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Monday, March 1, 2010

A Perfect Pairing: Open that Bottle Night & Boca Bacchanal

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 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.


  1. I see you guys enjoy Napa Cabs! What a wonderful event to push people to pop open those zealously treasured libations that are lovingly collecting dust. This looks like a wonderful dinner!

  2. At the start of this year I bought 'When wine tastes best: A biodynamic calendar for wine drinkers' and it tells you when wines will taste best based on the biodynamic principles of the moon i.e., at certain points in the month a wine will be more open and therefore have more floral notes in it. I'm yet to decide if there's method to this madness but it's a fun little guide none the less!

  3. Love this post Steph...that lamb looks divine and I'm so happy for your wine advice. xx's Marsha

  4. What a great idea- I have a 2002 wine that we held off opening because it had been too expensive to just give away family (lol they wouldn't appreciate it) and by the time we had a friend's party crop up it was so old it might look too flash!

    The canapes look delicious.

  5. The lamb looks so elegant and I am always u for trying a delicious new cab. I am near Napa so maybe this is a good excuse to stop over there and try one there!

  6. So glad I found you - thank you for stopping by! I'm looking forward to following your progress as you cook your way through your cookbook - and learning about wine as we go. How perfect is that combination!

  7. Can you please email me the address of that wine cellar, lol! No seriously my hubby would give up his secret clearance for that cellar!

    Thanks for stopping by, sure I love to talk wine, food, and any relating subjects! I have been heading my blog in that wine/food combo direction the past few months!

    Also check out another one of my projects. We are working on the site...icky baby blue right now, unless my partner changed it in the past few hours...

  8. What a wonderful wine tasting, I would love to sample some of the Clos Du Val Cab with lamb!

  9. Yes, I have plenty of special bottles in my cellar! May I invite you to check my Januaery 18 post, I show my cellar (in the basement of my Paris building) and (some of) the bottles I have.
    The oldest I have tried is a 1936 White Chenin from Cotaux de Layon - back in 1996 for the 60th birthday of a good friend).

  10. all of this sounds so good - I just had lamb chops the other day with a fantastic spanish wine and you have made my mouth water for it again!

  11. Now that is some aged wine! The Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Canapes do sound fabulous! I think you could just make a meal out of them. You've got your carbs, your protein and your veggies - right!?

  12. What a fabulous post. This is inspiring me to break out the Martinelli Jackass Zinfandel that I have stashed in the closet. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Wonderful post :). Love the recipe for the canapes daaaaaaaahling. I love anything with carmelized onions.
    Hope you have a marvellous weekend.
    *kisses* HH

  14. First off..I wish I had a wine cellar in which to put wine in. Secondly why didn't you bring some here to share with the rest of us.

  15. I'll have to skip the wine since I gave up all alcohol for Lent this year, but please pass the canapes!

    I'm originally from Ft. Lauderdale, living over on the west side near Sarasota now - howdy neighbor! It's a beautiful day in Florida today (finally)! I hope that will be it for the cold. I'm ready to complain about the sweltering heat again!

    Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend :-)

  16. I love the idea of open that bottle night! It's all about living for today and enjoying what you've got. Love it!

  17. Dear Stephanie,

    Congratulations for your work!
    and such beautiful kitchen towels you are using to present the wine: where are they from?



  18. Elise,
    I got that fabulous French tea towel at a wonderful boutique here in downtown Delray Beach, FL - the Linen Closet. The owner, Christina Price, carries the most fabulous linens for bed, bath, kitchen, table you name it! Definitely check her out & thanks so much for asking:)


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