Thursday, June 2, 2011

#195 - Moroccan-Inflected Tuna & Beets With NV Larmandier-Bernier Rosé de Saignée

The bloom is a bit off the rosé de saignée (I make jokes) with one of our favorite wines in the last year and a top-five pairing ever.

When we first had the non-vintage Larmandier-Bernier Rosé de Saignée on Christmas Eve with duck, farro and Brussels sprouts, it was pairing perfection.

Last night wasn't pairing perfection in the least, but it was gosh darn good stuff with some surprises.

We first had a version of this "Best Tuna Ever" back in January with Ponzi Willamette and Ken Wright Shea.  Oddly, the Larmandier-Bernier this time, instead of exploding with a huge blood orange core - which was a fruit we incorporated into the tuna prep last time and served with Ponzi but not this time - it came off more rose petaly, leafy and more quiet, tasting more like a Ponzi Willamette instead of a Champagne.

Get that?  I didn't.

It does feel, though, like we got into the nitty-gritty of how this tuna recipe performs more broadly with pinot noir and pinot noir-based wine while also informing me about how the familiarity of flavors can influence how a meal feels at the time and how it's going to resonate.

While eating, I adored this meal/pairing and thought it better than lamb and Heredia the night before.  The relative newness of the tuna flavors clouded my judgment. With time, I missed the blood orange presence in the tuna and the explosive flavors in the Larmandier-Bernier.

Food:  Moroccan-inflected tuna, beets and arugula

6 oz. each of tuna crusted with white peppercorns, pink peppercorns, black peppercorns, coriander, cumin, cardamom, ginger and fleur de sel, seared rare, a recipe from Around My French Table.

Last time, a blood orange and gaeta black olive salad was underneath the tuna to mix and mingle.  Black olives were present in the beet mixture this time but no blood oranges.  The result was more of an exploration in the world of peppercorns and coriander in a great way.  Maybe more simple but flavors popping everywhere with an underlying ginger tangy brightness.  Still the most satisfying tuna I've ever had.

Surprise beets roasted in strawberry vinaigrette, gaeta black olives and lemon thyme.  Earthy and delicious.  I loved them, Mrs. Ney merely liked them muchly.

Arugula salad to finish, tossed in more strawberry vinaigrette.

Initially, I flipped, loving every second of it.  And this was a great meal.  After some time, there were things missed, taking it from a superlatively great meal to something merely great that was very satisfying.

Much of the downgrade came from the wine and the pairing.

Wine:  NV Larmandier-Bernier Rosé de Saignée ($70 - Howard's)

The first bottle we had on Christmas Eve was most likely bottled very recently as Howard's was just getting it in.  The label doesn't have a disgorgement date.

More settled this time yet still quite lovely stuff.  A vitality in the bubbles was missing.  Still present but toned down a tad.  Gone was the blood orange core but still showing pretty pinot noir tannins.  The profile this time, especially with certain elements of the meal, tasted almost exactly like Ponzi, a medium-bodied rose petal, leaf, cherry and light berry pinot noir with some light loamy notes floating around.

Fine stuff that's stretching the price tag now.  Six months ago, we might have paid double the price tag for how it showed.  This time, not so much.  It's missing the darker, more pondering notes that made it so weirdly mysterious and over-the-top great.  Still better than the René Geoffroy Rosé de Saignée we had back in March but this might be one that where the best experience is early while still, with the pleasing and well-structured tannins, rewarding for a few years after.

Pairing:  92  A downgrade the day after having it but still a pretty great meal

Many pleasures were to be found in how agile the wine was with different elements of the meal.  Changes happened with different bite combinations and nothing turned even close to ugly in the least.

With a strawberry vinaigrette presence, the wine jump right into the Ponzi-like stage, even showing a creaminess.  With a peppercorn tuna bite, darker notes peeked out a bit but the mid-palate was quicker to disappear, turning the wine into more of a refreshing, cleansing component than something to think about and explore.

But absolutely no über-complaints.  This is great wine and the first rosé de saignée style we ever had.  We feel lucky that this was the first.  From many reports, it's the best expression of the style and utterly worth the price tag and more, especially when very young, it seems.

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