Fabulous Food Sunny Wines and Jazzy Music at the Mediterranean Mingle

Mediterranean Mingle food and wine

Mediterranean Mingle food and wine

The Languedoc-Roussillon in the south of France is known for it’s sunny climate, seafood and relaxed lifestyle.  The Mediterranean Mingle let us all relax a bit after many days of wine tasting during the Vancouver International Wine Festival.  For lunch we had a wide array of hot and cold appetizers, along with desserts:

  • Fresh Asparagus Salad, Tarragon Mimosa Foam
  • Grilled Zucchini, Roasted Pepper, Chevre, and Pine Nuts
  • Tapenade Croque-Monsieur
  • Tourte a la Brandade
  • Mediterranean Mussel Brasucade au Noilly Prat
  • Saucisse de Toulouse, White Bean Stew
  • Aigo-Boulido “Sip” Poached Quail Egg
  • Ratatouille Languedocienne, Rosemary Bread
  • Beef Boules de Picolat, Picholine Olives and Cepes
  • Butternut Squash Ravioli, Duck Confit, Wild Mushrooms, Edamame
  • Roasted Cod on Fennel, Yellow Potatoes, Black Olives
  • Lemon Almond Creme Catalane
  • Walnut Orange Cake, Yoghurt Wildflower Honey “Pot de Creme”
  • Wedge of Canadian Oka Cheese, Fig and Olive Crisps

To pair up with these dishes we had wines from 11 different wineries:

  • Domaine Paul Mas
  • Gerard Bertrand
  • M. Chapoutier – Domaine Bila Haut
  • Sieur d’Arques
  • Chateau d’Angles
  • Chateau de Jau
  • Francois Lurton – Mas Janeil
  • Francois Lurton
  • Abbaye Sylva Plana
  • Les Vignobles de Constance & du Terrassous
  • Domaine de Babio

One thing I enjoyed about this event was the booklet provided to us contained a page for each wine and the suggested food pairing.  So for example, you may sample a Cremant from Domaine Paul Mas, and try to pairings of Fresh Asparagus Salad or the Tourte a la Brandade.

For sparkling wines, I thought the Gerard Bretrand Cremant de Limoux 2011 was a fun wine to drink.   Dry, high acidity, citrus flavour with small, creamy bubble.  This bubble paired nicely with the Fresh Asparagus Salad.

Domaine Bila Haut Les Vignes de Bila Haut White 2012

Domaine Bila Haut Les Vignes de Bila Haut White 2012

A couple of white wines that I enjoyed:

  • M. Chapoutier – Domaine Bila Haut, Les Vignes de Bila Haut, White, 2012. This is a blend of of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, and Macabeu.  Medium stone fruit nose.  Round with bright acidity.  Ripe melon and citrus, with a hint of sweet spice and some minerality.  Overall I would say that this wine would be very versatile when pairing with different dishes. (Pair with the Tourte a la Brandade.)
  • Chateau d’Angles, Languedoc La Clape, Grand Vin, White, 2009. Another blend; this time of Bourboulenc (40%), Grenache (20%), Roussanne (20%), and Marsanne (20%).  Sea salt, and ripe tropical fruit nose.  Medium plus body, medium mouth feel.  Soft and round, and very flavourful.  Ripe tropical fruit with a bit of spice on the finish. (Pair with the Roasted Cod on Fennel, Yellow Potatoes, Black Olives.)

A few red wines that caught my attention:

  • Francois Lurton, Fitou, Chateau des Erles, Red, 2004. This blend consists of Carignan, Grenache and Syrah.  Ripe purple fruit and vanilla aromas.  Violet flowers followed by ripe dark fruit and candied cherries.  Full body and dry on the palate. (Pair with the Beef Boules de Picolat, Picholine Olives and Cepes.)
  • Abbaye Sylva Plana, Faugeres, Le Songe de l’Abbe, Red, 2011. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsaut or Carignan (I’m not sure for this vintage) make this red blend.  Nice aromas of ripe raspberries, cassis, and dark fruit.  Full body, round with medium tannins and acidity.  Nutmeg, minerality and dark cherry flavours.  Very much a New World, fruit forward style wine. (Pair with the Butternut Squash Ravioli, Duck Confit, Wild Mushrooms, Edamame.)
Les Vignobles de Constance du Terrassous Rivesaltes Ambre Terrassous heritage 1974

