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Merlot and Holiday Pairing

2006 Crimson Creek Merlot
Photo courtesy of Pine Ridge Winery

Welcome to Fall and pairing wine with the upcoming holiday season.  It is harvest time for wines so we also benefit from new releases and new flavors.

This holiday season I have the pleasure to host a dinner gathering so I began my search for new recipes and new wine releases .... I found a perfect match!  Pine Ridge 2006 Crimson Creek Merlot and Roasted Turkey Breast with Fennel Puree & Cranberry Reduction.

Pine Ridge Winery in Napa Valley has always been a long time favorites.  The 2006 Crimson Creek Merlot radiates smoky cherry and blueberry aromas, with nuances of cola, brown butter and molasses.  Medium to full-bodied on the palate with juicy, bright fruit flavors of cherry, currant and mocha softening the firm, structured tannins that carry the lengthy finish through deeper notes of cocoa nibs, vanilla and toast.  This wine may be enjoyed now or cellared for up to eight years.

Roast Turkey Breast with Fennel Puree & Cranberry Reduction Ingredients:
1 turkey breast (boneless, skin on, & split lengthwise)
1 quart basic brine
1 quart water
1/4 cup salt
1/8 cup sugar
1 each bay leaf, thyme sprig, garlic clove
3 fennel bulbs, sliced
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup dried organic cranberries
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Grapeseed oil as needed
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped


Bring to a boil all brine ingredients, then cool. Submerge turkey breast in brine overnight.

Heat a pot large enough to accommodate fennel bulbs over medium heat. Add butter and allow to foam lightly; add all fennel and toss to coat; season with S&P and cover to sweat for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring periodically. Remove to food processor and puree until smooth. Keep warm.

Preheat oven to 350°F. While fennel cooks, remove turkey from brine, pat dry and season lightly with pepper. Heat large sauté pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil and sear breast skinside down, then turn over and place in oven to finish (8 – 10 min). Allow to rest prior to slicing.

While turkey roasts, prepare reduction. Steep cranberries, sugar, wine and vinegar, and reduce for 10 minutes. Season to taste.

To finish, place sliced breast over puree of fennel, and add sauce and cranberries around. Finish with fresh thyme.

Yields 6 servings

For more info: Wine notes and recipe provided by Pine Ridge Winery.