By Nick Franklin

To go along with our Summer Six-Pack special, I thought I’d include some fun and simple recipes that experience has shown me pair well with the wines we’ve chosen. This post covers two of the wines—our 2018 Sauvignon Blanc and our 2018 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir—and is unintentionally seafood themed (prompted by the warm weather, probably). I hope you enjoy. Stay tuned for pairings with the other four wines in the Summer Six-Pack.

2018 Sauvignon Blanc + Moroccan Sardine Crostinis

You might not often cook appetizers for just a family dinner. Experience has taught me that appetizers are a must when you’re hosting, otherwise everyone drinks on an empty stomach while you’re wrapping up dinner prep. If you get a reputation for that people might bring less wine.

Crostinis are fantastic because you can put them together in minutes. Slice a baguette on the diagonal, toast, load them up and, voila! You can make them pair with anything depending on what you load them up with. This particular crostini is built around what I know and love about our Sauvignon Blanc from McGinley.

For 16 crostinis:

2 cans sardines (preferable in chili oil)
1 sourdough baguette
4 oz goat cheese (ideally Sgt. Pepper)
1 lemon
Salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Cilantro leaves
Black pepper
Aleppo pepper (optional, sub Ancho powder)

First, make quick-preserved lemon rind—the results are very close to the real deal month-long method, and it provides a blast of lemony character. Use a vegetable peeler against a whole lemon to slice off two strips of lemon zest (leaving the white pith behind). Place on a plate cut side up, liberally coat with salt, then squeeze just enough lemon juice over to wet the salt. Leave for 15 minutes, then scrape off salt and rinse with more lemon juice. Slice long thin strips then cut to ½ inch strips.

Slice baguette diagonally then toast the slices. Spread the goat cheese. After splitting sardines to remove the spine, halve each sardine to place one filet on each crostini. Squeeze some lemon juice over each filet, lightly drizzle EVOO, then top with preserved lemon, cilantro, pinches of pepper.

The Pairing:

Once on a backpacking trip, a buddy and I packed in some canned Bonny Doon Vermentino and drank it with sardines—what a revelation! Pairing a stony, crisp and high-acid white with sardines in oil is something you have to try, even if you’re not sure you like sardines.

Our 2018 Sauvignon Blanc from McGinley is perfect for this. It’s full of refreshing, stony minerality and its fruit character flourishes alongside salty and tart flavors like sardine and goat cheese. Briny stuff is great with acidity—think of oysters, served with lemon juice or mignonette—and acidity marries well with other acidity, too. Adam’s favorite thing to have with Sauvignon Blanc is goat cheese with crackers or sourdough. This appetizer cobbles both ideas together.

I purchased some Moroccan sardines in chili oil awhile back, so when I saw Cypress Grove’s Sgt. Pepper goat cheese a light went on. This goat cheese is infused with harissa and spices, which makes full-circle Moroccan flavors when combined with quick-preserved lemon and cilantro. This cheese is spicy for sure, but with more earthiness than fiery kick (which might call for Riesling). If it’s not available a plain goat cheese will do, then I’d really recommend the pepper powder. The Sauvignon Blanc just pops here!

 

2018 Pinot Noir + Grilled King Salmon with Citrus-Hoisin Glaze

Planning on grilling some salmon? The California King Salmon season is now in full swing. My neighbors own and run Ventura Fresh Fish, and they’ve been bringing home gorgeous, fresh King salmon that they’re catching in Santa Cruz.

When I used to work as a waiter at Suzanne’s Cuisine in Ojai, sometimes after a shift I’d treat myself to the grilled salmon with citrus glaze. The stuff was amazing. The salmon had this orange lacquer that was deliciously sweet, tangy and savory. The ends of the filet were always caramelized crispy and damn near made your toes curl.

Suzanne told me the glaze was simple to make, mainly hoisin with citrus and honey. If there were finer details I forgot them. What’s below tastes pretty darn close, I think. I include a small amount of mayonnaise, for a couple of reasons: mayo is a great emulsifier, so you can thicken the glaze to a spoon-coating cling without reducing the citrus juice. Mayo also accelerates browning, so it helps create that lacquery shell with the crispy ends.

Glaze for 2 large filets:

3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 oz blood orange juice (plain OJ is a-ok)
2 tsp honey
1 tsp rice vinegar
½ tsp ground ginger
Dash sesame oil
1 tsp mayonnaise

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, whisk until mayonnaise is thoroughly incorporated (no white specks). The mixture should coat a spoon. Slather the glaze on the salmon to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Grill or broil to your liking, and reapply extra glaze if the first coat browned nicely halfway through cooking.

The Pairing:

A lot of people over-adhere to the “whites with seafood, reds with meat” adage. Pinot Noir is fantastic with salmon, particularly Ojai Vineyard Pinot Noirs, which are crafted to preserve floral lift and minerally cut.

The 2018 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir is perfect in that way, and all too easy to drink and love. It’s comprised of the same vineyards that are bottled as designates, but this wine is bottled after 8 months in barrel (rather than 12-16 months). That captures the wine when it’s skews toward fruity immediacy, with a great BBQ-with-friends kind of casual drinkability.

This pairing works well because this glaze includes a bassy, savory depth that works well with Pinot Noir. Lemon-centric salmon dishes are too high toned for reds. Hoisin is a rich flavor bomb with its components of fermented soybeans, garlic and spices. Lots of umami. That all dovetails with light red wine, and makes the Pinot Noir & salmon thing extra compelling.

 


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