I’ve been on the road for two months and literally just returned to Taiwan Sunday night/Monday morning and Brett already managed to find a really unique wine event taking place Tuesday night. We have an Australian wine specialty store (Adelaide Finewine Cellar) here in Taipei who was hosting a wine pairing dinner in conjunction with Josef Chromy Wines from Tasmania. The event was limited to 20 people and I figured we had zero chance of getting in the same day, but they made room for us with only one spot actually still available.
The event was being held at a relatively new French restaurant here in Taipei – L’Atelier de Patrick opened in July 2009, literally a block away from our beloved Abu Authentic Cuisine. Since we had not tried this restaurant and want to learn more about Australian wines, this was a win win situation. For NT 3,000 (about $100 US per person based on current exchange rates), you would receive an seven course dinner paired with 8 different wines. David Milne, Sales and Marketing Manager for Josef Chromy was on hand to introduce the winery and explain the wines of the evening to guests, which was great for us since we were the only two in attendance that did not speak Mandarin.
We started the evening by sampling the 2008 Josef Chromy Pepik Sparkling Rose wine. This dry wine had an aromatic nose of strawberries that carried through to the palate. It is made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from Josef Chromy estate vineyard at Relbia in northern Tasmania. This current release would definitely pair well with salmon or a light seafood dish as suggested.
First Course (Amuse Bouche): Caramelized Foie Gras Brulee and Sweet Pea Shot
Wine: 2005 Josef Chromy Vintage Sparkling wine
Our first course was the Amuse Bouche, which was a caramelized foie gras brulee and sweet pea shot, topped with onion confit and pancetta sauce. This definitely left me wanting more! The caramelized foie gras was so light, yet very flavorful, and it was caramelized perfectly. The onion confit had the perfect blend of sweet and savory. The course was a great match for the first wine, which was their signature Vintage Sparkling. I am the first to admit I am not the biggest sparkling wine fan, but this won me over. The nose of crisp green apples was quite evident and it had a toasty element on the palate. This wine is a mix of 53% Pinot Noir and 47% Chardonnay and cellared for 3 years, giving it that toasty element, which will become more evident with further aging. This is a great wine with pate, oysters, and I have a favorite vanilla bean Champagne scallops recipe from Emeril Lagasse that this would pair perfectly with. I can definitely see enjoying a dozen oysters with this wine as well!
Second Course (Soupe): French Clam Soup with Vegetables
Wine: Josef Chromy Gewurztraminer
This was an interesting course. The French Clam Soup was a thin soup with tiny bits of chopped vegetables. The soup had a decent amount of clam, but I was not sold on the vegetables. They were a bit strong and almost overpowered the clams in my opinion. The wine was quite a surprise as well. I am used to a Gewurztraminer that almost slaps you in the face with its sweetness and I did not get that with this wine. The rose petal aroma was quite evident and a bit of the spice came through over the sweetness, which I loved. Although not as sweet as many other Gewurztraminers, still a perfect complement for Asian dishes. I would have much preferred to see a little more spice in this course to see how the wine stood up.
Third Course (Entree): Pan Fried Halibut with Chorizo, Herb Salad, and Green Apple Sauce
Wine: 2006 Josef Chromy Chardonnay
This course was a true home run in my book. The pan fried halibut was stuffed with a delicious chorizo and the green apple sauce really paired well with the Chardonnay. We are not normally big white wine drinkers (except for when we are cooking Asian food) and this was probably our top wine of the night. The fruit notes of the wine were very evident when paired with the green apple sauce. This Chardonnay had a lot of the characteristics I love in some California Chardonnays, minus the butter. It was quite oaky, but still rather fruit forward. The wine is aged in French oak – 1/3 is new oak while the rest is 1 to 2 year old barrels. The wine goes through no malolactic fermentation so it lacks the buttery element often found in California Chardonnays and instead retains the green apple quality of the malic acid. Brett described this one as a mouthful of toasted marshmallows!
Fourth Course (Petit Plat): Slow Cooked Veal Fillet with Potato Mille Feulles and Bearnaise Sauce
Wines: 2007 Josef Chromy Pinot Noir and 2006 Josef Chromy ZDAR Pinot Noir
We learned the Tasmania region is a cool wine climate and known for its Pinot Noir, Sparkling Wines, and Chardonnay, so we were rather excited to get to this course. I am not a huge fan of veal, but it was super tender and hey, anything topped with foie gras is ok in my book. The potato mille feulles was quite interesting and a unique take on the traditional French pastry. Both of the Pinot Noirs were incredible – the 2006 Reserve was Brett’s favorite. He really liked the earthy and “dirt” component whereas he felt the 07 was a bit tannic still. I really liked both, but the fruit was more forward in the 2007. I liked the mix of fruit and earthiness, but hey, I wouldn’t complain if we had either. Both were definitely bold Pinot Noirs and two of our favorites of the night. Dave explained their take on Pinot Noir was to go “back to basics” and showcase the characteristics of the Pinot Noir grape itself.
Fifth Course (Palate Cleanser): Granita
Always a perfect palate cleanser and a great way to prep the taste buds for the big course to follow.
Sixth Course (Plat): Pan Seared Pork Rack of Iberian Pig with Truffle Mash and Perigot Sauce
Wine: 2005 Warrenmang Grand Pyrenees Cabernet Sauvignon and 2004 Warrenmang Estate Shiraz
This was a beautiful course with two bold red wines. I think I will always be loyal to my California Cabernets, but this was a good offering out of Australia. This is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. An interesting note, each grape is fermented, pressed, and matured separately – in both American and French oak for a period of two years. The 2004 Shiraz is exactly what you would expect form an excellent Australian wine. The fruit is hand picked from Warrenmang’s low yield non-irrigated estate vineyard and is aged for 18 months in both French and American oak. This is a very complex wine with notes of pepper and dark fruit.
Moving on from the wines, this course was heaven on a plate. The pork had a nice balance of fat and a rich flavor and the truffle mash…ohhh the truffle mash! The menu listed a Perigot sauce, but I am guessing it was a Perigord sauce, which I believe is a wine and truffle sauce.
Seventh Course (Dessert): Tout Cafe
Wine: 2009 Josef Chromy Botrytis Riesling
The dessert course included a rich chocolate cake and sorbet with a dried/candied fruit slice. According to the winery, the Botrytis Riesling pairs well with both light desserts, like sorbets, to rich desserts, like chocolate cake, so we experienced both ends of the spectrum. The cake was rich in flavor, but very light in texture. Both desserts worked very well with this wine, which had floral aromas and a crisp mouthfeel with an orange marmalade finish.
After we were done with dinner, the chef and restaurateur, Patrick, came out to say hello. He is a very talented chef and has already made a name for himself in just over a year. We are looking forward to visiting the restaurant again to try some of his other prix fixe menus! Thanks to Dave from Josef Chromy, the staff at Adelaide Finewine, and chef Patrick for an absolutely wonderful evening!
Josef Chromy Wines
370 Relbia Road Relbia
Tasmania 7258 Australia
Adelaide Finewine Cellar
3 locations in Taipei
No. 162, sec. 1, Fusing S. Road
Taipei, 106 Taiwan
L’Atelier de Patrick Restaurant
42 Siwei Road