- Veggie strawberry caprese with a pork chop-y Ponzi Rosato
- Vadouvan roast chicken with a disappointing Marc Hebrart Champagne
- Sea Bass a la Veracruzana with a stellar LdH Gravonia
The Long Shadows story is a gosh darn interesting one. Nine world-class winemakers, all part-owners in the enterprise, take their skills developed over decades in making fine wine around the world and come together to make wines from their favorite grapes that express the distinction and potential Washington exhibits.
This one, a syrah with a 2% kiss of cabernet (? - 2007 is that), is made by John Duval of Penfolds Grange fame. His 28 years as chief winemaker at Penfolds Grange shepherded the winery to the top of the Australian wine world. He now creates his own wine under his own name along with this co-op project.
After drinking this, we're intrigued, even at the price.
Food: Spice-rubbed skirt steak, sautéed beet greens and tomatoes, whole Vidalia onions and sweet potato fries
Grass-fed skirt steak from Whole Foods ($15). More expensive than $6 Mariano's skirt and the $12 standard stuff at WF but we found it worth the expense. Great integrity to the meat, bringing a composure and togetherness that skirt sometimes lacks. Rubbed with garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, olive oil and salt.
One of the best skirt steaks we've had, especially as the meat matched up with what was under it, beet greens and tomatoes sautéed with a wee hit of bacon. Beet greens, I Love You. Deliciously bitter with a focus, like swiss chard without the garden compost pile smell (never a big fan).
Vidalia onions done calçots style, left whole and roasted, bringing a freshness interacting beautifully with char. Great onions that brought a bright creaminess while offering a stellar bite when combined with the skirt steak. Dark spice-rubbed meat countered by bright, juicy and creamy.
Alexia chipotle sweet potato fries with mayo for dipping. They're a favorite and sort of the impetus for this new-found, quick-ish Wednesday dinner love fest. Fancify skirt, throw down some delicious spiced frozen fries with a touch of sweetness, mayo for dipping and round out everything with something that ties into it all. Then get into your collection of syrah/shiraz or zinfandel blends, sit back and enjoy the ride.
It's fancy lumberjack food with wine to match.
But compared to the last time we took this lumberjack food and wine path, we had a wine that tastes like an experiment to see how nicely subtle and quiet syrah can walk without losing its character. We say success.
Wine: 2006 Long Shadows Sequel Columbia Valley ($41 - WDC)
Meaty nose. Plumy core with a coat of blackberry. Black pepper with a touch of licorice, a bit of spiced chocolate and toast all over the place. Floral and perfumed, like Coco Chanel perfumed spiking at the entry and exit on the mid-palate. Softer with a medium, trending towards longer finish.
Pretty standard description of a Washington syrah, except the surprise from Coco. What made this different was the impression of it being such a successful experiment in keeping everything intentionally quiet. Everything played in a more silent realm so nicely, like Mr. Duval was seeing where he could take syrah, almost like it was a statement about what U.S. syrah can be. Frankly, if given blind, my first guess would have been that it was a funky syrah blend where merlot played a big part. Just so round and softer with that plum-chocolate-pepper play. The age played a factor, I'm sure, but this had the integrity that made it seem like it's going to stay in this exact place for a few years. Pleasantly complete stuff where everything is singing at a mature place right now, like this place was the intention, not two or three years ago.
Not just an interesting diversion here. Very representative stuff while retaining a huge individuality. And worth the price.
Pairing: 92 Rustic food with wine that wasn't, and golly, this hit a great place
The earthy spices brought coaxed out the floral notes in the wine to great effect. The steak-onion combo amped up the black pepper notes in the wine while turning them sort of creamy, like peppered crème fraiche laced with smoked plum purée. The wine became more meaty and full with a bite of beet greens and bacon juice. Things just played so well, vacillating and changing all throughout the meal in such pleasing ways.
One caveat, I would say, and it's such a small one. This was Rustic food with great balance and finesse in the interplay of flavors but rustic nonetheless. There's something about bringing a rustic wine with an edge to it to this type of meal that goes more deep in the soul-satisfying pairing world. Tastes more like food and wine you want after something like five hours of clearing brush or laying sod in the hot sun.
More like what that first guzzle of cold water tastes like after sweating in 90-degree heat for the entire day. The kind of drink that makes you say, "Damn, water tastes good!"
This wasn't that. This was different and good because of that difference. But some Rustic Steak & Fry Wednesday in the future will probably see us larger and more brawny in the wine realm.