Food Porn Friday! Loiregon Dinner at SE Wine Collective

Yes, yes, its been a hot second since I last posted. Let me tell you a one word answer for why this is:

SUMMER. 

Like a child who just got out of school, I have been suffering (although it really doesn’t feel like suffering) from extreme lack of desire to focus or even be inside. Summers in South Carolina were so hot, long and brutal that I confess to never really enjoying them. But this?! THIS Summer is the real deal. IT STAYS LIGHT UNTIL 10:00, y’all! And I have a sweet front porch. And a garden. So yes- my love for writing is real. But sometimes I just. don’t. wanna. And to be honest, I can’t really apologize for that. It’s summer!

But I’m breaking the spell today and I hope you’re ready for a truly gratuitous food porn edition. I’ve been thinking about the food from last week’s Vive Loiregon! Dinner at the SE Wine Collective a lot. There were several items that left quite an impression. Couple that with another meal I had there about two weeks prior, and I gotta tellya- Chef Althea is the real deal. I love her style; non-fussy but precisely composed and thought-out. That tiny kitchen is churnin’ out some really fantastic eats. I’ve always liked small kitchens.

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First a little background on the Loiregon Dinner, because it was such a fun and inventive way to bring food and wine together: the dinner featured four wines that were all sourced from the Quady North Vineyard in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley. Herb Quady was even there!

This guy.

This guy.

I had a brief fangirl moment, since I have been crushing on Herb’s rosé for months. But I kept it together.

But back to the dinner! All four wines were sourced from Herb’s Quady North vineyard. All wines were “Loirecentric” (I made that word up) and three out of the four were made from all Cabernet Franc. By Loirecentric, I mean that all four wines were made as a sort of ode to France’s Loire Valley.

We started with the Jackalope Whité, 2014. Whité, you ask? Well, ya see… this wine was originally supposed to be a rosé. But is any wine really “supposed” to be anything? This wine just wasn’t having it and didn’t retain any pigment. Hence, it has been dubbed Whité, which I think makes for a fantastic story and I respect the wine’s tenacity to be what it wanted. The Whité was served with some passed appetizers:

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I looooved this one: mussels with sauce vert and a potato crisp. The little crunch you got alongside the mussel was perfection.

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Pork Rillettes on crostini with picked cherries– likewise, the pickled cherries were fantastic. They maintained their sweetness, but something pickled always sets off a fat-rich item like pork rillettes.

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We then moved outside, where it was as picturesque a Portland night as you can imagine. About four days later, the heat set in. Oye. The first wine served was one I had also tried and loved not so long ago at the PDX Urban Wine Experience- the Division-Villages “Béton” Cabernet Franc/Gamay, 2014. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: this red is absolutely ideal for serving with a slight chill on a warm night. Aged in concrete, the mineral notes really pop alongside its bright, tangy fruit content. The Gamay grapes for this wine were fermented carbonically, and when that meets the slatey smokiness of the Cab Franc- tres magnifique!

Plus, the label? The best.

Plus, the label? The best.

Served with the Béton was one of my favorite things to pair with wine: tartare! This was Full Circle bison tartare with smoked egg yolk (wicked cool, and cool lookin’), morels and a semolina cracker:

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So dainty.

Raw meat is a fun thing to pair with wine, and this wine in particular. The mineral content is nicely offset by the raw meat. The iron/blood (sounds gross, tastes great) goes well with a mineral-driven red. No lie.

Next we had Leah Jorgenson’s “Loiregon” Cabernet Franc, 2013– another wine I have had and loved before- with a beautiful chilled zucchini, nasturtium leaf & pistachio soup topped with Oregon Olive Mill olive oil:

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Leah’s wine was one of my first Southern Oregon Cab Francs that I tried back in December or January. It packs an awesome punch of gunsmoke, sweet blackberries, plums and hints of something floral- hibiscus, I believe someone mentioned at the dinner. I had to confess to those around me that back on the east coast, word on Southern Oregon hasn’t really spread. Before I moved out here, I pretty much thought Oregon stopped at the Rogue Valley (d’oh).

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If anyone could and should spread the Southern Oregon love to the other coast, its these folks. You heard it here.

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We finished with a grilled flat iron steak, crispy smoked new potatoes, caper & green olive aioli, baby arugula, lemon vinaigrette and chives. To drink? Quady North Mae’s Vineyard Cabernet Franc, 2011. This is a richly scented red, with well-woven notes of chocolate, sweet red pepper, cedar and briary goodness.