Les Vignobles de Constance du Terrassous Rivesaltes Ambre Terrassous heritage 1974

And of course for dessert, I enjoyed:

  • Chateau de Jau, Muscat de Rivesaltes, 2011. Orangy nose, big legs.  Medium minus body, and medium acidity.  Orange, leads to apples and sweet spice on the palate, together with a hint of pine needles, and ends with stone fruit. (Pair with the Lemon Almond Creme Catalane.)
  • Les Vignobles de Constance & du Terrassous, Rivesaltes Ambre, Terrassous heritage 1974.  As the name connotes, it is amber colour in the glass. Nice butterscotch and orange aromas in the glass.  Full body, round with higher acidity that clears up the palate.  Marmalade, nuttiness, honey and butterscotch flavours.  Long length. (Pair with the Walnut Orange Cake, Yoghurt Wildflower Honey “Pot de Creme”.)

Enjoy the pictures below of the event and think about trying the wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon.  There was also a live jazz band playing fantastic music, but I did not get their name.  You can hear and see a snippet of this band if you check my VINE video.

Live music at the Mediterranean Mingle

Live music at the Mediterranean Mingle

Abbaye Sylva Plana, Faugeres, Le Songe de l'Abbe, Red, 2011

Abbaye Sylva Plana, Faugeres, Le Songe de l’Abbe, Red, 2011

Saucisse de Toulouse with White Bean Stew

Saucisse de Toulouse with White Bean Stew

Chateau des Erles Fitou 2004

Chateau des Erles Fitou 2004

Lemon Almond Creme Catalane

Lemon Almond Creme Catalane

South World Wine Society’s Big and Bold Red Tasting

Last night we were treated to big red wines from the Southern Hemisphere. In particular, 2 wines from each of Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and Australia. These are all premium wines in the $30-$40 range per bottle. Our speaker for the evening was Mr. Lance Berelowitz, one of the South World Wine Society‘s co-founders, past President and past Cellar Master. Lance is originally from South Africa, but has travelled extensively and has visited Australia, Chile, and Argentina, and provided to us in depth descriptions about each of these wines and regions.

Our wines for this evening:

  • Alta Cima Premium Reserve 2002, Lontue Valley, Chile
  • Miguel Torres Cordillera 2001, Central Valley, Chile
  • De Toren Diversity 2003, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa
  • Norton Malbec Reserva 2005, Mendoza, Argentina
  • Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina
  • Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia
  • Peter Lehmann Mudflat Ebenezer Shiraz 2004, Barossa Valley, Australia

To these wines we had 3 appetizers:

  • Poplar Grove Tiger Blue Cheese Buff with stone fruit compote
  • Smoked Peace Country Lamb Shoulder Arrancinni with tomato ragout
  • Braised Shortrib Cannelonni with carmelized onion jus

The Alta Cima Premium Reserve 2002, Lontue Valley, Chile is a Bordeaux blend with 85% being from Cabernet Sauvignon, and the remainder coming from Merlot, Syrah (not Bordeaux), and Petit Verdot.  Alta Cima is a family run winery in Chile in the Lontue Valley which is part of the Curico Valley. This wine was deep garnet from the core to the rim, not showing it’s 9 year of aging yet. Vanilla, oak, dark cherry sweet spice, meaty and pencil lead aromas filled the glass.  Quite complex.  Medium body on the palate, with cherries and blueberry flavours.  Medium acidity and tannins.  Round in the mouth but not quite full bodied.  A nice balanced wine.

Next was the Miguel Torres Cordillera 2001, Central Valley, Chile. Miguel Torres, originally from Spain, has a great reputation around the world for their wines, and for opening wineries in other parts of the world.  The Cordillera is a blend primarily with Carignan and lesser amounts of Merlot and Syrah. Deep garnet in colour. A light nose with whiffs of oak, black olives, and dark cherries. Medium body with dark sweet fruit, and some tar and pepperiness.  Quite soft and round in the mouth, with a puckering finish.

