February 2015 Wine Of The Month is two excellent affordable wines from Italy and South Africa.
South Africa is not a newcomer to wine-making as many people think. The wine business began three centuries ago with the Dutch East India Company and with a forward thinking fellow names Jan van Riebeeck, the first governor of the Cape. By 1659 his wines were being sold and celebrated in Europe. Today the region has many noble varieties that originated in France happily growing in the African sun. South Africa also produces Pinotage, a grape variety that was born in the region. This is the only authentic grape variety in South Africa.
The two wines we fell in love with – Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2011 and Indaba Chenin Blanc 2014– are perfect for the couples month of February and a well rounded feast for the red and white wine lover. There’s nothing more romantic than a home-cooked meal served with good wine for Valentine’s Day, no DUI worries, settle back, eat hearty and drink without worry.
What I loved about these two. outside of their price point ( around $11.99-23.00) is that they deliver incredible flavor profiles to perfectly please a steak-lover, vegetarian, or anything in between. The Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2011 and Indaba Chenin Blanc are no-fail choices.
•For the steak-lover (red wine): Frescobaldi is a gorgeous red wine generously made with red fruits, a full-bodied, cherry tinged, roasted-espresso velvet wash with underscores of vanilla, ample tannin and a silky finish. Tenuta di Castiglioni wines more often than not are highly rated 90+ wines made by a renowned and distinguished Italian winemaker who boasts an impressive 700-year history of wine-making in Tuscany. The 2011 Tenuta (SRP: $23) is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with slight additions of Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese. The deep purple-red color of this wine is heightened by its intense aromas of bright red fruit, such as redcurrant, are followed by notes of cinnamon and cocoa powder. To reiterate, this affordable wine is full-bodied, with superb structure and a nicely fruit-laden finish.
Easily pair this wine with juicy red meats, and greens and potatoes. The luscious steak will soften the dryness in the wine, and likewise, the wine will refresh the palate after each bite. (Imported nationally by Folio Fine Wine Partners and available for purchase on wine.com.)
Our perfect recipe to accompany this wine:
Bistecca Alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak)
- 2 (1½″-thick) bone-in porterhouse steaks (3½ lb.)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 large sprig rosemary
- Lemon halved, for grilling and serving
Heat a wood or charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn off burner on one side.
Chop the rosemary.
Brush room temperature steaks thoroughly with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.
Grill on hottest part of grill, flipping once, until browned, 4-6 minutes. Using rosemary sprigs as a brush, baste steaks with remaining oil. Cook to desired doneness, 4-8 minutes more for rare to medium rare, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 125°.
Add more olive oil and salt and pepper to cooked steak. Let steaks rest 5 minutes; slice against the grain along the bone. Serve with grilled lemon halves.
•For a lighter meal serve the insanely priced (in a great way) South African Chenin Blanc. The fuller taste of the Indaba Chenin Blanc 2014 (SRP: $11.99) is an excellent pair for appetizers like unctuous cheese plates or fried tidbits, as well as sweet and sour dishes because of the naturally rich flavor and acidity. Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s most widely planted varietal and the Cape’s signature white. This lively white tasted of honeyed pear, golden delicious apple and succulent melon with a citrus presence that finishes crisp and clean.
Here’s one recipe to try with the white wine:
Peach Ginger Chutney via Chef Hugo Uys of Wines of South Africa
- 4 lbs sliced peeled peaches
- 2 cups of golden raisins
- FOUR cloves minced garlic
- 1 cup chopped ginger
- 1½ tablespoons chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ cup pickling spice
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 cups apple cider vinegar
In a big heavy pot over low warmth, stir in combination the ginger and garlic till it forms a paste. Add curry and chili flakes. Add peaches, raisins, onion, mustard seed, curry powder, sugar, and cider vinegar. Wrap the pickling spice in a cheesecloth bag and place into the pot. Convey to a boil, and cook dinner over medium warmth until the mixture reaches the desired consistency (+/- 2 hours). Stir continuously. Put Off the spice bag and bottle the chutney.
Try pairing this wine with Asian or Indian dishes, Halibut, turkey, or even shrimp Marsala. Tonight we serve it with my new cooking obsession, Indian food made home-style: Serve this with Neena’s Chicken Curry (in step-by-step video above) made with the Kitchen Curry Master spices. More on that incredible find in another post!
The intense fruit flavors and lingering, fresh finish of the Indaba white stands up well to these spicier, fuller flavored meals. (Imported nationally by Cape Classics and available for purchase on wine.com.)