The 12th Day arrives…2009 Esprit de Beaucastel Panoplie & Duck

Assorted cheeses with the 2009 Tablas Creek Panoplie

The 12th Day of Wine demanded digging in the cellar for something special and Michael perused the Tablas Creek Wines that we patiently wait to open, allowing them to age as we gaze longingly at the Vintage chart waiting for them to be in their prime.

It’s worth noting that as we gazed at the Vintage Chart, we opted to open the 2009 even though it is listed as “Drinking Well: Youthful”. The 2010 that we have is in a closed phase.  We probably could wait another 5 years to open this bottle and have it in a “Drinking Well: Mature” stage, but…life is short.

Tablas Creek 2009 Espirit de Beaucastel Panoplie
Tablas Creek 2009 Espirit de Beaucastel Panoplie

Tablas Creek Vineyard 2009 Esprit de Beaucastel Panoplie

What makes the Panoplie different from the other Esprits?  Well this is the most age worthy wine they make.

“sourced from the most age worthy lots in the cellar and blended for intensity and balance.”

Tablas Creek (from the bottle!)

This is why this wine that is almost 10 years old, is still drinking “Youthful”.

This vintage had the Panoplie blend at 65% Mourvèdre, 26% Grenache and 9% Syrah.

Tablas Creek Vineyard Winery in Paso Robles Adelaida AVA
Tablas Creek Vineyard Winery in Paso Robles Adelaida AVA

Monica from Tablas Creek was kind enough to send me a link to a post Jason Haas had done a few years ago “We Warm-up for the Holidays with a Vertical Tasting of Panoplie, 2000-2015”

This was written in December of 2016 (so 2 years ago).  In it Jason describes how the 2009 Panoplie was showing then.

2009 Panoplie (65% Mourvedre, 26% Grenache, 9% Syrah): A very cool, savory, and exciting nose of dark blue/black fruit, seemingly less about Grenache than the 2008. The fruit is fresh but concentrated, cherry and plum, with a powdered sugar character to the tannins that we often see in great vintages.  Some cocoa powder on the finish, which is still youthfully grippy and fairly primary.  It’s still quite a young wine, from a powerful vintage, and may also still be emerging from its closed phase.  Should make great drinking over the next decade.

Jason Haas from the Tablas Creek Blog December 2016

What to pair?

We looked at options for pairings, and while Neil Collin’s recipe for Boeuf Provençale looked wonderful, I am beef stewed out this holiday season.  So…we opted to go for something celebratory, like duck!  And for an extra bit of celebration, (and to be sure I didn’t mess up cooking the precious duck), we chose to pick up some superbly made duck dishes from Cured & Whey and eatt  here in Las Vegas.

Cured and Whey – Duck Reuben

Duck Rueben from Cured & Whey
Duck Rueben from Cured & Whey

I have been meaning to try this great sandwich from Cured & Whey and managed to be on this end of town today to stop by and pick one up. Rocksan was kind enough to have them prepare it for me uncooked, so I could grill it at home for Michael and I for dinner. What’s in it you ask? Hudson Valley Duck Ham, Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut, Dijon and house sauce.

Cured & Whey Gourmet Market and sandwich shop storefront
Cured & Whey Gourmet Market and sandwich shop storefront

Cured and Whey is a great little gourmet/sandwich shop created by Chef Michael Stamm. They are in a warehouse area, but don’t be afraid, they are well worth searching out. They get busy at lunch time, because they are so good. So plan ahead and leave enough time to order and sit with your eyes closed soaking in each and every bite.

