There's only so much desert a girl can cook, am I right? Ok, no. There are endless variations and I will test that limit. In fact, I bet I could create a variation on what follows with chocolate. Fine - challenge accepted.
Crush was extra long this year. The vineyard produced more grapes than ever before. We were very lucky - the two weeks the valley was impacted by smoke, it somehow was caught in a vortex and hovered above the vineyard (our friends at Hard Roe to Hoe also seemed to luck out). But all that good fortune meant more long days and weekends extended our normal 3-4 weeks to 6-7 weeks. We were exhausted. near the end, I could barely remember how to cook and bill was not savoring food, so it didn't seem to matter. But I wanted to try my hand at bread. The guys had been playing with yeast in the barrel room, I wanted to play with it at home. I found this recipe for a simple crusty bread and decided even I couldn't mess this up. I normally couldn't get yeast bread to rise. I think because our house is cold. Anyway, I whipped up the dough, and ensured the water was very, very warm (like 110F warm), and set it aside overnight. I was planning easy meals the whole last week of crush because I just couldn't anymore. To my surprise when I woke up the next morning, the bread had risen. Maybe it would actually work. This was going with some mushroom garlic soup (my trick is to use less water, swap everything with beef stock since it has less salt, and it is waay yummier, and always more garlic), salad, and it had to go with a wine with some attitude. It turned out amazing. And not cuz I'm good with bread.
Clearly it required one of our Francs. Cabernet Franc is lighter color than Cabernet Sauvignon, but it has a rounder flavor profile - notes of white pepper, chili, bourbon, and like all our wines, cherry. I happened to have an open 13 Franc and an open 14 Franc 'cuz...did I mention crush was long? The bread held the soup very well, keeping tandflavor without losing its own. And really, it would pair with pretty much all wine...well, maybe not an ice wine. But it was airy and the crust was nice and hard and I didn't even need a sourdough starter. Take that pinterest ladies. The mushroom soup though was so earthy and unassuming, the '14 almost swamped the total flavor (it's spice is why it's my favorite). The '13 in this case was perfect. It holds a lighter profile, but still stands up to the earthy tones of the soup and the airy notes of the bread.
I do happen to have an ice wine a friend brought me the last time they were in chi-town (pre-pandemic). I've been saving it for a special occasion...such as testing to ensure it does NOT pair well with this amazing bread. Oh - oops. Bill ate all the bread. It may be the only thing that woke us up that day. And they've only requested it every other day since. Here's attempt three: