Monday, October 11, 2010

24th Anniversary, Dinner at Home

  After discussing going out to celebrate our anniversary, SWMBO and I decided to stay home. Figuring the places where we'd have liked to eat are closed on Monday, and even if we found one open it'd be too late after I got done with chores and came in to clean the delicate aroma of Toggenburg Buck in full rut off every square inch of my body. 
  So dinner tonight wasn't rib steaks, it wasn't king crab, or lobster or anything remotely fancy or foo foo. It was a cut up 4 pound fryer, marinated all day in buttermilk and spices, rolled in seasoned flour and panko bread crumbs and fried, mom style until it was golden brown and crunchy as all get out. Garlic mashed potatoes with sweet butter and pecorino romano, forget the gravy, and homemade cole slaw. 
  The wines? Page Springs Cellars Vino del Barrio Blanca. A white table wine listed as containing Muscat, Chardonnay, Malvasia Bianca, Viognier and Roussanne grapes. It's a pretty nice wine in the 17 dollar neighborhood, but there's a bit of unfulfilled promise. The fruit and flowers of the Malvasia Bianca comes right up in front on the nose but is nowhere to be found on the palate. The Chardonnay is the most apparent. I'm not a huge Chardonnay fan, especially the California types that have been oak aged. This one isn't oaked though, and the grassiness of the grape isn't obscured by wood. A nice drink with the chicken.

  For dessert we opened the bottle of Keeling-Schaefer's Turkey Creek Caldera. It's pure Sirah and checks in at 18.5% alcohol. Chocolate, dark fruit, raisins, perfect sweetness, just shoot me. A tiny glass is all you need. 

  Once in a great while the weather will conspire to cause an excess formation of raisins on the vine before the harvest. Too many raisins means less juice and higher sugar content. Higher sugar means higher alcohol and sweeter wine. Winemakers will sometimes try to salvage their harvest by making a dessert wine from this kind of crop. They may get lucky and end up with a port-like hit, or flop with an MD 20-20 style bomb. This one's a hit. We realized how good a little piece of good dark chocolate would go with this, and so put it away till we're better prepared. So many of these wines are in short supply, I'm going to start keeping an eye out for a special red, white and dessert to put away for next year's quarter century anniversary. Shoot, maybe I'll go all out and make gravy. 

Just a short rant about the Page Springs Vino's name. What is it about these people who want to affect Spanish names for their wines (not to mention their housing subdivisions, shopping centers and whatever else) but can't be bothered to GET THE SPANISH RIGHT??
The best translation of "Vino del Barrio Blanca" is "Wine of the white neighborhood". Is that really what they wanted to say?? My guess is they actually wanted to say something like "Neighborhood white wine". A much better name would be "Vino Blanco del Barrio". Wherever they decide to put the adjective "white", it needs to agree with the noun "Vino" and end with an O. Given the number of easily available native Spanish speakers around here, this mangling of the language is really unacceptable. There. I'm all done now.

Hopi Mystery Grape Update

  This is exciting, in a nerdy sort of way. I emailed UC Davis dept. of AG viticulture department today. I didn't know who exactly to email, so I just sort of pulled an email address out of the list on their incredibly informative website. I didn't get the right person right off the bat, but got a nearly instant reply from the person I'd mailed, saying he would copy the mail to Dr. Andy Walker, their grape geneticist. The person I mailed said "If there is anyone in the country who can identify your grapes, Andy can, usually on sight." In about 10 minutes, here comes a mail from Dr. Walker him/herself, excited to help me out. Instructions on what to photograph, where to cut samples and how to ship them to UCD. Tomorrow's task is to get in touch with my brother in law Steve and get him going on photos and samples. Dr. Walker is particularly excited about the possibility that these may be Mennonite grapes, as there is little documentation of eastern native grape varieties this far west until well after the turn of the century.
  Funny footnote, I got another mail from someone at UCD in the same department. She wished me well on my quest and finished up by saying "Isn't there a winery in Cornville? I remember hearing about a couple of guys there trying to grow grapes and make wine, or something."
Stay tuned.....