6265 S Valley View Blvd Ste K Las Vegas, NV 89118 | 702-429-3617

eatt – Duck with sunchoke three ways & black currant sauce

The Tablas 2009 Panoplie with Slow Cooked Duck Breast and sunchokes 3 ways
The Tablas 2009 Panoplie with Slow Cooked Duck Breast and sunchokes 3 ways
Eatt Gourmet Bistro
Eatt Gourmet Bistro

eatt is a neighborhood restaurant in Vegas that is serving amazing Michelin Star worthy food. The duck is “Slow cooked and seared served with
sunchoke three ways and a black currant sauce” The chef was kind enough to prepare it for me slightly deconstructed, so that I could warm the sunchokes and duck later for Michael and I to enjoy. The 3 ways for the sunchoke were confit, puree and chips. Sadly my plating is probably no where near as beautiful as it would have been had I enjoyed it at the restaurant.

You can find them at:

7865 W Sahara Avenue Suite 104-105
Las Vegas, NV 89117 702-608-5233

Funny Coincidence. When I told Rocksan that I was picking up her duck sandwich and then heading to eatt for their duck dish, she asked if I was basing this on Michael’s article in the RJ on duck dishes. Nope! I had missed that, but you know what they say about “great minds”! (Looks like there are a few more places I need to hit up!)

Article in the RJ on Duck Dishes around the Valley
Article in the RJ on Duck Dishes around the Valley

The Pairing

Ah duck…so adorable, but so delicious. The wine took a bit to open up. I suggest decanting an hour before (which I did not do, so we waited for it to open in the glass.)

The pairing was divine. The duck breast melted in your mouth and the sunchokes were the perfect companion adding a bit of brightness to the rich and beautiful duck. The currants set the dish off with that sweet/tart/acid component and made the pairing with the wine even better.

We moved on to the duck rueben…mmmmm…great flavor without being too overpowering. I had worried about the sauerkraut with this, but it was perfect. And I have to do a shout out on the tiny pickle medley that accompanied the salad. Mini gherkins, and tiny grape size and smaller tomatoes along with some heritage tomato slices in the lightest of pickling that were perfection (where can I get more of those Rocksan?)

A surprising pairing with goat cheese

Honeyed goat cheese with cherry preserves and rosemary
Honeyed goat cheese with cherry preserves and rosemary

One last surprising pairing. We still had some goat cheese around from other pairings and I had thrown together a cheese plate. The goat cheese with cherry preserves and a bit of rosemary was really nice with this wine, as did the Haymarket Goat Cheese I had picked up at Cured & Whey.

Want some?

This particular wine is sold out on their site. The idea with these wines, is to get them when they are released and then sit on them while they get tastier and tastier. So…go find a bottle on their website https://tablascreek.com/story/vineyard_and_winemaking/our_wines

You really should go visit

Make your way to Paso Robles. There is wine in abundance. Take the time to make the drive out to Tablas Creek. I really believe that these are some of the finest wines being made in this country. And…you can learn all about all of the Rhône varieties here

Tablas Creek Vineyard
9339 Adelaida Road, Paso Robles, CA 93446
Phone: 805.237.1231

More Info…

We have tons of information on our site about Tablas Creek. They really are an inspirational winery. There is a whole page of information, posts and a great series of interviews that we did with Jason Haas the GM for you to check out!

Want more?  Click through to all of our 12 Days of Wine posts!

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On the 11th Day – A Ballard Canyon Syrah from Larner & Beef Stew

Larner Reserve Syrah with Beef stew and Polenta

We’ve come to the 11th Day in our 12 Days of Wine and we pulled a beautiful bottle of Ballard Canyon Syrah out from Larner Vineyard & Winery.

2013 Larner Estate Syrah – Reserve

Larner Ballard Canyon Syrah
Larner 2013 Ballard Canyon Syrah Reserve

Our finest Syrah from the 2013 vintage has a vivid bouquet of violets, cassis, blueberries, pepper, vanilla and espresso. The intense, full palate has a layered texture of chalky tannins followed by a smooth finish. Fermented with 20% whole cluster, 4% Viognier and aged 36 months in 30% new French oak barrels.

Larnerwine.com

So this is a big Syrah.  This is not just their Estate Syrah, but a bottling of the best of the lots of the Estate Syrah from 2013. 

