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Apolloni Vineyards

Oregon Wine, Tuscan Inspiration. With Recipes to Pair with Apolloni Wines: A Tuscan Feast
by Michael Sherwood, May 2006

On a beautiful spring evening outside of Banks, Ore. Alfredo Apolloni stood in the middle of his 14 year old Filippo Vineyard and smiled. A sea of green shoots coming off Pinot Noir vines gleamed in the Oregon sun under crisp blue skies. Bud break was late this year, which can be a good thing. Although the temperature dipped into the mid 30's one morning early in May, it didn't seem to harm the vibrant new growth.

Alfredo is a first generation Italian, whose family roots in winemaking goes back to the 1850's in the Marche region of coastal Central Italy, about an hour south of Venice. His family continues to grow Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco Sangiovese, Verdicchio and a myriad of other grapes popular in the area sandwiched between the Adriatic Sea and the mountains.

He started to look for vineyard land in the 1990's and settled upon two vineyard sites at the Northern end of the Willamette Valley that were originally planted by the Baldwin family, who own DePonte Cellars. Alfredo was drawn to the marine climate of the Willamette Valley which is similar to the coastal influences at his family vineyards in Italy.

"I fell in love with the style of wine being made in Oregon and the great fruit here", said Apolloni. "No one was making the fresh crisp fruit forward style of white wines that are popular in Italy. I knew I wanted to do make wine that was tailored to the local fresh foods of the Pacific Northwest."

In 1998, Apolloni purchased his vineyard land, a 14 acre plot that has proven to have an excellent microclimate and soil for growing Pinot Noir grapes. 2002 saw his first crush. In 2004, the Apolloni Winery was completed, with Alfredo as the full-time winemaker.

The coat of arms (pictured at top of page) on the label is the Apolloni family crest and is originally from the Arezzo region of Tuscany in Italy dating back to the 15th century. The family crest was selected as the centerpiece of the label because of the historic family tradition of viticulture and wine making and family commitment to tradition, with full involvement in the vineyard and winemaking.

Today, Alfredo Apolloni spends 85% of his time on the West Coast tending his vineyards, keeping tabs on the wine in barrel and telecommuting with an engineering consulting company in Detroit that does product development testing on everything from auto components, to cell phones to video displays. "We've even done tests on synthetic corks".

His engineering job supports the vineyard operations as they establish the brand and draws him to Detroit for less than a week each month. The rest of the time is spent making wine. "I love being able to carry on the family winemaking tradition with roots going back 150 years", said Alfredo.

As his vision of his winery has evolved, his mix of varietals has developed. As of 2006, small portions of Apolloni's small production are Italian style Pinot Gris [Oregon labeling laws forbid the use of Pinot Grigio by local wineries], Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay but the majority of the wine they make is Pinot Noir that is all Oregon.

Apolloni's first vintage as winemaker is showing well. "The 2004 vintage is tasting a lot like the amazing 2002 Pinot Noir", said Alfredo. "Beautiful silky smooth and balanced." The 2004 whites are now available, with the 2004 Pinot noir planned to release in Fall of 2006.

Apolloni's Vineyards

Surrounded by vineyards and wineries both new and established, Apolloni joins winegrowers who have discovered a unique site in the Northern Willamette Valley. This area of the North Willamette provides what, in some years, is an ideal climate for outstanding Pinot Noir. The extended growing season and gentle ripening contribute to the characteristics quality and complexity of the wines.

Located on south facing hill sides ranging from 350' to 500' of elevation, the East facing Olivia Vineyard produces subtle and floral flavors while the Westerly facing Filippo Vineyard produces larger more intense flavors. The vineyards are planted predominantly in the Dijon clonal varieties from France, all planted on disease resistant root stocks. The small berries from these vines contribute to the terrific flavor extraction in these wines.

Apolloni's Filippo Vineyard is cropped to 1.5 tons to the acre or less. Hand removal of leaves from the vines provide each cluster of grapes the ideal amount of sunlight. The attention to vineyard management extends below the soil; you will never see treated wood posts for vineyard trellises and Apolloni follows the guidelines of the Oregon LIVE sustainable viticulture program. Although not an organic vineyard they use organic materials whenever possible.

