The day of love has arrived; February 14: Valentine’s Day. What does Valentine’s Day mean to you? Some see it as a “Hallmark Holiday” meant to boost greeting card sales between Christmas and Easter. Or a day to over spend on roses, chocolates and food all to declare ones love for another. Many non-dating single people I know dread Valentine’s Day. Some even share in their disdain together by gathering for a non-dating day celebration. Those who are dating or newly married seem to revel in giving and receiving the outward expressions of love professed on Valentine’s Day. For those of us who have been married a while (my husband and I included) Valentine’s Day simply offers another excuse to enjoy good food with good wine with the ones we love.
This month’s Food and Wine Pairing Weekend is focusing on delicious food and wine pairings for Valentine’s Day. Please join the conversation and share your favorite food and wine pairings this morning from 10:00-11:00 CST on Twitter by following the hashtag #WinePW and be sure to read the articles from my fellow #WinePW writers linked at the end of this article.
Normally for a special occasion such as Valentine’s Day I would not open a wine media sample to enjoy; rather, I would pull something special out of the cellar. However, knowing one of the media samples I had recently received was something special I decided it was the perfect opportunity to enjoy the lovely wine. You will recall from my article “Feeling Alright Now with Cornerstone Cellars Chardonnay” that I am a huge fan of the outstanding wines being crafted by Cornerstone Cellars. Craig Camp, Michael Dragutsky, Jeff Keene (CA wine maker), and Tony Rynders (OR wine maker) are firing on all cylinders by perennially releasing outstanding award winning wines from their least expensive, Rocks! Blends, through their entire portfolio to their most expensive White Label, The Cornerstone. You simply cannot go wrong drinking Cornerstone Cellars wines.
Cornerstone Oregon White Label 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir: This wine poured a sensual garnet into the glass and opened with seductive aromas of ripe red and black berries, spice box and a hint of coffee, licorice and cola. On the palate this beautiful Pinot Noir offered lively flavors of cherries, currants, blackberries and strawberries balanced with delightful flavors of cola, white pepper and soy with a lingering touch of smoked cedar on the back of the palate. This wine was beautifully orchestrated from its well-balanced acidity, integrated tannins, and medium body to its lingering finish that left the palate seeking another velvety sip. This flagship Pinot Noir from Cornerstone was crafted from 100% Willamette Valley grapes cultivated 29% from Yamhill-Carlton, 29% from Eola-Amity, 25% from Dundee Hills, 11% from Chehalem Mountain, and 6% from Ribbon Ridge Vineyards. This wine contained 13.5% alcohol. SRP $50. Click here to order this wine direct from Cornerstone Cellars today! I highly recommend this wine. In fact, I recommend you go ahead a buy a few bottles; one to drink now, several to age and share with friends in the coming years because this wine is only going to get better with proper aging.
The Cornerstone Cellars 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir was a versatile wine that would pair with many dishes beautifully. I chose to pair it with an elegant yet simple meal to allow the wine to shine: Cedar plank salmon prepared simply with just extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, French thyme and fresh squeezed lemon, served alongside garlic sautéed brocolini, Israeli couscous mixed with chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), chopped mini-Persian cucumbers, fresh chopped Italian parsley and fresh squeeze lemon juice, and a fresh kale salad with diced avocado, dried cranberries, sliced mandarin oranges and candied walnuts with a homemade dressing of Texas orange EVOO and orange vinegar mixed with honey mustard, salt and pepper. The meal was fresh, healthy and delicious. Furthermore, the light and savory flavors of the meal allowed the wine to take center stage in its velvety richness, like a pianist accompanying a saxophone soloist. Of course no Valentine’s Day meal is complete without a decadent dessert! I paired a rich and dark flourless chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream to conclude our dinner and knock the food wine pairing out of the park! I must confess I did not make the cakes; I purchased them from one of our favorite local healthy and quick restaurants called Start. The cakes are 100% gluten free and made with quinoa flour. However, these decadently delicious cakes are still made with eggs, oil and sugar. They are dense and rich and every time I serve them they are a huge hit (even my teens love them and they know they are made with 100% quinoa flour). One of these days I will get around to finding a recipe to make these cakes myself (or perhaps I can convince the chef at Start to share the recipe with me) because this cake is the bomb! The rich, velvety texture of the wine was a truly perfect pairing with the chocolate cake; in fact, the cake even brought out a hint of cinnamon and vanilla in the Pinot Noir. It was a fantastic Valentine’s Day meal and hopefully will inspire you to stay home and make a delicious meal to pair with an outstanding wine like the Cornerstone Cellars 2011 Willamette Valley White Label Pinot Noir.
Cornerstone Cellars considers themselves an “atypical” Napa Valley winery and I agree; just the fact their Pinot Noir is produced in Oregon (as is their Chardonnay) speaks to their willingness to focus more on producing high quality wines over staying in one region; “It’s more important where the vines put down roots than where the winemakers do.” Don’t you love that?! Cornerstone Cellars crafts wines to express their vision of the 3v’s: vineyard, vintage and variety. In 2008 Cornerstone’s Craig Camp teamed up with renowned Oregon wine maker Tony Rynders to collaborate on their Pinot Noir Chardonnay and project. I am so honored to receive the results of this collaboration!
From the Cornerstone Cellars web site:
We do not make wine for everyone. We make what we believe in, not what the mass market demands. We will not be a slave to the fashion of the moment, we make wines we love to drink. What makes a great wine does not change; it’s not like having hemlines to go up and down according latest whim.
I strongly encourage you to visit the Cornerstone Cellars web site to learn more about them, view their entire portfolio of wines and to order wine, including their White Label Pinot Noir. Furthermore, take a moment to look at their low cost, low commitment, high value wine club. It could be one of the best wine club values I have ever seen!
Be sure to check out what my fellow bloggers have come up with for the February Wine Pairing Weekend!
- #WinePW Clear to See by Dancing Veggies
- Bubbles & Boulud by Confessions of a CulinaryDiva
- Champagne and Oysters for Valentines’ Day by Enoflyz Wine Blog
- Chocolate Pots de Creme paired with Port Wine by CuriousCuisiniere
- Fettuccine Primavera Avec Mon Coeur by Cooking Chat
- Fizzy Fun at Your Romantic Brunch by Food Wine Click
- Gimme a Man With Mussels: Romantic Pairings from Eola Hills & Oregon’s Coast by TastingPour
- Italian Valentine sweets: Sprisolana & Recioto della Valpolicella by Vino Travels
- Let’s talk Romance by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Old World Romance for #WinePW 9: Chicken Paprikas and Hungarian Furmint by Pull That Cork
- Recipe for Refueling Romance, Salmon Frittata and Michelle Sparkling Brut Rose by Wild 4 Washington Wine
- Risotto all’Amarone + Masi Campofiorin 2009 by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Romancing the Jura: Vin Jaune & Roast Chicken by GirlsGottaDrink
Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you’re reading this early enough, you can join us for a live Twitter chat on our theme “It’s All About Romance” on Saturday, February 14, from 11 a.m. to noon Eastern Time.
You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the March Wine Pairing Weekend, which will be on Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 10 am CST and share your Open That Bottle Night wine and food pairings.
Get your own bottle of Cornerstone Oregon White Label 2011 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and let me know what song you would pair with it. Cheers!