When you cook at home, what is your favorite dish to prepare and which of your wines do you like to match it with? Why does the combination work?
Josh Bergström, Bergström Wines (Oregon). This winter and into this spring I really had a lot of fun making soups at home. My favorite is a personal take on minestrone. I start with bacon (my favorite food group) and reserve the fat to sauté the vegetables with—onions, carrots, celery and zucchini squash, but you could also add corn, red peppers or any other vegetable that you like. Then I deglaze the pot with some red wine, add some chicken stock and some crushed tomatoes and some grilled chicken breast torn into smaller pieces. I slowly cook this in a heavy crock for several hours and serve it with a homemade pesto. This soup has really paired well with bright fruity reds such as pinot noir, cru Beaujolais, barbera, dolcetto and so many more. The best thing about this soup is that if you make enough of it, it lasts for days and just keeps getting better as the flavors meld together.
One of our favorite dishes (and that of many of our friends too) is her mushroom risotto, paired with one of our older pinot noirs—something with between five and ten years of bottle age. The “savoriness” of the risotto matches that of the pinot noir beautifully and there is an appealing degree of aromatic overlap between the dish and the wine.
The risotto contains four types of mushroom grown commercially in our area, as well as a mix of several types of wild Boletus mushrooms we find on Hamilton Russell Vineyards (this is a good time of year for them here). We dry our Boletus and powder them in a coffee grinder for use throughout the year.
Louis Barruol, Château de Saint Cosme (Gigondas, France). Definitely roasted lamb from the Ventoux area (the best in the world, and I’ve tasted them all) with a 10-to-12-year-old Saint-Cosme Gigondas. It just works and I don’t know why; my mother taught me that it works and this is true.
Dave Powell, Torbreck Vintners (Australia). Leek and pancetta risotto with duck breast and fried sage, paired with The Steading Grenache/Shiraz/Mataro. Grenache-based wines, like pinot noir, are perfect for duck, and the fried sage brings out the herbs in the wine. Got me laid many a time!
Philippe Cambie, consulting enologist (southern Rhône, France). I love the veal stew called Blanquette de Veau, with vanilla from Madagascar. Briefly, here is the recipe:
Bring your homemade chicken broth to a boil in a cast iron pot. Lower heat to a bare simmer, season with salt and pepper and then add the veal cut into pieces, carrots and celery, and garlic. Simmer very gently four about an hour and 40 minutes. Remove the meat and vegetables from the pan and keep warm. Melt some butter in a saucepan, then add the flour, turn off the heat, and mix until smooth. Return to heat and add the broth little by little, waiting each time until it thickens, stirring constantly. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape inside to retrieve the black seeds and add them to the broth. Stir in lemon juice and cream while whisking the sauce and simmer on low heat about ten minutes.
My preferred wine for this meal is the Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot from Domaine Ramonet. The roundness of the wine, its freshness, as well as the aromas of pineapple that dominate, make it the perfect paring for the delicate aromas of vanilla and the very tender veal. I find infinite pleasure in this combination.
Roberto de la Mota, Mendel Wines (Argentina). Actually, I don’t consider myself a cook. Unfortunately my record as a cook was only some pizza. But as a man born in this pampas country I’m good at cooking meat over a wood fire—a typical asado, or Argentinean barbecue.
With this technique, you can have thousands of variables, such as the quality and type of wood, the coals, the kind of meat, and so on. But I prefer to use old cabernet sauvignon vines (the cab is one of the hardest woods with more durable embers) and a local cow meat cut from a loin—a.k.a. filet mignon. This cut of meat can range from a filet slice of 300 grams to the whole filet of 1,500 grams. and is one of the most tender you can find. Cooking in one block I use more fire to start to seal the meat and the very slow after that. In 45 minutes to one hour you can have the most tender, juicy and red steak that you can imagine: normally you can cut it with your fork.
I love to accompany this dish with salad, grilled vegetables, potatoes or, sweet potatoes and red peppers. Olive oil and good bread are important too. Certainly wine is essential and in this case I love blends with an important percentage of malbec (40% minimum, because malbec is round and fleshy), with cabernet sauvignon. And if the wine has petit verdot, cabernet franc or merlot, even better! I suppose that I chose this blend because my teacher in this dish was Bernardo Weinert, my boss at his winery in the ’80s, and at that time the for us was the 1977 Cavas de Weinert, a blend of malbec with cabernet sauvignon and merlot.