Apolloni's first crush was in 2002 with winemaker Alfredo Apolloni working with wine consultant Joe Dobbs for the first few vintages. In 2004 Apolloni moved to their own winemaking facility near Banks with Alfredo Apolloni as the full-time winemaker. Production in 2005 was just under 1000 cases, with half of that being exclusively Pinot Noir.

The Wines

2005 Apolloni Pinot Blanc

Pinot Blanc has always been a grape variety that begs for the winemaker to put their stylistic stamp on the wine. Pinot Blanc is a blank slate that can be taken in any number of directions can range in style from the uncomplex, light and fruity Pinot Biancos of northern Italy to the complex renditions out of California that are treated like chardonnay with barrel fermentation, lees stirring and full malolactic ferments.

This light-skinned descendent of Pinot Gris is typically a creamy, fairly full-bodied white, with flavors that suggest pears, peaches, apricot and sometimes melon. A complex, floral nose of warm spice and ripe fruit often with a touch of orange peel or some other citrus notes.

Pinot Blanc almost certainly originated in Burgundy, where it once flourished alongside chardonnay in the Côtes d'Or. When the appellation Controlée system was instituted in 1937, defining which grape varieties would be permitted in Burgundy, Pinot Blanc lost out to Chardonnay. Today, while some patches may be found in Burgundy, most of the Pinot Blanc grown in France is found in Alsace.

Pinot blanc is still allowed in both the Mâconnais and wine labeled "Bourgogne Blanc", but plantings are nearly phased out of the Burgundy appellation.

It's a great accompaniment to veggies and cheese-based dishes, as well as a simple herb-stuffed roast chicken, fish and onion tarts. Typically I'd pair an onion tart with a Riesling or a Gewürztraminer but the Apolloni Pinot Blanc is complex enough to compliment the heartiest of Alsatian faire.

The 2005 Apolloni Pinot blanc $12.55/$13.95 shows lush ripe fruit with a tangerine, lime, grapefruit tang on the nose. Smooth and creamy tropical fruit and melons dominate the palate. Good balance of fruit and acids together with a nice mineral finish. A surprisingly full Pinot Blanc from the North end of the Willamette Valley. 100% fermented in stainless steel. M.D.S.

2002 Apolloni Pinot Noir

The color of the 2002 Apolloni Pinot noir is a beautiful dark garnet with aromas of dark cherry, raspberry and a touch of licorice. Light fine grape skin tannins in the mouth carry flavors of black cherry and herbal notes. This is an excellent example of the stellar 2002 vintage in Oregon. This wine exhibits a deft touch at winemaking from someone who understands elegance and femininity of the grape.

This delicious wine is produced exclusively from estate-grown fruit, primarily from their Filippo Vineyard. The vineyard is located on south facing hillsides ranging from 350' to 500' of elevation and produces grapes with intense and complex flavors. The 2002 shows beautiful dark fruit yet remains polished, refined and supple. This is a winery to keep your eye on.

The Apolloni Pinot Noir will pair well with everything from salmon to game birds to light meats such as veal or pork kebabs would also be good with this Pinot Noir. We've paired this wine with two duck recipes. The dark cherry fruit and good acid balance make the 2002 Apolloni Pinot Noir a great match with duck in that the crisp acidity of the wine cuts through the fat inherent in the duck and the fruit flavors will go with the richness of a smoked duck or that of an Asian spiced duck as well.

Recipes for a Tuscan Wine Dinner


Green peppercorn salmon antipasto
(Antipasto verde dei salmoni del granello di pepe)

Pair with Apolloni Pinot Blanc

Here's what you need:
8 ounces fresh salmon, thinly sliced
8 ounces tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon green peppercorns
4 wild fennel fronds (optional)
1 tablespoon extra
Virgin olive oil
Salt (to taste)

Here's what you do:
1) Preheat the grill. Distribute the salmon slices among 4 individual oven-proof plates.
2) Sprinkle each portion with 1/4 of the peppercorns.
3) Salt to taste and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.
4) Grill for 2 to 3 minutes. Garnish with the diced tomatoes and fennel fronds and serve immediately.
Notes: Serves 4. Preparation time is about 10 minutes.

