Biodynamic Willamette Valley with Brick House and Harissa Chicken #WinePW

Biodynamic vineyards don’t necessarily look different from other vineyards. Cooper Mountain Vineyards in the Fall.

Wine Pairing Weekend Group Dives into Biodynamic Willamette Valley
This month, our Wine Pairing Weekend group is celebrating Oregon Wine Month by diving into Biodynamic Wineries from the Willamette Valley. Jade Helm, a member of our group, organized samples from a number of wineries so we could explore the variety of biodynamic wines from all over the Willamette Valley. Take a look further down in this post for links to many more posts on biodynamics in Willamette Valley.  I’ve written multiple posts on biodynamics (here, here, here), so I’ll spare the details here and jump right into Willamette Valley and Brick House Vineyards.

Willamette Valley AVA, Oregon – Russian Doll of AVA’s
Our group is posting on wineries located in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. If you’re not familiar, here’s a primer. American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) are specific delineated regions in which wineries and grape growers feel the wines have some unifying qualities. AVA’s are approved by the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the US Dept. of Treasury. So when you’re looking a bottle of Oregon wine and it says “Oregon” on the label, you know the grapes could have been grown anywhere in the state. If it says “Willamette Valley AVA“, that’s good news because the grapes come from a region well known for quality, even though it’s still quite large at 3.3 Million acres. To further delineate individual regions, sub-AVA’s inside the larger Willamette Valley AVA (approved in 1984) were defined based on soil type and local topography. Chehalem Mountains AVA includes about 1600 acres of planted vineyards, approved in 2006. Finally, Brick House Vineyard is located in the Ribbon Ridge AVA , which is located inside the Chehalem Mountains AVA. Ribbon Ridge is the smallest AVA in Oregon, with 3,350 acres in total area, with 500 acres planted.

Brick House Vineyard
Brick House Vineyard is a second career for owners Doug Tunnel and Melissa Mills. Both were successful journalists and Doug had spent a significant part of his career as an international correspondent. He fell in love with wine while stationed in Europe (funny how that works!) and started to think about having his own winery.

Doug’s background as a journalist shines brightly on the Brick House website. He gives a remarkably concise and compelling explanation of organic and biodynamic viticulture, including the all-important “Why”. Take a minute and enjoy his short piece on their website. Now, take an additional three minutes to hear Doug personally tell his story, courtesy of the Skurnik wines youtube channel.

Brick House is organic and Demeter (biodynamic) certified. All grapes are estate grown, produced and bottled by Brick House Wine Company. Ingredients are not required for wine labeling, but I enjoyed seeing the ingredients listed on the back of the bottle: organic grapes, sulfites.

You may be familiar with the Slow Wine guide as an annual guide to Italian wines of note, published by the Slow Food organization. You might ask what that has to do with Oregon? In 2018, the guide expanded to include wineries which met their criteria in California and Oregon! Brick House was one of 50 Oregon wineries chosen for inclusion in the guide. They were given a snail award, to “signal a cellar that has distinguished itself through its interpretation of sensorial, territorial, environmental and personal values in harmony with the Slow Food philosophy”.

Disclosure: Brick House provided the wine as a sample. No other compensation was involved, all opinions expressed are mine.

Brick House Ribbon Ridge Chardonnay 2016 (sample, $28 SRP) 12.6% abv
Eye: Clear, medium lemon color with legs
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity. White flowers, fresh underripe pineapple, citrus and chalk. A touch of coconut far in the background.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ flavor intensity. Medium acidity, medium body, medium alcohol. Nice, creamy texture with flavors of citrus and pineapple. Mouthfeel has that nice roundness of oak without overt flavors, very nice. Tart flavors of citrus and pineapple linger in a nice medium+ finish.

Enjoying a taste of Brick House Chardonnay while grilling the chicken for dinner

Brick House Chardonnay with Harissa Marinated Chicken with Red Grapefruit Salad
On advice from one of the other bloggers in our Wine Pairing Weekend group, I’m giving “Ottolenghi – The Cookbook” a trial run, courtesy of our local library.  I chose this recipe, as I could cook the chicken on the grill, and I knew Julie would love pairing the chicken with a grapefruit salad.  The full recipe was reprinted by the BBC Ottolenghi harrissa chicken with grapefruit salad in case you’d like to give it a try. The only modification I made was cooking the chicken outdoors on the grill. I gave it an initial sear over direct heat, then moved the chicken over to indirect heat until it reached an internal temperature of 165° F.

