Archive for Food and Wine

I truly believe we as an industry need to continually work at getting better at wine & food pairings.  The food scene is always changing, with all kinds of new, really dynamic food preparations & whirlwind combinations of ethnic ingredients & cooking techniques.  And, each require very different thoughts on what wine to pair. 

With this thought in mind, I moderated a wine & food workshop recently held at the prestigious Halekulani Hotel, which was one of the many events held here in the islands for the 2018 Hawaii Food & Wine Festival.  Conceptualized & put together by Warren Shon of SGWS, this workshop was a most memorable collaborative effort featuring foods created & presented by superstar chef Masaharu Morimoto, 3 sets of world class German wines from 3 truly iconic producers–Johannes Hasselbach (Weingut Gunderloch, Rheinhessen, Germany); Johannes Haart (Weingut Reinhold Haart, Mosel, Germany) & Andrea Wirsching (Weingut Hans Wirsching, Franconia, Germany) AND 2 color commentators–Richard Betts MS & Joseph Spellman MS.  What an epic lineup of talent!!!

MENU 

MIZUHIKI SASHIMI SALAD with white soy-onion dressing

WINES:  The wines for this course came from the iconic Weingut Hans Wirsching of Franconia, Germany.  Andrea Wirsching represents the 14th generation to run this large, privately owned estate.  (Unfortunately she was not able to actually come, because of family emergency).   The wines tasted were the–2016 Silvaner “Estate”; 2015 Silvaner Erste Lage “Iphöfer Kalb; 2015 Scheurebe Kabinett Trocken “Iphöfer” & the 2014 Scheurebe Kabinett Trocken “Iphöfer”.  Chef Morimoto really showed much thought & execution with his food considering these style of these wines! 

SLOW COOKED PORK SPARE RIB with hoisin-tamarind glaze 

WINES: The wines for this course came from Weingut Gunderloch of the Rheinhessen, Germany, whose estate dates back to 1890.  All 4 wines presented on this day came from their finest holding—Nackenheimer Rothenberg–a highly revered red slate vineyard rising from the Rhein River & owner/winemaker Johannes Hasselbach, a New Age winemaking phenom, who I have been working with for many years.  the wines tasted were the 2016 Riesling Kabinett “Jean Baptiste”; 2016 Spätlese “Nackenheimer Rothenberg”;  2012 Spätlese “Nackenheimer Rothenberg” & the 2011 Auslese “Nackenheimer Rothenberg”.  What a wonderful exercise with the sweet-salty, ever so slightly spicy, savory spare ribs!

FRIED FILLET OF BRANZINO with sweet, spicy chili sauce   

WINES:  Theo Haart was selected as “2007 Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year” & deservedly so.  His Piesporter Goldtröpfchen wines were true Riesling thoroughbreds–combining purity, filigree, power & grace….so effortlessly.  We have witnessed the same genius & masterfully skill from his son–Johannes Haart–who came to share their 2015 Riesling Kabinett “Piesporter Goldtröpfchen: 2014 Riesling Spätlese”Piesporter Goldtröpfchen”; 2007 Riesling Spätlese “Piesporter Goldtröpfchen” & the 2016 Riesling Auslese “Piesporter Goldtröpfchen”.

Thank you to all who came & were part of this incredible learning opportunity.

Also thank you to Kevin Toyama, wine cellarmaster of the Halekulani Hotel & his team of sommeliers for the complex & intricate execution.  Wow!

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Sep
23

Food & Wine Pairing at VINO

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Here are some of the recent food specials we did at VINO, which we also had some fun pairing wines with.

Butter Poached Kona Cold Lobsterhome-made squid ink pasta & garlic, white wine sauce.  We included this dish to the menu because of a specific white wine–2016 Caravaglio Malvasia Secco “Salina” we wanted to share.  Salina is part of the Aeolian Islands off the coast of northern Sicily.  While it displays the wonderful, enticing perfume of the Malvasia grape variety, its core is a resounding stoniness buttressed with distinct salinity & lime blossoms.  Furthermore, this is not just a light wine, it has surprisingly viscosity, a firm, more masculine structure with a slight almond nut bitterness to the finish, hence the pairing with the rich, succulent lobster morsels & some butter to the sauce.  The wine’s high toned aromatics just seemed to heighten the whole dish & the lime blossom edge just helped keep the palate fresh & alive between bites.

