Updated 2009-10-17 16:54:22 ID=533:0

© 2009 The Romantic Table
©2009 The Romantic Table 2009-02-17 09:52:55:123
©2009 The Romantic Table

Larry McGourty writes about wine and food

Paso Robles Wine Region on a Roll

Harvest is mostly completed in Paso Robles. The grapes are now in the hands of the wine makers who will probably not be getting much sleep for the next few weeks as vintage 2009 goes into the bins for fermentation.

Harvest is mostly completed in Paso Robles. Luckily most of the grapes were in before the rain hit. In the Santa Lucia Mountains where we farm we got over 5" of rain, a modern record for the month of October. The grapes are now in the hands of the wine makers who will probably not be getting much sleep for the next few weeks as vintage 2009 goes into the bins for fermentation.

©2009 The Romantic Table, Vintage Dreams, Harvest 2009 2009-10-16 17:07:13:211
©2009 The Romantic Table

Vintage Dreams, Harvest 2009
With the harvest came the news that Justin Smith of Paso Robles’ Saxum Winery received a perfect 100 score from Robert Parker for one of Saxum's 2007 vintages. Along with the high score came some words of appreciation from Robert Parker about the Paso Robles Terroir. Congratulations to Saxum.

And, congratulations to all the winemakers of the Paso Robles area. This event has moved the mountain so to speak. What is happening in Paso Robles is now beginning to influence the industry. There is a shift in wine appreciation going on right now, and even the "wine clergy" are beginning to notice. We are seeing a lot more food friendly wines because in Central California especially, there is a culinary revolution going on, driven mostly by younger chefs with the freedom to experiment because we are the new upstart wine area. Utilizing the high quality local produce available, there is a quest for elegance in simplicity emphasizing fresher foods and natural flavors in recipe preparation. Correspondingly, the younger wine makers at least are plugged into to this trend and are presenting local wines to complement the developing food style. With the high quality grapes coming from local vineyards, their challenge is not how to modify and change what they have, but how to preserve what they start with.

In a place like France where the culinary tradition developed organically along side wine making, the style of wines made naturally were complimentary to classic French Cuisine. While we don't eat this style much anymore, any competent cook has schooling in classic French Cuisine preparation. It is a corner stone in cooking technique. The corresponding wines are still made. They now are an institution to themselves, but maybe no longer with a firm footing in contemporary cuisine. Who really drinks these wines I don't know. To me they bring to mind visions of rich old geezers sitting in an oak paneled club room with a “Behike” cigar in one hand and a glass of "Chateau Lafite Rothschild" in the other. Now there is nothing wrong with wine for wine sake, but that is a very distinct specialized market. The danger is if you decouple the food-wine co-development process you will start to see extremes. One of the best examples of this is the accidental invention of "White Zinfandel."

White Zinfandel still ranks on consumer surveys as one of the most popular wines bought. Last time I checked it was number 2 or 3 on the restaurant wine request list. Now some Zin lovers may shudder at the mention of White Zinfandel, but they need to remember that White Zinfandel was a by product of a quest for a more intense red Zinfandel. No one remembers or cares about what happened to the red wine, it was the by-product that was voted by the public as the more drinkable wine. What began as a serious endeavor turned out as a parody, and neither version represents how great a wine Zinfandel can be.

Anyway, with all the neat things going on in the local wine and culinary industry, this is a great time to be on the Central Coast. Where we are going? Who knows. When will we get there? Who cares. The secret is to just relax and enjoy the trip.

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A tip from Sue!

Stoves and Ovens

If you’re fortunate enough to be able to choose your major appliances, I recommend a gas stove-top and an electric oven.

A gas stove-top is much more versatile than an electric one because it has infinite heat options.

An electric oven is better than gas because it has more even temperatures for baking and heating.