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Wines without Power

July 9, 2014 Brian Gurnham Chief Cork Officer

Well despite the title, this article is probably not what you think.  For the last five days, yours truly, has been roughing it in the wilds of Nova Scotia.  Yes, we have a summer cottage here, a pre-retirement investment in easy living that doubles as the world headquarters of in the summer.  But last Saturday, while finishing up the dishes from a Fourth of July barbeque with friends with roots in the States, we were greeted by Arthur, or what at least was described as the remains of Hurricane Arthur, as a “post tropical low pressure”. 

Courtesy Chronicle Herald
Courtesy Chronicle Herald
Being a meteorologist by training, I was admittedly impressed by the strength of this storm – 40 mph sustained winds with gusts approaching 60 mph - which made the house shake, rattle and roll.  And as should have been expected in this rural area, right in the middle of the storm, out went the power.  Hence this article, a review of the interesting food and wine pairings that ensued in the powerless five days that followed, as we scurried to use frozen foods before spoilage set in.  Here are my favorite three pairings for “Wine without Power”.

Cappuccino Frozen Yogurt and 2009 Hestia Red Blend.  What, frozen yogurt?  Well if you think about it, frozen yogurt is just about the first thing to go in a fridge with no power.  Within a matter of hours it goes from spoon bending hardness to soft serve.  I had a half gallon of Chapman's Cappuccino frozen yogurt (don't bother looking for this in the States, but any quality coffee ice cream or frozen yogurt will work) and was feeling decadent enough to try a little wine with it.  I opened the cork on one of my favorite red blends, Hestia from the Columbia Valley in Washington State.  The blend is made from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  My memory served me correctly and the wine had a strong fruit forward emphasis with noticeable chocolate – and what goes better with coffee flavored ice cream than a little chocolate?  I was not disappointed – let's just say that the tub of frozen yogurt was not among the items lost to spoilage.  If you can't locate Hestia, scour the tasting notes of any red blend for references to chocolate or cocoa.

Hamburgers and Chateau Nages Costieres de Nimes.   Now who doesn't keep some frozen hamburger in the freezer?  Day two found the frozen silver bars becoming soft on the edges; it was time to make the patties.  Now I know you can add all kinds of flavorings to hamburger, but personally, a little American cheese and mustard is all I need.  As for the wine, we opened the Michael Gassier Chateau Nages Costieres de Nimes Red.  A mouthful of French terminology, this food friendly, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre (GSM) red blend is a steal at $12.  The wine is a deep garnet in color, loaded with red fruit immediately available on the palate.  Powerful for a GSM blend, Michael Gassier wines have consistently garnered 90+ point ratings from Robert Parker.

Mustard Rubbed Pork Loin and 2012 Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir.  By the end of day four we were down to the larger cuts of meat that defrosted more slowly.  Given that our property has a prolific rhubarb patch, this recipe that included a sauce featuring rhubarb, orange juice and sugar seemed perfect.  The result was a delicious, richly flavored pork loin, with an interesting contrast between the Dijon mustard and the sweetness of the rhubarb sauce.  Throw a few small potatoes on the grill and you've got yet another amazing meal.  The wine of choice - Meiomi Pinot Noir.  If at all possible, seek out this wine and avoid substitutions.  Pinot Noir styles vary considerably, and with the Dijon Mustard you need a Pinot with some body, and the Meiomi comes through.  With the inkiness of a Syrah, Meiomi is a well-balanced, layered wine with a lot of intensity of aromas - nothing the least bit demure about this Pinot.

Well the power has been restored although the grousing about the extended outages continues.  The food and wine pairings will once again become more thoughtful, and based less on necessity.  The next time you find yourself in the dark thanks to Mother Nature, don't be afraid to experiment.  You might just be surprised by wines without power.

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