A TRULY SPECTACULAR DINNER - Rabbit Risotto
Once in a great while you have a truly great dinner that merits talking about. Usually it takes place in a Michelin starred restaurant or someplace similar. Well we had one of those last week and it was not at the French Laundry. It was, in fact, at the home of friends, Ralph (or Cellar Master) and Lindsay Bashioum who, incidentally, are both great cooks. The highlight of the evening was an Organic Rabbit Risotto, seasoned with herbs de Provence, rosemary, salt and pepper, carrots and fennel bulbs with copious quantities of Parmesan cheese melted in. The idea and the recipe was created by Lindsay. The Rabbit Risotto was served with a 1997 Piero Antinori Tiganello which is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc, aged in French oak barrels for 12 months and filtered without filtering.
We are going to be putting the recipe on our website, but if anyone wants it, send me an e-mail and I will make sure that you get it, compliments of Lindsay.
THE EUROPEAN GRAPE VINE MOTH. A huge and important battle in the Napa Valley
The European Grapevine Moth (EGVM) was first reported in the United States and in Napa County vineyards in October 2009. Native to Southern Italy, it was first described from Austria and is now found throughout Europe. Feeding by larvae of European grapevine moth results in contamination of grape bunches with webbing, frass, and fungal infections. Grapevine moth larvae hollow out berries, leaving behind just the skin and seeds. And, they can destroy an entire vineyard in one generation, as happened to a few vineyards around Oakville, in the Napa Valley in 2009.
In May and June, first-generation larvae web and feed on the flower clusters. Second-generation larvae (July-August) feed on green berries. Young larvae penetrate the berry and hollow them out, leaving the skin and seeds. Third-generation larvae (August-September) cause the greatest damage by webbing and feeding inside berries and within bunches, which become contaminated with frass. Additionally, feeding damage to berries after veraison exposes them to infection by Botrytis and other secondary fungi Secondary pests such as raisin moth (Cadra figulilella), fruit flies, and ants may also be attracted to damaged berries.
We are battling the EGVM with an interesting combination of approaches. We just completed placing mating disruptors in the vineyard. We place 200 of these ties per acre. One on every 5th vine. They are small ties which are contain sex pheromones which attract males. The males are then confused about where and who to mate with and the mating is disrupted resulting in far less moths. As the season progresses we spray the vineyard every two to three weeks with an insecticide that the aimed specifically at the EGVM; an insecticide that is not harmful to the grapes or ultimately the wine.
We are Winning.
Due to the efforts of the Napa Valley Vintners and growers in 2010, trapping finds of the EGVM were dramatically reduced from more than 100,000 in the first generation to only 275 moths during the third generation. The entire Napa Valley was under quarantine last season and because we ship grapes out of state we had to have a special inspection. Fortunately we had no moths and we could then ship. But, we continue to be vigilant and to fight the little critters.