Unparalleled Experience: Domaine Serene hosts culinary series

Unparalleled Experience: Domaine Serene hosts culinary series

Descending the grand limestone staircase, the first glimpse of the cool cave comes into view. Tucked inside, a table is set with elegant wine glasses specifically chosen for the varietals to be poured. Each guest is seated before a menu, divulging the script for a two-hour, immersive food and wine pairing, comparing and contrasting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay crafted in both the Willamette Valley and Burgundy...

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Experience-based excursion will highlight foraging the Oregon coast

Experience-based excursion will highlight foraging the Oregon coast

Over the years, the ocean side Stephanie Inn, located in Cannon Beach, Oregon, has gained a reputation for anticipating the needs of its guests and providing luxurious getaways.

In 2017, Stephanie Inn upped its game with Sojourns, a series of experience-based excursions led by Chef Aaron Bedard...

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Street food cuisine headlines Counter Culture at Anne Amie

Street food cuisine headlines Counter Culture at Anne Amie

Celebrating its 31st year, IPNC (International Pinot Noir Celebration) is a three-day extravaganza of all things pinot but it's also become a great excuse to throw pre-IPNC winemaker's dinners and uniquely Oregon gatherings. 

One such opportunity is Counter Culture at Anne Amie Vineyards. A few tickets are still available for this evening affair that runs from...

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A Champagne divot stomp? It’s Polo for a Purpose Oregon style

A Champagne divot stomp? It’s Polo for a Purpose Oregon style

Earlier this month touted Portland area restaurants had the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and pair small bites with Willamette Valley and Portland urban wineries at the annual Corks + Forks Tasting Event. Next up, Oregon Polo Classic...

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Long Shadows Vintners offers diverse porfolio

Long Shadows Vintners offers diverse porfolio

Washington’s east side is a veritable field of dreams for winemakers. From 500-case production to mid-sized wineries to groups of winemakers collaborating under one umbrella, at the end of the day what they all have in common is a genuine excitement for the possibilities throughout a region broadly defined as the Columbia Valley...

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Monthly pop-up promotes boutique wine label

Monthly pop-up promotes boutique wine label

Woven Wineworks—a locally owned, family vineyard—is proud to announce that a new pop-up series will launch Friday, May 19, during Oregon Wine Month. The multi-sensory driven “Woven Wine Bar” will open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every third Friday of the month May through August. Each of the four events will focus on different sensory themes relating to wine:

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Dessert and Wine Pairings Portland Style

Dessert and Wine Pairings Portland Style

There are many differences between European and American culture not the least of which is the dessert course. In America, that leans more towards a cup of coffee and a slice of pie. Conversely, dessert in Europe is seen simply as another wine pairing opportunity...

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Thankful for food-friendly wines this holiday season

Thankful for food-friendly wines this holiday season

A table overflowing with traditional dishes and family favorites is the vision dancing in our heads for the Thanksgiving meal. Pairing wine with the many flavors and textures can be a challenge. The trick is to not overthink it and consider a couple different bottles that can carry from hors d’oeuvres and lighter fixings to heavier main course fare.

Recently I’ve acquired a few exciting choices that I’m looking forward to adding to the bounty of my family’s table.

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Ransom Wines brings a taste of the Iberian Peninsula to McMinnville

Ransom Wine & Spirits has made a name for itself as of late with its selection of vermouths and spirits in large part due to the craft cocktail craze.

Winemaker, Tad Seestedt, is at it again. At a pre-IPNC (International Pinot Noir Celebration) dinner hosted earlier this month at his home in the Eola Hills, he paired his Iberian grape varietals alongside a Spanish and Portuguese-inspired menu prepared by Bon Appétit-acclaimed chef, John Taboada.

Unable to attend due to a prior commitment, I missed out on his newest releases, Tempranillo and Tinta Cão, but was able to review his 2012 Grenache and 2015 Albariño.

The Rogue Valley has established itself as a solid location for the heat-loving Grenache (aka Garnacha). Viki Eierdam
The Rogue Valley has established itself as a solid location for the heat-loving Grenache (aka Garnacha). Viki Eierdam

Seestedt’s philosophy of minimal intervention means he’s relying heavily on the quality of his grapes and vineyards he sources from. In the case of the 2012 Grenache (known widely in Spain as Garnacha), the Rogue Valley has established itself as a solid location for this heat-loving grape. With a warmer growing year in 2012 than 2011, this newest vintage is coming in a little stronger at 14.6 percent alcohol but the denser fruit notes and tobacco keep it balanced. This probably paired seamlessly with the Beef Strip Loin alongside Green Beans, Cherry Tomatoes and a Basil and Arugula Watermelon Salad with Ricotta Salata.

Having ventured to Spain and Portugal in 2014, I was most excited to try his 2015 Albariño. This is one of those whites where the fresher, the better and Seestedt’s representation did not disappoint. Albariño is traditionally grown in the Rías Baixas region in Galicia. It should have a crisp, refreshing acidity to pair with regional cuisine such as the Octopus with Potatoes and Spanish Paprika or Eggs with Salt Cod and Red Peppers served by Taboada or the Boquerones with Peppers and Olives appetizer. A type of anchovy served commonly in tapas bars all over Spain, boquerones are not the offensive fishy fish that Americans distain. You’ll just have to trust me on that.

Albariño has a crisp, refreshing acidity to pair with regional Spanish cuisine such as Octopus with Potatoes and Spanish Paprika or Eggs with Salt Cod and Red Peppers. Viki Eierdam
Albariño has a crisp, refreshing acidity to pair with regional Spanish cuisine such as Octopus with Potatoes and Spanish Paprika or Eggs with Salt Cod and Red Peppers. Viki Eierdam

Unable to speak with knowledge on the Portuguese Tinta Cão or Spanish Tempranillo, I can only assume from other wines and his vermouth, that Seestedt is taking the same great care at delivering varietally-expressive styles of each of these offerings as the rest of his impressive lineup.

To taste through the current release of Ransom Wines and Vermouths, visit their downtown McMinnville tasting room Thursday through Sunday. To experience their Spirits, call ahead to see what’s open.

 

Wines of Alsace come to Portland

Summer’s bounty is an ideal way to pair crisp wines with the freshest garden ingredients and delight in how their marriage complements one another. Take advantage of centuries of wine making experience and look to Alsace for food-friendly offerings.

Weinbach’s Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Mambourg Vendanges Tardives 2013 ($76) is available in finer wine shops and a special treat with cheese plates. Viki Eierdam
Weinbach’s Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Mambourg Vendanges Tardives 2013 ($76) is available in finer wine shops and a special treat with cheese plates. Viki Eierdam

At a recent Wines of Alsace media dinner, I enjoyed culinary delicacies courtesy of Taylor Railworks paired with whites that ranged from floral to mineraly and light-bodied to a fuller mouth feel. Each wine imparted unique nuances to its respective dish and perfectly showcased the fun of food and wine pairings.

All six of the selections enjoyed are locally distributed so if you’re unable to find one at your neighborhood wine shop, ask that it be special-ordered.

A Schlumberger Riesling Grand Cru Saering 2011 ($31) set off the oil and creaminess of the Black Rockfish. Viki Eierdam
A Schlumberger Riesling Grand Cru Saering 2011 ($31) set off the oil and creaminess of the Black Rockfish. Viki Eierdam

Those in attendance were treated to insight from our esteemed host, Thierry Fritsch. Fritsch is head oenologist and chief wine educator for Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA). He travels the globe sharing the versatility of Alsatian wines and does so in an unpretentious, approachable way. Along with his love for gastronomy, Fritsch’s presence at the table was quite fortuitous.

The typical European cheese plate was a trifecta opportunity to showcase the versatility of Alsatian wines. Viki Eierdam
The typical European cheese plate was a trifecta opportunity to showcase the versatility of Alsatian wines. Viki Eierdam

The evening began with Domaine Dirler-Cadé Brut Nature 2012; a racy little Crêmant due to its absence of malolactic fermentation which is common in most sparkling wines. Fritsch pointed out that the food culture in northeastern France (where Alsace is located) is based largely on smoked and salty meats. This wine is a pure expression of an ideal charcuterie pairing at a pocket-friendly $22.

A salad of green beans, peppercorn dressing, pickled cherries and pistachios showcased what the Northwest does well. Between the two wines poured—Schoenheitz’s Pinot Blanc “Val Saint Gregoire” 2013 and Hugel Riesling 2013—the winner appeared to be the Blanc. Fritsch calls pinot blanc the chameleon of wine because “no matter what you eat, the pinot blanc will be perfect.” Austere with a deep, clean nose and dry finish, the $16 price point was a table wow that drank twice its retail value. Salmon and trout, found abundantly in the rivers of the Alsatian region, are common pairings.

