Packed with Flavor: 2011 Estate Pinot Noir Paired with Double-Smoked Sweet Umami Grilled Salmon
A general rule of thumb when pairing wine and food is to keep the two compatible. For example, white wines go well with lighter meats such as fish, chicken and turkey. Heavy reds go well with darker meats, such as beef and lamb. While there are always exceptions to the rules, you can often find a heavenly match when adhering to these like-minded combinations. How about a lighter-styled red though, such as Pinot Noir?
In the vineyards, Pinot is a tricky grape to grow because it is thin-skinned and delicate; when pairing Pinot Noir with food, however, it is ever the versatile choice. Pinot Noir can be paired with a wide range of dishes, meats and fish—and it just so happens to go particularly well with salmon. Because Pinot Noir is both delicate and complex, salmon is an excellent companion because of its supple texture, rich flavor and fattiness. Pinot Noir and salmon share the same duality of being both light and rich at the time same, and when you bring together these two with a delicious marinade as the bridge, you just can’t go wrong.
At Judd’s Hill Winery, they have developed a simple salmon recipe that brings a ton of flavor and depth to the plate. Likewise, their 2011 Estate Pinot Noir from Napa Valley also brings a lot of pleasurable flavors and length on the palate. The wine’s natural beauty really shines through by way of its aging in neutral oak barrels; without new oak influencing the flavor, the fresh fruit flavors and terroir of the vineyard grace the palate in plain view. Pair these two for a perfect evening!
The Double-Smoked Sweet Umami Grilled Salmon, grilled with a cedar smoking plank and wood smoking chips, is a scrumptious match for Judd’s Hill Winery’s 2011 Estate Pinot Noir. It has lovely red fruit aromatics, followed by a combination of cherry, raspberry and a touch of pomegranate on the palate. These notes lend themselves well to the sweet and savory salmon marinade of honey, mustard, soy sauce and fresh ginger. While the honey brings a touch of sweetness to the pairing, the mustard and soy sauce contrast the wine’s fruit and provide extra complexity. The fresh ginger makes the entire palate feel refreshed, cleansing the taste buds with each and every flavorful bite.
This tasty recipe, as well as other delicious recipes, can be found on the Judd’s Hill Winery website!
Double-Smoked Sweet Umami Grilled Salmon
Soak cedar smoking plank(s) and wood chips for a minimum of four hours, preferably six to eight hours or even overnight. Be sure to weigh down the wood planks so they are fully submerged during soaking.
Preheat grill to 500 with wood chips (in smoke box) placed on top of burners along the side of the grill. Prepare marinade as grill heats.
Warm honey in microwave for 20 seconds at half power to soften. Mix mustard into the honey first and then mix in ginger and soy sauce. Place salmon filets onto water-soaked cedar planks and brush marinade on salmon filets. Sprinkle ¼ cup of diced red onions over salmon. Place planks with salmon on grill. Make sure to avoid placing the planks directly over the box of wood chips, in case the box flares up with a fire. Grill the salmon for 12 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. Twelve minutes goes by fast! We like to serve the salmon on a bed of balsamic drizzled arugula alongside new potatoes and a little mac-n-cheese.
(Recipe by Devin Joshua, Judd’s Hill Winery; Photo provided by Judd's Hill Winery)
*Originally published in Wine Country This Week.
It’s winter—the weather is cold, in California the rain is finally falling (!) and we’ve all begun reaching for those hearty red wines. Or have we?
This week, I opted for Chardonnay. I know what you are thinking… Chardonnay is a white wine, it’s refreshing and possibly more suited to the summer months than winter. I beg to differ. At Rodney Strong Vineyards, Chef Tara Wachtel has composed a rich, delicious Butternut Squash Soup with Browned Butter that is absolutely delicious with Rodney Strong Vineyards’ 2013 Chalk Hill Chardonnay. The soup itself is ideally suited for the cold winter months and the wine, with its rich texture and medium body, is an excellent match—warming the soul and proving that Chardonnay can be an excellent companion during the cold winter months.
2013 Chalk Hill Chardonnay
Rodney Strong Vineyards’ 2013 Chalk Hill Chardonnay is a seriously balanced Chardonnay. It finds the right mix between crisp acidity and textured mouthfeel, while not possessing the buttery flavors so common in richly-textured Chardonnay. Why is this? Winemakers Rick Saye and Justin Seidenfield have crafted a Chardonnay that is barrel fermented in a mix of new and seasoned French oak, as well as a small amount of stainless steel. This combination tones down typical “buttery” Chardonnay flavors, which are commonly a result of a lot of new oak, as well as when significant percentages of the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation. In this wine’s case, 11 months of aging in this trio of vessels, in additional to regular battonage (stirring of the lees), gives the wine a creamy mouthfeel with ample body and viscous texture; although, the fruit and gentle acid help to balance that richness, making for an excellently balanced wine.
