Recipe: Roasted Mushroom Pappardelle Pasta (Vegetarian; can be made Vegan)
Bottle: 2013 Cooper-Garrod Test Pilot F-104 Starfighter (95% Syrah, 5% Viognier) (NB: unknown whether animal-based fining agents are used)
For Veteran's Day 2019, I knew that I wanted to remember those who have served by pairing a dish with a wine produced by a veteran-founded, veteran-owned, and veteran-operated local winery: Cooper-Garrod Vineyards. With this in mind, I set out to find its perfect vegetarian or vegan companion dish. While many dishes out there would fit the bill, from grilled eggplant to roasted squash, I ultimately decided to come up with something of my own instead.
Having had this particular bottle of wine before, I knew that a complimentary pairing would need to be a hearty dish with enough earthy elements to support the moderately tannic Côte-Rôtie style of the wine. So, I decided to create a simple roasted mushroom pasta recipe. For those of you that are interested in the recipe itself, the recipe's article can be found here: Roasted Mushroom Pappardelle Pasta.
As many of you have probably noticed by now, I am a big fan of Syrah blends, especially those that follow the Côte-Rôtie style of co-fermenting the Syrah with 20% or less Viognier. I find the increase in perfumed aromas contributed by the Viognier to be the perfect compliment to the medium-bodied Syrah. The result is often a well-balanced and approachable wine with added complexity from almost Burgundian earthy and floral aromas. When done right, this is by far one of my favorite styles of wine.
My Recommendation - CA Syrah/Viognier Blend
Being that it is Veteran's Day, I wanted to feature a bottle of wine from a U.S. producer, specifically one that is veteran-owned or veteran-operated. Cooper-Garrod, a producer in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA here in California, perfectly fits the bill, and just happens to be one of my favorite local producers. The property where the vines now grow was originally purchased by the Garrod family in 1893 for the farming of apricots and plums. Later, George Cooper, who served as a fighter pilot in WWII and went on to become a test pilot for NASA, married into the Garrod family and began what is now known as Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards.
As the name suggests, every bottle is produced from grapes grown on-site at the estate, giving each wine a real sense of the unique terroir of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. This particular bottle, a blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Viognier, is a stunning example of what this region can produce. The nose is full of black plums, pepper, earth, and kirsch. Moderate, but well integrated, tannins provide a pleasurable mouthfeel that will keep you lifting your glass every few minutes. As with wines from cooler, mountainous climates, the wines exhibit a good degree of acidity, balanced well with a delightful ripeness that is made possible thanks to the gracious California sun. On the palate, there is an element of spice that emerges and plays well with the chili pepper and vinegar in the dish. Additionally, hints of boysenberry and olive assert themselves, adding depth to the dish's flavor profile and highlighting the olive oil in the sauce. Further, the earthy roasted mushrooms and rosemary in the dish are enlived by notes of forest floor found in the wine. Finally, the acidity adds tremendous brightness to a decadently fatty dish. All in all, I enjoy the life that this wine brings to an otherwise simple dish; but, this is in part why I crafted this recipe - to highlight the possibilities inherent in this delicious wine.
Likewise, this pairing article stems from the desire to recognize not just those in the wine industry who have served in the Armed Forces, but all who have risked their lives in service to their country. I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you for your service!
Other Great Choices
Reds: Cote Rotie, Rhone Syrah, CA Syrah (cooler AVAs preferred), Cabernet Franc, Chianti Classico
Whites: Falanghina, Grüner Veltliner, Viognier, Alsace Riesling
Rosé: Dry Sancerre Rosé, Italian Rosato
Sparkling: Blanc de Noirs