The De Toren Diversity 2003, Stellenbosch, South Africa followed.  This is another family run winery.  Their Fusion V is a cult wine amongst wine enthusiasts. This wine is a blend of 5 Bordeaux varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Medium garnet with slight bricking on the rim of the wine, indicating it’s age. Meaty, pencil leads, earthy and red fruits on the nose. Medium body with dried red and black fruits, low acidity and tannins.  We all agreed that this wine is past it’s prime and we were sampling it on it’s way down.

My favourite wine of the evening was the Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa. Paarl is more inland than Stellenbosch, affording a warmer climate, which the Syrah grape loves. Deep garnet to the rim in the glass. Smoky, raspberries and oak on the nose. On the palate an array of flavours including smokiness, chocolate, coffee, dark fruit and spice.  Medium plus body with medium acid to keep the flavours bright. Long length. An excellent wine.

The first wine from Argentina was the Norton Malbec Reserva 2005. This is from the famous Mendoza region of Argentina, which is well-known for Malbec.  It is a high altitude desert that is fed with the precious water from the Andes Mountains. This wine had a light nose with some mint and plum. Medium body with dark fruit and oak. Soft tannins.  The group tasting the wine today also agreed that this wine was just OK.  Not very complex.

On the other hand the Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina was quite complex and interesting.  The San Juan region is to the north of Mendoza.  Not as well known, but produces very nice wine, if this wine is any indication of quality. Deep ruby in colour.  Light nose with oak, dark fruit, plum, coffee and a bit of eucalyptus aromas. Full body with firm tannins.  Dark fruit flavours with medium acidity and a dry finish. This wine paired nicely with the Poplar Grove Tiger Blue Cheese Puff with stone fruit compote.

On to Australia. Our first wine was the Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia. The two owners of Two Hands are similar to négociants from Burgundy.  They do not own vineyards, but work with vineyards to produce wines to their particular standards. This wine had some sediment in the glass, which we thought could be tartrate crystals. These crystals can form when the wine gets too cold.  It is a natural process, and should not be considered a fault in a wine. The wine was deep purple in the glass but was cloudy and not clear.  I am not sure if this wine was filtered, but if unfiltered, you could get this cloudiness. Nice nose with eucalyptus, vanilla, ripe dark fruit and chocolate. Medium plus body with soft, round mouthfeel.  Ripe cherries, chocolate and spiciness on the palate. This wine was the favorite of the room this evening.

The last wine was the Peter Lehmann Mudflat Ebenezer Shiraz 2004, Barossa Valley, Australia. This is an interesting wine as the shiraz is blended with a few percent of the white muscadelle grape to add in some aromatics.  Medium garnet in colour.  Light nose of vanilla and dark fruit.  Round with soft tannins.  Blueberries, vanilla, cloves and some salty minerality on the palate.  A good balance of oak, fruit and acidity.

MyWinePal Wine Picks:

  1. Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa
  2. Alzamora Malbec Roble 2006, San Juan, Argentina

The Favorites from the Room:

  1. Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2006, Barossa Valley, Australia
  2. Scali Syrah 2004, Paarl, South Africa

A new wine and cheese experience

Every region of France has it’s own unique cheese. In Burgundy, one of those cheeses is the Epoisses de Bourgogne. This cheese has a cream cheese type texture and an orangey, wrinkled rind. The rind is washed with the marc de Bourgogne as it ripens. Marc is the left over juices after squeezing out the fermented grape skins and then distilling these juices. The cheese was semi-firm with a woody / nutty aroma. The aroma was not as strong as the previous cheeses. It had a cottage cheese flavour, with nutty flavoured rind, and a hint of saltiness. Quite nice.

The wine I paired with it was from the Rhone valley. It was the Chateau de Beaulieu, La Chatelaine, 2007, Cotes de Rhone. The blend was 60% grenache, and the remainder unknown amounts of Syrah, Cinsault, Mouvedre and Carignan. This wine was the Medaille de Bronze award from the Concours des Grands Vins de France 2008. It was a deep purple colour in the glass. There were intense aromas of meat, pepper, red and black fruits. The red and black fruit flavours continued on the palette. It was very peppery and had a long finish. Very full bodied, low tannins and good acidity. The fruit and black pepper flavours of the wine complemented the creaminess and nuttiness of the cheese. It was a great pairing. Salut!