A Very Special Post -- Or, Garage Guests and more Double-Double Blind Fun

It was a week for special guest appearances 'round these parts, by friends both familiar and new. Jody and I entertained one visitor at our double-double blind dinner, and another who stopped by to barrel-taste in our garage winery. Hooray for special guests!

The Wine Cellar

We had the pleasure of meeting Napa winemaker Matthew Rorick (Forlorn Hope Wines and Elizabeth Spencer Wines), a blog-reader and Twitter friend who stopped by the garage this week. Matthew's a North County San Diego native who's worked in wineries all over the world. He was in town this week for the San Diego Wine & Food Festival, and we were honored and excited to have him as our first garage barrel-taster/guest. He was kind enough to bring a bottle of his own Petite Sirah as a gift for us, which we can't wait to taste.

This is some trippy lighting in the garage. Notice how Elijah sneaked in at the bottom right. Matthew (in the middle) gave us great feedback on the wines. Dinner next time, MR!

The Double-Double

It was my turn to cook and blind-taste this week. It's quickly become apparent that this job is much harder than picking out a secret bottle of wine. (Waaaah.) While we all know Jody is the real cook in this house, I like a challenge -- and the prospect of cooking for him makes me raise my game. So, thanks, Jody.

I spent some time reviewing recipes, and after a brief flirtation with the idea of red lentils (an overactive bulk dispenser resulted in several pounds of them now taking up valuable pantry space), I came to my senses and settled on a menu that fit the perfect fall San Diego day.

The Food

Here's the menu: 

Crimini mushrooms, marsala, mascarpone - what's not to like? (But how will it pair with the mystery wine? Read on.)

The Wine

We happened to have my younger brother Chris visiting from Los Angeles on our double-blind day. (Bonus for him!) Chris works for a wine importer/distributor. He has an experienced palate and a valuable insight. He participated in the blind tasting -- and got stumped right along with me. (That Jody.)

My thoughts:

The nose seemed very Cab-by. I pictured a Bordeaux blend from the Left Bank; 2005, perhaps a year younger. It showed firm tannins; berry fruit and a hint of dark chocolate. (Chris thought it was a Southern Rhône.)

Here's what I guessed: Bordeaux/Médoc/2005

Here's what it was:

2004 Barbi Brunello di Montalcino DOC

How wrong I was! A bit of a splurge, but reasonably priced for a nice Brunello - $35.95, from the San Diego Wine Co. I haven't tasted much Brunello, but hope that next time, I can peg it.

The Pairing

Jody: "A pairing made in heaven." Jody felt the wine enhanced the earthy flavors in the food, picking up the mushroom and marsala flavors, while rounding out the bitterness of the broccoli. (He had the enjoyment of knowing what everything was from the beginning, and was pleased that my meal lived up to his wine.)

At 14 percent alcohol by volume, the wine had a hefty body that nicely balanced the rich mascarpone in the sauce. The wine and the meal shared a decadent lushness, without being over the top. It's a pairing we'll make again happily -- give it a try, if you're so inclined!

Note the hand-numbering on the label. According to the back label, the Colombini family has owned land in Montalcino since 1352.

The Children

Elijah, age 6: "Smells like really sour raspberry and blackberry."

Talia, age 10: "Leather. It's from Italy." (This kid is really on a roll lately!)

That's all for this week. Happy Thanksgiving -- this year, I'm especially thankful for the joy and the friendships that grow from doing what you love. Cheers!