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Ever wonder what goes through the mind of a wine steward or sommelier when matching a wine to your dinner? Barbara Pitcher, our on-the-floor wine steward, has prepared these in-depth pairing notes, and shares them as both recommendation and an example of her thought process. (Oh, and this is just a taste of things to come! She and Tessa are formulating a wine class, so stay tuned for that in the months ahead.)

Garrotxa (Catalonia, Spain) is a cheese featuring semi-soft and compact textures and a light but noticeable coating of velvety, blue-grey mold. The flavor is milky and delicate with a hint of nuttiness and a clean, smooth finish. It pairs especially well with Albariño. Our Leira Albariño is from the Rías Baixas, Spain and features flavors of refreshing minerality, pear, lime, herbs and balanced acidity. There is an excellent balance between the rich, milky Garrotxa cheese and the Albariño—altogether a wonderful Spanish pairing.

Au Bon Canard Duck Breast (Caledonia, MN). Chef Bryce has prepared a beautifully seared breast with rhubarb jus, celeriac panna cotta, and roasted vegetables. This dish pairs well with a Soter North Valley Pinot Noir.  As Raj Vaidya, head sommelier at Daniel Boulud’s famous restaurant Daniel in New York, recommends, “Go with a lighter Pinot Noir or a Southern Rhone Red.”

Soter Vineyards is located in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, famous for sharing the 45th parallel with Burgundy. The 2009 vintage, on the lighter side of Pinot Noir, features cherry, raspberry, clove, and tarragon flavors balanced nicely with an acidity to complement the Au Bon Canard.

Gigondas is one of the highly coveted wines of Southern Rhone. Gigondas from négociants Les Trois Couronnes is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. This beautiful wine offers dark fruit flavors of muted cherry, blackberry, and plum, as well as nice earth tones, dried herbs, and touch of vanilla with a long, smooth finish. This rich classic of Southern Rhone is an outstanding pairing with the Au Bon Canard Duck Breast.

So if you’re dropping by Söntés for a light appetizer and a glass of wine, try the Soter North Valley Pinot Noir with the duck. However, if you’re dropping by with friends for an evening of great small plates and wine, share a bottle of one of our Southern Rhones, especially the famous Gigondas.