Monday, May 30, 2011

Beets, Petite Sirah and more Memorial Day wines

We pulled our first beet harvest out of the garden a few days ago. Being rather new to beets, I put my own spin on what looked like a good recipe from an old "Molto Mario" show and ended up with roasted beets, sauteed beet greens and goat cheese on grilled bruscetta.

We were already sipping on a bottle of 2009 Susana Balbo Crios Torrontes, Argentina. For many vintages now I've considered this my favorite Torrontes and my first bottle of 2009 did not disappoint! Effusively peachy and floral, I like to compare this to a nice Vioignier at 1/3 of the price. An outstanding wine that really shines with guacamole and ceviche, it was merely servicable with the beets.

If the Torrontes pairing left us a bit flat, the 2005 Eaglepoint Petite Sirah, Mendocino proved to be a truly sublime pairing. Still blacker than night and still throwing copious amounts of sediment, the aromas and flavors of Bourbon (I'm assuming this is from the American oak) soy sauce, briery blackberry and dried meat brought out all the deep earthiness of the beets. Finishes with fierce, chalky tannins, dried baker's chocolate and crazy acidity. I'll say it again, it's a damn shame that Casey Hartlip has given up winemaking to become a full-time grape grower!

Roasted Beet Bruscetta

6 medium beets, greens intact
1/2 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar, plus more for drizzling
2 oz. goat cheese, at room temperature
12 slices crusty bread (French baguette or rustic Italian loaf)

1) Prepare the beats by cutting off the root and removing the beet from the stems. Leave the skin on. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, wrap in aluminum foil and roast in a 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until soft enough to easily pierce with a knife.

2) While beets are cooling, prepare the beet greens. Remove the tough stems and cut the leafy greens into 1/2" wide strips. Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and the beet greens. Season with salt and pepper. After 1-2 minutes add balsamic vinegar. Cook, covered, for additional 4-5 minutes until greens begn to wilt. Remove from heat.

3) When beets have cooled slightly, slip skins off and discard. Cut beets into 1/4" dice and add to pan with greens.

4) Brush remaining olive oil onto slices of bread and toast. While toast is still warm, spread with goat cheese and top with warm beet/beet green mixture. Drizzle with additional balsamic vingear.

On Monday night we grilled up some beef and apple bratwurst that we get from our Homespun Hills CSA. With the brats and my soon-to-be world famous cilantro and blue cheese cole slaw, we enjoyed the 2009 Eclipse Zinfandel, Alexander Valley. I reported on this wine last summer and I'm happy to say the wine is still showing quite well. Deep magenta in color, the nose shows crazy deep raspberry and spice aromas. Medium bodied with sweet raspberry and blackberry fruit. Great tannins and acidity. Really worked well with the brats and spicy mustard. A very reasonable $18. A side project of wine broker Rick Raiffini. Let's hope he goes full-time with this venture.

Fleshier than most Barberas, the 2006 Castello del Poggio Barbera d'Asti, Piedmont was the wine of choice with Tuesday night's braised lamb shoulder (also from Homespun Hills) over soft polenta. Garnet color with a really pretty nose of dark fruit compote vanilla and a hint of tar. Medium-bodied with good fruit, tar and, of course, nice acidity. $16

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