Domaine Anderson Estate Pinot Noir & the best slow cooker chicken
Does anyone else write things like this in their tasting notes?
Something 20 yards out Aunt Et's back door about this.
Even if you have no idea what that means, and I know you don't, you probably understand that moment when a wine takes you to a childhood place because of something you smell or taste in it.
My great Aunt Esther lived in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains. The forest began about 20 yards outside her back door. There wasn't much for a kid to do inside her house, but when I stepped out back, it was a wonderland. My love of the woods began there as a girl, wandering through the trees and playing in the waters.
There was a creek on one side of her house that led to a larger stream back in the woods. It's because of that creek that I understand the wine descriptor of "wet stone." And that aroma of the forest that was so powerful on a humid summer day that you could almost taste it is why I understand the wine descriptor of "forest floor."
On the palate, the 2017 Domaine Anderson Estate Pinot Noir has that forest floor thing going on. The wine has a burst of flavor yet it's still delicate with an acidity that brightens the wine. The aroma is super ripe cherry, blackberry and roses still on the vine with their leaves. The wine has light tannins and a bit of tartness. It's a lovely wine from a pioneering Pinot Noir grower in California's Anderson Valley. $45.
It also went wonderfully with a simple weeknight dinner, with the chicken done in the slow cooker. More about that below.
But first, let's talk about Domaine Anderson's sustainability initiatives. This particular wine comes from three estate vineyards throughout the Anderson Valley taken care of to preserve the health of the soil. The winery is also working on sustainability in some of their other vineyards.
In their Dach Vineyard, where the single vineyard Dach Vineyard Pinot Noir is grown, Domaine Anderson now implements organic and biodynamic practices. They capture groundwater and use it for irrigation. All-natural compost nourishes the soils the vines grow in. And, plants to attract hummingbirds, bees and ladybugs are grown so the birds and the bees will pollinate and prevent pests in the vines.
Now, on to the food and wine pairing.
Slow cooker chicken thighs with onions, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes
This recipe is based on one in Slow Cooking for Two by Cynthia Graubart. (I love my slow cooker.) It's so easy, and the end result is a deep-flavored chicken that falls off the bone. It went really well with the Pinot Noir.
You know how Pinot Noir if often recommended for Thanksgiving because it pairs well with poultry? It does pair well with poultry, but it isn't always perfect with everything on a Thanksgiving plate - particularly the cranberry sauce or a sugary sweet potato casserole. But, when it's just the poultry, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans, it can really sing. And, I think the mushrooms in this chicken dish sealed the deal for the pairing.
6 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 to 1 pound of baby bella mushrooms, de-stemmed and sliced (It depends on how many people will eat the mushrooms. My kids don't eat them so I use a half pound. If everyone will eat the mushrooms, use a whole pound.)
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (not in oil), cut into strips
Half a good-sized onion, sliced thin
2 tsp minced garlic (jarred is fine)
3/8 cup chicken broth
3/8 cup dry white wine
Place chicken at the bottom of the slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt (add pepper, too, if you want. I don't.)
Pile mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, onion and garlic on top of chicken.
Pour broth and wine on top.
Cook on high for 3-4 hours. It's done when chicken starts to fall off the bone.
This wine was sent as a sample.