Crispy Duck Confitwith crispy wild mushroom risotto “cake” & duck-rosemary jus.  After much thought, the wine we selected was the 2013 Domaine Vinci “Rafalot”.  Produced from 100 to 120 year old Carignane vines grown in the very remote hills of Roussillon, fermented using whole clusters, more gently crushed by foot, wild yeast fermented & aged for 18 months in old demi muids & 12 year old barrels with NO SO2 addition, this wine has a naked, totally wild & feral character, as wild as the countryside where it hails from & nuances from the lack of sulfur use in its winemaking.  Because this is Carignane, it has a very compact red fruited core-much more fresh & vibrant than one normally gets from other grapes from region……an old vine character…..all making it a worthy foil for the duck (its innate fattiness), the mushrooms, the jus & the rosemary.  By the way, the wine is a fabulous drink even without the food!  That is, if you don’t mind really rustic, wild, feral red wine.  Another really interesting & delicious pairing is the 2015 Neyers “Sage Canyon” cuvee .  The base of this red wine blend is 139 year old vine, own rooted Carignane, to which, winemaker Tadeo Bochardt blends in some heirloom Syrah, Grenache & sometimes Mourvedre, all foot stomped, wild yeast fermented with minimal if any sulfur added….ala Maxime Magnon down in Haut Corbières.   This absolutely delicious, juicy, intriguingly spiced red is exactly what the duck-tor ordered.  I would also recommend considering the 2015 Sucette Grenache to the list.  This is a superb, very savory, old vine (own rooted, planted in 1860 & 1880) Grenache from the Vine Vale enclave of Australia’s Barossa Valley, that is wonderfully transparent, savory, vinous, delicious & provocative red wine ideal for the dish.

Grilled Marinated Duroc Pork Tomahawk–with roasted fingerling potatoes, charred brussel sprouts, onions & pork jus.  This was an amazingly tasty, very satisfying dish.  The wine we chose was the 2015 Giovanni Montisci “Barrosu”, a crazy, wild, juicy old vine (60 years) Cannonau from the Island of Sardegna & its mountainous interior.  It was a fabulous & totally captivating pairing.  On another night, we did a VERY different approach to the pairing using instead a 1997 De Montille Volnay Premier Cru “Taillepieds”, which proved to be yet another memorable match.  You could certainly consider the 2015 Sucette Grenache for this dish too.

House Smoked Lamb Bellywith rustic cavatelli & peppercorn demi.  One could readily pair this dish with many, many different red wines, as long as the guts & mojo is high enough in the wine.  I would, however, prefer a red wine with a little more “flesh on the bone”, as we are looking at the more fatty belly after all.  AND with a little bit of bottle age, just so the edges are a little more rounded.  I immediately thought of the 2007 Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol.  I love how it has an intoxicating coupling of rusticity & masculinity with a core of uplifting red fruit, spice & minerality, which would be interesting with this dish.  Plus, it certainly has the mojo & wild character to handle the lamb belly.  2 other wines which I found to also create some magic with the dish, are the 2007 Vietti Barbera d’Alba “Vigna Scarrone”, a superb, gorgeous single vineyard Barbera, which clearly shows what this grape variety has the potential to be.  The other wine, the 2015 Terre Nere Etna Rosso “Guardiola”, is a very savory, rustic, masculine, “mountain grown”, old vine Nerello Mascalese. worth checking out.  (We recommend, however, you add a splash of red wine, freshly cracked black pepper & a bit of rosemary to bay leaf to the dish for this one.)

15 day Dry Aged, “Nature’s Natural” Ribeyewith Bert’s smashed potatoes, swiss chard & haricot vert.  Normally for a dish like this, I immediately think of a slightly aged Sang des Cailloux Vacqueyras from a ripe vintage like 2009.  Its wildly rustic edge works well with the more rustic edge of dry aged beef AND this wine has the stuffing, mojo & tannins to handle a very marbled cut like Ribeye.  We have however, already recommended a pairing along these lines in a previous post of the past.  So, in addition, one could certainly bust out something from their Barolo, Bordeaux, & Californian “trophy” stash & completely enjoy the interaction.  This is also a wonderful opportunity to try other hearty, robust, earth driven red wine studs, like those from Helen Keplinger (Keplinger), Any Erickson (Favia); Mike Officer (Carlisle), Morgan Twain Peterson (Bedrock); Mike Hirby (Relic); Les Behrens (Behrens Family); & a whole slew from Paso Robles–Saxum, Linne Calodo, Villa Creek, L’Aventure & Epoch, just to name a few.  For a unique & memorable experience, also consider the Vegas Sicilia “Unico”. Though pricey, it is a wine one should experience at least once in their life.

