We’ve been lucky to have one of my wife’s closest friends visit us in wine country over the last couple months. And last weekend she arrived with all the ingredients for a dinner she wanted to prepare. Lucky me, all I had to do was pick the wine.
The menu for the evening was: Thai coconut and turmeric Kabocha squash soup, Miso-glazed grilled Chilean Sea Bass served with ginger and tamari sauteed bok choy, onions and mushrooms. Yum! There’s a lot of savory and light spices in these dishes, and I wanted a lighter red wine that could complement the flavors with fruitiness and some earthy, herbal elements. The review of the cellar revealed a Pinot Noir from Edna Valley, the 2016 Chamisal Young Vines, that just might have the combination of aromas I wanted.
The 2016 Chamisal was a bright ruby in the glass. It was deep, but almost sparkled in it’s brightness. Aromas of bright cherry rose to greet me at the approach with a hint of sweet strawberry also in the mix. I wondered if it might be too fruit forward for the savory soup, but swirling around the bright fruit was some tangy rhubarb and as I inhaled again I got a bit of herb, like Eucalyptus, and some earthiness. The pairing with the soup was a fantastic complementary pairing. The bright fruit and squash matching up on one level and the tumeric and earthy herb on another. There was a lot of swooning at the table between the delicious soup and this wine pairing.
The initial taste of the wine was shaped by fruit. An easy mouthful of cherry and raspberry, evolving into plum. On the mid-palate, the herbal aspects combined with light tannin to spread out the mouthfeel - smoothly and broadly. Acidity was just right for the soup, neither high nor low. And I wondered how it would fare with the fish.
Those young vines did well, moving from that rich savory soup to the Miso glazed Sea Bass and vegetables. The medium acidity was well suited to the seafood. The rich fruit balanced the umami qualities of the miso glaze and the long finish showed earth and tannin in just the right measure to hang with the savory, tamari veggies.
I am a big fan of the Chamisal Pinot Noir from Edna Valley, and I wonder how those young vines are doing now with another 5 years of harvests in the bottle. It’s a great little tasting room, in the middle of their vineyards with a lovely outdoor patio overlooking the vines. Not too far south from San Luis Obispo. Make the stop, it’s worth it.