Ballard Canyon AVA

The view down @ballardcanyon from above @saarloosandsons Windmill Ranch Vineyard. #sbcwines

This AVA is in the Santa Barbara Region and is nested inside the Santa Ynez Valley AVA.  At about the half way point of the East West Valley of Santa Barbara, the climate is perfect for Rhône Varieties and Syrah thrives here. 

You can visit the AVA site and read about the climate and varieties here.

Larner Vineyard

We have been lucky enough to spend significant time with Michael Larner soaking up his amazing knowledge of the area and the soils.  You can find all sorts of articles and interviews on our Larner Winery & Vineyard page.

What to Pair?

I reached out to Larner Vineyards and Jeni who runs the Tasting Room and Wine Club responded with a great pairing for winter.  A Beef Stew made with the Syrah to pair with the Syrah!


Hi there Robin! Here is a recipe that we definitely recommend to go withour Reserve Syrah! Nice and hearty and pairs perfectly with the wonderfully balanced 2013 Syrah!

Jeni Torres Larner Wine Club Manager and Tasting Room Lead

Here is the beautiful recipe she shared with us.

Beef stew with mushrooms and polenta

  • 3 pounds stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 4 thick bacon slices, cut into 1-inch –wide strip. (I used unsalted bacon)
  • 4 cups of beef broth
  • 4 cups of 2011 Larner Syrah.
  • 25 pearl onions
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 20 ounces of mushrooms, you can used brown button mushrooms, quartered, shitake cut in half,
  • cremini mushroom or if possible fresh porcini mushroom. I soaked the dry porcini mushrooms in the warm water and added this water to the stew.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoon on tomato paste
  • 1 bunch of baby carrots, cut
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 springs of thyme
  • Salt. If you use the salted bacon don’t add salt,you can always do it at the table.
  • Some olive oil
  • 3 cups of polenta

In the heavy pot cook bacon, until the bacon turns light brown and crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot and drain on paper towels. Keep the fat.

 Dry the meat in the paper towel and cook it in the bacon fat until brown. Put the meat aside in the bowl. Add 1 cup of beef stock to the pot,increase the temperature and try to scrape all the brown bits from the bottom.  Pour this liquid over the meat in the bowl.

 Add 4 tablespoons of the olive oil to the clean pot and add chopped onion. Cook until golden.

Add garlic and cook until soft. Add all the mushrooms and cook until soften, about 2 minutes

Add 3 tablespoon of flower and cook for1 more minute stirring. Pour 2 cups of beef broth to the mixture, stir and add to the meat.

Return the beef and all the juices that have accumulated to the pot. Add 4 cups of red wine.  I used Larner Syrah 2011. 

Add 2 tablespoon of the tomato paste, herbs and bring the meat to the boil. Simmer for about 1 hour or until the meat is soft.

Boil some water in the pot, add small onions and cook for 10 minutes. Peel the onion. Clean the carrots and cook them until soft.

When the meat is ready add the bacon, onions and carrots to the pot. Remove the herbs.

If your beef stew is too thick add more beef broth.

In the medium pot bring 9 cups of water to the boil. Add polenta in the thin stream stirring all the time until polenta starts to separate from the side of the pot. Your polenta should be very soft and runny. You can also follow the instruction on the box.

Pour the polenta on the plates and cover it with beef stew. You can also sprinkle it with some chopped parsley. (Optional)

Beef Stew with Polenta
Beef Stew with Polenta

This was a delicious meal and was beautiful with the Syrah. As you can see I did not add the parsley, but I did add a pat of butter on top of the polenta before ladeling on the stew.

Want some?

Well I don’t know if there is any of the 2013 left but you can find their beautiful Syrahs as well as other Rhône style wines in single varieties as well as their Elemental Blend on their site.

They also have a tasting room in Los Olivos, next to the Los Olivos General Store where you can taste their wines.

