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By: Lynette Jarrett
At this time of year, Vancouver Islanders are blessed with a seasonal food combination that pairs beautifully with our outstanding local Pinot Noir. The combination of salmon, chanterelle mushrooms and Pinot Noir is a winning recipe for a smashingly delicious dinner.
Last week’s rain initiated the fall’s chanterelle growth. Coming on now in higher elevations, the harvest of wild Chanterelle mushrooms will hopefully continue for the next six weeks, barring heavy rains.
Right now in our east and west coast oceans, Chinook and Coho salmon are being caught and quite soon, in the northern regions, Pink salmon will show up.
My favorite is Coho. The Fall Coho is a medium fat salmon, halfway between Sockeye and Chinook in richness. The bright orange flesh of the Coho is finer grained than Chinook, but somewhat coarser than Sockeye. The flavour is a combination of moderate “salmoness” with gentle, sweet and earthy qualities. Coho is more flavourful than Spring but not as fishy as Sockeye.
Whether it’s store-bought, self-caught, or gifted from your favourite fishing person, Fall Coho is a West Coast treat sought around the world and not to be missed.
Salmon is one of the most versatile foods ever when it comes to wine pairings. Its sweet, earthy, fatty oceanic tastes can be mirrored or contradicted by wine.
Which wine depends on your salmon recipe. Asian-influenced recipes call for a fruity and weighty white while spicy recipes call for a lush red.
Salmon prepared with Chanterelle mushrooms begs for a Pinot Noir pairing. The earthy qualities in Pinot Noir enhance those same flavours in the mushrooms while the fruity taste mirrors the sweetness of the fish. Pinot Noir displays spice and floral notes that enhance almost any food. The acidity of this wine stimulates your taste buds and sharpens all the flavours while diminishing the fatty aspects of the fish.
Here are my Pinot Noir suggestions for your salmon and Chanterelle dinner.
First, seek out the 2016 island-vintage Pinots as that was recognized as a great year for Pinot Noir on Vancouver Island. So as not to be disappointed, I recommend buying a few more bottles for your cellar, beyond your immediate dinner.
Emandare Vineyard’s 2016 Pinot Noir is currently available at Lucky’s Liquor for $39.99 and seldom have I tasted such an exceptional rendering of the Pinot Noir grape. This limited quantity Pinot Noir is the result of organic dry farming in the Northern Cowichan Valley. The grapes are handpicked, wild, fermented and aged in neutral oak. Its cherry, floral and mushroom aromas and flavours personify what a lovely cool climate Pinot Noir should be from a good harvest year.
Unsworth Vineyards’s 2016 Pinot Noir is another outstanding expression of Northern Cowichan Valley Pinot Noir grapes. This rendering is velvety in texture, with a bouquet of cherries, baking spice, earthy mushroom and violets and exemplifies an ideal Pinot Noir. Limited quantities are now available now at Lucky’s for $28.99
The Chateau Wolfe 2016 Pinot Noir was one of the best vintages from the new owners of this small estate vineyard in Nanaimo. It brims over with lush raspberry and cherry flavours and aromas. Combine that with subtle licorice, herbal and floral perfume to discover what an outstanding Pinot Noir should be. A very small quantity of the 2016 Chateau Wolf is still available at Lucky’s for $31.49.
Enjoy! And as your guests shower you with poetic compliments on your salmon and Chanterelle dinner with any one of these marvellous 2016 Pinot Noirs, reflect on how lucky we are to live in a countryside and beside an ocean that produces such beautiful foods. Bon apetite!