Poor soils – great wine
Steve Lutz is extremely proud of the soil in his Lenné Estate vineyard. He brags that his vineyard has the poorest soil in Yamhill County. Vines here must work hard and prove themselves to survive.
The Lenné Estate Vineyard covers 20.9 acres of steep hillside with Peavine series soils. This soil is ancient marine sediment and lacking in nutrients so the vines have to dig deep to survive. They don’t always make it, but those that do, well they make some tasty grapes. Small and concentrated these grapes turn into delicious wine.
The Lenné Estate Vineyard in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA
Located on the East side of the horseshoe that is the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, the vineyard sits between 420-575 feet in elevation. After founding Lenné Estate in 2000, Steve planted the first vines here in 2001. They produce between 1500 and 2000 cases each year.
The style here is mostly minimalist, with the goal to showcase the site with the fruit, letting it develop in bottle.
We received 2 wines from Lenné Estate, one of which was a Chardonnay and we felt it was appropriate to share with you today, which happens to be Chardonnay Day! Now you may have seen some posts earlier about Chardonnay Day, but the official day is not a “date” it is set as the Thursday before Memorial Day in the US. Oh, and it is still Oregon Wine Month! So…
Lenné Estate 2018 Scarlett’s Reserve Chardonnay
This is only the 2nd vintage for the Lenné Estate Scarlett’s Reserve Chardonnay. It ages 9 months in oak puncheons then does an additional 8 months “sur lie” in Stainless Steel. That “sur lie” aging gives a creaminess to the wine and a bit of bread or brioche on the nose added to the underlying notes of pear, apple, and something tart and tropical.
The wine is clean, bright, and elegant. Not flashy, but casually poised, and authentic, like a baby grand played in a cabin.
They are primarily a Pinot house, the Chardonnay in the vineyard is just a few rows on the edges. Several rows were planted in the eastern part of the vineyard in 2005 and then more grafted on the eastern side in 2015.
*This wine was received as a media sample. All opinions remain our own.
Pairing Aromatic Compounds
As I looked for a pairing for this Chardonnay, I wanted to play on the apples on the nose and tie in saffron.
*Geek break: Carotenoids, aldehydes, and terpenes are volatile compounds that give saffron its aroma.
Chardonnay and apples have carotenoids also, so these things work together well.
Baked Basmati Rice with Apple and Saffron
We made a side dish of basmati rice with apples and saffron. This bakes in the oven adding crispy bits and amping up the aromas of the apple and saffron. This dish makes quite a bit! We had rice for days, so luckily it was really delicious. The apples and saffron paired beautifully with the wine. (the recipe is at the bottom)
Sea bass on white beans, cherry tomatoes, and spinach
For our main course, we splurged on sea bass, which pairs well with a crisp white wine. The Lenné Estate Chardonnay was crisp, but it also had some depth from that “sur lie” aging that seemed to call for something a little richer.
We plated our sea bass on a mixture of white beans, cherry tomatoes, and spinach cooked in chicken stock, with fresh thyme and a splash of lemon. The beans gave just the right weight to the dish and worked beautifully with the creamy notes in the Chardonnay.
We did a dessert pairing also. Well, not everything can pair perfectly. Sadly the sweetness of the dessert made the wine too acidic. (Keep in mind, it is the food that changes the wine, not the other way around. You should also make sure the wine is sweeter than the food, to avoid the wine being perceived as too acidic).
Nonetheless, this dessert did pick up on all the notes from the dinner and the wine, it stays thematically in line, just don’t sip the wine while you enjoy it.
Stuffed apples with rabri
This recipe by Tarla Dalai played to both the apple and saffron that I wanted and they are beautiful. Apples are cored and cooked in a simple syrup with saffron, stuffed with a sweetened mixture of cottage cheese (or paneer) and pistachios, and served on a lake of rabri, a North Indian sweet of milk sugar and saffron.
This evokes the flavors of this Lenné Estate Chardonnay, with the tartness of the apples and the richness of the rabri.
Want to know more about Lenné Estate?
Feel like you want to know more about Lenné Estate and its wines? No worries, we look forward to sharing more of this winery’s story with you soon, as we taste the Lenné Estate 2018 Kill Hill Pinot Noir.
Until then, you can visit their website at https://www.lenneestate.com to order wines and learn more about them. If you happen to be in the Willamette Valley and want to visit, you will find details on reserving a tasting and their current hours here.
It’s Oregon Wine Month!
We did not drink nearly enough Oregon Wine this month, there are so many amazing wines in Oregon to enjoy! Check out what is still happening in the Willamette Valley to celebrate, as well as what is happening beyond in the rest of Oregon at the Oregon Wine Board Site! (check out their #PourItForward campaign on Instagram & Twitter, where you can find videos of Winemakers paying it forward, tasting and describing another winemaker’s wine!)
This dish beautifully combines tart apple and apricot with the aromas of the fragrant basmati rice and saffron. Sliced almonds and chopped pistachios add crunch. This cooks briefly on the stove, but most of the time is in the oven, where the rice will crisp up on the edges adding another texture to the dish.
It is based on a recipe from FoodandWine.
