I had a full and challenging work week when I made no time to care for what I ate or drank. Yet I bookended it well with homey meals and good-value wines thanks to the fresh, seasonal bounty of Berkeley Bowl, the earthy, creamy goodness of Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, and the fine recommendations of David Sharp at the Wine Mine in Oakland.
Last Saturday and Sunday, I poured a 2010 Biohof Pratsch Grüner Veltliner from Neiderösterrich, with its bright, effervescent green apple, lemongrass, and white pepper flavors and minerality on the finish, to contrast a bold and earthy soup made with roasted Roma tomatoes and Rancho Gordo alubia blanca beans—a genius and simple recipe from the Coppertop Kitchen that sustained me throughout the week.
When Friday finally arrived, I unwound by cooking “clean-out-the-fridge” style. I dumped the last two inches of the Grüner Veltliner into a skillet of sautéed leeks, onions, red bell peppers, tomatoes, chicken garlic sausage, and leftover beans and baked it all with breadcrumbs for some kind of delicious faux cassoulet. To go with, I opened yet another gem from the Wine Mine—a 2007 Gerard Bertrand Côtes du Rousillon Villages Tautavel Protégée “Grand Terroir” (Grenache, syrah, carignane). Its funkiness and deep black cherry, green pepper, roasted red pepper, and tar notes and structured tannins complimented the beans and stewed vegetable flavors in the dish even though the wine hadn’t fully opened up after three hours. Both the bean dish and wine should be even better today. I’m curious what the wine would be like decanted and in another year or two. Now well-restored by simply good food and wine and some rest I'm ready to go explore the changing colors of this beautiful fall day.