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Apr 21, 2010 09:01 AM

A Canada/Chile themed dinner!

This summer my partner and I will be getting married, we’ll be holding a three course dinner for all of our family and friends after the ceremony. My partner is Canadian, and my family lives in Chile, so we thought it would be a novel idea to take care of the wine and have Canada/Chile themed pairings. We’ll be tasting the dishes next week, and will be bringing around three bottles per course to sample alongside. Budget – under 20$ per bottle. Here are my ideas so far:

Starter: Maple Glazed Salmon Gravlax, Shredded Cucumber with a Julienne of Candied Lemons
Riesling, Cave Spring, Niagara Peninsula 2007
Late Autumn Riesling, Inniskillin, Niagara Peninsula 2008
Pinot Gris, Inniskillin, Niagara Peninsula 2008

For the mains: Fresh Herb and Pistachio Crusted Lamb Chops, Fingerling Potatoes Salardaise and Zucchini Clafouti
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cousino Macul, Maipo 2007
Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmen, Maipo 2007
A little worried about these two – I think the pistachio crust presents a problem, and that the delicate flavour of pistachio will be lost to a big bombastic Chilean wine. I thought maybe a Pinot Noir like Errazuriz Wild Ferment Pinot could be a better alternative, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of pinot noir and lamb being put together...

For dessert: Strawberry Mascarpone Cake, Strawberry Surprise with Mistelle and Tarragon Cream
Was thinking of forgoing dessert wine.... But am open to suggestions if anyone can think of a potentially good match.

Thoughts, ideas and reccomendations greatly appreciated.


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  1. Congrats on the upcoming marriage, Nick!

    One of the problems with talking about this now is that several candidates may be sold out by this summer while other interesting wines that are currently unavailable (e.g. Errazuriz's Wild Ferment Chardonnay) might be around in August. In other words, you might want to bump this thread up sometime in late July.

    On to some specific suggestions.

    As much as I love Riesling, I don't find it makes a great match for gravlax. YMMV. One alternative to consider is a white from Les Pervenches, a biodynamic producer located near Farnham that makes Quebec's only Chardonnays. The Chardonnay-Seyval blend ($20) is the by far the best Quebec dry white I've tasted and the only one I regularly buy. The Seyval-Chardonnay blend ($15) is good, too. Unfortunately, the 2008s are sold out but the 2009s may well be available in August (contact the winery for details). The wines can be purchased at the winery or through their Quebec agent, La QV; in the latter case, you can have them delivered to an SAQ outlet near you.

    As for the lamb, don't fret the pistachios. They're there for texture and appearance as much as taste. And, anyway, their flavour has a way of ringing through. That said, you're right to avoid heavy wines that might overpower the lamb (assuming it's Quebec lamb, which is usually a delicately flavoured meat). You might want to add a Syrah to your varietals list, especially as Chile is turning out some decent ones. Errazuriz makes a couple, one near $20 and one, simpler and suppler, at around $15. My real recco would be the Pétales d'Osoyoos, the early drinking Bordeaux blend from the Okanagan, as fresh and tasty a bistro red as you're likely to encounter; unfortunately, it's priced at around $25 and is nearly sold out. Still, you only get married once (hopefully) and the 2007 may have hit the shelves by August.

    Also, keep an eye peeled for the next Cellier release, which in past years has focused on wines of the Americas. Details are strangely sketchy but my guess is that the release dates will be May 20 and June 3, with the magazine coming out the first week in May.

    1 Reply
    1. re: carswell

      Chardonnay from Quebec??!! Who knew?! Will definitely consider.

      I really like the idea of the Petales d’Osoyoos as well. I hadn’t ruled out the possibility of having a Chilean wine with the starter and a Canadian wine with the main, it just seemed to make more sense the other way round, with Chile specializing in lamb-friendly Bordeaux style wines. Will add PdO to the shortlist too then, regardless of the fact its 5$ over budget.

