The wine & food pairing challenge

A colleague of mine (at my normal, pay the bills job) recently learned that I was taking wine tasting classes and asked me for wine recommendations. I decided to make a game out of it and told her to send me a list of dishes and I would come up with a wine for each entry. The idea was to limit myself to wines I’ve tasted recently (and for some of them, wrote about). Here are the results. I’ll try to get feedback on how it worked out. What do you think? Also, feel free to give me some more dishes to match, it’s one area I’m trying to get better !

Veal MarsalaCostamolino Vermentino di Sargegna, Sardinia, Italy

Eggplant parmesan (red sauce) : Vignole Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy

Chicken Broccoli Ziti (white sauce) : Pewsey Vale, Eden Valley Dry Riesling, Barossa Valley, Australia

Baked/broiled Salmon (with veggies)Raats Family Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Roasted Chicken : Nicky Pinot Noir, Hahn winery, Central Coast, California

Baked TurkeyPine Ridge Dijon Clones Chardonnay, Carneros, California

Curried/Thai Chicken : Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc & Viognier, Napa Valley, California

Beef Stew : Gnarly Dudes Barossa Valley Shiraz

Steak & mashed potatoesRib Shack Red, Western Cape, South Africa

Lamb chops : St Supery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California

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Tasting Notes : Pine Ridge Pinot Clones 2011

Pine Ridge Dijon Clones 2011

Region: California, Napa Valley, Carneros

Grape: 100% Chardonnay

Price: around $30 retail

Pine Ridge DC

My Parisian boss was around last week so we went for a very French 3 hours lunch at Hillstone near Government Center. I had the Pine Ridge Chenin-Blanc/Viognier blend a while ago and I liked it so I decided to try the “Dijon Clones” Chardonnay from the same winery.

The Carneros region is famous for producing “Burgundy-like” chardonnays, its climate benefits from cooling breezes from the San Francisco Bay and summer fogs are common. This particular wine is named “Dijon Clones”; Dijon is the historic and administrative capital of Burgundy. “Dijon clones” is the name of a specific clone of Chardonnay, a specific strand of the variety that was developed in Dijon and imported to the US in the eighties.

Eye: medium intensity gold, clear

Nose: clean, medium intensity, strong aromas of stone fruit (mostly white peach I would say)

Palate: medium-high acidity, medium-high body, medium length

The wine has a strong “fat” feel, with buttery notes that gives it a pretty strong body for a white wine. In this particular case it comes from the six months the wine spent “sur lie” (with residual yeast). I felt like it went a little overboard with it and that took the spotlight away from the primary aromas of the wine. On the plus side, it gives a very rich, lush body to the wine.

The same aromas from the nose are there; especially the white peach and coconut notes from the oak can be tasted. Once again, they are a little overpowered by the buttery feel of the wine.

Food pairing: I had a seared tuna sashimi with it which worked really well. I would try to pair this wine with sushi or very lean dishes to cut the slightly excessive buttery feel of the wine.

Overall opinion: Worked really well with a fish meal, it’s a pleasant wine for a not excessive price, I feel it would be a little too overwhelming to drink by itself.