Revisiting Oregon Pinot Noir and Rethinking Champagne
When I wrote down my Wine Resolutions for the New Year back in December 2009, I was thinking of things that would help me to enjoy wine in 2010, and to help others continue on their wine journeys. Looking back, if you followed at least one of the suggestions I noted - to Discover Oregon Wine - it likely would have brought you great joy in 2010. Little did I know then that we would see perhaps the greatest Pinot Noir vintage in U.S. history coming out of Oregon's Willamette Valley. Simply put, 2008 Oregon Pinot Noir is my choice for the most exciting wine story of 2010. And so, my first suggestion for 2011 is this: If you have not yet tasted the Willamette Valley's 2008 Pinots, proceed immediately to your local wine merchant or online retailer and start buying these up (City Wine Merchant has a great selection)! These wines will be completely gone from store shelves within the next 6 months (here's hoping the 2009 vintage follows-up well).
While my 2010 suggestions still apply this year and will help to heighten your wine enjoyment in 2011, it recently occurred to me that I completely missed the mark last year by not even mentioning Champagne! I have long said that if I were trapped on a desert island and could only pick one thing to drink for the rest of my life, it would be Champagne (but I would miss the Pinot Noirs of Burgundy a lot). Yes, good Champagne is unrivaled to accompany life's great celebrations, but it is so much more. In 2011, make it a point to discover Grower Champagne (put down that bottle of Veuve Clicquot for a few months), and to drink Champagne with food.
On New Year's Eve, my wife and I were reminded of Champagne's great food-pairing potential as we enjoyed a near perfect meal at Seabar, one of our favorite restaurants in Buffalo. If you haven't experienced Chef Mike Andrzejewski's brilliance, you are missing out (check out Mike's NYC dinner at the James Beard House in February). For Champagne, Vilmart & Cie Champagne 'Grand Cellier' (a blend of 30% Chardonnay and 70% Pinot Noir) was the choice of the night. After enjoying a magical pairing with Washington State oysters, my entree of grilled shrimp and goat's cheese potato pierogi blew my mind. The dish was a crazy fusion of flavors, made with a red wine sauce and sauteed onions, and I can think of no better match for this than the toasty Champagne. Sound odd? Try it. Every component of the Champagne had a complement in the food, and vice versa. It was a great example of how Champagne can be great with food, and it was a perfect way to end a great 2010.
Thank you to everyone for supporting City Wine Merchant in 2010. Cheers to a happy and productive 2011!