Larner Vineyard & Winery Tasting Room

2900 Grand Avenue
Los Olivos, CA 93441
T | (805) 688-8148

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Wine pairings for Chinese takeout

Chinese Takeout and gewürztraminer.

It was Valentines Day and I was trapped at home, waiting for a wine shipment that needed my signature. Michael was working so he suggested Chinese Takeout for dinner. This brilliant move allowed us to order when he was heading home so dinner could be ready upon his arrival! (Good thing too, because I was hungry!) So Valentine’s Day evening curled up on the couch with Chinese Takeout, my husband maybe some winter Olympics? Yeah, that sounds pretty heavenly to me. But what to drink with our takeout? I thought I would research some options and see what we had to match in the cellar.

Luckily with Chinese New Year being Friday (February 16th), it is easy to find suggestions this time of year.

A little bit on Chinese New Year and the Year of the Dog

Living in Vegas, I am well aware of Chinese New Year. The town is covered in Billboards announcing, sometimes in English, sometimes Chinese, that we are welcoming the Year of the Dog.

So…in the Chinese Zodiac, the dog is the eleventh animal. Dogs as everyone knows are honest and loyal and so it goes for those born in the year of the dog. Sadly the year of your Zodiac sign is traditionally an unlucky year, so if you were born in 1910, 1922, 1034, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 or 2006, it’s time to pull up your big girl panties and prepare for a challenging year. Don’t worry the rest of us have your back!

Back to wine pairing

Typically when you think of Chinese or Asian style foods reisling or gewürztraminer, the sweetness in these wines can be great for complimenting the spiciness or sweetness in the food. But when you get into sweet and sour dishes you will find they go well with high acid wines, so a sauvignon blanc, an albariño or un-oaked chardonnay would work. Of course sparkling wines and rosés are a good bet too, pairing with a range of flavors and sparkling wine is exceptional with fatty dishes, cutting the fat and cleaning your palate for the next bite. If we were diving into some duck or pork I would probably think about a pinot noir, and with beef…I might lean toward a Rhône style blend or even something deeper like a syrah or malbec. Remember that to keep the spice down in a dish you want to pair it with a wine that is not too dry, one that has a bit of sweetness.

chicken lettuce cups

chicken lettuce cups

vegetable lo mein

vegetable lo mein

Chinese Sesame chicken

Sesame chicken

But for this night we settled on crab rangoons & chicken lettuce wraps, I had some hot & sour soup (it’s a weakness) and then Vegetable Lo Mein while Michael enjoyed some sesame chicken. I searched for a lambrusco for Michael to pair with the sesame chicken. I know lambrusco fell out of favor in the 80’s, but it can pair very well with dishes that are a little sweet with some soy. Sadly…I could not find a store near by that had a lambrusco. So that pairing will have to wait for our next Chinese takeout day.

Balleto gewürztraminer and Chinese food.

Balletto 2016 Gewürztraminer and Chinese food.

We ended up popping open the gewürztraminer from Balletto Vineyards and enjoying that with dinner. This wine has a hint of sweetness and a little spice on the finish. It was really lovely with both the chicken lettuce cups and my vegetable lo mein. This is a great wine for pairing with lighter vegetable dishes, because it doesn’t overpower them. I do admit to having a little trouble pulling my nose out of the glass to take a bite of food. This gewürztraminer from Balletto is so beautifully fragrant, it had me captivated. (If you would like a virtual visit to this Sonoma Country Winery, check out our video!)

With Chinese New Year and all the dumplings right around the corner, I do have a couple of suggestions. With dumplings, keep in mind that you are pairing with the fillings or the sauces. A traditional pork and cabbage dumpling would be very nice with a chardonnay that has good acid and a little oak. If you have some fresh ginger with your dish, you might go with a Sauvignon Blanc. If you really want a red, by all means do it! Pinot Noir is that great crossover wine and it’s lovely with pork. It is also light enough that it won’t overpower your dumpling.

