When wine and food sing
As we only have two weeks left before local lobster season ends, I made sure that I took two home this past weekend.
Although a politically charged word in our small country at this time, may I suggest that many chardonnays “marry” beautifully with lobster.
Since this crustacean is a rare treat at “Bacchus Gallery” I ignore its high cholesterol levels and pour a little clarified butter on it before broiling and, of course, there is a small bowl of it to dip into while eating. So, what does this have to do with chardonnay?
Most red wines, and some whites, are encouraged to go through a second fermentation caused by bacteria.
As it converts malic acid (green apples) into lactic acid (found in milk) this process is called malolactic fermentation. Richness and a butter-like texture is the result.
Chardonnay also lends itself well to fermentation in oak as well as ageing in oak.
Descriptions like baked apple, hazelnuts, piecrust, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon and coconut can be imparted by the oak.
So now we are finding that rich and creamy profile that blends so well with the richness of lobster.
Let me emphasise that all must be in harmony and balance, and one of the greatest changes that I have witnessed over the last 20 years is the sophistication and elegance that is becoming the norm in California.
Sadly, the old “oak bombs” turned people away and some have not tried the new wines that are in the market today.
On Saturday last, we decided to open a bottle of Stags Leap Winery 2016 Chardonnay from Napa Valley. Ever since their French winemaker fooled me, at a blind tasting, into mistaking it for a very fine burgundy, I have been an avid fan.
Here are his comments on his 2016: “The inviting bouquet expresses aromas of creamy lemon meringue, tropical pineapple, delicate elderflower and hints of raw almond nuttiness which fill the glass and pique your interest in this crisp chardonnay.
“On the palate, you’ll find a classic refreshing chardonnay with a vibrancy of tropical fruit notes that transition into lemon curd and meringue while also maintaining a roundness in texture that is balanced (hinting at the delicate battonage lees stirring during the winemaking process).
“With well-integrated vanilla oak notes, subtle almond undertones and a flinty minerality on the finish, this wine is full, rich and bright, yet generous in style and maintains freshness due to its acidity, which creates a chardonnay of lovely complexity and depth.”
Note his comment on acidity — where would lobster be without lemon juice squeezed on it? $40.90.
I also had the good fortune last week of tasting our Beringer Private Reserve 2014 Chardonnay and most of the grapes come from one of my favourite vineyards; the Gamble Ranch in the Oakville AVA of Napa Valley.
Decanter, in the UK, gave it 95/100 and wrote: “A fresh, fruity nose brings out notes of white flowers, golden apples and a certain touch of oak. This leads into a round, savoury palate loaded with new oak characteristics, hints of butter and butterscotch, a touch of apple and peach and a long finish.”
One review says that “it has the ability to transport you to an ethereal realm”. $50.75.
You might just be feeling that with the cost of lobster why not pink up for a very fine burgundy; I suggest Joseph Drouhin Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru Folatieres 2013.
This is an excellent vintage; Drouhin farms biodynamically and 25 per cent new oak is used. Beautiful harmony defines this precious wine that is golden and bright.
The complex and distinctive aromas of Puligny are here in evidence: honey, honeysuckle, fresh almond.
As the wine matures, these aromas evolve towards dried fruit notes and spice. On the palate, a very nice balance between freshness and velvety texture.
There is even a firm backbone that gives this wine a strong structure. Exceptionally long on the aftertaste, with refined and floral notes throughout.
Wine & Spirits magazine gives it 95/100 and says: “When Drouhin wines hit, they can be awesome. This one buzzes with energy, saturated with a kind of succulent richness.” $90.90.
So, what is my “secret” for good lobster? Place in room-temperature water and bring to a boil, remove when it takes on a cooked colour, split in half and clean.
Loosen meat in chunks and put back in shell, add some melted butter and paprika, grate a light coating of Parmesan cheese on top, place under broiler to crisp the top. Eat and drink!
• This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit www.wineonline.bm
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