The pairing was spot-on. The Brick House Chardonnay had texture and mouthfeel from fermentation and aging in oak, but no perceptible “oaky” flavors which often get in the way of pairing with food. The harissa marinade/sauce was very flavorful but not overly hot/spicy. The sweet & acidic sauce over top was a nice addition.  The grapefruit salad was refreshing and the additional touch of fresh avocado seemed in keeping with the rest of the dish. While the ingredient list seems long, the meal came together pretty easily. The marinade is made the day before, so cooking day is pretty easy!

Wine Pairing Weekend Writers Highlight Biodynamic Wineries in Willamette Valley
If you see this soon enough, please join our chat on Twitter. We chat on Saturday May 11 at 10am CDT. Just look for the hashtag #winepw and join in. Do you have curiousity,thoughts, or opinions on biodynamics? Join in!


18 Responses to “Biodynamic Willamette Valley with Brick House and Harissa Chicken #WinePW”
  1. wendyklik says:

    I wouldn’t have chosen a chardonnay with the Harissa chicken but since it worked so well for you I will keep this wine in mind for the next time. Thanks

  2. Biodynamic and dry farmed Chardonnay is such a complex beautiful beast… love it! This recipe sounds yummy too. Lots of great information here too about Brick House and the topics at hand.

  3. asiantestkitchen says:

    Really nice explanation of the ava and sub ava’s in the region. Bonus pdf of the recipe! Lots of goodies packed into this post!

  4. Jade Helm says:

    I am sooo intrigued by this recipe. And great article, Jeff. I really enjoyed your comments and the info you shared during the chat this morning.

  5. Nice to see a Chardonnay pairing in the mix here — sometimes forget that there is more than Pinot in the area. Delicious looking chicken dish!

  6. Pinny Tam says:

    This Brick House Ribbon Ridge Chardonnay seems to pair really well with the chicken. I love the deep orange color of it! Also it seems…what makes this Chardonnay so great is that it has the “texture and mouthfeel from fermentation and aging in oak, but no perceptible “oaky” flavors”.

  7. Yum! I’ve really enjoyed cooking from the Ottolenghi book and am eager to try this recipe. It’s so colorful and you’ve made such a lovely presentation. I especially like that you tasted a Chardonnay for this event – and that it was a winner with the dish.

  8. Very interesting back story on Brick House Vineyard, what a great dream realized! As I mentioned I am a true fan of Ottolenghi’s cookbooks however, I have not tried the Harissa chicken yet. 😉

  9. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    That really looks like such a beautiful pairing. I’m sure the grapefruit and the Chardonnay were both super refreshing with the harissa. (I also love the Ottolenghi cookbooks — I have 4!)

  10. Yum! Your pairing looks and sounds mouthwatering Jeff! I don’t think I’ve ever had anything in a Harissa marinade. I’m going to have to find a recipe, because that sounds right up my alley!

  11. culinarycam says:

    Please tell me I’m not the only one hearing The Commodores in my head when I look at your photos with the bottle label. Okay? Maybe I am. But this looks like an amazing pairing, Jeff. Thanks, as always.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Jeff of Food Wine Click is pairing “Biodynamic Willamette Valley with Brick House and Harissa Chicken” […]

  2. […] Jeff of Food Wine Click is pairing “Biodynamic Willamette Valley with Brick House and Harissa Chicken” […]

  3. […] Jeff of Food Wine Click is pairing “Biodynamic Willamette Valley with Brick House and Harissa Chicken” […]

  4. […] Jeff of Food Wine Click is pairing “Biodynamic Willamette Valley with Brick House and Harissa Chicken” […]

  5. […] Jeff of Food Wine Click is pairing “Biodynamic Willamette Valley with Brick House and Harissa Chicken“ […]

  6. […] Jeff of Food Wine Click is pairing “Biodynamic Willamette Valley with Brick House and Harissa Chicken” […]

  7. […] House previously, including a bit of information on the Ribbon Ridge AVA. That post is located here. As Brick House is also certified Biodynamic by Demeter, it seemed natural to add them […]

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