So…I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day and here’s to a great Year of the Dog!  Pick up some Chinese take out grab a bottle or two of wine and have your own celebration!

Keep up to date on all of our posts by following us on Crushed Grape Chronicles  .  You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Vintage Enoteca on Sunset Boulevard in LA

A Quick Trip to LA for a little fun and wine

With a few days off and it being our Anniversary, Michael and I headed out to LA to channel our inner kids at Universal Studios and then to be a little more grown up with some fabulous wine and dinner at Vintage Enoteca on Sunset Boulevard.

Hogwarts at Universal Studios Hollywood

Hogwarts at Universal Studios Hollywood

We headed to LA really early and made our way to Universal Studios.  The attraction was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Our inner kids got filled up with butter beer after a ride on the Hogwarts “Harry Potter and the Hidden Journey” and explored Hogsmeade and the rest of the park.

After our day at Universal, I found a list on Eater of the top 10 wine bars in LA. Closest to our hotel was Vintage Enoteca. Not being sure how busy it would be, I set a reservation for 6:30 on Open Table and off we went.

Vintage Enoteca on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood

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http://www.vintageenoteca.com/

 

Vintage Enoteca is on Sunset Blvd. between Hollywood Heights and West Hollywood. Parking on a side street fairly easily since it was a Monday night. I will admit that we questioned our choice as we walked up. It’s an inconspicuous place in the midst smoke shops and tattoo parlors. The place was empty when we walked in, with the front two tables holding “reserved” signs, one of which was for us. Quickly and warmly the hostess greeted and sat to peruse the extensive wine list. What a joy to have the person taking care of us be completely fluent on the wine list (which incidentally changes weekly) and to be ready with suggestions for pairings. I began with a Cremant Rose from Domaine Fouet from the Loire Valley and Michael had a Malvasia from Birichino in Santa Cruz.

Great wines and small plates

The small plates menu by Chef Marc Elliot gives you lots of options; Mini bites (think bar bites), small bites, bruschetta, Cheese & Salumi, salads, flatbreads, Panini and bigger bites. Michael and I settled on Marcona Almonds, Fish cakes (with crème fraiche & caviar), Pan-Blackend String Beans and the crab Mac & Cheese. As Michael perused the wine list some more he found a “Scheurebe” on the menu. This was not a wine we were familiar with so we asked our host about it. Scheurebe is a German wine from the  Rheinhessen. Our hostess/server said to think Reisling, but very dry and with some effervescence.

The Scheurebe was wonderful on it’s own. We found that the Malvasia went beautifully with the crab Mac & Cheese. Still ready to try something else, we decided on one more glass and our hostess suggested a Merlot/Zin blend from Sean Minor in Napa. We added a cheese plate to finish our pairings.

While we enjoyed our pairings the place started to fill up. It was still a quiet Monday night, but obviously this place has a well deserved following, with many guests coming in through a back way.

All in all this was a lovely way to start, what we didn’t realize would be a wine getaway.

Check back here at Crushed Grape Chronicles for more on the details on the our unexpected wine getaway!   You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

 

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Riesling and it’s power with pairings

tristaetum-tatsing300

Growing up, the first wine I tasted was Blue Nun.  My parents were not wine drinkers and when they had people over for dinner, Blue Nun was a good safe bet at the time.  Now we think of this as an unsophisticated sweet german wine and if you are a wine drinker it probably conjures the same connotations as “tickled pink”.  As a disclaimer…I’m referring to the Blue Nun I tasted in my youth, I have not had any recently, and it could have dramatically changed since then.

My wine tastes have changed.  As I started drinking wine the sweeter german rieslings were fun and easy to drink.  As my palate evolved I wanted something less cloying.  I mentioned the other day finding a great food riesling.  The Gunderloch J-Baptiste Riesling is slightly sweet but very clean and great with Thai food.  It’s just too bad I can only find it in restaurants locally!

