On a fall evening, a story of hard work and fresh flavors unfold on a table set for a group of alfresco diners in Sonoma Valley, California.
Text: Linda Murphy, Recipes: Sandra Simile
October 18, 2010
1 of 8Photo: Coral von Zumwalt
From vine to bottle and from garden to table, every element of preparation for this Harvest Meal, created for Cooking Light by Lynmar Estate’s Chef Sandra Simile, is inspired by only the freshest ingredients. Take a look at the estate’s wine developing process and how it is paired with Simile’s beautiful medley of local flavors.
2 of 8Photo: Coral von Zumwalt
Handpicked grapes grown in nutrient-rich soil arrive at the winery still cool from the early morning chill. The cold harvest temperature ensures grapes will not oxidize before fermentation. Handpicking and hand sorting allow for quality control throughout.
3 of 8Photo: Coral von Zumwalt
Once the grapes are crushed, they’re placed in fermentation tanks that are carefully monitored as the grapes convert their sugars into alcohol. No outside yeasts are introduced. When ready, the tanks are drained and solids are pressed. Once settled, the wine will drain into barrels.
4 of 8Photo: Coral von Zumwalt
The wine is aged in French oak barrels up to 15 months. Aside from weekly quality checks, the barrels are never disturbed. This allows natural settling to occur, eliminating the need to filter the wine, which could damage its complexity.
5 of 8Photo: Coral von Zumwalt
Mixed Lettuce, Pear, and Goat Cheese Salad with Citrus Dressing
After it’s aging, a glass of chardonnay is finally ready for a toast right before diners dig in to Simile’s first-course salad of baby lettuces with pears and goat cheese. “The wine has notes of citrus, apples, and pears, so adding those flavors to the salad make it chardonnay-friendly,” Simile says. “The acidity from the citrus in the dressing cuts through the creaminess of the goat cheese, while still complementing the wine.”
Wine Pairing: Lynmar Russian River Valley Chardonnay
6 of 8Photo: Coral von Zumwalt
Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Sugared Walnuts
The second course is a comforting follow-up to the citrusy salad. “The walnuts, which are toasted and lightly tossed with butter and brown sugar, help mitigate the tannins in red wine, adding to the compatibility of the dish,” Simile explains.
Wine pairing: Lynmar Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
7 of 8Photo: Coral von Zumwalt
Roasted Breast of Chicken with Pinot Noir Sauce
The entrée course is the perfect poultry-wine pairing, according to Simile. “The vineyard is so far west—the westernmost in Russian River Valley—that the cool condition allows the grapes to hang on the vines for a long, long time, and they develop rich, intense flavors and beautiful acidity,” she says. “Yet the wine is medium-bodied, making it a good match for poultry, both on the plate and in the glass.”
Wine pairing: Lynmar Hawk Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir
Honey-Baked Black Mission Figs with Orange and Ginger
The final course is served as the sun sets to the west, throwing a warm glow over the table, the conversation covers a range of topics—family, politics, business, and the weather. It’s a beautiful meal with a casual feel, perfectly paced for a long, lingering California evening.