact his very first ROCO vintage was poured at the White House. ROCO wines are classic Rollin; focused, fruit driven, deftly balanced and expressive. Rollins wines are consistently solid performers, and that is saying something when you are working with one of the most fickle grapes.


ROCO Winery Gravel Road Pinot Noir 2013 $24.99 

Deep garnet in color, the spice driven nose includes aromas of red cherry, cinnamon, vanilla, and a hint of sweet tobacco leaf. Full flavored with a sweet, juicy, and deep center, surrounded by ripe red raspberry, a touch of gravel, bergamot, and strawberry compote. Nice firm structure. Finish is pure fruit with briar-earth elements. A compact, complex and complete Pinot Noir.

This time of year it seems as soon as I finish my Thanksgiving leftovers I get a hankering for Turkey again. I like to pick up an extra Turkey after Thanksgiving when they are on sale. I will take the hind quarters and make confit with them, a la Duck and separate the breast into smaller sections and use them for cutlets.
A favorite is Turkey Paupiette with Madeira served up with potatoes. A paupiette is a thin flattened piece of meat or fish that has had a filling spread on top and is then rolled up and secured with a wooden toothpick or a string. For these I make a stuffing of bread crumbs, hazelnut and apple finished with a little Madeira and demi-glaze this makes for a perfect winter supper. This dish paired with a nice Oregon Pinot like the ROCO Gravel Road and you have a dinner that will impress your guests without damaging your pocketbook.


Turkey Paupiette

2 lb Turkey Breast
1 Cup Chicken Broth
***** Stuffing
1 Cup Bread Crumbs
½ Cup Diced Apple
¾ Cup Ground Hazelnut
½ Cup Grated Parmesan
1 Whole Egg
Pinch Nutmeg
1 Tsp Fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
***** Sauce
½ lb Mushroom
1 ea Shallot, finely diced
4 Tblsp Butter
1 Cup Madeira
1 Cup Demi glaze

Printable Recipe and Instructions 


Felsina Beradenga Chianti and Tuscan Sausage and Tortellini Soup

In the world of wine there are some wines that are just misunderstood. Riesling is probably the best example, Viognier is another; but the one wine with the most baggage is probably Chianti. Everyone knows Chianti, but it seems not many understand Chianti. Those of us of a certain age remember the straw basket wrapped Il Fiasco Chiantis of yore. Chianti like many regions was a victim of its own success. Now don’t get me wrong we sell a lot of Chianti and here dedicate as much floor space to wines of Tuscany as we do those of Bordeaux.

If you wanted to try a benchmark Chianti I can think of none better than Fattoria di Fèlsina. Located in the village of Castelnuovo Berardenga in the province of Siena, Felsina has long been one of the great names in Chianti. Fèlsina produces one of the finest ranges of ageworthy and complex Chianti bottlings in all of Italy. Fèlsina has never capitulated to the use of international varietals, Sanigovese is what you will see growing in their vineyards.

Their elegant full bodied wines are some of the most well regarded in Tuscany. Felsina has been awarded the coveted Tre Bicchieri 17 times in the Gambero Rosso. The single vineyard Rancia is one of the most highly rated wines in Chianti. A personal favorite is the Beradenga Chianti Classico. Guiseppe Mazzocolin, who runs the estate of Felsina says the wine, a blend of selected top wines from all of his vineyards, falls qualitatively between the Berardenga Rancia Riserva bottling and his regular Chianti Classico. I find this wine to be outstanding nearly always. First produced in 1983, it’s a harmonious and rich red, 100 percent Sangiovese, with lots of ripe fruit and silky tannins.

Fèlsina’s 2013 Chianti Classico Berardenga shows a great level of richness and general intensity. The wine reveals a very full and luscious set of aromas with cherry and blackberry in pole position. Lighter tones of spice and tobacco fill in at the back and give the wine a greater sense of aromatic lift. The mouthfeel is also characterized by velvety richness – a delicious vintage.

Once again the critics are unanimous in their praise.


Wine Spectator- 92, Wine Enthusiast – 92, James Suckling – 92, Advocate – 91+, Vinious – 91

Chianti is a personal favorite of mine, speaking as a chef there are few wines that are more food friendly. The mix of acid, earth and fruit is a natural for pairing to everything from hearty soups, Pastas of all sorts, grilled cheese sandwiches or Steak. With this weather I could think of few dishes as satisfying as a Hearty Tuscan style sausage and kale soup.

This soup is ready in about 25 minutes and makes a wonderful supper, all you need is some good crusty bread, a drizzle of olive oil and a nice bottle of Chianti.

Tuscan Sausage, Kale and White Bean Soup with Tortellini

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Italian sweet sausage, casing removed
1 medium onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leave
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 cup red wine
1 15 ounce can Tomatoes
52 oz chicken broth
115 ounce can white cannellini beans
1 lb Cheese tortellini, fresh
1 bunch kale, stems removed chiffonade
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Freshly Grated Pecorino Toscano

For printable recipe and instructions 

We hope you enjoy the recipe and find time to share some good food and wine with friends and loved ones.


Brined Fresh ham with Cider Mustard Glaze

Everyone has heard the expression, as American as Apple Pie? How about American as Apple Cider? Everyone has heard the story John Chapman aka Johnny Appleseed, but most people don’t know is that what apples he propagated were less likely to be pie and more likely to be cider, and hard cider at that.

The apples that Chapman brought to the frontier were completely distinct from the apples available at any grocery store they weren’t primarily used for eating-they were used to make America’s favorite beverage at the time, hard apple cider.

“Up until Prohibition, an apple grown in America was far less likely to be eaten than to wind up in a barrel of cider,” writes Michael Pollan in The Botany of Desire. “In rural areas cider took the place of not only wine and beer but of coffee and tea, juice, and even water.”

In the US today there is nothing short of a cider renaissance, with cideries opening up at record numbers. Here in Northwest we are at a center of the action, for decades Washington has been synonymous with apples and with over 175,000 acres of orchards we produce over half the apples in the US.


We are blessed with many great cider producers but a personal favorite is Finnriver. Finnriver Cidery was founded in 2008 by Eric Jorgensen and Keith and Crystie Kisler.  The roots of the cidery began in friendship and farmland and now, with several thousand heirloom cider trees in the ground, farming and fermenting continue side by side on 80 acres in Chimacum Valley on the Olympic Peninsula.

Finnriver is at the forefront of the craft cider revival and farmcrafts a range of traditional, contemporary and seasonal ciders made primarily from organic Washington fruit, along with a line-up of spirited fruit wines.

Cider is an excellent choice for Thanksgiving, the sweet-tart flavors are a natural with the flavors of the thanksgiving table. The lower alcohol is also a nice bonus for a long lazy supper.

Here’s another wonderful alternative or addition to you holiday table.


Cider Brined Fresh Ham with Cider Mustard Glaze 

***** Brine

1 (6 to 8-pound) bone-in fresh ham

2 cups kosher salt

2 cups sugar

2 bay leaves

2 Tbs fennel seeds

2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes

4 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

2 gallons water

12 ounces Hard cider


4 medium scallions, coarsely chopped

2 small jalapenos, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 lime, juiced and zest

2 large cloves garlic

2 Tbs chopped fresh ginger

1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme

2 Tbs chopped sage

1 tsp. ground allspice

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ cup olive oil


1 cup Dijon mustard

1 cup whole-grain mustard

1 cup honey

1 cup Apple Cider

Printable Recipe and Instructions


Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon and Maple Glazed

Now, not all whiskies are created equal. Some are grassy, some smoky, some smell of citrus and some of salt. That smoky briny quality of Scotch is a perfect compliment for Oysters.

Some like Bourbon are sweet with hints of maple and caramel. Bourbons like these are perfect with a dense chocolate dessert (I make a Bourbon Chocolate torte that fits the bill nicely.) Apple Pie? Pumpkin Pie? Oh how about Pumpkin Pie? I think there is quite possibly no more American way to finish up your Thanksgiving dinner than with a tumbler of Kentucky Bourbon.

