Adventures in Food & Wine Pairing

I am in the Lake Tahoe area for a couple of days seeing customers and showing them wines.  We had an awesome time yesterday with the resident wine guys of Plumas Pines Golf Resort’s restaurant Longboards.  Sophisticated palates, great food and some seriously geeky wine guys!

Golfing, a view of the Sierras and a glass of Barolo…

After a day meetings, my colleague and his significant other invited me over for dinner.  Lucky me: he is a wine guy, and she is a chef!  This lovely lady had prepared sticky rice balls coated in sesame and finely minced scallions, grilled top sirloin and a lovely salad of cabbage, carrots and sesame.  The dressing was laced with garlic, jalapenos and thai basil… seriously delicious.  Now the most important question of the night… what were we going to drink with it?

Wine people get so excited about wine and food pairings- probably because this is where the wines we love so much really have a chance to shine.  Food and wine elevate each other and can bring out qualities that would be hard to perceive otherwise.  Since we had been working all day we had about a case of open bottles to choose from.  What would work with this grilled steak salad?  We had Barolos, Amarones, Cannonaus, Super-Tuscans, all at our fingertips… all these big, bold reds ready to drink sat in front of us.

The universal decision: Sauvignon Blanc!

This is no ordinary Sauvignon Blanc- this is Terlano’s “Quarz” Sauvignon, from their “Selezioni” wines.  As Jancis Robinson stated when she s]chose this as a “wine of the week” last year, “There’s a real density to this wine and the aromatic qualities of Sauvignon Blanc seem to have developed into something so much more complex and sophisticated than the usual young Sauvignon”.  It is rich and silky, the result of a very high-altitude vineyard (350 meters above sea level).  The grapes are selected daily through the harvest, by hand; literally picked only when each berry is perfectly ripe.    There is no malolactic fermentation, but a richness is derived instead from ageing the wine for 8 months on the lees. Ageworthy as ell- we were drinking the 2008 and it had enough acidity and structure to make me think another 10 years still wouldn’t touch this wine.   This is a seriously complex Sauvignon- a wine to write home about!

The combination of these bright, salty-green-spicy flavors in the dressing, along with the lean smokiness of the grilled beef was a perfect marriage for this wine.  Another reason we should not be afraid to reject the old adage of “red wine with red meat”.

The view from one of Terlano’s vineyards.

Another view of Terlano’s steeply Terraced vineyards

As you can see in the photos above, Terlano’s vineyards are very special.  All of their wines speak loudly of this beautiful, extreme place.  This is one of my favorite wineries because from the second you put your nose in a glass of their wine you know you are about to embark on a journey, back to the people and place who created the wine.  Special wines like these can only come from secret, singular places.  This is the beginning to the story that we fall in love with when we fall in love with wine.