Saturday, February 6, 2010

Once again I've been a complete slacker and I have no reason to be. Last Sunday, I had a wonderful brunch with friends at one of my favorite local spots, Raymond's, featuring mimosas made with a wonderful dry, structured sparkling wine, Henry Varnay. To punctuate the wonderful meal, I ran into the proprietor of Amanti Vino, the local wine store where I take WSET classes. She's a wine hero of mine and it was fun to show off that I'd thought ahead and brought a bottle of sparkling wine (from her store no less) to the BYO restaurant!

And on Tuesday I followed this up with a pairing dinner at CulinAriane featuring the wines of Camille Giroud, a low yield high end producer out of Burgundy. For those fans of Bravo's "Top Chef," you might have heard of CulinAriane because it is the restaurant owned by Chef Ariane Duarte (Season 5) and her husband, Michael. It's one of my favorite places and I feel privileged to live a few miles away.

Upon arrival, we started with a glass of Parigot Rose. This is not one of Camille Giroud's wines, but it is a lovely rose and a great, crisp, yet berry filled sparkler, with which to kick off a meal. From there, we went on to the 2007 Beaune Blance "Lulunne" and then the 2007 Chassagne Montrachet "Vergers," both of which were served with a crispy scallop with a frisee salad in caper cream. The scallop was perfectly tender with just the right amount of crsipy coating. Both the wines were fantastic. The Lulunne was tight and acidic, with some sweet pear notes on the nose. It also imparted a lovely nutty flavor on the palette. The Vergers was a bit creamier and richer. I liked both of the wines a lot, but I preferred the Lulunne. I felt that with its acid it would be a bit more versatile when it came to food.

The next course was a seared rare salmon with saffron aioli. This was paired with the 2007 Marsannay Longeroiles. The salmon was terrific - perfectly seared - and the Marsannay was a really tasty, classic Burgundy with notes of dried cherries and red berries. I also got a nice hit of earth on the nose. However, I didn't think the wine paired with the salmon that well. It was like seeing two wonderful friends who are great couple material, but shouldn't be seeing one another. Sometimes things just don't mix.

But when it comes to pork and Burgundy reds, this is not the case. This is a match made in, well, France! Our next course was pork loin over a bed of cheddar cheese polenta and blackberry brandy sauce. It was perfectly tender and delicious, and yet, it wasn't even the best of Ariane's pork loin I've ever had! We were served the 2007 Pommard Epenots and the 2007 Latrcieres-Chambertin with the pork. The Pommard was savory and spicy with a hint of cashew (rarely do I get random notes like this, but there was definitely a nuttines to the nose). I loved it at first sip. and then I had the Latricieres-Cahmbertin which had a big, funky, gamey nose (just the way I like it) and a mouthful of bright, red fruit. I was tempted to jump up and start singing, "That's the way, uh huh, I like it, uh huh, uh huh," but decided to just wash down another forkful of pork loin with this delectable wine. So I'm now looking for a Sugar Daddy so that I can afford to drink a $165 bottle of wine on a regular occasion....yeah, didn't think so!

We ended the evening with my favorite dessert - an artisanal cheese plate (yes, this really is my favorite as desserts go) - paired with a 1976 Corton Bressandes which just coated the mouth and eased it's way down the throat. I savored my pour for as long as I could. Dark, earthy, but with fruit as understated and a mouthful as smooth as you'd expect a 34 year old wine to be. The wine is slightly younger than me yet so much more sophisticated!

As the evening wound down, I was already looking forward to my next wine pairing dinner - whenever that may be. I encourage all of you to seek out wine pairing dinners in your area because they are a great, and relatively inexpensive way, to learn about a lot of different wines in an evening.
Tonight some friends of mine and I are heading out to a new Italian bistro in town and I will hopefully post about it in the next day, rather than waiting another week and a half.
Until the next sniff, sip, or quaff (and sooner rather than later),
Alli M.


elliej said...

If you're heading out to dinner tonight, I assume you didn't get the 24 inches of snow that dear old Wilmington got. Mounds of snow everywhere, and no one is afoot. Not your typical Saturday night!

elliej said...

Isn't Raymond's where we went for brunch last summer?