Categories : Food and Wine, General, Wine
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One of our VINO family…….you know what I mean, Vern?…….asked the other night if we would be open to doing a dinner geared for German Riesling. So, I asked VINO Chef Keith, if he would do something out of the box like this, so we can make it happen.   As you will recall, Chef Keith has been with us twenty plus years and used to be the Executive Chef for Sansei Kapalua and Sansei Honolulu. So, this is that night! Chef Keith has created a menu with German Riesling in mind.

I would also like to mention that one of my all time favorite winemakers in the world, Bert Selbach, has retired after the 2015 vintage. So, we took this as an opportunity to showcase three of his last wines, each from a GREAT vineyard.

Owner/winemaker Bert Selbach is a direct descendent of the iconic Prüm family, whose roots go back to the 1600’s.  Bert’s parents, Anna Prüm, the youngest of the Mathias Prüm children and her husband Dr. F. Weins, used her inheritance to establish the Dr. F. Weins-Prüm estate in 1911.  Their vineyard holding included parcels in the some of the finest vineyards of the Mosel River region (& all of Germany)–Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Graacher Himmelreich, Graacher Domprobst, Ürziger Würzgarten & Erdener Prälat, each with some very old vines.

We loved Bert’s winemaking, as his wines masterfully showcased the pedigree, purity & character of each site in the finished wine, all done with supreme elegance, transparency, precision & deliciousness–young or older.  These were truly one of kind, unforgettable, timeless masterpieces for me.

Sadly, 2015 was Bert’s last vintage (at least that we know of).   He is retiring with no heirs to take over.  We have heard he has sold his parcels to his first cousin, Manfred Prüm (& daughter Katharina) of Joh. Jos. Prüm who live next door.  For wine collector’s around the world, this is a joyous thing as Joh. Jos. Prüm, having been named 1996 “Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year” & produces some of the most collectible white wines in the world.  For me, this is the end of an era.  There has never been wines like those from Bert Selbach & Dr F Weins Prüm.  Aloha my friend.  A toast to you & your future!

Here is the menu–

KOJI CURED TAKO–mizuna salad, ginger sesame vinaigrette and house made tsukemono 

wine:  2014 Dr F Weins Prüm Kabinett Feinherb “Graacher Himmelreich”

What a fantastic, seemingly simple dish!  Curing the tako with koji gave it terrific taste & umami with a slightly salty edge.  the mizuna innately has a burst of heat & bitterness, which was tempered from the slightly sweet, sour, tangy ginger sesame vinaigrette & the vinegary crunch of the house made tsukemono.  This Riesling, at 9 degrees alcohol was slightly sweeter than medium dry, which helped calm done the sweet-sour-slight heat of the Asian components, while the riveting minerality & crisp acidity kept the palate fresh & alive between bites.

 

MISO CHILEAN SEA BASS–smoked wilted tatsoi, choi sum, squid ink pasta, fukujinsuke & roasted garlic butter

wine:  2011 Dr F Weins Prüm Kabinett “Ürziger Würzgarten”

I remember some time back, my uncle proudly served us his miso butterfish specialty, which he took great pains to prepare for us.  After the dish was served, he halted the show, jumped up & told us to wait while he scurried off to pick some of his very unique/unusual limes off of the tree on the side of his house.  These limes looked much more like green-yellow oranges, especially in size.  After he sliced them, he proceeded to squeeze the wonderfully aromatic, unusually, slightly sweet juice with its surprisingly subdued though high pitched, ‘lime” acidity onto each of our miso butterfish.  He then said, now try it.  In short, it was electric!!!  A pairing unlike anything I had had before AND the his squeezed unique lime juice made the miso taste like something so very different & completely wow-za.  This was a HUGE, eye opening experience for me & was the inspiration for this pairing.  The Chilean sea bass was marinated with the different misos for 30 hours, baked & then torched at the last minute, making it somewhat sweet, salty, slightly charred/caramelized with lots of umami & interesting.  Interestingly the 2011 Dr F Weins Prüm Kabinett “Ürziger Würzgarten”, amongst all of its riveting minerality, rather lean focus (compared to other vintages I had been fortunate to taste) also had very citrus-y acidity with a lime like lift to the finish.  Hence the pairing.

