Seasonal Pairings: October 26, 2016
After the recent rains, we're moving toward hibernation mode with two recipes and pairings this week that will ground you and help you realize what's special about this micro-season after the [Indian] summer and before the holidays. Happy autumn!
Recipe: Slow-Baked Beans with Kale from New York Times
Pair with: Bielsa Vinas Viejas Garnacha Spain 2013 ($14)
Dried beans are one of the most magical foods on the earth. True peasant food, with a little soaking and a few hours in the oven, they transform into a pure comfort-food delicacy--incredible texture and warm, soothing flavors, especially when dark and bitter greens like kale add a bit of contrast. To pair with all this savory seduction, you want a wine that's equally warming yet has some serious fruit to contrast with the rich, earthy flavors of the beans. Garnacha (a.k.a. Grenache) rocks it out of the house: stewy, roasted red plum, raspberry and strawberry juiciness with the tiniest undercurrent of dark, earthy exoticism here. Bielsa is made southeast of Rioja, southeast of Navarra, in central Spain's warm yet windy Campo de Borja region. José Pastor (in our opinion, one of the wisest and best palates importing Spanish wine into the US) teamed up with Campo de Borja winemaker Roberto Perez to source and make this from old vines on limestone soil, hence boosting up Garnacha's concentration and structure.
Recipe: Onion and Turnip Soup from Tales of a Kitchen
Pair with: Eric Pfifferling Lirac Blanc 2012 ($35)
"Turnip soup? Really?" you might say. At least, that's what we said when a friend made some for us. But it was perfect: so simple, so understated, so delicately perfumed, honest and soothing. Tonight's pairing lets the wine shine while the soup provides a soft backdrop. Eric Pfifferling makes this Grenache Blanc in the Lirac appellation of the southern Rhône. Grenache Blanc is a rather soft-spoken grape itself: full-bodied and a bit lush, with golden raisin, baked pear, orange zest and green almond notes. Pfifferling's style is incredibly hands off; he picks carefully when the grapes have just the right balance of fruit and freshness, then lets them ferment with native yeasts and adds absolutely zero sulfur. Without perfect attention, this can leave your wine open to a whole host of rogue bacteria and yeast, ready to throw the wine into disheveled, potentially off-putting flavors. Pfifferling's wines simply don't have this. They're clean, expressive and singular. They're also expensive, but the high-brow/low-brow mash-up of Pfifferling's wine with turnip soup is just right.