What's this? Another wine dinner, at another restaurant, with another winemaker and another winery- but not so fast! Last Tuesday I dined with Juan Munoz Oca (check out the interview with Corey Nuffer of gozamos.com) of Columbia Crest Winery, Washington state's largest producer of everyday affordable wines and handcrafted small-lot wines. They may produce a lot of wines, but there's definitely a lot of care that goes into it- only having three winemakers since they first opened over 25 years ago means they have a great thing going! I've tasted many of their wines in the past but I was really looking forward to seeing them work with chef Michael Shrader's Urban Union wood burning oven/small plate cuisine. Here's the pairings:
- 2010 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Columbia Valley Chardonnay ($12) with Oysters "Casino" style. The wine is fermented and aged in 1-3 year old American and French oak barrels and hand-stirred (battonage) every week for six months to allow the lees (expired yeast) to mix complexity into the wine. Over 20% of the wine is fermented in stainless steel and mixed in to exude natural varietal character. The wine is very nice for the pricetag, creamy with ripe pear and caramel apple flavor. Being topped with creamy parmesan and salty pancetta, the oysters matched well with the wine's weight and texture and allowed the fresh fruit to come through on the aftertaste.
- 2010 Horse Heaven Hills 'Les Chevaux' Red ($15) with BBQ Pulled Pork Shoulder. Produced in a region with excellent sun exposure, well draining soil and arid conditions allows the grapes to gain full ripeness and maturity. The blend of velvety Merlot (80%), strong & tannic Cabernet Sauvignon (13%) and peppery Syrah (7%) worked great with the rich pork and lightly chile spiced sauce. The spices mingled in the mouth while the dark fruit lasted.
- 2010 Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) with Flank Steak au Poivre. Another well made red with new world earthiness, smokey meatiness, plum, red peppercorn and mocha flavors. This all obviously worked well with grilled steak topped with rich peppery sauce that was accompanied by a deliciously sweet roasted shallot. Great combo.
- 2010 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Columbia Valley Moscato ($12) with S'mores and Cheescake. A very nice American Moscato with more tropical flavor, light effervescence and a hint of exotic spice. The dark chocolate of the s'mores clashed with this a bit, but it held well with the full cheesecake. A nice dessert wine, especially in 750ml size.
If I were you I'd make my way to Urban Union for some small dishes soon and be sure to stock up on Columbia Crest wine on your next trip to the wine shop- there's no shortage, but have it onhand as your everyday wine!