It’s become tradition that my family no longer cooks Christmas dinner and instead we all pitch in and make all kinds of pupu’s throughout the day. We discontinued making Christmas dinner over 5 years ago because we would snack all day and not be hungry for the dinner we worked all day preparing so we decided we’d just snack all day instead. This has turned out quite well as we get to try lots of different foods throughout the day. The delectables served this year were hot artichoke dip and sourdough bread, crudites with greek dipping sauce, crab cakes, civiche, cheesey biscuit puffs, Alabama pulled pork sandwiches w/ white BBQ sauce and everyone’s favorite, Vietnamese spring rolls with a ginger soy dipping sauce and a peanut dipping sauce. This last one took 5 of us to put together and every year we say we’ll never do them again, but we always end up making them anyway. Of course we also have lots of cookies.
Along with all the great food, we also had quite a bit of good wine. We were provided with some samples of Jalama Vineyards wine from winemaker Mark Cargasacchi which we proceeded to share with our family. The Pinot Gris was crisp and citrusy with some nice minerality, it had just a touch of bitterness on the finish which probably would have been softened by a bit more fruit. The Pinot Noir was very light colored, almost see-through, light to medium-bodied with flavors of blueberries, herbs and earth. The El Kapitan is a full bodied red blend with aromas of dark cherries, coffee and spice – we had this with last night’s dinner of ravioli with puttanesca sauce that matched the spiciness of the wine quite well.
We also opened a bottle of Villa Creek’s “Avenger” which is a blend of Syrah, Mourvedre and Grenache – a full-bodied wine with loads of blackberry fruits. A very concentrated and structured wine that’s terrific now, but also has some backbone to put away for a bit as well. Robert Parker gave this ’05 vintage 93 points www.erobertparker.com
My father shared his JC Cellars ’04 Iron Hill Zinfandel which I think is a classic Zinfandel that’s not overly jammy, but has layers of dark fruits and spice well balanced with soft tannins and a long finish. We then had a Ridge ’04 Zinfandel from the Ponzo Vineyard from the Russian River Valley. Parker rated this 91 points. I thoroughly enjoyed this Zin from the cooler growing area of Northern California – a noticable difference from the overdone, hot Zins made by so many along the Central Coast these days, but still loaded with black fruits, vanilla and cassis flavors and a velvety long finish.