Pairings By The River - Wine and Food Pairing
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Summer Pairings By The River
The bookstore shelves are filled with wine and food pairing “how-to’s.” They serve a purpose, of course. But, in the end, everything becomes a matter of personal preference. It’s like a painting. I love everything by Picasso, but some may not. We are all different, but we do have some common threads and an open mind might be the secret ingredient in the fun and games of wine and fine dining.
I take shortcuts. Being near winemakers and sommeliers has advantages. It’s not just the thrill of knowing them as much as it is learning from them and then translating the experience and modifying it to what fits my style and choices.
I recently enjoyed a private tasting and pairing hosted by Erath, the great Oregon winery.
Erath winemaker Gary Horner celebrates a perfect union of his Oregon wines with Georgia dishes created by esteemed chef Carvel Grant Gould. Canoe, the Atlanta gourmet restaurant was the setting for a private tasting where the best from opposite sides of America came together.
Gary Horner is the winemaker for Erath Winery, the original winery in Oregon’s Dundee Hills, and one of the early premium Pinot Noir pioneers. Horner understands the delicacy of Pinot Noir and focuses on showcasing its soft, fruit-forward characteristics, avoiding, he told me, over-extraction. Honoring his commitment to create high quality wines, he balances tradition with the latest winemaking technology.
Canoe, one of the top rung restaurants in the South was the site for my wine
tasting and food pairing for the ages. The setting: a gourmet shrine beside
the mighty Chattahoochee River where General Sherman’s Army crossed to begin
the siege of Atlanta. The chef: a seventh-generation Atlantan, Carvel Grant
Gould. The winemaker: Gary Horner. The wines: all from Oregon’s fabled
Erath, one of the most highly regarded Pinot Noir producers in America.
The Thrill of Tasting
We began a pre-lunch tasting consisting of a group of Horner’s signature Erath Pinot Noir releases. All except one were 2006 vintages. The lineup included the Fuqua Pinot Noir, described by Horner as “earthy and truffle-scented, flavor notes of seasoned vanilla with anise.” Next was the Hyland Pinot Noir which had an astonishing suggestion of root beer. The Bishop Creek Pinot Noir is one that will take to cellaring for a few years. Horner praised it for being “beautifully focused with a concentrated finish.”
The Rocky Hill Pinot
Noir is a chef’s dream and was one I chose to accompany Chef Carvel’s
dishes. However, no wine was less than enjoyable and the Oregon Pinot Noir
(the only 2008 vintage) was exotic with a little smokiness. “Raise a
glass,” Horner announced, “and thrill at the concentrated fruit in the
Leland Vineyard Pinot Noir.” The Prince Hill Pinot Noir proved to be plush,
full and lingering. The Estate Selection Pinot Noir had aromas of cherry pie
and brown sugar, “a dazzling example of Pinot’s ever-changing mood,” said
Tasting this array of regal wines was the perfect prelude for Chef Carvel's expertly crafted lunch. All of the wines tasted were on the table. We began with smoked salmon over a crispy potato cake sprinkled with Vermont Goat’s cheese. No reds allowed here. Horner served his Erath 2008 Pinot Gris, another varietal that has won Oregon’s wine industry a growing legion of fans.
The pièce de résistance was roasted short ribs and begged for Pinot Noirs. With no lack of pours, the acclaim grew more intense with each bite and sip.
Lunch was like a waltz: gentle and graceful, often sensuous. The guests were treated to Canoe’s hospitable finish, an artisan cheese selection and Horner’s Erath Sweet Harvest Gewurztraminer. Perfect partners for the last dance.
Oregon and Georgia. It was an All-American wine experience and we parted with smiles and pleasantries, affirming that this is the way we enjoy our days down South where the food and hospitality welcomes the great wines from our sister states.
DOC LAWRENCE PRODUCTIONS