- ¼ tsp saffron threads
- ¼ cup warm water
- 7 tbs unsalted butter
- 1 medium white onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 ½ cups basmati rice
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 green onions
- 1/3 cup of sliced almonds
- 1/3 cup pistachios
- 8-10 apricots
- 1 Granny Smith apple
- ¼ tsp Fresh ground black pepper
- Finely chop the onion
- Mince the garlic
- Slice the green onions thinly (only the white parts)
- Quarter the dried apricots
- Set aside
- Preheat the oven to 375°F
- Crumble saffron into ¼ cup warm water and let it stand for 5 minutes
- Heat a large skillet
- Melt 4 tbs butter
- Cook the onions and garlic on med heat for about 7 minutes
- Stir in the cinnamon
- Add the rice & stir to coat
- Add the chicken stock
- Add the saffron & its liquid
- Season with salt
- Bring to a boil
- Transfer to a 9 x 13 glass baking dish
- Cover with foil and Bake for 45 minutes
- When the rice is done, set aside with its foil still on to cool slightly
- Core the apple and slice it into 1-inch pieces, leaving the peel on. (I know this seems big, but trust me it works in the final dish)
- Melt 3 tbs of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat
- Add the green onions and cook for 30 seconds
- Add the almonds, pistachios, and apricots and cook for 2 minutes. The apricots will just be starting to brown.
- Add the apple and cook just for 1 minute until it is warm.
- Stir this into the rice in the baking dish, scraping down the sides where the rice has browned.
- Place in a large bowl and serve family-style.
Amount Per Serving Calories 231Total Fat 13gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 7gCholesterol 24mgSodium 275mgCarbohydrates 23gFiber 2gSugar 7gProtein 6g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
This recipe marries the freshness of the fish with the warm savoriness of the beans. It is quick and easy to make. We went with 2 larger sea bass fillets, but you could easily cut these in half and serve 4.
This paired beautifully with an Oregon Chardonnay from Lenne Estate.
It is based on a recipe from Cooking Light.
- 2 (8-oz.) sustainable skinless sea bass fillets
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 5 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 2/3 cup unsalted chicken stock
- 1 (15-oz.) can unsalted white beans (Great Northern White, Cannellini or Navy Beans any will do), rinsed and drained
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Heat a non-stick skillet big enough to hold your fillets of seabass over medium-high heat.
- Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper
- Add 1 tbs of olive oil to the skillet and swirl to coat
- Add the fish cooking 3 minutes per side
- Remove the fish and tent with foil to keep warm
- Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in the skillet again over medium-high heat
- Add the sliced garlic and cook until golden brown, stirring often (about 1 minute)
- Add the thyme and tomatoes and cook for 1-minute stirring often
- Add the chicken stock and beans and bring to a simmer.
- Add the spinach a handful at a time, stirring until it wilts.
- Squeeze in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper
- Plate the beans in the bottom of a serving dish, and serve with the seabass on top
- Garnish with extra sliced cherry tomatoes and fresh thyme
Amount Per Serving Calories 428Total Fat 23gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 18gCholesterol 31mgSodium 607mgCarbohydrates 33gFiber 9gSugar 4gProtein 26g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
Sweet rabri (a milk sweet from Northern India) makes the bed for these saffron poached apples with a sweet filling of paneer and pistachios. These are the perfect balance of tart and sweet, crisp and creamy. This is based on a recipe from Tarla Dalal.
- 4 small apples
- 1 2/3 cup sugar (divided)
- 1 cup water
- 10 saffron strands (divided)
- ¼ cup crumbled paneer (or cottage cheese)
- ¼ cup chopped pistachios
- 2 tbs powdered sugar
- 2 2/3 cups of milk
- Dissolve 5 saffron strands in 1 tbs of water
- Combine sugar and 1 cup of water in a deep pan, mix and boil stirring constantly
- Add the saffron mixture and mix
- Pull off the heat
- Core the apples
- Add the apples to the syrup and mix well
- Simmer 5-6 minutes till apples are soft, turning twice
- Remove and drain apples
- Mix the paneer or cottage cheese with the pistachios and powdered sugar
- Divide the filling into 4 portions and stuff each apple
- Heat the milk in a non-stick pan and simmer stirring constantly until reduced by 1/3
- Add the sugar and saffron and mix well.
- Simmer 15 min until the sugar is dissolved and the milk is thick and creamy
- Just before serving heat the rabri and place the stuffed apples in the mixture and heat
- Serve immediately.
Ideally you would have an apple corer for this job. If, like me, you don't have one (and I couldn't find one at the grocery store!) you can use the old school method my husband taught me that his grandmother used. From the top of the apple make 4 cuts with your paring knife straight down through the apple. Turn the apple over to be sure you can see your cut in the bottom. Push the core out (you might have to check and see if the square is bigger on the top or the bottom, push from the smaller side toward the larger side, if this is the case).
Amount Per Serving Calories 574Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 18mgSodium 185mgCarbohydrates 120gFiber 5gSugar 103gProtein 9g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
More on Oregon Wine Country!
There is so much to explore in Oregon Wine Country! Here is a sampling of some of the exploring we have done!
- Oregon Wine & Biodynamics with Troon and Winderlea
- Sokol Blosser Celebrating 50 years – an inside peek at the family behind this pioneering winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley
- Découverte! Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Dundee Hills and Mediterranean Salmon
- Girardet Vineyard – Sustainability in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley
- Youngberg Hill – Reminiscing and Making New Memories with 2 Youngberg Hill Pinot Noirs
- Cowhorn – Well of course it’s biodynamic…
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.