And sometimes when a pairing just misses, it tumbles into the realm of rather bad.
Give this wine even a touch more acid (well...more than a touch) and this pairing might have been something stellar.
It didn't, though.
Tons of finesse and oodles more complex on its own (and frankly downright gorgeous in the glass), with the vitello tonnato it got beat up, pushed around and generally came off like watery pear juice.
Great food, blah wine. Meh. We were good.
Food: Vitello Tonnato with potatoes and herbs
From a 180 year-old recipe over at Jamie Oliver's site, it hit every freakin' note we wanted from the meal.
Paulina veal cutlets and A's Do Mar Portuguese jarred tuna. The big-boy ingredients that, when including the wine, jettisoned the meal into the over $50 world. Not cheap stuff but we had some room with the dirt cheapness (and dirty muddy goodness) of Ethiopian beef stew the night before.
Made the day before to let the veal and tuna-anchovy-egg-herb sauce jump and jive together and then topped with parsley and more capers. Two extra hard-broiled eggs for me.
Perfect amount of richness balanced by a great lifting freshness was the result. Just a delicious goopy world of wonder with great background notes, down deep, of an almost herby fruitiness. Huge plate of sauce with a pound of veal and we slopped up the entire thing. Layers galore.
Cold potatoes and herbs tossed in a vinaigrette on the side that played a perfect role in polishing the meal into a full-fledged dinner.
Mâche salad to finish.
This was great stuff, as good, maybe better, as the last time we ate it. Unfortunately, the Californian Arneis we had then thoroughly outperformed this Italian Arneis with the food.
Wine: 2010 Paitin de Pasquero-Elia Roero Arneis Elisa ($15 - MacArthur Bev, DC)
Pretty in the glass and upon first sip. Delicate pears, apples, apricots, creamy almond pastry and minerals right away with a great deep nose. Not defined by its fruit in the least, more by its minerality and delicate nutty cream swirl.
I didn't worry about the acid, didn't really even think about it. I thought about the finesse and prettiness because it was just that.
Light-bodied, low acid, aromatic and quite nice and layered by itself. Precious really, upfront, with a touch of orangish Tang-like notes mixed with herbs showing up on the finish. Too precious to do anything of substance with the food.
Pairing: 80 Got punched once in the nose, dropped like a sack of potatoes and never got back up
Which was too bad. This was quite a pretty wine on its own.
There wasn't a backbone of acid to properly cut through the richness of the sauce, turning the wine into a watery dud. Compared the Enotria Arneis, which may have gotten an acid boost with the 6% friulano and 2% pinot blanc in the blend, this one was DOA with the food.
We pulled out an open TJ's Chateau des Cléons Muscadet from the fridge to compare and it was night and day in acid play.