      (I’m known to spend far too much on wine. It drives my soon-to-be spouse up the wall).

      Thanks Carswell!

    2. For dessert, why not some Canadian ice wine? I particularly like the red ice wine varieties (made with Cab Franc, Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon) with berry-based and chocolate desserts.

      1. First of all – thanks for the great suggestions. Honestly – we had a ball yesterday. Some thoughts from an amateur wino for anyone who’s interested:

        Pinot Gris, Inniskillin, Niagara Peninsula 2008
        This was a lovely match with the salmon. Light to medium bodied, this wine has a juicy profile of soft fruit and flowers, and a crisp minerality which I often pick up on in Niagara wines. Anyway it stood up well to the fresh flavours in the food, and the acidity played well against the oil in the salmon, it was just fab.

        Riesling, Cave Spring Cellars, Niagara Peninsula 2007
        I decided to go against the warnings of a much respected poster and tried this with the salmon. I politely disagree this isn’t a good match with gravlax. I thought it was just divine. Many of the same elements from the previous wines were present, soft fruit, floral notes, minerality etc etc, but it’s just much fuller in body and probably a better partner for a rich oily fish such as salmon. As with the previous wine high acidity was a great palate cleanser. It also had the added bonus of having a touch of sweetness which echoed the sugar in the candied lemons. We picked this one.

        Chardonnay, Carmen, Casablanca Valley 2009
        We brought along this wine due to the fact we went over budget on others and wanted to balance out the splurge with a less expensive bottle. This Chardonnay has relatively little contact with oak, so we thought it would be a better wine to serve with our fresh flavoured entree. I have to admit it didn’t really work. The oak is definitely present and it just wasn’t very kind to the fish at all. But we picked it anyway because a) it’s a style of wine that many enjoy b) it’s completely different to the Riesling, and c) the wine will be served throughout the evening, not just with the entrée.

        Cabernet Sauvignon, Cousino Macul, Maipo 2007
        Much as I like this wine, it didn’t work with the lamb. As I expected, it I was just too concentrated and too tannic.

        Pétales d’Osoyoos, Osoyoos Larose, Oakanagan Valley 2006
        Carswell – thanks for this recommendation. What a wonderful wine. We managed to get just enough bottles for the event before they sold out and will be storing them until the big day. For anyone who hasn’t tried this yet: you must. This is very much in the style of a great Bordeaux wine with powerful cassis aromas and subtle oaky notes. I loved the smoothness in particular (I would go so far as to say creaminess). A very balanced and very sophisticated wine. We enjoyed the rest yesterday evening with some braised lamb shanks, but interestingly, it just didn’t work as well. This is quite a dainty wine, more for grilled or roasted meats than rich and heavily sauced preparations.

        Shiraz, Errazuriz, Valle de Rapel 2008
        Personally I'm not the biggest fan of New World syrah, but this was, as Carswell put, a nice lean Shiraz that worked very well with the lamb. While being fruit forward and a little jammy, it wasn’t too overpowering and the tannins were soft and subdued. We picked this one because while being a good match for the lamb it’s also an approachable wine made in a style that many people enjoy. Good work Carswell!


        Our final selections:

        Riesling, Cave Spring Cellars, Niagara Peninsula 2007
        Chardonnay, Carmen, Casablanca Valley 2009

        Pétales d’Osoyoos, Osoyoos Larose, Oakanagan Valley 2006
        Shiraz, Errazuriz, Valle de Rapel 2008

        Two white, two red. Two Chilean, two Canadian. Poifect!

        1. You look pretty well set on the starter.

          If you want a good Chilean Pinot Ventisquero makes a nice one. If you want a good red blend Palo Alto Reserve Red (Cab/Carmenere/Syrah) will pair nicely with the lamb.

          Probably not quite fruity enough but there are some nice Viognier from Chile. Cono Sur comes to mind. Perhaps someone produces a dessert viognier from Chile???