Varietal of the Month:  Pinot Noir

As a red wine, Pinot Noir is light to medium body with bright acidity, soft fruit and translucent color. The nose often outweighs the palate with heavily perfumed scents of dark fruit and spices. Originating in France, Pinot Noir is one of the oldest grapes used for wine and is also harder to grow and less prolific than varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. It prefers cooler environments and soil that has good drainage. While the grapes prefer moisture and less heat, the roots prefer to be dry. The word Pinot is French for pine, as the grapes grow in clusters that resemble a pinecone. Noir is French for black or night.

Pinot Noir grown in Oregon is exposed to a milder climate than a pinot noir from California. With more rain and less sunshine, an Oregon Pinot Noir, like Argyle, will have a more delicate structure, lighter color and nuanced fruit flavors.

Wine of the Month:  Argyle Pinot Noir, Williamette Valley, Oregon
Argyle Pinot Noir highlights the elegance and complexity of the Willamette Valley, showcasing the purity of fruit and nimble texture the region has to offer. Fermented entirely in small, 1.5 ton lots and plunged by hand, the vintage leans red cherry, pomegranate, and spiced tea. Fresh, vibrant acidity is framed with polished tannin along with silky texture and persistent length.  This wine celebrates the simplicity and purity of fruit that comes from a growing season filled with warm days and cool nights. 

Food Pairings:
A versatile wine with food, Pinot Noir can be paired with salmon, pork, chicken and most fruits and vegetables. Also, earthy flavors like mushrooms, winter squash and greens.

Recipe: Blood Orange-Balsamic Seared Chicken

Blood Orange Balsamic Chicken

4 chicken breasts
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 Tbs olive oil, divided
3/4 cup blood orange juice
2 Tbs honey
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
2 blood oranges, sliced
Fresh thyme, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat two tablespoons of oil over high heat in an ovenproof skillet and sear the chicken for 5 minutes per side, until golden. Whisk together the blood orange juice, honey, balsamic, garlic and thyme. Pour the liquid over the chicken and place in the oven. 

Arrange the orange slices in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with the remaining olive oil and place in the oven. Cook the chicken and orange slices for 20 to 25 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Serve the chicken with the orange slices on top of each breast and garnished with fresh thyme. Spoon sauce from the pan over the chicken.

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