White Oak Vineyards and Winery is located in the Alexander Valley and boasts an impressive collection of estate wines from the Alexander, Russian River, and Napa Valleys. Their 750 acres of estate vineyards in these three valleys allow the winery to produce a diverse collection of varietals. While the vintages and varietals rotate frequently, White Oak Vineyards and Winery is currently pouring Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel in their tasting room. Of these wines, the 2011 Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 2009 Napa Valley Syrah, and 2009 Napa Valley Merlot are excellent choices for food pairings.
2011 Chardonnay Paired with Brillat-Savarin Cheese, White Peaches, Fennel Leaves, and Ground Cloves atop Crostini
The 2011 Russian River Valley Chardonnay is barrel aged for 9 ½ months before bottling and then aged in the bottle for another four months before release. As a result, the 2011 Chardonnay has mild buttery notes, a full body, and a smooth texture; the wine exhibits flavors of toasted caramel, apple, peach, tropical fruit, and oak—making this wine a lovely pairing with Brillat-Savarin cheese, white peaches, fennel leaves, and ground cloves atop crostini.
Sweet and creamy peaches, combined with the creamy and pungent Brillat-Savarin cheese, brighten the texture of the wine; as a result of this interaction, the palate experiences a crisp sensation followed by a dry finish. The flavor of the wine also picks up on the pungency of the cheese and the wine consequently becomes earthier. The white peaches bring out more stone fruit flavors, while the fennel contrasts that fruitiness by highlighting subtle notes of minerality and grass in the wine. In contrast, the cloves help round out those notes of fruit and earth—creating a tasteful synergy between the spice, fruit, and earth in this pairing.
2009 Syrah Paired with Lentil, Caramelized Onions, and Gouda Stuffed Eggplant
The 2009 Napa Valley Syrah, which is barrel aged for 18 months in 50% New French Oak, has a bright red cherry nose, full body, and red cherry and pepper flavors. There is also a touch of smoke beneath the fruit and medium tannins, followed by a dry finish with mild mushroom on the aftertaste. This full bodied wine pairs exceptionally well with the earthiness of a lentil, caramelized onions, and Gouda stuffed eggplant.
Earth, dirt, and cocoa notes in the wine are heightened by this delicious entrée—making the blackberry fruit flavors darker and richer. Texturally, the structure of the wine perfectly complements the components of the dish. The eggplant enhances the silkiness of the wine and the lentils contrast that by enhancing the dry finish—almost leaving a cocoa powder texture on the palate. Together, the lentils and Gouda create a meat-like quality that matches the robust, meaty body of the wine; this darkens the wine, giving it more dark raspberry and blackberry flavors. Finally, the caramelized onions pick up on the subtle smoke and oak notes in the wine, complementing the earthiness and balancing out the fruit to create a complex and delicious pairing.
2009 Merlot Paired with Chocolate and Coffee Cake with Hazelnut Mousse
The 2009 Napa Valley Merlot is barrel aged for 18 months in 50% New French and Hungarian Oak, creating subtle vanilla flavors in the wine. This 2009 Merlot is full of dark chocolate and cherry flavors with a smooth texture and full body. These flavors and textures pair especially well with dessert—specifically, a chocolate and coffee cake with hazelnut mousse.
The chocolate in the cake brightens the cherry fruit in the wine and gives it a drier texture, with a slightly more tannic finish. However, this dry texture is nicely contrasted by the moistness of the mousse—making the mouth feel of this pairing very balanced. On its own, the wine exhibits flavors of cedar and bark, which complement the hazelnuts very well, giving the body a more robust and meaty weight. The vanilla, coffee, and hazelnut flavors in the cake and mousse bring forward the touch of vanilla in the wine, making the vanilla and oak notes linger on the back of the palate beautifully.