2017 Spring Update
Good Taste Avenue
The Good Life, USA
Dear Wine Lovers,
A lovely early spring Sunday to everyone. It’s definitely been strange weather and the tulips and daffodils are as confused as we are! But I will admit, I love the longer evenings, and at night, the glass of chilled white while the sun goes down is just what the doctor ordered.
That being said, let’s talk about chilled whites. We are bottling the new vintage, and will release those as we near summer. But for today, we want to put 4 bottles in your cellar that will bridge this span between big winter reds, and minerally, super crisp whites. Think of the soft, blurry edges of the trees as the leaves start to emerge. Or the springy texture of the ground as you walk through the newly melted forest. Everything is just a little soft, a little new, a little fresh.
Many of you are right in line with me as fans of our Viognier. It’s an unmistakeable wine, full of banana, peach, flowers and lemon. The weight is medium, yet round enough to hold up to your favorite curry recipe. No oak influences this wine, our neutral barrels give it a rounded edge, but the fruit is the star. This grape hails from the south of France, where it is typically seen in a blend with Marsanne and Rousanne. It’s the aromatic character of the three. Our wonderful grower just outside of Healdsburg in the Russian River has absolutely meticulous methods and the most excellent locale. This wine benefits from a larger glass, helping to release all of it’s volatile aromatics. It also likes to be a little warmer than refrigerator temperature. I like it closer to 45 than to 35. It helps give it a fleshier, rounder feel and the stunning nose is even more lively. If you like your whites crisp and zippy, then by all means, pour directly from the refrigerator. As we close out our 2014 vintage, we love to share with you recipes that pair magically with this particular wine. Look to the end of the newsletter for them.
Our second offering is another 2014 white, our Russian River Chardonnay. If you haven’t had this Chard in a while, I can tell you right now, that if I was forced to drink only this wine for the rest of my life, I’m OK with that. It is sipping so smoothly right now. This is our Chard that was done in puncheons. Two new French oak 500L barrels. These are more than twice the size of a typical barrique. What that does for the wine is let us have some oak characteristics, without making it the dominant flavor in the wine. We get more wine to oak ratio then in our small barriques. Let me tell you all the things I love about this particular wine :) The acidity is high enough even after our malolactic fermentation that it’s incredibly food friendly. The oak program was just enough (well, not for Don, maybe). It gives the wine a rich caramel, toffee note in the mid-palate when it’s served at the proper temp, which is around 50 degrees. The oak offers tannin to the wine, which turns in to that great spice note near the finish. It has a nice mix of yellow apple, lemon curd and apple pie spice I just can’t get enough of. If you like your whites crisp, serve this straight from the fridge. But if, like me, you prefer your whites to drink like a red, full of nuance and insight and all sorts of intriguing flavors, keep this wine in your cellar, and drink it right from there. After the first two glasses are poured, I’ll put mine in the fridge for 15 min, then pull it back out and leave it on the counter. You will not be disappointed in the richness this gives you. So very versatile with food, recipes to follow.
And for the red offering. I know we said last time we weren’t going to send out the Petite Sirah in the club, but I changed my mind. Those are the perks of this job. I want you to have a bottle of petite, if for no other reason than it is decidedly delicious and very, very scarce. The story of our petite as follows;
We knew we wanted a few barrels of petite to perhaps blend with our zin, or at least to go into the Bordeaux. We also knew the grapes are really costly, and we didn’t need very much. We decided on 2 tons (4 barrels) and we hoped they would ripen around the same time as some other later varietal so we could ship them together.
