March Wine & Food Pairing

Bison Burger at Double Arrow Resort, Montana

Bison Burger at Double Arrow Resort, Montana

I should be posting a recipe, but I must honestly admit that I have never followed a recipe when preparing burgers.

I have yet to meet a devoted omnivore who does not appreciate a good burger — layers of complimentary and contrasting flavors and textures, no utensils required. In our neck of the woods, burgers have risen above the reputation of a fast-food fix or casual backyard party staple. They’ve become gastronomically revered. And rightfully so.

Busted! Burger overlooking Lange Estate Vineyard.

Busted! Burger overlooking Lange Estate Vineyard.

I do not eat burgers regularly, but when visions of them dance in my head, I see the Slow Burger, or Farm to Fork’s ground chuck rendition (I split one with a friend tonight). Because they are not in my usual repertoire (more of a treat, I’ll admit), it makes them even more appealing.

When Chef Jody Kropf sent me the proposed appetizer menu for our Tempranillo release party, the first line read, “Mini buffalo burgers with bleu cheese and marinated onions.”

Chef Jody's Mini Buffalo Burgers. Look closely, and you'll see their halos.

Chef Jody’s Mini Buffalo Burgers. Look closely, and you’ll see their halos.

SOLD.

I have been a long-time fan of bison (buffalo) meat. Grass-fed bison is nutritionally higher in protein and lower in fat than most conventionally grown beef. You’d think because of this, there would be a compromise in flavor. Not so. Bison is actually richer, sweeter, and milder than most beef.

Chef Jody’s bison burgers were phenomenal — small enough to tuck in to the curve of your palm, but big on flavor. Between pillows of buttery bun, he layered a well-seasoned and perfectly cooked bison patty, a sprinkling of bleu cheese crumbles, a smattering of tangy marinated onions, a blanket of soft but crispy butterleaf lettuce, and, finally, a douse of “secret sauce” — vaguely described by him as a combination of mustard and ketchup (there was more there, but he had to keep his secret).

Limited-production 2008 Lange Tempranillo

Limited-production 2008 Lange Tempranillo

Jimmy Buffet sings of cheeseburgers and beer (can’t argue with him, really), but the gourmet burgers I’ve encountered lately are definitely worthy of great wine. The 2008 Lange Tempranillo had just the right amount of rich fruit, spice, and tannin to play nicely with Chef Jody’s melt-in-your-mouth interpretation.

Happy eating!

Sharing the Love

Jesse Lange and I were quite happy to receive the following e-mail from long-time Cru Club member and “distant cousin,” Jim Lange. These stories reinforce our passion for producing and sharing Lange Estate wines!

I’m a little late with this email but after you finish reading you’ll understand why (a lot of sipping).

My wife and I had a little get together recently (13-Feb). Over the holidays I mentioned to some friends that I was thinking of having a tasting party after the holidays were over. It just happened to work out that we hosted our party the same night that you hosted the Valentine’s Winemaker’s Dinner. Naturally when I realized the aligning of the stars I had to make it a Lange wine tasting. We worked our way through most of the current vintages as well as some others for contrast. We finished with the bottle that made me not just a distant relative but a faithful patron. See if you can pick “the bottle” out of the list. It goes without saying that everyone enjoyed themselves – as the picture shows.

2008  Chardonnay “Willamette Valley”
2008  Chardonnay “Freedom Hill Vineyard”
2008  Pinot Gris “Willamette Valley”
2008  Pinot Gris “Reserve”
2007  Kissyfish White Table Wine
2007  Pinot Noir “Reserve”
2007  Pinot Noir “Freedom Hill Vineyard”
2000  Pinot Noir “Three Hills Cuvee”
2005  Sangiovese
2007  Tempranillo

So now the task at hand is organizing a trip to Oregon so I can show Mom, my wife, and the “sibs” where “the bottle” came from.

Regards and well wishes,
Your Brother from Another Mother – Jim Lange

Jim Lange & Company Enjoying Lange Wines

Of course, Jesse and I were wondering exactly which wine represented “The Bottle,” (the 2000 Three Hills Cuvee Pinot was Jesse’s apt guess) so I implored Jim to divulge. He sent the following reply:

As for the “the bottle”, Jesse guessed correctly, it would be the 2000 Pinot Noir “Three Hills Cuvee”.

More of the story:
I was out in Portland in 2001 on business and was having dinner at one of the downtown restaurants (alone… so sad). It was my birthday (even more sad) and I decided to treat myself. On the wine list was a wine I hadn’t heard of before, Lange. I saw it as a sign (a good sign, not a sad sign). Since they didn’t have the selection by the glass I got a bottle… all for myself !! It was the 2000 Three Hills Cuvee. I asked the waiter where the wine came from and he said it was a local vineyard. It was a Saturday and I had Sunday to myself so I decided to visit the winery (after I slept in of course – it was a full bottle afterall). I went, I saw, I tasted, and the rest is apparent. I brought back a half case of wine that trip and joined the Grand Cru Club that day. Once I was home I started sharing with the family and friends and as seen in the pic, I haven’t had any complaints!!

All the best for 2010,
The East Coast Brother – Jim Lange

Many thanks, Jim, for your loyalty — and for sharing Lange wines. We await your visit and look forward to sending many fine vintages your way. Cheers from all of us at Lange Estate Winery & Vineyards!