It’s time to think of big, beautiful reds and tasty meaty fare.

Yakima Valley wineries partnered with a group of intrepid writers for a wine pairing weekend.  The following is an excerpt of one of the write-ups and recipe pairings that resulted from the weekend.  This write-up and recipe were created Nicole Ruiz Hudson of Be sure to follow her for more inspiration, recipes, and information on wines, vineyards, and food pairings.

During the fall & winter months – even in comparatively mild California  – my cravings drift to meaty dishes and big reds. They’re kind of like the cozy-core of the food and wine and wine world. These combos just make me feel warm and snuggly inside, even though the dishes and wines might simultaneously be quite elegant.

JB Neufeld of Yakima, WA was created by husband-and-wife team Justin and Brooke Neufeld. They focus exclusively on Cabernet Sauvignon within the Yakima Valley AVA to showcase the diversity of the terroir found in the Valley and the uniqueness of the place through their wines.  They make Cabs from several different sites and I tried their Ciel du Cheval Cabernet Sauvignon Red Mountain 2018, ($43) their first vintage from this site.

Tasting Notes: When we first poured the wine, it was all about the red fruit notes: red plums, strawberry, currants, plus a little black cherry. There were also notes of red flower petals and spice on the nose. Herbal notes showed up on the palate. It was a bright cab with medium + acidity, body, and tannins.

  I reached out to Brooke and Justin about what they like pair with this wine and Brooke wrote back that she likes this wine with braised meats, particularly lamb shanks because it enhances the earthy flavors in the wine and complements the red fruit notes. She also mentioned that she’s a busy mom with three boys, so loves a meal she can prepare without too much stress. I decided to run with her suggestion and made lamb shanks. It was a heavenly match! It hit that cozy vibe we were looking for perfectly.

My next wine is the Pollard Merlot Yakima Valley 2017, ($26). The wine comes from Robin Pollard, who once served as the executive director of the Washington State Wine Commission. She teamed up with her life partner, Chris Camarda of Andrew Will Cellars to create Pollard Wines with fruit from her 10-acre estate vineyard located in the Upper Yakima Valley. The vineyard sits at an elevation of 1,150 feet on a southwest-facing slope composed of silt-loam soils. It’s planted to half Cabernet Franc and one quarter each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes.

Tasting Notes: When we first opened it, the wine was showing all red fruit notes – red cherry, red plum, strawberries – along with rhubarb, fennel, and herbs. Once again, the dark fruit notes showed up with air, moving toward dark plums and maraschino cherries, along with dark chocolate, espresso, black licorice, and pencil lead, and a pinch of herbs and flower petals. The fruit became velvetier with air but always retained its brightness. The wine had a medium+ body, medium tannins, and medium + acid.

Pairing: “I raise Berkshire pigs, treasured for their richly marbled meat,” says Pollard.  “A favorite dish of mine to pair with the Merlot is braised pork shoulder seasoned with kitchen herbs such as thyme and rosemary.  Throw some Yakima Valley apples into the pot and you have a delicious dinner for any occasion.” I have to say this wine is beautiful, complex, and tasty wine for the money.

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