Leanne Bellncula
 
July 21, 2016 | Leanne Bellncula

2013 REX HILL Willamette Valley Seven Soils Chardonnay paired with Lemon Chicken Breasts for the perfect summer dinner

I consider myself a foodie, but I am not a cook.  My husband is the chef in our house.  I am an amazing sous chef, salad maker, and dish cleaner.

However, when I do get inspired to cook, I am a total recipe-follower, and I look to my Food Network Hero for inspiration: Barefoot Contessa.  I love her recipes, because they are simple, elegant, and French-inspired.

One of my favorite Barefoot Contessa recipes is Lemon Chicken Breasts, and it pairs perfectly with one of my favorite wines, 2013 REX HILL Willamette Valley Seven Soils Chardonnay.  The zesty lemon and herbs on the chicken marry beautifully with the citrus and tropical notes of the wine.  Also, the subtle creaminess of the Chardonnay adds a depth to the meal that leaves your palate singing for more!  Bon appetite!

 

Lemon Chicken Breasts from Barefoot Contessa's "How Easy Is That?" Cookbook:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine (I of course used 2013 REX HILL Willamette Valley Seven Soils Chardonnay)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (6-8 ounces each) - I typically use bone-in & skin-on breasts for more flavor.
  • 1 lemon

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don't allow the garlic to turn brown.  Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9x12-inch baking dish.
  3. Pat the chicken breasts dry and place skin side up over the sauce.  Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper.  Cut the lemon into 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned.  If the chicken isn't browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes.  Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

Note: Don't forget to make plenty of rice, because you'll want to soak up all of the delicious lemony goodness of the pan juices. Yum!

Tom Caruso
 
June 2, 2016 | Tom Caruso

Roast Chicken dinner with the 2013 REX HILL Jacob-Hart Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir

One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive in the Tasting Room is, “what is your favorite REX HILL wine?” And more often than not, my response will be a resounding, “It depends.” While one’s initial impression is that I’m playing it safe or don’t want to pick favorites, I proceed to explain that my view of wine mirrors that of my view of food—my favorite dish will typically be the one I’m most in the mood for. With that, it seems I have been dually tasked in choosing a favorite REX HILL wine and deciding what to pair it with.

Despite weather trending warmer and warmer here in the Willamette Valley, we’ve had a few chilly and rainy days thrust into the mix to remind us that it’s not quite summer. On those brisk evenings, I resort back to winter mode and crave something hearty – currently daydreaming about roasted chicken with some rosemary fingerling potatoes and a kale and cannellini bean couscous to round it out. My goodness, I’m starting to get hungry!

Having a dish in mind, it’s time to decide on the perfect pairing. A lot of different wines could go with this meal—red or white in color. In particular, even a lot of Pinot Noirs can go with this meal. After all, food and wine are made to go together! But to me there is one wine in particular that calls out: 2013 REX HILL Jacob-Hart Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir. It’s a wine that I love to explore in glass as it tends to move from a lifted dark cherry, raspberry, and violet floral/ fruit profile into more herbal and earthy components—playing very nicely with our dish of choice. There are a lot of complimentary flavors and aromatics going on here. Think of the smell of those rosemary potatoes wafting alongside fresh herbal aromas of the wine. Even more fun is the sensory experience on the palate. The mouth coating buttery texture of the cannellini bean couscous and protein from the chicken are whisked away by the fruit flavors, acidity, and whole cluster tannins of the wine. Perfection!

Jonathan Lampe
 
May 25, 2016 | Jonathan Lampe

Homemade Margherita Pizza with the 2013 REX HILL Alpine Vineyard Pinot Noir

The first time I tried the 2013 REX HILL Alpine Vineyard Pinot Noir, I thought it would make an excellent companion to some Italian food. The Alpine has a note of bell pepper and tomato leaf that distinguishes it from the other single-vineyard bottlings REX HILL produced in 2013. It yearned to be coupled with a rich tomato sauce.

I opted for a homemade Margherita Pizza with fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes and fresh-picked basil. The pairing wasn’t a disappointment. While I’ll sometimes take the trouble to make my own pizza dough from scratch, I’m not above buying pizza dough from the store, or in a pinch, calling for delivery.

 

Homemade Margherita Pizza


Ingredients

500 grams all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
350 grams lukewarm water

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water, and mix with your hand until the water is incorporated and a shaggy dough forms. The dough will be sticky, but don’t be afraid. Once the dough is incorporated, use your other hand to squeegee any excess dough off your hand and back into the bowl.
     
