Smoke can taint grapes but also inspire a menu at a biodynamic winery in Southern Oregon.
There are some meals you never forget. I would argue it's not just the food, but the setting, not unlike the terroir of wine. It's not just the taste but the place that matters.
Such is the setting on August 3, 2021 when fires raged through Southern Oregon burning more than a million acres of land.
Luckily, the flames were not in the vicinity of the wineries of Rogue Valley Wine County, but you could smell whiffs of smoke and see the flames cast an almost florescent pink veil over the sky.
Richard "Dick" Troon started growing grapes on the 32 acres of land he purchased in 1972 and started selling the wine in 1973. Now owned by Dr. Bryan and Denise White, it is over 40 acres and has transformed into an ecosystem based on biodynamic principles, completely certified organic, and dedicated to winemaking that expresses the terroir as purely as possible.
Though a smaller winery, they employ a viticulturalist, agronomist, and biodynamist in addition to a winemaker.
Friends of the winery, Sean and Mary Cressler created a menu to pair with the wines and celebrate their new book Fire + Wine: 75 Smoke Infused Recipes from the Grill with Perfect Wine Pairings.
As the duo behind the popular food blog Vindulge, they cooked a meal that not only paired with wines from the surrounding vineyards but also the serendipitously timed smoky sky.
You could see how their love and food and each other inspires their recipes and also infuses their cooking.
A Smoke & Fire Menu
Chefs: Sean Martin & Mary Cressler of Vindulge
Smoked Tomato Gazpacho - with Oregon Olive Mill arbequina olive oil, Jacobsen salt
Smoked Anderson Valley Lamb Meatballs - with mandarin orange glaze
Reverse Seared Snake River Farms New York Strip Steak - with duck fat granola
Grilled Bull's Blood Beet Salad - with PettanNat citrus vinaigrette
Smoked Mushroom Risotto - with portabello, cremini, shitake mushrooms and Vermentino
Almond Cake - with smoked Oregon berries and bourbon whipped cream
Brie on Grill
The chefs surprised us with an additional item that everybody loved. A whole wheel of brie heated over the grill with Vermentino till it got all gooey and glorious. The infusion of wine added a burst of sunshine, not unlike a lemon wedge squeezed over fish.
Paired with Troon Wines
2020 Piquette - Made from the second press of grapes after the juice is collected for wine to be sold as single varietals or blends, this came about as an experiment and turned out so well they decided to sell it. I wanted to buy a bottle to take home, but it was sold out that evening. Light, refreshing, such a pretty shade of blush pink.
2020 Vermentino - Made from the Italian white wine grape, it is fermented in French oak barrels and aged on the lees for 5 months
2020 Glou Glou Grenache - Made from 100% whole cluster grenache that are foot tread, fermented on the skins for a week and aged for a week or two in stainless steel. It retains a little bit of fizz upon opening and is unfined and unfiltered.
2019 Estate Syrah - Fermented with a mix of whole cluster and whole berry fruit, it is then aged in mature French oak barrels for 18 months. Sometimes, I don't like syrah, but I like this one.
2019 Siskiyou Syrah - Made in a method similar to the estate Syrah but from grapes that hung on the vines a little longer to continue maturing without increasing their sugar levels due to the cool nights.
They also served a 2020 Pet tanNat and 2020 Kubli Bench Amber which I purchased. Read more about those wines here: