Disclosure: The wine was provided to me as a media sample. All opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.
If you are not familiar with Washington State’s wine country, you may be surprised to learn the Cascade Mountain range divides the state into two very distinct climates. The Cascade Mountains act as a rain shield protecting the eastern half of the state. So unlike the Seattle rainy weather, eastern Washington is categorized as a Continental Semi-Desert. Grapes can thrive in this desert environment because of irrigation, 300 days of sunshine a year, layers of prehistoric created soils, varying elevations, a vast difference between the day time (80’sºF) and night time (50’sºF) temperatures, and a longer growing season. In fact, of the sixteen AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) in Washington, all but one are in the eastern half of the state.
This month the Wine Pairing Weekend group of bloggers takes a closer look at the Yakima Valley AVA located in south-central Washington (east of the Cascade Mountain range). What better way to get to know the Yakima Valley wine region than to open a bottle of Yakima Valley wine. I did just that, a bottle of Owen Roe Cabernet Sauvignon, and paired it with a filet mignon. Join the group on Twitter, Saturday, March 13th at 11:00 AM ET for our chat, and don’t miss more articles from the group at the end of this post.
Fast Facts about Yakima Valley AVA
- Washington’s first approved AVA established in 1983
- Yakima Valley AVA is the largest sub-appellation in the Columbia Valley AVA
- It has four of its own subregions: Red Mountain, Snipes Mountain, Rattlesnake Hills, and Candy Mountain
- It contains 18,580 acres of vineyards, over a third of Washington’s total vineyards
- The climate is arid continental with an annual average precipitation of 8 inches
- Water for drip irrigation comes from the Cascade Mountain snowmelt that flows into regional rivers and natural aquifers
- A diverse growing region spanning over 100 miles with varied terroir
- Layers of soils created from prehistoric volcanoes and floods
- Varying elevations from 1000-3000 feet above sea level
- Produces more than 40 different white and red varieties
- Almost half of Washington’s Chardonnay and Riesling is grown here
- Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are prosperous in the higher elevations with southern exposure
- A long growing season of 190 days on average
Yakima Valley Wine Styles
Chardonnay (3180 acres) is the most widely planted variety in Yakima Valley. It ranges in style from crisp non-oak and cooler growing sites with fresh green apple notes to richer barrel fermented and warmer locations showing stone fruit and tropical notes. Many Yakima Valley Chardonnays go through a secondary, malolactic fermentation adding buttery and vanilla notes.
Merlot (2090 acres) tends to be full-bodied with good acidity. Displaying red fruit notes like sweet cherries, red currants, and raspberries with chocolate, sweet spices, and sometimes mint.
Cabernet Sauvignon (1350 acres) often shows notes of black currants, cherry, chocolate, leather, mint, tobacco, vanilla, and even bell pepper. The wines are recognized as well balanced with aging potential.
Riesling (920 acres) is one of the first grape varieties grown in Washington. They commonly have floral aromas with apricot and peach flavors. Most are produced in an off-dry to just sweet style with good acidity.
Syrah ( 650 acres) is a variety on the rise in the region, often exhibits dark, concentrated fruit flavors like blackberries, black currant, and blueberries with notes of spice, coffee, and leather.
Owen Roe Winery
Owen Roe Winery is a Pacific Northwest Winery originally established in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 1999 by co-founders Angelica and David O’Reilly and Ben and Julie Wolff. In 2014, a new state-of-the-art winery was built in the Yakima Valley with 40 acres of estate vineyards in the Union Gap. Since the beginning, David O’Reilly has been the winemaker. In 2013, Jackie Evans joined as winemaker along with cellar master Francois Dereeper. O’Reilly’s philosophy is to grow and source grapes from the highest quality vineyards, hands-on approach in the vineyards throughout the growing season, but minimal intervention once the grapes arrive at the winery and in the cellar. His goal is to let the authentic characteristics of the grape varietals express themselves in the finished wine. Vintage Wine Estates purchased Owen Roe in 2019. O’Reilly currently oversees winemaking and operations at Owen Roe. In addition, he will be the regional winemaking director for Vintage Wine Estates.
My Tasting Notes
2016 Owen Roe Cabernet Sauvignon, Yakima Valley
14.1% abv | $42.00 (sample) | 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyards: DuBrul Vineyard, Outlook Vineyard, Red Willow Vineyard, and Union Gap Vineyard
Vinification: Aged in French oak barrels for 20 months
Wine Label: Pays tribute to the Yakima tribe, where they use to winter over at the gap by the Yakima River. If you look closely at the wine label, you will see a white teepee.
