There is a popular premise that has taken hold over the last few years — to wit, that the best wine pairings for any cuisine are the wines that come from the same region as that cuisine.
Call it the oenophile’s version of 100-mile-dining. And there is some truth in this. Shared terroir often leads to ideal flavour combinations. But, as a recent dinner in conjunction with this week’s wine festival proved, mixing up regions can lead to a whole new world of palate exploration.
On Monday night, Coast Restaurant hosted Edgardo del Popolo, winemaker at Doña Paula, a noted Argentinean winery whose vineyards are situated in the mountainous region of Mendoza. The theme of the dinner was “Argentine terroir meets coastal cuisine” and in keeping with that theme, Coast EC Josh Wolfe put together a menu that was based around the signature wines of that region.
Jumbo prawns marinated in garlic and cumin, served with mango tapenade and roasted, crushed cumin seeds, was matched with the Doña Paula Estate Torrontés. This is a grape that is new to B.C. wine drinkers, really only coming into prominence within the last eight months. This white varietal, native to Argentina, has a balanced acidity and fresh, with floral notes that linger on the palate.
A smoked sablefish and white bean empanada was paired with the “Naked Pulp” Viognier, so called because the grapes are left a little longer on the vine, until they’re slightly shrivelled, and the skins are not pressed, and are removed, so the “Naked Pulp” ends up with a bright acidity and a pleasant sweetness that matched well with the heartiness of the fish.
The next course, herb-crusted lamb rack with goat cheese and sweet corn ravioli, drizzled with a dried blueberry and red wine jus, came with a glass of the Alluvia, a Cabernet Franc that displays a solid palate of pepper, cloves and cinnamon, with a very interesting blackcurrant and mint nose.
The cream of the crop, however, was the Selección de Bodega Malbec, a deep violet — almost black — quaff with a beautiful nose of plum, liquorice, black cherries and dried herbs. It was matched by a chimichurri-rubbed striploin, served rare, that blew away our table. Forget red wine reductions and glazes, the tangy, fresh taste of this green sauce — made up of chopped parsley, garlic, thyme, oil and red pepper flakes — was a whole new way to eat steak, and I am willing to bet this particular pairing becomes the new miso aioli.
What this dinner showed most clearly is the amazing diversity and depth of Argentinean wine, and the amazing pairings that can result from it. I encourage all of you to head out over the next three days to the wine festival’s tasting rooms, try some of these amazing bottles for yourselves. For those who can’t make it, Everything Wine carries an extensive selection of Doña Paula and other Argentinean wines, in every price point.
David Gunawan has been appointed new Chef de Cuisine at West Restaurant, following the departure of chef Warren Geraghty.
Chocolatier-Pâtissier Thierry Busset will be opening up a new patisserie this fall, dedicated to cake, pastries, chocolates and Parisian-style macaroons. Yum-yum.
Can’t make it to the Wine Fest?
Hamilton Street Grill (1009 Hamilton St) is holding two wine fest evenings on April 26 and 27, featuring wines from this year’s theme regions, Argentina and New Zealand. Enjoy three wines with three matching appetizers for $25 per person. Call 604-331-1511 to reserve.