SAKE BRAISED PORK BELLY NITSUKE–grilled bok choy, roasted Japanese taro, Chinese five spice demi & house-made kim chee daikon

wine: 2015 Dr F Weins Prüm Spätlese “Wehlener Sonnenuhr”

While nitsuke is usually a preparation for fish, Chef Keith chose to instead use the sake, shoyu, sugar to braise his pork belly, to soften the meat, while at the same time making it slightly sweet & lightly salty.  In addition, he sprinkled a little shichimi on the meat to give a slight edge of heat, which would heighten & accent it some.  We therefore chose to pair with a Spätlese from one of Germany’s finest single vineyards & its profoundly slate driven soils & therefore resulting minerality in the finished wine.  This wine also helped balance out the slight heat from the kim chee daikon.  Quite interesting.

DESSERT

Green Macha Tiramisu–sweet azuke beans with shichimi & vanilla ice cream

 

 

 

I also included pictures of each of these incredible vineyards to add dimension towards a better understanding & appreciation of the wines presented tonight.  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.  From left to right–Graacher Himmelreich, Ürziger Würzgarten & Wehlener Sonnenuhr.

 

 

A Dinner with Bruce and Barbara Neyers of Neyers Winery in Napa Valley

Bruce Neyers is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant, knowledgeable wine “minds” I have ever run across.  He was part of the wine evolution in the Napa Valley during the 1970’s/80’s/90’s till the present.  In addition, in 1992, he became the National Sales Manager for Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants, one of the real “game changing” wine importers of small, artisan wineries from France (& now Italy as well).  Barbara Neyers was the right hand person for Alice Waters & her game changing Chez Panisse restaurant the first 20 or so years.  With the 1992 vintage, this incredible couple bought & relaunched their Neyers label, some of our very favorite wines out of California.  This are just some of the highlights of TWO illustrious, game changing careers, just so you better understand what level these 2 play on.

The behind the scenes workings of this couple, let me say that Bruce, because of his 40 plus years of experience in California has a very long time & comprehensive view & understanding of where we came from, what worked & what didn’t & launched this project accordingly.  In addition, with his workings with some of the most esteemed wine maestros from the Old World, he could include that to his methodology both in the vineyard & winemaking.  This would be quite a difference maker in their resulting wines.  (NO “fruit” bombs).

Furthermore, because of Barbara’s intimate knowledge of cooking (& Bruce’s for that matter) I could readily see, over the years, their move to more & more balanced wines, which were thankfully much more food friendly in style.

Lastly & most importantly, the Neyers winery is very uber-sustainable, in their approach to farming & making their wines.  It is the way they live.

Yes, they are quite the couple & I am so honored & thankful to have met them.

Here is the menu–

APPETIZER (d.k Steak House Executive Chef  Albert Balbas

 SLOW ROASTED KUROBUTA PORK BELLY–with a crispy “Small Kine Farms” cremini mushroom risotto cake, Swiss chard, and red wine rosemary jus

WINE:  2016 Neyers Carignan “Evangelho Vineyard”–a celebration of the 139 year old vines! Foot stomped, wild yeast fermented and bottled unfiltered. I think of this wine as a homage to the great Maxime Magnon of Southern France.

 

INTERMEZZO  (d.k Steak House Executive Chef Albert Balbas )

TRUFFLE CAJUN SEARED HAWAIIAN AHI— with cilantro pesto, ponzu, crispy garlic chips, and lemon garlic aioli

 

2ND COURSE (Sansei Waikīkī Executive Chef Adrian Solorzano) 

SEARED SCALLOP WITH SQUID INK PASTA–with Mari’s Gardens mixed greens, Limoncello vinaigrette, roasted garlic-almond butter, shaved beets & fennel

