Gabe's View

Wine: Reviews, Thoughts & Culture

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Cherry Tart by Cherry Pie - 2012 Pinot Noir / Roasted Mushroom & Farro Salad Recipe

There may not be a harder grape to find bargains with than Pinot Noir. This notoriously fickle varietal doesn’t grow well everywhere and some people plant it in the wrong spot. Others mismanage the winemaking aspect. But when Pinot is right it can be ethereal. So I’m always interested in tasting as much Pinot as possible. I am particularly curious about examples that are appropriate for everyday consumption. So when an example from cult winemaker Jayson Woodbridge landed on my desk I was really curious to check it out. The fun packaging and name added to the intrigue for me. Cherry Tart by Cherry Pie 2012 Pinot Noir was produced using fruit sourced in three different California wine growing regions. Sonoma Coast  (49%), Monterey County (43%) and Santa Barbara County (8%) are the three regions represented. Fruit from only one vineyard in each area was used, making this what the winery calls a “multi-single vineyard blend.” Each lot of wine was fermented separately. Barrel aging took place in entirely French oak; 20% of the barrels used were new. This 100% Pinot Noir wine has a suggested retail price of $25. Red fruits rule the day on the nose of this Pinot. Wild Strawberry, cherry and bits of cranberry are all present along with wisps of spice. The palate is eager and willing with droves of super-appealing red fruit flavors such as cherry, plum and subtle hint of red raspberry. Vanilla bean characteristics are present as well. Bits of black tea, cranberry, cardamom, and toast are all present on the finish which has good length.

This is a fruity, eager to please example of Pinot Noir loaded with fresh flavors and genuine varietal character. It’s full bodied for a Pinot but never strays out of proportion. It’s perfectly suited for BBQ’s and picnics all summer long as it will pair well with a particularly wide array of foods. I paired with one of my favorite grain salads and the match was heavenly. The recipe follows, so pick up a bottle of Cherry Tart and try the recipe below. I think you’ll find that it’s a killer pairing. At $25, less if you shop around, this is a solid value in well made, Pinot Noir. Drink it in its engaging youth.

Roasted Mushroom & Farro Salad*

Ingredients: 1 ½ cups Dry Farro 1 lb Mushrooms (1/2 lb each Portobello and button works well) 3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice 1/3 Cup Pecorino Romano (grated with the coarse side of a box grater) 1 Cup of Shelled Walnut Pieces or Pecans 1 Tbsp Parsley Flakes Black Pepper Salt 9 Tbsp Olive Oil + ½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Directions: Combine the lemon juice, 9 tablespoons of olive oil, parsley and red pepper flakes in a bowl or mixing cup; whisk vigorously and set aside. Cook the Farro until done (approximately 20 minutes) in 3 cups of salted water. I tend to use vegetable bullion instead of salt to add an extra layer of flavor. When the Farro is cooked, drain and allow it to cool. Mushrooms should be cleaned and chopped into roughly 1 inch pieces. Then toss them with a bit of salt, olive oil and black pepper. Put them on a cookie sheet and roast them in the oven (350 degrees) for about 25 minutes or until they are getting golden and slightly crispy. Allow them to cool. Place the walnut pieces on a cookie sheet in the oven and lightly toast them. Allow them to cool. Shred the Pecorino Romano on the largest side of a box grater. Doing it this way as opposed to grating on the small side adds to the consistency of the overall dish. When everything has cooled mix the mushrooms, farro, cheese, and nuts together in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the rest of the ingredients and toss everything together until well coated. Taste and adjust salt, red pepper flakes, and pepper as desired. Serve cool or at room temperature. It also holds well in the refrigerator for a week.

*This is my interpretation of a recipe from Food 52

LEO - 2013 Torrontes - Valentin Bianchi / Lemony Lentil Bisque

Leo_Torrontes_BottleLeo Messi is a huge soccer star worldwide. So much so that in countries where soccer is the predominant sport you only need say “Leo” and everyone knows who you’re speaking of. In addition to soccer, Leo is deeply involved in raising money for a good cause. His charity strives to help underprivileged kids with healthcare and education. One of his recent money raising endeavors is a partnership with Argentina’s Valentin Bianchi to produce a handful of wines with his name on them. I recently looked at the Malbec’s and here’s a look at the newly released whit wine in the line. The LEO 2013 Torrontes was produced and bottled by Valentin Bianchi. All of the fruit for this wine was sourced in Mendoza. The Estate vineyard sits more than 750 meters above sea level. This offering is 100% Torrontes. The grapes were harvested and sorted manually. Fermentation took place over 10 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. A month of bottle aging followed prior to release. 9,000 cases of this wine were imported into the US and it has a suggested retail price of $16.99. A bright nose filled with Lychee fruit, bits of almond and subtle vanilla bean fills the nose of this wine. The palate is even keeled and dry with stone and tropical fruit flavors accompanied by tingling spice notes. Wisps of zesty citrus lead the finish, along with a touch of limestone, and white melon flavors. This wine works extremely well on its own but is also a versatile food wine. I enjoyed it with a Lemony Lentil Bisque (see below for recipe) and was knocked out by the combination.

The folks at Valentin Bianchi make a wide range of quality wines in an array of price points and styles. Leo Messi chose wisely in aligning himself with them for his line of charity-driven wines. This Torrontes like the other wines they produce is a food friendly offering. It offers complexity and depth for the money as well and most importantly delicious drinking. So buy a bottle of Leo Torrontes and in addition to your taste buds doing a happy dance, you will be helping a good cause.

Lemony Lentil Bisque

2 Carrots 2 Celery Stalks 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil 1 ½ cups Split Red Lentils 1 Large Potato, peeled and cubed 1 Large Spanish Onion 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin 3 Bay Leaves ¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper 5 Cups of Vegetable or Chicken Stock 10 Minced Garlic Cloves 2 Teaspoons Parsley Flakes ¼ Teaspoon Grated Lemon Zest 2 Un-waxed Lemons Salt & Pepper to taste

Warm the olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Toss in chopped carrots, celery, onion and potato. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened. Stir in garlic, lemon zest, parsley, cumin and cayenne pepper; cook for 5 more minutes. Add in the lentils and stir so they are well integrated. Add in the stock and bay leaves. Slice the lemon in half and add it to the pot. Bring it to a boil, lower it to a simmer, cover it and allow it to cook for about 40 minutes until everything has softened. Remove bay leaves and lemon halves. Squeeze the juice from the lemons into the soup. Using an immersion blender or food processor, completely puree the soup. Add salt if needed and black pepper to taste as well as additional cayenne pepper if you want more heat. Cook an additional 5 or so minutes and serve. Serve with lemon wedges.

Recipe adapted from The Ultimate Soup Bible.