Fennel Pollen Caramel Corn, Blackberry Pavlova and Peanut Butter Melt-Aways continued to provide education in Alsatian wine pairings til the sweet end. Viki Eierdam
Fennel Pollen Caramel Corn, Blackberry Pavlova and Peanut Butter Melt-Aways continued to provide education in Alsatian wine pairings til the sweet end. Viki Eierdam

Riesling is Fritsch’s favorite grape and Hugel’s nose of white flowers, citrus and light minerality together with a weightier mouthfeel was another pretty salad pairing ($20).

A Schlumberger Riesling Grand Cru Saering 2011 ($31) set off the oil and creaminess of the Black Rockfish atop a Cucumber Salad and Crushed Potato accented with Gochujang Radishes although the rich and slightly salty Korean Pork Tenderloin served alongside Grilled and Confit Onions and Potatoes was better suited for the smooth, full-bodied Ostertag Pinot Gris Fronholz 2013 ($45).

The typical European cheese plate was a trifecta opportunity to find the best wine pairing for each but I turned to Fritsch for his thoughts. He chose Woodsman Blue from Washington with the tropical, oily and concentrated elegance of Weinbach’s Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Mambourg Vendanges Tardives 2013 ($76); Ostertag’s Pinot Gris won for Beaufort d’Hivert from France; and Portland’s own Cascadian Frechette  alongside the powerful and creamy Schlumberger Riesling was the sweet spot.

With all his knowledge and education in the world of wine and gastronomy, Thierry Fritsch is light-hearted and approachable. Viki Eierdam
With all his knowledge and education in the world of wine and gastronomy, Thierry Fritsch is light-hearted and approachable. Viki Eierdam

Alsatian whites are unoaked to preserve the freshness and fruitiness of the wines. Their underlying minerality is an important component in why they are so well-known for ageability; high acid creates ideal food-focused candidates; and their affordable price point makes getting to know these diverse French beauties a no-brainer.

 

Current Stoller chardonnay releases show restraint and complexity

Chardonnay…say the word and, like this years’ election, most folks have a strong opinion. “I don’t like chardonnay,” is typically the reaction. No matter how many times wine writers espouse its virtues, it appears the bad rep of this grape will take longer to be forgotten than yesterday’s headlines.

Nevertheless, we charge on, particularly those in the Northwest who are so close to  what Melissa Burr, director of winemaking at Stoller Family Estate, refers to as a “renaissance for Chardonnay.”

Under the guidance of owner, Bill Stoller, his land was planted to 10 acres of chardonnay well before it was the cool thing to do. Now the Willamette Valley boasts over 1,000 acres of this noble grape—still trailing far behind the nearly 100,000 acres that California tends but we like to think our winemakers appreciate chardonnay for what it is rather than what it’s not.

As one might expect, Stoller offers a couple different chardonnay options.

Viki Eierdam
Viki Eierdam

Their 2015 Dundee Hills Chardonnay is 100 percent unoaked—aged for six months in stainless steel. The first smell hits clean and fresh with a hint of lemon/lime citrus notes followed by vibrant acidity and graphite on the palate. 2015 was a hot one but this wine is coming in at 12.5 percent, a testament to Stoller’s ability to gauge just the right time to pick for flavor and approachability. Great food options are hard cheeses, lightly grilled white fish (I.e. scallops, halibut, cod), cream of zucchini soup, roasted chicken, a garden fresh summer salad, simply prepared pork like pork chops. Think light and slightly earthy. Retail: $25

The 2014 Reserve Chardonnay has been (dare I say), aged in French oak for 12 months. French oak is not American oak, folks. It’s soft and elegant and imparts luscious richness, not an overtly buttery characteristic. In this case, it adds to the depth and complexity of the wine and brings food pairings to another level of sophistication. The savory, lemon grass and earthy nose of the wine gives way to stone fruit like a soft white peach on the palate. Avocado and corn salad is a perfect example as well as a butter leaf salad with peach slices or snap peas, roasted vegetables, white cream pastas, crab, lobster, savory fried chicken or creamy pork dishes with sautéed mushrooms. This would also be the ideal brunch bottle. I’m always saying chardonnay is oft-overlooked with breakfast. Why should bubbles have all the fun? This is the ideal egg dish pairing. Retail: $35