Master Sommelier Virginia Philip
Chef Ben starts us with a traditional spring soup of leek, potato and smoked bacon. Such myriad ingredients can make wine pairing tricky. The Château Tanunda Grand Barossa dry riesling, Barossa Valley, Australia, 2013, draws from the Barossa region’s Germanic history. Synonymous with shiraz, Barossa is turning heads for its exceptional riesling. This bottle is refreshing and dry, with all the delicacy, elegance and finesse of this noble variety. Some 40 percent of the grapes come from old vines planted on the Château Tanunda Estate in the 1920s. The crisp acidity of this grape cuts through the richness of the potato, yet the mineral can take on the saltiness of the bacon.
The second course of pan-seared scallop, pork belly, and carrot and ginger purée calls for a full-bodied wine to take on the scallop: Summers Estate Reserve chardonnay, Alexander Valley, California, 2012. This chardonnay is produced from grapes grown at Stuhlmuller Vineyards in Alexander Valley, bordered by Russian River and Chalk Hill appellations. Fermented and aged sur lie for eight months in French oak, the wine has a golden color with lovely fragrant layers of pineapple, pear, apple and lemon cream pie. The pork belly, carrot and ginger marry with the wine’s finish, which is soft and lush with notes of nutmeg and citrus blossoms.
The main course, a tapas trio of wagyu beef, oxtail “lasagna” and celeriac purée, requires a wine neither too powerful nor too light. The Dehesa La Granja by Alejandro Fernández, Castille and León, Spain, 2008 is up for the challenge. Made from 100 percent old vine tempranillo grapes grown in the Guareña River Valley, this elegant red is aged for 30 months in French oak and bottled without clarification or filtration. The result is a concentrated wine that can age many years. On the nose are notes of dried blackberry, red currant, ripe plum and sous bois. The palate is lush and round with flavors of stewed black cherry, fig, forest mushroom, clove and a dose of damp earth on the finish, which enhances the mushroom and truffle foam in the dish.
For the finish of fondant chocolate, try the Domaine de La Tour Vieille Banyuls Rimage, Languedoc-Roussillon, France, 2013. This wine craves chocolate. The most southern appellation in France, Banyuls is known for its sweet fortified wines, which are classified as Vin Doux Naturel (VDN). Intense aromas and flavors of cassis, ripe black cherry, raspberry and cocoa dominate on the long, luscious finish.