Cooking to the Wine: Dandelion Vineyards Shiraz and a Miso-Soy Strip Loin Feast

Dandelion Vineyards Shiraz and a Miso-Soy Strip Loin Feast. Recipe by Nicole Ruiz Hudson.Photo by Greg Hudson.

Summer = Grill. Grilled meat ♥’s Shiraz. Ergo,  Summer + Grill + Shiraz = ♥♥♥

We very made good use of the grill at the Culinary Cabin while we were recently up at Lake Tahoe. It only seemed appropriate to fire it up as much as possible given that it was Memorial Day weekend and we there celebrating the unofficial start of summer. Foreseeing our likely grill usage, I brought a bottle of Shiraz along to complete the equation and the results were 100% delicious.

Me, grilling in the dark. Shot by Drew and his drone.

I realize that a lot of people are still down on Aussie wines after the over-play of critter wines a while back. They boomed; then as tends to happen with fads, they became passé. However, thanks to Yellow Tail and others, their rep was linked to Australia’s and they kind of took the whole country down with them. It’s been over a decade now since that critter wine boom and it is time to take another look at Aus. There are many high-quality producers out making beautiful wines. There are those that have been there all along, like Penfolds and Henschke, but then there’s a whole new generation of small producers doing cool and interesting things.

Shiraz particularly got caught-up in the critter wine vortex, which is really too bad since it is such a happy friend of the grill. Just in case you happen to be unfamiliar, Shiraz is Syrah. They are the same grape, but the different spellings tend to be used as indicators of style. ‘Syrah’ is a nod to the Old World French style, particularly associated with the Northern Rhône. It’s typically a little lighter and leaner, relatively speaking, and will tend to have more floral and peppery notes. On the other hand, ‘Shiraz’ will be riper, rounder, and more fruit-forward.

Now, fruit-forward doesn’t have to mean that the wine is a big bowl of blackberry jam. It doesn’t have to be cloying. There is a way a to do this well. Enter today’s wine: Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart Of The Barossa Shiraz 2015. It’s delivers everything a Shiraz is supposed to. It’s got plenty of delicious, luscious fruit, but it’s lost some of the weight. It’s a big wine to be sure, but not knock-you-on-your-ass-after-two-glasses big.

Dandelion Vineyards
was started by Bulgarian-born Elena Brooks and her husband Zar. They grow their own grapes and also source old vine fruit from other family-owned vineyards in Barossa, McLaren Vale, and Eden Valley. The aim is to source fruit from exceptional sites to make minimal-intervention wines of terroir. Elena is the winemaker.

They named their winery after the dandelion because it’s one of the first things to sprout from the soil, but then it folds back into the earth to feed the vines.



The wine I chose to accompany our grilled meat was their Lionheart of Barossa Shiraz 2015. The grapes for this wine come from really old vines in the Barossa Valley, many of which are over a hundred years old. The Barossa Valley is perhaps Australia's most famous wine region. Located in South Australia, it has some Australia's oldest vineyards and it's known for producing big, bold wines, particularly Shiraz, from these low-yielding vines. Fun fact, this region has  never been affected by phylloxera.

Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart Of The Barossa Shiraz 2015. Photo by Nicole Ruiz Hudson

Greg, our friend Drew, and I opened up the bottle early in the day to plan our dinner’s flavor profile. The wine had notes of blackberry sauce, raspberries, and spiced plums. There were notes of vanilla, chocolate, and bacon fat, but nothing was overpowering. It was rich, but also had a juicy quality that kept it lively. Light notes of pepper, violets, and savory soy hung out in background. The tannins were ripe and smooth.

We definitely wanted meat with some smoky char with this wine. I also thought it would be nice to play up the umami undercurrent in the wine. We headed out shopping with thoughts of miso, bacon, soy sauce, and perhaps a little chili on our minds. We found a little flavor gold mine in the form of Market 28.

Market 28. Photo by Nicole Ruiz Hudson

Tahoe is beautiful, but shopping options are limited. There are a couple of solid supermarkets, but to be honest, it’s not the type of place I’d expect to find and an amazing specialty food store given that it’s a little remote. Leave it to Drew to find it. Market 28 is tiny, but it’s exactly the type of place that has a million and one delicious things to tempt me. It’s exactly the kind of place that it dangerous to my wallet. Here we found excellent quality steaks, as well as many seasonings. Kip, the proprietor, walked us through tastings of aged soy sauces. Boom. Exactly what we needed. We found a 4-year aged soy sauce with beautiful intensity and complex layered flavors we thoughts would be perfect for our streaks.