WINE:  2016 Neyers Chardonnay “304”–Bruce Neyers–“A few years ago Tadeo Borchardt accompanied me on one of my regular trips to France, and we arranged a visit in Chablis with my favorite winemaker there, Roland Lavantureux. The tasting was a career turner for both of us, as we moved through wine after wine, each bursting with bright flavors, crisp acidity, and an aftertaste of refreshing minerality. Later that day, we made our plan to produce a bottling of Chardonnay with no oak contact.  First we needed a source for the grapes. Paul Larson’s family has been growing grapes in the Carneros District of Sonoma County for over a century, and Paul has a parcel that is thought to be the southern-most Chardonnay vineyard in Sonoma County. That proximity to the Bay makes it one of the coldest grape-growing spots in northern California. Moreover, many of the vines are in the bed of what used to be a large creek, so the soil is rocky, with a deep gravel deposit. Those two factors – cold climate and rocky soil – make the vineyard particularly attractive for a Chablis-style Chardonnay, as the combination of high natural acidity with strong minerality are two elements we look for in classic Chablis. We were delighted that the weather at Larson’s vineyard was so chilly that these were the last grapes we harvested.”  Shot Wente Chardonnay vine, wild yeast fermented in stainless steel (& 15% concrete), no ML, circulating lees contact.  A real favorite!

 

INTERMEZZO  ( Sansei Waikīkī Executive Chef Adrian Solorzano) 

SHRIMP CEVICHE–with fried quinoa, cilantro, sweet Maui onions, & yuzu juice

 

MAIN ENTRÉE  (d.k Steak House Executive Chef Albert Balbas) 

“ANDREW’S MEAT” TAJIMA WAGYU STRIP LOIN–with pancetta haricot verts, au poivre sauce, grilled Hamakua Ali’i mushrooms & smashed fingerling potatoes

WINES–2014 Neyers Cabernet Sauvignon  “Neyers Ranch”–We have watched with joy the journey of this couple & their estate vineyard over the years.  Today, without a doubt their Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings are some of the VERY best out of California because their experiences (both from Napa Valley & the Old World), ever growing expertise, vision & worldliness, their passion & their grass roots driven hard work, gritty determination & perseverance.  “When we were ready to plant Cabernet Sauvignon on our Conn Valley Ranch in 1984, we dug more than 20 test holes on the property. The exposed 8’ depth of soil from each of them was analyzed by the best soil chemist in the area. He directed us to plant Merlot on all of the land below 600 feet elevation. Why? Because above 600 feet the soil changed dramatically, and became much more suitable for Cabernet Sauvignon. Once onto higher ground, the clay/loam/gravel soil was given over to rocky land rich with Basalt. Cabernet Sauvignon is a vigorous grape variety, and the rocky hillside soil retards its vigor, which is much better for the wine.  The Neyers Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in the hills of Conn Valley is one of the rare 10% in the Napa Valley capable of producing great Cabernet Sauvignon. This happened through careful planning, though, not simply the good fortune of being in the Napa Valley. The project that we began in 1984 with the purchase of our home ranch, has now exceeded our wildest expectations. It only took 30 years“. Bruce Neyers

2010 Neyers Merlot  “Napa Valley”–(A library selection from the winery, served out of magnum).  It was the 1992 Neyers Merlot that initially caught my attention, it was that special. I would further add this bottling is the finest out of California year in and year out. What a wine this truly is!   WOW!  Organically farmed, this is vanguard wine for the cellar and definitely worth checking out. They sadly don’t produce an estate Merlot bottling any more.

 

DESSERT  (DK Restaurants Pastry Chef Cherrie Pascua) 

MAUI GOLD PINEAPPLE BREAD PUDDING–with housemade haupia squares, candied macadamia nuts, and crème Anglaise

Great job & much mahalos to the Chefs & the Management team!  Thank you to Managing Partner Ivy Nagayama for always doing unreal things, “out of the box” to make us all think differently & continue growing.  Kudos & much respect!

The daytime seminars were an opportunity to share, learn & create camraderie.  So, were the various night time events.  To that, I would add, while having some fun too.  

BLIND TASTING

 

 

 

 

 

 

NIGHT ONE “BYOB” at the Carlton Hotel


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NIGHT TWO “A Taste of Paso Robles” at the Pavillon by the lake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to ALL!

 

 

Jan
18

A Dinner with Fred Scherrer

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We are HUGE fans of Fred Scherrer & his wines!!!!!

Here is where it starts.

 

Here is the dinner we did with him on Friday, January 5th, 2018

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My wife Cheryle & I decided to go to Greece, which had been number one on her bucket list for quite some time.  We really didn’t have a strict, detailed itinerary planned other than 2 days in Athens, 6 days on the island of Crete & 3 days on the island of Santorini.  AND, we did not plan out any winery visits ahead of time.  We would just go, have fun & a relaxing time.  After 2 days in Athens & doing walking tours at such landmarks as the Acropolis, we left the big city & flew to Crete, specifically Chaniá first. 

