Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Phelps Family Christmas Eve Wine Tasting

The Phelps family decided to have a wine tasting on Christmas Eve as a gift between the 6 of us. We have all taken to the wine and food pairing challenge so this seemed like a lot of fun and a great gift at the same time. Here is what we assembled:

• Ayler Kupp altenhofchen Riesling Kabinett 2007 with marinated Strawberries & Gold Rush Bars
• Coppola Sophia Blancs de Blancs Sparkling with Brie
• EOS Moscato Dessert Wine with Goat Cheese
• Voga Italiano Pinot Grigio with Prosciutto wrapped Cantaloupe
• Connecticut Valley Winery Raspberry Dessert Wine with Blue Cheese
• 2009 Ancient Fire Amarone #2 with Parmigianino/Reggiano Cheese
• 2006 Beringer Knights Valley Alluvium Blanc with Goat Cheese & Smoked Salmon Pate
The Riesling and strawberries were left for the dessert course, so back to that in a bit.

Each of us introduced our wines and foods, talked about what we were aiming for and suggested any tasting procedures specific to the selection.

Dessert wines and cheeses of strong character are generally matches made in heaven. With two wine options and several goat and blue cheeses to try, we all spent some on those from the start. The EOS Moscato was incredible with both the goat and blue cheeses, and was the standout for me.

The Sophia Blancs de Blancs was stellar but not surprising as many small batch sparklers from the US don't get nearly enough attention. This one is even more unusual in that it is made from all white grapes where most are made from a blend or red grapes. The real kick with this selection was the cocktails we made with the marinated strawberries and syrup the next day.
The Connecticut Valley Raspberry dessert was very flavorful although not as sweet as I expected. It paired well with the pungent blue cheese as was expected and it also paired very well with the goat cheese. While we weren’t disappointed we aren’t sure the wine was as true to its style as it could be.

We discovered the Voga Pinot Grigio on a trip to Montreal. We had bought it at SAQ and took it to a wonderful BYO restaurant, L'Acadamie, for dinner along with an Amarone. The melon wrapped with salty meat was an initial question mark for me not being a melon lover. In the end the melon flavor was in good balance and the freshness of the whole package succeeded. I went back for more which I would have bet against when it was introduced.

The salmon pate, though not tried by all, was a hit with those that paired it with the Beringer Alluvium Blanc. The smoky flavor of the pate really set the stage for the smooth and oak influenced flavors of the wine. Even Margot, who was skeptical of the pairing, commented that the two went together well. Donna expressed some surprise that I brought smoked salmon anything as I have not historically been a fan. She of course loved it being more familiar with smoked salmon.

The Amore went well with the hard cheese purchased for the pairing but many preferred having it with the blue cheese originally meant for the dessert wine.

For dessert we indulged in the Ayler Kupp altenhofchen Riesling with strawberries marinated in the wine, and gold rush bars which are like a brownies with dried fruit and spices instead of chocolate. This was a perfect way to end the parade of different flavors and textures. With manageable sweetness the strawberries and bars allowed the medium dry wine to dance with them and enhance their characteristics. It was at this time we found the marinated strawberries and the sparkling wine made a great cocktail to cleanse the palate.

With this experience in hand it is clear that for those looking for something fun to do challenging themselves to a food and wine pairing should provide immense enjoyment.


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