  2. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a clean large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature in a draft-free place until the dough is doubled in size. This may take up to 18 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is. I usually plan for an overnight rise. You can make this dough 24 hours in advance by letting the dough rise in the fridge.
     
  3. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Divide into 3 equal portions. Take one portion of dough and gather 4 corners to the center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and roll into an even ball. Repeat with remaining portions. Let dough rest, covered, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour.
     
  4. You’re now ready to shape the ball into your pizza. It’s tempting to start spinning the dough overhead and tossing it into the air. Resist the temptation. In my experience, it usually ends with a face (and kitchen) full of excess flour. Instead gently pull the edges evenly, using gravity to stretch the dough out into the desired shape. Be careful not to rip the dough.
     
  5. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Get out a 9” cast iron skillet and press the dough into the pan. Load up the dough with your favorite sauces and toppings. Brush a little olive oil around the edge of the dough. Bake your creation in the oven for 15-20 minutes, checking it occasionally for bubbles.
     
  6. Remove from the oven when the crust is nicely browned and the center of the pizza is cooked.
Kelly Irelan
 
May 18, 2016 | Kelly Irelan

Smoked Salmon & Dill Tartine paired with our 2015 REX HILL Rosé

Spring is my favorite season of the year, and I’m going to celebrate the longer and warmer days by saying #yeswayrosé. I encourage you to drink pink this season with the my favorite REX HILL wine, the 2015 REX HILL Pinot Noir Rosé. This 100% REX HILL Estate Vineyard grown Rosé is crisp and well-balanced with notes of strawberries, figs and rose petal jam.

For effortless entertaining, pair this wine with easy to eat and finger friendly bites, like Smoked Salmon & Dill Tartine. 

Smoked Salmon & Dill Tartine:

  • Toasted bread
  • Layer of fresh chèvre
  • Layer of smoked salmon
  • Sprinkle of coarse sea salt
  • Fresh dill & shaved radish to garnish

 

Ryan Collins
 
May 6, 2016 | Ryan Collins

The effects of water on tannin levels in grape development - Part four: How does this help us understand dry farmed sites?

In February I had the pleasure of speaking at the Oregon Wine Industry Symposium on a panel talking about grape and wine tannins. Anna Matzinger, Steve Price and I wanted to clarify what tannins are, how their levels in wine affect texture and structure of the wine, where tannins come from, the role of soil moisture on grape tannin levels and how harvest date affects quality of tannins.

I was tasked with talking about the relationship between soil water status and grape tannin levels. It was a great opportunity to improve my understanding of the relationship, and helped me come to terms with the difference between dry farming here in the Willamette Valley and the irrigated vineyards in Southern Oregon. On dry farmed sites factors like soil type, depth and texture, along with the seasonal rainfall have a profound effect on tannin level. In vineyards where there isn’t enough soil moisture to sustain the vines for the entire season, supplementary irrigation is needed. In those vineyards you have more control over the tannin levels of the grapes. To understand this topic and prep for my panel discussion, I studied three key disciplines: 1) soil science; 2) plant physiology; and 3) irrigation management.

Before I get into this I will say that I think the Internet is great for researching topics but I really like books.

PART FOUR: HOW DOES THIS HELP US UNDERSTAND DRY FARMED SITES?

Now that you understand how soil science, plant physiology & irrigation affect grape growing, how will this help us understand dry farmed sites?

  1. Sites with deep soils and high PAW, like those on the valley floor, never have enough stress to restrict shoot growth or berry size. They end up producing huge canopies with high amounts of shading and large berries that lack concentration of phenolic compounds.
  2. In years where we have low summer rainfall and the shoot tips stop growing before veraison we can confidently predict that the tannin and anthocyanin levels will be higher than average. Subsequent wine quality will also be higher than average.
  3. When winemakers talk about the differences in tannin structure between marine sedimentary soils and volcanic soils this could be explained more by the soil tension during the season than the mineral content of the soils.
  4. Site selection trumps winemaking every time. You can’t make great wine from deep fertile soils. 

