For the last six years, Juan Muñoz-Oca has been heading the 1.2 million-case production of Columbia Crest‘s Paterson, Washington, winery. As the third largest producer in the state, the collection — which includes the Reserve, H3 and Grand Estates wines — has a lot to live up to, from variety to value and quality. Muñoz-Oca, an Argentine native, grew up in the cellar, picking grapes as a child and spending his summers in the thick of harvest with both his father and grandfather working in the wine industry.
To continue the celebration of Washington Wine Month, Columbia Crest features its 2015 H3 Cabernet Sauvignon in a bittersweet treat: a scratch-made raspberry torte for any occasion.
“The 2015 H3 cabernet has a unique tannin profile, thanks to its fruit sourcing in the Horse Heaven Hills,” Muñoz-Oca explains. “The tannins are expressing themselves dusty and fluffy, yet very soft and sweet, connecting texturally with the bittersweet chocolate used for the torte.”
Muñoz-Oca also credits the cohesion to a toasted coconut aroma of the wine from its time in oak, which enhances the fruitiness of the raspberry. “I think the flavors from the wine and the rest of the elements that create the torte not only melt together harmoniously but also complement each other and bring out the best of each component,” he adds.
And he isn’t afraid of pairing his Cabernet with the bittersweet chocolate either, a sometimes risky move that can cause a dry red to taste bitter and tangy against the sweetness of the chocolate.
“We just paired the wine with a similar dish at a winemaker dinner and it worked out great for both the wine and the dish,” Muñoz-Oca says, noting that a floral late harvest muscat or typical port would also match nicely. “My favorite situation to enjoy the torte and H3 Cab together is as a late night snack once back home from a night out in the city.”
Raspberry Cabernet Torte
Recipe courtesy of Columbia Crest Winery
Makes 1 torte
1 pint raspberries
½ cup Cabernet Sauvignon
½ cup sugar
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces butter
5 eggs, whites and yolks separated
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup cake flour
Preheat oven to 325° F (163° C).
In a blender combine the raspberries, wine and ½ cup sugar. Purée until smooth. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds, resulting in about 1 cup of liquid.
Chop the chocolate and melt over a water bath until smooth. Cut the butter into squares and soften. In a large bowl, fold the butter into the chocolate until all traces of the butter are gone. Pour the raspberry mixture into the butter and chocolate.
In the bowl of a mixer combine the 5 egg yolks with the 1/3 cup of sugar. Whisk until the color turns lighter and the mixture slightly thickens, about 3 minutes. Fold into the chocolate mix then add the ½ cup cake flour and stir until combined.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Stir in ¼ of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mix to loosen, then gently fold in remaining whites.
Spray a 9-inch spring-form pan with nonstick spray. Pour the torte batter in and smooth out. Bake until a toothpick comes out with dry crumbs, about 45 minutes. Refrigerate until cool and enjoy.