Fall is a great time of year for food and wine pairings. Fall enters with moderate to warm temperatures, slowly descending into winter. Root vegetables and squashes are added to our delectable meals of pork, lamb, steak, and of course turkey. Fall means football, hockey, Major League Baseball playoffs, and eventually basketball. With those sports come chili and braised meat. But fall can also be lighter fare, salads migrating from crab to lamb or steak, vegetable soups, and perhaps sliders instead of a full size burger. I love everything about fall, especially the food and wine pairing possibilities.
For several decades Balletto was a vegetable farm. However, by the mid-90’s John Balletto foresaw a potentially troubled future with California’s growing water shortage issues. Friend and neighbor Warren Dutton, of Dutton Ranch, suggested they migrate to grapes since they require less water to grow. By the late 90’s the Balletto’s decided to convert all of their 600 acres to grapes and begin selling them to local wine producers in Sonoma. After witnessing the high quality Russian River wines produced from their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, they decided to pursue winemaking under their own label. Today they use their top 10% of grapes to make Balletto wines, selling the rest to local producers.
“Balance and elegance are two qualities we aim for in our wines.” Balletto Vineyards
2014 Balletto Pinot Noir Russian River Valley USA ($29): Medium ruby; medium+ aromas of wild red and blue berries, white tea, savory dried herbs, white mushrooms, forest floor, and white pepper; delicate mouth-feel, focused white earth notes on front of palate that evolve into a juicy fruit finish; balanced wine with good structure, medium+ acidity with medium tannins, offering just enough weight yet still with a lift off the palate, long mouthwatering juicy fruit finish. Looking for a delicious Pinot Noir under $30, this is it! Click here to buy this wine.
The Food: As I said, it is fall. I drink Pinot Noir year round, but I am most excited to pair Pinot with fall cuisine. I try to eat light yet still delicious during the week. Maybe a salad?
My Choice: Wine Enthusiast Magazine published this great site with fall food and wine pairing suggestions. I have really loved the recipes and the pairing ideas. Give it a look: Wine and Food Fall Pairing Guide. The recipes vary in difficulty from super easy to moderately easy and they all look delicious. Furthermore, it takes the guess work out of what to make for dinner and what wine to pair with the meal. I decided to try one of the pairing suggestions: Balsamic Lamb Salad with Black Mission Figs to pair with the Balletto Pinot Noir.
The Results: What a great pairing! I love lamb but don’t think of it much on a salad. The marinade of Balsamic vinegar, orange, and oregano gave the lamb great flavor. Add in black figs (I roasted them just a touch), arugula (love the pepperiness), haricot verts, and fingerling potatoes; what a salad. I also added some lightly toasted walnuts for an added earthiness. If I would have had some goat cheese or burrata I would have added that as well, next time. The wine paired great! It had just enough weight to balance well with the lamb and the perfect amount of earthiness to play off the rest of the salad. Overall, it was a quick and easy dinner that was pretty fancy for a salad on a Tuesday. I will definitely make this again, as well as try the rest of the Wine Enthusiast fall recipes.
My Song Selection: There is no way to listen to this song and be still. At a minimum your toe will start tapping, at most full on dancing. This wine and food pairing was full on mouth dancing, hitting on every level!
Make one of the many Wine Enthusiast Fall Food and Wine Pairing Guide recipes with a delicious wine selection of your own and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!