Now of course you don’t have Michelin starred food at home – or maybe you do and it’s just me that has to slum it – but these fine-wine/meet the winemaker dinners are a superb opportunity to sample high quality cuisine and enjoy some innovative wine and food matching combinations at the same time.
They do have relevance on a more everyday level in that the matches can be ‘replicated’ at home with more humble fare. At the very least they can provide indications of the versatility of the wines in question as I discovered at a Bisol Prosecco dinner held at L’Ortolan in Berkshire the other week.
The menu is detailed below. The wine and various notes were scribbled at the time on the back of the napkin. Sadly no images of any of the beautifully presented dishes are available.
One of the most interesting and ‘extreme’ matches was the combination of roasted pork with a Prosecco. The Cartizze bottling, with its hint of sweetness, would not have been my initial choice of wine to accompany such a dish, but the Roasted Loin and Braised Shoulder of Suckling Pig had an inherent sweetness and made for a sublime match with the wine. The apple butter sauce and sage gnocchi, served alongside, picked up similar flavour components in the wine. A heavenly match. Bisol Dinner, L’Ortolan, 23rd March 2007
Chefs Appetiser no wine with this frothy chicken soup. Really, really good.
Ballottine of Organic Salmon, Herb Creme Fraiche, Purple Potato Mousse and Horseradish Relish
with Bisol ‘Garnei’ Prosecco di Valdobbiadene 2004 The horseradish was a revelation. So accustom am I to the shop brought generic jars that the flavour here was astounding – fresh, vibrant with a burst of heat on the finish but not at all over-powering or burning. The Prosecco was in perfect balance with the food, refreshing the palate after the horseradish and complimenting the salmon superbly. It would seem that there are more options to matching wine with fish than Sauvignon Blanc!
Foie Gras and pan d’Epices ‘sandwich’ with Quince Jelly
served with Bisol ‘Duca di Dolle’ Passito The Duca di Dolle is the sweet wine in the Bisol line-up. (A substitue for Sauternes, the usual partner for Foie Gras). Consternation from some unadventurous quarters of a dessert wine served before the ‘main course’ but, for me, a perfect partner to the smooth and ‘meltingly lovely’ foie gras. Slicing through the ‘sandwich’ revealing a little smoked bacon adding further complexity to the flavour. These myriad tastes lifted the wine, imparting an astounding spicy, ginger edge. It all added to the gorgeousness of the whole.
Roast Monkfish, Homemade Linguine, Mussel and Mild Curry Cream Bisol ‘Molera’ Prosecco di Valdobbiadene 2006 – a still wine. The richness of the previous course did effect the flavour of this still wine; unless you cleansed the palate with a glass or two of water the sweetness of the Passito would make any still, dry wine taste a little flat. To me this is the least inspiring of the Bisol line-up but it worked very nicely with the perfectly cooked Monkfish, with its Sauvignon Blanc-like crispness, but it lacks a little ‘something’.
Roasted Loin and Braised Shoulder of Suckling Pig, Sage Gnocchi, Apple Bitter Sauce, Roasting Juices with Bisol ‘Cartizze’ Prosecco di Valdobbiadene 2005 An unusual pairing – a meat dish with a Prosecco. Even the Italians on our table were at pains to state that this is not a typical Italian combination. But it worked stunningly well – the sweetness of the pork was simply superb with the wines touch of residual sugar. The apple puree matching with similar flavours in the wine. A surprising but welcome pairing.
A rhubarb compote with a ginger and champagne cream topped with a rhubarb ice. Wonderous.
Lemon Possett, White Chocolate Mousse, Meringues and Lemon Zest Confit with Bisol ‘Crede’ Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, 2005 The least successful match of the evening. The wine was too dry and too delicate in flavour to match the sweetness of the dish and the vibrant lemon flavours. Was this a case of ‘oh, we have one more wine to squeeze in’? The Bisol Duca di Dolle Passito, the sweet wine from the Foie Gras course was a hugely superior match. The dish though was ‘divine’. The Crede is a lovely wine by itself but just a little too dry for this dessert.
Several wines from the Bisol range are available from Bibendum. Full tasting notes can be reviewed in the Bisol Prosecco post from last year.