Deep ruby in color. Aromas of blackberries, cherries, and dried herbs. On the palate, dry with medium(+) body and tannins and medium acidity. Flavors of blackberries, black currant, cherries, vanilla, tobacco, and savoriness. An elegant, well- balanced wine.
I paired the Owen Roe Cabernet Sauvignon with filet mignon coated in cracked black pepper and served with a mustard cream sauce, topped with sautéd Shiitake mushroom. The wine’s medium(+) body and 14.1% alcohol call for an equally full-flavored food pairing. Filet mignon is a classic pairing with Cabernet Sauvignon. The black pepper coating echoes the bitter notes of the tannins. While the steak’s fat and mustard cream sauce counterbalance the medium(+) tannins of the wine.
Other suggested pairings from Susan Brown-Aaron at Owen Roe winery include almost anything grilled (matching those bitter elements in the wine) like pork loin, salmon, portobello mushrooms, radicchio, asparagus, and even a tofu lasagna with grilled vegetables.
A classic food pairing with a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon.
- 4 Filet mignons, two inches thick, 10 oz. each
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1-1/2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh black pepper coarsely ground
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 10 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons dry Sherry
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup shallots, minced
- 3 tablespoons Cognac
- 1-1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, minced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Turn on your stove's fan for good ventilation.
Dry the filets well. Tie each filet with cooking string so they are all the same shape. Combine and mix two tablespoons of kosher salt and 2 teaspoons of coarsely ground black pepper on a plate. Lightly brush each filet with olive oil. Roll the filets in the salt and pepper mixture covering all sides, press to adhere the seasoning.
Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat for 5-7 minutes. When the skillet is hot, add the filets and sear them all over, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the filets from the skillet to a baking sheet and place in the oven for 8-12 minutes or until the filets register 135 degrees F on a meat thermometer for medium rare. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
In the mean time, melt the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shiitake mushrooms and sauté for about 5-7 minutes or until they have released their juices. Add the Sherry, stir to combine and simmer for about 10-12 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
At the same time using the cast-iron skillet from earlier (no need to wipe it out) , add the shallots and sauté over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the Cognac and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring to deglaze the skillet. When the Cognac has evaporated and the shallots are tender, stir in the heavy cream and simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the mustards and adjust for seasoning.
To Serve: Remove the string from the filets. Place the filet on individual plates, spoon the mustard cream sauce around the filet and top with mushrooms. Garnish with parsley.
More on the Yakima Valley wine country from the Wine Pairing Weekend Group ~
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Cam shares “Yakima Valley’s Sin Banderas Rhone Roses Compliment Dishes with Asian Flair” and “Mediterranean-Inspired Dishes Paired with Yakima Valley Wines from Dineen Vineyards”
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass invites us to “Meet Kerry Shiels: A Yakima Valley winemaker with Vision”
- Terri of Our Good Life shares 2 posts “Fortuity…Taking Advantage of Life’s Great Wines!”, and “Two Mountain Rose and Fennel Wild Mushroom Tarts”
- Payal at Keep The Peas shares “Yakima Valley Wines FTW!”
- Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm is cooking up “Smoked Beef Brisket with Canvasback Cabernet”
- Rupal the Syrah Queen gives us “Yakima Valley – Red Willow Vineyards Producing Some of Washington’s Finest Syrahs”
- Jane of Always Ravenous makes our mouths water with “Filet Mignon paired with Washington Yakima Valley Cabernet Sauvignon”
- Martin with ENOFYLZ Wine Blog is giving us “a Taste of Washington State’s Yakima Valley”
- David at Cooking Chat has 2 posts for us also “Lamb Ragu Pasta with Red Wine from Dineen Vineyards” and “Sin Banderas Rosé with Corned Beef & More Yakima Valley Wine Pairings”
- Nicole of Somm’s Table shares “Big, Beautiful Reds from Yakima Valley and Tasty, Meaty Fare”
- Jennifer at Vino Travels tells us about “Italian Grapes of the Yakima Valley with Sleeping Dog Wines”
- Gwendolyn the Wine Predator explores “Washington Syrah: Hedges, L’Ecole, VanArnam with Lamb Stew”
- Susannah at Avvinare gives us “Malbec from VanArnam Vineyard in Yakima Valley”
- Lori at Exploring the Wine Glass shares “Tasting the Soul of Wine in the Heart of Yakima Valley”
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles writes Yakima Valley AVA – Blends of friendship and history with wines from Eight Bells and Pearl and Stone Co.