Soy sauce tasting at Market 28. Photo by Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Soy sauce tasting at Market 28.

I’d also been playing with thoughts of yuzu as a seasoning. Kip did us one better—yuzu kosho. It’s a Japanese condiment made from yuzu zest and juice, plus fresh chiles fermented with salt. We decided to use this combined with miso to flavor veggies we’d char on the grill as well. If you can’t find yuzu kosho, add chili to yuzu paste, or ponzu sauce, which often has yuzu in it. I gilded the lily a little bit by adding bacon and green onions as topping for the veggies as well.

Seasoning line up.
Ingredients in Yuzu Kosho, in case you'd like to try to replicate.

We prepared our strip loin steaks sous vide and then finished them on the grill to get that delicious char. You can definitely cook the steaks through more conventional methods on the grill or on you stove top, but we had a big group to feed and cooking sous vide takes all the guesswork out of the process. Greg and Drew also made crispy smashed potatoes with a mix of Asian seasonings to complete our meal. They served these with a savory aioli spiked with fish sauce. 

Sous Vide Miso-Soy Strip Loin Steak. Photo by Greg Hudson

We made quite the feast with for our friends and it all paired beautifully with the wine. The wine really brought out the char and the umami in the food, and vice versa. The wine also really worked with the lightly spicy notes from the yuzu kosho. Comments from the crowd included “mmmmmm” and all agreed that wine and the food were even better together. One of our friends added, “I can’t imagine the Aussies contemplated doing this with this wine, but it’s perfect!”



From the winery’s tech sheet:

In the first week of March whole bunches of Shiraz were hand harvested, then gently crushed and naturally fermented in open fermenters for eight days, hand plunged twice a day, before careful basket pressing into predominantly older French Oak Barriques to finish fermentation. After 18 months maturation and a racking in the same oak, we bottled our Lionheart vineyard without filtration or fining. Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart is ready to drink and will reward cellaring and decanting.

Composition: 100% Shiraz
Alcohol: 14.5%
pH: 3.57



I bought this at Bay Grape for $23, and you can currently find it on for the same. I think this is a tasty wine that delivers well for the price point. Definitely a Solid Value.



If you got some meat—burgers, ribs, steaks—grill it up and pair it. It should go.

The winery suggests that it is “Perfectly matched with all richly flavored foods, meats, stews, game or mature hard cheeses.”

It was a big group, so of course we had more than one bottle. The Paraduxx Napa Valley Red Blend 2014 also made a really good match. 

Sous Vide Miso-Soy Strip Loin Steak, Yuzu-Miso Cauliflower and Broccoli , and Asian Smashed Potatoes. Photo by Greg Hudson

Sous Vide Miso-Soy Strip Loin Steak

Serves 6 to 8 


4 Strip loin steaks (about 3.25 lbs)
2 Tbsp light sweet miso
4-6 Tbsp aged soy sauce
4 Tbsp butter
Additional melted butter or cooking oil for grilling


1. Fill a pot or other larger vessel with water and set circulator to desired temperature—128-129°F for medium rare. (See this useful guide for other options.)

2. Place the steaks in heavy-duty plastic bags, 2 per bag. Add 1 Tbsp of the sweet miso, 2 to 3 Tbsp of the soy sauce, a generous pinch of pepper to each bag and toss in the bag to combine well. Place 1 Tbsp butter in each bag. Seal the bag using a vacuum sealer or via the water displacement method if using a ziplock freezer bag.

Note: To use the water displacement method, zip up the majority of the bag leaving  just an inch or open at the end.  Lower the bag into the water—as you do so, the water on the outside of the bag will push out the remaining air in the bag. Once the bag is lowered the majority of the way into the water, zip up the remainder of the bag. 

3. Cook the steak in the water bath for one hour.

4. While the steak is cooking, preheat a grill to high heat. Once the steaks are cooked and pat dry with paper towels, then coat steaks lightly with additional melted butter or a little cooking oil. (Make sure to save the juices left in the bag.) Grease the the grill.  Finish the steaks by grilling for 1 to 2 minutes per side or just until nicely seared.

Note: Alternatively, you can finish the steaks in a hot cast iron pan if cooking indoors.

