This post is a collaboration with Sonoma-Cutrer Wines whence I was challenged to create a beautiful start for a festive dinner.
The Holiday season is here! And, it is my favorite part of the year! This year in particular I have much to celebrate and be thankful for - life, friends and family. I have been blessed, I have been tested and I have triumphed. And, oh! There have been so many new beginnings to toast and raise a glass. The wines and whiskeys have been flowing free and unchecked and I cannot be more thrilled. It is of course not to say that there haven't been trials but hey, a good glass of wine is well and nice for when its a good day and even better when it ain't so nice! :D
So, when Sonoma-Cutrer approached me with their idea to create a festive starter, I simply put it in my stride... I am a super fan of Sonoma valley (check my wine post on the Daily Meal) and the wines that are distinct, full of life and history and duly, flavor! This particular vineyard was new to me and I was excited to learn a little more about the region. And, I can truthfully say, I did and I am impressed.
Les Pierres Chardonnay Tasting Notes
Now, I am not a fan of California whites in particular, because I find them lacking in depth and well, weak in flavor. Well, I was proved wrong in that! The Chardonnay in particularly oaky, an unexpected twist. I would definitely recommend it as a paired wine, rather than a casual, lets sit around and sip, wine. This is a white that requires attention. And, if you like lighter, crisper wines then stay away.
But if you are looking for something with a touch of boldness and surprise, I recommend it paired with sharp flavored (otherwise called stinky) soft cheese (like Taleggio or Humbolt Fog as here), warm spicy veggies (as here, turmeric toasted potatoes) or even spicy dry sausage! Yes, it has character and beware of it! On the nose, it is floral and yet the palate is oak, wood and lightly smoked.
Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Tasting Notes
My favorite wine of the region is a Zinfandel. And, a close second is the Pinot Noir, which, as it happens is also the since largest grape of the region. Overall, it is hard to go wrong with a Californian Pinot. You can, nevertheless, find a spectrum of richness amongst them. Rating them that way, the Sonoma-Cutrer's classes Pinot Noir is deep, fruit forward, non-tannic, easy to drink and yet rich enough to stand up with meats.
Recommended cheese pairings - Sharp Cheddar, aged sheep's milk cheeses like Sardinian Pecorino or Pecorino Montagna (from the mountains for Emilia Romagna). For my table I also paired it with Chicken and sage sauce cooked in the wine with caramelized onions.
These are not your standard Californian wines. Both the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir surprised me with their depth and richness. The white in particular was out of the ordinary; a wine for those who like earthy notes and rich smoke.
The wines, cheeses and appetizers made a great start to one of the many recent evenings that involved a toast. I hope, this gives you some ideas for your own tables in the coming month!
Happy Holidays!! May the cheer be with you!
Thank you for supporting FSK's partners that help keep the blog and my joy in bringing my best ideas from the kitchen to you. This post was sponsored by Sonoma-Cutrer Wines. However, all opinions, thoughts, taste and pairing notes are my own.
My promise to you is that I will only recommend a product that I love for myself and my family!