Sustaining the January Sog with Sustainable Pinot noir

Feeling uninspired after the holidays? Weather forecast put a halt to your new year’s workout plans? How about these long, cold and soggy January nights? Do they have you in search of warm, rich, comfort food? Well it has mine and they do me.

So much for my running goals: my waterproof running shoes were stolen on New Year’s Eve and now—tons of rain in the forecast! And with all of the precip, it’s difficult not to feel gloomy and seek momentary satisfaction in too much chocolate or fun food like—french fries!

So how am I going to start my year off right? What is inspiring me? Surely there is something.

The answer? Pinot!

… and not just any Pinot noir, but delicious, affordable and friendly-to-the-environment Pinot! I recently discovered killer deals on three Pinot noirs, which are also—*bonus*—produced sustainably. Often Pinot noir around the $20-and-under price point is mass-produced, injected with fake ingredients, highly filtered and more or less, becomes lifeless juice by the time it hits the bottle. But the following three are made from healthy grapes, respectable sites, not over-treated in the winery and are not only beneficial for you and your budget (something we can all use in January!), but also for the earth. So everyone is winning.

Over the last couple of weeks, I made it my goal to find delicious and totally satisfying, but also nutritious and healthy, recipes to pair with these Pinot noirs. So thought I’d share, in case I can be an inspiration to anyone else out there! 😉 Here goes and cheers to the beginning of 2019!

First, from Oregon

Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir 2017. Pinot noir 100%. Willamette Valley. Loads of black and red cherry fruit balanced by baking spice and a hint of wet earth. On the palate this wine is full and plush with cocoa powdery tannins, a faint citrus zest and a long and lovely finish.

Willamette Valley Vineyards sources its Pinot Noir from its estate vineyards and practices environmentally sustainable farming. They have been certified sustainable through LIVE (Low Impact Viticulture and Enology) and Salmon-Safe programs since 1997.


Fisherman’s Stew

The best part about this dish is I didn’t even have to cook it. On one of these first nights of dumping rain, I braved the weather and went to see a friend’s band play at the Davenport Roadhouse. They have an awesome Fisherman’s Stew on the menu and it was enough for two meals. A fish stew is a perfect choice for a cold January night because, composed mainly of seafood and vegetables, it’s totally healthy and immeasurably satisfying! It also keeps well for a day or two so makes great take-out or leftovers. The Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir works well with the savory nature of the broth and the richness of the seafood.

Second, from France

Jean-Claude Boisset Pinot Noir Les Ursulines 2016. Pinot noir 100%. Bourgogne. With characteristics of strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, earth, game, smoke and graphite, the wine shows purity and ripeness of fruit, a slight touch of oak and some tartness in the finish. It opens nicely after a little while in the glass and pairs splendidly with my Mung Bean Stew (recipe below)! The savory quality of the stew brings out all of the delicate fruit in this wine.

These grapes come solely from the Côte de Nuits (the northern half of the Côte d’Or, where most of the Grand Cru Pinot noir is produced). Yields are controlled by green harvest and cluster thinning when necessary, manual tilling of the soil, little or no use of fertilizers and environmentally friendly pest management that respects beneficial wildlife.


Mung Bean Stew

½ onion, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

1 c dried Mung beans

3 c cold water

1 large tomato, chopped

3 c chopped kale

5 pieces of turkey bacon (optional)

salt, pepper, oregano

Directions: Sauté kale in 1 Tbsp olive oil; set aside. Likewise, cook the turkey bacon, let cool and then chop it up into small pieces. In a large pot, sauté onion in 1-2 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat until it starts to brown. Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes more. Then add 3 cups of water and 1 cup of Mung beans. Turn heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium low and let cook about 20-30 minutes until most of the water is absorbed and beans are soft. Add tomato, kale and bacon, if using. Simmer on low for about 10-20 minutes. Season to taste.

Third, from California

La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016. Pinot noir 100%. Sonoma Coast. This wine starts with marked aromas of raspberries, mint and smoke but opens up over time to a profile better described as stewed raspberry, black licorice and mint. The palate is full of fleshy blackberry, raspberry, purple plum, cocoa powder and crushed rock. I love the black fruit character in this wine, though a light freshness and supple tannins keep it balanced throughout.

La Crema continues to remain a family owned winery and sources grapes from their multiple estate vineyards throughout the Sonoma Coast AVA for this wine. A variety of clones comprise the blend, lending a balanced array of flavor and texture nuances. The winery is certified under the Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and their estate vineyards are CCSW-certified (Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing). Le Crema uses traditional farming methods, natural pest control, photovoltaic (PV) solar array power and recycles water.


Baked Brie with Blackberries

Cambria‘s recipe here got me on this one! It is really easy to make, looks pretty and the juxtaposition of rich and creamy with tart and sweet, is just perfect with a fruity Pinot noir like La Crema‘s Sonoma Coast. I chose to have it with seed-heavy crackers (not white bread) and a side salad. Sometimes this type of meal is all I have the time for—and all I really want anyway—at the end of a long day. This could also be a really fun and quick app to throw together and enjoy with a few friends on a rainy night!

By the way, 12 days into January, I finally was able to get that run in, albeit in the mud …


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