Well, ripen they did. We did get them on a truck with two other varietals. I didn’t have the current chemistries, so wasn’t quite sure what to expect. These grapes were the smallest, driest, thickest skinned fruits I had ever seen. We knew we were going to barrel ferment at least two barrels of the Petite, and the rest would go into our bins. The grapes that were sorted and put in our barrels had very little juice. That is why Petite Sirah is as dense and inky as it is. The skin of a red grape is where all of its structure resides. All the tannin, protein, color and flavor are located in the skins. And with so much skin to flesh ratio, the flavor, color and density ratio goes sky high. This wine will stain your teeth, glass, skin or anything else that it touches. The legs on the glass are thick and coating. The flavor profile is all dark berry, grip, licorice and smoke. And the finish will linger long after the bottle is empty. This in not a wine for wusses. This is a red wine drinkers wine. As for food pairings, I don’t have the foggiest idea. Think lots of char, lots of marbling, grills or roasted things. I always think of short ribs, maybe with a blackberry/serrano sauce, a little gremolata for the side just to keep the green tied in and things lifted. This wine will seriously cellar for 20 years. It will just deepen in tone and texture. But don’t wait for it! Try it now, and then get a few more bottles for the cellar. I recommend serving it decanted for a few hours, at room temp (68-72). If you like things grippy and tight, then pour right from the bottle without any decanting. I didn’t think I would like this wine, it just felt too big for my personal palate. But after pouring and sampling it for the last 6 months, I have to say I really like it. I find so many intriguing layers to it. It’s definitely not a “quaffer”, but I think you’re going to be hooked.
And last, we’re going to send you a bottle of Zin to complete your package. Why, because it’s delicious. And drinking so wonderfully now. Rich, spicy, full of fruit, jam and toast. The ’14 vintage was absolutely stellar. This wine is from 80 year old head trained vines. Just north of the town of Sonoma on the benchland. Lots of heat, small berries, hand harvested. We use a small amount of American oak on our Zin (actually, I love these barrels, they are alternating staves with every other one French and then American). It gives us just a little sweetness to the wood, and rounds out the finish without overwhelming the fruit. I love that in Zinfandel, the fruit is always the star (or should be). The natural acidity makes it an excellent food wine, and it’s very flexible in the direction you can push it. If you like more grip, serve from the cellar. If you like more fruit, serve at room temp. Zin is a wine that can be cellared for 5-10 years, really depending on the oak program (remember, we get tannins from oak and that’s a natural wine preservative). But young Zin is fresh and rich and spicy, so there’s really no reason to wait! Light up your grill and pull out the cork. Or call up some friends, assemble your pizza ingredients and toast to the great company.
If you need to change your shipment, please let me know this next week. It’s very difficult to change once I’ve run the club, and impossible the day of the pickup party. I promise to save all the emails so I get it straight this time. If you want all whites, we’ll send you three bottle each of the two whites above. If you prefer all reds, I’ll send you three bottles of the two reds above. If you just want to make your own choices, we’ll try and accommodate those as well
Pick up Party is April 8th from 2-5pm. If you can’t make it, as always, we can make other arrangements. You’re welcome to bring guests, but please RSVP by April 1st, as we’re a tiny space and need the heads up.
This cost of this shipment is 144.00 plus local tax and shipping. Your card on file will be charged the week of March 26th. If you are not currently a “ship to” customer and need me to do so, please let me know that as well.
We wish you a wonderful early spring. The possibility of everything just beginning to emerge, the new birds, animals, green shoots and freshly turned earth. These things feed my soul’s need for renewal and my heart’s need for peace. Truly, everything is possible. A deep, heartfelt thank you for all of your support and encouragement.
Molly, The Don, Galloping Goose and Roxy Sox
To pair with Viognier
Shrimp Curry With Chickpeas And Cauliflower
This is the perfect weeknight dinner because it requires very little maintenance and doesn’t take long to put together.
Ingredients (4 SERVINGS)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- ½ large fennel bulb, finely chopped
- 1 2-inch piece ginger, finely grated Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 1 5-inch piece lemongrass, tough outer layer removed, lightly smashed
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste
- 1 tablespoon shrimp paste with bean oil
- 1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- ½ head of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
- 12 ounces shrimp, peeled, deveined
- Basmati rice, shredded purple cabbage, cilantro or basil, and lime wedges (for serving)
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium. Add onion and fennel and cook, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add ginger and cook, stirring, until onion and fennel are very tender, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add lemongrass, red curry paste, and shrimp paste and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add coconut milk, chicken broth, and fish sauce, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, 20–30 minutes.
Add cauliflower and chickpeas and continue to simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer until shrimp are cooked through, 3–5 minutes. Discard lemongrass; season with salt. Serve curry over rice; top with cabbage, cilantro, and limes.
