We have a small tradition at Wineseeker, a couple times a year we have a party for our staff, Michael & Katie cook up a gourmet multi-course meal. It's not a free ride for the crew though, as everyone is challenged to pair a wine to one of the courses - immortal respect and admiration being the prize for the best match. We're a bit late for a Xmas party, but better late than never. After a splash of Champagne and melt-in-your-mouth French cheese, it was onto the challenge.
First Course- Artichoke and Pancetta Soup. Paired with Marc Bredif Vouvray Classic 2011.
A tough one, as artichoke has a reputation as being something of a 'wine killer' - if you're doing a food platter for a party best to avoid those otherwise very tasty marinated artichokes. The pairing - a French Vouvray, Marc Bredif 2011, looking stunning with a couple extra years on it, really accentuating the honey and earthy characters in the wine, and a touch of sweetness of the Chenin Blanc offsetting the creamy but savoury soup... and enough body to stand up to the tangy artichoke. Excellent pairing.
Second Course- Kumara Creme Brulee. Paired with Dry River Gewurztraminer 2012.
Unusual dish, with the blend of the classic egg custard with rich Kumara flavours, and topped with the crunchy burnt sugar topping. Possibly the hardest dish to pair to, does one cater for the custard and toffee, or the more savoury yet sweet potato. Nicely paired with a Dry River Gewurztraminer. One of the few Kiwi Gewurz with the balance between power, fruit, florals, sweetness and texture. The dish exagerrated the spicy tones in the wine - unexpected!
Third Course- 'Fruit of the Forest'. Paired with Bridge Pa 'Louis' Syrah 2007.
Featuring Seared Venison fillet, French Fois Gras, Truffled Shitake Mushrooms, and a Parsnip Puree. Tricky to pair because of all the different components. Excellent pairing with an aged Kiwi Syrah, Bridge Pa 'Louis' 2007, silky smooth but powerful dark fruit and generous dose of pepper spice. Superb.
Last Course- Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart. Paired with Le Mandolare Recioto di Soave.
Even the pastry made from scratch. Paired with an Italian Recioto di Soave - a dessert 'straw' wine made with Gargenaga grapes specially dried to produce a rich, oily wine exploding with toffee apple, apricot and vanilla. Delicious tart, and outstanding wine individually, but the pairing missed the mark.
A delicious meal, and great wines - but there could be only one champion on the day.
The Champion Pairing: Dan Dew scores with the Syrah paired with the 'Fruit of the Forest' venison dish.