Monitoring Montana Wines

June 4, 2009

In May, during our very first-ever trip to Montana for the Montana State University Wine & Food Festival, we made a point of tasting through as many Montana-produced wines as possible.

Tasting Through Montana Wines

Special thanks to our gracious host, Stella Fong (co-chair of the festival, pictured above at the left), who amassed 17 wines from the state. During a tasting with Idaho chef Tom Atkins, wine merchant Sue Rydquist (owner of Simply Wine), my husband Spencer, Stella, and me, we decided that five of the 17 were good enough to recommend. Here’s a majority of the contenders:

Montana Wine Contender

And here’s a shot of the “winning” wines. 

Montana Winning Wines

Interesting to note that four of the five winners are fruit-based wines, and four are from the same winery. These include Ten Spoon Flathead Cherry Dry ($15), Ten Spoon Sweet Mountain Cherry Dessert Wine ($21), Ten Spoon Paradise Dry Pear Wine ($16), and Hidden Legend Huckleberry Mead (honey/huckleberry wine–$20). Ten Spoon won again for its Range Rider Montana Red Wine ($16), made up of interesting Montana-grown varietals including Leon Millot and Frontenac. With 13.89% alcohol, this wine retails for $15 and is reminiscent of a good-quality Beaujolais. 


Seattle Wine Awards June 14

June 1, 2009

Winning Wine Bottles

On Sunday, June 14, wine lovers are invited inside the exclusive Rainier Club to experience the 2009 Seattle Wine Awards Grand Tasting. Taste this year’s award-winning wines from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. at two levels: General admission for $85 or VIP Admission for $125. Admission includes a commemorative wine glass, wine tasting, and a dinner buffet in Seattle’s historic mansion, The Rainier Club. Tickets for the Seattle Wine Awards Grand Tasting are available online. 

Fresh Asparagus and Walla Walla Sweet Onion Quiche

June 1, 2009

Fresh Asparagus and Walla Walla Sweet Onion Frittata

Fresh Asparagus and Walla Walla Sweet Onion Quiche

Varietal: Viognier

Serves 6 to 8

While staying at The Inn at Blackberry Creek in Walla Walla, Washington, we enjoyed the expert hospitality and relaxed ambience at the restored Victorian farmhouse (circa 1906). Three idyllic days at the Inn left me hungry for more of innkeeper Barbara Knudson’s sumptuous breakfast dishes, which she prepares to order for her guests every morning. Barbara’s quiche, which she pairs with fresh melon and French pastries, focuses on a few of the best-known and beloved spring vegetables common in the Walla Walla Valley-fresh asparagus and sweet onions. It reheats well, and also makes a great light lunch when served with sliced melon and tomatoes, along with a glass of Cougar Crest Winery Viognier, one of the Valley’s 70-odd wineries.

1 large red potato
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
1 cup (about 4 ounces) grated Jarlsberg cheese
1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil
8 to 10 asparagus stalks, woody stems broken off and discarded, remaining portion cut into 1-inch pieces, enough to measure 1 cup
1/3 cup coarsely chopped Walla Walla sweet onion or other variety of sweet onion, such as Maui or Vidalia
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan cheese
3 dashes of Tabasco sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan or a 9-inch springform pan. If using the latter, wrap the outside with aluminum foil to catch any drips.

2. Peel the potato and cut it into paper-thin slices by hand or with a mandoline. Arrange the slices in a swirling pattern on the bottom of the pie pan, overlapping the slices.

3. Brush the potatoes with the melted butter, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, transfer to the oven, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and just tender. Remove from the oven and sprinkle evenly with the Jarlsberg cheese.

4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small nonstick skillet, add the asparagus and onion, and cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender and lightly browned and the asparagus turns bright green, 5 to 7 minutes. Lightly season with salt and pepper and stir well. Arrange the asparagus-onion mixture evenly on top of the cheese and potatoes.

5. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, the 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, the 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and the Tabasco. Pour over the asparagus mixture and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Place on a baking sheet to catch any drips, and bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the sides of the quiche are golden brown and puff slightly.

6. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool 5 to 10 minutes, then slice and serve.




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