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Elk Cove Vineyards

A lively crowd showed up at Calvert’s Tuesday night to taste the fabled Elk Cove Vineyards wine from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

There was a lot of chatting and laughing, and certainly a lot of “oohing” and “aahing” about the great food and wine pairings. Todd Stewart, national sales manager for Elk Cove, described the wines, told us about Elk Cove and encouraged everyone to support family-owned wineries such as Elk Cove.

Todd Stewart
Todd Stewart

 

Todd Stewart
Todd Stewart

Here is a rundown of the pairings. Some of the wine will be sold at the White Horse in Surrey Center.

Flounder St. Michael
Flounder St. Michael

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First course
After an aperitif of white Sangria, Calvert’s paired an incredible Flounder St. Michael served over spinach ravioli and lobster champagne sauce paired with Elk Cove’s 2011 Riesling.

This bone-dry, acid-driven wine was perfect with the flounder and ravioli with a smooth, tasty sauce. Aromatic and full of mineral notes and a long mineral finish, the wine became even better when sipped with food which rounded off some of the sharp edges of the wine.

There is no residual sugar in this wine, which came from grapes planted in 1974. It is fermented at low temperatures in small stainless steel vats. No oak is used with this wine.

Crepe Perado
Crepe Perado
Elk Cove Pinot Gris
Elk Cove Pinot Gris

Second course
Crepe Perado with roasted pepper, olive slaw and maque choux was paired with the 2012 Pinot Gris, perhaps the most magical pairing of the night. I think the crepe was stuffed with shredded smoked pork, which nicely played off the fruitiness of the Pinot Gris.

The wine was stunning, smooth, with refreshing citrus. It had backbone, but it was supple and pleasant. It is very much a fruit driven wine, with loads of citrus and grapefruit on the palate. It has a rich, clean mouthfeel, with a balanced finish.

This wine also was fermented in small stainless steel vats and saw no oak.

Duck Wellington
Duck Wellington

Third Course
Duck Wellington with blackberry port wine sauce was paired with the 2011 Pinot Noir Willamette. A duck breast encased in pastry covered with a lip-smacking port wine sauce was incredible, the kind of dish you expect at Calvert’s.

The wine pairing was a blend of Pinot Noir grapes from throughout the Willamette Valley. It’s a lively, fresh, fruity blend, showing stone fruit and tropical flavors. This was another wine that was much better when drunk with food rather than by itself. It’s lean, but with good fruit, especially cherry.

Each vineyard lot was fermented separately in small stainless steel tanks, hand punched down twice daily and barreled in 20% new French oak barrels. After 10 months of aging, the wine is carefully blended to produce the most approachable, well-balanced Pinot Noir at the winery.

Cocoa braised short ribs
Cocoa braised short ribs
Clay Cove Pinot Noir
Clay Cove Pinot Noir

Fourth Course
Cocoa braised short ribs with a pinot reduction sauce was paired with a single vineyard wine, the 2011 Clay Court Pinot Noir. It was another spectacular pairing. The tender meat and wonderful sauce was perfect with the black cherry, violet and raspberry flavors of the wine.

This is a vibrant, zesty wine that had a rich, creamy mouthfeel with some mineral and herbal notes on the finish. It is a blockbuster wine that should continue to develop in the bottle for years to come.

The grapes are fermented in small, temperature controlled steel tanks, hand punched down twice daily then aged for 10 months in 40% new French oak.  The winemaking team then carefully blended the barrels most representative of the spicy flavors and concentrated red cherry fruit that characterizes this vineyard, which features volcanic soil.

Salted caramel bread pudding
Salted caramel bread pudding

Dessert
Salted caramel bread pudding & Georgia sweet corn ice cream topped with toasted candied pecans was paired with Ultima 2010. As always at Calvert’s, the dessert was the ultimate finish, decadent and rich with wonderful flavors. I especially like the two bits of popcorn on top of the ice cream.

The wine is a vibrant blend Riesling, Gewurtztraminer and Muscat. The grapes are pressed while frozen, leaving some water behind and concentrating the flavors and the sugar. The juice is then slow fermented in chilled tanks to protect the honey and floral qualities that make Ultima so special.

Elk Cove calls Ultima “opulence in a bottle,” and I think they are right on the mark. The wine is sweet, but not cloying.

Here is some information about the winery presented by Stewart, who was a delightful, entertaining and informative host.

Elk Cove Vineyards was founded in 1974 by Pat and Joe Campbell. Winemaker Adam Campbell joined forces with his parents in 1995 and Elk Cove remains family owned. The Campbells were pioneers who helped found the Oregon wine industry, with the first vineyard planted in 1965.

The Campbells’ goal has always been hand-crafted, estate-grown cool climate wines that rival the best in the world. As a second-generation winemaker and a 4th generation Oregon farmer, Adam Campbell continues that tradition.

All the wines are made with grapes grown on estate property. The Campbells don’t buy grapes from other vineyards. The grapes and the terroir help make very complex wines.

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