Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It's all in the matchmaking

Under the direction of sommelier Miguel Chan, chefs at the eatery showed

How a perfectly matched meal and wine can strike accord.

20 Apr 2012
Len Maseko

A FOOD-AND-WINE pairing can sometimes be something of a blind date - fraught with suspense and uncertainty that might cause unwelcome anxiety.

But dining need not be filled with confusion just as long as the basics of pairing are understood or, better yet, when advice is at hand to help one with the appropriate match.

When you have both a sommelier and chef working hand in hand the results can be pleasing, as happened this week when KWV showcased its premium The Mentors wine range with the accompaniment of a gourmet meal prepared by chefs at Punchinellos Restaurant at the Montecasino Entertainment Complex in Sandton.

Under the direction of sommelier Miguel Chan, chefs at the eatery showed how a perfectly matched meal and wine can strike accord.

The pairing involved a four-course meal with KWV's The Mentors Paarl Viognier 2009, Orchestra 2009, Canvas 2009 and Paarl Grenache Blanc 2010.

Viognier, with its typical apricot flavours, provided a mouth-watering layer to the starter which consisted of morsels of duck breast, duck liver parfait and fritter. The starter had sweet and salty elements, which dove-tailed with the wine.

For the main course, Chan and KWV winemaker Richard Rowe chose two blends from the stable for pairing.

The blends were The Mentors Orchestra 2009 and The Mentors Canvas 2009 - the former with a tantalising and lively palate of fruit and the latter with a velvety, concentrated and understated palate. This was accompanied by ostrich fillet, lamb and roasted potato.

The two wines held up well with their complex and solid structure, which is the consequence of several grapes used to make each wine.

There are currently 10 wines in The Mentors range - all in the R100 upwards price bracket.

Rowe said the philosophy behind the making of this range is that only the best vineyards are chosen to supply the grapes that make these wines.

Noteworthy is that the range is not static, but will vary annually according to the best fruit sourced. The common thread between the wines is finesse, balance, a deep concentration of flavours and good acidity.

"For us this range represents a journey in pursuit of excellence bound only by a vision of supreme quality," said Rowe. "And this journey begins in the vine."

For the cheese platter, Chan chose The Mentors Grenache Blanc - a wine with a tinge of sharpness that reminds one of Granny Smith apples.

Due to its high acidity, the wine has this tanginess that evened out when matched with salty cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Pecorino, goat's cheese and gouda.

Using high acidic white wine is a trick I took away from this experience.

As for The Mentors range, they truly reflect the winemaker's statement of quality.

The red wines are definitely wines to keep for longer for optimum evolution.

To cap the experience, Rowe and Chan chose a rare fortified wine - KWV Hanepoot Jerepigo 1973 - to savour with a dessert offering of apple tart, honey and vanilla mousse, and Turkish apricot compote.