Michael enjoys rieslings and we explore quite a bit with different styles all typically in a lower budget range.  I hate to spend more than $25 on a wine that I have not tasted and don’t know if I will like.  We’ve found some that are nice for food and for quaffing and some that just don’t measure up.

In traveling tasting wines at wineries we rarely end up tasting rieslings because we are usually in California.  A few years ago though we visited Oregon the Willamette Valley, the Dundee Hills and Trisaetum.  We were there early in the day, in fact probably the first visitors.  This winery is off the beaten path and we drove and drove and worried we were headed the wrong way, until finally cresting a hill and finding the vineyard and winery. As it was so early we were able to sidle up to the bar and have a great conversation with the pourer on the wines and the vineyards.  These were rieslings like we had not tasted before and the range of rieslings dependent upon the vineyard location was amazing.  They were all fantastic.  We had spent several days in the area and were flying home and did not purchase wine to take with us.  I can’t tell you how often we have thought of these wines since then.

A month or so ago I was at a wine tasting at Khoury’s on the other side of town and after the tasting was doing my usual stroll down all of the aisles looking for wines by wineries I am familiar with and I came across a Trisaetum 2008 Riesling.  I immediately picked it up and cradled it.  This I would be taking home.  In researching it I found that this wine had scored 94 points and received an Editors choice award from Wine Enthusiast.

When Michael and I sat down to open this we paired it with smoked gouda, a smoked goat cheese cheddar and one of our favorite quick appetizers the lemongrass chicken sticks from Trader Joe’s.  This wine was stunning with them as well as lovely on it’s own.  We both realized the moment we tasted that this is the difference between a small vineyard wine that might cost you $30 or more and a $7.99 to $15 bottle of riesling that has been produced in much greater quantities. This was worth it.  And…if memory serves, when we tasted at the winery, this was not even the best of the rieslings we tasted.

Now this is not to say that you cannot find great inexpensive rieslings.  You can!  But for our money we would rather find a compelling wine from a smaller vineyard where you can see the history and the love of making wine.

Regardless of the cost or where it comes from you will still find riesling to be one of the best wines to pair with foods, most especially summer foods.  It plays well with salty things, ham, charcuterie, sausage, bleu cheese as well as rich poultry like duck and goose.  Off dry Rieslings go wonderfully with Asian spice as well as with sweeter vegetables.  When you get into late harvest they are great with desserts.   Avoid pairing it with red meat and peppercorns, those things that you standardly think of with a big red, well…they need a big red and would overpower a riesling.

So pick up a riesling and don’t be afraid to spend a little more for it.

Beets Chard and Wine?

Beets, Chard and Peaches

I love farmers markets and I have a habit of overindulging when I go.  So my crisper ends up over flowing and then sadly rotting on the bottom.  This week I was determined to us the beautiful golden beets that I had purchased, but alas I left them in the crisper long enough for the beet greens to not look so appetizing.  So….rather than buying new beets for the greens for the recipe I wanted to make I picked up some fresh swiss chard.  If you have ever looked at beet greens they are very similar to chard, same family and similar flavor.  So I had my substitution and I was off to make one of my favorite recipes for pasta with roasted beets, beet greens and pine nuts.

I based last nights recipe on one from http://www.theitaliandishblog.com Then I needed to find a wine pairing!  I searched a little more online and found a recipe with a similar flavor profile on http://www.grouprecipes.com.  The recipe didn’t include pasta but was for roasted beets and beet greens with a balsamic vinegar.  It suggested pairing with a Zin or a Shiraz and there was a comment saying that the pairing was perfect.
I needed to pick up pine nuts and pancetta to finish the dish and run to the wine store.  It is sad to say that I don’t have a small family run wine store close by where I live.  There is a fantastic one on the other side of town, but that would have taken 45 minutes to get there.  So…I head to the giant wine store close by.  I love the selection mostly.  Often the more obscure varieties can’t be found there, but there is one wine guy that always has great advice for me.  The trouble I find with going there (or anywhere) to pick up wine is that in trying to be all crunchy granola I take my wine bag with me.  Well my wine bag holds 4 bottles and I feel the need to fill it.  I picked up 2 roses because it is summer and it’s hot in Vegas!  And then I search through the Syrah’s.  I love a smoky syrah.  If it has a little meat on the nose, all the better (yes I know that is bret!).  I settle on a Syrah from Chile, a 2009 Ona Anakena. I also pick up French Syrah-Mouvedre blend This is a 2010 Luc Pirlet Reserve.  Now back to get cooking!