In Chaniá, Salis Restaurant was THE eatery recommended to us, mainly because of how fresh their seafood is & the fact that it is open air & located right on the water & cooled by the fresh ocean breezes.  In addition, they have quite the reputation for their wine program.

We ended up going there to dine 3 times in 2 days.  The food was fresh & good, the winelist well selected & the sommelier–Grigorios Rappos–was quite the professional–very helpful, very knowledgeable and really charming &. gracious. Grigorios was kind enough to let us try a bunch of Greek wines.  If you are visiting Chaniá, this is definitely a restaurant well worth seeking out.

To top off our enjoyment at this restaurant, on the 3rd visit there we met Afshin Molavi (who happened to be the owner of Salis) & we hung out until 10:30pm (7 hours), during which time he popped open many, terrific wines to share.  Afshin is really passionate & knowledgeable about wine….& it was quite the night of talking story & just hanging out.  

He offered to take us to his winery the next morning–Manousakis.  I had no idea of what to expect & was blown away with the vision of this project & its remarkable vineyard.  Thank you to Afshin for sharing!

The Manousakis estate & its wines labeled under the Nostros label, is the dream of Theodore Manousakis (Afshin’s father-in-law), as a way to give back something to his homeland of Crete. 

I was in awe of how breathtaking this property is–25 hectares planted (half in 1993)–located in a rugged, vertically remote (up to roughly 2500 feet in elevation) wild, mountain side, wind pounded & with a breathtaking view.  The soils were extreme & iron rich planted on various nooks & crannies along the mountain contour.  The vines include–Syrah, Grenache, Roussanne, Mourvedre with Greek grapes varieties such as Romeiko, Vidiano & even a little Assyrtiko.  The rest of the wild countryside has all kinds of wild shrub, wild herbs–thyme, sage, rosemary, lavender & lots of bay leaf (a nuance very pronounced in their red wines).

The wines were very well made, had style, polish, wonderful texture & balance.  The 2 most interesting were the Mourvedre (1 hectare) & the Syrah (roughly 3 hectares).  Both were quite masculine with a warm & real savory generosity.

In short I was really blown away with the vineyard, the vision & passion behind their mission.  This is a winery to watch out for.

Thank you Afshin for sharing!  I am so thankful to have found a new, special wine friend on the other side of the world.  Congratulations on all of your amazing projects.  Wow.

Over the many years I have been in the wine industry, one of the most influential wine “minds” I have run across is Bruce Neyers.  In short, he is a wine “yoda”.

When I first met Bruce, back in the late 1970’s, he was the GM of Joseph Phelps winery in the Napa Valley.  At that time, Phelps was truly one of the standout, vanguard wineries out of not only Napa Valley, but out of all of California.  In the 70’s they excelled with Riesling and were one of the first to really strive to grow and produce top quality Syrah.  They also launched a Cabernet based red wine blend they named “Insignia”, I believe in 1974, which helped kick start a whole new category of Californian red wines, later named as Meritage.  This category would allow Californian wineries to blend Bordeaux grape varieties, just as was commonly done in Bordeaux, France, in an effort to produce better and more worldly wines AND be called a Meritage rather than just a “Red Table Wine”.  (Meritage therefore then created  a new genre of Super red wines, which would later include Opus One and Dominus, just to name 2).

Yes, Bruce was a busy man and the Joseph Phelps winery was certainly a “game changer”.

The whole Joseph Phelps era of his career would have been enough of a legacy for most.

Bruce, on the other hand, had other ideas.  With the 1992 vintage, Bruce and Barbara Neyers bought the Neyers label from Joseph Phelps and launched their own namesake winery and label.  The first wine I tasted from this new project was the 1992 Neyers Merlot which I still consider one of the finest “game changing” red wines I have had out of the valley.

Subsequently, with the 1995 vintage, Neyers released a stellar & highly rated Chardonnay which was crafted by new winemaker Ehren Jordan, a disciple of superstar consultant Helen Turley (who also happened to be their winemaking consultant).

