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This weekend, Seattle chefs—including F&W Best New Chefs, like Tilth’s Maria Hines, Lark’s Jon Sundstrom and Sitka and Spruce’s Matt Dillon—will head to Smoke Farm for the second annual Burning Beast. Founded by chef Tamara Murphy of Brasa restaurant, Burning Beast is a huge cookout of (you’ll never guess) whole animals, including birds and fish. (For some great photos of last year’s Burning Beast, click here). The event is open to the lucky holders of the $75 tickets, which are, unfortunately, sold out.
If I lived in Seattle, I’d surely be heading out to the gluttonous feast with a tent and sleeping bag in tow. I’d also bring a few of the best wines I tasted at this year’s F&W’s Classic in Aspen. Many of the wines are admittedly out of my price range and hard to get, but this is a fantasy, after all. A few of my faves:
For the salmon Yes, 2006 is a ripe vintage for white Burgundies, but that fullness works with rich fish. The 2006 Bernard Moreau Chassagne Montrachet Les Grandes Ruchottes ($90; find this wine) has a delicious honeyed quality and a mouthwatering acidity. Plus, the little bit of spicy oak would be great with food cooked over open flame. A less expensive alternative: the long-finishing 2006 Manciat Macon-Charnay Vielles Vignes ($23, find this wine).
For the duck With its lightly floral nose, pretty berry fruit and wonderfully silky texture, the 2006 Flowers Pinot Noir Camp Meeting Ridge ($106; find this wine) from the Sonoma Coast is one of the best California Pinot Noirs I’ve ever tried. A less expensive alternative: the earthy 2007 Mary Elke Pinot Noir ($26; find this wine).
For the pork The 2004 Casanuova delle Cerbaie Brunello di Montalcino ($45, find this wine) has gripping tannins that would be great with the meat, as well as pretty red fruit and licorice notes that make it nice to drink now. Plus, for Brunello, this is a bargain. An even less expensive alternative: the cherry-inflected 2005 Mastrojanni Rosso di Montalcino ($20; find this wine).
For the lamb Greg Harrington, one of the country’s top sommeliers, left the restaurant world to start making wine in Washington in 2005. The 2006 Gramercy Cellars Lagniappe Columbia Valley Syrah ($38, find this wine) is a lighter-style Syrah that’s aged in neutral oak barrels to preserve its peppery, herby flavors. A bit of Viognier blended into the wine boosts the floral aromatics. A less expensive alternative: the smoky 2007 Copain Tous Ensemble Syrah ($20; find this wine)
For breakfast The cleansing bubbles of a grower Champagne would be the perfect refresher after the piles of beast consumed the night before. Try the bright, nutty Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru ($70, find this wine). A less expensive alternative: the creamy Paul Goerg Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($30; find this wine).