Recently I was introduced to the wines of Long Meadow Ranch, specifically their Anderson Valley Estate. These wines are just now entering the Chicago market, and what better way to sample them than over a wine dinner? Hosted by the team from Long Meadow Ranch in collaboration with local distribution company TENZING, the wine dinner was an outstanding success. Beautiful wines with delicious food in good company, all in a gorgeous setting.
Long Meadow Ranch farms over 2,000 acres of grapes, olives, fruits, vegetables and cattle. Owned and operated by the Hall family since the 1980s, the ranch utilizes organic, sustainable, integrated farming practices that rely on each part of the ranch to contribute to its health as a whole. The Anderson Valley Estate is located in the "deep end" of the valley and has 69 acres of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, the varietals that benefit from the coastal air.
I was fortunate enough to share the table with both the vintner Chris Hall and the Burgundy-born winemaker Stéphane Vivier. Needless to say, I had questions galore. From wine philosophy to bee keeping to olive oil press, at Long Meadow Ranch they do it all, it seems. And they do it well. No small feat if you ask me. But I digress. Let's talk wine.
The 2016 Anderson Valley vintage offers us a rosé of Pinot Noir, a beautiful place to start. I drink rosé year round, and this one arrives on the scene just in time for spring. Lightly hued, crisp and mineral, with hints of fresh strawberries and herbs, this one is a patio crusher. Rosé was paired with passed appetizers, and it was delightful with each bite.
2015 vintage brings us two other expressions of Pinot Noir. Estate Pinot Noir Blanc is a white wine with a touch of gold. It is described by the winemaker as "purest essence of Pinot Noir in a glass." Made without contact with grape skins, this wine is razor focused and clean, with excellent structure. Paired with pan roasted Pacific halibut, this wine paired beautifully with the nuanced dish accented with almonds, sultanas, squash & brown butter.
The 2015 Pinot Noir showed beautifully. Made in a leaner, old world style, this wine was delicate, with pronounced notes of violets and fresh tarragon. It was paired with roasted squab served with spiced prunes, celery root and black truffles.
Perhaps the most unusual pairings of the night was 2015 Chardonnay with torchon of Sonoma foie gras, duck prosciutto, quince and green apple. Not usually a fan of California Chardonnays, I was skeptical. However, Long Meadow Ranch Chardonnay has a piercing backbone of acidity and very restrained touch of oak. It cut through the richness of foie gras mousse with ease.
2015 Pinot Gris carried just a hint of sweetness and aroma of orange blossom and sea salt. Served with seared tuna with satsuma mandarins, sunchokes and estate Prato Lingo extra virgin olive oil, it was an explosion of flavors.
You may wonder about all of that delightful food. And you should. Long Meadow Ranch's celebrated American farmhouse-style restaurant uses fresh from the farm ingredients. And yes, the chef brought a bit of that Californian bounty to Chicago with him. The culinary team at the ranch has created an ingredient driven menu that is certain to impress.
So, this spring be on the lookout for Long Meadow Ranch Anderson Valley Estate wines on wine lists about town, Chicago. I can vouch for the fact that these delightful pours go well with sunshine and warmer weather. This month the five wines I sampled hit the shelves of retail stores as well, priced starting at $25. Grab a bottle and enjoy!
The Local Tourist wine dinner access compliments of Long Meadow Ranch, TENZING and Baltz & Company, Inc.
Photos courtesy of Baltz & Company, Inc. and by Gourmet Rambler.