Founded by Russ Raney in 1986, Evesham Wood is based on the idea that small is beautiful. To maintain a high level of quality, we rely on two basic principles: obtaining optimally ripe low-yield fruit from the best possible sites in the Willamette Valley, and using minimal intervention in the winemaking process. That approach is alive and well today, and is evident in every bottle we produce. – Winemaker/Owner Erin Nuccio
The Evesham Wood 2014 ‘Blanc de Puits Sec’ was a wine I had a preconceived notion about. When I looked at the label I fixated on it being a Gewurztraminer rather than the beautiful, dry Pinot Gris it is, or at least mostly is. In addition to the 85% Pinot Gris, there is about 15% Gewürztraminer and a smattering of Kerner, Rieslaner, Traminer and Pinot Blanc blended in. One deep smell of bright jasmine tea, roses and honeysuckle and I knew I was holding a winner.
Evesham Wood’s Blanc du Puits Sec, named after the dry well (Puits Sec) that sits in Erin and Jordan Nuccio’s 12.5 acre parcel, comes from the original vineyard planting in 1986 by original owner Russ Raney. The grapes are grown tightly-spaced and nestled on a low terrace on the eastern side of the Eola-Amity Hills ridge. It’s a beautiful non-irrigated organic wine pressed from whole clusters and fermented in stainless steel with an alluring nose of rose, spice, lychee and pear.
Because I erroneously thought of Alsace and Gewurztraminer, my first thoughts on pairing ran more in that direction. One very important factor in food and wine pairing is to pay attention to the wine style in addition to the varietal. Pinot Gris’ are prime examples. Italian Pinot Grigios tend to have brighter acid and more of a Sauvignon Blanc style (without the grass), lending themselves to pair flawlessly with caprese salads and rich preparations of chicken and shellfish. New world styles tend to be spicier and more viscous and pair even better with rich dishes. The Blanc du Puits Sec falls somewhere between the Italian style and what is traditionally considered as the Oregon style. Because of that, it is a very versatile wine that will accompany a range of dishes from simple oysters or a simple tuna carpaccio to richer pasta dishes and even some less aggressively spiced Asian preparations. It is the perfect summer wine able to adapt to whatever you are cooking.
I settled on an enriched Pasta alle Vongole as the perfect match. I used succulent Manila clams freshly dug by friends in Washington state tossed with rich butter, fragrant olive oil and pasta. This is a fantastic pairing. The cleaner style of the wine brought out the sweetness of Manila clams and complemented the hints of citrus found in the lemon zest. The wine got more of an intense pear flavor and a bigger mouth feel. Which proves my belief that food needs wine and wine needs food.
This article is reprinted from one I wrote previously. I started writing a weekly column for my friend Massimo Marinucci’s excellent wine shop in Pound Ridge, New York. Opened in 1993 he has grown and expanded into the cellars and hearts of serious wine drinkers around the world. Check out his amazing offerings.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 sweet onion, chopped fine
- 1 small hot pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 2 pounds Manila clams, cleaned
- 1 cup pinot gris
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound bucatini
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- sea salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan large enough to accommodate all the clams and cooked pasta when finished.
- When the butter is melted and starting to bubble, add the sweet onion, hot pepper and fresh thyme.
- Cook over low heat till onions are translucent and tender, about five minutes.
- Add the clams and pinot gris and continue cooking on high heat till the shells start popping open.
- Remove the clams one by one as they open.
- Finish the sauce by swirling in some fresh butter, parsley, lemon zest and adjusting the flavors to your tastes with sea salt and pepper.
- The sauce will have a beautiful natural rich ocean salinity which will pair extremely with the Blanc de Puits Sec.
- Cook the bucatini in a large pot of salted water till al dente.
- Drain pasta, but do not rinse.
- Drop bucatini into sauce and add back the clams.
- Toss well and serve immediately.