Source: La Cucina Italiana


Mostaccioli with Tuscan Sauce
(Mostaccioli al Ragù Toscano)

Pair with Apolloni Pinot gris

Here is what you need:
to taste extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 to 2 sprigs rosemary
2 leaves sage
4 ounces ground beef
4 ounces ground pork
2 fresh tomatoes
2 cups water
to taste Tuscan pecorino cheese
to taste freshly ground black pepper
1/2 box (8 ounces) Mostaccioli (a large smooth penne pasta tube)

1) Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, rosemary, and sage. Sauté for 10 minutes over low heat.
2) Add the ground meats and cook until the meat begins to stick on the bottom of pan, Deglaze with red wine and let mixture reduce well. Discard the rosemary, sage and garlic clove.
3) Blanch tomatoes, peel and remove seeds. Cut pulp into small pieces and add the pulp to the meat sauce along with water.
4) Simmer sauce mixture until water evaporates. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
5) Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt, and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, toss with sauce and sprinkle with pecorino cheese.
Note: Mostaccioli, known in Italy as "Penne Lisce," are a specialty of the Campania Region in southern Italy which includes the cities of Naples, Capri and Sorrento. Penne, which means "pen" in Italian, gets its name from its shape. Penne are tube-shaped with angled ends cut to resemble a quill or pen point. Unlike penne which have ridges, mostaccioli are smooth in texture. They are designed for chunky tomato, meat and cream sauces. They are also commonly used in baked dishes with tomato sauce and cheese.

Source: Lorenzo Boni - Barilla


Beef Tenderloin with Porcini Sauce
(Tagliata di Manzo con Salsa ai Funghi Porcini)

Pair with Apolloni Pinot noir

Here is what you need:
1 lb beef tenderloin, cut in half
. 1 clove garlic
1/2 lb porcini mushrooms
1/4 to 1/2 cup beef broth
2 sprigs, rosemary, divided (approx. 2 tbsp.)
to taste coarse salt
to taste extra virgin olive oil
to taste freshly ground black pepper

Here's what you do:
1) Clean and thinly slice the mushrooms.
2) Heat olive oil in a large skillet; add garlic and a rosemary sprig; sauté until garlic turns light yellow.
3) Add mushrooms and stir fry until mushrooms stick to the bottom of pan. Deglaze with the broth.
4) Season with salt and pepper to your own taste preference.
5) Brush the meat with olive oil using a rosemary sprig as a brush.
6) Broil the meat until medium rare; season with coarse salt.
7) Slice the meat into 1/3 inch slices, being sure to cut against the grain. Place slices on a single plate and garnish with the porcini mushrooms sauce.

8) Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve very hot.
Note: If Porcini mushrooms are dried, place in a cup or bowl of appropriate size and cover with water for an hour. Reserve water to use as part of the broth or freeze and save to use later in a recipe that calls for a stock of some sorts.

Source: Lorenzo Boni - Barilla


Florentine-Style Spring Peas (Piselli alla Fiorentina)

Pair with Apolloni Pinot noir
(served with tenderloin)

Here's what you need:
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
3-4 oz. diced ham or better yet - pancetta (un-smoked, Italian bacon)
1 1/2 pounds frozen peas (the smaller the better if you have a choice)
1 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

Here's what you do:
1) In a 2-quart saucepan, gently cook olive oil, garlic and ham or bacon for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to brown the garlic.

2) Add the frozen peas, water, salt and pepper and cook covered for approximately 15 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper, stir in parsley and serve. Serves 6.

Note: One of the most often served vegetable dishes in Florence. The springtime fresh pea season is short in Tuscany, but since this is such a favorite, we use the best frozen peas we can find when the fresh variety are not available. Whirl up any leftovers with a touch of broth, milk or water for a wonderfully sweet pea soup.

Source: Lourdes Flores of Zuppa Toscana

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