03 May 2013

Dinner on the Mountain

Following our lunch on the mountain, I cleaned up the kitchen and zoned out for an hour while the others went to look around the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and visit a local farmer's market. (I passed Julia a twenty and asked her to grab whatever she wanted--she brought back sheep's milk cheese, honey, and peach jam. All delicious.)

There's a substantial cattle raising operation on the mountain and surrounding area, focused on the Santa Gertrudis breed. Producing the Santa Gertrudis is a little complicated, requiring 3/8 Brahman Bos indicus and 5/8 Shorthorn Bos taurus. The benefit of this hybridization is a cow that puts on a lot of meat but can tolerate hot and dry climates. I was taking photos of some of the calves when this heifer started racing towards me.

Speaking of heifers, the Institute donates some cattle to Heifer International, a charity organization that provides livestock for people in developing nations. Instead of just sending food, they send healthy and hearty chickens and bees and cows and other animals that can help build sustainable food-producing operations in places where people are hungry.

For dinner that evening, I started out with a selection of cheeses, capicola, and pickles. Folks nibbled and sipped on a little wine before I served my sweet potato soup, requested by Molly and Julia. I made it a little differently this time, omitting the chicken stock and focusing on the flavors of sweet potato and ginger and Riesling. I liked it, but the soup is good either way.

2012 Bokisch Vineyards Albariño
Terra Alta Vineyard, Lodi, California
100% Albariño
$18, 12.5% abv.

Bright and tart with great citrus aromas and flavors. The acidity worked well with the slightly spicy soup. I'm excited about what American winemakers are doing with Albariño.

2012 LangeTwins Sangiovese Rosé
Lodi, California
100% Sangiovese
$13, 12.5% abv.

With the rosé, I made another repeat dish, grilled shrimp with sweet peppers and a salad. This pink wine had dominant elements of wild strawberry and lemon, dry but with full fruit flavors. A very pleasant weekend sipper.

Paul provided the main course of a ribeye roast while I prepared the side dishes: roasted cipollinis, grilled asparagus, and a homemade horseradish sauce. When you're putting this much beef on the table, it's time to open four wines. Continuing with Lodi:

2011 St. Amant Winery Mohr-Fry Old Vine Zinfandel
Lodi, California
$18, 15.5% abv.

Anna really enjoyed this particular wine, which was rich and dark with aromas of black cherry and pepper. Just a little hint of that chocolate and bramble that you can get from the older vines.

2011 Michael David Winery Bechtold Vineyard Ancient Vine Cinsault
Lodi, California
100% Cinsault
$20, 13.8% abv.

I was really excited to try this wine. You don't see a lot of single-variety Cinsault, even from France, and I had a great lunch with the CEO of Michael David when he came to Memphis a few years ago. Produced from 127-year old vines, this wine goes deep with an earthy nose of beef and leather, though red cherry elements start to emerge later. Smooth and tasty with a lingering finish. Highly recommended, and a great bargain.

We continued with a pair of wines from Argentina.

2010 Altimus Estate
Cafayate, Argentina
40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Malbec, 15% Bonarda, 5% Tannat, and 5% Syrah
$35, 15% abv.

Aromas of prunes and dried cherries, with a tart and slightly acidic flavor. Quite a big wine, and one that was well suited to the slow-roasted beef.

2009 Finca Flichman Dedicado
Mendoza, Argentina
85% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Syrah
$30, 14.5% abv.

The first thing that strikes you is that this is one heavy bottle, taller and thicker than usual. However, inside the wine is not something that needed to be in a maximum security prison--you get lots of great red fruit flavors, with red cherry, cassis, and raspberry. With breathing, deeper undertones of wood and leather begin to develop.

As is my custom, with everyone fed and multiple rounds of dishes washed and many courses served, I retired to the living room with a glass of the Cinsault and relaxed. Paul and Anna took care of the last round of dishes, and everyone milled around, trying the many wines of the evening, but mostly talking and having a good time. That's what a successful dinner party is all about, and why I was excited to recreate the ribeye roast dinner that Paul and I used to put on when he lived here in Memphis.

Anna took care of dessert with her pots de crème, made without completely melting the chocolate so that tiny chunks of solid chocolate remained, providing a toothsome texture. The eggs used to make the dish came from her own chickens, and the result was decadent and rich.

We stayed up past midnight, and then one by one retired to the back bedrooms of the guest house. Needless to say, I slept like a rock in the quiet, cool mountain air. Can't wait to go back!

Note: These wines were provided as samples.


Alyce said...

Sounds like a truly great dinner. I'd be interested to taste to Lodi rosé. I´m a bit of a rosé regionalist. Provence/ Languedoc/Côtes du Rhone.

Unknown said...


I did write recently about the greatest Provençal rosés ever from Chateau d'Esclans:



Rusty said...

LOVE the Bokish Albarino...

Unknown said...


I really enjoyed that one. I really can't wait to see what other American winemakers do with Albariño in the future.


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