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Eric Genau
October 6, 2009 | Burgundy, Champagne, Food Pairings, France, Pinot Noir, Sauternes, Sauvignon Blanc | Eric Genau

Fall Wine Dinner Recap: All About Harmony

I'm usually not lost for some words of my own, but after having a day to reflect on Tabree's Fall Wine Dinner, I think that Mike Depue said it all at the dinner's conclusion: It was all about harmony.  Michael Broadbent said, "drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life's most civilized pleasures."  Good wine with good food elevates both, and every time I have great wine and food pairings like this night, I am reminded how we often forget that wine is for so much more than drinking.  I was also reminded on this night how we live in a world of so many over-the-top wines and over-the-top food dishes with crazy proportions.  This night was a complete escape from that, focusing rather on simplicity and balance.

The evening began with beautiful passed hors d'oeuvres, along with a crisp, mineral-laden Cailbourdin Pouilly-Fume 'Les Cris' 2007.  The wine was focused and raw, with only a subtle note of citrus present.  It struck me that this was how Sauvignon Blanc should taste.

Tabree's Oyster Gratin and Calvados set the stage for one of the evening's true highlights - Henri Billiot Brut Reserve Champagne.  This was grower Champagne at its finest.  From 80% Pinot Noir (100% Grand Cru) and it showed.  I thought this tasted more like Pinot Noir than any Champagne I've ever had.  It was full-bodied with fresh-out-of-the-oven blueberry pie notes, and the pairing was a perfect blending of flavors and textures.  Extremely limited production, from a tiny 5 hectare parcel.

Skate Wing Schnitzle, haricot vert, and beurre rouge allowed us to showcase a young but refined 2005 Burgundy.  Rossignol-Trapet Gevrey-Chambertin 2005 was a classic representative of its appellation, unfolding in the glass to reveal a light, elegant wine of mineral, red fruit, and soft baking spice.  Both the wine and Tabree's dark, rich sauce were a couple of my personal favorites from the evening.

For the main entree, Braised Beef, wild mushroom, pearl onion, and demi-glace paired with Les Baux de Provence 'Mas de Gourgonnier' 2007.  While the rest of the evening showcased refined and elegant pairings, this veered toward rustic while still maintaining great balance and restraint.  This was the best wine value of the night, proving that you can get interesting, quality French wine for under $15.  This is such a cool wine (in a cool bottle), and it throws herbs, fruit and spice at you in waves.  After this course, there was little doubt that this was an authentic French food and wine experience.

For a final pairing, Apple Tart Tatin paired with Chateau Tuileries Sauternes 2005.  The dessert was delicious.  Again, simple but elegant.  And this time the food and wine had exactly the same theme - rich but light at the same time.  The Sauternes was classic, with layers of honey and citrus.  Sauternes can often be very heavy and viscous, but this was almost airy in the mouth.  It was a another great value, as this one sells in a 750ml bottle for a fraction of the price of many half-bottle Icewines. 

Thanks to Tabree for a job well done, and thanks to everyone who turned out for this great experience. 


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