Lucky me. This past week I was able to attend an Artisan Chocolate and wine pairing event at Ocean Park Village Pub in White Rock, BC. Dione’s Chocolates supplied the hand-made chocolates for this event. This event was actually the coming out party for Dione’s company, and she made a great impression on everyone in attendance.
Before we tried the chocolates which were infused with various fruits and spices, we tried the basic chocolate types. The white chocolate was buttery, creamy, and caramel flavoured. I don’t normally like white chocolate as the ones I’ve tried are usually very sweet. This one was not. Just right and melted on your tongue. The milk chocolate (34% cocoa) was smooth, with caramel, chocolate and a hint of bitterness. While the dark chocolate (60% cocoa) was much drier, with grittiness and earthy flavours. To start we had something called a cocoa nib, which is the base from which chocolates are made. They look like clumps of dark sugar crystals. Normally they would not have any sweetness but the ones we tried had a tiny bit added. Dark, smoky flavours and some fibre to them.
The Wine and Chocolate Pairings
Jackson Triggs Merlot with a Crescent Park truffle
- Inniskillin Pinot Noir with a spicy chipotle ganache in a dark chocolate shell
- Lindeman’s Bin 50 Shiraz with a hand-rolled lemon coconut truffle
- Beringer Founders Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 with a seasonal pumpkin spice ganache
We started the evening with the Jackson Triggs Merlot (BC) and Crescent Park truffle. The truffle has a creamy caramel center, wrapped in dark chocolate and sprinkled lightly with coarse sea salt. A really tasty truffle and went nicely with the fruity merlot. Both were soft and creamy together. The salt also added another level of complexity. The Jackson Triggs Merlot had nice vanilla, ripe plums and cherry flavours, medium body and soft tannins. <I do think that merlot goes really well with dark chocolates overall.>
Inniskillin Pinot Noir (BC) with the spicy chipotle ganache was next. Typically you would not think a lighter bodied wine like pinot noir can stand up to the spicy heat of a chipotle smoked chile, but it worked in this pairing. The chocolate was sweet and dark with smoky spicy flavour. Dry with a bit of grittiness. The Pinot Noir had sweet strawberries, raspberries and violet aromas. Light body, high acid and violet flavour. I think the spiciness of the chocolate was balanced nicely with the floweriness of the Pinot Noir. Maybe the high acidity in the wine also helped?
Lindeman’s Bin 50 Shiraz (Australia) with a hand-rolled lemon coconut truffle was our 3rd pairing. The lemony flavour and toasty coconut were quite interesting with the shiraz. The Shiraz was full of blackberries and juicy black fruits, and had a whiff of milk chocolate on the nose. Full body with more blackberry, plum and black cherry flavours. Some spiciness and vanilla. The lemon of the truffle cut through the lushness of the wine giving it an interesting complementary contrast. I also tried this wine with the chipotle ganache and it enhanced the heat of this chocolate. I think the spiciness of both the wine and the chocolate were additive.
Our last wine and chocolate pairing was a Beringer Founders Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (California) with a seasonal pumpkin spice ganache. This chocolate smelled very nice, with the nutmeg and pumpkin aromas. It was nice and smooth as it melted in your mouth. The Beringer Cabernet was a big wine. Ripe cassis, oak and vanilla aromas. Minerality, high acidity and spicy notes on the palate. Lots of fruit up front and medium tannins. I think you need a big wine to compete with the big flavours of the pumpkin and nutmeg. I also tried this chocolate with the Shiraz and it was also a good pairing.
If you are in White Rock you may want to visit the Ocean Park Village Pub (weblink). It was very busy when I was there.
If you want to buy some artisan hand-made chocolates, here is Dione’s Chocolates website. You can also taste her chocolates on Friday, Nov 4 at Wellbrook Winery in Delta, with another wine and chocolate pairing. Enjoy!