South Australia 2009 Vintage Update

logo11This just in.  I received an update on the South Australia 2009 vintage from Janet (Sparky Marquis mum!), the General Manager of Mollydooker Winery in McLaren Vale.

The growing seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are almost exact opposite to Northern Hemisphere.  South of the equator, they more than likely have harvested most of their grapes for the year by now.  Therefore, wine vintages from South Africa, South America, Australia, and New Zealand will be available before those of North America or Europe.

South Australia experienced a rough '08 vintage due to a prolonged heatwave.  All signs pointed toward much of the same in '09- Janet even joked that global warming may force them to move to Antarctica!  Even though February started out hot, an Indian Summer moved in, letting the grapes stay on the vine to ripen.  The viticulture team in the field has claimed this vintage to be "awesome". 

After the grapes were harvested and brought to the winery, Janet was blown away by the ripe and jammy goodness of the fruit.  She claims it to be "rich, thick, silky, voluptuous, and yet vibrant and fresh" and "reminded me of my mum's blackcurrant jam".  More fruit needs to be harvested in the south, though Janet told me with the addition of "the beautiful, lifted, perfumed, fragrant Padthaway fruit" along with the McLaren Vale harvest "2009 is starting to look very special indeed".  Sounds like the makings of some fabulous wines. 

Thank you Janet, Sarah, Sparky, and Mollydooker Winery.

Christmas Dinner with the Windy City Wine Guy

img_08851The celebration of Christmas has always been a tradition in the Bottigliero household, so we were at it again this year.  We normally have a seafood extravaganza on the eve of Christmas, but this year it was postponed until after Santa Claus visited due to the Windy City Wine Guy's work schedule.  So with wife and family, it was time to open some wine etc. and dig in.  Now let us check out the menu.

My wife and I began prepping early while watching A Christmas Story- I cannot make it through the holiday without seeing Ralphie!  I believe it is an old Italian tradition to drink a bit while you cook, so I opened a great morning beer choice, Blue Moon Belgian Ale (my wife's favorite) and got to work:

  • Spinach Ricotta Lasagna.  I did this the easy way.  I created a cheese blend out of fresh ricotta, one egg, oregano, and spinach.  I boiled lasagna noodles and laid them flat in a baking dish, spread the cheese blend atop, created another layer by adding more noodles and spread more cheese.  The top was finished with more flat noodles, some organic tomato sauce, and shredded mozzarella.  Cover that with aluminum foil, pop it in a 350 degree preheated oven for an hour, and you are done!

  • Butter Garlic Shrimp.  I bought U16-U20 shrimp (16-20 shrimp count per pound), peeled them (used the shells to create a shellfish broth), placed them in a baking dish with a half stick of butter, chopped garlic, and beer.

  • Mussels in White Sauce.  I placed olive oil and chopped garlic in a frying pan.  Then I put in the mussels.  While they were opening, the sauce was created: shellfish stock, white wine, chopped leeks, chili flakes, salt and pepper.  Place the mussels in a bowl and pour the sauce atop.

My wife made an arugula and heirloom tomato salad along with Christmas cookies and we were set!  

While I was cooking, I opened a bottle of Domaine Wachau Riesling.  I love dry Austrian Rieslings for their stone minerality and lime essence, and this one performs every time.  Then, my brother Anthony came over with a couple of wines he selected (with a bit of WCWG guidance!).  An old favorite from my Thanksgiving pairings to start the toasting was the Domaine Chandon Riche, an Extra Dry sparkling wine with a bit of Muscat for added sweetness.  The sparkling and Riesling were great with the salad and seafood.  We eventually opened the 2007 Mollydooker "The Scooter" Merlot to go with the lasagna and the rest of the evening.  It was dark and fruity with soft tannins and a lengthy pleasant taste.  This lasted us through Wii activities and Monopoly, until I eventually had to have a bit of aged rum. 

A great evening with family, food, and beverage in the comfort of home.  Hope these pairings and recipes help with future endeavors!  Tell the WCWG all about it!