By Paul Omundson | Published December 2016

It’s a fragrant, pungent partnership: truffles and wine.

And the flavors of both combine for unforgettable pairings.

“It’s a euphoric match,” says Steve Baker, owner of Authentica Wines. There are a lot of intriguing possibilities.

Baker recommends pairing a strong black French truffle, such as the périgord—which goes well with bold flavors—with Cahors, a southwestern French red, made from native malbec grapes. He notes that Argentinian malbec has evolved into a much different wine, more fruit-forward. That’s why he specifically cites Cahors, which is dark, earthy, and tannic, making it an excellent truffle match. Oregon black truffles work well too, but they’re milder and more delicate than French versions.

Baker also suggests pairing Oregon white truffles and the white truffles of Alba in Italy’s Piedmont region (both similar climates) with pinot noir and nebbiolo. “White truffles are also complemented by aged champagne and white burgundy,” he adds. “They carry those same aromatic components found in aged cheeses and game.”

As for dish pairings, Baker leaves that to the chefs. But he admits a personal fondness for classic scrambled eggs, done the French way, loose and creamy, with shavings of white truffle, combined with an aged white Burgundy.

Sean Winder, executive chef at King Estate, loves smelling the fresh Oregon truffles that come into his kitchen December through February. “The aroma is earthy, musky, with hints of blackstrap molasses,” he says. “The smells are intoxicating.”

He serves fresh local truffles in a variety of dishes paired with the estate’s famed pinot noir and pinot gris.

Here are some of Winder’s suggestions:

  • grilled asparagus and frisée salad with sherry vinaigrette, poached egg, and shaved black truffles—“I love the way truffles interact with the fat from the egg, and the asparagus acts as a perfect platform to carry the acid from the vinaigrette.” Pair with 2014 King Estate Chardonnay.
  • bone-in veal chop with pain perdu, charred carrots, pearl onions, and truffle Périgueux sauce—“This earthy sauce captures the earthy flavor of the truffle.” Pair with 2013 King Estate Croft Vineyards Pinot Noir.
  • seared foie gras with pappardelle pasta, Parmesan, and truffled cream—“Truffles love fat!” Pair with 2013 King Estate Domaine Pinot Noir.
  • Oregon albacore crudo, fresh-shaved black truffle, and hazelnut tuile. Pair with 2015 King Estate Backbone Pinot Gris.
  • potato and corn bisque with lardon and shaved truffles. Pair with 2006 King Estate Signature Pinot Gris.
  • black truffle kettle-style popcorn—“A fun, unique pairing that focuses on salty and sweet, which highlights the truffles.” It’s Winder’s personal favorite. Pair with champagne or a sparkling wine such as 2008 King Estate Blanc de Gris.

The winter truffle months are also special for Phillip Patti, wine director and sommelier at Eugene’s Marché Restaurant. The restaurant is renowned for its immersion into Northwest wine and food, and it offers a great seasonal truffle menu.

“In general, I recommend Alpine wines (Italy, France, Austria) for food pairings. They just seem to match up really well,” he says. “What’s exciting about truffles is their potent flavor, and that needs to be balanced by a similarly vibrant wine. They have this amazing perfume. So you have to find equally exciting, aromatic wines to marry with them.”

Patti suggests pairing Elisabetta Foradori Teroldego 2011, an Italian red, with a pork and black truffle sausage surrounded by lentils and braised bitter greens. Pinot gris from Alsace is a good fit with the richness of a truffle panna cotta accompanied with crab and poached pears. He also suggests one of his favorites, a truffle pizzetta covered in mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and lots of olive oil, paired with a bottle of J.K Carriere Pinot Noir “Vespidae” Willamette Valley 2013.

“The perfume and subtlety of this wine sings with the truffles,” he says.

And that’s just the dance you want!

Authentica Wines

766 W Park St.

541/485-0336

authenticawines.com

King Estate Winery

80854 Territorial Hwy

541/942-9874

kingestate.com

Marché Restaurant

296 E 5th Ave.

541/342-3612

marcherestaurant.com