After being trapped for 1.5 days in the Parzen family web of food, wine, music, and fun, Alfonso was in fine form.

This girl may have grown up in East Texas, but, man, she was born to cook up some mighty fine Jew food!

First things first…

Tracie P’s latkes are amazing… paired SO GOOD with the salty flavors of the newly arrived 2009 Santorini by Sigalas.

Not every Texas brisket is destined to be smoked. Tracie P truly outdid herself last night… served with kasha and lentils…

and fried parsnips… (Jeremy Parsnip?)

And adding a classic dish for Hanukkah from Israel, Tracie P made jelly-filled doughnuts! YES, JELLY-FILLED DOUGHNUTS! Paired with Domaine Cady 2007 Chaume. (Traditionally, fried foods are served during Hanukkah to celebrate the miracle of the oil that lasted 8 days… jives well with Texas cooking!)

Château Pajzos Esszencia 1993 was friggin’ BRILLIANT, our wedding gift from Comrade Howard.

From the Château Pajzos website:

    On top vintages, Chateau Pajzos produces the mythical Esszencia.

    This absolute rarity, gained from the free-run juice of the aszú grapes, is a unique nectar with a honey-like concentration.

    Only 1 liter is produced by 3 tons of aszú berries which represents the production of 10 ha. This wine is the rarest in the world a bottle of 10 cl is the results of one whole hectare.

This wine was one of the most intriguing wines we drank in 2010, with incredible petrol notes on the nose and nutty, earthy tones on the palate, and one of the most captivating finishes I’ve ever experienced in a wine. Incredible… Thank you, again, Comrade Howard, for this amazing gift, shared with people we love…

Happy Hanukkah ya’ll!

Two favorite white wines for summer (and the ultimate sushi wine?)

Above: Tracie P and I have been enjoying a lot of my number-two white wine of the summer of 2010, the Clos Roche Blanche 2008 Sauvignon Blanche No. 2 (does anyone know why it’s called “numéro 2”?).

Chez Parzen, we’ve been enjoying a lot of great wine this summer but two white wines have really stood out. And when I say “favorite white wines for summer,” I mean wines that we keep coming back to over and over again.

Alice first turned me on to the wines of Clos Roche Blanche five years ago in NYC and I was immediately hooked on Cot.

BrooklynGuy is also a fan of the Sauvignon Blanc: check out this tough-love post he did last year around this time.

Here in Texas, we’re still drinking the 2008 and it’s showing great, so fresh, such pure white fruit (pear and apple) in it, great acidity, low alcohol, and under $20 at The Austin Wine Merchant. Summer time means a lot of salad and canned tuna in olive oil, pasta al pomodoro, and fresh cheeses. I just love drinking this wine, as we did last night, with tomato sauce.

Just looking at the color, above, makes me wanna slurp it up!

Above: The 2008 Santorini from Boutari, made from 100% Assyrtiko grapes, has a slightly oxidative thing going on. I think the gods made this wine just for me and Tracie P.

Anyone who’s been following Do Bianchi this year knows that I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the wines of Santorini. (Check out the thread here.)

I was hired this year to create content for the Boutari Social Media Project and one of the best things about the gig is how much great wine I’ve got to try for the first time: I’ve been loving Santorini by Sigalas and Gaia (both available in this country but not yet in Texas, although Sigalas is coming). But the wine Tracie P and I keep coming back to over and over again is the Boutari 2008 Santorini (also available for under $20 at The Austin Wine Merchant).

Tracie P put it best when she said it’s so mineral that “it’s like drinking seawater.” It’s salty and has a rich mouthfeel, a grainy texture that I can’t get enough of, the alcohol is well balanced in the wine, and it has that slightly oxidative note that we dig (and might even have aphrodisiacal properties where familiar matters are concerned).

Boutari’s Santorini and Santorini in general may very well be the perfect sushi wine. Remember when Aldo paired Gaia Santorini Thalassitis with raw sea urchin for me at Le Bernardin?

Santorini is such a fascinating appellation: drastically difficult grape-growing conditions, all pre-phylloxera rootstock (because the little bugs can’t jump from one Santorini’s tiny grains of volcanic sand to another), vines 80-100 years old, the whole connection to Venice and Venetian merchants in the Renaissance. Santorini, when it’s good, is just one of those wines that thrills and surprises me, stimulates my intellect, and transports me to another place.

Isn’t that what great wines are all about?

I hope everyone’s having a great summer with something great in your glass! Thanks for reading…