What could be more American than Apple Pie? How about Barbecue? How about Steak?

Below is my recipe for a Maple Bourbon Glazed Tri Tip Steak. This dish is a balance of sweet, spice, smoke and umami that pairs beautifully with a nice aged bourbon.


Maple Bourbon Glazed Tri Tip Steak

2-3 lb. Beef Tri-tip

Marinade: 1 tsp. course ground black pepper 1 tsp. chopped garlic ¼ tsp. ground thyme ¼ cup bourbon 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Glaze: ¼ cup Bourbon 2 Tablespoons Grain Mustard 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup 1 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar 2 Tablespoons Siracha

Roasting: Olive oil Sea salt Black pepper

1. Day 1: Trim Beef of any excess silver or fat. Combine ingredients for marinade. Place Tri Tip in a Ziploc bag with marinade at let rest overnight in refrigerator.

2. The next day remove tri tip from marinade and let come to room temperature.

3. Preheat oven to 250 degrees

4. Combine ingredients for glaze and set aside

5. Rub Roast with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.

6. Prepare a roasting pan with a wire rack.

7. Heat a large cast iron pan on stove top. Sear each side of tri tip to brown 3-4 min each side.

8. Place roast on wire rack and place in oven.

9. Roast for about half an hour and brush roast with glaze.

10. After 20 minutes turn roast and brush with glaze again, repeating every 10 – 15 minutes until center of roast reaches 130 degrees.

11. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Printable Instructions + Recipe


Cassoulet and Chateau La Couronne Bordeaux $21.99 (90 WA)

Cassoulet calls out for a hearty wine, say Madiran, Cahors or Bordeaux. Bordeaux is one of the most popular categories of wine here at Esquin. The reason being is that there are truly Great Bordeaux – the First Growths like Margaux, Rothschild, Haut Brion – but also great Bordeaux that you can afford to drink every day. There are few categories where you can find great wines from $10 to $1000 bucks and every price point in between.

That classic profile of currant, plum, cedar, graphite, earth and grippy tannins is what makes Bordeaux a great pairing for hearty fare like Cassoulet. In fact the Tannins are easily smoothed out by the cassoulets fat content. A perfect example of the quality price performance is the Chateau La Couronne from outside St Emilion.

Chateau La Couronne Montagne – Saint Emilion Reserve 2012 $21.99
This wine from propietor Thomas Thio is dense, masculine, powerfully extracted and rich. This is an intense, full-throttle wine, which is impressive given the fact that it is from the satellite appellation of Montagne St. Emilion. Look for it to drink well for another 10 years. 2012 is a sleeper of a vintage.
90 points Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate.




There are many versions of Cassoulet as there are French grandmothers and Chefs. Some include lamb, pork shoulder, or even partridge. Below I give you a basic version that comes very close to traditional.




Lenny’s Cassoulet



1 lb.             dried white beans (Flageolet)
8 1/4 cups  cold water
3 fresh        Thyme sprigs
1 fresh        Rosemary sprig
1 each        Bay Leaf
4 each        Cloves
1/4 tsp        Black Pepper Corns
2 tbl            Olive Oil
4 oz.           Bacon, diced
2 cups        chopped onion (3/4 lb.)
1 cup           celery, diced
1 cup           carrot, peeled diced
3 tsp            finely chopped garlic (6 large cloves
14-oz can  stewed tomatoes, chopped with juice
2 cups         beef broth
1 tbl             tomato paste
4 each         confit duck legs* (1 3/4 lb. total)
1 lb.             garlic pork sausage
1/2 cup        Parsley, chopped
2 cups         coarse fresh bread crumbs
1½ tsp       salt
½ tsp         black pepper

Special equipment: an 8-inch square of cheesecloth; kitchen string; a 4 1/2 to 5 quart casserole dish (3 to 4 inches deep)

Printable Instructions and Recipe