Hello to all my wonderful friends & foodie family!
Gobble gobble everyone! Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving in advance...
Today I have a specially requested recipe for Ken's version of pumpkin pie, plus some terrific Tempranillo recommendations. Just did a wine tasting for a fantastic group of wine enthusiasts that featured the terroir of Tempranillo from throughout Spain, so I'll recap the tasting for you in case you'd like to explore the grape yourself. Tempranillo is the perfect grape to serve with traditional turkey dinner, or with your own food traditions.
Don't forget to pick up a copy of this Sunday's Seattle Times & Pacific Northwest Magazine! Look for James Beard award-winning journalist, Rebekah Denn's article on me & Queso & Vino...
The other big exciting news is that I have a website, http://quesoyvino.net/ It is a work in progress, so look for more information on my current favorite wines in the coming weeks, but I am thrilled to finally have gone live on the web. MANY thanks to Katy at Little Pants Design for doing such an incredible job for me. Comments are welcome!
I am headed out to be with my San Juan Island family for the holidays on Wednesday the 24th & returning Saturday the 27th, but there's still plenty of time to get you some wine for Thanksgiving! If I owe you wine from a previous wine dinner, my apologies & let's meet up!!! (My next Harvest Vine dinner on 11/17 is full with a waiting list--sorry folks!)
BEST-EVER PUMPKIN PIE from Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax
Friends have heard the story for years, but the recipe has never been shared until now... Rarely have I seen my husband Ken cry, but there was a Thanksgiving. Ken & I were living in Madison Valley & had a small garden plot where he planted a pumpkin seed & watched it grow to fruition. Not only was he going to make a pumpkin pie from scratch, but from a pumpkin we had grown ourselves.
Well the pie was lovingly prepared, & set out to cool on our back porch. When Ken returned from the porch, he had tears in his eyes. There were crow tracks all throughout the surface of this beautiful heirloom pie, & it had to be thrown in the trash. Dawn this recipe is for you. Enjoy & don't leave on your deck!
I have included Ken's own personal notes which vary from the original recipe.
Makes one deep 9 1/2-inch pie; serves about 8
1 Pie Crust 2 cups pumpkin puree, preferable homemade*; if you use canned pumpkin, be sure it's unsweetened puree, not pie filling (*VERY important says Ken!) 2/3 cup packed dark or light brown sugar 1/3 cup sugar 1 Tbs all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp salt 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp ground fresh-grated nutmeg 1/2 tsp ground ginger (Ken says USE FRESH) 1/4 tsp allspice Pinch freshly ground pepper (muy importante that it's freshly ground) 1 cup heavy cream 1/3 cup milk 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 3 Tbs bourbon or rum (I kinda let that spill over, says Ken :)) 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract Whipped cream flavored with pure maple syrup or pure vanilla extract, for serving
If making your own dough, roll out on a lightly floured surface to a large circle about 1/8 inch thick. Fit it, without stretching, into a buttered deep 9 1/2-inch pie pan. Trim off the excess dough, leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold under the edge of the dough, pressing along the rim of the pan & forming a fairly high fluted border. Chill the dough while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with a rack in the lower third.
Line the dough with a lightly buttered sheet of foil, buttered side down. Bake the pie shell for about 8 minutes. Very gently remove the foil, price the dough all over with a fork. Bake the crust until the surface of the dough is dry, but has not yet baked all the way through, about 5 minutes longer. Set the pie shell aside until needed; leave the oven on.
Meanwhile, whisk together the pumpkin puree, brown & white sugars, flour, salt, spices, pepper, cream, milk, eggs, spirits & vanilla in a large bowl. Taste & correct the seasonings. Pour the mixture into the pie shell.
Bake until the filling is set but still slightly wobbly in the center, usually about 45 minutes.
Cool the pie on a wire rack. Serve the flavored whipped cream.
I just did a wine tasting as an auction item for a lovely group of folks, featuring the "terroir of Tempranillo" from throughout Spain. Below is an educational introduction to the grape & some top Tempranillo wines. Most any & all of these wines would be spectacular paired with Thanksgiving meals.
