Here are some of the recent food specials we did at VINO, which we also had some fun pairing wines with.
Butter Poached Kona Cold Lobster—home-made squid ink pasta & garlic, white wine sauce. We included this dish to the menu because of a specific white wine–2016 Caravaglio Malvasia Secco “Salina” we wanted to share. Salina is part of the Aeolian Islands off the coast of northern Sicily. While it displays the wonderful, enticing perfume of the Malvasia grape variety, its core is a resounding stoniness buttressed with distinct salinity & lime blossoms. Furthermore, this is not just a light wine, it has surprisingly viscosity, a firm, more masculine structure with a slight almond nut bitterness to the finish, hence the pairing with the rich, succulent lobster morsels & some butter to the sauce. The wine’s high toned aromatics just seemed to heighten the whole dish & the lime blossom edge just helped keep the palate fresh & alive between bites.
Crispy Duck Confit—with crispy wild mushroom risotto “cake” & duck-rosemary jus. After much thought, the wine we selected was the 2013 Domaine Vinci “Rafalot”. Produced from 100 to 120 year old Carignane vines grown in the very remote hills of Roussillon, fermented using whole clusters, more gently crushed by foot, wild yeast fermented & aged for 18 months in old demi muids & 12 year old barrels with NO SO2 addition, this wine has a naked, totally wild & feral character, as wild as the countryside where it hails from & nuances from the lack of sulfur use in its winemaking. Because this is Carignane, it has a very compact red fruited core-much more fresh & vibrant than one normally gets from other grapes from region……an old vine character…..all making it a worthy foil for the duck (its innate fattiness), the mushrooms, the jus & the rosemary. By the way, the wine is a fabulous drink even without the food! That is, if you don’t mind really rustic, wild, feral red wine. Another really interesting & delicious pairing is the 2015 Neyers “Sage Canyon” cuvee . The base of this red wine blend is 139 year old vine, own rooted Carignane, to which, winemaker Tadeo Bochardt blends in some heirloom Syrah, Grenache & sometimes Mourvedre, all foot stomped, wild yeast fermented with minimal if any sulfur added….ala Maxime Magnon down in Haut Corbières. This absolutely delicious, juicy, intriguingly spiced red is exactly what the duck-tor ordered. I would also recommend considering the 2015 Sucette Grenache to the list. This is a superb, very savory, old vine (own rooted, planted in 1860 & 1880) Grenache from the Vine Vale enclave of Australia’s Barossa Valley, that is wonderfully transparent, savory, vinous, delicious & provocative red wine ideal for the dish.
Grilled Marinated Duroc Pork Tomahawk–with roasted fingerling potatoes, charred brussel sprouts, onions & pork jus. This was an amazingly tasty, very satisfying dish. The wine we chose was the 2015 Giovanni Montisci “Barrosu”, a crazy, wild, juicy old vine (60 years) Cannonau from the Island of Sardegna & its mountainous interior. It was a fabulous & totally captivating pairing. On another night, we did a VERY different approach to the pairing using instead a 1997 De Montille Volnay Premier Cru “Taillepieds”, which proved to be yet another memorable match. You could certainly consider the 2015 Sucette Grenache for this dish too.
House Smoked Lamb Belly—with rustic cavatelli & peppercorn demi. One could readily pair this dish with many, many different red wines, as long as the guts & mojo is high enough in the wine. I would, however, prefer a red wine with a little more “flesh on the bone”, as we are looking at the more fatty belly after all. AND with a little bit of bottle age, just so the edges are a little more rounded. I immediately thought of the 2007 Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol. I love how it has an intoxicating coupling of rusticity & masculinity with a core of uplifting red fruit, spice & minerality, which would be interesting with this dish. Plus, it certainly has the mojo & wild character to handle the lamb belly. 2 other wines which I found to also create some magic with the dish, are the 2007 Vietti Barbera d’Alba “Vigna Scarrone”, a superb, gorgeous single vineyard Barbera, which clearly shows what this grape variety has the potential to be. The other wine, the 2015 Terre Nere Etna Rosso “Guardiola”, is a very savory, rustic, masculine, “mountain grown”, old vine Nerello Mascalese. worth checking out. (We recommend, however, you add a splash of red wine, freshly cracked black pepper & a bit of rosemary to bay leaf to the dish for this one.)
15 day Dry Aged, “Nature’s Natural” Ribeye—with Bert’s smashed potatoes, swiss chard & haricot vert. Normally for a dish like this, I immediately think of a slightly aged Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras from a ripe vintage like 2009. Its wildly rustic edge works well with the more rustic edge of dry aged beef AND this wine has the stuffing, mojo & tannins to handle a very marbled cut like Ribeye. We have however, already recommended a pairing along these lines in a previous post of the past. So, in addition, one could certainly bust out something from their Barolo, Bordeaux, & Californian “trophy” stash & completely enjoy the interaction. This is also a wonderful opportunity to try other hearty, robust, earth driven red wine studs, like those from Helen Keplinger (Keplinger), Any Erickson (Favia); Mike Officer (Carlisle), Morgan Twain Peterson (Bedrock); Mike Hirby (Relic); Les Behrens (Behrens Family); & a whole slew from Paso Robles–Saxum, Linne Calodo, Villa Creek, L’Aventure & Epoch, just to name a few. For a unique & memorable experience, also consider the Vegas Sicilia “Unico”. Though pricey, it is a wine one should experience at least once in their life.