23 July, 2009

A Visit to Dollarhide Vineyards - Honey, Peaches and A marvelous Sauvignon Blanc

Dollarhide! I have been dreaming of visiting this magic spot since the last blogger's forum at St. Supery, when we were mesmerized with the delicious St. Supery wines and tantalized by the offer of returning when peaches were in season. This visit, we were greeted by blast furnace heat of Napa in summer, which only made the gorgeous green vineyards seem more beautiful, illustrated what makes great grapes and the awesome St. Supery team: Lesley, Tina, Josh, Sarah and crew. So fun! We started the day with tasty bacon and entertainment observing the view---Napa's hot firemen setting up for their fundraising event. Then we piled into vehicles and roamed out onto the 1500 acre property. The first highlight was the stone fruit orchard. From the trees, the lovely perfume of peaches wafted out to greet us. St. Supery's vineyard manager, Josh Anstey grows about over 30 varieties of peaches and several more of nectarines. These grow on a site not suitable for grape cultivation, but produce magical stone fruit. Fresh, voluptuous specimens with fragrance, flavor and juice for days. Just picked still warm from the sun? Delectable! This produce often makes it on the the menus of local fine dining places like Ad Hoc, French Laundry, etc. And I tasted why. Too delicate to travel far, this fruit is a locavore's dream when you come to it! We observed both flora and fauna as we laughed and toured. Also seeing St. Supery's lakes and the birds the water attracts was amazing. We also got to see up close the variety of terrain and how the different sites are managed to put the best environment for each variety. This particular vista of Sauvignon Blanc vines which goes into the amazing St Supery Dollarhide Sauvignon Blanc wine. Josh explained to us the the light and depth of soil conditions makes it ideal for Sauvignon Blanc. He also pointed out the surrounding hills where Cabernet Sauvignon grows. We loved the lessons in viticulture. But Josh had his other talents on display, too! As well as dazzling us with the stone fruit and schooling us on the vineyard, he also busted out the bee keeping. With the smudge pot and the protective gear, he brought out a frame of honey. We got all Winnie-the-Pooh, sticking our tiny paws right into the honey comb and lapping up the fragrant sweet honey. It tasted so different with less green flavors or floral flavors and a more delicately citrus taste than regular honey. Amazing! We absconded with the entire frame and took it to lunch where I drizzled it on peaches and melons and stuck the honeyed fruit into my prosciutto sandwich. Heaven! And what better accompaniment to a heavenly feast than St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc? We drank Dollarhide wine in the Dollarhide vineyard. A perfect match to for the salty lunch meat and hot summer day, the cool refreshing wine zinged onto my tongue with aromas of ruby grapefruit, Egyptian guava and lime. Lovely! We wrestled for the bottle. Thea won! The Dollarhide Cabernet Sauvignon was also delightful with a flavors of cherry, cola and luscious red fruit, but the heat of the day made us all crave white wine. After lunch we continued out tour of this magnificent property to get a better sense of the terroir. Literally heavenly! And the best? The generous folks at St. Supery sent us home with each our own box of peaches! Yum! I have been snarfing them and reliving a day of great fun, great company and great wine! Bonus: With perfectly ripe peaches, white peaches, nectarines and white nectarines in surplus what's a BrixChick to do? Make ice cream! Here's a fabulous recipe if you find yourself in the same position:
Saffron-Kissed Peach Frozen Custard:
Ingredients:
4-5 smallish perfectly ripe peaches, nectarines, white, yellow or combo; Peel and mash only when ready to put in ice cream freezer
3-5 strands of Turkish or Iranian Saffron (use only 1-2 of Spanish saffron)
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 egg, beaten
1 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
dash salt (hibiscus, if you have it)


Put sugar, milk and salt and saffron in a saucepan. Stir to combine. Continue stirring occasionally over medium heat taking care not to boil mixture. When it almost boils, reduce heat to low.
Then, pour 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture slowly into beaten egg. After, pour egg mixture into rest of milk, stirring well and constantly. Continue stirring until mixture is slightly thickened about 4 -5 minutes. Remove from heat. Refrigerate overnight.
When ready to finish ice cream, strain custard mixture into bowl. Whisk in whipping cream, vanilla and mashed stone fruit.
Pour into ice cream canister and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.
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