Low Price Point Pick - For about $19 the 2009 Klee Pinot Noir from Chris Berg and ROOTS winery is hard to beat. In fact, if someone asked me to name good Oregon Pinots under $20, I could count them on one hand, and this one would be on the list.
Inspired by the famous Bauhaus movement teacher Paul Klee (1879-1940), Klee represents function, consistency and affordability just like Bauhaus.
Chris Berg wanted to create an everyday wine for every person and Klee delivers with a nose of sweet red fruits, asian spice, dried flowers and a touch of wet earth. Swirl it in your glass and let it take you to where you want to be.
Mid Price Point Pick - Bergstrom captivated the wine world in the late ’90s when Josh Bergstrom returned from a stint in Burgundy and rocketed to instant fame with a series of highly rated offerings.
The 2009 Bergstrom Cumberland Reserve is a decidedly oakier version of their mid-priced Pinot. Over time that oak will melt into the wine but while it’s young, there’s strands of cedar veiled by dark red fruits and fine tannins. The cedar notes in the wine will do the Samba with the cedar plank notes in the salmon emulating two puzzle pieces joining together on your palate.
For $38 this is a solid offering and will get better over the next 5-7 years. For me, the $35 price point is the measuring stick for Oregon. For that kind of money you should get pretty fruit and lots of aromatics in the glass.
Higher Price Point - I discovered an etched magnum of 2003 Beaux Freres Pinot Noir in my cellar recently and decided to pop it open to see how a good Oregon Pinot can age. In a word, WOW! All the debate about Oregon “Grand Cru” caliber wines is justified by Beaux Freres effort.
Very aromatic, ethereal nose unfolding into pretty layers of dried cherry, red rose pedals, dark red raspberry, stewed plum, RC cola and hints of smoke and dark chocolate.
Elegance, purity, floral, seamless and structured. And out of magnum is was even better! It would pair wonderfully with the salmon but could be its own experience. I don’t smoke, but if I did I would need a cigarette after this one. It’s a shame there was only one!
I can't remember the first time I had a wine with a dish and had the "aha!" wine+food pairing moment, but I suspect it might have been this combination. I lived in Oregon during my high school, college and young adult years. Living so close to the Willamette valley fueled my love for wine after getting bit by the wine bug. Oregon and the Northwest has very good wine, and the local food ingredients are endless. You can find anything there, especially lots of salmon. It seems mother nature has a way of providing us with natural wine+food pairings. I explore this idea with Pairing Local. Cedar Plank salmon and Pinot Noir might be one of the closest things to a perfect pairing in my book. You soak the cedar planks in water, then slap a salmon filet on there and cook on the grill. The heat and moisture in the wood release a cedar smokiness that gives the salmon a wonderful flavor. But you want to season the fish with the right combination of herbs to compliment the smoke. Here's a recipe for a salmon rub I've developed over the years.
- 1 cedar plank per salmon filet -
- Salmon filet - can be cooked as one big one or separately
- 1 TBSP brown sugar -
- 1 TBSP paprika -
- 1 TBSP kosher salt -
- 1 TBSP thyme - minced
- 1 TBSP coriander - ground into powder
- 1 TBSP cumin -
- 1 TBSP cayenne -
- 1 TBSP allspice -
- 1 TBSP garlic - minced
- 1 TBSP rosemary - chopped finely
- 1 TBSP yellow mustard -
- 1 TBSP ancho/chipotle chili -