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Friday, January 27, 2012

Some Good Pairings and Good Finds

Ah, Gewurztraminer - the quirky yet image-conscious wine with so many facets - and my first real love among wines.  When asked what drew me to Gewurztraminer, I usually answer that the enticing, exotic aromas leaping from the glass made it impossible for me to resist, and I was hooked.  True, that’s how it went, but there’s something more to my relationship with Gewurztraminer.  Gewurztraminer’s personality is often similar to mine, and so I readily identify with this wine.  Covering some of the acidity with complexity and fun characteristics while infinitely quirky and slightly off-the-beaten-path, Gewurztraminer and I share a similar smile, a similar personality, a similar style, and a similar approach.  For these reasons, Gewurztraminer introduced me to the wonderful world of wine with ease, we became fast friends, and never looked back.
So when I spotted what looked like an interesting bottle of Gewurztraminer while wine shopping a few weeks ago, of course I had to try it, and I decided to pair it with a dish that had been sitting patiently in my imagination bank for some time.
The wine was the 2010 Lucien Albrecht Reserve Gewurztraminer from Alsace, and the dish was sort of a goat cheese “sack,” a puff pastry filled with a mixture of crumbled goat cheese, finely chopped sauteed portobello mushroom, lemon zest, ground black pepper, and fresh thyme and chives, tied closed with a fresh thyme sprig, brushed with melted butter, and baked until golden brown.  I’m happy to report the dish was a success and the pairing was perfect.  The wine is light yellow in color with a thin rim, and characteristics of candied orange, peach, apricot (almost like a peach pie actually), pineapple, tropical fruit, and of course lychee, one of Gewurztraminer’s signature fruit characteristics, as well as some spice including fresh ginger.  The wine tastes a bit sweet but has nice underlying acidity that comes through once the wine has sat on the palate for a moment, reflecting the pineapple characteristic.  The acidity leaves the palate feeling very clean, and the finish reflects the fruit and spice, lasting some time.  I had been trying to decide what to pair with that new dish idea, considering unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc from Loire, or even a lighter Pinot Noir, but after deciding on the Gewurztraminer, I think the dish would serve as a perfect appetizer, and the Gewurztraminer would serve as a perfect accompaniment and aperitif.

2010 Lucien Albrecht Reserve Gewurztraminer (Alsace) with Goat Cheese “Sack"

The next day it snowed, and I was definitely in the mood for a big red.  Enter the 2009 Skinner Mourvedre from El Dorado, California, paired with a filet mignon drizzled with white truffle oil and accompanied by sauteed portobellos.  I had been meaning to grab a bottle of this wine and when I got to the wine shop, it was the last bottle left, so I’m glad I made it there in time to get that last bottle.  Usually I think of Mourvedre as a good “team player” to work with Grenache and Syrah in some great Rhone style blends, but it’s great to experience this grape type on its own.  The wine is a deep red with a fairly youthful pinkish red rim, and very viscous, indicating relatively high alcohol at 14.8%.  Characteristics include lots of fruit, some red but mostly dark, stewed/macerated fruit, baking spices (particularly nutmeg), dark chocolate and some vanilla, oak, lots of smoke, and roasted meat notes.  The wine has enough acidity and big youthful tannins, a very smooth feel and a very long finish reminiscent of the smoke and dark fruit.  The pairing was perfect, especially on a winter night.  I really enjoyed this wine and I’d go for it again in a heartbeat.

2009 Skinner Mourvedre (El Dorado, CA) with Filet Mignon, White Truffle Oil, and Portobello Mushroom

My mid-week pick was the 2009 Chapelle St. Arnoux Vacqueyras, a blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah (lately I’m really into Southern Rhone style wines).  It wasn’t paired; it was for sipping.  The wine is a deep red with a brighter rim and viscous, with characteristics of red fruit, cinnamon, earth, and roasted meat, with nice acidity and a smooth clean feel, and a respectable finish.  At just under $20, this wine is a great buy - it really delivers and would pair excellently with most meat dishes.

2009 Chapelle St. Arnoux Vacqueyras


  1. Funny enough I just bought the Gewurz and am enjoying right now. An early blog mentioned the lakeside wine boutique, I did the research, saw he tastes everything before he puts it in the store, and had to go. So today I bought a case and one of the lucky picks was that gewurz. I get a lot of the pineapple/peach/orange zest, spice, and rose petals. Beautiful dish to match it with by the way.

  2. Isn’t that shop fantastic? Are you pairing the Gewurz or sipping on its own?

  3. That photo of the Filet Mignon and Portobello Mushroom is making my mouth water Jac - must add a nice steak to this week's dinner plans at some point.
    Thanks for the delicious post!

  4. Perfect time of the year for steak and a big red!

  5. the gewurz was paired with a braised cabbage and roasted potato dish with the same herbs on the chicken. It was quite awesome. Looking forward to your next writing.

  6. Sounds like a delicious pairing! Thanks for reading.