Here is my adapted version of the ingredients

3 medium size golden beets

olive oil

1/4 cup of pine nuts (or more)

2 ounces of pancetta (You can be kind to the piggies and leave this out and go vegetarian. I admit to feeling guilty.)

1 med red onion (I actually had 3 very small ones from the garden)

2 cloves of minced garlic

2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar (I used balsamic)

4 ounces of pasta (I had great big macaroni from a local pasta shop! Shout out to Marc http://www.parmabychefmarc.com/ !)

1 small bunch of beet greens (or in my case swiss chard)

sea salt, ground pepper

fresh grated parmesan cheese (that wasn’t in the recipe, but….)

Roasted Golden beet with olive oil in aluminum foil

I had roasted my beets earlier in the day.  Take each beet, trim the greens off and the end of the root.  Wash and scrub them then rub them with olive oil and wrap each in aluminum foil.  Pop them into a 375 degree oven for 45 min to an hour.  If you have really big beets it could take them up to 1 1/2 hrs.  Take one out and open it and see if a knife will easily go in.  If so, they are ready.  To keep them warm I kept them on the stove while I cooked the rest of the meal.

Next you toast your pine nuts in a small frying pan over med heat stirring until they are lightly toasted.  I cheated and bought mine pre toasted at Trader Joe’s.

Chopped Swiss Chard leaves and stems

Next chop the beet greens or chard about 1 inch sections.  Keep the stems separate from the greens.

About now you would want to start the pasta water.

Now get a large skillet and toss in the pancetta.  Cook it until it is crispy then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Leave the grease!  Lower the heat to medium add a little olive oil and toss in the chopped onion.  After a few minutes add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the red wine or balsamic vinegar and cook another 2 minutes.  This will thicken the vinegar and give it that rich flavor.

Red onions garlic and balsamic in pancetta fat and olive oil

Now toss in your beet stems (just the stems) and 1/4 cup of water.  Cover and cook 10 minutes.

Chard & Crispy Pancetta

Add the greens and pancetta and cook another 10.  When you add the greens, it’s also time to add the pasta to the pasta water.

At this point with 10 minutes to wait I decided to peel

Peeling roasted beets

my beets.  I peeled them by hand.  The skins slid right off.  And…my beets were golden so my hands didn’t turn pink.  If you are using red beets, you might want gloves.  If the skins don’t slide off used a knife.  Then cut the beets in quarters or eighth’s and rewrap in the aluminum foil to keep them warm.

After the 10 minutes add 1/2 the pine nuts (I admit, I added the entire 1/4 cup, cause I like pine nuts). This is where you season to taste with salt and pepper.  To taste…means taste it!  Pancetta is salty so you will already be seasoned and you don’t want to over do it.

Add the pasta, mix and add parmesan cheese

Remove the pasta from the pasta water with a strainer and add to the pan with the sauce.  Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water to incorporate the sauce.  Then I grated parmesan cheese on top and mixed, and grated some more and mixed, and one last time for good measure.

Plate it on a large dish, pasta in the center, beets around the edge.  Sprinkle the beets with sea salt (I used pink himalayan salt) and top the pasta with a little more grated parmesan and some more pine nuts.  Voila!

The pairings were perfect.  The earthiness of the beets and greens works nicely with the syrah.  I preferred the Syrah Mouvedre blend because of it’s smoothness.  There was no heat from alcohol (it was at 13.5 %) and was really velvety and layered.