The cool thing about being famous is traveling. I have always wanted to travel across seas, like to Canada and stuff.
I love hanging out with winemakers. It takes a certain type of person—passionate, slightly eccentric, probably obsessed—to dedicate a life to wine, and those lives yield great stories. The “winestory” may be of wine produced, or it may be of the makers’ lives before vin. At any rate, it was many years before I learned about the background of soft-spoken Scott Paul Wright, an unassuming, talented winemaker and importer who fits right into the Oregon wine scene. Little did I know that he was once the radio DJ Shadow Stevens/Shadow Steele, or later, the executive at Epic Records responsible for signing Pearl Jam. And as the story goes, he woke up one morning to discover his company signing Britney Spears, at which point he dropped out to realize his true calling in Pinot Noir. He’s been a Burgophile ever since.
Only 2,026 cases of this month’s first wine, Scott Paul’s ’06 La Paulée Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley, were produced. Choosing not to craft more muscular wines (for ratings’ sake), Scott Paul prefers the Burgundian techniques and philosophy, which means a hands-off approach and no yeast inoculation (only wild, indigenous yeasts are used), and no must-pumps or additives, keeping the process pure and simple. New French oak is kept to less than 20% and used only for ageing the wine, allowing it to breathe and develop naturally, rather than to impart artificial toasted flavors. The wines are un-fined and unfiltered, so the expression of fruit is truly pure. With this selection, we’ve chosen elegance over brawn, a sip to complement your favorite holiday foods. If you’re looking for an in-your-face fruit bomb, that’ll come another month. This wine tells a tale, much like its maker.
Eric Nuccio’s winestory took him from culinary school in DC to a job as a wine-shop steward, then to a distributor position, and on to Napa and Sonoma to study viticulture. He’s now arrived in Oregon, saying that in the Willamette he can make “the most interesting, balanced, and complex wine possible in the U.S.” Maybe we’re biased, but we heartily agree! And so, after much soul-searching, Eric’s finally come into his own, with a branded label and some great wines. His passion for Pinot equals his commitment to sustainable agriculture, and he uses the best fruit possible from organically, biodynamically, and sustainably farmed vineyards. Only 50 cases of this refreshing yet complex rosé were produced, and we think it’ll be the yin to your Thanksgiving meal’s yang. Who says rosé must be reserved for summertime patios?
*A note about the Haden Fig label: Eric’s wife, Jordan, during her work at the Portland Audubon Society as a volunteer veterinarian, became enamored with the northern saw-whet owl. This owl is a natural predator for vineyard pests and an essential part of a healthy symbiotic vineyard and ecosystem.
Wines of the Month
Scott Paul, La Paulée, 2006 Willamette Valley, Oregon, Pinot Noir
Scott Paul, a tiny producer in the Willamette Valley, makes this velvety-smooth Oregon Pinot Noir. His wines turn up their “noses” at more muscular Pinots in favor of elegance and suppleness, and the winery’s mission is to handcraft small lots with finesse and a gentle, hands-off regimen. The silky texture of this wine is remarkable, with red-fruit overtones, and a long, smooth finish. This elegant Pinot will pair beautifully with all your traditional Turkey Day fare.
Haden Fig, Pinot Noir Rosé, Willamette Valley, Oregon 2008
Haden Fig is an extremely small local winery offering wines from organically and biodynamically farmed vineyards. This rosé is 100% organic Pinot Noir crafted saignée method, meaning the grapes are first crushed with the juice and left in contact with the skins for about 24 hours. The pink juice is then drawn off and fermented in stainless steel. The result is a real contender, with hints of bright red fruit and a refreshing acidity. Enjoy this superb first release—it’s earned a place at our Thanksgiving table!
Recipe of the Month
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Chestnuts
This is an excellent side dish for Thanksgiving.
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts - trimmed, and halved
6 bacon slices - chopped
1 medium sized onion - chopped
2 cups peeled roasted chestnuts (about 1 1/4 pounds) or jarred chestnuts (about 12 ounces), halved. (Using canned or pre-roasted chestnuts is a huge time saver but sacrifices a little flavor).
1/2 cup broth or water
Cook brussels sprouts in large pot of boiling salted water or chicken broth until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and cool. Sauté chopped bacon in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels and drain.
Heat bacon drippings in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, brussel sprouts, and chestnuts and sauté until brussel sprouts begin to brown, about 8 minutes. Add 1/2 cup broth/water and cook until brussel sprouts are just tender and most of liquid is absorbed but mixture is still moist, about 3 minutes longer. Stir in bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the flavor needs a little brightening up, add a couple dashes of balsamic vinegar and maybe a pinch of red pepper.