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Pairings: Pinot soars with simple noodles

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Our Wine of the Week, Williams Selyem 2017 Russian River Valley Eastside Road Neighborhood Pinot Noir ($65), attained legendary status many years ago, as the winery became know as the center of gravity for this wily grape in what may be its best home, the cool valleys of western Sonoma County.

It is a fitting tribute, as well, to one of its founders, Burt Williams, who died early last month. As you enjoy this sultry beauty, take a moment to raise a glass to him.

The wine is light on its feet, with a silken texture, generous flavors of blackberry and Queen Anne cherry, and a brightness not unlike cool water splashing on river rocks. This wine does Burt Williams proud.

With an ultra-premium wine, it is easy to feel obligated to go fancy when pairing it at the table. And, of course, you can. Rare rack of lamb with potato puree, grilled Liberty duck breast with farro, braised mushrooms with polenta, and a luscious crab bisque all help this wine soar into its most gorgeous self.

But you needn’t go this route. The wine is just lovely with simpler, more humble fair. Enjoy it with roasted carrots and parsnips drizzled with the season’s newest olive oil, olio nuovo. Serve it alongside a great steak sandwich, with cioppino, or with a bowl of creamy polenta topped with olive oil and Gorgonzola cheese.

For today’s recipe, I’m reviving an old Christmas Eve favorite, a simple dish of broad noodles accented with more nutmeg that you might think would be good. But it resonates in such a gorgeous way with the threads of spice in the wine that both the pasta and the wine itself soar. Serve the dish as a first course, as a side dish, or as a bed for, say, seared duck breast.

Lasagna Noodles with Nutmeg & Cheese

Makes 3 to 4 servings as a first course

12-16 broad, flat noodles, see note below

— Kosher salt

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, preferably olio nuovo, or

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1½ teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg

3 ounces (¾ cup) grated Vella Dry Jack, Estero Gold, Parmigiano-Reggiano or similar cheese

¼ cup chopped walnuts, preferably red, lightly toasted

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Fill a large pot half full with water, add a generous tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and cook until just done, 2 to 3 minutes for fresh, 8 to 12 for dried.

Put the butter and oil into a wide sauce pan and set it over very low heat until it just melts. Add the pepper, nutmeg and a generous teaspoon of salt and remove from the heat. Warm four soup plates or pasta bowls.

Drain the pasta and quickly tip it into the saucepan with the butter. Turn the pasta gently a few times to coat it thoroughly and divide it between the plates or bowls. Top each portion with cheese, walnuts and parsley and enjoy right away.

Note: For best results, use broad thin lasagna noodles, preferably Italian, that do not have ruffled edges. Alternately, you can use pappardelle or tagliatelle, which is about twice as wide as fettuccine.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date. Email her at michele@micheleannajordan.com

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