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.
In this episode I had a chance to visit d'Arenberg winery in McLaren Vale, Australia where Chef Peter Reschke (co-head chef with Nigel Rich) sourced local lamb and paired it with Grenache. When you think about McLaren Vale you might think Shiraz, but I really fell in love with the Grenache. Some of the oldest Grenache vines in the world can be found in Australia about two hours north in a little region called the Barossa. Grenache doesn't get much love as a grape, but when you get a good one, it can provide exceptional range in food pairings.
Mother nature blessed these guys with the gift of great lamb, as well as great old vine Grenache. Lamb can be prepared in a way that makes it both savory, yet delicate. Over the years I've really come to appreciate good quality lamb if it's raised right and comes from the right region. Chef Peter Reschke created three lamb dishes specifically to bring out the delicate, yet powerful notes of old vine Grenache and used herbs from their own herb garden at the winery.
WINE TASTED IN THIS EPISODE:
d'Arenberg is a well known Aussie winery in the states for wines like The Hermit Crab, Dead Arm and The Stump Jump. One wine you might not know or appreciate is the 2007 Custodian Grenache which is foot trodden and aged on lees to keep the flavor fresh and bright.
Distinct black cherries, stewed plums, dark red fruits and raspberries (almost blackberries) complimented by tobacco, earth and spice box surround the fine grained tannins. In other words, it was rich and robust without being hot or overpowering, yet smooth as a baby's butt. The reason it works is this Grenache has medium weight, yet great depth and complexity. If Grenache was a musician, it would be in a cool ass jazz trio with Syrah and Mourvedre. The three of them are hip and stylish on their own, but when they come together, they create magic.
Lamb can be a wonderful protein if seasoned correctly. Mutton might not be the way to go, but the three ways chef Peter Reschke prepared lamb not only showed off what this region has to offer, but how versatile lamb can be.
Matching wine with food means combining elements with similar levels of intensity. All three lamb creations, along with the wine had similar weight or intensity of flavor. Add in the complimentary dark fruit with key seasonings and you have another great localized pairing. For about $20 you can't go wrong. I'd highly recommend picking up a bottle. Thank you to the chefs at D'arrys Verandah.
During a recent visit to the Yarra Valley, I had a chance to sit down with one of the most iconic people in the global wine industry. James Halliday AM is a living legend, famous wine writer, winery founder and recent recipient of Australia's highest honor. Mr. Halliday and I had the chance to discuss new media and how it fits into our world of wine.
James Halliday Bio-
Respected wine critic and vigneron James Halliday has a career that spans over 40 years, but he is most widely known for his witty and informative writing about wine.
As one of the founders of Brokenwood in the Lower Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, and thereafter founder of Coldstream Hills in the Yarra Valley, Victoria, James is an unmatched authority on every aspect of the wine industry, from the planting and pruning of vines through to the creation and marketing of the finished product. His winemaking has led him to sojourns in Bordeaux and Burgundy, and he is constantly in demand as a wine judge in Australia and overseas.
James is constantly on the go, tasting wine, judging wine, writing about wine, making wine, drinking wine ... and a lot of this material makes its way on to the site as a news story, article or 'what I'm drinking' tasting note. You can also keep in touch by subscribing to the free monthly newsletter or by following him on Twitter.
. .Here's a wine+food pairing from Bergstrom's wine club. In my recent shipment they included this recipe, and being the pork lover that I am, I thought it would be good to share with all my readers.
Fruit Stuffed Pork Loin Roast
4 lbs boneless pork loin roast prepared for stuffing
1 cup pitted, chopped prunes
1 cup dried, chopped apricots
1 clove garlic
8 TBSP butter
1 TBSP dried thyme
1 cup Madeira
1 TBSP molasses
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees
2. Mix prunes and apricots, roll up in cavity of pork loin and secure with twine
3. Cut garlic clove into thin sliver, make slits in roast with tip of knife and push garlic into slits
4. Rub the roast with the softened butter then sprinkle with salt & pepper and thyme
5. Set the roast in a shallow pan, mix the Madeira and molasses, then pour over roast
6. Set the roast on the middle rack of the oven and bake 1-1/2 hours or approximately 20 min per pound. Baste frequently. Roast will be medium when the temperature is 160° degrees
7. When roast is done, remove from oven and cover with an aluminum foil tent for 15 min
8. Slice thin and spoon pan juices over slices. Garnish with watercress if desired.
GARLIC SCALLOPED POTATOES
3 lbs yellow potatoes peeled and sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic
6 TBSP butter
3 cups heavy cream
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Cut garlic and rub over the survace of a shallow casserole dish
2. Layer potatoes with dots of butter & cream. You can also add caramelized sweet onions to layering if desired
3. Bake slowly at 325° degrees for approximately 1-1/2 hours. It's important to cook slowly so the cream doesn't curdle but gets absorbed by potatoes
4. When done, increase heat to 400° degrees for last 10 minutes to brown tops
5. Let potatoes set for about 10 minutes before serving
To celebrate the global release of Penfold's Grange's new vintage, Penfold's hosted an evening of wine+food at Ghiradelli Square in downtown San Francisco. Celebrity chef Curtis Stone was tasked with creating food pairings to match with each wine. This was an incredible evening not only because of the food, but the people in attendance provided excellent conversation throughout the night. For me personally, it was a treat as I had just visited Penfolds' Magill estate a few week prior and had the chance to sit down with winemaker Peter Gago. All wines for the dinner were served out of magnum into varietal specific stemware.
