No-Guilt Wednesday Wine: Crosby California Merlot 2009   Leave a comment

This little guy doesn’t have a guilty bone in his body.  Neither should you.  Every Wednesday I will write-up a wine that I feel delivers good value for drinking in the middle of the week.  Aside from quality, my only other criteria is price.  To start, less than $15, but ideally less than $10, for a 750 ml bottle. 

I will also add any recipes that I paired with the wine.  I hope that I will be successful with all of my pairings, but there are never guarantees and I will report on my duds as well.  My ultimate goal for each of these dinners is to end up with the same self-satisfied jaunty grin that my little friend to the left has.  I also hope to leave you with a recipe that you can use to match up with a wine of your choice if you can’t locate the one I recommend.

A few days ago, I identified the Crosby California Merlot 2009 which I picked up for about $9 as a good candidate for this week’s No-Guilt segment.  While at the market last night it started to come together.  I grabbed a duck breast, two poblano chiles and a Vidalia onion (these are in season now, but a white onion would do nicely at other times of the year).   Some corn tortillas and the vision was nearly complete: tender breast of duck slow cooked in a braise, pulled apart just before serving and piled on corn tortillas, drizzled with a reduction of the braising liquid (stock and wine?). 

That was last night and what Ms. R and I ended up with today was a little different.  Forget the braise– we grilled instead.  I also wanted some sweetness and heat in this dish and I didn’t have a clue how that was going to happen until inspiration struck: yes! a blackberry-ancho chile sauce, which was inspired by a prior tasting of this wine, would definitely do the trick.  It brought a little heat to the dish which did not interfere with the wine at all. 

And while most health conscious folks would remove the skin after cooking, I chose not to do that to create more flavor and texture.  And, hey this is why I go to the gym every day! 

Grilled Duck Breast with Blackberry-Ancho Chile Sauce ©


  • 1 Magret Duck Breast (about 1 lb.)
  • 2 Garlic cloves minced
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 large Vidalia onion cut through the root and sliced cross-wise
  • 4 poblano chiles
  • 1 to 2 tbsps. EVOO

For the sauce:

  • 1 tbsp. EVOO
  • 2 dried ancho chiles (re-hydrated with boiling water, seeded and de-stemmed– reserve 1/4 cup of the water)
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 cup sliced Vidalia onion
  • 1  1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons seedless blackberry jam
  • salt & pepper

To Prepare the Sauce:

  1. To a hot sauce pan add 1 tbsp of EVOO and saute the onion, garlic and rehydrated ancho chiles until the onion is soft but not carmelized. 
  2. Add 1/4 cup of pepper water, balsamic vinegar and the blackberry jam to the sauce pan.  Bring to a boil to make sure the jam melts.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Carefully (so as not to burn yourself) pour contents of the sauce pan in a blender, place cover on blender and blend on high to liquefy the ingredients.
  5. Strain the content of the blender and discard the solids– the resulting sauce should have the texture of a heavy cream.
  6. If the sauce is too thin, return it to the stove an reduce over a low flame until the desired consistency is achieved.

To Prepare the Duck:

  1. Place the duck breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound until the breast has an even thickness.  
  2. Score the skin side of the duck breast cutting the skin, but not the underlying meat, creating a diamond pattern on the skin
  3. Season both sides of the breast with salt & pepper, rub with the 2 cloves of minced garlic and set aside
  4. Roast the fresh poblano chiles over an open flame or under a broiler till the skins turn black.  Set aside to cool and then rinse under cool water to remove blackened skin. Slice open, remove seeds and cut into long thin strips.
  5. Toss the chiles with the slices onion and set aside.
  6. Grill the duck in a hot grill set to medium high.  Start skin side down for 4 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side for 5 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 140° for medium-rare and both sides have been seared.  Remove from the grill and set aside to rest.  (Hint: keep a water bottle handy to deal with flare ups)
  7. While the duck is resting, add 1 tbsp. of EVOO to a pan and saute the Vidalia onions and Poblano chiles (a wok is ideal for this).  Season to taste with salt & pepper while it is cooking.
  8. Warm up some flour tortillas on the grill
  9. Optional step– remove the skin.
  10. Thinly slice the duck and serve alongside the onion-chile saute, blackberry-ancho sauce and tortillas (either corn or flour)
  11. Each tortilla can be assembled with a slice of duck or two, the onion-chile saute and a slight drizzle of the blackberry-ancho sauce

© Sybarite Sauvage

Crosby California Merlot 2009 ($9):  On the nose this hinted at garden herbs.  For the money, this simple little wine shows some blackberry flavors in a velvet wrapper that echoed some of the flavors in the sauce that accompanied the duck breast tacos.  Not complex, not richly textured, and not an  ounce of guilt!  But a joy to drink. Rated **

One more thing:  once dinner was done, the bottle was empty as were the plates!  Oh yeah, I am definitely feeling jaunty! 

Posted June 1, 2011 by Sybarite Sauvage in No-Guilt Wednesday

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