It was a cold mid-December weeknight and getting to be dinner preparation time. A busy week overflowed from one day to the next with little time to think about a weeknight meals. It is these times I turn to my massive stack of recipes I have accumulated over the years and look for something quick and easy to make. I then look at my wine samples and see what is looming that I really need to try. Winner, winner chicken dinner!
Left Coast Cellars is a family owned and operated winery in Willamette Valley with a commitment to sustainable practices in grape growing, winemaking, and land stewardship. They are LIVE and Salmon Safe certified, partnered with the US Fish and Wildlife Services to assist in the Oak Savanna Restoration Project, extend their recycling practices to the use of solar panels and the Adopt-A-Highway program, and give to local charities that support community initiatives. They offer a lovely portfolio of estate wines and estate honey. The winery and family has a strong reputation for crafting high quality wines at value prices while maintaining great care for the environment, workers, and community. I highly recommend you visit the Left Coast Cellars web site to learn more about them, view their entire portfolio of wines, events calendar, plan your next visit, and order wine for yourself.
2015 Left Coast Cellars The Orchards Pinot Gris Willamette Valley USA ($18): clear pale gold; clean medium aromas of stone fruit, citrus, white flowers, fresh green herbal notes; off-dry on the palate with a kiss of sweetness rounded out with high acidity, medium body with a fresh, tart, long finish; really lovely expression of Pinot Gris
2014 Left Coast Cellars Cali’s Cuvee Willamette Valley USA ($24): clear, pale ruby; clean medium- aromas of tart red fruit, white mushrooms, white tea; medium+ acidity, medium- tannins, medium body and finish; clean tart fruit on the palate, light and lively with lots of flavor, long tart finish; a great value pinot noir that delivers beyond its price
The Food: Due to time restraints over the holidays I wanted to enjoy both wines with the same meal. I had never tasted Left Coast Cellars wines before but knew of their positive reputation; furthermore, being from such a great wine region with excellent climate and soil that lends itself toward French wine styles I suspected these wines would be quite good. My thoughts on dinner included eating light and lean during the holidays when it was within my control, my daughter had just come home from college and needed a good home cooked meal, and I wanted to enjoy family time and not spend all day in the kitchen.
My Choice: A few weeks prior I had made a quick and delicious dinner out of the Jan/Feb 2016 Cooking Light edition that was delicious. It occurred to me it would probably pair well with both wines as well as fit the rest of my criteria. Therefore, I made Skillet Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Carrots. It is a one-pan dinner that goes from skillet to oven to table in about an hour (I chose to use boned chicken breasts for added flavor instead of boneless) and has little clean up. And it is really good!
The Results: The first result was both wines were really good, elegant in their own ways, over delivered on price, perfect to liven up a meal. The Pinot Gris had just a hint of sweetness beautifully balanced by its round acidity; both wines light and lively on the palate. The Pinot Noir really matched the earthiness of the chicken dish. It was a great pairing and a delicious dinner that I would gladly enjoy again! Left Coast Cellars wines are fairly widely distributed across the US. I highly recommend you buy some to liven up a weeknight or enjoy on special occasions.
My Song Selection: I’d like to take this moment to honor the life of a pop icon whom I adored. He walked with me through my freshman year of college in laughter, fun, and sadness. Few singers were blessed with a voice as good as his. Take a listen…you are welcome.
Get your own bottles of Left Coast Cellars wine and let me know what song you pair with them. Cheers!