When we were planning this week’s Personal Wine Dinner, Chuck and I were talking about how mid-September in Montana is all about transition; how we can have some days that feel like Spring, and some very much like Autumn with winter just around the corner. With that in mind, we came up with a menu that contrasts components of both seasons.
The dinner is available from 6:00-9:00, Monday, September 12 through Thursday, September 15. Call for reservations at 995-4111 and be sure to let us know you want the Personal Wine Dinner. Please note, Buck’s will be closed from October 1 through Thanksgiving.
The Summer’s Quintessential Favorite: “Three” Bean Salad
Organic gold wax beans, heirloom purple beans, variegated beans, Chinese long beans, and haricot leaves. Dressed with a Decoy Sauvignon Blanc gastrique.
Sauvignon Blanc, Decoy by Duckhorn, Napa, 2010
Orecchiette pasta in a hearty heirloom tomato sauce with shrimp, scallops calamari and mussels, basil bruschetta
Sautéed medallions of elk with Montana grown apple and white fig compote Lingon berry demi glace, wild rice griddle cake and micro mirepoix mix
Tempranillo, Kennedy Shah, Rattlesnake Hills, WA, 2008
A Selection of Montana Made Cheeses
Accompanied by house made lavosh cracker bread, Flathead cherry cheese and toasted hazelnuts
Beaujolais, Chateau Thivin, Brouilly, 2009
For the first course, Chuck utilized some newly-available channels to showcase some local produce. Field Day Farms in Bozeman puts us in touch with local growers from the Gallatin, Madison and Paradise Valleys, giving us a source for local produce we’ve never had before. While performing his annual Fall ritual of pickling and canning fresh beans, Chuck thought it might be fun to play off a summer barbecue favorite: Three Bean Salad. But with all these cool obscure varieties of beans coming in, which three? Well, why limit ourselves?
We’re still waiting to hear back from our growers, but so far we have organic gold wax beans, heirloom purple beans (which unfortunately turn green when cooked), variegated beans, Chinese long beans, and haricot leaves. Yes, that’s right–bean leaves. Dressed with a Decoy Sauvignon Blanc gastrique.
For the wine pairing, I was thinking Spring, so I’m thinking Sauvignon Blanc. The crisp freshness of the beans matches nicely with the type of flavors we expect out of Sauvignon Blanc, and the crisp acidity is a nice foil to the sweetness of the gastrique. Napa’s storied Duckhorn Vineyards produces a line of wines called Decoy (get it?), and when I tried their Sauvignon Blanc this summer, I immediately liked the balance and complexity it offered. Aromas of fresh grass give way to fleshy citrus flavors and just enough acid.
We always try to present a choice for the second course of our Personal Wine Dinners so those that don’t eat red meat still have an option. This presents a challenge for wine pairing in finding a single wine that complements two different dishes. One component often used to pair food and wine is acidity; both in the food and in the wine. People will often describe wines with firm acidity as “good food wines”, seeming to imply that only wines with a decent acid backbone will go well with food.
Au contraire, mon frere…
There are several approaches to food & wine pairing, and acidity is but one. The myriad of flavor and aroma components possible in wine also allow for a wide range of pairing strategies using flavors. You can try to complement the flavors of the food with similar flavors in the wine, or choose to create contrast.
I got to thinking, what if we took a wine with very low acidity, and paired purely on flavor alone. There’s plenty of acid in the tomato broth with the seafood, and the lingon berry and apple bring decent acid to the Elk dish. We let the food bring the acid to the table, and pair the wine based on flavor alone. We want something with full body and big fruit, but not sweet.
Low acid, lots of fruit, bone dry, should have decent tannins so it doesn’t get overblown by the food…Tempranillo. The “noble grape” of Spain should fit the bill nicely. The Kennedy Shah Tempranillo shows notes of plum, black cherry and cassis–great for the elk; with a smooth texture and nice spiciness that go well with the tomato and seafood.
To round out the meal, we turn to that old-school bastion of classic French dining: the cheese course. We have an active artisinal cheese industry here in Montana, and some amazing creations are available right here in the Gallatin Valley. We feature two cheeses from Vintage Cheese Company in Bozeman; a sweet and nutty Mountina Apline, and their Mocha Montina, with hints of coffee and chocolate. From Lifeline Organic Farms in Victor, MT we present “Brie de Bitterroot”.
In keeping with our theme of seasonal transitions, we would be remiss if we didn’t give a nod to the ultimate wine celebration of autumn; Beaujolais. The real celebration-of-harvest wine is Beaujolais Nouveau, that quick-produced light and fruity wine released a mere six weeks after picking, in late November. But we’re too early for Nouveau, and, let’s face it, Nouveaux, at least those that make it to the US, are pretty bad (there, I said it). No, I’m talking about Cru Beaujolais, which offer more structure, complexity and ageability. I tasted the Chateau Thivin Brouilly last Spring and loved it for its straightforward strawberry and fresh cherry fruit, with just a little spice and earthiness.
We thank you for being our guests. I hope you can find a chance to come in next week and enjoy Chuck’s handiwork.
David O’Connor (DOC)