Harvest is Here! Well…. Verjus harvest is anyway.
When our winemaker John Wilson walked our Chardonnay Vineyard in Carneros recently, he noticed that some small clusters needed to be dropped. Viticulturists do this in order to concentrate the vines’ energy to the clusters that will be the ones that are harvested for wine. While most folks discard these lil’ clusters, John had a great idea to harvest them so we can make verjus.
Verjus is the juice that is extracted from pressing unripened grapes. It’s highly acidic, a little sweet, tart, and even a bit sour. Perfect for the kitchen. It’s not fermented, and is non alcoholic so when used in cooking, it doesn’t combat the accompanying wine; it actually compliments it.
Verjus dates back to the middle ages when they used it a lot for cooking purposes, mostly for deglazing and finishing dishes. It lost its popularity worldwide however as time went on. This is because flavored vinegars have become more accessible and less labor intensive. Verjus is also significantly more expensive than citrus or vinegar substitutes.
I am excited to use it for sauces like beurre blanc, hollandaise, and whenever I need a jus.
I’ll deglaze the pan with the verjus and reduce it down to an accompanying sauce. I’m also going to make salad dressings and marinades out of it. I’m sure I’ll go through it pretty quickly, but it look like John is going to pick Zinfandel grapes any day now so I can get some red verjus in a couple of weeks!
Whether ripe or unripe, the more juice from Vine Cliff grapes the better! So come into our St. Helena Tasting Room soon and sample some of my sauces or dressings made with verjus. I have also added a recipe using verjus in our blog.
See y’all later!