"The greatest and most famous varietal of Spain where it is grown in many regions under almost as many synonyms. Tempranillo ripens well ahead of its frequent blending partner Grenache (Temprano in Spanish means early) and has only low to medium levels of alcohol, an advantage under the hot Spanish sun. Tempranillo gained fame in the late 1800s when several of the famous Bordeaux Châteaus looked to Spain for grapes after the louse phylloxera had destroyed their vines. Tempranillo takes well to both oak and bottle aging, and the better examples can be extraordinarily long-lived. Often it is blended with Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell, and various other varietals. Look for flavors and aromas of dried cherries, spices, black currants and a wide range of earthy components such as dust, tobacco and black olives.
Spain is synonymous with Tempranillo, though many wine lovers are unaware of this because of its numerous and confusing aliases. The best and most famous regions are Rioja and Ribera del Duero (where it is known as Tinto Fino and Tinto del Pais) but fine examples can be found from Toro (as Tinta de Toro), Valdepeñas (Cencibel), and the Penedes (Ojo de Llebre and Ull de Llebre)." -excerpt from Winegeeks
Lopez Panach Tempranillo 2009, Vino de la Tierra Castilla $8.99
No wonder this was #1 at the last Harvest Vine tasting. The price is astounding, the wine fresh as can be. 100% Tempranillo, stainless, no oak. Francisco Lopez Collado managed an estate based in roasted red peppers for pimenton before he took his chances at wine-making. The vineyards are ideally located with very cold winters & hot dry summers, a slight elevation, & a location in the heartland of Spain, the area of Albacete. Pour some boysenberry, black currants, & liquid raspberry into your glass. Soft, fun, clean, easy, with gentle spices. This should be your new vino de la casa.
Spanish Demon Tinto 2009, Rioja $9.99
From the heart of the Rioja Alavesa, this renegade Rioja is aimed to please. 100% Tempranillo from 25-year-old family-owned vineyards located near the Medieval village of La Guardia, this is the earthy side of the Tempranillo grape. No oak that I know of, this Demon is earthy berries & peppery spice, with a silty gritty mouthfeel that speaks of underlying power. The inspiration for this innovative wine came from a favorite painting which hangs over the importer's desk.
Ercavio Tempranillo Roble 2008, Vino de la Tierra Castilla $11.99 (reg. $12.99)
More than just a tourist destination, Toledo is beginning to export some fantastic wines. The local varietal Cencibel is a clone of Tempranillo with an earthier dark-fruited feel that has me crowing. Fermented partially in traditional tinajas, clay vessels dating back to 1851, Ercavio speaks the language of deliciously lush blackberry jam. Loved the melted chocolate essence of this vintage & this is always a fave when I've poured it. This fresh vintage knocked my calcetines off.
Bodegas Franco-Espanolas is one of the most classic Rioja producers out there, & I'm proud to finally have access to these quintessential Spanish wines. Both are absolute bargains. Rioja Bordon was formed in 1890 when Frederick Saurat Arglade of Bordeaux fled to Rioja after the phylloxera louse hit France. He founded the winery with several Spanish counts, in the famed town of classic Rioja, Logrono.
Rioja Bordon's Crianza spends 18 months in American oak & is a blend of Tempranillo & Garnacha. This is soft, accessible Rioja, plump with cherry & plum with a definite autumn warmth, & subtle spice.
Emilio Moro Finca Resalso 2007, Ribera del Duero $11.99 (reg. $13.99) Emilio Moro is a model estate in the Ribera and Resalso is EM's newest bottling, named after the very first vineyard planted in 1932. This spends four months in French oak (which is unusually brief in traditional Spain) but just enough to support the sturdy spine of this new offering. I've gone to visit this regal estate and have always loved their wines but wished for a more affordable option to recommend. The wait is over! "The 2007 Finca Resalso was sourced from younger vines and aged in French oak for four months. Dark ruby-colored, it emits an enticing perfume of mineral, violets, black cherry, and blackberry. On the palate it reveals an elegant personality, savory, spicy flavors, good depth, and a fruit-filled finish. Drink this tasty effort over the next four years." -90 points, Wine Advocate
Ontanon Crianza 2007, Rioja $12.99
My favorite new Crianza of late, I was bowled over by the bargain price. This is the most exciting Crianza I have tasted in a long time. The Perez family converted a caramel factory into a winery in the 1980's, so there is a modern feel to this silky red that still keeps the character of Tempranillo. The winery is filled with art by local Rioja artist Miguel Angel Sainz whose work is shown on the right here. Old vines are used: 90% Tempranillo with 10% Garnacha, & this has a gorgeous dark hue in the glass. Black & claret cherries abound, with a palate that's supple, smooth, & spicy. Don't miss this Rioja.
