gastronome
NYF 2002 - wine pairings

As promised, a reveiw of my attempt at wine pairings from this year's New Years Feast. I think i was definitely more successful with the whites than the reds, overall. The champagne with the caviar was a no-brainer, and i finally got to pop the corks on several bottles from Handley that i've been eyeing. It was very cool to see everyone make the discovery that caviar and champagne make gustatorily more than the sum of the parts. And the parts are pretty fantastic in the first place.

We started with vodka cocktails - these started sweet and ended bitter on the palate, which i think was a nice appetite opener.

With the caviar, we enjoyed a 1996 Handley Brut. Handley's a lovely winery in Mendocino, and they create sparkling wines using the traditional methode champenoise. The caviar and bubbly, as noted above, were a perfect match.

Moving onto the soup course, i think i scored a direct hit with the 1997 Navarro Premiere Reserve Chardonnay. I don't generally care for California Chardonnays, but Navarro refrains from over-oaking them, and i think this one nicely complemented both the very delicate watercress soup and the earthier, more robust mushroom.

The fish course prominently feature crab, so i thought we needed something a little dryer and flintier. I pulled out a bottle of the Bonny Doon 1999 Viognier (cleverly titled The grape formerly known as ... viognier), and poured it against the potatoes, artichokes, and crab towers. Artichokes are notoriously hard on wine, but i think the viognier worked wonders with the crab and the lime elements that dressed the salad. Again, a sucessful pairing.

I don't think i did as well with the meat course; i served my last bottle of Kaz's Ascend, which is a fantastic blend of zinfandel and petite syrah. It was just a little bit large and complex against the tartare - something older and mellower, or just plain lighter would have worked better, i think. This wasn't bad - but the food and wine certainly didn't play off of one another, or complement each other in a significant way.

With the rich tart, i served a 1994 Navarro Cabernet Sauvignon. This was maybe a bit past its peak - very mellow, rich, earthy. I actually think that i should hvae swapped this with the Ascend mentioned above - it was big and robust enough to compete with the sweet, rich, and goat-cheesey tart. The cab was mellow enough to complement the tartare. Again, not bad - just not a winner. ;)

Finally, we tryed a 1998 Handley Brut Rose sparkling wine for our midnight toast. I liked the crispy and tart flavors, but not everyone cared for it. Reading back on it - oops, it's a food wine, and here we were drinking it by its lonesome. Interestingly, Handley recommends you pair it with crab - if i had another bottle, i'd definitely try this out.

Posted by shock on January 02, 2003 | TrackBack
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