Recipe by Hannah Orenstein
To pair with the Chardonnay
- 6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced thinly as for scaloppini
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 16 cipollini onions
- 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 orange pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 fennel bulbs, sliced paper-thin crosswise
- 1 large sweet onion (Walla Walla), diced
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon alaea salt
- 14 ounces grape tomatoes, sliced in half, lengthwise
- ¼ pound caper berries (see note)
- 8 tablespoons melted butter
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- ¼ cup chardonnay
Note: Caper berries are not interchangeable with capers. They are about the size of an olive and have a less intense flavor than capers.
Lightly sauté chicken breasts on both sides in ¼ cup of olive oil, a few at a time. They should just turn white and still be very rare in the center. Set aside.
Blanch the cipollini onions for about 2 minutes, remove the skins and set aside. Blanch all the sliced peppers in the same water; then chill in ice water, drain and set aside. Sauté fennel in 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil until transparent. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Compose ingredients in a large Pyrex baking dish, approximately 9x14 inches. Start with a layer of chicken breast. Top with peppers, both types of onions and fennel. Sprinkle with garlic, salt & pepper. Scatter with tomatoes and caper berries. Top with second layer of chicken. Mix together butter, broth and wine, and pour over composed dish. Bake for about 30 minutes until chicken is just cooked and vegetables are warmed through.
Serve with steamed yellow potatoes and a fresh spinach salad. Toss the salad with toasted pine nuts, chopped hard-boiled egg and mustard-lemon vinaigrette.
To pair with Zinfandel
Kale and Sausage Pizza
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino
- Romano cheese
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch Lacinato kale, chopped
- 1 pound frozen pizza dough, thawed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 sausage links
HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, flour, 2 tablespoons of the cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer, whisking, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat.
In a medium pot, cook the kale in salted boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the kale and finely chop.
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Drizzle the oil on a baking sheet, then stretch the dough to fit the baking sheet. Spread the sauce evenly over the dough. Remove the sausage from the casings, discarding casings, then crumble the sausage over the pizza. Place handfuls of the kale evenly over the pizza. Bake pizza until the crust is crisp and golden and the sausage is browned, 15 to 18 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve.
To pair with Petite Sirah
Grilled Short Ribs with Smoky Blackberry Barbecue Sauce
This delicious barbecue sauce gets its smoky flavor from berries that are grilled in a perforated pan; you can use sturdy foil or a foil pan with holes punched in instead. Chipotle chiles packed in adobo amplify the smokiness of the berries.
ACTIVE: 45 MIN TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 30 MIN SERVINGS: 4
- 1 pound blackberries
- 2 teaspoons sweet pimentón de la Vera (sweet smoked paprika)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped, plus 1/4 cup minced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons seeded and minced chipotles in adobo sauce
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano, plus more for garnish
- 4 1/2 pounds flanken-cut beef short ribs (1/3-inch thick)
- Thinly sliced radishes, for garnish
HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
Light a grill. In a large bowl, toss the blackberries with the pimentón . Spread the berries in a perforated grill pan or in a foil pan with holes poked in it. Grill over moderately high heat, tossing, until the berries just start to burst, 3 to 5 minutes.
In a saucepan, heat the 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until just golden. Add the chopped onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened and just starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until glossy, about 2 minutes. Add the blackberries, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, chipotles, mustard and cumin and bring just to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring, until slightly thickened and the berries are very tender, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the sauce to a blender and let cool slightly, then puree until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl, discarding the solids. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and let cool completely. Spoon 1 cup of the sauce into a bowl and stir in the minced onion, the olive oil and the 2 tablespoons of oregano. Reserve the remaining sauce for grilled chicken or pork.
Light the grill and oil the grate. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and brush with the blackberry sauce. Grill over high heat, turning once, until nicely charred, 3 minutes.
Continue to grill for 2 minutes more, turning and basting with more sauce, until glazed. Garnish the ribs with radishes and chopped oregano; serve hot.
The blackberry sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Peppery, blackberry-rich Petite Sirah from California was practically made for sticky barbecue.
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