Roussanne: Tablas Creek 2011 – Pairing Rating: 9.0 out of 10.0
Red Burgundy: Domaine Louis Latour Beaune 2005 – Pairing Rating: 8.0
Our son, Adam, and his girlfriend, Bri, took time during their winter school break to cook for us! Quite a treat for us to enjoy their cooking and, importantly, see them embrace cooking as an avocation. The menu was classic winter fare: Pan-Seared Pork Chops w/Basil Cream Sauce, Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts, Crispy, Smashed, Roasted Potatoes
I had once read that Roussanne pairs well with pork, so I was anxious to put that to a test. Roussanne is a traditional Rhone grape, often blended with another Rhone white grape, Marsanne; but it also finds a home in Central California. I chose the Tablas Creek Roussanne 2011 ($35), grown and vinified in Paso Robles, CA.
The Roussanne was elegant: the aromatics were herbal rather than zesty citrus; some describe the perfume as verbena, baked bread and spring blossom, which seemed pretty close to the mark. The acidity was mild, and the wine delivered a honeyed and complex palate-feel. I found it to be the perfect complement to the delicacy of the Basil Cream Sauce. And like the sauce, the wine didn’t surrender its beauty easily; it asked for reflection and consideration. – more Thomas Mann than Tom Wolfe.
And with 10 years of bottle age, the wine was near its peak. I loved this wine . . . but it was too bold for the delicate Basil Cream Sauce. As for Bri’s Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts, the Burgundy didn’t work at all. While balsamic is usually more wine-friendly than other vinegars, this was a case where the sweetness of the balsamic overpowered the fruit of the wine. The balsamic made the Burgundy taste astringent. The winning Beaune lost the match. Note that when making vinaigrettes, try to keep the oil-to-vinegar ratio at 4:1 or more, and serve white wines with white vinegars and red wines with red vinegars. These tips should make your pairings easier.
The Roussanne had none of the pairing problems described above. As such, it got a higher score even though in a separate tasting with no food, the Beaune would clearly get higher points from me.
Adam and Bri did a great job with dinner, and I was glad the Roussanne allowed the delicate and complex flavors of their recipes to shine. But the wine story here is: try the Roussanne!