We have one of our Larder Wine & Cheese nights coming up this Monday the 15th of March. The great thing about these evenings is the process of putting the menu together. Most of the time, the preparation for an event is the least pleasurable part, with all of the administration, organization and stress. But with our Larder Mondays, the opposite holds true.
A few days before the actual evening, I sit down with my business partner Suzanne and our Larder Sous-Chef, Melody and we taste the four wines that I've chosen for the night. We taste each wine on its own and then go through the line-up again, tasting along side an array of cheeses and cured meats in an effort to figure out what works. By the end of our "sessions" we look like a group of hedonistic ladies who lunch with empty wine glasses and scraps and blobs of luscious cheeses scattered around us. This is literally my favorite part of my week as it doesn't feel like work at all, and yet it's so educational.
The evening that we have planned for March 15th is a sampling of Australian wines, both white and red. I always get a bit nervous when I open these wines for Melody and Suzanne as I worry that the wines won't be as good as I remember them to be. I breathe a sigh of relief when the wines show well, thankful that maybe I do know what I'm doing.
Today's sigh of relief: the 2008 Glen Eldon Riesling from Eden Valley, Australia. Riesling from Australia can be a sketchy thing. Such a hot climate can produce a flabby, sweet wine that is all sugar and honeysuckle and none of the mineral and acid that riesling can be. This wine is the shining exception. The aromas in this wine are much like an Alsatian or Austrian wine with characteristic tar and diesel on the nose, along with touches of white flowers and lemon. On the palate, tart apple and passionfruit dominate with hints of savory herbs and the continuation of that tarry element throughout. The Australia in this wine comes out in its generally assertive nature. This is not a delicate wine, though it's not a bulldozer either. It's a beautiful and balanced wine that can be paired with a multitude of foods. Red Square, a creamy, meaty cheese from Australia tasted wonderful with this wine, matching the wine's intensity and playing off of its earthy savoriness.
The rest of the night's wines are equally as impressive as they show that wines from Australia can be surprisingly diverse and elegant. Of course, I'm already looking forward to next week's tasting session and am thinking we should make this wine and cheese thing a daily activity.