• Chocolate Ganache Cake


    The best thing about this Chocolate Ganache Cake is the recipe is super easy and really good. You can make it a week in advance and store it unglazed in the fridge, making it great for a work-night holiday. It also makes fantastic little bite sized cupcakes. Which has nothing to do with a Bordeaux blend but instead, it’s an easy VDay gift or treat. And I think the Mr. Owl’s is such  “sweet” story. Not romantic love but certainly worthy of gift giving.

    Note: Baking time is an approximation. Make sure the center of the cake is “settled” before removing from oven.

    Makes one 8-inch cake


    For the Cake:

    1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature

    1 cup sugar

    4 extra-large eggs at room temperature

    1 16-oz. can Hershey’s chocolate syrup

    1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract

    1 cuo all-purpose flour

    For the Ganache:

    1/2 cup heavy cream

    8 oz. good semisweet chocolate chips

    1 Tsp. instant coffee granules

    Candied violets or edible gold leaf, for decoration (optional)


    1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 8-inch round cake pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper.
    2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the chocolate syrup and vanilla. Add the flour and mix until just combined. Don’t overbeat, or the cake will be tough.
    3. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Don’t overbake! Let cool thoroughly in the pan.
    4. For the ganache, cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.
    5. Place the cake upside down on a wire rack and pour the glaze evenly over the top, making sure to cover the entire cake and sides. You can tilt the rack to smooth the glaze. Decorate with candied violets, if desired, or gently crumble the gold leaf and place it on the center of the cake. Do not refrigerate.

    Copyright 2001, Barefoot Contessa Parties! by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved

  • Double Chocolate Custard


    A few years ago, Food & Wine Magazine included this recipe in a piece called “30 Best Fast Recipes Ever” … (it) has everything one could ask for in a chocolate pudding-an intense flavor and a silky texture that’s still firm enough to stand a spoon in.” This is a dense, chocolate purist’s delight and a perfect pairing for our 2013 REININGER Mr. Owl’s Red. Read More

  • Butternut Squash & Toasted Pine Nut Risotto


    Winter is the perfect time of year for warm, hearty dishes like this Butternut Squash & Toasted Pine Nut Risotto.  It’s a great comfort food on those cold, winter nights and is perfect pairing with a glass of our newly released full-bodied 2013 REININGER Mr. Owl’s Red. Read More

  • Eggs Baked in Red Wine


    For a cozy, classic French dinner by the fireplace, and something a bit different, try Sara Moulton’s Eggs Baked in Red Wine. We recommend using our Helix Merlot for both sauce and drinking!

    On the side, try lightly steamed asparagus tossed with a little butter.Read More

  • Spicy Chocolate Bark


    Chocolate bark is one of the easiest desserts you can make, and with a multitude of flavor combinations, this recipe is super adaptable to whatever is in your pantry.

    For a Merlot pairing, we recommend using only the smallest sprinkling of cayenne pepper on the top of the chocolate bark. There will be a hint of heat from the cayenne, but the cinnamon spice will linger on the palate, pairing beautifully with our 2012 REININGER Merlot. If you’re looking for more heat and love cayenne, be more generous and try this chocolate bark with our Carmenere. Read More

  • Merlot-Infused Chocolate Truffles


    Wanting to wow your sweetheart with something handmade? This decadent truffle is easy to make and can be adapted to your taste buds and preferences. As it is, the truffles are lush and creamy with only a hint of sweetness. Use this recipe as a template, but experiment with spices, wines and toppings. We, personally, loved the truffles infused with the 2009 CPR Merlot rolled in cocoa powder and pistachios.Read More

  • Chocolate Dream Cookies


    One of the most distinctive flavors of a good Merlot is chocolate. Perhaps this helps explain why Merlot is so popular and widely-consumed. After all, who doesn’t like a hint of chocolate every now and then?

    Notes of chocolate help blend together the rich tones of red and black fruits and black pepper. Chocolate adds a bit of depth and sophistication to the typically fruit forward flavors of Merlot. Our absolute favorite way to bring out the chocolate notes in the 2012 Helix Merlot is with our Chocolate Dream Cookie Recipe.

