Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Meal for an Old Zinfandel

In keeping with the Napa theme, I have to tell you about this absolutely fabulous meal we had that resolved specifically around a very special wine we picked up out on the "left coast."

We had the pleasure of sampling a number of wines by Jessup Cellars in Yountville, CA. (They are right down the street from the famous French Laundry.) After getting a small tasting at our hotel in Napa, we visited the winery with the intention of doing a "vertical" tasting- or so I think it is called. This is where you try the same varietals, in our case Zinfandel, from the same winery but from different years. It was fascinating! All of the wines were great- we tried (this was at the end of May, so forgive my spotty memory) an '04,'03, and a '99.

We ended up splurging on the 1999 Jessup Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel as it was so rich, and woody, and just plain wonderful. (We also got a fantastic zinfandel port which has yet to be opened and a light, fresh rose.) Our zin was something to be savored and to be the centerpiece of a meal- not just something to suck back with burritos as an afterthought. Doing some research on wine pairings, I decided to serve a rich entrée of grilled steak with an indulgent blue cheese sauce along sides rice pilaf and salad.

Oh my heavens, we thought our mouths were going to just melt off our faces it was so dang good. The wine opened up with the rich flavors to reveal it's complex headiness and we loved every sip. Sincere thanks to Patrick and Christina at Jessup for helping us with our tastings and purchase- not only were they knowledgeable, we enjoyed every minute of chatting with them!

Grilled Steak with Blue Cheese Sauce
Adapted from
  • 1 lb. Good Quality Beef Fillet (Sorry- I never buy beef and forget what the cut was. All I remember is it was about 1.5" thick and it was plenty for 2 of us.)
  • Kosher Salt & Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2-3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Small Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 C. Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1/2 C. Beef Broth
  • 1/4 C. Brandy or Port
  • Heavy Dash Dried Rosemary
  • 1/2 - 1 C. Crumbled Blue Cheese (actual amount depends on your tastes- you can start with less and adjust it to add more)
  • Extra Blue Cheese for garnish

  1. Heat your grill to medium heat.
  2. Season the fillets with ample salt and pepper rubbed into the meat. Drizzle with a little olive oil and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
  3. When grill is good and hot, cook the steak to desired doneness. Hubby took care of this part as steak is not my specialty. Due to the thickness, it probably took about 20 minutes to get it to medium/ medium-rare.
  4. While the meat cooks, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Add in the onion and garlic, sautéing until it they are just soft, about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Add in the mushrooms and continue to cook until they are soft and begin to loose their moisture, about 4 minutes.
  7. Pour in the broth, booze, and rosemary. Increase heat to high to bring mixture to a boil. It should reduce by about half.
  8. Stir in the blue cheese, adding in increments if desired, and stir until the cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  9. When steak is cooked, let it rest for 5-10 minutes and then serve with sauce drizzled on top and a sprinkle of extra blue cheese. Enjoy with a full bodied red wine for a divine dinner!


Joelen said...

You've successfully brought back memories of our visit to Napa last year! We didn't make it to Yountville but I've heard raves about Jessup Cellars. Your meal looks fabulous and I'll have to remember the zin!

That Girl said...

We did a vertical tasting in Sonoma - there's something really great about being able to compare varietals.

Jen said...

Jessup Cellars was my favorite winery! I wanted to buy one of every variety that we tasted.