Friday, July 1, 2022

Gourmet Lunch Highlights Unique White Wines

A rare grape, wine from Uruguay, and a special dessert treat highlight our opulent meal

Wine – It’s What’s For Lunch

Lunchtime on a Friday isn’t usually anything special. We’re usually trying to finish up dangling to-do items from the workweek and looking forward to the weekend. That changed recently when we received a lunch invitation from Arthur and Mary Barham. Arthur is the man behind Merlot2Muscadine.

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Arthur also has considerable flair as a gourmet cook. Last week he decided to treat the Green Dragon and me to a truly memorable meal prepared by him at his house. Of course, the dishes were carefully paired with some unique and delicious wines.

A Rare Rhone Grape Appears

The memorable afternoon opened with Lemonade Mimosas. As Arthur explained, he likes to “experiment” on us. This drink was Champagne with a dash of lemonade. Interesting – but it couldn’t hold a candle to what was about to come.

The first course required a trip to the outside deck, where Arthur put crispy grill marks on Romaine lettuce. This was a prelude to the scrumptious Charred Romaine Caesar Salad with creamy Caesar dressing, shaved parmesan, and croutons. The salad alone would have been delightful, but the wine pairing of a 2020 Acquiesce Bourboulenc propelled it to the next level. Acquiesce is a Lodi winery that focuses on Rhone-style white wines. I was introduced to Acquiesce wines some years ago at the Wine Bloggers Conference held in Lodi. I was thunderstruck by the quality and variety of the Acquiesce wines.

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The aroma of the Bourboulenc smelled of lemon zest. In the glass, it is a light golden color and has a medium body. This hard-to-find French grape has green apple on the palate and rollicks with bold citrus. The wine is nicely textured and wrapped with nice acidity. It was just perfect for the dish.

The Meal Is Stacked

The main course was Seasoned Tuna stacked with red onions, tomatoes, celery, radish, and ranch dressing. This was Arthur’s first foray into using a mold to prepare a dish. It all hung together nicely, and, in fact, was a foodie-photographer’s delight.

Not just any wine could be paired with this tower of culinary art. The wine was a 2020 Bodega Garzón Single Vineyard Albariño. I’ve had Albariño from many different regions including Rias Baixas in Spain, but this was my first from Uruguay. The tuna stack continued the theme of light, tasty summer fare, while the Garzón amped up the white wine goodness.

With a few exceptions, Albariño has a nice groove with lime, peach notes, and occasional salinity and much of it tastes the same. Garzón is quite different, packing much more of a punch (14% ABV) than a typical Spanish or California Albariño. It has some nice floral touches, tropical fruit notes, and good minerality.

Liquid Gold

We had a sweet finish to the meal, a Sorbet Trio with Lemon Girl Scout Cookie paired with Linville Falls Late Harvest Riesling. Linville Falls is a North Carolina winery tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The elevation of 3,200 feet allows it to grow grapes that would fail at lower and hotter elevations. They call their Late-Harvest Riesling “liquid gold.” Late harvest wines get more “hang time” on the vine and start to dehydrate, concentrating the sugar in each grape.

The sweetness was balanced out by a trio of sherbet (I still continue my campaign of telling people it is “sherbet” not “sherbert!”). Joining the sherbet was a Girl Scout Lemon Cookie. Who knew what a great combination this would be? 

Thanks to Arthur and Mary for a magnificent meal.

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