A Bottle of Red, A Bottle of White: Biodynamic Wines from Montinore Estate with Dinner Tonight (#WinePW)

Double Bottle Shot
Montinore Estate is the largest producer of biodynamic wine in the United States.

Our Wine Pairing Weekend crew is back in action this week, shining a light on wines crafted according to biodynamic principles. If you’re confused as to exactly what that means, you’re not alone: there’s been so much buzz about biodynamic, organic, and natural wines lately, it’s hard to know what’s in the bottle you’re buying.

Luckily for all of us, Gwendolyn from Wine Predator, our host this month, has sorted through the details, explaining each category and pointing out how they overlap – or don’t. Her invitation post is chock-full of easy-to-digest information – give it a read if you’d like to learn more.

And, from what I gather, several of our blogger participants will broach the subject as well. Here’s a preview of what each of us will contribute to the chat:

 

Speaking of the chat, it takes place this Saturday, April 13th, at 11 am ET. If the topic of biodynamic wines has piqued your interest, please join us on Twitter and listen, learn, and chime in with your own opinion. Simply follow the hashtag #WinePW, and make sure to add it to your tweets. Hope to “see” you there!

Back Label PG (2)
There’s the Demeter seal of approval, in the bottom right corner!

The Montinore Estate

Established in 1982, Montinore Estate is the largest producer of biodynamic, estate-grown grapes in the United States. The 200-acre swath was certified by Demeter USA in 2008, and includes parcels planted to a host of grapes, many of which are well-known in the Willamette Valley (Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer) and others that are less customary (think Müller-Thurgau, Lagrein, Teroldego, Muscat, and Sauvignon Blanc.)

The traditional Italian varieties make more sense when you understand proprietor Rudy Marchesi’s background: he is the grandson of Italian immigrants. Family meals – from simple weeknight suppers to gala celebrations – revolved around good food, good wine, and good friends. He fell in love with Oregon wine country, believing it had potential to grow the grapes he remembered from childhood as well as those he had come to appreciate as an adult.

In 2006 Marchesi met Stephen Webber, now Montinore Estate’s head winemaker. They bonded over their shared passion for the cool-climate white wines crafted in Alsace, France, and Alto Adige, Italy. Together they saw promise in the east-facing slopes of the Coastal Range foothills, located in the northern Willamette Valley. As a team, they turned dreams into reality, planting the varieties best suited to the land, and implementing sustainable vineyard practices, including dry farming. Shortly thereafter, Montinore Estate sought organic and biodynamic certification.

Two Bottles and Glasses
We tasted a Pinot Gris and a Pinot Noir with our #winepw meal.

The Wines

2016 Montinore Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Gris (13.5% abv; $16 retail)

Close Up PG Label

100% Pinot Gris from seven different plots representing the varied soils and aspects of the vineyards. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks with both cultured and indigenous yeasts. Some of the wine was aged on the lees to bring additional complexity.

Color: A beautiful gold, with just a hint of pink; paler at the rim.

Nose: Medium aromas of ripe pear and golden apple; notes of lemon peel and fresh herbs.

Palate: Dry, with medium intensity flavors of yellow peach and pear; medium acidity and body; long finish with flavors of ripe melon, wet rocks, and almond.

Verdict: This is a lovely wine for sipping or for pairing with light fare. Don’t drink it too quickly – you’ll want to give the aromas time to evolve in the glass.

2017 Montinore Estate Willamette Valley Red Cap Pinot Noir (13.8% abv; $24 retail)

CLose Up PN Front Label

100% Pinot Noir primarily from plots on Laurelwood soil but some grapes were grown on volcanic or marine soils. The wine was matured for nine months in a mix of Hungarian and French oak, 21% of which was first-use.

Color: Medium ruby, paler pink at the rim.

Nose: Medium+ aromas of sweet red cherry, ripe plum, and a hint of vanilla; after some time in the glass, there’s a touch of unsweetened cocoa powder in the mix.

Palate: A mix of red berry fruit, some tart cherry, and a bit of vanilla and toast. Herbal notes of mint and thyme. Acidity is medium+, tannins are silky, and the finish is long, with lingering notes of black cherry and cocoa.

Verdict: A restrained-style Pinot, with lots of fruit yet ample acidity to balance it. There are also some earthy notes that weave in and out, making this a wine of texture and nuance. It was a hit with our pairing, and I imagine it would be a great partner with a wide range of foods.

The Pairing: Mushroom and Swiss Chard Tart

Tart Up Close
Looks rustic; tastes great! Mushroom and swiss chard tart.

I adapted a recipe from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, which called for Jerusalem artichokes rather than mushrooms and recommended making your own dough. Whole Foods had none of the former; I had no time for the latter. Because I was pairing the dish with a Pinot Noir, I opted for baby portobello mushrooms as a substitute. And I bought a pre-made pie crust that was ready to bake.

Swiss chard is one of my favorite vegetables – I love the earthy flavors that make it seem almost meaty. Put together with the mushrooms, chunks of feta, and a mélange of crème fraîche and cream (with rosemary, salt, and pepper) the tart was delicious and filling. As an accompaniment, I tossed fresh arugula with lemon juice and olive oil.

Tart and Salad Plated
Served with a simple arugula salad, this made a delicious – and filling – meal.

Verdict: Both wines paired admirably with the tart, but the Pinot Noir was a home run! The mushrooms and chard brought out similar earthy notes in the wine, and the tart acidity in the wine made for the perfect palate refresher. Rich as it was, the tart needed that in a partner.

If you haven’t yet explored the lovely recipes of Ottolenghi, I highly recommend you dive in. It’s my go-to reference when I want to get creative in the kitchen – try a new ingredient or an unexpected combination of them.

Wine Pairing Weekend

We’re a group of wine-loving foodies – or maybe food-loving winos – who gather on Twitter the second Saturday of each month to exchange tips on food and wine pairings centered on a theme. Next month Jade Helm from Tasting Pour will host as we delve deeper into the world of biodynamics, with a special focus on Biodynamic Wines from Willamette Valley, Oregon. Stay tuned for her preview post!

19 comments

  1. Learn something new today. Didn’t know that the largest biodynamic wine producer is in Oregon. The pairings are spot-on. The Montinore Estate Pinot which has all the herbaceous notes must go so well with the mushroom swiss chard tart.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a long-time fan of Montinore Estate, we visited them on our very first trip to the Willamette Valley way back in 2011. That tart looks really delicious and I have some local feta in the fridge, just waiting to be used. Maybe this week!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mmmm. Your description of both the food and wine had my mouthwatering a little extra this time around. Beautiful. I too love Ottolenghi for inspo! Such wonderful cookbooks.

    Liked by 1 person

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