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Feb 22, 2009 07:27 PM

Food pairing: "red: well-balanced and not too heavy wine."

We're having our favorite chef come to our home to prepare a meal for the family. The main course will be "Free-range veal tenderloin baked in pastry with spinach and wildrice, served on Pinot Noir shallot reduction"

When asked for a wine pairing suggesting, he left it pretty open with "For the red wine I recommend a well-balanced and not too heavy wine. Examples; Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Bordeaux, and Red Burgundies."

Does anyone have some specific recommendations that would pair well and impress? I'm happy to spend upwards of $100 if someone has a good idea.


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  1. Oh, geez, at $100+ you have a ton of options.

    Despite the fact that the sauce is Pinot-based, by sense is to go Rhone. Either a very well aged Hermitage or else an "open" Chateauneuf du Pape or Cote Rotie.

    I have to tell you, one can still buy the '03 Bernard Levet Cote Rotie La Chavaroche for $70, and that should be ready to drink, and it is *awesome*.

    The '05 Chapoutier Chateauneuf du Pap Barbe Rac is also awesome, though I am worried it may be asleep at the moment, if other '05s are an indication.

    All this said, I cannot imagine a better pairing than the '01 La Spinetta Barolo Campe. Easily findable at +/- $100 this is an astounding wine and just about the pinnicle of modern Piedmont winemaking.

    2 Replies
    1. re: whiner

      the '03 Ch des Tours Vacqueryas that I has last night reminded me that one does not (or previously did not) have to spend a lot of money to get a very good Rhone wine.

      How many people in the family and how many are drinking? Were you planning on $100 total or one a per btl basis?

      1. re: ibstatguy

        $100 / bottle - 8 people drinking. Looking for something memorable vs. the usual $15 fare we tend to consume.

    2. Two bottles of Sineann Schindler's Pinot Noir.

      1. In the end, my local shop recommended and we went with Nicolis Amarone "Ambrosan" 2001. $60/750ml. A little "raisiny" for my liking - almost port like - but it was well received - not quite the memorable experience - but it was his favorite pairing with Veal. Still nice to be introduced to something totally new.

        3 Replies
        1. re: frankmcgurk

          I put Amarone in the "Love/Hate" camp, there eems to be little middle ground. Personally, I can think of many wines I would prefer due to the expression of raisins that you noted. It has it's place, just not in my glass !

          1. re: frankmcgurk

            It strikes me as odd that your wine guy would recommend an Amarone when you were specifically looking for something "not too heavy". I haven't tasted the Nicolis, but Amarone is usually sooooo full bodied/flavored. Just seems like an odd rec.

            1. re: invinotheresverde

              It isn't odd when people become too focused on impressing people with "the bottle" versus how well that bottle will compliment the food. To me the OP was so concerned with getting an impressive bottle that the pairing factor was completely forgotten apparently (Amarone = heavy).
              Whenever I see post asking for wine pairing suggestions and $100+ price points are mentioned it often isn't about the meal but making an impression with the bottle.

          2. Amarone with veal? Veal is delicate, Amarone is bold and rich unless you've aged it 10 years. Poor choice. Get a new wine guy. Two bottles of a nice $50 Burgundy would have served you better.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Iowaboy3

              Speaking as a "Wine guy" I have to agree with Iowaboy3, get a new wine guy, Amarone with veal would never occur to me...bad call. I would have gone with Burgundy as well, you had a chef preparing a wonderful meal, you needed a wine that would frame such a meal not walk all over it. Braised beef and Amarone yes, maybe he was thinking, (or falling back on) the whole Oso Bucco with Amarone thing...very different dish!

              1. re: bubbles4me

                Or maybe the OP walked in and just asked for something to "wow his guests" and the merchant obliged him.

                1. re: Chinon00

                  To be fair to the OP, he specifically states in his post that his wine guy's favourite pairing with veal is Amarone. I take him at his word. I agree that he should find a new wine guy, though.