The First Date

They say you always remember your first, and here’s why.

In our previous post we discussed the name and the direction we’d like to take – in our first meeting, before getting down to the tasteful business, we further established the road we’d like to take. Rather than simply taste different wines, we want to create a journey that will be split into chapters as we go along. Further to that, our blog posts won’t be once-a-month interactions, we’ll be in touch with tasting techniques, events to look out for (not our own just yet, but others worth your presence) and most things wine related.

It all starts with the grape after all…

To get the ball rolling, we went with basic grapes and single varieties, rather than blends. In order of tasting, the wines were Hopler Riesling, Terlan Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay Chablis for the white section, and Harel Merlot, Prima Nature Cabartnet Sauvignon, Il-Gardell Cabernet Sauvignon and Bel Syrah to complete the reds. Read on below for our take, along with the food Chef Emann opted to pair for each bottle.

Hopler, Riesling (2013) – Paired with chicken, ricotta and orange mayo focaccia

Neat pairing, despite citrus common ground; neither were overbearing, complementing each other well.

A dry and fruity wine, veering onto a greenish hue, there’s no attempt here to hide the citrus flavours, making it a great match with the focaccias’ orange mayo. They’re very well matched and bring out the best (in our opinion) flavours in each other. On a side note, Kevin made a good point in explaining how one should take in as much feedback as you can from tasting in order to create a proper experience. Simply because Riesling has gone well with chicken, break the stereotype that white should only be paired with white meats – you could easily try this wine with a citrus-focused carpaccio (for example) and open your mind to new possibilities.

Terlan, Sauvignon Blanc (2017) – Smoked Haddock and Horseradish Toastie

Whilst the toastie tasted good, it’s saltiness dampened the wine’s potential.

James’ first comment: “If only you could smell pictures”. Slightly darker in colour and a fruitier wine to the first, especially with its’ hints of melon and peach along with floral undertones, it was a good contrast to the Riesling, and though the toastie is worth eating in its’ own right, it’s probably better off without wine. The haddock’s saltiness left the palate dry and somewhat dulled the wine’s potential, but this is where we’ll call out the chef (#NoTell). Emann had been wanting to try out this toastie for quite a while, and with four other people to test on, it was the perfect opportunity. Final verdict: sandwich is good, but not with wine.

Chardonnay, Chablis (2017) – Crab thermidor slider

Paired to great effect, chef is back on track with the food.

Though we had no doubt the haddock toastie was a one-off, in the sense that it could have been paired better, this pairing was not only right on point, but were a great match. Still young with great potential when it ages, we detected plenty of citrus, a hint of apple on the nose and is definitely herbaceous (dill VS sage VS thyme). One element that we sensed but could not place was almonds, but a bit of research cleared that up soon enough!

Har’El, Merlot (2012) – Lamb and feta köfte

Did you know: “Gat” is Hebrew for wine press, and this one pre-dates the Roman period by a thousand years

Dark red and even shifting onto brown, this is a very particular wine and not one we’d recommend for beginners. Though Israel is relatively new-world, they are heavily influenced by French wines (hardly a bad thing, though?) and this one in has a long finish, possibly to do with the lingering sediment. Though complex, it was well paired with the köfte given the mix of blackberries and plums as well as Mediterranean plants and herbs.

Prima Nature, Cabarnet Sauvignon (2017) – Steak and mushroom sandwich

Irony at its best: vegan wine paired with a steak sandwich…

This was one of our favourite wines of the evening and definitely one we’d recommend for those who have not tried it yet! There’s no fertiliser used since it’s a vegan wine – young in nature and dark ruby red in colour, we detect a hint of figs in the taste and a (surprising) smell of dairy. From the supplier or from a bottle shop, there’s a good chance you’ll find this bottle priced at no more than €12…as good a deal as one could find!

Bel, Syrah (2015) – BBQ pork belly mini ftira

Last buy not least, we’ve gone local with this one, closing the night with a Maltese Syrah from Meridiana Wine Estate, and the verdict that the taste is distinctly Mediterranean. Hints of berries and spices, and dare we say, prickly pears?

In Conclusion…

Favourite red would have to be the Har’El, our white recommendation would be the Chablis, but the most pleasant surprise of the evening would have to be the Prima Nature.

Let us know your thoughts on our thoughts in the comments below and stay tuned for more posts in the near future!

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