Archive for June, 2020

Jun
10

A Family Meal with Red Zinfandel

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Over the years, Zinfandel gained the nickname of “America’s grape”. Yes, it has been around a very long time AND its evolution has been quite remarkable to say the least. Recently, I had been reminded by long time, noted wine journalist Randy Caparoso, the merits of the Zinfandel grape variety—not only at how tasty and interesting it can be and how very different it can be when grown in a different terroir and microclimate, but mainly how wonderfully food friendly it can also be. Although all of his points were well founded, I found the food friendly reminder the most intriguing. That is what really inspired us to do this dinner.

The challenge with Zin is finding the “good” ones, as not all Zins are created equal. We will feature three very tasty, interesting and unique renditions for this evening. We have worked hard to get these wines because they are so different and each provides a glimpse of their respective region and their VERY different style of winemaking. Chef Keith Endo created dishes for each and we hope the wines and the pairings will not only taste good, but will shed light on what can be.

FIRST COURSE

WINE: Scherrer Zinfandoodle “Alexander Valley”–One of my true aha moments with Californian wine was the tasting the 1991 Scherrer Zinfandel, it truly was that good and memorable. In a day, where BIG, black, opulent, heart, robust renditions were in fashion, the Scherrer was instead quite elegant, suave, wonderfully transparent, textured and finely balanced. It took us somewhere between seven to nine years to finally get some of his Zin to Hawaii. In the past few years, Fred Scherrer then released a Zinfandoodle—a fanciful name coined by his grandfather—which a much more playful, delicious, wonderfully food friendly blend of two or three vintages of fruit also from his father’s vineyard in the Alexander Valley. (I later discovered part of the core is from a small patch of vines which produce seedless grapes). We love how unpretentious and welcoming it truly is and on this night we want to show how special it can be at the dinner table.

Oxtail Uovocrimini mushrooms, crispy polenta “fries”, worcestershire jus, baby arugula & truffle oil

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SECOND COURSE

WINE: Edmeades Zinfandel “Mendocino”–My love affair with Edmeades began starting with the 1994 vintage. Then winemaker Van Williamson fashion such brooding, burly, hearty, wild and wooly old vine, single vineyard Zinfandels that were masculine, full of mojo and soulfulness. The most fascinating bottling, however, proved to the “Mendocino” Zinfandel. I learned it was fashioned after the homemade wines of old. In the old days, European migrants didn’t have the luxury of producing a white wine for fish AND a red wine for meat. So, the one wine they made had to work with both fish AND meat. This was that style of wine—much more tame, civil, well textured and balanced. The current Edmeades winemaker, Ben Salazar has since fine tuned the winemaking—freshening it up and taking out the funk-centric idiosyncrasies AND without comprising the mojo, virility and soulfulness whatsoever.

House-Made Pork Sausagepancetta-thyme-rosemary orzo, pork jus, roasted peppers & pickled red cabbage

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 ENTREE

 WINE: Ancient Peaks Zinfandel “Paso Robles”–Ancient Peaks is a winery owned by three families down in southern Paso Robles. Their estate vineyard, Santa Margarita Ranch is located at roughly 1,000 feet in the very remote hills of the appellations coolest sweet spot. There are at least five different and unique soil types, of which are used to produce this wine. I chased and lobbied to get some of this wine to Hawaii for years. I love its blue collar, down to earth personality and how delicious, food friendly and gulpable it really is.

Hudson Valley Duck Confithomemade cavatelli, Swiss chard & port wine reduction

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This was quite an interesting dinner!

featuring a very different slant on what wine & food pairing could be.

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We continually search to find really “good”, interesting wines from along the Mediterranean basin and from afar to bring home to offer our valued guests. Here is a taste of four sparkling wines it has taken some time to gather. While Champagne is still “King of the Hill” in the bubbly category, there are some interesting, unique & completely refreshing sparkling wines to experience. Each of these provides a very different slant of bubbly can be. Each brings a smile to the face, when reminiscing of my first taste/encounter. And, I feel they deserve a “voice”. I hope you take advantage of this opportunity.

Lokelani Brut Rose–Here is a wonderfully, light, tasty, completely refreshing sparkling wine from Maui Winery. I have so much respect for Paula Hegele, the proprietor/visionary. Despite seemingly insurmountable challenge after challenge, she has stayed the course for 43 years of grit, determination and complete passion. Imagine, for instance, NO dormancy for the vines, no “sleeping/rejuvenation” (imagine you never sleeping?). Imagine being in tropical climate where there are diseases, pests, etc that no one would know how to treat? Paula persevered through it AND with the charming, ulifting, genuine smile and twinkle in her eye. She deserves our support. A toast to Paula!

 

Birichino Cinsault “Pet Nat”fizzy & so tasty & refreshing”.  You start off with really interesting Cinsault grapes, in this case from the iconic Bechthold vineyard out in Lodi, which was planted in 1886!!!! Most is used to produce their Old Vine Cinsault bottling. The leftover and the saignee is used to this orange-brown tinged Petulant Naturel—“Pet Nat”, using the Old World’s Ancestrale Methode”, capped thus trapping the CO2 in solution. Yes, a completely different take of what fizzy wine can be.

 

Lambert de Seyssel “Petite Royal”–One of the historic, iconic sparkling wines of France—located in Savoie of eastern France. This estate was bought back and is being resurrected since 2008. 70% Molette and 30% Altesse which are two indigenous grape varieties of the area grown in clay-limestone. The sparkling wines of Seyssel indulge in the same méthode traditionnelle production techniques used for Champagne. This cuvee is two years sur latte and an additional ten months on the lees. Pure, minerally, wonderfully refreshing AND a completely different slant on what sparkling wine can be.

 

Wolfberger Cremant d’Alsace Rose–Now, here is something one doesn’t run across too often here in Hawaii—a sparkling wine from Alsace, France. Back in the 1990’s in my former life as a wine distributor, we used to bring in the Wolfberger because of its breathtaking purity, its silky, though uplifting texture and its true deliciousness. Well, here is their Cremant d’Alsace Rose—100% Pinot Noir–done in the same méthode traditionnelle production techniques used for Champagne (15 months on the lees). Yet, another different perspective in what sparkling wines can be!

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