Vinadeis ( formerly Val d Orbieu) is vast. This wine company, established over a half century ago by six family owned wine estates, currently comprises twenty thousand hectares (over forty two thousand acres) of vineyards. The acreage is equivalent to that of the wine making regions of Bourgogne and Alsace combined. The Vinadeis collection includes international names (Reserve Saint Martin, Cuvee’ Mithique and Led Deux Reves and others), and many labels commonly found in supermarkets and liquor stores throughout Europe, as well as eleven small, family owned wineries. These predominantly Languedoc-Roussillon based wineries have been carefully producing organic and biodynamic wines that showcase only the very best of what the Languedoc region has to offer. They have been cultivating grapes and making wine under the guidance of innovative winemaker Olivier Dauga who began collaborating with Vinadeis five years ago. Olivier’s goal is to make modern wines while preserving traditional methods of production.
Many wine producers typically pair traditional Languedoc and Bordeaux regional wines with classic French cuisine. Bordeaux wines in particular complement the cream and butter based sauces found in many savory French dishes. But Vinadeis decided not to choose the safe route when it came to pairing their classic French wines. Instead, they opted to showcase the adaptability of their wines to international flavors by complementing them with Indian food at Junoon in New York City. Their decision opened up a whole new world of pairing possibilities.
Benoit Roussillon, the North American Export Director for Vinadeis explained that they recognized the recent popularity of Asian cuisine, from Cantonese, Szechuan and other regional Chinese, to Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese fare, and the different ingredients and flavors, from the mild and pungent, to the concentrated and fiery, that make up these cuisines. Although Asian food has not been traditionally seen as a cuisine to be served with wine, this view is changing.
Junoon sommelier Michael Dolinski took spices into careful consideration when he created the four course lunch that accompanied the white, rose’ and reds from Languedoc-Roussillon and Bordeaux. He explained that traditional gourmet Northern Indian cuisine was typically flavored with long peppers and usually less spicy than the more recently introduced capsicum spiced Indian fare. Indian food customarily has spicy, sweet and bitter elements.
Bordeaux, particularly those from Medoc and Pessac-Léognan and others from the Left Bank, are typically characterized by red fruit and berry aromas and notes of cherry, blackberry, vanilla, coffee and spice. They have good structure and balanced tannins. Tannins, particularly when the wines are young, can give wines a bitterness so Michael avoided complementing the Bordeaux with turmeric centered dishes. Instead he chose milder dishes flavored with butter, garlic and onions in tomato, cream and nut based sauces.
A first course duo of Atlantic salmon, pickled cucumber and onion relish topped with salmon crumbs created a perfect complement to a Domaines de Cazelles Verdier Chardonnay, “Les Pierres qui Chantent” IGP Pays d Oc, 2015. This Chardonnay, aged in new acacia barrels, was fresh, complex, well rounded and full of tropical fruit, cedar, herbs and toasted almond notes. It blended seamlessly with the savory and slightly sweet flavors of the salmon and had enough acidity to balance the natural oily element of the fish.
A butter garlic shrimp paired similarly well with a Chateau de Jonquieres, Rose’, 2015 The fresh strawberry and candied fruit aromas and ripe orchard and tropical fruit notes of this Rose’ balanced the buttery flavors of the garlic shrimp.
A second course of minced chicken in a walnut sauce was accompanied by two red wines from Languedoc. The Chateau Notre Dame du Quatorze ” Nautical Rouge,” 2014 was full of fresh raspberry and cherry notes and balanced acidity and it complemented the subtly nutty and semi sweet flavors of the dish.
The Domaine de Cazelles Verdier Rouge “Les Pierres qui Chantent” Minervois, 2014 was full bodied, with notes of blackberry, plum, sweet spice and oak and the combination of flavors enhanced the slightly earthy flavors of the minced chicken.
A trio of Bordeaux arrived next to complement an array of Northern Indian specialties. A Chateau Valade, Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2012 with fresh notes of cherry and dark fruit and balanced tannins blended nicely with the slightly earthy flavors of a black lentil, kidney bean and chickpea in a tomato cream sauce. The acidity broke through the cream while enhancing the citrus and mildly sweet taste of the tomatoes.
A Chateau Brown, Pessac Le’ognan, 2012 with aromas of licorice and oak, and red fruit, blackberry, plum, and earthy and spicy notes, complemented the pungent and hearty flavors of a shredded whole roasted leg of lamb with saffron and nuts. It also enhanced the slightly spicy flavors of the seasoning while introducing a measure of fruitiness.
A Prieure Des Couleys de Meyney, Saint Estephe, 2010 with concentrated berry aromas and notes of ripe cherries, blackberries and plums worked well with the earthy and lightly fried flavors in a dish of crispy lotus root, English peas, roasted tomato sauce and puffed lotus seed.
A light and mildly sweet Indian dessert that could best be described as a custard made with thickened milk, dried fruit, and ground rice followed. Black tea was the best complement for this dish.
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