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John David Finley: 'Stay at home' pairing for troublesome times
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John David Finley: 'Stay at home' pairing for troublesome times

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Here’s a nice “stay at home” recipe and wine pairing for these troublesome times.

Try this Guy Fieri inspired soup-like dish with a fine local Sauvignon Blanc.

Halibut Veracruz

3Tbl olive oil

1c thinly sliced yellow onion

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2c diced tomato

1 medium jalapeno, diced

1c dry white wine

2Tbl butter or margarine

4 (8oz) halibut fillets

1tsp salt

1/2c Spanish olives, cut into thin rounds, plus 2Tbl olive juice from bottle

2 medium avocados, peeled and sliced

2Tbl fresh lime juice

2Tbl freshly chopped cilantro leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.

Add onion and garlic, and cook until lightly colored, about 3 minutes.

Add tomato, jalapeno and white wine. Cook until wine is reduced by 2/3, about 5 to 7 minutes.

While sauce is reducing, heat butter or margarine in a separate skillet over medium heat.

Season fish with kosher salt.

When butter is melted, add halibut to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, flip over and then transfer pan to preheated oven and bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Remove sauce from heat when reduced and stir in olives and olive juice.

To serve, divide sauce equally among 4 dinner plates.

Place halibut (first caramelized side up) in the center of each plate on top of the sauce.

Place avocado slices on top of fish, sprinkle with lime juice and cilantro, as garnish.

Pair this dish with Dragonette Cellars’ 2018 Happy Canyon Sauvignon Blanc. By now, most of us have heard about Happy Canyon’s unique soils and climate which are ideally suited for producing exquisite Sauvignon Blanc. Dragonette has been sourcing fruit here for over a decade now and has gained a solid reputation for crafting wines of distinction from these grapes.

2018 was a surprisingly cool vintage, coming after a series of very warm, early harvest years. Late budbreak and a cool summer led to a long season that extended into late September. Yields were healthy further extending the season. Late August and September were quite cool, with moderate daytime highs, lots of clouds and cold nights. The grapes, generally, moved very slowly toward full ripeness, with harvest being spread throughout September.

The wine is a blend of grapes from three top vineyard sources: Grassini (60%), Vogelzang (34%) and Grimm’s Bluff (6%), with a total of 9 separate and distinct blocks represented in the final blend. The site diversity provides complexity to the wine which was fermented and aged for 7 months in oak barrels (73%) and stainless steel (27%). The wine admirably succeeds the 90-92 point wines from past several vintages, with perhaps an little extra energy and freshness, but no less flavor. Rated 92 points by Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media. Enjoy!

John David Finley is a free-lance writer and author of the cookbook, Sacred Meals from our Family Table, which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at jdfinley@outlook.com

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