Dafni HAS ARRIVED! We have now received all 28 cases for California. Procuring this almost extinct, intriguingly unique and distinctive, but lovely white wine from the island of Crete began about a year ago. Finally, from our table to yours, we can offer! PLEASE allow me explain.
When Covid-19 was gaining traction, and hospitality workers were in full lockdown with restaurant closures, the renown British wine writer and critic Jancis Robinson MW held a writing contest at her Purple Pages website, inviting anyone in the industry to submit their “best wine and food pairing”. The response was overwhelming and the “Hospo Pairings”, as the contest became known, had over 2100 entries worldwide.
Last June when the ten winners were announced (five from the USA, and five from elsewhere), I found all extremely worthy and interesting, but most of all the wine and food pairing from winner Elena-Diana Gheorghinete of Slovakia. Elena-Diana wrote about her discovery of the white varietal Dafni with a stuffed saddle of lamb while working in the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. That’s correct…..not a red wine, but a white wine with lamb!! Specifically, the Dafni produced from the Lyrarakis family on the island of Crete!! It turns out the Lyrarakis family propagated the surviving vines from near extinction when the winery planted its Psarades Vineyard in the early 1990s.
Here is the link to all ten winning entries, but please scroll down in particular to read Elena-Diana’s “out of the box” winner!
We contacted Bart Lyrarakis at the family’s winery to inquire whether their Dafni was imported to the United States, but in particular California. “Not at this time” was the answer. And now we were challenged to remedy this problem, especially after we successfully received an air express sample bottle of the 2019 Dafni Psarades from Bart. Can you guess what we paired with it? Renée’s famous herb crusted rack of lamb!
We were sold, but now we needed to find an importer here in California who wanted the added challenge of selling this delicious and versatile, but completely unknown wine during the pandemic.
Here now, a year later, last night we sampled a bottle of the current 2020 Dafni Pasardas!! Yes, now we have an importer who can receive in San Francisco, but the wine must be shipped from its point of entry on the east coast Our order is in the pipeline and arriving mid July!
More about the Dafni and specifically the Lyrarakis 2020 – farming and winemaking practices, data, and winery tasting notes, etc (click the pdf link above).
Dafni translates to laurel (bay leaf)…..and yes, the complex aromatics of this white wine run the “fresh herbal” gamut in all the best ways; bay leaf, mint, oregano, rosemary, lemon verbena, basil, etc. Then add a slightly brining minerality and citrusy component …. The 2020 rendition is a more full-bodied, slightly richer white than the 2019, but both wines have an underlying fresh, laser-like acidity that works wonders on fatty cuts of meat….not only lamb, but pork too! But don’t believe for a minute that one needs to be a carnivore to enjoy Dafni. Last night Renée’s large prawns poached in extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, preserved lemon, espelette and fresh oregano were a wonderful pairing with Dafni. The trick is to pair Dafni with the freshest of herbs in your cooking….
UPDATE! Another bottle with grilled lamb burgers with feta cheese blended with fresh oregano, preserved lemon, and piement d’ espelette.
Here is to a new delicious and refreshing wine experience!