Being the Wine and Brand Ambassador for the largest winery in Greece is pretty freaking awesome! Yliana Stengou, the owner of Domaine Porto Carras is in California for her Spring tour, which means hosting wine and food pairing dinners at amazing restaurants up and down the state of California (OH darn! It’s a tough job, but you know someone has to do it. LOL).
The inaugural dinner took place at Fundamental LA a little restaurant located in a nondescript building on Westwood Blvd. in, you guessed it Los Angeles, but you know what they say…”Small but mighty” and by that I mean “mighty” fine food and inspired wine pairings to go with it! The 7 course meal started with a Kampachi (a “designer” cousin to Hamachi -yellowtail) crudo (raw) with mango, serrano chili, Satsuma orange aioli, and granite paired with 2013 Athiri. The fish was a perfect complement to the wine…delicate and not overpowering.
The thing about this wine for me, is I tend to get more mineral aspects mixed with citrus on it, but others find it to have a way more fruity quality of white flesh fruit. Which just goes to show how wine tasting can be so subjective. Everyone’s palate is different, and what YOU get from a wine when you drink it is what matters. It is also why going wine tasting with friends is so much fun, because it allows everyone to compare and contrast what they are tasting in the same wine.
Next we had Grilled Cauliflower with plantain, raisin and smoked almonds paired with the 2013 Malagousia. Now this is a wine! Thought to have been extinct, Malagousia was rediscovered in 1963 at Delphi, and really brought back to prominence as a varietal over the last 20 years. This wine is stainless steel fermented and is floral and fruit forward. It has a botanical quality highlighting chamomile and hints of pit fruits like apricots and nectarines, along with tropical citrus notes.
Although the food and wine pairings were very well done there were two pairings that really stuck out as completely inspired, and this is one of them. The Malagousia was a perfect complement to the grilled cauliflower and plantain.
Moving on to the Goat Cheese Agnolotti (kind of a ravioli type pasta) served with shimeji (mushrooms), asparagus, pea shoots, and Parmesan foam (yes I said foam, and I have no idea how it was made, but it certainly was good!). This dish was paired with the 2013 Assyrtiko and went very well but the kicker was they gave us a preview of the 2014 Assyrtiko and that went even better. The 2014 is something else! It’s currently an unfiltered wine so the clarity is a bit cloud, but before release they will be filtering it and by the time it goes to market it will be clear like the 2013. This is a richer wine than the previous vintage and has a lot more depth of character, which I really liked. I can’t wait for the release!
Then came the main dishes. We started with a Wild Sockeye Salmon with heirloom beans, farro (a grain) and hollandaise sauce paired with the 2011 Limnio. This was the other dish and pairing that really blew me away. First off I need to say I am NOT a cooked fish fan, particularly salmon, it always seems to have such a fishy flavor it tends to be overwhelming for me. THIS was not the experience I had with this dish. I have learned over the years of gastronomical indulgence, that even if I know I won’t like something that I need to try it anyway because sometimes, I get surprised. This dish surprised me. It was hands down the best salmon dish I’ve ever had. The fish was meaty in texture and the flavor was not remotely fishy, the “glaze” used on the salmon was a perfect complement to the Limneo and both shone beautifully together.
Up next was the Spiced Duck with confit hash, cipollini, and purple cabbage served with the 2005 Chateau Porto Carras. The Chateau is our flagship wine and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Limnio, and Merlot. The wine is aged in French oak barrels for 24 months, then bottled and aged again in the cellars for one year. The wine in this pairing played very nice it stood up nicely to the duck and strong flavors of the purple cabbage which was puréed and spread on the plate.
The 2010 Magnus Baccata– named for the baccata trees that separate the vineyards, is a Syrah / Cab blend and was served with Pecorino garnished with pickled kumquat, frisee and a shallot ring. At 5 years old this blend happens to be showing absolutely beautifully right now and will only continue to get better. It was aged for a year in French oak and has a beautiful deep purple color. You can definitely pick up hints of chocolate and black cherry while experiencing an all over velvet mouth feel and very balanced tannins.
Lastly we had dessert which was a Yogurt Panna Cotta with house-made granola, strawberry meringue and wild berry sherbet. This wasn’t paired with a wine because at this time to my knowledge we don’t offer a dessert wine. However if it was up to me, I’d love to see a late harvest Malagousia come from DPC. I think they could really bring some incredible notes of pure, sweet deliciousness out of that grape. Sadly at this time I can only dream…
The only disappointment of the evening was Chef Philip didn’t make an appearance, so we weren’t able to tell him personally how much we enjoyed the meal. All that being said, our next stop on the tour is at Taverna Blu in San Diego. So if you are in the neighborhood, or know anyone who is, give the restaurant a call and add your name to the list for DPC wine pairing dinner tomorrow night March 31, 2015.
Let us celebrate the occasion with wine and sweet words. ~Plautus
Great upcoming events: Taverna Blu– Wine dinner 3/31/15; The Wine Country -consumer tasting 4/2/15;4/1 – 5/3/15 Roll at the Barrels (#ROTB2015); Pathos Organic Greek Kitchen -Wine dinner 4/7/15; 4/17-19/15 Earth Day Food and Wine Festival; 5/2/15 Cabs of Distinction; 5/3/15 Flavor of SLO; 5/14-17/15 Paso Robles Wine Festival; 5/27-30/15 Chardonnay Symposium; 5/31/15 SLO Greek Festival; 7/17-19/15 Bacon and Barrels