A culmination of my two favorite foods is a beautiful thing. I know it’s a cliché to talk about pairing wine and chocolate, and you know how much I hate clichés, so instead, let’s talk about another favorite…domination.
A taste of chocolate first, and the fat of the cocoa butter cloaks my tongue. A rich, creamy coating gives a smooth, buttery mouthfeel. It’s like a lick of love in all the right places – firm and supple… simply mesmerizing. But if the wine comes first, a struggle could ensue. A wine’s need for lascivious power is palpable. It may start coy, but don’t be fooled. As it blends, begins to breath, its strength reveals desire and its power is enticing. Resting in my mouth, I feel the sugar and acid rousing a balance, while salt, sweet and sour flood my senses. I acquiesce, what choice do I have? Layers of lemon and honey of a Riesling or the spice and pepper of a Syrah show endless promise as my tongue becomes saturated. It’s about the subtleties of order and the elegance of finesse – a true battle at its finest.
Last night, the German and I stomped through the rain — me in my black stilettos — to tour Boehms Candies, followed by a pairing with Columbia Crest wines. It’s true, Riesling does go with everything!
Catherine said slyly “I like a man with a temper,” as she sat across the dinner table from her husband Stephan. The German sat sandwiched between them and Ryan Seacrest pervaded the background with “Idol” finalist elimination commentary. It was our own version of Open That Bottle Night and The German selected a Burgess, Napa Valley, 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine proved special and provocative. It detonated dark fruit, currant, black berry, sour cherry and pomegranate. And through its tepid temperament came soft tannins and traces of coffee grounds. Mature and balanced with a medium finish, this wine shows austerity with hints of jest. The only thing it fakes is interest and that’s what we liked best. Divine.
Where’s we get this German? I’ll post when I know.
Photo: Burgess Cellars
So you say you love a good argument? I used to too, until I met the German. Arguing becomes less fun when you argue against someone significantly smarter. Not that I’m a dummy; I choose to spend my time differently. And then, when friends Ben and Kari show up for dinner…stand back! We unleashed a bottle of Blankiet Estate, 2001 Paradise Hills Vineyard Merlot, which served as the perfect balance to the sparks flying at the dinner table.
First assail was on Ted Kennedy, which lead to elitism, which lead to Israel, which lead to terrorists – or something like that. The wine was a mouthful of masculinity, a compelling force at the beginning. It showed a layer of preeminent strike, then a pummeling center, but left a medium-ish finish. A little droopy. The fruit fell flat, but was detectable. What did reveal was feathery dark cherry, dark plum and stony earth wrapped in a swirl of smooth, the only thing that could quiet these two combatants down.
While the two wives sat at the table engaged, then bored, then fighting ourselves to stay awake, I thought, if only we had a library where the men could retire to and leave us alone. Note to self: Next house will have a library…with a door that locks from the outside.
On the downside… drink NOW!
The Gatekeeper, 2001 McLaren Vale Shiraz is a mouthful of velvet, which soothed the senses as we watched Sunday’s 60 Minutes ‘Celebrating the Second Amendment’. While I found myself eagerly imagining reaching through the TV to strangle the NRA spokesman, I realize that’s impossible, as my hands are full — one hand holds a glass of dark purple calm and the other holds the bottle from which I gently take a swig. Trying to understand the other side’s insanity is enough to make you drink. Lush creaminess touches my tongue – almost nougaty like a Three Musketeers. ‘All for one and one for all’ — in a low-on-logic, lemming-like mindset. Is it a wonder that I share Lesley Stahl’s astonishment? Meanwhile, dark currant and blackberry swirl like a ribbon through the middle of my mouth. I like it. But the German says it showed better fruit in its younger days. Weren’t we all a little riper back then? Though not as bright as perhaps it once was, it has more curves then edges, which is usually a good thing. Filled with the knowledge that Virginia is one of the easiest states to buy a gun in, I continue to sip knowing how much better I will sleep tonight.
So the German and I set out Sunday to forge for interesting edibles and discover new wines at Taste Washington, the grand poo-bah of the state’s tasting events. Housed at Quest Field, 225+ Washington wineries poured 900 wines while 60 restaurants tossed tantalizing samples to whet or wipe out your palette.
As you can imagine 900 offers the likely opportunity to taste some diamonds and taste some rough. And we certainly found both. Our strategy was to taste only the best of the three to six bottles offered by each. We visited our standard favorites: Quilceda Creek, Long Shadows, DeLille Cellars, Thurston Wolfe, Syzygy, Betz Family Winery, Fidelitas and Dunham Cellars; then on to newer or less familiar wineries. The roughs shall remain nameless, but here are a few of the diamonds we found:
• Barons V 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley $60
• Brian Carter Cellars 2006 Tuttorosso Super Tuscan Style, Yakima Valley $30
• Camaraderie Cellars 2006 Tempranillo, Columbia Valley $27.50
• Cascade Cliffs Winery 2007 Barbera, Columbia Valley $25
• Domaine Pouillon 2006 Cuvée en Amont, Horse Heaven Hills $24
• Elegante Cellars 2006 Merlot, Walla Walla $28; and for a sweet summer treat, 2006, Klicker Strawberry Acres, Strawberry wine.
• Eleven Winery 2005 Syrah, Horse Heaven Hills $24
• Gorman Winery 2007 “The Big Sissy” Chardonnay, Columbia Valley $35
• Jones of Washington 2008 Riesling, Columbia Valley $14; 2006 Syrah, Wahluke Slope $19 (yummy)
• Lodmell Cellars 2005 Merlot, Columbia Valley $43
• OS Winery 2008 Riesling, Horse Heaven Hills $20
• Palouse Winery 2007 Viognier, Columbia Valley $22; 2007 Riesling, Columbia Valley $18 (the German was lovin’ this wine)
• Powers Winery 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Horse Heaven Hills $30
Photo: Courtesy of Jones of Washington