Do you have a special bottle of wine sitting in your cellar that you’ve just never been ready to open? The bottle is either too expensive, too special, or you’re just not exactly sure when to open the darn thing? To aid in the decision making process and to take some pressure off of selecting an exact date, “Tastings” columnists, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher of The Wall Street Journal have instituted “Open that Bottle Night.” Celebrated on the last Saturday of every February, it is a designated night to pop the cork on that special bottle you’ve been holding onto, um, indefinitely. (Photo is of the oldest cellar at Veuve Clicquot in Reims, France taken during our trip last year. Don't let this happen to your wine!)
This past Saturday, February 27th, marked the 11th Annual OTBN. In years past, Steve & I usually open an older bottle of wine we’ve been holding onto. These have included wines from Plumpjack, Mount Veeder, Darioush and Silver Oak (do you see a theme here?) but this year the wines we opened were special for a different reason. They are wines from Vintners participating in this year’s Boca Bacchanal, a celebration of wine and food taking place March 19-21 here in beautiful Boca Raton, FL. I’ll be sampling more of these wonderful wines in the next few weeks leading up to the event. To complement tonight’s wines, I selected some delicious recipes from, you guessed it, “Savor the Moment.”
The first wine we opened was from King Estate Winery. Founded in 1991 by the King family, this winery is located southwest of Eugene, Oregon and produces Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and limited amounts of Chardonnay. The winery uses organic & sustainable farming methods to produce their wines, an added bonus! We popped the cork on a 2007 King Estate Domaine Pinot Gris for our first course and paired it with Caramelized Onion and Cheese Canapés (pg. 19).
These canapés consist of onions caramelized with a hint of brown sugar and balsamic vinegar that are then spooned atop toasted slices of French bread generously slathered with goat cheese. If you are a caramelized onion fan you need to make these tonight! If you are a goat cheese fan too you need to make them NOW! I could really eat these all day long (I think I pretty much did actually) - they are easy to make and so delicious I had to include the recipe below!
The canapés paired very nicely with the citrus, melon and peach flavors of the Pinot Gris. In addition, the sweetness of the caramelized onions picked up on the slight sweetness in the wine which made for a great synergy. It was official, our OTBN was off to a great start!
For our second wine, we selected a 2006 Clos Du Val Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Founded in 1972, Clos du Val had its beginnings in the then largely undiscovered Stags Leap District of Napa Valley. French-born winemaker and Estate Co-Founder, Bernard Portet’s old world approach to winemaking combined with Napa Valley fruit makes for a sublime and very enjoyable wine drinking experience.
I paired this wine with the Rosemary Roasted Rack of Lamb with Cabernet Sauce (pg. 154). I have to say, this is probably one of my favorite recipes out of “Savor the Moment” yet. I am literally thinking ahead to plan when I can make it again! You coat the rack of lamb with a mixture of bread crumbs, garlic, butter and chopped fresh rosemary and roast it until your house smells heavenly. Once done, you make a delicious sauce using shallots, wine, Dijon mustard, beef broth and the pan drippings that is utterly delicious. I did part with ¾ cup of the wine in order to make the sauce. It’s generally a good idea to use the same wine in a recipe that you plan to serve with it (within reason of course) – at least wine in the same genre, just to keep things consistent. My one word of advice when preparing this recipe would be to cook the lamb until it reaches at least 140-145 degrees on your meat thermometer for medium-rare. The recipe suggests 125-130 degrees which was definitely NOT enough. Once done, I served the lamb on a fluffy bed of garlic mashed potatoes, spooned the Cabernet sauce over the top and dove in!
The lamb paired very nicely with deeply hued, inky Clos Du Val Cab, a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. This wine differed from many Napa Valley Cabs in the subtleness of its fruit flavors; it definitely drank more like an old world wine. The flavors of dark fruit, cassis and spice combined with nice, firm tannins made this wine a great match for the lamb. This combination was so good, for dessert we had – more lamb!
I look forward to meeting Bernard Portet of Clos Du Val and Steve Thomson of King Estate who will both be in attendance at the upcoming Boca Bacchanal. It should be a wonderful event this year with Chefs and Vintners hailing from all over the globe! Proceeds of the event benefit the Heritage Education and Historical Preservation Programs of the Boca Raton Historical Society. If you are in the neighborhood (even if you're not) check out http://www.bocabacchanal.com/ for more information. It's the perfect opportunity to savor the moment, all weekend long. Look forward to seeing you there - cheers!
Caramelized Onion and Cheese Canapes
2 large red onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
24 (1/4 inch) round slices bread
12 ounces chevre
Saute the onions in the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until light brown. Add the brown sugar. Saute for 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and cook for 1 minute longer.
Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet. Toast lightly in the oven. Spread the cheese on the bread and top each with the onion mixture. Serves eight.
**Wines for this blog were kindly provided by Republic National Distributing Company, a presenting sponsor of the 2010 Boca Bacchanal.