“On the fourth day of wine my true love pulled out of the cellar for me, a Grüner Veltliner from Illahe.”
ILLAHE, pronounced Ill-Uh-Hee, is a local Chinook word meaning “earth” or “place” or “soil”From the Illahe Vineyards site
This summer we visited Illahe Vineyards in the Willamette Valley. Illahe is located in the southern part of the Willamette Valley west of Salem. They are within the proposed Mt. Pisgah/Polk County AVA.
If you want more details on the AVAs and proposed AVAs in the Willamette Valley, you can check out our post https://www.crushedgrapechronicles.com/oregons-willamette-valley-avas-a-primer/
We spent a morning at the vineyard with Lowell Ford who owns runs the vineyard with his wife Pauline. Their son Brad Ford is the winemaker and the force behind the proposed Mt. Pisgah/Polk County AVA.
Sitting on the patio in front of the winery you look south down the slope and across the vineyard. They sit between 225 and 440 feet here. They get earlier budbreak, as they are a warmer site than most in the Willamette Valley, but they also get the Van Duzer winds which cool the vineyard in the evening and give them a long growing season.
Illahe 2017 Estate Grüner Veltliner
While they primarily focus on Pinot Noir (and we look forward to a future post telling you all about those, including teaser their 1899 which is made) , they also grow Pinot Gris, Grüner Veltliner, Tempranillo, Viognier, Langrein, Schioppettino and Teroldego. Today we will focus on the Grüner that we picked up when we visited.
I reached out to Kathy, who runs their tasting room and had set us up for our visit and interview and she kindly put us in touch with Brad the winemaker. Brad responded with this great description of the wine, followed by a simple seasonal pairing:
The 2017 Illahe grüner veltliner introduces itself with light but dense aromas of dried peach, honey crisp apple, and fresh cedar board. This wine is fermented partially in acacia barrels which offer herbal flavors and a complex texture. The palate also contains flavors of red grapefruit, graham cracker, and white nectarine. The balanced acid and strong mouthfeel create a beautiful wine ready for drinking or aging.Brad Ford, Winemaker Illahe Vineyards
A nice, simple pairing for the gruner in the wintertime is a soupe aux choux, or cabbage soup. The lightness and fattiness of the soup pair well with a white wine like gruner. I like a homemade chicken broth and homemade sourdough wheat bread for the croute. Of course, a little pinch of classic gruner white pepper on top of the soup is the kicker.
Soupe aux Choux
Some refer to this as “Old Shoe Soup” (that would be Brits who were poking fun at the French words). This is a simple Cabbage soup. I searched through a few recipes and then adapted one to fit.
Here is the link to the recipe I based my soupe aux choux on https://www.thefrenchcookingacademy.com/cabbage-soup/
For my Soupe aux Choux I deviated a little from the recipe, with turkey stock from Thanksgiving, using bacon I had on hand and adding some par boiled potatoes left from the tartiflette I made earlier this week.
Tastings and Pairings
Michael was a bit skeptical of “cabbage soup” I reassured him, letting him know there was bacon in it. Regardless he requested a back up of fish and chips for lunch. So we paired both.
He was pleasantly surprised at the soupe aux choux and finished off most of his bowl. The fish and chips we found only paired with the addition of tartar sauce.
We found the wine needed to open a bit and warm to let out the nose. I did get honey crisp apples, a hazy bit of white pepper and wet stones on the nose. Later I noted something woodsy which…hmmm okay we can call it cedar board. On the palate I got a tartness which yes, reminded me with the bitter notes in the background of pink or red grapefruit and then under ripe apricots.
The soup was light, but warm and lovely and was perfect for the pairing on this cloudy day, to enjoy as the early afternoon sun peaked through the clouds and my windows. The croute which was sour dough baguette was topped with gouda which for me kicked the flavor up a notch and gave the Grüner even more to play with.
To visit Illahe:
To schedule an appointment email Kathy: [email protected] or call 503-831-1248.
We will have more on our visit with Illahe in the future, including our visit to their beautiful cellar and discussions on their 1899 Pinot Noir.
Want more? Click through to all of our 12 Days of Wine posts!