A fine time with wine

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

The most recent wine pairing event at the Coal Yard restaurant was an evening of tasting five wines produced in Oregon, enjoying complementary foods with each and the opportunity to learn a myriad of details about how to increase one’s appreciation of such and develop one’s wine palate.

Ian Willicott, sales supervisor of Alabama Crown Distributing Company, was the genial and informative host.

Ian Willicott, with Alabama Crown Distributing Company, presented five wines from Oregon’s Willamette Valley Wine Region at the most recent wine pairings at the Coal Yard. (Contributed)

Ian Willicott, with Alabama Crown Distributing Company, presented five wines from Oregon’s Willamette Valley Wine Region at the most recent wine pairings at the Coal Yard. (Contributed)

“All flavors are present in different wines,” he said. “Hone your appreciation of wine by spending time learning to pull out the different essences.”

The evening began with a taste of bubbly Argyle, Vintage Brut 2012 from Willamette Valley. This was paired with lightly batter-fried asparagus, a delicacy in itself.

The pairing dishes for the evening were prepared by Chefs Adam Vaughn and Taneshia Smith.

The history of Oregon’s Willamette Valley Wine Region is a story of climate, soil, craft and culture. All these elements converge for a “perfect storm” for world class Pinot Noir. This area is the state’s largest wine producer and Oregon is third in the nation, behind California and Washington in wine production.

The leading varietal is Pinot Noir, but Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Rieslings are also produced.

Willicott noted that the type of barrel/cask for aging wine may vary from oak barrels (which cost anywhere from $500-$1,000 each) or stainless steel or even concrete barrels.

The barrel or cask, of course, influences the end flavor. Also, winemakers in Oregon consider themselves good stewards of the environment and 47 percent of the state vineyards are “certifiable sustainable acres.”

Paired with an arugula salad tossed with fresh corn, fried green tomato wedges, and red peppers was Nuthouse Riesling, 2012, from Lone Star Vineyard.

Guests learned that 95 percent of the U.S. production of hazelnuts, also called filberts, are grown in Oregon and this particular wine had a very nutty flavor. There are nearly as many filbert trees growing in Oregon as there are people!

Argyle Chardonnay, 2013, was the third wine presented accompanied by a skewer of chicken and grape tomato.

Along with the 2014 Argyle Pinot Noir, guests enjoyed savory mini-pizzas before sampling the final pairing of grilled fish accompanied by green bean and corn succotash along with a final crisp Pinot Noir.