Take Out Winner: Thai Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce.
Opus Overture, Thrifty Malbec, and take-out peanut sauce Win
Opus’ Overture wowed the Wine Council, paused our tasting, took our conversation off topic, and was, by a long shot, the star of this and other evenings. We gathered at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony in the hills just east of Temecula, CA. Here, the panoramic views are as varied as our wines were.
The council pairs wine and food, looking for the just right combination, trying a few experiments for a surprise. Invariably, we learn more every time. Our surprise: peanut sauce goes with almost anything. We found that the sweetness of Thai peanut sauce complimented the acidity in our white wines, Argentinian beef skewers with chimichurri sauce enriched the inky berriness of Argentinian Malbec, and pork ragout’s slightly sweet marinara sauce paired especially well with the luscious, rich fruit of the Overture meritage. Scallops with tomatoes and basil could reliably pair with each wine, but were best with chardonnay. Because acidity does not pair well with acidity, a Thai mango salad was not a good match for any of the wines.
There were no losers in our wine lineup. There were, however, true stars and then, reliable picks.
Pepi Sauvignon Blanc, 2012, $10. A California Sauvignon Blanc that tastes like New Zealand's. Dry and acidic, with pronounced citrus flavors, this is a good choice at the price. Pair with Scallops or salad with a creamy, sweeter dressing.
Camelot Pinot Grigio $10, NV. Clean, crisp, with slight citrus. While the council ranked this last of our lineup, it is a good, well priced, Pinot Grigio, suited to picnics and BBQ’s, best paired with crisp salad with a thick, sweeter dressing. The Thai spring rolls with peanut sauce filled the bill, the sauce’s sweetness offset by the wine’s acidity.
Buena Vista Cream Sherry, $50. Using the Solera process for aging and blending, Buena Vista's cream sherry has aromas of almonds and honey, tastes of nuts and vanilla with the cream appearing at the end. I found the initial nose to be a little medicinal, but by the second taste, its almonds appeared. This would be very good with smores or creme brulee. The council chose this third for the night.
Kendal Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay, 2013, $13. Tropical pineapple and citrus combine with pronounced vanilla flavors to produce a rich, slightly oaky, creamy Chardonnay. This wine pairs best with sea food (the scallops were perfect). The council's favorite white of the night.
Opus' Overture, NV, $80-$120. Luscious, rich, tight, melt in your mouth, fruit in the rear. This red meritage has the same five Bordeaux varietals as Opus One, but is non-vintage, and only available at the winery or on-line from the winery. This Overture was simply singular. Versatile enough for scallops, it paired best with meat dishes, particularly the Pork Ragout's slightly sweet, richly tomato flavors. Be prepared for everyone to linger on this wine, and the conversation to wander pleasantly.
Pasqual Toso's Malbec, 2012, $9. A 2013 bronze medal winner at the International Wine Challenge, from a 120 year old winery in Argentina, this Malbec is deeply inky, berry forward, but balanced. Spicy and rich, it tastes like wines at twice (or more) the price. For daily living, this Malbec is worth searching out.