Sunday, November 3, 2013

A modern Shiraz Fable - launch at Fable Restaurant of George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2010

3 courses - 1 wine - a case study in delicious simplicity

2010 George Wyndham 
Founders Reserve Shiraz
Most people on most nights open one bottle of wine to accompany their dinner.  

And while chefs, sommeliers, restaurant critics, foodies and others will rightly argue that each separate course of a meal should have a different wine to match it, that's really not possible 99% of the time.  

Especially when it's dinner for two at home. 

Enter George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2010 and Fable Kitchen's famed chef Trevor Bird to show how it's done right.

Winemaker Steve Meyer from Wyndam Estate was guest of honour and explained his approach to creating a reasonably-priced Shiraz that goes with a wide variety of dishes - without overpowering them, as some massive, high-alcohol Australian Shiraz is apt to do. 

This tasty wine is widely available across the province at BC Liquor Stores at $18.99 with over 800 bottles in stock and likely many private stores as well.

Steve explained his craft and the style he uses with the George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2010 - which comes from the Langhorne Creek region in South Australia, which has been producing wine grapes since the 1860s.

Steve that in comparison to some other wine regions of Australia, Langhorne Creek wines have softer tannins with a bouquet of mint and eucalyptus notes.

The George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2010 features a palate of fresh plum and blackberry fruit flavours, along with notes of black olives and aniseed.  The bouquet also has a touch of cedar, cinnamon, chocolate and spice.

Winemaker Steve Meyer and Bill Tieleman
- Shirley Ross photo
What I really like about this Shiraz - and I drink a lot of them from Australia and other countries - is that it is not a take-no-prisoners wine - it is actually very food friendly.

That was proven by Chef Bird with an excellent meal built around the wine.

We started with canapes of blue cheese, dates and bacon that were simply excellent, followed by a parsnip and apple soup shooter - very imaginative - and the Shiraz went very well with both.

Our first course was one close to my heart - rabbit!  Chef Bird prepared rabbit legs with red curry squash agnolotti and fall gourds in a very rich sauce - excellent!  

Rabbit legs, squash agnolotti dish - Bill Tieleman photo
The George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2010 was clearly a handsome match for this dish - complementing it rather than attempting to bully it as some other big Shiraz wines would.

Chef Bird said this Shiraz goes very well with rich dishes, adding: "You could have it with a stick of butter!"   We didn't try that but I would guess a lot of butter was used in the kitchen that night!

Next up was an unusual dish - and a cut of beef you just won't find anywhere unless you are a restaurant chef with a great supplier.

Braised Beef Stiletto came with triple-cooked potatoes, fresh grilled porcini mushrooms, carrots, pearl onions and porcini foam with Shiraz jus.  The beef was also braised in the Shiraz.

To call it delicious would be an understatement!  And it was as rich as a new lottery winner!
Braised Beef Stiletto w potatoes, porcini

But once again, the George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2010 was an excellent partner that added to the beef's strong flavours.

As for the "Stiletto" - Chef Bird explained that the cut is from the back calf muscle - the one that would get used if you were wearing stiletto heel shoes.  

Chef Bird - a competitor in last year's Top Chef Canada show, coming in second place - clearly knows his meat and wine. Before opening Fable Kitchen [formerly Fuel and ReFuel] at 1944 West 4th Avenue in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood, he was chef de partie at the Shangri-La hotel in Vancouver and worked as a chef at Truffert and sous chef at Restaurant Garcon in Montreal.

Steve Meyer at home in Langhorne Creek
Our dessert course was - guess - rich again!  A dark chocolate terrine was paired with a highly unusual olive oil ice cream.  Again the George Wyndham Founder's Reserve Shiraz 2010 rose to the challenge, matching a completely different taste than all that came before.

Steve Meyer was very impressed with the results of the wine and food pairing.  Steve also noted in response to questions from the wine and foodie writers in attendance that Wyndham is using mostly screwcaps instead of corks with their wine and that this wine will age 10 to 15 years if well stored.  He said they first tested screwcaps in 1998 with their Riesling and immediately saw big advantages.  

Steve, who has previous winemaking experience in the Mudgee region, Georgia in eastern Europe and Spain, said he believes his role is to express the fruit flavours as they occur in the vineyard, not use a lot of tricks in the cellar to change the wine.

It was a great event and many thanks to Dana Sissons and Kristine Driedger of Hill + Knowlton Strategies and Rae Gibson of Corby Distilleries for the inviting and gracious hosting!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Drinking great champagne - especially on your 21st Anniversary! Piper-Heidsieck Top 100 champagne it is!

Nothing better than bubbly and blue skies!
Bill Tieleman photo

Let's face it - champagne is a fantastic wine that is sadly a bit too expensive other than on special occasions.

So when you have one - and my wife Shirley Ross and I just celebrated our 21st anniversary - I have two suggestions:  1)  Drink a good champagne and 2) Consider buying a half bottle - 375 ml size - so you can do it more often!

Fortunately, in British Columbia and many other places you can drink a delicious Piper-Heidsieck non-vintage champagne that is on the Wine Spectator magazine's Top 100 Wines of 2012 and scored a very impressive 93 points.

The Spectator said: "Elegant, with rich base notes of toasted brioche and smoke adding depth, this integrates finely honed acidity, detailed texture and flavors of black cherry puree, apple tarte Tatin, kumquat and grated ginger. Provides a creamy, mineral-tinged finish."

Okay - I didn't find all that in my glass but let's just say it is one tasty, creamy good champagne!

I was fortunate enough to have bought a few half-bottles a while back but at the moment BC Liquor Stores don't seem to have anything but the full bottles.  Those will cost you a not insignificant $64.95 but there are 700 bottles available across the province.

Piper-Heidseick NV Brut Champagne