Last Friday afternoon to kickoff the Labor Day weekend we stopped by our new favorite winery, Otium Cellars in Purcellville, hoping to catch the sunset, listen to a little live music and enjoy a glass of our favorite Malbec.
For those of you who visit or perhaps like to frequent Virginia wine country, this is a vineyard you will not want to miss. Otium Cellars at Goose Creek Farm is nestled in the bucolic countryside of western Loudoun County just outside the Town of Purcellville. The vineyard was planted in 2007 with vines heralding from German soil and Otium opened their doors for business this past April, 2012. On our very first visit to Otium, we experienced the premium wine tasting for $10, $5 more than their standard wine tasting and worth every penny for the experience! We are not white wine aficionados, we can however appreciate a good white wine. Our favorite white, the 2010 Chardonnay is delightful and one we could enjoy on a hot summer day. The Chardonnay is buttery with notes of vanilla and caramel, truly better than most California Chardonnay we have ever tasted. Well, that’s enough of the whites let’s move on to Otium’s reds. Lets face it, we are not wine critics we are however, consumers of copious amounts of red wine and Otium produces several great ones. Otium offers a 2009 Reserve, a 2009 and 2010 Dornfelder…all are good, but the 2009 Reserve was the best. Alas, the Reserve is no more, so by default we now we prefer the 2009 with its wonderful velvety texture, and plum, blackberry and cherry notes. The 2009 Reserve was a truly special wine, all the flavors of the 2009 but loaded with mocha and toasty oak. In a word…Spectacular! The Cabernet, another favorite, is an elegant wine with rich berry flavors and dense, ripe fruit aromas. That leaves our hands down favorite, the 2010 Malbec, a full-bodied wine full of ripe berries, spice and chocolate. Always good, never disappoints…we should have purchased a case! The wines are fantastic as are the views from the tasting room and the surrounding grounds. The tasting room is, on it own, a sight to see. With the built-in wood stove, tall tasting-bar and tables topped with thick slabs of reclaimed barn wood it feels like a ski lodge and it would actually be a great place to pass a snowy afternoon. Goose Creek Farm not only boasts Otium Cellars it is also home to an amazing herd of fine German Hanoverians. These gorgeous warm-bloods, all of noble lineage, grace the stables, the indoor arena and the paddocks with their strength and beauty.
Ah, but, we digress… now back to the start of our weekend…
where were we, oh yea, blah, blah, blah…glass of our favorite Malbec. Unfortunately, the 2010 Malbec was no more and the 2011 was just bottled and will not be ready for several months so we had to settle for an equally wonderful glass of 2009 Dornfelder. As the sun set and music filled the evening, our host and cellar manager, Max Bauer stopped by our table with a surprise treat. He presented us with a glass, half-filled with a chilled and cloudy beverage he proudly called “Federweisser”. Max explained that a Federweisser is grape must (Pinot Gris in this case), which is in the process of fermenting. Federweisser is only available at the early stage of fermentation. Ideally, it should have around 4% or 5% alcohol or perhaps a bit more. Due to the carbonic acid, Federweisser tastes quite refreshing, not very different from grape lemonade or a sweet sparkling wine. Over time, as it continues to ferment, the sweetness goes away. The fermentation process continues until an alcohol content of about 13 percent has been reached and then the wine can be finished. The yeast particles contained in Federweisser are responsible for its name, which literally means “white as a feather”. In Germany, Federweisser is available from early September to late October, and is generally served together with hearty, savory food. The classic combination is Federweisser and Zwiebelkuchen (traditional German onion tart or cake).
Max’s description of the “traditional German onion cake” gave us an idea…the time had come for a rustic German harvest feast and we were just the couple to prepare it. Max and his dad, Otium Cellars owner Gerhard Bauer, have been quite generous to us, treating us almost like family. In fact every time we have visited the winery Easton and Scarlett have helped/accompanied Gerhard as he walked his beautiful stable of Hanoverians from the barn to their paddocks for the evening, so we figured this would be the perfect thank you. Well, we pitched the idea to Max and he gave an enthusiastic two-thumbs up and said, “How about Sunday after closing?”. With the day and time set all we had to do was figure out how to make Zwiebelkuchen! Hello, Google!
Traditional Zwiebelkuchen has a thick doughy crust topped with onions, bacon and an egg custard, then baked. The recipe we found received a 5 star review but, as is our wont, we plied a little adaptive twist on tradition. Out went the heavy thick dough, instead we readied the onion and bacon mixture in the traditional method (I added a lot more bacon!), reduced the volume of the egg custard to just a drizzle and we set them on a cracker thin pizza crust and cooked it quickly on our pizza stone at 500° Farenheit. All in attendance agreed that the results were delicious however, the real question was, “Would the taste ring true to Gerhard?”. Well it must have worked because he said that the topping was perfectly German and that he even enjoyed the lighter more crisp crust.
As an add-on to the feast we brought enough dough and toppings to make Guy Fieri’s “Baked Potato Pizza”. WOW, this is one unbelievably tasty combination. Paper thin potato and onion, crisp bacon, minced garlic and sharp white cheddar cheese arranged on the crust…just enough to get the flavor of each ingredient. Bake on a pizza stone in a 500° F oven until browned and crisp. Top with a smear of sour cream and fresh diced Roma tomatoes and serve with a glass of Dornfelder. Epic.
Bottom line though, the pairing of the thinner lighter Zwiebelkuchen Pizza with clean crisp taste of the Federweisser was quite simply and absolutely memorable. Now, we can’t wait until next September.
P.S. Stephanie apologizes for the blurry and grainy pictures. That’s what happens when one drinks the refreshing Federweisser like lemonade but hey, she could still bake up a tasty Zweibelkuchen Pizza!