Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tanglewood Wine & Food Classic

Tanglewood Wine & Food Classic pairs best wines of the world with top local chefs, gourmet foods

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

Tanglewood, Lenox, Mass—Tanglewood Wine & Food Classic, now in its seventh year, filled the Grand Tasting tent to overflowing with wines from 80 vintners from around the world who brought their best vintages to pair with the Boston and New York region’s top celebrity chefs and locally sourced gourmet foods that would rival anything found in France or Italy.

The Hudson Valley Foie Gras served up by the chefs at Bistro Zinc’s table was the litmus test. Served simply with a sprinkle of Grey Sea Salt or a dollop of locally made fresh pinot grape preserves, the pristine nuggets of goose liver glistened with a diamond-like luster. I had tasted Hudson Valley Foie Gras before, but never like this. The creamy, mouth-watering delicacy literally melted in my mouth, leaving behind just a whisper of its fresh game flavor. I walked quickly to a nearby table to grab a glass of Cabernet to wash it down with, when I made another delightful discovery, the wines of Kathryn and Craig Hall of Napa Valley. The wines are literally a work of art. I’d not had their wines in years and, each time I had visited Napa Valley, failed to squeeze a visit into my tight tasting schedule. What a coincidence to run into their wines at Tanglewood and have an opportunity to taste them with such exquisite fare!

Hall Wines is a 21st Century winery that employs organic, small vine viticulture. Its six Estate vineyards stretch from the ancient river beds on the Napa Valley floor to the sun-drenched foothills, producing classic Bordeaux varietals; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Kathryn Hall 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($74) was rated #20 of the Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines of 2009. The 2006 vintage ($95) was equally praised and the newest release ($34.99) is already showing promise. The wine has a silky finish that makes it compatible with most food choices. You don’t have to reserve it for Foie Gras. It goes perfectly with a well-marbled steak or a nicely marinated slab of Berkshire Heritage Pig baby back ribs.

Hall 2009 Sauvignon Blanc ($21.99) is one of the most focused reflections of the varietal that I’ve encountered. Its lovely grapefruit and citrus flavors are well balanced with just the right amount of acidity to give it finesse and a polished minerality that makes it a foodies’ choice. Soft, ripe fruit gives it a pleasing and refreshing taste that cleans the palate between bites of fresh salmon or lightly curried shrimp. The smell of tree blossoms and hints of mineral notes on the finish makes this a wine to linger with on the patio long after the brunch plates are cleared away.

Wandering back over to the Bistro Zinc table, and then to the Kerrygold Cheese stand for a taste of their latest spreadable lite Blue Cheese from Ireland, I was convinced that I’d found culinary nirvana. The array of locally produced cheeses and salumi was also dazzling, particularly the selection from Fortuna’s Sausage Co. and the fresh semi-soft cheeses from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery. The summer diet quickly went out the window. It’s time to start fattening up for the onslaught of winter’s cold anyway!

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