Looking for an easy summer pairing to wow guests? Try Pedroncelli 2016 Dry Creek Valley East Side Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc with Mediterranean style Kalamata, Lemon and Feta Chicken for a fabulous flavorful earth and sunshine combination. Celebrating its 90th Anniversary, multi-generational family-owned Pedroncelli Winery is hosting on-site and virtual tastings with family owners sharing their latest releases.
It was 1927 and the midst of the dark days of Prohibition, when Giovanni and Julia Pedroncelli found themselves drawn to a small Dry Creek Valley property in Sonoma County, California, offered in a distress sale. The area reminded them of their native Italy, so they purchased the 25-acre vineyard, a shuttered winery and home and spent the remaining pre-Repeal years selling grapes. Working together, they forged a family business which now spans four generations with the fifth learning about farming from their grandparents and great grandparents.
As early entrants to the Sonoma County wine community, the Pedroncellis embarked upon many “firsts” — from welcoming visitors to taste wines in the cellar in the 1930s to placing Sonoma County on the label in 1940s. They were the first winery to make a Rosé of Zinfandel with more than 60 consecutive vintages and the first to plant Cabernet Sauvignon in Dry Creek Valley. Early adopters of incorporating small oak barrels and temperature controlled stainless steel tanks in the cellar, the Pedroncelli family was also the first in California to start an independent sales and marketing network. They note the pillars of their success to be family, farming and their flagship wines Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Ninety years from that first purchase, the Pedroncelli family kicked off their celebration with a Valentine’s Dinner in February, special participation in Wine Road’s Barrel Tasting in March and Sonoma County Vintners Barrel Auction, & Passport to Dry Creek Valley in April. May marked another celebration: last week we tasted three Pedroncelli wines as part of a virtual and on-site tasting that included a recipe sent along to pair with the Sauvignon Blanc.
I love the tastings that Robert Larsen of The Larsen Projekt sets up for his clients, because they often include easy-to-follow recipes as well as a gift card to buy the ingredients. Since it is Joe who went to culinary school and not me, my being able to prepare the recipe makes me feel more like a part of the event! This is super important when I am broadcasting on a platform with over 328 million active users that includes one very angry man threatening critics and former employees with his 3 a.m. missives.
For this particular tasting, Pedroncelli’s Ed St.John served as winery spokesman, giving us a bit of history and presenting the following wines:
– Pedroncelli 2016 Sonoma Country Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon from East Side Vineyards
– Pedroncelli 2016 Sonoma Country Dry Creek Valley Dry Rose of Zinfandel Signature Selection
– Pedroncelli 2015 Sonoma Country Dry Creek Valley Sangiovese from Alto Vineyards
Along with Robert Larsen, Ed chatted with Another Wine Blog and over 20 other virtual and on-site participants including
Joe Roberts, 1 Wine Dude;
Amy Corron Power, Another Wine Blog, @WineWonkette;
Karie Engels Basil & Salt
Liza Swift, Brix Chicks;
Melanie Ofenloch, DallasWineChick.com;
Dan Goderis, Dan’s Cellar Sips;
Sabrina Silva, Gotcha by the Grapes;
Cindy Running, Grape Experiences;
Joe Power, HoustonWino, Another Wine Blog;
James Melendez, James the Wine Guy
Thea Dwelle, Luscious Lushes;
Jana Seitzer, Merlot Mommy;
Dezel Quillen, My Vine Spot
Michelle Williams, Rockin Red Blog
Jeff Kralick, The Drunken Cyclist
Ryan O’Hara, The Fermented Fruit
Mary Cressler Vindulge
Amy Gross Vine Sleuth
Pedroncelli 2016 Sonoma Country Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon from East Side Vineyards
All three wines were very enjoyable, but the Sauvignon Blanc was my favorite. Crisp notes of lemon zest I expected, but creamier, rounder flavors of lemon curd were surprising, because according to Ed St. John the winery uses an all stainless method. “We don’t even allow the wine to pass the barrel room on the way to the bottle!” he says.
Other aromas of peach blossom and Granny Smith apple and no strident boxwood flavors made me want to finish the entire bottle. At 13.5% alcohol, and under $15, it is a great wine to keep on hand all summer long. The pairing was spot on.
Pedroncelli sent us a recipe that they adapted from Food and Wine Magazine. I made additional changes to accommodate family preferences. The recipe calls for chicken breasts, but Joe prefers dark meat. It also calls for sliced Kalamata olives, basically as garnish, but I wanted to incorporate the subtle olive flavor a bit more into the dish. The recipe also was super heavy on garlic, so I cut that back and added a few other ingredients. Here is the recipe I used.
Lemon Feta Chicken with Kamalata Sauce
6 boneless chicken breast halves
6 boneless chicken thighs
2 medium heads of garlic (about 12 cloves) skinned, separated and chopped
Finely grated peel and zest from 1 medium lemon
1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 lemon thinly sliced
6 Tablespoons chopped, fresh oregano
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh moist feta cheese, crumbled
16 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Fresh Ground Pepper
1 gallon plastic freezer bag
1. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, zest, peel, garlic, oregano and salt.
2. Whisk together. Place chicken pieces in plastic freezer bag and pour 3/4 of the mixture (about 1 1/2 cups) over chicken into the bag, remove extra air from bag and seal. Make sure all pieces are coated and place in refrigerator overnight. Save remaining marinade and refrigerate overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
4. Remove chicken from bag and place in baking dish with dark meat on outside and breasts near center of the pan. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Put drained “marinade” in a separate pan and boil for 5 minutes. Turn down heat to low and add “saved” marinade
6. Chop up 8 olive halves and add them and white pepper to sauce.
7. Add 1 tablespoon feta to saucepan and whisk.
Place chicken on serving platter, sprinkle with remaining feta, spoon over sauce. Garnish with olive halves, lemon slices and sprigs of fresh oregano. Top with freshly ground pepper.
We served the chicken with mashed potatoes topped with the sauce. A side of asparagus would pair nicely as well.
More Celebrations to Come
On July 22, the family will mark the 90th anniversary of Giovanni Pedroncelli’s signing the papers for the property with a trade event; will host an Open House Commemoration on August 12, Taste of Sonoma and Wine Country Weekend in September, Sip and Savor Club Dinner on October 21 and river cruises in both May and November. In between, members of the Pedroncelli family plan to work their way through 90 cities as they market wines and host dinners across the United States and beyond. as they share memories of their 90-year history and glimpses of what they plan for the next 90 years.
for more information about Pedroncelli Family Winery visit their website: http://www.pedroncelli.com/