Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Glazed Duck Breast Quinoa, Cipollini Onions, Black Trumpet Mushrooms Paired with 2006 ZD Carneros Pinot Noir

2006 ZD Pino Noir Celery Root Quinoa Duck Breat

I love duck.  I love preparing duck.  I love the way duck plays so well with a number of wines.  But this is not about my infatuation with duck, it is about our latest wine pairing.  This pairing returns us to Decanting Napa Valley the Cookbook

wine pairing at C&S-65

When it comes to food and wine we should not be in a rush.  As testament, this is just the third wine paring from my inspiration for this blog - Decanting Napa Valley the Cookbook – since the inception in early February 2011.  I am ok with this pace – so much food, and so much wine to explore, why rush?

Duck Breasts-2

With this pairing, I cannot provide the recipe (buy the book) but Photo Buddy John was part of the dinner party – which means that between his photography and mine, we have a bunch of good imagery to make up for a lack of recipe. 


Also in attendance were John’s wife – Super Artist Ji, El Jefe Abel and his wife, Banker Beth, and of course Chef Sue.  It was wonderful having these good friends to share this pairing, but it also presented a couple of challenges – including insufficient range space for 6 duck breasts, quinoa, and sauté of several veggies…all at the same time.

wine pairing at C&S-8

The Food

First I have to admit a couple of substitutions.  I was unable to find cipollini onions (substituted yellow and red pearl onions) and Black Trumpet mushrooms (subsituted a blend three mushrooms).  These substitutions had no bearing on the delight delivered by this meal.  I have already declared my love affair with duck, and to that we added another favorite – quinoa.  Quinoa is an experienced chameleon that assimilates the surrounding flavors while maintaining a delightfully distinct texture that is a fine addition to most dishes.

wine pairing at C&S-102

In addition to the wonderfully delicate gamey flavor of the duck, the dish had a nice balance of acid (sherry vinegar), sweetness resulting from the direct use of honey in the glazed pearl onions, and a honey shallot glaze for the duck.  Everyone was pleased with the duck breast – crispy skin and butter tender.  Similarly the quinoa was enjoyed by all with comments of “nicely sweet, but not too sweet,” and perfectly balanced with the second wine (more on that in a moment).

Duck Deboning

Another component that added an interesting flavor to the quinoa was the celery root.  This was the first time I had (intentionally) tasted celery root and quite positively the first time I cooked with it.  My response is unconditionally favorable.  It has s concentrated aroma and flavor of celery while adding an earthiness that contrasted nicely with the sweet components of the quinoa.

Sauteed Pearl Onions

The Wine

OK, another substitution…actually two.  The pairing from Decanting Napa Valley the Cookbook lists the 2007 ZD Founder’s Reserve Pinot Noir.  We were anxious to prepare this pairing and rather than go through the wait of ordering this wine, we found a bottle locally of 2006 ZD Carneros Pinot Noir to stand in.

2006 ZD Carneros Pino Noir-2

The 2006 ZD Carneros Pinot Noir is a full bodied Pinot Noir featuring aromas of cherry, dark fruit and cocoa which is quickly rewarded with deep flavors of black cherry, plum, toasted almond, and a delicate touch from the oak that it communed with for 10 months.

My planning was not the greatest for this pairing.  While we have plenty of wine, I had only one bottle of the ZD Pinot Noir for the meal.  Clearly this would not be sufficient.  I quickly ran to the cavernous wine cellar, found the Pinot Noir section, and nearly became lost finding my way back to the dinning room (OK, the “wine cellar” is the recovered space under the stairs in the basement).  Fortunately, my daughter had gifted us a wine club membership which had arrived just days before. The latest shipment included a bottle of 2008 Rutz Cellars Sonoma Cuvée Pinot Noir.  Thanks Dana!!

2006 ZD Carneros Pino Noir

The 2008 Rutz Cellars Sonoma Cuvée Pinot Noir is a delightful wine and a great value at $21.  While certainly a nice wine, I will not put the ZD Pinot Noir in the good value category at $50.  The Rutz Pinot Noir, like the ZD, is aged in oak for 10 months and features similar aromas and the same black cherry, and plum flavors with the addition of a hint of cocoa and a delicate touch of earthiness-smoke-oak.  This Pinot Noir is silky smooth which is a wonderful compliment to the terroir and smoke-oak hints.

The Pairing

The pairing was exceptional.  The dark cherry and plum flavors of both wines made a wonderful foil for the sweet honey flavors in the duck and quinoa.  The added smoke and earthiness of the Rutz Pinot Noir intensified that contrast even more.  The contrast seemed to enhance or brighten the flavors in both the duck-quinoa and the wine.

2006 ZD Pino Noir Celery Root Quinoa Duck Breat-2

Interestingly, the 2008 Rutz Cellars Sonoma Cuvée Pinot Noir was clearly the star among the two wines.  Our conclusion is that this resulted from three aspects.  First, the ever so slight bitterness in the cocoa flavors contrasted brilliantly with the sweetness in the duck and quinoa.  Second, the hints of smoke, oak and earthiness added a compelling dimension.  And finally, the 2008 Rutz Cellars Sonoma Cuvée Pinot Noir was so silky smooth the impression was immediate and lasting.  This smooth character seemed to work particularly well with the duck – almost as if putting an exclamation point of softness on the extremely tender duck.

Final Words

This pairing also included an impromptu desert paring between a blueberry pie with sorbet and a 2006 Royal Tokaji.  The house was split regarding this pairing.  One half of the table declared a win, while the other half maintained that both were good, but didn’t care for the resulting union.

wine pairing at C&S-113

I hope you enjoyed the additional photographs in this post.  It is always good having Photo Buddy John around to make sure I don’t miss anything and to also take advantage of his very creative perspective.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


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