Tuesday, July 13, 2010

#96 - Thomas Keller Chicken With A Pinot Blanc Tasting

We weren't sure we even wanted chicken.

And we weren't sure we even wanted Pinot Blanc.

So...kinda two strikes against it out of the gate.

In the end, the chicken sufficed and even made us want something other than was in the glass to pair with it.

Food: Thomas Keller chicken with mâche, Port Salut cheese and bread

Solid chicken, salted with a mixture of kosher and gray sea salt this time, making for a less-intense saltiness that was different and tasty. Don't know if it's better than the combination of crispy skin and bigger salt but certainly delicious.

Mrs. Ney went searching for Münster cheese to pair with the Alsatian Pinot Blanc and was left wanting. So she went with something similar in a Port Salut cheese from northwest France. Semi-soft, thick and creamy, nicely spreadable and worked with the wine.

Mâche with balsamic and olive oil to finish things out.

Everything was cooked properly with a nice variation in flavor but it needed something to lift it into the realm of something that would have made us love it and these wines weren't it.

Wine: 2007 Ken Wright Pinot Blanc ($28 - Randolph Wine Cellars) & 2008 Meyer-Fonné Pinot Blanc Vielles Vignes ($16 - WDC)

First, get to Randolph Wine Cellars before the end of the month if you liked what they offered. They're closing. We respected the effort but not never quite got the focus (or the pricing).

We had a couple of Pinot Blancs sitting around that we recently bought - with the Ken Wright probably approaching the end of its life - so we gave a Pinot Blanc tasting a go. You know...Old World vs. New World and all that crap.

Oddly, what resulted was something that wasn't that at all.

Pinot Blanc is essentially a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir. If Pinot Noir clusters were to grow unfettered, one white bunch will show up. That's Pinot Blanc. It's mostly grown in Alsace but some winegrowers everywhere mess around with it a bit. And it's somewhat rare to see a 100% Pinot Blanc bottling.

The Meyer-Fonné is a Pinot Blanc blend of the all the Pinots in the Pinot world - Blanc, Gris, Auxerrois and even Noir with Blanc leading the charge.

Mostly peach and minerals here with a nice expression of both. The minerality really kicked up after it was almost all the way down but it kicked wildly in a great way. A slightly oily texture that brought a hint of smoke. Nice enough wine that nonetheless made us both think we didn't need it again.

The Ken Wright (100% Pinot Blanc) fell into the same boat. Never would have thought this was an Oregon wine. Tasted French. Or maybe Spanish. And if tasted blind and at room temperature, I would have thought someone accidentally dropped a little Pinot Noir into the glass to mix with the Pinot Blanc. The best description we could come up to describe the indescribable here was something like a cocoa nib broth mixed with maybe raisins. To describe the describable, all well water blended with an occasional kick of orange blossom. Didn't love it but had some unique qualities that were intriguing and occasionally dumbfounding.

Less acidity with the Ken Wright (probably due to the age) compared to the Meyer-Fonné, which was brighter with more pure and delineated notes.

Both didn't bring much to the table.

Pairing: 82 Fell flat with both wines struggling to offer much in the way of personality

Ever go out for drinks with co-workers and realize after about ten minutes that it probably wasn't the best idea?

You knew when it was planned that it's a weird hodgepodge of people to begin with, then you sit down, get your drinks and for about five minutes, it seems that everything is going to be okay. Then a lull in conversation hits way too early and one of the more loud people in the group immediately launches into work talk. You feel the momentum swing and no effort to divert things back to life outside the petty stupidity of work stories succeeds.

So the gathering becomes a calculation of how long do you have to put in your time before you can get the hell out of there. An hour and fifteen minutes or two drinks seems apt for conversation that just isn't that interesting.

Last night felt like that with the wines. It took us about five minutes to realize the wines were going to offer something akin to work talk outside of work. In other words, kinda boring with the food. Some nice individual pairings here and there but nothing too exciting.

In the end, we just wanted something else.

But I can recommend our lunch wine, the 2009 Weingut Berger Grüner Veltliner Kremstal ($11 - WDC), drank with spinach pie. Apparently it's a thing. And it will probably now be a thing for us because it's tasty and cheap. One liter bottle, soda bottle cap on top, a Thierry Theise selection. Bright and light with tons of stone fruit and minerals with a great balance. Kinda ridiculous in its cheap goodness.

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