It is kind of funny how sometimes the best events are not planned or scheduled. Memorial Day weekend and I had just finished a very busy day at Locals in Geyserville (lots of members picking up their wines and visitors from all across America). Arriving home on the river in Guerneville, I was in the mood for some grilled meats, potato and macaroni salads, watermelon and corn on the cob, I mean how American can you get.
As we prepared for our Memorial Day feast, the smoke of grilled meats wafting down the lane; neighbors walking by stopped to wish us a good holiday and chat, suddenly a chilled bottle of Beachfront from Bedarra appeared, glasses were filled, laughter and conversation drifting down to the River and back drew other drop ins and more wine appeared.
Next extra deck chairs and candles are out and people are visiting, telling stories and talking about sharing meals, so the impromptu pot luck starts to unfold, people bringing dishes to share from their holiday meal. Being the unexpected host of the event I was pleased to be able to walk to the cellar and pull out some great wines for our progressive party. I pulled out two bottles of Peterson Old School Zin and two bottles of Eric Ross 09 Old vine Zin that I knew would pair well with the grilled meats.
Which begs the question are you ready for summer drop in’s and impromptu events. As our event progressed we all started talking about Sonoma Cheeses and everyone went home and brought one cheese from their refrigerator and we paired them with Pendleton’s Estate Late Harvest Sirah, a yummy way to finish the meal. Stop by Locals and sample some wines and find the neighbor pleasing, friend building, fun wines for your house hold and your next event, planned or unplanned.
Locals Tasting Room
After the annual haggling over pricing, the Dungeness crabs have arrived. Around Sonoma County, we can soon indulge in crab-eating orgies in support of various Rotary, Kiwanis, and Soroptomists. Or, you can grab whole crabs yourself for just $5.59/lb boiled and cleaned at your favorite supermarket. As a Northern California native with deep New England roots, Dungeness crab season has always been my opportunity to demonstrate my ability to wield a nutcracker around a tasty crustacean. Bring your bibs, I can make a mean Ciopinno. I can go pan-Asian and create a ginger and lemon grass-infused coconut milk broth for my succulent & crabby friends. Or, if I really love you, I am more than willing to spend the time cracking and picking to create a mound of shell-less crab meat. Last night, as a welcome home gift to my husband who had just endured three days in Houston, I decided to shell the two crabs. Shelling a lobster starts with the satisfying bounty of big claws and tail, and de-volves into the only-for-expert job of sucking meat out of legs or the daring, but blissful reward of the green tomalley — the lobster’s liver. Shelling a Dungeness crab is a much more consistently rewarding process, provided that you embrace the briny challenge. Not only do the legs and claws offer up tasty chunks, the body itself is a mother lode of easily accessed treats. So, after a delicious lime & bourbon cocktail and 30-40 minutes, I had myself at least 4 cups of pristine crab meat. From here, the possibilities were endless. I could eat the whole bowl myself before Peter came downstairs to check on dinner. I could mix it with some of my home made chile & lime sauce for a Crab Louie. I could make a Ciopinno for the lazy — essentially a shelled tomato-based crab chowder. What I decided to do was to make a simple pasta dish:
- 4 cups shelled Dungeness crab
- Linguini, angel hair, or similar pasta
- Zest of one Meyer lemon or a lime, chopped finely
- Juice of one Meyer lemon or a lime
- 1/3 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
- 1/3 cup half & half
- 1-2 tbsp chopped parsley or cilantro
Boil the pasta
Right after you drain the past while it is still hot, toss all of the ingredients, except for the parsley, together
Toss the parsley or cilantro on top of each serving
The choice for wine was easy. The matching of Chardonnay and Crab is obvious, but I wanted something deeper, richer, and more luxurious to reward my crab-shelling effort. The 2008 Bedarra Reserve Chardonnay, Dry Creek Valley was the perfect match for the dish. It’s the wine that reminds me that I can love Chardonnay.
Our most recent winery addition to Locals Tasting Room is Bedarra Vineyards. The Bedarra Estate Vineyard is only a mile west of nearby Healdsburg’s town center. The epitome of a small artisan winery, fewer than 500 cases of wine are produced here in a year.
The Bedarra brand is inspired by the beauty and tranquility of the remote Bedarra Island, just off the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, where proprietors Jeff and Brigid enjoyed their honeymoon in 2003. Around their home, they grow glorious chardonnay wines, made from their single acre of 15-year old vines. With the backdrop of tropical palm trees on one side and majestic mountains on the other, Bedarra Vineyards is as scenic as it is fruitful.
The island spirit is carried forth with their fun 2009 Beachfront ($18) wine. A refreshing blend of Estate Chardonnay and Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc has been married in your glass. A fun wine with a perfect balance of bright fruit, smooth texture and a crisp clean finish, those of you Nouveau Hicks who might remember the Portalupi Bianco should pay extra attention to this wine. Like a bit of summer poured into your glass, the Beachfront showcases why this Italianate style of white grape blending is becoming more and more popular!
The 2007 Bedarra Chardonnay ($19) has an exquisite, creamy, custard-like mouthfeel, all while reflecting a well-balanced acidity throughout and a long & lingering finish. Vibrant flavors of lemon, crushed pineapple and baked pear abound. A super value on one of the nicest chardonnays made here in these parts. The 2007 Bedarra Reserve Chardonnay ($29), even thicker and richer, has a refined elegance which might also enhance your appetite. The flavors, less citrus and more créme brulee, are deeply integrated and interwoven. A super match to creamy pasta dishes, chicken or seafood.