Fall Wines at Fulcrum, Lamb Merguez Lentil Soup and #dontrentbikes
Its harvest, and I love this time of year. The vineyards are turning color, the grapes are in off the vine, and you can actually smell the juice fermenting as you drive down Highway 12. Another thing I love about this time of year is soup. I love cooking it, because its so easy, and I love eating it because its a meal in one dish! Easy! Less dishes! YASS!
So we were taking a stroll around the square in Sonoma, and decided to take a turn down Vine Alley (this is a real thing I promise, no Hogwarts platform 9 3/4 here!) This is a great little enclave of tasting rooms that really gives you a lot to choose from, and not very far to travel. I would highly recommend this jaunt over renting bikes in the wine country any day. Actually renting bikes in the wine country is one of the all time greatest hoaxes of wine country tourism- unless you're up for some Gran Fondo type riding, don't do it. Treat yourself to a nice stroll down Vine Alley where you definitely won't get hit by a car. Okay, on to the wine!
Fulcrum characterizes their wines as "pinot-centric", which is a term I truly identify with and will be using in the future when asked to describe myself in three words or less. We tasted through their reds, which included a pinot blend, four single vineyard pinots, and a Napa Valley cabernet. All in all, very tasty wines!
On Point 2016 Christinna's Cuvee- Blend of Donnelly Creek, Wildcat Mountain and Gap's Crown Pinot Noir
This wine was light, bright, and easy drinking. I would not hesitate to open a bottle of this on any given weeknight- its uncomplicated in a good way, and will surely pair with most meals. One recipe that would pair really nicely with this wine is a rustic style baked beans. The sweetness and tang would make this wine shine. Find a recipe here: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016258-baked-beans (This recipe calls for "slab bacon", which is not a super common term. I recommend using bacon ends also known as lardons, and/or a smoked ham hock. Both items can be found at your local butcher shop!)
Fulcrum 2016 Donnelly Creek Vineyard, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
Aahh... Anderson Valley. Truly one of the most wonderful places on Earth. If you haven't been then you, dear reader, should go. This wine showcases the earthy side of pinot. I've heard "earthy" interchanged with "forest floor", which I find nicely imaginative and also chic to picture myself strolling through the forest with a nice glass of pinot. I paired this wine with a lentil soup with lamb merguez sausage. (Lamb merguez is a north African style sausage that is spiced with cumin, harissa and chili powder, find it at your local butcher shop or order some online!)
Lamb Merguez Lentil Soup
*adapted from recipe Dunya Harvest Autumn Lentil Blend Warm Autumn Soup
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 spirals (~1/2#) lamb merguez sausage, removed from casing
1/2 bottle dry white wine
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup lentils, rinsed and sorted
4 cups broth
1 tsp oregano, chopped
1 tsp basil, chopped
1 tsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
Dash of turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onions and garlic, saute until onions are soft and slightly golden. Add sausage to pan, cook until browned.
2. Add wine, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Stir in remaining ingredients, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and cover. Let simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
*This recipe works well in an Instant Pot if you have one as well!
Fulcrum 2016 Brosseau Vineyard, Chalone Pinot Noir
It wasn't until I "revisited" this wine that I noticed alllll the flavors. Ocean air on the nose, and bright pink Starburst fruit on the palate, yum! Sometimes it takes a second try, and I definitely recommend going back for a second splash if the first taste leaves you thinking, "I don't get it". This wine would be delicious with mushroom kofta, served with a mint yogurt sauce and beet-carrot slaw (Find a recipe here: https://www.mushrooms.ca/portfolio/beef-and-mushroom-kofta-by-eat-live-travel-write/)
Fulcrum 2016 Gap's Crown Vineyard, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Gap's Crown Vineyard is so hot right now. This wine is a CAL-I-FOR-NIA GIRL (a la Katy Perry)- its undeniable. Bright, full fruit- this pinot showcases the full bodied California style pinot that so many of us have come to enjoy. This wine would pair nicely with something rich and beefy, like meatloaf! And don't forget the ketchup on top! This wine demands it! Link here: (https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/meat-loaf-recipe-1921718)
Fulcrum 2016 Wildcat Mountain Vineyard, Carneros Pinot Noir
I've had wines at a couple different places that are made from the Wildcat vineyard, and I've really liked them all. This wine has just the right amount of body and spice that I find each sip leaves me wanting more. Enjoy this wine with some delicious chorizo tacos, link here: https://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/potato-and-chorizo-tacos (A note on chorizo: do yourself a favor and get some good quality chorizo. I've made the mistake of buying cheap grocery store chorizo, and it completely disintegrated into a greasy mess of nothingness in the pan. This will not do my friends, you deserve better. Look for fresh, handmade sausage at finer butcher counters or at your local butcher shop!)
Fulcrum 2016 Napa Vally, Cabernet Sauvignon
Annnd for the finale! A Napa Cab! In my mind, Napa Cab's can be big and bossy, with heavy tannins that sometimes leave me feeling a little hung out to dry. Not so with this Cabernet. I found this wine to be friendly and approachable, definitely weekday appropriate, while also being hefty enough to pique your palate's interest. This wine has it going on in the fruit and spice department, and it was just crying out for Mexican food. (Or was that just me crying out for Mexican food?) I think this wine would go particularly well with a mole, link here: https://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Mexico-Chicken-Puebla-Mole. This is probably not a weeknight type recipe, but definitely worth the time and effort for a special night in!
Until next time dear readers, I'll leave you with a picture of my adorable dog Honey and I wine tasting. Cheers!