Lifting the Fork: What makes wine great?
What makes wine great?
Karen MacNeil's answer to that question earned her the Pio Cesare Award for best consumer writing in the 2019 Louis Roederer International Wine Awards held in London Sept. 18.
MacNeil is an American author, journalist, wine educator and consultant based in Napa Valley, and the only person to have won every major wine award in the English language. She is the creator and chairman of the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, California.
She also is the author of the best-seller "The Wine Bible" and WineSpeed, a wine e-letter stuffed full of great information and advice. We can all learn a great deal about wines from her.
In her article "What Makes Wine Great" she concludes that all great wines share nine essential attributes. The list includes distinctiveness, balance, precision, complexity, length, choreography, connectedness, beyond fruitedness and a wine's ability to evoke an emotional response.
"Finally, great wines incite emotion," MacNeil writes in the closing paragraph of the article. "They stop you in your tracks. Send chills down your spine. Make you write things like 'oh my God' as a tasting note. Great wines appeal not only to the intellect; they have the rare power to make us feel."
Rather than trying to paraphrase her article, read it yourself at https://bit.ly/2mstXxG. Sign up for WineSpeed, too.
I've enjoyed some great wines recently that have seemed perfect to pair with our fall weather. Read on for some high recommendations:
Knudsen's new fall releases are the 2017 Pinot Noir and 2017 Reserve Pinot Noir made of estate fruit grown in the Willamette Valley. Paige Knudsen Cowles, the managing director of Knudsen Vineyards, says the Pinot Noir was sourced from two distinctive blocks and aged in 23% new French oak for 16 months. The Reserve is a melange (mixture) of four blocks featuring different clonal selections, aged 16 months and use a larger portion of new French oak (35%).
The tasting notes for the wine state that the 2017 vintage was characterized by the typical cool, wet spring followed by some record heat spikes in May and July, which Knudsen Cowles says initiated successful flowering and veraison, respectively. The one-day record heat spikes in August gave way to a warm early September that cooled mid-month and created a relatively slow and steady harvest.
Knudsen Vineyards will open a tasting room in 2020, so watch for more news about that.
Walla Walla Vintners
You might remember that Lake Oswegan Scott Haladay's family bought Walla Walla Vintners in 2017. This year Derrek Vipond joined WWV as its new winemaker. He is considered one of Walla Walla's best trained and visionary young winemakers. This spring Vipond and Haladay spent 10 days in Tuscany and returned with inspiration for future winemaking and vineyard management. Three wineries in particular provided compelling insights: Boscarelli for being more restrained with time in barrrel to let the fruit characters of Sangiovese shine through; Conti Costani in Brunello for showing the texture and power that can be derived in the variety; and Lauta for showing a refreshing New World approach to Sangiovese with high new oak percentages.
I sampled the 2017 Waliser Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley, which will be released in early 2020. Fruit is 100% from the Waliser Vineyard, one of the first planted in The Rocks District of Milton Freewater. After fermentation the wine is aged 15 months in 20% new French oak barrels.
The second wine I tasted was the 2017 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley. This will be available this fall and is sourced from some of Washington's best Sangiovese sites including Sangemoor, Seven Hills, Kiona and Walla Walla Vintners' own Cut Bank estate vineyard.
Vipond's new approach to blending expresses both the power and elegance of Sangiovese and has delivered a more dense and rich wine that in previous vintages. It is aged 15 months in 15% new French oak barrels.
Hope you got the good news earlier this month that Domaine Serene has been nominated for American Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine. The nomination was announced as Domaine Serene is kicking off several months of celebrations to mark its 30th anniversary.
"On behalf of everyone at Domaine Serene, I would like to thank Wine Enthusiast for this prestigious honor," said Grace Evenstad, owner and co-founder of Domaine Serene. "The nomination is an achievement for the entire Oregon wine industry and affirms our belief that Oregon stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Burgundy as the finest place in the world for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay."
The winner will be announced at the end of October.
The Domaine Serene winebar in Lake Oswego will open in November at The Windward.
Wineries will be releasing new wines this fall, which gives us an opportunity to expand our knowledge. Read Karen MacNeil's article and consider the nine essential attributes while drinking your favorite wine.
The recipe shared today will pair beautifully with wines made by Knudsen Vineyards, Walla Walla Vintners, Domaine Serene or your favorite wine. Enjoy both soon!
Bon Appetit! Make eating an adventure!
Spicy Cheddar and Pumpkin Orzo With Arugula
1 1/2 cups dry orzo
1 cup pasta water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for coating pasta
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces grated Cheddar cheese
4 cups arugula
2 tablespoons pepita seeds
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
In a large saucepan of salted boiling water cook the orzo until al dente. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
Transfer the orzo to a large bowl, coat lightly with olive oil and set aside.
In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until softened and lightly browned.
Add the pumpkin puree, chili garlic sauce, mustard, nutmeg and salt and stir to combine. Pour in the reserved pasta water and simmer on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the grated cheese to the sauce, stirring until evenly incorporated and melted, about 3 minutes.
Pour the pumpkin cheddar sauce over the bowl of orzo and fold it in gently to combine. Toss in the arugula leaves and pepita seeds.
Transfer the pasta to plates, drizzle lightly with olive oil and serve warm.
Recipe courtesy of Food & Wine.
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