Petra Kir-Yianni

It’s been brought to my attention (Thanks Bill!) that most people haven’t a clue what I’m talking about when I mention Kir-Yianni in the next post. So here’s my take on the grape. It’s not common – you’ll need a good wine store with a broad international selection, probably near a Greek neighbourhood. On the other hand it’s a steal of a deal under $20.

kir yianni petraIf you are of a certain age the phrase “greek wine” conjures sun baked islands, retsina (harsh red wine flavoured with pine resin) and pitchers of tart white wine the colour of urine. This is the problem for modern Grecian vintners – a bunch of super-annuated drinkers like me, who would rather be dead in a ditch than face the rigours of Greek wine again.

Greece is the cradle of modern European wine. Their grapes were exported to Italy and the south of France. Their techniques were copied and improved upon. And even today they harbour a number of grapes that would do well when planted abroad. More importantly they too have imported modern viticulture and vinification techniques back into their country.

There are a handful of reds on the shelves here (I have recommended Naoussa in the past in this column) and two whites. One of the whites has a small following as a bargain Muscat (AKA Moscato). The other is fairly new and deserves white wine drinkers give it a try.

For the cork dorks in the audience it is blend of Roditis and Malagouzia grapes. I know what you’re thinking. “Not ANOTHER Roditis/Malagouzia blend.” Roditis is a pink skinned grape that resembles pinot noir. It has the wonderful capacity to maintain acidity in hot climates. Malagouzia is an ancient grape going back to biblical times and probably earlier, and makes elegant aromatic wines.

The combination produces a light coloured white with a citrus and lemon zest bouquet, a crisp palate with – and this surprised me – a very round finish. The zip of the attack and the lingering finish are the hallmarks of a first rate food wine. Opa!

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Spaghetti With Orange and Bacon Recipe

I found the original of this recipe in the WSJ. I immediately modified it to suit me. It scales easily from one to 8 persons. It took me, including prep time less than half an hour. If you did it for just one, less again.

This is modified recipe from Betsy Andrews. The original was prunes and bacon. I found the bacon overpowering and I’m not a huge prunes fan, preferring the brighter flavour of apricots. Dates could be used instead of either. Also, this looks like a variation on a Spanish or Southern Italian recipe to me, in which case they likely used a sour or blood orange. I used a Californian Navel. Feel free to experiment by adding the juice of a quarter of lemon or more.

Total Time: 30 minutes Serves: 2
1/2 pound dried spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
100g pancetta or bacon, crumbled (I prefer pancetta, but most folks are more likely to have bacon in your fridge.)
1 red onion, diced
½ cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Leaves from 1 sprig rosemary, roughly chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
Zest and juice of 1 orange
¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (I don’t measure, just grate away merrily.)
8 dried apricots, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onion greens
salt and pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking water. Bringing the water to the boil takes longer than anything else in this recipe.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp. Drain on paper towel. When cool, crumble it. (I do this with my hands but some people use knives etc.)

3. Add red onion (or whatever onion is handy; I usually use yellow cooking onion) and cook until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, butter, red pepper flakes, rosemary and orange zest and juice. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until sauce is slightly reduced, 5ish minutes.

4. Add cooked spaghetti, 4 tablespoons cooking water (Optional. If you like your sauces runnier than I like mine you should.) and Parmesan to sauce. Toss to coat. Stir in apricots and chives and bacon. Season with salt and pepper if desired. (I don’t think either are necessary. There’s a ton of salt in the bacon and cheese and my extra chili flakes cover off the pepper.) To serve, drizzle with olive oil (also not really necessary.) and Parmesan (personal taste.)

I served it with a Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio but it was overpowered. So I opened a Petra Kir-Yianni which worked beautifully. You should be fine with a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. Next time I’ll try a Viognier.

kir yianni petra

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Oyster Bay Merlot

bridges wine world oyster bay merlot tall2_01I have a thing for Hawkes Bay wines from New Zealand. This one isn’t the best of the bunch but it is available – THANK YOU OYSTER BAY!

If you can find any wines from the area jump on them. The syrah from there is a real eye opener – lean, elegant, aromatic. Most of the wines are bordelaise clones, better made than Bordeaux and about half the cost of comparables.

Latest column from the weeklies.

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New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Latest column on Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc.

If it's New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, jump on it

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Leyda Syrah

If you aren’t a Twitter aficionado, here’s bridges leyda syrah, my latest Bridges Newspaper column

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