Our Wine of the Week, Iron Horse Vineyards 2013 North Block Pinot Noir ($85), is both beautiful and mysterious. As it splashes into the glass, it is the color of rubies, translucent and delicate. Yet on the palate, there is a beguiling darkness within the wine’s silken texture. Flavors run toward cool topsoil, cedar, tobacco and licorice root, with high notes of black cherry and unripe blueberry.
The wine is sophisticated, complex and engaging but not at all ponderous. It is more dowager than débutante, and if you could share a glass of this wine with anyone, your best choice would be Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham of “Downton Abbey” fame.
The wine will show itself best at the table with earthy flavors from, say, a simple salad of warm farro with grilled skirt steak and a bit of red wine vinaigrette, to seared duck breast smothered in wild mushrooms. The wine goes beautifully with grilled wild Pacific King salmon topped with a dollop of black olive tapenade, and it is a fabulous match with quail, too. Root vegetables work beautifully, too, solo or as a bed for quail, chicken thighs or duck.
One of the finest matches is mushrooms, especially the black chanterelles now available at farmers markets. Sauté them simply, and either tossed with pasta or fold them into this voluptuous risotto, in which teleme cheese enhances the match, making your palate glow with pleasure.
Black Chanterelle Risotto
Serve 3 to 4
4 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, minced
8 ounces fresh black chanterelle mushrooms
— Kosher salt
— White pepper in a mill
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken or duck stock, preferably homemade
1 1/2 cups Vialone Nano or Carnaroli rice
4 ounces teleme cheese
— Black pepper in a mill
3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sauté pan set over medium low heat, add the shallots and sauté until limp and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms, toss, season with salt and white pepper, add the wine and cover. Simmer for 5 minutes, uncover, increase the heat to high, and cook until the wine is almost completely reduced. Cover and set aside.
Pour the stock into a saucepan, add a cup of water and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to very low.
Set a deep sauté pan or wide saucepan over medium heat, add the remaining butter and let cook until it begins to take on a slightly golden color and gives off a faint nutty aroma. Add the rice and cook, stirring all the while in a circular motion, until the rice is opaque, about 2 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup of stock and stir until it is absorbed by the rice, adjusting the heat as needed so that the liquid simmers but does not evaporate before the rice can absorb it.
Continue adding stock, 1/2 cup at a time, and stirring constantly until the rice triples in volume and is nearly tender. Continue to stir and add stock 1/4 cup at a time until the rice is completely tender but not mushy; there should be just a bit of resistance in each grain.
Break the cheese into chunks, fold it into the rice and stir very gently until it melts. Fold in about three-quarters of the mushrooms but do not over mix.