Tuesday, December 1, 2009

#8 - Scallops And Pâté With Chenin/Pinot/Sparkling

A name change happened last night. On Vino annoyed the hell out of me.

Food With Wine is oodles better because it's exactly what this is without using the word 'vino'.

Last night offered satisfying food with a mixed bag of wine. Sort of a small plates venture with both red and white cracked open to see what works with what.

Food: Scallops with Chestnut Sauce, Pâté, Mâche, Pomegranate Seeds, Baguette And French Butter

Four scallops per plate in a sauce made from butter, bacon, Cognac, chestnuts, butter and leeks with crisped sage on top.

Trader Joe's Pâté

Mâche with balsamic

Bowl of pomegranate seeds

Baguette with ridiculously overpriced-for-the-quality raw milk French butter (Irish butter is better for half the cost)

Great quality scallops from Whole Foods. Sauce turned out to be merely interesting with a fine flavor but lacked acid.

Wine: Three different ones

We wanted to go the simultaneous red and white route so we didn't have to commit to anything at one time. The food was a sort of "pick here, pick there" kind of spread.

2005 François Chidane Clos Habert Montlouis-sur-Loire - $20 Cleveland Cork And Beans (?)

François Chidane is a pretty well-known producer in the Montlouis-sur-Loire region that's located just below Vouvray. Clos Habert is his particular vineyard, one of eight different ones he works. Chidane makes wine the old-fashioned way, meaning he's certified organic because that's the way he and his father have always done it instead of trying to find an organic wine market niche and splash the fact all over the label and in the press.

Just like Vouvrays, this is 100% chenin blanc and it showed. The real question for me came with whether this wine was closing up or simply hadn't opened up yet. The chenin blanc characteristics were there with notes of wax, lanolin, honey and maybe a little ginger but the fruit didn't stand up and say, "hi." The structure felt a tad tenuous like it was about to fall apart with very little acid. Mrs. Ney hit it on the head, comparing it to a watered-down dessert wine.

With virtually no acid in the scallop sauce, we changed up with the white and went with...

NV Albero Sparking White - $4.99 Trader Joe's

And it worked! It was a Asian fruit explosion. This one's a very serviceable cheap Spanish sparkler from Trader Joe's that we usually always have on hand. Usually a tad yeasty with simple fruit, paired with the scallops and sauce, it was an Asian fruit meld of persimmon, star fruit and maybe lychee. I'll make up an Asian fruit. It was like a mixture of a slightly creamy white fruit with red flecks offering an exotic citrus. Pretty great and certainly made the Albero better than it ever has been.

2007 Edna Valley Pinot Noir - $18 Trader Joe's

Another Trader Joe's offering from San Luis Obispo, a place that we can't recall ever drinking a wine from before.

Simple, simple, simple pinot noir that is not without its merits. Very straight-forward that was workable with the pâté. Better on its own and oddly clashed with the pomegranate seeds, something that never seems to happen with Oregon pinots.

For $18, you can do better. We thought $14 was the most we would pay and that would be in a pinch. You hope for a wine to play above its price point and this one just doesn't.

That said, there was nothing offensive about it, even having some spikes of pleasantness with its cherry and plum fruits ending with a slight cinnamon finish. Became more simple as time passed.

Pairing: Mixed bag

Albero and its hefty $4.99 price tag was the star. We'll try another Chidane and drink it younger or hold it for a few years just to see. It might be one of those wines that close down for a bit only to open up later. Edna Valley would be a nice by-itself afternoon wine if not for the price.

But with "pick here, pick there" meals, it's fun to play around with different pairings, especially with a meal offering all the major flavor elements. But it was another example of how acid plays such an important part in pairings.

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