27 January, 2017

Happy 90th Anniversary to Pedroncelli Winery! #ped90th

Pedroncelli Dry Creak Valley Wines
Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County is an appellation near and dear to me as it one of the first places I visited to taste wine.  It's an easy to recommend AVA as it is compact, beautiful and packed with family wineries who are eager to share their passion for wine.

Zinfandel is an on ramp drug for many of us and I am no exception.  Many years, and many wines, since my first visit, lovely Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel brings back memories of good times.

So when I received an invitation from Robert Larsen of the Larsen Projekt to cook with Dry Creek Valley wines, I was all in.  As the calendar turns to 2017, Pedroncelli Winery and Vineyards marks its 90th Anniversary.  At the Winery and Vineyards, second, third and fourth generation owners produce about 65,000 cases of wine every year.  On 105 acres, they grow and vinify Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cab Franc, PV, Malbec, Syrah, Petite Syrah and other Portuguese varieties.

We were given samples of three wines, Golden Pheasant Polenta, a fun recipe and a hashtag #ped90.
Of course, I was feeling iconoclastic, (and I forgot the Italian sausage) so I used my favorite, Zinfandel, to glaze mushrooms for the polenta, which came out divinely.  Beautiful Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese paired with reduced Zinfandel and balsamic vinegar to make a great cheese course.  Chocolate covered espresso beans were  a no-bake sweet ending to my carb laden feast.  It was a great way to prove the theory that these affordable wines are as great with food as in a glass.
Happy 90th Anniversary Pedroncellis!
First the wines:
Pedroncelli Chardonnay
2015 Pedroncelli Signature Selection Chardonnay, Sonoma County ($16) :  This estate grown Dry Creek Valley Chardonnay had a day bright straw color with aromas of lemon curd and golden delicious apple with just a hint of vanilla.  Flavors matched aromas with a sprightly acidity that delighted me. There were notes of white flowers that emerged.  as the wine opened up.   It had a long, acid driven finish.  89% of the fruit is fermented in stainless steel, the rest in American Oak.  Using Estate fruit, carefully picking at just the right time and then making the wine to be fresh and textures, produces a delicious and affordable Chardonnay.  I paired it with spiced nuts that contain butter and was happy with the combination

Pedroncelli Zinfandel
2014 Pedroncelli Mother Clone, Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel ($18) : A lovely medium garnet color, this wine has aromas of dark berries, black raspberry, anise, baking spices and appley notes.  Hints of beach bonfire and vanilla were also present.  The flavors followed through with a sense of blackberry cobbler brightened by nice acidity and lovely vinous notes. There was an woodsy note with juicy fruit forward acid in the finish along with almost velvety tannins, more lush than grippy but nicely present.  It was a wine that reminded me why I love wine with familiar and delicious flavors.  The wine inspired me to glaze portobello mushrooms and also to create a balsamic reduction for my cheese.  In both cases, the yummy flavor of the wine enhanced my cooking.

Pedroncelli Petite Sirah
2014 Pedroncelli Family Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah ($18) : Lushly opaque wine awaited me when I poured this wine.  The dark wine was redolent with blackberry, Chinese Five Spice and herbal aromas.  It shifted from fruit to vinous like a roulette wheel settling in finally to dark fruit, spiced with mocha and vanilla.  Its flavors were less fruity and more vinous.  Its grippy tannins created a pleasant texture.  The finish was definitely tannin led with spices following through .  It was a very tasty wine to drink throughout the meal as well as to finish off with a few chocolate covered espresso beans.

I had never tried making polenta before.  It hasn't been my favorite go to starch and making it seemed complicated and time consuming.  I was
Golden Pheasant Polenta
very glad that I had this impetus to try something new.  Using homemade chicken stock, Golden Pheasant Polenta and some nice Parmigiano cheese, I created a sumptuous showcase for my Zinfandel glazed portobello mushrooms.  Naturally, Zinfandel was the easiest pair , but it was very interesting to note that there was something to recommend each of the wines, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah to pair with the polenta.  The Chardonnay's acidity supported its richness, the Zinfandel was a natural pair and the tannins in the Petite Sirah provided interesting textural contrast.  All these wines were excellent valuesas none was over $20.  I will be looking for them as winter continues and I expect their food friendly nature will cross seasons as well

The Pedroncelli family has been making wine in the Dry Creek Valley since 1927.  I wish them many more years of delicious winemaking in a beautifula nd welcoming spot

Many thanks to Pedroncelli Winery and Vineyards for the lovely midweek pairing challenge and to the Robert Larsen Projekt for providing the samples and supplies

20 January, 2017

Antigal One Malbec and the Domestic Arts - Wine and Book review

Antigal Uno Malbec from Uco Valley Argentina
January and February are months that challenge my domestic artistry.  On the one hand, I miss all the festive events of the holiday season, but on the other, I simply can't do one more thing.  The rain does not help.

Luckily, I found two pick me ups that bring the sparkle back.

First, Antigal  "Uno" Malbec, Mendoza Argentina ($15.99).  This wine has great typicity of Malbec - dark fruit, generous texture, lush flavors, enticing aromas.  This example also has an elegance that toppled my expectations for a brawny wine.  Maybe it's the eight to ten months in French oak?  Or maybe it is the deft hand of a female winemaker: Miriam Gomez leads the program at the Uco Valley label.  The fruit is grown at higher elevation. It is vinified gently and with care.  This creates a wine with lovely natural acidity, which I crave.  The flavors are easy to pair with food.  They encompass red fruit, tobacco and cocoa powder.  At $15.99, the price is easy to balance with the credit card bills coming in from my holiday finery.  All in all, Antigal Uno is comfort in a glass.

And of course, my natural hostessing instincts kick back in and make me want to share.  A handy tip for instant, easy entertaining I discovered was to pair this tasty affordable Malbec with  Steak Bites from my new life guide.  I love this book,  The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits, which fulfills its promise of being an etiquette handbook with recipes.  Along with great advice on life, love and entertaining, the easy to follow recipes, tap  into your inner domestic goddess, while taming the overachieving event dominatrix we all have (not you?  okay, just me) inside.

Spring will be here before we know it.  Many thanks to Antigal for the wine and Suzanne and Lee for the advice on how to get there with tasty style and comforting flair.

Many thanks, as well, to Patricia Schneider, of Elemental Meme PR, who provided a sample of wine.  The first one was free but I just keep buying more at Cost Plus World Market