Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independance Day - 2009: American Wines Galore

The Issue

It's the Fourth of July, Independence Day, 2009. The 233rd anniversary of the founding of the Republic. Realizing we were going to be entertaining some of our oldest and dearest friends for the 4th, I ruminated about what wine selection would fit the occasion. The answer was simple, American wines! Since we were going to be doing some traditional grilling, I tried to pair wines that would go well with this style of cooking. I came up with a few wines that seemed to be perfect to augment our 4th of July Celebration. I went with two whites and two reds. The menu for the day contained both red meat(flank steak and hamburgers)and white meat (chicken, and turkey burgers) with asparagus, corn on the cob and potato salad. For appetizers we chose two cheeses, an Italian sweet Garganzola and a Spanish Monchego. Black olives and chips for dip rounded out the preliminaries. I would have to work with both red and white wines to give my guests some good pairing opportunities.

The Guest List

Our guest list was pretty full with some very discerning palates. The Brown's were coming from Brooklyn. The Ciaccio's from Douglaston, our son Dave, his fiance, Angela, coming from Astoria, our son Chris stopping in for a few mintues after working at Equinox Fitness Center, and our nephew Mike from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Alden Brown and Ed Ciaccio are rather experienced wine tasters, as well as aficionados of other adult beverages. If you know what I mean.

The Wines

I chose a La Crema 2007 Chardonnay for the appetizers. It was not my first choice. I had hoped to use a Cuvaison but the local wine shop did not have it in stock. La Crema is a fine Chardonnay from the Russian Valley with tropical fruits, good body, a toasty oak finish, full nose, and a soft texture. When I first tasted it I was taken by the oak and toasty flavor. To be honest, it was a tad too heavy for what I had hoped for. The oak was too strong for the appetizers or just didn't seem to fit perfectly with the sweet garganzola. Unfortunately, everyone else had opted to indulge in gin and tonics so I have no basis of comparison. I should have taken the hint when I alone went with the Chardonnay. Perhaps a nice Sauvignon Blanc would have been better. An Oyster Bay SB might have worked.

For the main meal I opened a 2005 Estancia Meritage which is a bourdieu blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Alden looked up from his plate of flank steak and potato salad and said "This is excellent." His eyes told a story of real enjoyment. Mary concurred. She commented that it was superb with a great bouquet and smooth texture. A success!

The final wine which I had paired with the chicken and other dishes, such as the very light and heavenly potato salad and the asparagus in olive oil and lemon was a 2007 Eroica Riesling from the Columbia Valley estate of Chateau Ste. Michelle. I had never indulged in this wine. But the reviews were very positive. I had hoped the Riesling would be dry enough to be appropriate for the main meal. Maureen Brown thought simply: "It's too sweet for me." Mary thought it wasn't overly sweet but quite fine. I suspected this was a spouse coming to the rescue of a sinking husband. As for myself I thought it was quite good and paired well with the food although there was a sweetness to the wine. I would have preferred greater dryness.

All in all the wines were good as was the great camaraderie and good feelings. I would say the Estancia Meritage was the best fit. It superbly complemented the flank steak and burgers with just the right amount of body and an immense complexity, with hints of choclolate and spice. The Ciaccio's generously drove the Brown's to the LIRR for their trip back to Brooklyn. It was a charming and wonderful day with friends.

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