Sips: Post-hurricane, the power returns and the corks pop

Hurricane Irene, as everyone knows, inflicted only a glancing blow on New York City, but in the suburbs and beyond it was a much different story. The day after, we spent most of the day cleaning up around our house in eastern Long Island, and now it was time for some (hopefully) good wines.

Irene knocked out power to our entire town, along with about half a millionsanti other homes and businesses throughout the island. There was no damage to our place but lots of branches and leaves blanketed the property. Down the street some big trees were down, one crashing on a main power line, closing the road, another a huge weeping willow blown over, narrowly missing the historic home next to it. Fortunately for us our neighbors have a   big emergency generator and they were nice enough to let us run an extension line from their house to ours. Candlelight is fine for a night, but the adventure quickly gives way to frustration.

With the lights on we were able to start preparing a decent meal and went with a simple favorite – penne tossed with crisply sautéed Italian sausage and broccoli rabe. As we cooked we started off with what turned out to be just the right aperitif wine – a light and lively Italian rose, Santi’s 2010 Infinito, a Bardolino  from the Veneto region. Salmon colored, the blend is 65 percent corvina, 30 percent rondinella and five percent molinara. It was an instant hit with its cherry and strawberry flavors accented by some herbal notes and a touch of lime rind. Fruity and refreshing, it was great for casual drinking with alcohol at just 11.5 percent. The suggested retail price is $11. (Imported by Frederick Wildman and Sons, New York.)

With dinner I wanted a serious red, and with the weather now  cool and clear after the storm, it was the perfect sbragianight to try something I’d been avoiding in the heat of summer -– a big California  red. I went with Sbragia Family Vineyards’ 2007 Rancho Del Oso Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley’s Howell Mountain District. This exquisite, concentrated yet precisely balanced wine is showing very well right now and, with ample acidity, belies its relatively high alcohol level of 14.8 percent. No California clunker here. The blend is 95 percent cabernet sauvignon and five percent cabernet franc. With a classic blackberry core and notes of graphite and truffles, this is a California cab I could drink every day. It was perfect with our sausage and broccoli rabe dish and will match nicely with all kinds of meats and risotto with mushrooms. It’s listed on Sbragia’s website at $75. (Wines received as press samples.)

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