Pairing Local is all about finding localized wine+food pairings in each region of the world. In this episode I visit Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander in Yarra Valley, Australia and meet a man who knows something about how your palate works. Winemaker, cheese maker and trained chef, Steve Flamsteed took time out of harvest to create pairings that feature the best of what Yarra Valley has to offer.
The first pairing was King Fish in a soy broth paired with Giant Steps Chardonnay, and the second pairing baby chicken with Pinot Noir. It goes to show Mother Nature gives us everything we need to eat and drink well in many regions around the world.
WINES TASTED IN THIS EPISODE:
2008 Giant Steps Chardonnay - Yarra Valley is a place where top notch Chardonnay and Pinot Noir flows like a river. Giant Steps has a unique production facility tucked neatly into into a building that features a bakery, restaurant, wine shop and wood fired pizza ovens. You could spend a week in there and be perfectly happy.
In the glass, this beauty shows candied meyer lemon peel, hawaiian pineapple, yellow carnations and baked bread. There's slight hints of toffee suggesting a deft balance of oak integration married with bright acidity. Yarra Valley is cold enough to give the wine the acidity it needs. It worked with the local king fish because the acidity cuts through the fattier fish, then compliments it with a backbone of minerals aka mild wet rocks (which sound weird but you want that), meyer lemon, honeydew, pineapple, marmalade and other tropical fruits. A ying to the yang of the soy broth on the fish.
2008 Giant Steps Pinot Noir - Australia makes some damn good Pinot Noir. Many wine lovers in the states may not realize it's not all about Shiraz and Cabernet. The Yarra Valley reminds me quite a bit of my beloved Willamette Valley in Oregon. The lush, rolling green hillsides are dotted with green grass and groves of big, bushy trees. It's farmland, and it's cooler than the Barossa or McLaren Vale.
Beautiful aromas of dark cherries, roadside raspberries and rose petals drift out of the glass. You can smell the wine even as it's sitting on the table in front of you. I also found some faint tertiary notes of asian spices. Like many Yarra Pinots there was a light body style, but focused intensity with soft, rose petal texture like cashmere. I liked the almost-chocolate-covered black cherry and RC cola notes, combined with raspberry tart, anise and smoky minerals. The Sexton vineyard fruit provided a fun experience and an exotic, sassy Pinot that paired nicely with the grilled chicken. But the secret to making this dish work was the onion cooked in stock for added complexity and savoriness.