Also in 1992, Bruce became the National Sales Manager for Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants, one of the real pioneers and most world renown of importing true artisan, boutique wines from France (and now Italy) into the U.S..  Part of his responsibilities included taking 2 to 4 trips to France a year to visit wineries, their vineyards and taste wines from a who’s who list of French artisan winemaking superstars.  As one would imagine, this also really greatly encouraged Bruce out of his Napa Valley “box” and therefore grow and produce better and better wines each year because of what he saw and learned from his wine friends in France.

Today, because of his considerable experience—40 plus years in California and 25 years of working with the very best artisan producers of France, Neyers is therefore still producing some of the very best wines out of California, but under the watchful eye and mastery of winemaker Tadeo Borchardt.  I am still in awe of how they look to use fruit from heirloom/heritage grape vines,  farm sustainably so passionately and fervently and craft their wines without addition of yeast, nutrients or any enhancers, just as they do in their home garden AND just as they do at many of the standout domaines he works with in France.

Having said all of that and wishing I could or had said even more, I would also add, that considering staunch principles, beliefs and resulting high quality of wines done the ‘right” way, they are also way underpriced, especially when one considers what’s in the bottle.

On August 2, 2017, we did a dinner at VINO with Bruce & Barbara Neyers, which was one of the most memorable of all time for me personally.  It was just another chance for us to work with the wine “yoda”.  with each experience, I am always in awe with the additional knowledge & insight I walk away with.  Thank you to Bruce & Barbara for sharing.

 

Apr
15

Food (more Asian in style) & Wine Ideas

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I grew up in this industry working with & around more classical fare.  With the advent, however, of fusing Asian & European cooking styles, it was a time to think out of the box in order to better understand what worked & what didn’t with this dynamic new culinary frontier.

What became more evident over time & much experimentation, was what Asian foods clashed with most was alcohol, heat & saltiness.   Essentially, alcohol became much more glaring; oak seemed bitter & bitterness seemed somehow even way more bitter.

We found that wines lighter, fresher, more fruity, less extracted & lower alcohol levels worked much better with a wider gamut of Asian influenced foods.

More recently, we have also been quite fascinated how aromatic grape varieties can add a whole ‘nother dimension to the pairings.  The challenge, of course, is finding really good ones.

Here are some examples of pairings we have recently done in Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas, which hopefully help you better understand what we mean.

Yukari Dusted Seared Scallop 1bwith lemongrass potato puree, squid ink croutons & chili air

WINE:  Domaine Skouras “Zoe”–to make this dish more wine friendly, Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas’ Chef John Iha added a potato puree for richness.  Furthermore, the infused lemongrass, not only heightened the dish itself, but also really connected with the wonderful, innate aromatics of this wine, which is a blend of Roditis & Moscholfilero (both indigenous grape varieties to Greece).  The Mediterranean minerality also worked well with the squid ink.  Another insight is how Chef John toned down the needed heat by making the chili pepper water into an “air” & therefore far less confrontational.

1cPastrami Cured Ahi “Nicoise” Salad with buttered fingerling potatoes, Mari Garden mini greens, Ho Farms tomatoes, long beans, marinated onions, sunnyside quail egg & adobo vinaigrette

WINE:  Hans Wirsching Scheurebe Dry–normally we would have looked to a PINK wine for this pairing, but on this occasion decided we needed more aromatics because of the adobo vinaigrette.  Yes, we marvel again & again how these aromatic style wines really can a whole ‘nother dimension to a pairing.  The challenge is finding the good ones.

Slow Cooked Mary’s Organic Chicken 1dwith oven roasted hamakua Alii mushrooms, forbidden black rice, galanghal-scallion pesto & natural jus

WINE:  Strub Riesling “Soil to Soul”–yet another aromatic wine, because of the fragrant, uplifting galanghal-scallion pesto.  We chose the Strub (from Germany’s Rheinhessen) because it is rounder, deeper yet still remarkably light & refreshing.

1eCrispy Kauai Shrimp with braised daikon, seaweed butter sauce & micro scallions

WINE:  Hofstatter Weissburgunder–yes, another aromatic, minerally white wine, this one from the hills of northeast Italy.  The wine’s minerality helped keep the palate fresh & alive while navigating the dish’s unusual (at least for wine pairing) components such as seaweed & daikon.