Vega Murillo Tinto del Toro 2008, Toro $14.99 A new wine for me & I love it. Pure red cherry fruit, round & juicy. A delicious, ready-to-go Toro.
"The Bodega del Palacio de los Frontaura y Victoria is born as a differet kind of business project. From the start, and in every detail of its development, its goal has been to employ the culture of quality and to harmonize tradition with the avant-garde. Bodega del Palacio de los Frontaura sees the winemaking process as an artistic manifestation."
Bodegas Ochoa Tempranillo Crianza 2005, Navarra $17.99 From a classic producer in Navarra, this is 100% Tempranillo to the east of Rioja. This region is famed for its piquillos & I tasted spicy red peppers on the palate. Traditional all the way around. "Deep red. Complex bouquet of cherry, redcurrant and licorice also shows a vague meaty aspect. Dense, ripe and sweet, with chewy cherry and licorice flavors and rather soft tannins. Ultimately a rather cool, reserved wine, with good finishing grip and lingering sweetness." -Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Beronia Reserva 2005, Rioja$18.99 A group of friends belonging to the Sociedad Gastronomica founded Bodegas Beronia in 1973. The winery, situated in the Rioja Alta region, is now owned by Gonzalez Byass. Their Reserva is a true classic & a bargain. This Reserva is 90% Tempranillo with a balance of 4% Graciano & 6% Mazuelo. It spends 18 months in mixed barrels of French and American oak, and two years of ageing in the bottle. "Vanilla-like bouquet with wild fruits and compote, with a touch of toasted bread and spices." My speed-tasting notes read black plums...delicious. A fabulously affordable traditional Rioja.
Hazana Semi-Crianza 2007, Rioja $14 This new Rioja tastes as good as it looks. Hazana translates as a literary "heroic feat" & that it is, a tasty Rioja with a handsome price. This is made at Vinicola Real, with its labyrinthine tunnels, where barrels age in the side of a mountain. Everything else about this Rioja feels deliciously modern. The semi-crianza is aged in new French & American oak for 6 months, just enough to give backbone, but not overwhelm the wondrous orchard fruit contained inside. Plums, spice & earth circle the nose, roses on the palate, this is solid & smooth with supple dark cherries. This is a new generation of Rioja not to miss out on.
Miguel Merino Vina Jovenes Crianza 2007, Rioja $19.99 (reg. $22.99)
While Miguel Merino exported Spanish wines to the rest of the world, he dreamed of having his own winery. That dream came true twenty years ago when he restored an old 19th century house on the outskirts of Briones, in the heart of the Rioja Alta. All the grapes come from very old vines planted in bush formation between 1931 & 1963 in Briones. Estate-grown, another rarity in Rioja.This is 100% Tempranillo that's hand-harvested & aged for 12 months in barrels of 2 & 3 years of age, made with American oak staves & French oak bottoms. This is the first vintage of this wine, from one of thesmallest producers in Spain.
Triton 2008, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla $19.99
This was a big hit with the wine group. If you love Termes, check this baby out. With all the power of a Greek god... This is a collaboration between Jorge Ordonez & the Gil family. The area is comprised of alluvial soil on top of sand, river rocks & red clay, at an altitude of 800. The vines are a phenomenal age of 104 years old & the youngest are 45. Aged in French oak for 14 months. No wonder this is souped-up & super modern! Funky Tinta del Toro nose, smokey & sweet, extremely spicy. Blockbuster my friends!