5. In a bowl combine 2 Tbsp melted butter with the cooking juices left in the bag and whisk to combine. Keep warm until ready to serve.

6.  Slice the steaks and serve with the cooking juices.

Sous Vide Miso-Soy Strip Loin Steak on the grill. Photo by Greg Hudson.

Yuzu-Miso Cauliflower and Broccoli

Make about 8 side servings 


4 small heads of broccoli, cut into large florets
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
6 slices of bacon (optional)
1 ½ sticks of butter
1 ½ yuzu kosho paste
2 Tbsp light sweet miso
¼ cup sliced green onions


1.  Preheat the grill to high heat.

2. Place the broccoli and cauliflower florets in a large microwave safe bowl with a couple of tablespoons of water. Cover with plastic or a couple of paper towels and microwave for about 10 minutes total, tossing half way through,  until the veggies are tender crisp.

3. While the veggies are in the microwave, cook up the bacon until crispy. Once cooked through, allow to cool slightly, then crumble up and set aside.

4. Gently melt the butter in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat. Once melted, whisk in the yuzu kosho and miso pastes until incorporated.

5. Toss the vegetables with the butter mixture and coat well. Keep any extra on the side.

6. Once the grill is heated, working in batches,  grill the florets until all well-seared on multiple sides. Transfer to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Note: You can accomplish similar results indoors as well by searing the vegetables in a pan or by throwing them under the broiler.

7. Top with any additional butter mixture, green onions, and bacon pieces. Serve.

Cauliflower and broccoli just off the grill.  Photo by Greg Hudson
Cauliflower and broccoli just off the grill. 

Asian Smashed-Potatoes

These potatoes are a riff on potatoes Greg makes often. You can find the original recipe here. This time he and Drew gave them a bit of Asian flare by replacing the usual toppings with garlic, shaved ginger, scallions, and a mixture of sesame oil, fish sauce, hint of soy, dash of mirin, a splash of honey. They served the potatoes with an aioli spiced with fish sauce.

Smashed potatoes just out of the fryer. Photo by Greg Hudson.
Smashed potatoes just out of the fryer.
Photo credit on all of the dinner shots to Greg Hudson.

A really quick aside. Since Elena Brooks is Dandelion’s winemaker, it gives me a nice little entry point to tell you about another woman-centered project I’ve been working on—Bâtonnage. Bâtonnage is a day-long forum to “stir up” the conversation about women in wine. It’ll be taking place in Napa on 7/28. 

We have an AMAZING group of presenters and wineries joining us! The line-up of featured panelists features women from all aspects of the wine trade, including Linda Bisson, professor emeritus UC Davis, Department of Viticulture and Enology; Shelley Lindgren, wine director & co-owner of A16, SPQR & A16 Rockridge Restaurants; Megan Glaab, winemaker at UPHOLD and Ryme; Alvetta Embry, sales representative & account manager; Debby Zygielbaum, farm & vineyard consultant; Debbie Zachareas, owner/partner of Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant and Oxbow Wine and Cheese Market; Tonya Pitts, sommelier & wine director at One Market; Deborah Parker Wong, DipWSET, journalist & presenter; Nadia Dmytriw, importer and founder of Floraison selections; Jill Matthiasson, winemaker at Matthiasson; Molly Madden, CEO & founder of RedHen Collective; Esther Mobley, wine writer for the SF Chronicle; Diana Snowden Seysses, winemaker at Ashes & Diamonds and Snowden Vineyards; R.H. Drexel, writer and founder of Loam Baby; and more.

The wineries joining the wine hour include: Martha Stoumen wines, Margins Wines, Donkey & Goat, Onward, Catena, Raft, Inconnu, Ryme, UPHOLD, Tessier, Matthiasson, and more.

Check out our website for more information. We will be continuing to update it with more information as the date approaches.  Also follow us on social media at @batonnage_forum on Instagram and Twitter, and @BatonnageForum on Facebook.


Now back to the land of Aus. Earlier this year I posted :

Cooking to the Wine: Clarendon Hills Grenache with Chicken Thighs with Spiced Saucy Eggplant and Tomatoes with Polenta. This Grenache had some age on it and was aging beautifully!

Also check out this 8 &20 paired with an Aussie Cab: Beef Pot Roast with Root Vegetables

And be sure to check out what the rest of the Wine Pairing Weekend Crew has been pairing with their Aussie Wines:



Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!