August 24, 2008

Alsace Wine with Food – thoughts from the Hugel Twitter Tasting

By Andrew Barrow In Food and Wine, Tasting Reports, Wine Notes
A pleasant way to spend a couple of hours – delving through recipes from books and magazines with the aim of matching 5 dishes to 5 different wines. These were all white wines from the Hugel stable in Alsace ready for the Twitter Tasting organised in America but stretching across to these shores and down to France with Etienne Hugel himself participating.

With each course to be as simple as possible a couple of matches were easy: with the Gewürztraminer a foie gras (with toast and a little fig chutney) and with the Pinot Blanc an Alsace speciality (or the closest we could locate) an onion tart. I read somewhere that coconut macaroons were a sensational match to sweet Gewürztraminers, so that was the final dish sorted which left a course for the mixed grape blend and another for a top-notch Riesling. The host, Rob, insisted on a pork dish and I came up with Pork Medallions with Mustard Mash with Apple and a Cider Reduction. A triumphant match as it transpired. Scallops from Borough Market formed the opening course; which I was unexpectedly asked to cook!

A few shavings of fresh ginger, a little garlic, slithers of a mild, fresh red chilli and a sprinkling of dried coriander were added to the pan before the scallops turned rubbery. A splosh of white wine and a pinch of pepper, a quick shake of the pan and a squeeze of lemon and then out to the expectant guests. To be honest I thought I had overdone the spice but nods all round seemed to indicate a success!

Twitter Tasting - table

Hugel Fleurs d'alsacePan Fried Scallops with Ginger, Garlic and Chili - a superb match to the myriad flavours in the Hugel Tradition Fleurs d’Alsace 2006 (Averys £8.79 Adegga / Snooth). A blend of Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat is bound to give a complexity of flavours – ginger, citrus, spices – which I think I caught well with the scallops. A lovely little wine and a great match to my invented dish!

Scribblings Rating – 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

Hugel Pinot Blanc Red Onion Tarts with baby leaf salad – some I believe had asparagus tarts, both having been brought form a deli at Borough Market. The pastry was divine, the filling eggy with a delicate sweetness from the red onion. Eggs are always tricky to match with a wine but the Hugel Pinot Blanc 2006 (around £9.99 Adegga / Snooth) had just the right edge of acidity to keep all in check. By itself the wine was less than stellar; with the food an excellent foil.
Scribblings Rating – 84/100 [3 out of 5]

Hugel GewurztraminerFois Gras Mi Cuit with toast and Fig Chutney – Foie Gras maybe controversial but it’s also damn expensive so you really need a top-notch wine to make the most of the pairing! The Hugel Tradition Gewurztraminer 2006 (£14.95 Wine Society Adegga / Snooth ) was just such a wine. A excellent combination indeed with the full-styled wine (showing elements of lychees, ginger and pineapple and an light oily texture) melding beautifully with the smooth, richness of the Foie Gras. Sublime.
Scribblings Rating – 90/100 [4.5 out of 5]

Hugel Riesling Jubilee Medallions of Pork with Apple and Cider and a Mustard Mash – perfectly cooked pork with apples just edged with caramelised crispness was set against the Hugel Jubilee Riesling 2004 (2005 vintage Wine Society £19 Adegga / Snooth). A wonderful match, even for someone generally unimpressed with Riesling in general. While the slight edge of kerosene/petrol (a revelation to some at the table) to the aroma divided the table, I thought it a delightful match with the subtle apple flavours of the dish and the wine playing along very nicely. The dish was rich requiring a wine of equal body; the Alsace style of Riesling being fuller than those of neighbouring Germany worked beautifully.
Scribblings Rating – 88/100 [3.5 out of 5]

Hugel Vendege Tardive GewurztraminerCoconut Macaroons – time being of an essence for the last-train-to-catch guests the fresh fruit salad sadly did not make an appearance. The Hugel Gewurztraminer Vendage Tardive 2001 (£34 Wine Society Adegga / Snooth ) was a delight by itself. Smooth, with a lovely balance between the peachy-apple blossom fruit flavours, perfect acidity and delicate complexity. It was rather good with the coconut macaroons too!
Scribblings Rating – 94/100 [4.25 out of 5]

Overall a most delicious series of wines and food. ample thanks to Rob of the Wine Conversation for hosting and to Nick Clarke of Dreyfuss Ashby for supplying the samples. Other guests at the dinner have also written up their thoughts – EatLikeAGirl, James Cridland, Kai Chan ng and Sandrine Plasseraud.

  1. Robert August 24, 2008

    what can I say? Great choices for the menu, thank you very much for that and all the cooking assistance, co-hosting as well.
    Glad we got to finish of the bottles afterwards and that it offered you the possibility of seeing Borough Market.
    Hope to see you at the next one – I have some ideas!!

  2. Jeanne August 26, 2008

    Sounds like fun – food sounds divine and I *love* Alsace wines. Hope there’s space for me at the next one? Or maybe Rob’s 2 meetings with me have convinced him I’m too disorganised to string three coherent words together about wine?! :o)

  3. Andrew August 26, 2008

    It was such a last minute thing… but next time I’ll make sure you are on the guest list! Just hope you can fit it in, in your hectic city lifestyle!

  4. sandrine August 27, 2008

    Great picture of the table !
    Thanks ago for the lovely food you and Robert cooked. Loved the scallops !

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