It’s the Fall Season…Did Someone Say Pinot?

John Crisafulli, Village Vino Kensington
Metro View: Community Home Journal, Kensington/Talmadge Edition, November/December 2016

Pinot Noir is one of the oldest Grape Varietals on earth dating back more than 1000 years to the era of the Roman Empire. Another interesting fact about Pinot Noir is that while France and the US dominate the production of these popular wines, surprisingly Germany is the third largest producer of Pinot Noir wines. In Germany this varietal is referred to as Spätburgunder. When you taste a good Pinot Noir wine, you will get lots of fruit, silky tannins, and a firm flavor, but never obtrusive. Don’t let this red wine with often a lighter shade of red fool you, some of the most cellar worthy and sought after red wines in the world are of the Pinot Noir varietal.

Some wine drinkers are turned offby the tannins in Pinot Noir, which are present due to whole cluster fermentation which involves putting the entire grape cluster including the stems into the crusher and fermenter. These tannins give the wine structure and are therefore beneficial in the aging and
cellaring process.

The greatest Pinot Noirs come from France’s Burgundy region, age-worthy wines that are usually quite expensive. More affordable and typically more fruit-forward Pinots hail from coastal California and Oregon regions as well as New Zealand, Chile, and Australia.

Pinot Noir pairs well with a wide range of foods—fruitier versions make a great match with salmon or other fatty fish, roasted chicken or pasta dishes; bigger, more tannic Pinots are ideal with duck and other game birds, casseroles or, of course, stews like beef bourguignon.

For those that like Pinot Noir and those that don’t, you can also try a glass of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grig, or Pinot Grigio. While these popular white varietals are often more approachable, those that drink these white selections will be glad to know these are all the same varietal, and made from Pinot Noir Grapes. The only difference is these white wines are made with Pinot Noir Grapes that have a color mutation; otherwise they are scientifically the exact same grape. These white selections don’t have the tannin as the fruit is destemmed before the crushing and fermentation process.

With all the talk of Pinot Noir, there are also other great red blends, Beaujolais, and sparkling selections that will pair well with your fall menus. Below you will find some suggestions for great wines that pair with many traditional and nontraditional seasonal menu selections… as we celebrate the fall season.

Suggested Fall Wine and Sparkling Selections:
• Presqu’ile Pinot Noir, ‘13, Santa Maria Valley – Balance, complexity, Santa Maria Spice
• Jolie Laide Rossi Ranch Red Blend – Old World Charm meets California Style
• Paul Bara Brut Rosé – Nice Sparkler to start the meal
• AA Badenhorst Family Wines, “Ramnasgras” Cinsault ‘14- Wild strawberry, dried rose, earth, and spice, lovely holiday wine to pair with food.
• Jean-Paul Thevenet Beaujolais Morgon ’16 – Rustic and spicy, yet also refreshing.
• Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve, Pinot Noir ’13. Oregon – Intense flavor, silky, elegant
• La Rochelle Russian River Pinot Noir, ’15 – Velvet texture, cherry blast, light spice
• J. Lasalle Cachet – French Champagne made from Pinot Noir grapes

Suggested Fall Menu Pairings:
• Beef Tenderloin with Ancho Chili and Mushroom Demi-Glace
• Fresh Roasted Salmon with a Roasted Red Pepper and Pineapple Salsa
• Grilled Breast of Chicken with a White Wine Thyme and Parsley Jus
• Grilled Marinated Skirt Steak with Grilled White Peaches and Shallots
• Duck with Dried Cherry Curry with Sage Scented Jasmine Rice
• Lamb Bourguignon with Grilled Rosemary Parmesan Toasts
• Fresh Salmon or Pink Snapper atop Toasted Cumin Lentils with Root Vegetables
• Osso Bucco with a Pancetta and Parmesan Risotto
• Roasted Cracked Pepper Crusted Porkloin with an Italian sausage, Cranberry, and Walnut Stuffing
• Roast Turkey with a Sage, Red Pear, Cranberry, and Shallot Stuffing

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