When enjoying this wine (or any white wine for that matter!), be sure to let it warm in the glass once you’ve taken it out of the refrigerator. All too often, wine lovers are enjoying their whites at too cold of temperatures to really appreciate the beautiful aromatics and subtle nuances of that exude at the appropriate temperature. At just around cellar temperature (~55° F), the aromatics unfold from the glass in a blossom of lemon zest, orange oil, pear, crushed seashells, wet stones and gentle whiffs of baking spices—clove and nutmeg. The palate reveals medium weight and thick texture, followed by gentle acidity and just the right amount of crispness to even it all out. Notes of preserved lemons, lime zest and a touch of ripe pineapple in the background mingle with yellow apple and faint hints of nutmeg.
Butternut Squash Soup with Browned Butter
With the soup, the wine becomes even more alive in the glass. The browned butter, which brings a lot of depth and richness to the soup, adds the same characteristics to the wine; the browned butter brings body, extra flavor and more length to the texture of the wine. Of course, the crème fraîche provides added creaminess to the wine, and the touch of tang it has gives extra oomph to the wine’s acidity and fruit flavors. The rich, nutty flavor of the butternut squash itself is pleasantly matched to the wine, bringing out those gentle, toasted barrel notes and enhancing the fruit so that the wine’s complexity reaches every corner of your taste buds. It is a pairing that warms the soul.
So, the next time you reach for a hearty red this season, think outside the box. You might just go for a white, if you’ve got the time to whip up a rich, winter soup like this to pair it with!
If you’d like to recreate this Rodney Strong Vineyards pairing, you are in luck. Winery Chef Tara Wachtel has shared it on the Rodney Strong Vineyards website. Enjoy this Butternut Squash Soup with Browned Butter with their balanced 2013 Chalk Hill Chardonnay—great for a cold, rainy night or even the first course for a holiday dinner!
*Originally published on Feast it Forward.
I recently had a craving for some roasted chicken, and not wanting to miss the opportunity for an exquisite pairing, I decided to pop open a bottle of none other than Franciscan Estate Winery’s luscious 2013 Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay. This incredible wine was a match made in heaven for the roasted chicken dish I prepared from Ina Garten’s recipe collection on Food Network.
On the nose, Franciscan Estate’s 2013 Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay boasts creamy aromatics out of our Feast it Forward Stolzle glass; truly proving the glassware mission statement, “The Glass Does Make A Difference”. Aromas of crème brulée, vanilla bean and pear intoxicate the senses. On the palate, that impressive weight in the aromas is translated to the body of the wine; it is creamy, silky and round with a myriad of flavors. You’ll love the way this wine tastes out of the elegant Stolzle glass, full of soft fruit notes of pear, pineapple and green apple—mingling with notes of caramel, vanilla and lemon meringue pie. After sitting in the glass a while, the wine opens up to further notes of more tart green apple and hazelnuts.
Pair this delicious, decadent Chardonnay with this Perfect Roast Chicken recipe from Ina Garten (one of my personal favorite chefs for fabulous online recipes!), and you’ve got yourself a fantastic dinner—a great option for when you have a couple of hours on a weekend night to prepare something truly delicious.
I highly recommend using the giblets that come with the chicken to make a homemade batch of gravy for this meal. The gravy really brings the entire pairing together, creating that creamy bridge between the luscious wine and the moist chicken. This Proper Giblet Gravy recipe is fantastic and will surely win over your family and friends as they sit down to enjoy this delicious dinner.
You will just love how the texture of the Franciscan Estate 2013 Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay perfectly matches the succulent chicken and creamy gravy; the depth and richness of the gravy is so well-suited to the rich flavors and oak-influence of the wine. The fruit flavors in the wine also pleasantly provide a bit of contrast to the roasted, earthy flavors of the chicken and vegetables—making this pairing very well rounded and enjoyable on many levels.
I recommend slicing the roasted chicken and serving with the vegetables atop a bed of rice, then pouring that yummy, homemade gravy over the entire plate. Enjoy!
*Originally published on Feast it Forward.