Sunday Dinner

by Jeanne


   "Why waste an open bottle on a closed mind?"

                                —Sean Thackrey, Winemaker

I celebrated my birthday a few weeks ago with S & K by having lunch at the girl and the fig in Sonoma.  After a great lunch, a gift presentation of their cookbook, we strolled around the plaza poking into the original Williams-Sonoma, a bookstore and a few wine shops. 

And there at the Wine Exchange of Sonoma sitting demurely on the shelf were four bottles of non vintage Sean Thackrey Pleiades XIII {RP: 90 / 2004}($18).  What a find.  This exceptional wine is a blend of Syrah, Barbera, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Mourvedre, and Grenache. Southern Rhone in style with a taste of pepper,spice, and berry fruit contains this medium to full-bodied, complex red.

If you aren’t familiar with this renegade winemaker well that’s okay.  Those of us that are have a hard enough time tracking where to buy it. He’s not widely distributed in the States. He sells more overseas at a higher price point. I’ve been into shops where you need to ask if they have it and they go in to the back room and pull out one or two. 

His wines are named after stars and constellations–Pleiades, Orion, Sirius. The Pleiades, considered the entry wine of the constellation,  were the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione and is loosely translated as flock of doves. This is the more easily found–which keep in mind is a relative statement.

Sean Thackrey is a real artisan winemaker, someone who makes wine by "feel," not by recipe.  Wine critic Robert Parker, gave the 2001 Sirius Mendocino County Eaglepoint Ranch Petite Sirah 96 points and the 2002 Orion Rossi Ranch St. Helena California Native Red Wine 94-plus points.

About twice a month S, K and I gather and make Sunday dinner.  Sometimes there’s others and at other times there’s not.  The fare can be elaborate or comforting.  Last night I created a dinner menu around this wine.

Grilled Pork Chops with Apple Cider Sauce

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Walnut-Sage Pesto

Greens with Dressing 

Dessert: Vanilla Tea with Alfajores

Dinner was so good we were chewing on the bones!

SF Chronicle Thackrey Wine Section Profile

111404_1  We served this sauce over grilled pork chops that had brined for 30 hours. It would also be a sophisticated  replacement where it calls for applesauce such as pork tenderloin or pheasant.

Apple Cider Sauce

From the girl & the fig cookbook by Sondra Bernstein

1 tblspn olive oil

2 tblspns minced shallots

1 tblspn chooped fresh sage

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced

3/4 c unfiltered apple cider

2 tblspns cider vinegar

2 c chicken stock

salt & pepper

2 tblspns unsalted butter, in pieces

1/4 c pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped

Heat the oil and saute the shallots in a saucepan until translucent.  Add the sage and diced apple and cook until the apples are soft and begin to brown, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the cider, vinegar, and chicken stock and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.  Season with salt and pepper; set aside to cool.  Puree the mixture in a blender and strain.

To serve, heat the sauce until it just begins to simmer.  Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter and pistachios.

Serves enough for 6 pork chops.