It's the holiday season ...
It's the holiday season
The holiday season
With the whoop-de-do and hickory dock
And don't forget to hang up your sock
'Cause just exactly at 12 o'clock
He'll be coming down the chimney
Coming down the chimney
Coming down the chimney
Coming down the chimney, down
That stanza of Irving Berlin's classic holiday tune "Happy Holidays/It's the Holiday Season" has been running through my head for a couple of weeks, probably triggered by too much time spent listening to the all-Christmas radio station. Or maybe it was triggered by the jingling of the bells each time our office door opens; or the the festive lights on the houses in the neighborhood.
There is no denying it's the holiday season. And there is no better time than the holidays for enjoying champagne and sparkling wines.
My friend Page Knudsen Cowles, the managing partner of Knudsen Vineyards, says her father C. Calvert "Cal" Knudsen started every gathering with champagne — it just gave every event a festive flair.
Cal partnered with Dick Erath to form Knudsen Erath in 1972; they dissolved the partnership in 1987 and Cal led a group of investors to buy into Argyle Winery, which was the first winery in the Willamette Valley to make its sparkling wines from late-season ripened Dijon clone varietals. He served as chairman at Argyle from 1990 until his retirement in 2007.
You can learn more about Knudsen Vineyards at knudsenvineyards.com and about Argyle Vineyards at argylewinery.com. Both offer excellent wines.
I agree with Cal's philosophy that bubbles make any event festive, so here is some news about local companies making the season brighter through bubbles:
¦ I am delighted to share that Dobbes Family Estate has popped the corks on Elements, its first release of Oregon bubbles. They describe the inaugural bottling of sparkling wine as "clean and crisp with bright acid and a light, refreshing and crisp finish."
"Seventy percent Pinot Gris, 19 percent Auxerrois, 6 percent Gewurtztraminer and 5 percent Chardonnay contribute to the aromas of Granny Smith apple, orange blossom and lemon marmalade with a touch of nutmeg and hint of salty sea air. The flavor mirrors the aroma with notes of mandarin oranges, a fine textured effervescence and pleasantly crisp finish," says Elements winemaker Travis Proctor.
Elements is crafted with the purpose of bringing awareness to the planet's greatest resources and our part in its preservation.
"After surveying the winery team regarding what issues were most dear and all wished to support, it was decided that the inaugural release would recognize water, one of the Earth's most valuable elements," said Dobbes Family Estate CEO Gretchen Boock. "Water sustains life, a cause worthy of our ambassadorship. The namesake of the bubbles is derived from its beneficiaries, with subsequent years to recognize other key Earth elements; fire, air and land."
Ten percent of Elements sales will benefit The Washed Ashore Project (washedashore.org), which builds and exhibits art to educate people about plastic pollution in oceans and waterways, sparking positive changes in consumer habits. The Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg is displaying "Gertrude," a Washed Ashore sculpture, through January.
Elements SRP is $26 and can be purchased at dobbesfamilyestate.com or at the tasting room located at 240 S.E. 5th St. in Dundee.
¦ My friend Ron Acierto says in The Philippines where he grew up, Christmas is celebrated from late November until mid-January. In keeping with that tradition, he has opened Bar Muselet, a pop-up wine bar in the former location of Function, 919 N.W. 23rd Ave. in Portland. He will be hosting wine tastings every night from 5 p.m. to close, plus other events each day in December. Don't miss the action Dec. 29-30, when he will pour special flights of champagne, sparkling wine, bubbles and more bubbles by the glass, flight and bottle.
On New Year's Eve, Ron is offering a five-course tasting menu paired with five vintage champagnes and five Oregon library wines. There are two seatings available for this event. Reservations are required; call 503-706-4671.
¦ Ever wonder what a guy who owns a champagne bar has in his cellar? You can find out on Dec. 15 when Dave Speer cracks open the cellar at Ambonnay, Portland's first and only exclusively champagne and sparkling wine bar.
"I'll be opening some killer bubbles that I've been wanting to enjoy with great company. I'm still digging around and deciding what I want to pull, but I guarantee it will be an amazing selection of goodies," he said. For $100, participants will enjoy seven wines and discussion about them. Reservations and advanced payment are required.
Ambonnay offers an extensive menu of bubbles, some by the glass and another 100 or so by the bottle. The selection changes regularly.
"Whether you're looking for a quick drink before dinner, a once-in-a-lifetime champagne experience or just a place to hang with other bubble addicts, Ambonnay is here for you," Dave says.
Ambonnay is located at 107 S.E. Washington St., Suite 167, in Portland. Call 503-575-4861.
Maybe a little champagne will help get the song out of my head.
This recipe for Mustard Glazed Black Cod sounds especially delicious to me and will pair beautifully with champagne. It looks impressive on the plate and is oh so easy to make. Chill some champagne and invite some friends for dinner.
Happy Holidays! Make eating an adventure!
Mustard Glazed Black Cod with Fingerlings and Chive Puree
Makes 4 servings
1 cup snipped chives
1 cup baby spinach
1½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound fingerling potatoes
1¼ cup coarsely chopped pitted green or brown olives (like Kalamata)
¾ cup pure olive oil
4 6-ounce skinless black cod fillets
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the broiler and position a rack 8 inches from the heat. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the chives and spinach and blanch for 30 seconds, just until bright green. Drain and rinses under cold water; squeeze dry. Transfer the chives and spinach to a blender. Add the extra virgin olive oil and puree until smooth. Season with salt.
Rinse saucepan and fill with cold water. Bring potatoes to a boil. Simmer until they're tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and cut potatoes into thin coins.
Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine the olives with the pure olive oil. Microwave at high power in 2-minute bursts until the olives are golden and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes depending on the microwave. Drain the olives and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to cool. Reserve the oil for another use.
Place the cod on a foil lined baking sheet, brush with mustard and season with salt and pepper. Broil for about 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and lightly browned on top; transfer to plates and spoon the potatoes alongside. Sprinkle with the olives, drizzle with chive puree all around and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Jason Franey's Chef Recipes Made Easy, Food & Wine.