Sunday, November 21, 2010

John Grover Talks about New York Pinot Gris

I get John Grover's wine email newsletter. He's always finding great wines. He's a real enthusiast. I recently asked him if I could reprint a recent letter because it featured Finger Lakes wines. Here it is....several good picks, and a great recipe.

Well, it is starting to get colder here in the North East. And, naturally, the mind of every country boy wanders off to where? Warm comfort food, of course. This month we offer a quick and simple recipe that matches well with several wines of the Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio) persuasion.

The Pinot Gris grape produces wine in different styles around the world. In Alsace, France it is generally medium bodied with a floral bouquet and a bit of spice and fruit in the taste. In Germany, its local name is Rulander and tends to be a bit sweeter and more full bodied. And, of course from Italy, most of what we Americans see is lighter, crisp and more acidic. These differences are generated mainly by location, climate, soil and the various traditions and styles of winemaking.

The Pinot Gris produced in the U.S., or more particularly Oregon and New York’s Finger Lakes is more in the Alsatian style. The 2008 Pinot Gris from Hunt Country Vineyards of Keuka Lake is an elegant wine with a floral nose and pronounced fruit in the mouth with the taste of white table grapes and pears. It is well balanced with little noticeable acidity. It can be bought for $16 a bottle at the winery. Other Finger Lakes producers making fine Pinot Gris include the Lakewood, Hosmer and Dr. Konstantin Frank wineries. More broadly available are the excellent Pinot Gris wines from Oregon, including those from Willamette Valley Vineyards, King Estate and A to Z wineries.

The second wine highlighted is the 2009 Kris Pinot Grigio from the Della Venezie region of Northern Italy. While many of the less expensive Pinot Grigio’s from Italy can be called at best “nondescript”, this wine has a distinctive citrus nose with a rich taste of lime, melon and perhaps a hint of honey. It has a distinct acidity that creates a rich pucker of tartness that dances around the mouth. This wine is widely marketed for between $11 to $13 a bottle. Other Italian producers making excellent but reasonably affordable Pinot Grigio include Peter Zemmer and Alois Lageder.

Tortellini and Spinach in Parmesan Broth (found on the Epicurious website and originally published in Gourmet magazine, April, 2006 )

1 (1/3 pound) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano with rind
6 cups chicken stock
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh parsley, tied together
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup tortellini (24 to 36)
4 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves (3 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Cut rind off cheese. Combine rind, stock, garlic, parsley, and oil in a 3-quart pot, then simmer gently, partially covered, 30 minutes. Discard parsley and rind and season broth with salt.
Add tortellini and simmer, partially covered, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Add spinach and simmer, uncovered, 1 minute. Divide among 4 soup plates, then shave cheese over soup to taste. I would suggest serving this soup with a nice crusty peasant bread.

John Grover is a member of Mensa of Northeastern New York. He lives with his wife Sharon in the Hudson Valley of New York.