    This recipe is to die for and we guarantee it will become an instant favorite in your recipe rotation. Just try not to eat the whole batch before you get a chance to open the Merlot! Read More

  • Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms


    This is an entree-sized version of stuffed portobello mushrooms, which are meaty enough to satisfy a dinner crowd. (Don’t let the length fool you, it’s mostly detailed preparation techniques which will vastly improve the overall texture.) When removed sizzling from the oven, these stuffed portobellos have an appealing earthy aroma and a fresh tasting filling that is flavorful but not soggy. Try these mushrooms with Malbec & Syrah
    Read More

  • The World of Cabernet Sauvignon with Chuck Reininger, Part II


    When REININGER was starting out, Chuck wanted the winery to be Bordeaux-centric.
    dsc_0218“Those are the wines I was really first introduced to as far as red wines go. They have a bold character, and Bordeaux grapes grow very well here. I’m a provincial person;  I’m proud of where I live and where we’re from, and these grapes really express themselves beautifully here. Not that these grapes are indigenous to Walla Walla, but the Bordeaux red grapes are the ones that have really landed a home here in the Valley. They really are the founding core of the Walla Walla Valley.”

    For REININGER’S inaugural vintage, Chuck’s wine portfolio included a 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon. Over the years, Chuck has become known for his REININGER Cabernet Sauvignon and in 2016, Chuck was asked to sit on a Cabernet Sauvignon winemaker’s panel with five other world-class international winemakers, where our 2012 vintage was featured. Although almost 20 years has passed since our first vintage, Chuck’s winemaking style and elevage, or the progression of wine from fermentation to bottling, hasn’t changed.

    2012 Harvest & Vintage

    For 2012 specifically, the Cabernet Sauvignon ended up being one of Chuck’s favorites. The harvest was really condensed. With fruit coming in on September 21 and ending around October 20, it was the shortest harvest Reininger ever had. Harvest was over in about three weeks whereas a typical Walla Walla harvest is two months.

    That year we saw an early fall freeze, but it was an average summer and vintage in terms of heat units. The cooler nights allowed the Cabernet Sauvignon to hang on the vine longer than normal, which allowed for a slow phenolic development. Check out The World of Cabernet Sauvignon with Chuck Reininger, Part I to learn more about phenolics.

    After fermentation, we always try to get the Cabernet Sauvignon into new oak barrels, but it depends on if we press off early enough. “In 2012, it was a huge juggling act. Because of logistics and space, we had to press off some of the fruit earlier than we wanted to,” explains Chuck.

    That year, Chuck blended the Cabernet Sauvignon with  4% Petit Verdot to create a dark ruby wine with aromas of black cherry, currant, plum and baking spice. Aged in primarily French oak with 7% American for two years, the wine’s vivacious character was perfectly balanced by very fine tannins that extend long into the finish of buoyant cherry fruit.

    We sold out of the 2012 vintage right before Chuck’s panel about Cabernet Sauvignon this past June for Celebrate Walla Walla, but we were lucky enough to show off this spectacular vintage for the event.

    Current Vintage

    Our current vintage, the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, is one of the first vintages in the last few years made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Chuck’s winemaking style is nothing but consistent and you can see the elevage used in our current vintage is very similar to the award-winning 2012.

    Aged in 90% French and 10% Russian oak for two years, our REININGER 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon possesses a generous garnet color, with fragrant scents of black currant, black cherry, savory spice, and hints of crushed rose petals and Sambuca. This is certainly showing its Walla Walla roots by spanning old world and new world supported by its two pillars of earthy, loamy dark fruit and savory herbs and spice while balancing its convivial acids with soft drying tannins.

    2016 Harvest Update

    dsc_0141The Cabernet Sauvignon rows over at Seven Hills Vineyard are looking really nice. The architecture has great air movement, and with an evenness in the vineyard everything should be ripening up consistently.

    The brix are developing, but Chuck is hoping for more color development and lignification, or the process of the seeds turning brown. “I want to see a little more color and more lignification in the seeds. When they’re brown, there can be more tannins but they’re not extracted as easily and they’re not as bitter. Right now, the seeds still have quite a bit of greenness to them. We’re looking for that lignification and roundness of the seeds.

    “Altogether, I’d say the Cabernet Sauvignon from Seven Hills has about another week or so. It’s evolving and getting there. It’s got good flavor. I really like how this vintage is turning out.”

  • Into the Vines


    2016 has been interesting, to say the least. As my first full year in Walla Walla comes to a close, all I can really say is “Abbie, you’re not in New England anymore.”

    By the end of March temperatures were starting to reach into the mid-70s. On average, those temperatures are a good 20 degrees warmer than where I lived in Maine and Vermont, and 2016 was the first year I’d say I experienced Spring instead of Mud Season. Wheat and trees were blooming every day, which my allergies didn’t like, and bud break out in the vineyards was about a week early this past March. Vermont can sometimes still have snow on the ground in April, delaying bud break until mid-May and we’d be lucky to have temperatures in the mid-70s at the beginning of June.

    Read More

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