Episode 29: Nicole Abiouness, Abiouness Wines

Abiouness Wines

On this episode of Crystal Palate’s Wine Country, I am talking with Nicole Abiouness of Abiouness Wines. Nicole is a Virginia native turned California winemaker who is getting quite a reputation for her Pinot Noir. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought it was the perfect time to learn more about this elegant and seductive grape.

“When it’s great, Pinot Noir produces he most complex, hedonistic and remarkably thrilling red wine in the world…” Robert Parker

“..are sensous, often erotic, above rational discourse, and beyond measured criticism” Oz Clarke

“at their best, Pinot Noirs are the 3 most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic.”-Joel Fleischmann, Vanity Fair

“choke full of incredible texture and hedonistic pleasures”-Madeline Triffon MS

Nicole will talk about her Pinot portfolio and her passion for Burgundy. She will also tell us all about her winemaking journey that has taken her all around the world. She also dishes on the one wine in her line-up that her family won’t let her stop making. Enjoy the show!

Beef Bourguignon & Burgundy

Julia Child started inspiring amateur cooks and housewives across America when she first brought us her famous Boeuf Bourguignon recipe on The French ChefThis recipe takes about 30 minutes to pull together and another 2 plus hours for cooking, but it’s so worth it! Plus, you’ll have lots of leftovers.

The classic pairing for beef bourguignon is none other than an elegant Burgundy.  For those that don’t know, red Burgundy is made from 100% Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region of France. Until recently, French wine laws did not allow producers to put the varietal on the label.  A change in wine laws now permits this to help European wine makers compete on a more global scale. However, many producers in France are very traditional and have not implemented these changes. When you are shopping in a wine store and see Burgundy on the label and no mention of Pinot Noir, rest assured it’s made from the Pinot grape. There is one exception to this – Beaujolais. Beaujolais is an appellation within Burgundy that’s known for a red wine made from the Gamay grape. While Grand Cru Burgundies are among the most sought after collectible wines in the world, there are some great values out there.  Your best values are going to come from the Côte Chalonnaise in southern Burgundy. Look for the following region on the bottles (Rully, Mercurey and Givrey). With that said, your favorite Pinot Noir will work just fine with this dish. I am going to stay true to the French tradition and reach for a bottle of Burgundy! Here are a few great choices for some inspiration if you want to explore a Burgundy.

Recipe: Beef Bourguignon (Note: This is my paleo-friendly version)


3 lbs pot roast (stew meat)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 & 1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. Herbs de Provence
4 thyme & rosemary sprigs (tie with kitchen string)
1/2 bottle of Pinot Noir or Burgundy
1 tbsp. tomato paste

1 medium yellow onion (medium dice)
2 small sweet potatoes (medium dice)
4 carrots (cut on angle – 1/2 inch pieces)
2 parsnips (cut on angle – 1/2 inch pieces)
1 cup portobello mushrooms (sliced)
1 bag of pearl onions
1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)


Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

Pat beef dry with paper towels. Season with salt, pepper & garlic powder on all sides. Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat.
Sear beef in batches. About 3-4 minutes per side should give you a nice sear. Don’t crowd the pan! Transfer beef to a bowl. Set aside. Add diced onion to pan and cook for about 5-10 minutes in beef fat to get another layer of flavor. Add carrots, sweet potatoes, & parsnips. Mix with onions to get all your veggies covered with all that beefy goodness. Add tomato paste and integrate with veggies.  Add wine a little at a time and deglaze the pan.  Add stew meat back to pan, mushrooms, Herbs de Provence, rosemary & thyme sprigs and chicken or beef stock. Make sure all the meat and veggies are covered. Cook for at least 2 hours in the oven. I usually let mine cook for about 3 hours. The longer you cook it, the more tender the beef is. If you choose to thicken the sauce, mix 1 tbsp. almond flour and 1 tbsp. grape seed or olive oil in a small ramekin until well combined and add to stew.  Add parsley and serve. Serves 8.


Paleo Pairing: Salmon & Pinot Noir

Four days into my New Year’s resolution and I am still going strong with the Paleo plan. I have found that this plan is fairly easy to stick with as long as you take time to prepare ahead  The bonus for me is that The Paleo Diet allows wine in moderation and since I am a Sommelier, wine is an integral part of my daily living.  I am chronicling my journey through the month of January so I can introduce you to some great wine pairings for the nights you do want to indulge with a little sip of wine while sticking to your healthy resolution. Today’s recipe is a sumptuous meal that only takes minutes to prepare.

Day 4 Recipe: Seared Salmon w/Sauteed Spinach paired w/Pinot Noir


4 – 6oz salmon filets
11oz spinach
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp. dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio)
1 tbsp. Herbs de Provence
1 tsp. salt (plus a pinch for the spinach)
1/2 tsp. pepper (plus a pinch for the spinach)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees, then heat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it’s hot.  While the cast iron skillet is heating up, take 1 tbsp. olive oil and lightly brush both sides of the salmon filets to ensure the seasonings adhere to the fish.  I am personally not a huge fan of the skin, so I have my fish monger take the skins off to make the cooking process a little easier. Keep in mind that you don’t need much olive oil because the fish has plenty of fat already. Once you have a thin coating of olive oil, sprinkle the fish with salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence.  Place salmon in skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Flip the fish and place in the oven for 5 minutes for medium rare-medium.

After you place the fish in the oven, drizzle the remaining olive oil in the pan with the garlic and let simmer for about 1 minute to release the aromatics.  Then add spinach and white wine and  let wilt. This usually takes about 2-3 minutes. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Remove fish from oven. Let rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve over a bed of spinach.

I have a couple of great wine pairings for this dish, depending on what you are in the mood for.  I really enjoy a Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier with this dish. I love the way the Herbs de Provence with its notes of lavender, thyme and rosemary bring out some of the beautiful notes in the Pinots.

If you are looking for a white wine, I absolutely love a great Sancerre with this meal.  Sancerre and salmon are an amazing pairing! If you are going with this option add a squeeze of lemon juice to the fish and spinach. The bright acidity and minerality cleanse your palate in between bites making you yearn for another delicious bite of that rich, succulent salmon. This is definitely a match made in heaven!

Bon Appetit!

Wine Recommendations: (I am including the places that the wine is available for people living Hampton Roads, Virginia.)

Pinot Noir

Under $20

Angeline Pinot Noir, California – Shady Grove Marketplace (Norfolk), Total Wine


Novy Pinot Meunier, California – Press 626 (Norfolk)


Talbott’s Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, California – Yianni’s Wine Shop
Chateau de Chamirey, Mercurey, Burgundy, France  –  Total Wine


$20 – Christian Salmon, Loire Valley – Total Wine
$25 – Domaine Vincent Delaporte – Yianni’s Wine Shop, Virginia Beach