Al Fresco Summer Dinner Party
Summer is finally here, and with the days growing warm and long, there’s no better time to dust off the grill, uncork a bottle of wine and do a little dining al fresco. After a long winter indoors, nothing quite lifts your energy like some wine, sun and good company-and we’ve got the perfect recipes and wine pairings for your outdoor dining experience.
Celebrity Chef Jon Ashton (www.jonashton.com) created a recipe for Whipped Goat Cheese Bruschetta with Strawberries to pair with the Graffigna Centenario Pinot Grigio 2010. A spin on the Italian favorite, this bruschetta is perfect for warmer weather. The Pinot Grigio’s crisp acidity effortlessly balances the rich goat cheese, resulting in a flawless pairing. With one bite, your guests may forget completely about the next course. Until, that is, they smell it.
Notes of rosemary and thyme will rapidly lure party members to the table for our rack of lamb recipe, which pairs exceptionally well with the Graffigna Centenario Malbec 2008. Ripe tannins balance the lamb’s big flavor, while the wine’s spicy overtones complement those found in the dish.
Whipped Goat Cheese Bruschetta with Strawberries
Created by Chef Jon Ashton (www.jonashton.com)
Wine Pairing: Graffigna Centenario Pinot Grigio 2010
2 heads garlic, peeled
1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra for the toast
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 package goat cheese
4 slices sourdough bread
1 pinch Celtic sea salt
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 2 cups)
1/4 cup balsamic glaze
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
1. Pour the oil into a pan, set over a medium heat and add the garlic.
2. Fry until lightly colored, then add the herbs. Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft.
3. Let cool slightly. Beat together with the cooking oil to form a paste.
4. Whisk the goat cheese.
5. Brush the sourdough with olive oil, season with Celtic sea salt and toast under the grill.
6. To serve, cut the toast into bite-sized pieces, spread a little garlic purée, smear some whipped goat cheese over and top with strawberries.
7. Drizzle balsamic glaze and add a sprig of mint for a final touch.
Graffigna Centenario Malbec 2008
Deep garnet red with a violet blush, the Graffigna Centenario Malbec 2008 has a complex bouquet, evocative of both ripe blackberries - and black pepper. Confusing? Not really, not when these flavors are so beautifully integrated as they are here.
The Graffigna Centenario was created to honor the 100th anniversary of the Graffigna winery, which was founded by Santiago Graffigna in 1870 in Argentina. But it was Santiago’s uncle, Don Juan Graffigna, who had emigrated from Italy to Argentina in 1865, bringing with him extraordinary European vine varieties, as well as invaluable years of wine expertise.
This medium-bodied Malbec is a lovely testament to the conjunction of Italian expertise amidst the terroir of Argentina. As smooth as it is complex, the Graffigna Centenario Malbec 2008 is both spicy and creamy, with notes of coffee and vanilla complementing the pepper and berries. Savor this wine’s long, velvety finish.
If you can’t get to Buenos Aires, the Graffigna Centenario Malbec 2008 captures some of the rich mélange of Argentine culture in one elegant bottle.
PRICE: approximately $12.00
Rack of Lamb (serves 4)
Wine Pairing: Graffigna Centenario Malbec 2008
Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer recommends lightly chilling this Malbec (to about 60°) before serving. It complements the warm lamb and is more refreshing on a warm day.
2 racks of lamb (1 ½ - 2lbs each; trimmed and frenched)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoon mustard
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary
2 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 teaspoon fine-chopped parsley
1. Mix rosemary, thyme, mustard, olive oil and parsley in bowl.
2. Rub salt and pepper over lamb and cover with marinade. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
3. Wrap end of bones in tin foil.
4. Preheat a cleaned and oiled grill to medium heat.
5. Place the lamb meat side down on the grill for 1-2 minutes.
6. Turn lamb over (meat side up), and switch grill to indirect heat (either turn off burner directly under the meat, or move the coals to the sides).
7. Cook for 12-18 minutes or until internal temperature is 130° F. Let lamb sit for 5-7 minutes before carving.