Vina Cubillo Crianza 2004, Rioja $22.99
I suddenly have discovered that I still have an audience for higher-end classic Spanish wines. And you can't get much more classic than the wines of Lopez Heredia. From the classified "Excellent" vintage of 2004, this is the very definition of tradition. In fact "tradition & conviction" is the motto of R. Lopez de Heredia. Cubillo is the gateway into the fantastic wines of the Heredia's. 65% Tempranillo, 25% Garnacha, with a balance of blended Mazuelo & Graciano. Toasty, warm dried cherries fill the nose, with a classic touch of "farm funk". Tangy, vibrant & very sassy despite the fact that Cubillo receives 3 years aging in barrels before bottling. A classic warmth to the finish makes this go down with an ahhhh.
"Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta winery, founded in the late 19th century in Rioja, Spain, is still one of best in the region, famous for its gorgeous top-of-the-line Viña Tondonia. But the quality extends down the line. Viña Cubillo, the estate's crianza, would be a reserva anywhere else. And priced in the mid-$20s, it's a bargain by any measure. Made from a blend of Tempranillo with 25% Garnacha and smidgens of Graciano and Mazuelo, it is a brilliant ruby, with an enticing scent of black cherries, anise and tobacco. The 2004, which is the current release, is focused and bright, with soft tannins and a finish that doesn't just get up and leave." ~Los Angeles Times
Bodegas Beronia Gran Reserva 2001, Rioja $26.99 (reg. $30)
From the stellar 2001 vintage, this bargain Gran Reserva is aged for a minimum of two years in oak casks and three years in bottles. The casks used at Beronia are manufactured from a mixture of French and American oaks. Based at Ollauri, just south of Haro in Rioja Alta (the premium area of the Rioja), Beronia was established in 1973 and bought by the Sherry firm González Byass in 1982. This wine stems from the old Beronia vineyards, which are over 50 years years old. 87% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano 8% Mazuelo.
"Tobacco, licorice, raisin, dried cherry and a puff of smoke give this healthy gran reserva an inviting, traditional bouquet. The palate is lively yet smooth, with integrated acidity pushing mature flavors of berry, plum, caramel and chocolate. A classic Rioja that is ready to drink." -90 points, Wine Enthusiast
Nexus Crianza 2005, Ribera del Duero $40
This is a bit of luxury. Not a Cadillac, not a DeLorean, but perhaps a Peugeot. Sleek & refined Ribera del Duero, 100% Tinta del Pais that spends 12 months in New French oak. A Ribera with a feminine side. Solid blackberry fruit, juicy with a gorgeous texture & fine spices. Grapes are grown in the prestigious areas of Pesquera de Duero & Pinel, owned by a historic family from Toro.
Frontaura Reserva 2005, Toro $45
Dios Mio this is a delicious wine! Toro has been producing fine wines since the 16th century, & wine built the wealth of the region--LONG before Numanthia became famous. Scarce rainfall & extreme temperatures naturally intensify the grapes grown here. Made from old vines, this spend 18 months in New French oak. Rich & sumptuous, packed with blackberry & coffee. Recognized for "power, body & harmony" this won a Gold Medal in the competition Mundus Vini Great International Wine Awards
"This powerhouse is made from 100% Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) from 117-year-old vines, and is aged for 18 months in new French oak. The nose is an elegant mix of spicy bramble fruits, while the palate is firm, full-bodied and rounded, with tar, smoke and savoury notes wrapped around grippy tannins and bold, crunchy fruit that persists in the long finish - just what you'd expect from Toro." -5 Stars, Decanter
CUNE Imperial Reserva 1998, Rioja $51
Okay you traditionalists. This is worth stepping up to the plate for. There was no Gran Reserva made in 1998 by CUNE so this Reserva got all the great juice & costs $20 less than the '96 Gran Reserva. This is totally classic with warm cherries & spice & the scent of a cigar box that SCREAMS Rioja.
"Highly nuanced, quintessential Rioja aromas of plum, strawberry, cherry, mocha, minerals and tobacco. Firm and quite dry, with sinewy flavors of plum, minerals and tobacco leaf. Solidly structured Rioja, finishing with dusty tannins and a minty note. With time in the recorked bottle, this put on weight and sweetness, showing a very pure strawberry flavor and considerable elegance." -90 Points-Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar