A Wine and Food Adventure

At the Wine Rack

Christopher Reckord

Thursday, February 09, 2012

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When you get a call from an avid wine collector who needs help to open and drink a few dozen of his prized bottles, the decision is simple. YES!

He figures he might need some food to go along with these fine wines, so a call is placed to award-winning chef Colin Hylton who brings along friends Gariel Ferguson of G's BBQ and Brian Lumley from the French Embassy.

Next job is to figure out which of these 30 bottles to try first and then what to drink with dinner.

Wine and food-pairing basics

With so many great wines, how should one decide? Here are some basic guidelines for wine and food pairing: The first rule of wine and food pairing is that there are NO rules. Drink what you like with what you like to eat. However, there are a few guidelines that will make the experience much more enjoyable.

Balance is what we are attempting to achieve; neither the wine nor the food should overpower each other. The primary factors to consider in doing a pairing are to weigh the flavour and intensity of the food to the flavour and intensity of the wine. The more powerful and flavourful the food, the greater the flavour and intensity the wine will need to have in order for the pairing to remain in balance.

The chefs prepared an outstanding dinner and we struggled to pull together what we thought the ideal pairings should be. With so many wines we sometimes had to pair up to three similar wines with each dish. In the end a number of different wines were selected as "most outstanding", and the group agreed that it was indeed a wonderful wine and food adventure. As it is with any wine and food pairing dinner, there will be differing opinions as to which pairing was the best. The trio of wines that were paired with the main dish, consisting of the Asian spiced beef short ribs and roasted rack of lamb, caused the most discussion: they were the 2002 Antinori Solaia AD, 2002 Behrens & Hitchcock Rudy's Cuvée, 2004 PAX Syrah Emerald Pool Alder Springs Vineyard.

The Verdict

With the exception of the Solaia, these are all 92 or higher-scoring wines on most critics' rating scale. This Solaia, while it was very good, was not up to the level of Solaia of other years, as 2002 was a strange year across many parts of Tuscany. The weather took its toll of the Solaia, and the Sangiovese was not included as it was not up to satisfactory quality for the wine's particular features.

The group felt that another tasting effort like this would be more effective if we tasted all the 'high profile' wines prior to dinner, doing sparking wines only with dinner - the food was great and the wines were even better.

Château La Mission Haut-Brion

If I had to choose, my favourite wine for the evening would be the Château La Mission Haut-Brion - a Bordeaux wine from the Pessac-Léognan appellation, classed among the Grand Crus in the Graves classification of 1953. It is considered as the greatest Graves wine after Haut-Brion and in some vintages is considered the superior wine of the two. La Mission Haut-Brion is situated just across the road from Haut-Brion in the commune of Talence in the southern suburbs of Bordeaux.

Since 1983, both properties have been under the same ownership, Domaine Clarence Dillon S.A. The wines of La Mission Haut-Brion are rich, oaky and powerful and need at least 10 years of bottle ageing before they should be broached. Well, we gave this bottle 32 years and let me say that while '81 might not have been as celebrated a vintage as the '82, this wine certainly reminded me what good Bordeaux was all about.

Chris Reckord - Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to creckord@gmail.com. Follow us on http://twitter.com/DeVineWines






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