One of the real treats of the evening was getting a personalized video greeting from Penfolds winemaker, Peter Gago. He is the man responsible for making Grange, and keeper of the Penfolds quality level. After dinner was over, I had a chance to talk with Curtis and get his thoughts on how he likes to pair wine with his food creations. What he says about balancing intensity of flavor is spot on. Think of intensity of flavor on a scale of 1-10. If you have a wine that's a 7 on that scale, you want the intensity in your dish to also be around a 7. Here's what Curtis created to pair with each wine:
First Course - Dungeness Crab, Pickled Petit Beets, Tangerine, Arugula, Aragon Oil & Shallot Vinaigrette paired with 2008 Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay Curtis shaved the beets razor thin and then pickled them specifically to marry up with the acidity in the Chardonnay. The 2008 Yattarna has a distinct acid backbone, so much so that the wine will make the roof of your mouth tingle (which is how you detect acidity).
Second Course - Wagyu Beef "Tataki", Chantrelle Red Wine Compote, Horseradish Créme Friache Foam, Confit Baby Tomatoes, Micro Chives paired with 2007 Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz This was one of my favorite pairings of the night. The Beef was just right and really benefitted from the earthiness of the Chantrelle mushrooms. I think that was the thread that tied the Shiraz and dish together. St. Henri Shiraz might be the most "un-Aussie" style shiraz. The wine is fermented in large neutral oak barrels imparting very little oak influence, which allows the stellar fruit to show through.
Third Course - Strozzapreti Pasta, Foie Gras "jean Louis" Style, Pickled Ramps, Fava Leaves, Fava Beans, Beaufort Cheese paired with 2008 Penfolds 707 Cabernet Sauvignon I wolfed this dish down so fast I didn't even get to take a photo of it. The 707 is an exceptional Cabernet that's decidedly Australian meaning it truly expresses the place it is grown without being overpowering. One of my favorite Cabernets (also Penfolds), Block 42 goes into this Cabernet allowing the wine to have power combined with finesse.
Fourth Course - Sonoma Quail "Lardon", Crushed Purple Potatoes, Bacon, Sauce A La Orange, Frisee paired with 1998 and 2008 Penfolds RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz Curtis wanted to try an alternative version of Duck A La Orange and it worked beautifully. It takes confidence to serve a quail dish after beef and pasta, especially when you're doing a progression dinner. This dish was really tasty, but not the best pairing of the night. The RWT Shiraz was a solid example of what Barossa Shiraz can be in a great vintage, but ultimately it was a bit too much for the quail. The 1998 RWT was so youthful in both color and fruit it was hard to believe this was a 13-year old wine. Many red wines start to change color around the rim as that age changing from red to pink to salmon to a brownish hue. The 1998 was showing now signs of age yet, and with such a youthful nose it's got another 20 years ahead easily.
Fifth Course - Australian Lamb Loin "En Croute", English Pea Puree, Morels, Pea Sprouts, Lamb Jus paired with 1996 and 2006 Penfolds Grange As if the night could get any better, it did. Curtis saved his best for last with the lamb loin wrapped in philo dough. The real star of the dish was the pea puree providing a unique combination of texture and flavor. I take that back, the real star of the dish was the lamb wrapped in a thin puff pastry. No, wait. Maybe the star was the lamb ju. No matter how you look at it, if you're going to create a dish to pair with an iconic wine like Grange, it better deliver and this one did. What can you say about Grange that hasn't been said? This 2006 vintage combines the power of the 2004 but has the elegance and grace of 2000. If you follow the "law of 6's" you'll see Grange tends to be at its best in years that end with the number 6. Can't wait to see how 2006 develops over time.
Dessert - Delice Cheese, Berkshire Lomo, Crispy Bread, Sausalito Springs Watercress, Quince Paste Essence paired with NV Penfolds Grandfather Tawny Port Dessert is my favorite course, and a cheese plate is a good way to go. This cheese was a small little morsel but it was "triple creamed" creating a rich foamy brie texture. The crispy bread was paper thin providing just the right compliment for the cheese. Of course you can't go wrong with a nice Tawny port. I love port, and had a chance to talk port and madeira with Bartholomew Broadbent recently. Many wine lovers might now realize this, but Aussies make some of the best fortified wine in the world from port to Muscat. The Penfolds Grandfather Tawny port was provided an exclamation point on the evening.
This was a night full of celebrities and great company. Wine+food never ceases to amaze me in its ability to bring people together. From a wine lover standpoint, it was one of the best meals I've had in a long time. From a sommelier standpoint, these wines represent the pinnacle of what Penfolds makes. Mrs B and I don't drink Penfolds as much as we used to, but it's always good to be reminded about a winery is capable of. This meal along with my recent tour through Australia has reminded us about all the great wines coming from Australia, Penfolds and the Barossa. Thank you to Penfolds for inviting my wife and I to be part of the May 1 festivities. Cheers!
Peter Gago is the man responsible for creating one of the world's most iconic wines, Penfold's Grange. On a recent visit to Adelaide, Peter was nice enough to sit down and talk about the current vintage as well as share some amazing bottles of wine. During my visit Peter opened a younger Grange from the 2004 vintage along with a 2008 Yattarna Chardonnay and 2004 Block 42 Cabernet.
Peter also gave a tour of Magill Estate, where many of the higher end Penfold's wines are crafted. Pinot Noir grapes were just arriving and being crushed during the visit, so it was a rare opportunity to sit down with one of the world's most famous winemakers:
.WINES TASTED IN THIS EPISODE:
2008 Yattarna Chardonnay - Much has been made about this wine being the "white Grange". When Peter mentioned half the fruit was sourced from Tasmania, I got excited because world class Chardonnay's often have higher acidity and less winemaking fluff like overly oaked malo textures. Growing grapes in colder areas that are either higher, or farther away from the equator boost the acid in the wine grapes. It makes a statement to grow half the fruit in their vineyard in Tasmania that's both higher and southerly.
The immediate expression of Yattarna is elegance and refinement. I was thinking it was going to be over the top, but is was very much restrained in the same way automobile designers at Mercedes use restraint when designing a new car. This baby had the Mercedes body with detailed leather seats and fat chrome wheels. It's less oaky and less fruit forward than past vintages. Pouilly-Fuisse lovers would likely enjoy this vintage with its crisp acid backbone, framed up with golden delicious apple, meyer lemon and lees, toasted biscuit notes. You don't have to search for the fruit on your palate, you get it front and center first, followed by refined oak nuances.
2004 Grange - If you've ever had Penfold's Grange, you get a sense of its place in history (and collector's cellars). This is not only one of the most iconic wines in Australia, but also worldwide. From its humble beginnings, Grange has been made as a wine that needed age before drinking. Collectors tuck bottles of Grange away in their cellars without even thinking of touching them for at least ten years, but knowing they'll be rewarded the longer they wait. Over time, Grange develops into a "first growth" type of wine with wonderful Cabernet and Shiraz characters along with exotic spices, shoe leather, cedar and cigar box among other notes.
So it was a bit of a surprise to see the 2004 drinking so well at this stage. I expected it to be a bit closed down, as if asleep in a long slumber. But it was lively and approachable now. It was neither tight nor overly oaked. The 2004 was a decidedly relaxed version of Grange that still exhibited the pedigree you'd expect from Grange. Somewhere along the way it seems Peter realized people want to wait, but not wait their whole life to enjoy Grange.
Dark brooding crimson color in the wine, with so much depth you could get lost staring into the abyss. Dark red fruits waft out of the glass unraveling a mystery of cassis, cocoa, vanilla, stewed plums and tertiary notes of menthol and blueberries. This was cashmere in a glass, exhibiting a more open and refined style than one would expect. It'll only get better with age, but if you have more than one bottle in the cellar take a look at it to see where it is, but also where it's going.
2004 Block 42 Cabernet - As a sommelier and wine blogger, I get to taste all sorts of different wines from around the world. Wine bloggers in general are called upon to share their thoughts, notes and experiences on the wines they taste. When Peter poured this wine everything stopped. This was a wine unlike anything I've ever tried, and quite possibly one of the finest Cabernets I've ever tasted. It was magic in a glass.
As if in a movie, I felt like I was in a slow motion scene drawn out for drama. This wine is not a wine you drink. This is a wine you experience. The Block 42 has only been made four times ever and with good reason. Penfold's uses fruit from the world's oldest operating Cabernet vines to make Block 42 in exceptional years, otherwise the fruit goes into Grange or possibly Bin 707 Cabernet.
I could try to describe what I tasted by pecking away at some tasting notes but my notes wouldn't do justice. The power and finesse on display create an amazing tension between the elements. There was purity and precision as if the winemaking team was saying, "yeah, it's Cabernet from some of the oldest vines in the world". They got out of the way and let the fruit put on a show. Then Peter put an exclamation point on the end and stated the alcohol was only 13.5%. I nearly fell out of my chair. I was guessing it was closer to 15% based on how much impact came across. I hope to be able to try this wine again in my lifetime....what a treat!