A couple of weeks ago we ventured east to El Dorado County with a small group of friends who had never been tasting in Gold Country before. We dropped in to a couple of our favorite wineries to taste and buy. One of our destinations was Crystal Basin Cellars.
CBC has revised their tasting menu. We were offered a list of a dozen wines to be tasted for a low $5 tasting fee. The fee would be waived if we purchased any wine. If you’re gonna charge a tasting fee, that’s the way to do it. Even though I wasn’t driving, I could not taste a dozen wines after having tasted a half dozen at the previous winery. So I stuck to the reds.
The had a “mini vertical” tasting of the 2008 and 2009 El Dorado County Reserve Mourvedre’s. In the tasting room I liked both, the 2008 more. I thought the wines were smooth and complex with a depth of flavors and enough acid to go with some not quite lean meats. Because they were having a deal on these wines – one bottle of each for a total of $40, the normal price is $27 / bottle – I made a purchase.
Yesterday evening I opened the 2008 to accompany a lean and slightly spicy beef dish. I thought that the light black peppery quality to the Mourvedre would complement the food. Wow. Was I wrong! Instead, the food and wine combined and the spice seemed to increase exponentially!
It was a total food and wine pairing fail. And it was my fault. My error made the Mourvedre over power the food and overwhelm my palate with a strong, black pepper flavors. I needed water to cool my mouth down. Individually, neither the wine nor the meal was remotely that spicy. But in combination it was a nuclear spice explosion on the tongue. My partner agreed, and switched to a sweeter, less complex table red to finish the meal.
Needless to say, the wine did not shine under these conditions. I finished the meal with water as the beverage. I had some bland crackers to clean my palate and after the meal, I had another glass of the Mourvedre.
The 2008 Reserve is a medium bodied wine with a 14.1% alcohol. It has a lovely dark ruby color. The 2008 has a bit of acid that would go well with a slightly fatty food, and very smooth tannins. It is is a moderately complex wine. As I mentioned, it does have a slight black peppery quality to it that would complement lamb or beef, or even turkey, but not foods with even a little bit of black or spicy pepper!
After the meal, and by itself, I enjoyed the wine quite a bit. It took about 45 minutes for the wine to relax and open up before the dinner and after dinner it was very good. I think for this wine to shine, it needs to be paired with a completely different food to really come into it’s own. I’ll have to remember this when I’m opening up the 2009.