Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wolf Blass Limited Release Yellow Label Cab/Shiraz, 2008

Spotted this wine at the local Woolies liquor store; it attracted me with the Wolf Blass platinum like label, you know the one, it has the three vine leaves emblazoned with medals.  Unfortunately at $10 this was Yellow in colour, not platinum.

A limited release, not much info on the bottle, but they say it is limited.

From the ripe 2008 vintage; I thought it worth trying:

Undeniably ripe, plush style, full of fruit sweetness, but there is a lingering acid finish that completes the palate, finishing just a fraction hard. The nose is dark fruits and a good whiff of oak; that oak is carried through as a vanilla, caramel sweetness, rather then detracting from the wine aids the wine.

Tannins that are there, are ripe, round and well hidden by the oak and the fruit. Time will tell the quality of this wine, but for $10, who can really complain?

I do wonder however, if there will come a time when sub $20 wine is about savouriness rather then sweetness.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Week of Simple Home Cooked Italian Food

Working in the wine industry during vintage can be a 24/7 affair: early morning starts, late night finishes with weekends thrown in for good measure.  Simple, fresh wholesome food with plenty of vegetables helps restore the energy levels, especially when it has been hot.  Food such as Mediterranean food, that is wholesome and restorative, food that is filling without overdoing it.  Avoid the buttery French and northern European food, base your diet instead on good olive oil, vegetables small amounts of meat and fish and you are there. No wonder Italians are so healthy, they work hard and eat extraordinarily well.

I stayed the first week with my boss, the Head Winemaker, Anthony in Canowindra New South Wales. If you throw a dart at the map of NSW, the bulls eye would be Canowindra.

Anthony is Italian descent, and has a passion for Southern Italian food, food from his parents' birthplace in the region around Naples.  You could call it peasant food, as it certainly is not sophisticated, but it sure is tasty, economical and healthy. His partner Katie, together with their twin baby girls Sofia and Lola, and Pishta the jack russell make excellent company.

All vegetables and herbs are straight from Anthony's 1/2 acre garden which also includes an orchard of citrus, apples, figs and stone fruits.  A couple of free range hens, a duck and 2 quails complete the lifestyle.

Monday night: Pre Dinner Drinks and Chicken Cacciatore

Tanquary Gin and Tonic over ice, cucumber assisting with the flavouring in this delighfully refreshing (sour) drink

The Chicken Cacciatore, or Hunter's chicken, is cooked for several hours in the oven until the meat falls apart.  The large ceramic baking dish is simmering gently; at the table it is oily (not greasy), dotted with green and black olives, and the sauce is all tomatoes and fresh herbs, served with a simple penne pasta. An introduction to Italian cooking simplicity.  Served al-fresco with oranges raining down from the over-loaded tree.

I feel like a well fed winemaker-hunter.
Tuesday night: Pork with Peas, Phillip Shaw no.11 Chardonnay

After a hard day in the heat, this dish of pork and peas was devoured with a good local chardonnay

Pasta with Peas and Pork ribs, again cooked for several hours on the stove top. Tomato based sauce with the garden peas adding freshness.  Pork ribs flavour the sauce and are served as a second course.  Fresh garden salad of rocket, raddichio, leaves with a red wine and olive oil dressing

The mid weight chardonnay goes down adequately, although a wine higher in apparent acid would probably work better though - like a lightly oaked chardonnay or semillon.

Wednesday night: Zucchini Slice, tomato and cucumber salad

Zucchini slice: garden fresh zucchini, 4 eggs, a cup of flour, grated cheese and baked in a moderate oven until browned. Served with tomato/cucumber salad. It's filling without fattening, the salad is light and refereshing counterpoint to the slightly denser baked dish.

No wine tonight, just water.
Thursday night, my turn in the Kitchen: Rissotto of leak and peas, served warm with sliced chicken breast

Leak rissotto with garden peas, olive oil and topped with pan fried chicken breast (caramelised in a hot fry pan with olive oil and sea salt, finished slowly in the oven) and fresh flat leaf parsley.  Accompanied with a salad of basil, rocket, raddichio, lettuce.  Anthony loved it and proceeded to add a fig and pecorino cheese. This salad became the second course, washed down with glasses of quality soft drink, thirst quenching from the heat.
Dessert was a couple of icecreams from the local service station!

Unfortunately no Friday night dinner as I headed home for the weekend, but leftovers were eaten for lunch!

Saturday night: Back at home in Griffith, Italian Style Sardines in oil with green beans. See recipe here'tis

Sunrise Friday morning at Canowindra looking towards Cowra

Happy eating!