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Oh! One more thing: Pholia Family Farms Hillis Peak Goat Cheese with strawberry coulis, pickled green strawberry, brown sugar & cracked pepper walnuts. And a wee sip of the just disgorged (literally, Tom disappeared, came back with a wet shirt and announced “its been disgorged) Division Crémant de Portland, 2013. I’ve had a few versions of this wine- first in December when it had just been bottled, again in February, and then this one which had hung out on the lees much longer. It offered a more honeyed palate, more developed and settled into itself. Pretty durn good.

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This was a freaking great dinner. Completely non-pretentious. At the beginning, Herb waxed poetic about the idea of a “winemaker dinner” versus “dinner with the winemakers.” I really think this concept was captured; no one preached, no one made “sales-y” pushes, no one talked about scores. It was just about enjoying the company, the food and the wine as one experience.

Side note- I do apologize- I took pictures of Kate, Tom, Corey and Leah as well, but they all came out just dreadfully. I can’t bring myself to include them. The “mid-sentence facial twist” just isn’t a good look for anyone.

Oh, and last but not least, this guy was also an excellent dinner companion:

Cassidy. Good boy.

Cassidy. Good boy.

Many thanks to all involved for such a wonderful evening!

“I’m. So. Fancy.” Charles Bove Vouvray, 13 France

Doesn’t this bottle just look fancy?

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You already know.

Who doesn’t like to feel a little fancy? Especially when on a “weeknight” budget?

Let me begin by saying that this is one of those wines that I’m bordering on a little unhealthily obsessed with. It’s all I want. Every time I re-taste it, I am once again struck by its brilliance and I usually let out some kind of involuntary exclamation of joy. I can see where this may be an odd sight, but I really can’t help it. It’s just. So. Good.

So what’s in this wine? What is a Vouvray? It’s not too hard to remember, but it still might fall into the unrecognized category- Vouvray is a region in the Loire Valley of France, which is roughly located in Central France. And Vouvray is roughly in the center of the Loire. See here if you want to get more techy about it:

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This is actually a great map.

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But more importantly, what is IN a Vouvray? Chenin Blanc. One of my ALL-TIME favorite grapes EVER. Chenin seems to have the adoration of many wine nerds, and with good reason. They’re incredibly versatile, and while the Loire is considered the “true” home of Chenin Blanc, I’m also often mucho impressed with South African versions. So the Vouvray region produces a lot of sparkling wine (sparkling Chenin- also a YES), but the still versions are freakin’ awesome too. They are made in a wide variety of styles ranging from dry to sorta-sweet to dessert-sweet. All are fantastic. Chenin is naturally very high in acidity, so even the sweet versions never feel syrupy. And they have, arguably, some of the best ageability in the world.

But anyway, WHY do I adore this particular one and what does it taste like? First, the nose. Oh! The nose. Honeysuckle, lime zest, nectarines, quince, maybe a touch of candied ginger, fresh flowers, clean sheets and a vague nutty afterthought. The palate is all about lightening-like acidity. It will cut through anything. You get a nice tangy pop of green apple and lime as you sip. With the intensely fragrant nose, you might expect this wine to be sweeter; and while it does have (as far as I can tell) a bit of residual sugar, the acid is really what stands out here. The finish is a bit chalky, which just leaves me wanting more.

This wine is imported by Vintage 59 Imports, who are no strangers to good French wine.

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So now that you know that you need this wine, let’s go back to the title of this post: “I’m. So. Fancy.” Have you heard this song? This is one of those pop culture phenomenons that I happened to catch after listening to the radio a lot while painting my bathroom last weekend. I heard it about 1,000 times. Normally I might’ve missed it altogether, since I’m in my 30’s and therefore extremely uncool (not). I’m still not sure whether it’s cool to like this song or not, but I will say that it stays in my head for hours at a time. And when I heard it, I thought of this wine. Because it’s fancy.

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Just watched the video this morning. It has some distinct Clueless references, although I doubt its target audience has ever seen Clueless (how sad it that?). Did any one actually GO to high school with girls that looked like this? I kinda doubt it. After a bit of Googling, it seems like this poor girl is getting ripped by online commenters, disgracing her “rapping” abilities. Mind you, I never said I liked this song. Just that it gets stuck in my head. And isn’t that all it takes to be considered a successful pop phenomenon?

So when’s a good time to come try the Charles Bove? TOMORROW! July 12th. 12-2pm. At the Wine Sale! We actually sold out of this wine at the sale 2 weeks ago. It’s that good! It retails for $17, but there’ll be a discount at the sale tomorrow. Truthfully? I think I’d pay $22 for this wine. Dollar for dollar, it’s an absolutely insane value.

YOU’RE GONNA LOVE IT!