 

 

Leanne Bellncula
 
May 4, 2016 | Leanne Bellncula

Playing with your food - Kettle Chips part 2

I, on the other hand, have been known to be a chip fiend.  There is never a shortage of chips (Kettle) or crackers in my pantry!  So, you can imagine my delight when I was asked to be part of a Kettle Chip & Wine Pairing tasting.  However, I tend to be a purist when it comes to chips – only straight-up original Kettle Chips for this chip lover.  I was certainly skeptical at the variety of crazy flavors beautifully arranged on the platter before me.  Three crunches in, I was pleasantly surprised at how some of the most unique flavors of chips seemed to bring out the best in the wines and vice versa.  I was particularly shocked at how well the Salt & Vinegar chip paired with the A to Z Pinot Gris.  Who knew?!  That’s what I love about food and wine…  Some of the most unusual combinations sometimes make the most beautiful, unexpected pairings.  So, keep playing with your food!

Jonathan Lampe
 
May 3, 2016 | Jonathan Lampe

Playing with your food - Kettle Chips part 1

College days aside, I’ve not really considered a bag of potato chips to be a meal. With the diversity of flavors seen on the grocery shelf these days, however, most of the flavor components of your favorite dish are represented. Sweetness can be found in Honey Barbeque or Maple Bacon flavors, acid in Salt & Vinegar, spicy heat in Jalapeño. Of course, they all have the salt element.

It made sense, then, when I attended a wine tasting here at the winery that took this concept and applied it to wine pairing. We were provided a variety of chips and wine with which to create pairings and see how the flavors came together.

I often mention to folks in the tasting room how well our Chardonnay goes with salt in food. It was a pleasant reminder to see that the humble, plain potato chip could have quite an effect on the flavor of the Chardonnay. It also provided me inspiration for my next movie night snack.

Even more interesting was how the Barbeque flavor and the Maple Bacon both paired so well with Pinot Noir. Both flavors provided a sweetness that complimented the earthy tartness of the wine such that I plan to open a Pinot the next time I heat up the grill.

Perhaps the best part was that this exercise is easily and inexpensively replicated. If you enjoy hosting wine tasting nights with friends, pick up a few bags of chips and see what flavor combinations surprise you.

Ryan Collins
 
April 22, 2016 | Ryan Collins

The effects of water on tannin levels in grape development - Part three: Irrigation

In February I had the pleasure of speaking at the Oregon Wine Industry Symposium on a panel talking about grape and wine tannins. Anna Matzinger, Steve Price and I wanted to clarify what tannins are, how their levels in wine affect texture and structure of the wine, where tannins come from, the role of soil moisture on grape tannin levels and how harvest date affects quality of tannins.

I was tasked with talking about the relationship between soil water status and grape tannin levels. It was a great opportunity to improve my understanding of the relationship, and helped me come to terms with the difference between dry farming here in the Willamette Valley and the irrigated vineyards in Southern Oregon. On dry farmed sites factors like soil type, depth and texture, along with the seasonal rainfall have a profound effect on tannin level. In vineyards where there isn’t enough soil moisture to sustain the vines for the entire season, supplementary irrigation is needed. In those vineyards you have more control over the tannin levels of the grapes. To understand this topic and prep for my panel discussion, I studied three key disciplines: 1) soil science; 2) plant physiology; and 3) irrigation management.

Before I get into this I will say that I think the Internet is great for researching topics but I really like books.

PART THREE: IRRIGATION

By controlling the water applied to plants through irrigation you can study its effects on the growth of the vines, yield and also the fruit chemistry. In dry farmed situations it’s very hard to control the water therefore it is harder to study the effects of water on the vines and fruit.

There have been a lot of studies on irrigation management all over the world and the effects of varying irrigation levels at different points throughout the season. What researchers have found is that by applying less water than the vines are losing to ET between fruit set and veraison, you can control the vine growth and vigor, increase the exposure of the fruit and reduce the berry size. All of these factors help to increase the concentration of tannins and other phenolic compounds in the grapes, desirable in red grapes but less desirable in white grapes.

This understanding has led to wide spread adoption of the irrigation practice called Regulated Deficit Irrigation (RDI) and it is used to improve the quality of red wine grapes. To learn more about RDI visit this site: http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/EM061E/EM061E.pdf.

 

Ryan Collins
 
April 15, 2016 | Ryan Collins

The effects of water on tannin levels in grape development - Part two: Plant physiology

In February I had the pleasure of speaking at the Oregon Wine Industry Symposium on a panel talking about grape and wine tannins. Anna Matzinger, Steve Price and I wanted to clarify what tannins are, how their levels in wine affect texture and structure of the wine, where tannins come from, the role of soil moisture on grape tannin levels and how harvest date affects quality of tannins.