Seared Mari’s Garden Tilapia 1fwith aromatic tapioca sauce, hijiki tsukemono & caviar

WINE:  Birichino Malvasia Bianca–currently one of our absolute favorite “go to” wines when pairing with Asian inspired foods.  We seemingly use this wonderfully perfumed, lime edged white wine in so many of our pairings & am therefore continually re-amazed on every occasion at how wide of spectrum of foods this wine can readily work with.  By itself, I think the perfume may be too strong for most wine drinkers.  But then, I watch how it remarkably synergizes with aromatic sauces or uplifting herbs.  It really is an amazing food wine to say the least.  Pure genius.  Who would have thunk it?

1gOkinawan Soba “Mazeman” with grilled salmon, ikura, salmon skin, Thai basil, cilantro, calamansi & sesame-clam sauce

WINE:  CF “Euro-Asian” Riesling Medium Dry–Riesling works well with the oiliness of salmon.  Yes, there is lushness to its fruit & the rounder acidity when physiologically ripe.  We also love how minerality livens things up in the pairing too.  The CF Euro-Asian is produced for us by Weingut Gunderloch.  A special thanks to Fritz, Agnes & Johannes Hasselbach for making this dream come true.  The grapes come from hillside vines grown in red slate soils, which creates that stoniness/minerality, which is VERY different from the black/gray/blue soils of the Mosel, Saar, Ruwer river regions.  And, because this wine is medium dry, it has just enough sweetness to buttress the fruitiness for the pairing. FYI–there is a marked difference in this cuvee, beginning with the 2012 vintage.  Thankfully, the extract, bitterness & alcohol levels seem more moderate, despite the growing frequency of real sun drenched vintages.

Six layered Tonkatsu 1hwith roasted vegetables, potato-pancetta au gratin, pickled red cabbage & brandy-peppercorn sauce

WINE: Maxime Magnon “La Demarrante”–this is a fabulous dish from Chef John Iha, as he thinly sliced the pork & then reconstructed the many layers before panko-ing & deep frying.  To, however, make sure this dish was red wine friendly, Chef Iha, created a peppercorn-brandy sauce, instead of the VERY oriental slanted one he originally planned.  La Demarrante is a wonderfully delicious, refined Carignane & Cinsault blend from southern France around Corbieres.  Owner/winemaker Maxime Magnon studied with Jean Foillard, a true master/game changer in the Beaujolais Cru village of Morgon.  That influence can be seen by the carbonic maceration used in the making of this wine, making it more fruity, fresh without the typically rustic, often hard edges of many “country” red wines of the area.

1aOio Tempura-Unagi Donburi

WINE:  DR F Weins Prum Riesling Feinherb “Graacher Domprobst”–we chose a Feinherb for this pairing because of tiny bits of refreshing ginger & shiso used to accent the unagi, as well as the kabayaki drizzle which ties everything in the dish together.  Owner/winemaker Bert Selbach has such a fine touch & his resulting Riesling has such a magical, spellbinding purity, ethereal & aristocratic perfume & taste.  Furthermore, its precision & finely tuned sweet-sour teeter totter is exactly what this dish needed.

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The Managing Partner of both DK Steakhouse & Sansei Waikiki, Ivy Nagayama,   1A5loves creating interesting & thought provoking wine & food pairings.  Her latest craze is with the wines from the Pacific Northwest.  On this night, she & Sansei Exec Chef Jason Miyasaki created a menu & pairing for visionary wine mogul, Mark Tarlov of Chapter 24 out of Oregon & a few select local customers.

Chapter 24 Dinner1st Taste: Contemporary Sushi DuoFoie Gras Nigiri Sushi & Shichimi Pepper Seared Ahi Nigiri (wine: 2013 Two Messengers Pinot Noir)    0A1

Intermezzo: Opakapaka CarpaccioMaui onions, Nalo basil relish, red jalapenos, kalamansi essence

0A22nd Taste: Red Wine Marinated Grilled Duck Breastwith Nalo Farms mixed greens & roasted fingerling potatoes, Maui onions, hard boiled quail egg, & a pomegranate balsamic vinaigrette (wines: 2012 Chapter 24 Pinot Noir “Flood” & 2012 Chapter 24 Pinot Noir “Fire”)  0A5

Entree: Red Wine Vinegar Braised Kurobuta Pork Bellywith Kaneshiro Farm’s bok choy, Hamakua Ali’i mushrooms, roasted peanuts, saffron rice pilaf & star anis jus (wine: 2012 Chapter 24 “Last Chapter”)

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