Thursday, August 23 was the kick-off of the Ellensburg Food & Wine Series with a four-course wine dinner catered by Ellensburg Pasta Company. A small group of around 30 both wine club and non-club members joined co-owners, Josh & Lisa, and new winemaker, Aryn Morell, to explore the combinations of chef-inspired culinary creations that can be easily recreated at home. Each course was carefully paired with a Gård wine selection from the current releases.

Starting the night out right, our 2011 Rosé cozied up to a generous portion of tomato and mozzarella bruschetta appetizer.

Bruschetta is a classic Italian appetizer and widely used for so many great reasons. The textures and flavors that are incorporated in bruschetta allow the palette to explore several flavors and textures at once. The most popular bruschetta recipe is made with garlic infused toasted bread drizzled in olive oil, topped with mozzarella or a soft cheese, and fresh tomato & basil. A few of our favorites . . .

A classic bruschetta recipe with balsamic.
Giada De Laurentiis gives us bruschetta as only an Italian would.
Olive Garden’s famous re-designed bruschetta with sun-dried tomatoes & Parmesan cheese.

The 2011 Rosé was a new release this summer and is an excellent warm weather wine with refreshing acids and slight sugars at 1.5 g/L. The 2011 vintage is a Rosé blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, aged in 100% stainless steel and is the mainline blend to the highly anticipated 2011 Grand Klasse Rosé, to be released this Fall. This blend is priced at $17/bottle, only a small production was made at 65 cases.

The second course consisted of fresh mixed greens tossed with choice of lemon garlic vinaigrette or Caesar dressing paired with 2010 Altruism Riesling. Often pairing a wine with salad can be challenging, especially when there is such a diverse choice in the two salad dressings, the reason our Altruism Riesling paired well was the balance of acids and sugars. The higher elevation of Lawrence Vineyards gives each wine sufficient acids to pair with sweeter flavor profiles, such as the lemon garlic dressing. With a residual sugar of 22 g/L this wine also complements any tartness Caesar dressing can present.

Mixed greens topped with Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette

Some of our favorite wine-pairing salads . . .

Greek Salad with Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette and homemade Focaccia.
Kittencal’s Famous Caesar Salad, with 202 5-star reviews, we think it’s a winner.
And from The Pioneer Woman herself, Ree’s Caesar Salad recipe.

The main dinner course was a choice between Shrimp Rosetta or
Italian Three Meat Penne Pasta. If I don’t have you drooling yet, I’m sure to get you with a little glimpse of this course.

Shrimp Rosetta

As you can tell from the photo, there was a choice between a red and white wine, the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2010 Pinot Gris. A majority of the crowd chose the 2009 Cab, however I think the Pinot Gris paired very nicely with the red sauces of the pasta. Pinot Gris is typically a great wine to bring as a hostess gift or serve with a variety of food because it is a great neutral white wine.

Recently the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon scored an impressive 92 points with Wine Spectator putting it among other highly sought after wines including Delille, Betz, and Leonetti and ranked as the best-value of the group. Our 242 case lot is moving quickly, buy here now.

Moving to the 2010 Pinot Gris, we’ve seen a lot of positive feedback from this wine from fans and buyers both. “There’s something different about this wine, it’s unlike any Pinot I’ve ever tasted.” – from a meeting with a recent Minnesota distributor. Once again we attribute the taste to the cooler vineyard site leading to higher acids and a balance of the residual sugar. This vintage of the Pinot Gris is sold for $20/bottle and is in stock at both our Woodinville & Ellensburg tasting room as well as online.

Although Ellensburg Pasta Company wouldn’t give me their secret to making the mouth-watering pasta above, I searched hi & low to find some substitutes . . .

Martha Stewart keeps it light with Shrimp, Tomato, and Basil Pasta.
A simple pasta with Spicy Shrimp & Tomato Sauce, would pair nicely with the 2010 Pinot Gris.
Three Meat Pasta recipe that left me drooling after I read “ham, sausage, and cooked chicken”. Yumm.
No need to fret if you don’t eat meat, Ladies Home Journal put together their top 10 vegetarian pasta dishes that pair very nicely with both wines.

Sadly, the final course was not captured on film, and I would certainly not mind describing it to you in detail, but alas, I did not even get to try it, when I returned to the table after a short absence, mine as well as the rest of the tables was gone. Vanished. I guess that speaks for itself. The two choices as listed above on the menu were a Chocolate Mousse or a Fresh Berry Shortcake paired with the 2008 Riesling Ice Wine (now unavailable).

One unique fact about Ice Wine is that the wine grapes are harvested frozen still on the vine. Actually there is a specific formula of how frozen they must be, naturally frozen over 30 brix when tested or (under 17 degrees F) for 48 hours. The 2008 vintage gave us some great Riesling grapes that were slowly fermented and captured in this vintage of ice wine. Not every winter can produce ice wine grapes, the above formula has to be executed, labor must be found to pick, and enough of the harvest must be unaffected by rot before the cold hits. Needless to say, we’re always very proud of a year that can produce Ice Wine.

In conclusion, we’re very excited to continue the tradition of bringing you local cuisine & magnificent Washington wines, find out the details first at our events section of the Gård website or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

If you missed part I, don’t fret, we’re bringing you part II of our Food & Wine Series next month, Sunday, September 23. Local chef & personal trainer Erin Murphy is hosting a cooking class inspired to pair healthy cooking with Gård wines at home.