Yes, 8am is early to start tasting wine, but it is also the time of day when your palate is freshest.
When we sat down to re-taste the 2009 wines from Meteor Vineyard in December we unanimously agreed on a couple of things;
1. The wines are DELICIOUS with incredible purity of fruit, ripe fine grained tannins and the vibrant natural acidity that is textbook Coombsville.
2. Our inaugural harvest of Petite Verdot is growing more interesting by the day. More soon on this, though you may see a sneak peak in a couple weeks at the NVV Premier Napa Valley event.
3. Clone 7 (our “heritage planting on St. George rootstock) continues to beguile us with it’s confluence of aromatics, intensity, depth and length. Once again we felt strongly that our Special Family Reserve bottling should feature and explore this sole clonal selection.
Winemaker Dawnine Dyer and I met at the early appointed hour to taste through all of the individual barrels of clone 7. Our goal was simple – explore the various effects of our individual barrel coopers on clone 7 (the effect on each clone varies in colorful and sometimes unpredictable ways) and pull aside the 6 barrels we found most expressive and refined. A task easier said than done – especially with a vintage as good as 2009.
The following features some highlights from the conversation…
Where else would you find a “think tank” about wine than Napa Valley (ok, perhaps Silicon Valley)? Paul Mabray is one of the few people whose whole existence is dedicated to exploring, envisioning and articulating the convergence of wine and technology. Who better to talk about that convergence with than Meteor Vineyard’s own internet historian and pioneer Barry Schuler? Stealing the kung foo term from Paul because I love it (yes the misspell is intentional).
This past Saturday saw 2 Napa Valley chefs go head to head at the Blue Oak Schools “Battle of the Chefs” – a fundraiser for the school (co-founded by Meteor Vineyard owners Barry and Tracy Schuler).
Barry, decked out in blue Converse and purple tie, served as the host and MC for the vent, gently and hilariously prodding the two chefs along as they cooked in front of a sold out crowd at the Napa Valley Culinary Institute of America. The setup was classic “Top Chef” with secret ingredients, a panel of judges (including Jardiniere Wine Director Eugenio Jardim and the ever rowdy Lee Hudson) and a limited amount of time to produce the best possible dish.
Marcy Gordon of Come for the Wine covered it live via twitter and posted this recap and Christy Bors from the Napa Patch covered it here.
Look for a full video soon……
The recent Battle of the Chefs event at the CIA saw competition between two of Napa Valley’s best chefs. Though both “contestants” walked away with a winning dish in the final judgment, I walked away reminded how easily and intuitively wine country chefs work with wine. And I mean this in both senses of the word, both by integrating wine into the dishes themselves and (perhaps most importantly)by preparing dishes that are transformed, highlighted and benefit from a glass (or 4) of wine.
The following recipe from Micheal Chiarello represents a nearly perfect pairing with the elegant style of cabernet sauvignon produced at Meteor Vineyard.
Michael Chiarello for Battle of the Chefs
Grilled Lamb Loin, cabernet potato gnocchi, mustard greens, cabernet smoke and lamb jus
1 boneless lamb loin (reserve bones and trimmed meat for sauce)
1 quart mustard greens (washed and trimmed)
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 pints cabernet potato gnocchi
1 pint cabernet wine
1 pint veal stock (reduced by half)
Cabernet vines for burning
Poly Science smoking gun
Small bundle thyme
1 bay leaf
Grey salt and freshly ground black pepper
Start by making sure your grill is very hot. While the grill is heating roast off your bones and any meat from trimming the lamb loin, then deglaze this pan with cabarnet wine. Add your thyme and bay leaf and reduce the wine till almost all the liquid has been cooked off and the pan is almost dry. Add your veal stock and cook until the sauce has a nice consistency and enough lamb flavor in it. Strain through a very fine mesh colander. Rub your lamb loin with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Place on a hot part of the grill, watch out for flair ups that may burn the lamb, and let cook 1 minute before turning 90 degrees to create a crossed marking on the grill. Cook 1 minute more and flip the lamb over and repeat these steps on the other side. After the lamb has cooked for 4-5 minutes pull it off the grill and let it rest for 3 minutes. While the lamb is resting drop your potato gnocchi into boiling salted water until hot all the way through. Add some EVOO to a medium sized hot sauté pan, add garlic and cook until the garlic is lightly golden but not burned, add the mustard greens and season with salt and pepper. The greens should start to sweat , if they are too hot and begin to caramelize add a teaspoon of your hot water to the pan to help them steam. Once your greens and gnocchi are cooked you can slice your lamb, against the grain and in even sized slices. On one side of the plate arrange your gnocchi in a circle and on the other side place your sliced lamb. Place your mustard greens amongst the gnocchi and spread them artfully in the center of the plate as well. Spoon some of your lamb jus around the lamb and the gnocchi. Load the smoking gun with cabernet vines, light them and turn the smoker on, place a cabernet glass over the lamb and begin to pump smoke under the glass and place it down quickly to trap the smoke inside the glass.