I had all sorts of expectations for Wine Blogging Wednesday 13. I expected that I would love the task of uniting two of my greatest passions--really good chocolate and great wine. I also had expectations about which wine would make for the best pairing. And I expected that trying to make this pairing would be more than I could do alone--so I called on some friends.
I told them, "we have a job to do". I would bake the Melt in Your Mouth Chocolate Cake that Clotilde recommended and I would provide the wines, and they would provide their palates. I undertook this assignment with earnest to the point that when several of us went wine tasting around Seneca Lake on Saturday, my near singular agenda was to find a wine to drink tonight.
Well, I settled on three bottles. A fairly young red table wine from an organic vineyard on Seneca Lake (NY)--the Four Chimneys Shingle Point Red, a Muscat from Bonterra Vineyards--another organic winery in Mendocino County,CA and a Port from Wellington Vineyards in Sonoma County, CA. We all had our expectations shattered tonight.
D, who had no regard for any of the Four Chimneys wines at our tasting on Saturday took an unexpected liking to the Shingle Point Red. This was also a favorite of K who generally believes that no good wine can come from New York. I think Four Chimneys is still finding its footing. I really want to love their wines as they claim the title as the first organic vineyard in North America--but they tend to lack the depth I generally favor. But the Shingle Point Red is a semi-dry port-style red with enough body and fruit to handle the chocolate. I thought this was going to be the winner of the evening--but not quite. As the evening wore on and the wine opened up I almost changed my mind but then I tasted the Wellington Port.
Wellington is credited with my life-changing discovery that I like red wines. I first tasted a Wellington Cabernet Sauvignon at Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino back in 1998 while on holiday after attending Paige and Seth's wedding. On that trip I picked up a bottle of their Old Vines Port and loved it. Their wines are not that easy to find so on yet another visit to the Bay area I drove back up to Glen Ellen and picked up this 1998 vintage Port. I've been saving it ever since. And boy was it worth waiting for. Oh my goodness! Each sip coated my tongue with berries and chocolate and paired wonderfully with the cake. It went over very well tonight and was the only bottle completely consumed. Now I'm wondering how I can get a bottle of their latest vintage--thank God for the new state shipping laws!
But here's the surprise of the night--the 2002 Bonterra Muscat. Now, usually I would think this wine would go better with biscotti than chocolate--my mind so quickly thinks of Port when it comes to this kind of thing. I picked up this bottle on my last wine tasting trip as a California resident. A week before loading the moving truck I drove up to Fetzer's organic vineyards and gardens in Hopland, CA. I loved this wine at first sip but still wasn't sure how it would work tonight. Our first impression was that the chocolate overwhelmed the wine(even visually, the wine more closely resembled water than wine) but some who came later to the party--particularly C--thought it went rather well together. I gave it another try and agreed--the sweet fruit (lots of melon and pear notes) of the Muscat really did complement the cake--which was made with a 74% bittersweet chocolate. In this case, the extra sugar was a positive. Together, the cake brought out the brightness of the wine and the wine allowed the nuances of the chocolate to stand out. This was the winner. Not at all what I expected.