Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene Wine Tasting Aftermath; A Night of Welcome Surprises

Wine Lineup

My last post, Hurricane Irene Wine Pairing, I wrote about our intention to stare down Hurricane Irene and press on with our wine tasting and hors d’oeuvre pairing.  Our face off paid handsome dividends.  Hurricane Irene did not live up to the forecasts, at least in Washington DC, and we had an enjoyable evening.  Of course, some people in DC did not fare as well as we did – you can see some evidence of this if you visit my photography blog documenting the ill fate of a number of cars in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of DC; “Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars in Washington DC.”

While we had several cancellations in our party (and those who did not come will be appropriately ridiculed for their lack of fortitude), six hearty souls made the pilgrimage, and we were all treated to great wine and memorable pairings.

As a refresher, here were the guidelines for the pairing;

  1. Each couple brought a bottle of Pinot Noir and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.
  2. Each couple paired one of their wines with an hors d’oeuvre.
  3. As we progressed through the wines, each hors d’oeuvre was presented by its creator along with the thought process for the pairing.

Prosecco Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir

We started with a Lilliana Conegliano Valdobbiadene Proseco and moved on to the Sauvignon Blancs:

  • 2010 Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2010 Starborough Marlborough New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2010 Mirassou California Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2010 Dog Point Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

And here is the list of list of Pinot Noirs:

  • 2008 Benziger Family Winery Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
  • 2009 Clark &Telephone Vineyard Belle Glos Santa Maria Valley Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
  • 2010 Cavit Collection Provincia di Pavia Pinot Noir

The pairings included

  • Mirasou Sauvignon Blanc paired with cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers wrapped in bacon prepared and paired by Formerly Dawn of Austin and Golf Buddy Steve.
  • 2010 Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blancpaired with mini crabcakes, curry sauce and tomato red pepper tartar sauce by Super Realtor Kelvin.
  • Benziger Pinot Noir paired with pan seared New York Strip steak sliders on fresh baked brioche with caramelized onions and horseradish sauce by Chef Sue.

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

The bacon wrapped stuffed peppers are one of Dawn’s specialties and fortunately, she made a healthy portion.  I say fortunately because there were enough for us to try with each of the Sauvignon Blancs.  The lively acidity and citrus fruit flavors of each Sauvignon Blanc was a perfect pairing to balance the heat and bacon fat goodness of the stuffed peppers.

2010 Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc

The 2010 Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc selected by Super Realtor Kelvin was a flavorful surprise that perfectly matched the wonders of crab cake (with a dollop of curry sauce).  The wine was a surprise because it was my first experience with a buttery Sauvignon Blanc.  The characteristic acidity and citrus flavors with notes of peach and melon were present, but the buttery component was a “wow” type experience that demanded the attention of all tasters as they realized this wasn’t your average Sauvignon Blanc.  The butter flavors were a perfect match for the delicate warm flavors of the crab cake while the acidity and fruit played exceptionally well with the curry sauce.  The 2010 Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc will be making my list of favorite wines.

Mini Crab Cakes

The final pairing, prepared by Chef Sue, was another pleasant surprise.  I have to admit that I had reservations with Chef Sue’s choice of pairing after announcing the 2008 Benziger Family Winery Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.  This Pinot Noir is medium bodied with very pleasant and well balanced flavors of cherry and raspberry.  My fear was that the wine would not stand up to the steak which would normally demand a more full bodied and bold wine.  I was wrong and the pairing worked splendidly.  My theory is that the horseradish sauce brightened the slider which made all the difference in making the pairing work.

NY Strip Steak Slider with Caramelized Onions and Horseradish Sauce

A couple of notes are in order with the other wines we tasted that were not paired.  First, the 2010 Dog Point Vineyard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc was a real treat with rock solid refreshing acidity and big fruit forward flavors that make this a beautiful pairing wine.  This is the second Sauvignon Blanc that will be making my favorite wines list.

Always full of wine surprises, Kelvin’s choice of the 2009 Clark &Telephone Vineyard Belle Glos Santa Maria Valley Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir caught the group off guard – in a pleasant way.  This Pinot Noir is not your run of the mill Pinot.  It was full bodied with deep rich flavors of currant, plum, and dark cherry that you would normally expect from a Cabernet Sauvignon.  The deep ruby color also belied the label of a Pinot Noir.  At first taste, everyone had a “hmmmm” moment as we expected Pinot Noir, but tasted something closer to a Cabernet Sauvignon.  Once we overcame the surprise, the conclusion was clearly one of admiration for a spectacular wine.

Starborough Sauvignon Blanc and Belle Glos Pinot Noir

As a final note, one of the pleasing revelations over the course of the evening, was Kelvin’s new found interest in Sauvignon Blancs.  Kelvin is a connoisseur of bold Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays.  After this evening, he has a new found appreciation and interest in refreshing Sauvignon Blancs.

In vino veritas, buen provecho.


1 comment:

  1. Craig,
    If you ever decide to do a book based on these great experiences, let me know, because I'd put one on our shelf!

    Fun stuff and can't wait to be a part of it again.