Greek Pizza … Served with Unoaked Chardonnay

Pairing: Greek Pizza … Paired with a 2014 Chehelen Unoaked Chardonnay

Food:  We are always experimenting with different toppings for our standard pizza shell. Lately our shell is made from sourdough. If you haven’t tried a sourdough crust, you are missing something grand. For our Greek topping, we first combine 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 Tbs red wine vinegar and 3 Tbs lemon juice. Mix in a large pinch of dried oregano, then brush the mixture on top of the crust (NOTE: after brushing four pizzas you will have enough leftover for future pizzas or to make an accompanying salad). Next combine 10 oz of spinach (cooked, drained, and patted dry) with 1 and 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella (it is pizza after all!), 1 tsp of granulated garlic, and a pinch of grated nutmeg. Spread this mixture on top of the pizza shells. Finally crumble 3/4 cup  of feta cheese on top along with some seeded oil-cured black wrinkled olives. Bake in a hot 450F oven. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. This all makes enough for four 8 to 10  inch personal-size pizzas.

Greek Pizza

Wine: The temptation here is to pair the Greek pizza with a nice Greek white wine. Perhaps an Assyrtiko. But, being adventurous souls (and currently lacking said wine in our cellar), we chose an unoaked Chardonnay from Oregon. The clean, bright taste of an unoaked Chardonnay unadorned with oak that much of Chardonnay today is made, proved to be a lovely companion to the Greek pizza. Oregon has become one of the go-to places for Chardonnay. Although Chehalem Wines is best known for its extensive line of premier single vineyard pinot noirs, their Chardonnays are becoming more and more well regarded.

Chehalem Unoaked Chardonnay

Tasting Notes:  A pale gold color. The smells of  ripening cantaloupe is intoxicating on the nose, while cantaloupe and peach are both present on the palate. The salty elements of the pizza bring out the gentle sweetness of the wine. And the finish is long and very nice.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Greek Pizza::Assyrtiko (Greece), Albarino (Spain), Beaujolais (France), Sauvignon Blanc (California), Soave (Italy)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Unoaked Chardonnay: Trout, Grilled Shrimp, Pork, Grilled Salmon

Views and Maps of the Willamette Valley in Oregon:  willamette valley

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Mushroom and Chicken Risotto … with an Unoaked Chardonnay

Pairing:  Mushroom and Chicken Risotto Paired with a 2012 Iron Horse Unoaked Chardonnay

Food: Marcella Hazan was arguably the leading authority on Italian cuisine for generations of home cooks, and her seminal work, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, is widely considered to be the bible of Italian cooking. Our dish is an adaptation of her Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms from this cookbook just with some pieces of cooked chicken added to the risotto at the end. Follow the link for the recipe. If you are a fan of mushrooms (like we are), the wonderful earthy flavors of this dish are without equal. But the chicken doesn’t let the mushrooms overwhelm the dish. Can’t think of any superlatives to give it justice.

Mushroom and Chicken Rissoto

Wine:  Many of us associate Chardonnay with big, bold, buttery flavors. Those flavors are actually a result of aging the wine in oak barrels for part of the aging process. The influence of the oak on the wine depends on the length of time the wine stays in the barrel, whether it is new or old oak, French or American oak. The skill of the winemaker in managing the oak determines the taste and quality of the Chardonnay.

Some winemakers, however, choose to forgo the oak and let the pure, unaltered flavor of the Chardonnay grape be the centerpiece of the wine … an Unoaked Chardonnay. That part of Burgundy called Chablis is probably the most well known wine region in the world producing Unoaked Chardonnay, though for this meal we are pairing one from the Green Valley in Sonoma, California.

Iron Horse Unoaked Chardonnay

Tasting Notes:  A clean, smooth golden wine, but with a crispness reminiscent of a Soave or Pinot Grigio. The nose brings forth aromas of some light citrus and green apple, while flavors of ripe peaches and tropical fruit (even a little pineapple) emerge on the palate.  A lovely complement to this risotto.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Mushroom Risotto:  Pinot Noir (California), Soave Classico (Italy), Pinot Grigio (Italy), White Burgundy (France)

Other Food That Pairs Well with an Unoaked Chardonnay:  Curries, Guacamole, Grilled or Roasted Pork, Grilled Shrimp, Grilled Salmon

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