Pairings: Salmon complements Oregon pinot
Our Wine of the Week, Argyle 2017 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($27), is suave, expressive and a bit of a chameleon, in that it changes over the course of a glass, revealing different aspects of itself, especially if you wait a while between sips.
It is a pretty wine, as any well-made pinot noir should be, but it is also a bit austere, more so than you find when the varietal is grown in local appellations, such as the Russian River Valley.
There is less forward fruit, and it isn’t particularly ripe.
There are hints of cherries and a bit of black raspberry, but these flavors are quickly eclipsed by savory characteristics that are both surprising and delightful.
I notice something resembling spring garlic, a suggestion of coriander seed, and a hint of braised shallot. It is both delicious and interesting.
The texture is, for the most part, silken, with just a bit of roughness around the edges, from tannins that will resolve over time.
You’ll enjoy this wine with duck, including duck meatloaf on a bed of sautéed chard or kale.
It is excellent with wild mushrooms and smoked cheese, such as smoked mozzarella and caciocavallo fumato, a Sicilian cheese that you can sometimes find at Oliver’s Markets. Smoked sausages are a good match, too.
The wine is also outstanding with our local wild Pacific King salmon.
Add a Bing cherry gremolata and some earthy farro, and you have a feast worthy of this delightful wine.
Slow-Roasted Pacific King Salmon with Farro and ?Fresh Cherry Gremolata
Makes 2 servings
½ cup semi-pearled farro, soaked for several hours or overnight, drained
- Kosher salt
1 cup, approximately, ripe Bing cherries, pitted
1 tablespoon orange zest, preferably from a Cara Cara orange
2-3 fresh (not aged) garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon, if available
1 teaspoon basil, preferably Thai basil, minced, if available
- Black pepper in a mill
2 wild Pacific King salmon fillets, about 6 ounces each
First, cook the farro. To do so, put it into a small saucepan, cover with water by 1 inch, season generously with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat so that the water just simmers, cover the pan and cook until the farro is tender but not mushy, typically from 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
Meanwhile, make the gremolata: Cut the cherries into medium dice and put them into a medium bowl. Add the orange zest, garlic, parsley, tarragon, if using, and basil, if using.
Add several turns of black pepper, a generous pinch of salt, toss gently, cover and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and brush it with a bit of olive oil.
Use needle nose pliers to remove the salmon’s pin bones. To do so, gently press on the salmon to find the bones and then grab each one with the pliers and yank; the bones should come right out.
Set the salmon on the baking sheet and season it with salt and pepper.
When the farro is almost done, set the salmon in the oven and cook for about 18 minutes, until it is just done.
Check after 15 minutes and pull it out of the oven if it seems done. The thicker the fillets, the longer it will take them to cook. (Salmon is best if undercooked a bit, not overcooked; it will also continue to cook for a few minutes after you pull it from the oven.)
Check the farro and if any water remains unabsorbed, drain it off. Add about half the gremolata to the farro, toss with a fork and divide between two plates. Set a salmon fillet half on and half off the farro and spoon gremolata over everything.
Season with salt and pepper and enjoy right away.
Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “The New Cook’s Tour of Sonoma.” Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.