I was tasked with talking about the relationship between soil water status and grape tannin levels. It was a great opportunity to improve my understanding of the relationship, and helped me come to terms with the difference between dry farming here in the Willamette Valley and the irrigated vineyards in Southern Oregon. On dry farmed sites factors like soil type, depth and texture, along with the seasonal rainfall have a profound effect on tannin level. In vineyards where there isn’t enough soil moisture to sustain the vines for the entire season, supplementary irrigation is needed. In those vineyards you have more control over the tannin levels of the grapes. To understand this topic and prep for my panel discussion, I studied three key disciplines: 1) soil science; 2) plant physiology; and 3) irrigation management.

Before I get into this I will say that I think the Internet is great for researching topics but I really like books.

PART TWO: PLANT PHYSIOLOGY

No one has written a better book on grapevine anatomy and physiology than Markus Keller: The Science of Grapevines, 2010. This was my go to resource for trying to understand how the plant responds to water.

Plants uptake water though their roots via osmosis. It is transported up the xylem to the leaves and out through the stomata. The negative pressure (tension) in the stomata pulls the water from the roots to the leaves. The tension in the leaves has to be greater that the tension in the xylem and the soil to effectively move the water. Therefore the tension in the soil affects the tension in the plant.

An increase in soil tension due to evaporation and transpiration (evapotranspiration or ET) causes a higher increase in xylem tension which, in turn, slows shoot growth and can stop shoot growth all together.

The drying of the soil also causes abscisic acid to be produced (ABA) in the roots. ABA is then transported around the plant where it has many effects.

  1. ABA helps regulate stomatal conductance. An increase in ABA closes the stomata so the plant loses less water.
  2. ABA works against Auxins which stimulate cell elongation and apical dominance. ABA production, like xylem tension helps to slow and stop shoot growth.

Tom Caruso
 
March 31, 2016 | Tom Caruso

Oregon Wine Symposium Part Two: Climatology

Held every year, the Oregon Wine Symposium is marked as "the premier educational event and trade show for the Northwest wine community." This was the first year that I had the pleasure to attend and following this past harvest, I was looking forward to lectures on some pretty hot topics in the Willamette Valley during the 2015 season. For locals you might have picked up on my pun there, but for the uninitiated, let's just say that year after year the Willamette Valley never ceases to surprise with the forecast. We'll get to that in just a moment, but first, an overview.

The two day event is organized by the Oregon Winegrowers Association and is held at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. It features more than 200 exhibitors on the trade show floor and pulls in guest speakers at the top of their fields, from local icons to world renowned professionals. And perhaps one of the coolest components is that at any point during the symposium you might just bump into one of said icons, personal wine heroes, or the like. 

This year, the lineup of speakers ranged from Patrick Criteser, CEO of Tillamook Country Creamery, to Rich DeScenzo, Group Leader of Microbiology at ETS Laboratories - essentially big picture business to DNA fingerprinting yeast cells in a winery...you get the idea. To say that there is something for every sector of this industry represented at the Symposium is an understatement. That said, there seemed to be one topic that transcended every niche of the wine business because it affects us all - climatology reports.

Dr. Greg Jones, Professor and Research Climatologist at Southern Oregon University, returned this year to provide a wrap-up of the 2015 growing season and some projections for what's ahead in 2016. Slide after slide of his presentation showed us that last year was one for the record books - not just Portland experiencing the most 90 degree days in a calendar year, but 2015 taking the cake as the hottest year in history. With much of the Northwest being victim to an El Niño pattern, we've seen the temperature of the ocean increase, which is even more drastic than land heating. The Arctic Sea ice extent is at its lowest level ever and the temperature gradient between the poles and the equator has dropped, resulting in the jet stream becoming more pronounced. Add to that a statistic like a record breaking accumulation of rainfall in Oregon between December 2015 and February 2016, it's no surprise to see meteorologists, viticulturists, winemakers, and even hospitality managers scratching their heads and wondering what lies ahead.

Queue the projections for 2016: To put it simply, Dr. Jones says to expect more of the current trend. Anywhere from 2012 to 2015 heat or beyond. With California already seeing bud break, I can't imagine we'll be far behind. Karen Peterson, Viticulturists at REX HILL & A to Z Wineworks, reported this morning that we are already seeing wooly bud stage in some vineyards! Will it be another early harvest in 2016? Will the rain let up and tourist season kick off early in the Valley? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. One thing is for certain, we can look forward to another year of surprises and I suspect another seminar full of coverage of what went down at next year's Oregon Wine Symposium.