It never ceases to amaze me how much my friends and I love to cook great food and pair it with great wine. This past Sunday, Patrick, Sabrina and I got together to cook, drink wine and talk about what pairs best with what wine. As we like to do, we allowed what was fresh and beautiful to influence what our meal would be. Everything except for the proteins. Patrick was curious to know how a pork roast would pair with a 1997 Felsina Chianti Classico he had. And I wanted to see how my 2002 Shea Wine Cellars Shea Estate Pinot Noir would do up against a roast duck. These two meats obviously needed some overnight treatments. My duck laid in a brine of water, soy sauce, brown sugar, salt, peppercorns, star anise and a dash of balsamic vinegar. This overnight bath helped to tenderize and impart good flavor. Patrick nestled his pork loin in a dry spice rub, garlic and olive oil. At Fresh Market Sabrina found beautiful shrimp, bay scallops and crab for a luscious seafood bisque to pair with a 2006 Zaca Mesa Viognier.
We started off with a mixed olive tapenade that I prepared at home and spread on crisp homemade crostini. This paired harmoniously with a 2005 Cantina Del Taburno Falanghina. The brininess of the olive and sharpness of the garlic contrasted nicely with the minerality and bright fruit and acidity of the wine. Next was super fresh salad of avocado, mixed greens and fresh pink grapefruit. Gracias Sabrina. This zippy salad paired amazingly well with the 2005 Alois Kracher Pinot Gris. I've never had a botrytis affected pinot gris, my concept of what a pinot gris can be is now truly changed forever. Everyone in Memphis should taste this wine.
Next was the seafood bisque and Zaca Mesa Viognier. The wine was a cool pale silver-gold hue with a nose of apricot and rosehip tea. The fresh oily texture, creaminess and apricot fruit paired wonderfully with the creamy richness of the soup. The sweet crab and scallops brought out more fruit and acidity in the wine. Lovely.
We retrieved the duck from the oven, nicely browned and crisp and perfectly done. The Shea Pinot Noir that I paired with it still seemed too young. Even though I wished it was ready to drink, it does mean that Oregon can produce serious, age-worthy pinot noir. It had a deep ruby-purple color with a nose of fennel, licorice and black cherry. The palate of black fruit, olive and bright full acidity cut through the richness of the duck and played off its gaminess. I re-tasted it with the olive tapenade and it was stunning together, an explosion of olive!
The '97 Felsina and Patrick's beautifully roasted pork loin was heavenly. The herb and smokiness of the pork and its hit of garlic blended seamlessly with the flavors and supple textures of the perfectly aged Chianti Classico. The varied terroirs throughout Italy produce such beautiful wines that can't be reproduced anywhere else in the world. The meal and wine was incredible. I don't think I ate again for a few days.