Earlier this week, Bassline Pub & Eatery offered a unique wine and food pairing session. It was the perfect way to spend an evening on a day dubbed as Blue Monday…January’s supposed most depressing day of the year. The idea to host these special evenings began last year in Ottawa’s quaint west end bar/restaurant/music venue, supported by owner A.J. Scarcella. Paul Corfe, one of the establishment’s bartenders and our culinary and wine expert for the night, has had an on-going love affair for all things food and wine, enhanced by his years of formal training. The pub seemed the ideal spot to put his skills to practice and the clientele were only too happy to participate. After the success of the handful that were held last year, both Scarcella and Corfe decided to hold six tastings for 2015.
This evening we would begin with two white wines, three reds, and a cider ice wine to close. The succession commenced with the lightest bodied white, Willm Réserve Riesling (2013), from France’s Alsace region. Full of fruity, floral aroma, I found this wine surprisingly dry, yet crisp. It packed a punch toward the back of the cheek area, quickly ebbed by its short to medium finish. This was paired with baked lentil chips, smothered in chive and onion cream cheese, and crushed pistachio. The two together brought out the predominant flavour of the nut, and took the edge off the sharpness of the wine. It was a perfect pairing.
Next up was Marlborough, New Zealand’s, Alpine Valley Sauvignon Blanc (2011). I was immediately hit with its grapefruit aroma, yet the taste was clean and crisp, non-acidic, not too dry, and had a soft, medium finish. This was paired with strawberries stuffed with applewood smoked cheddar, which provided a longer finish on the palate. Another delightful combo.
The first of the reds was the very light-bodied, Patriarche Pinot Noir (2013), Vins De Pays D’oc, from Languedoc-Roussillon, France. It had the characteristics of a young wine in that it was clear-edged and pale ruby in colour, yet exhibited a deliciously thick cherry aroma. The taste was indeed full of cherry tones, a slight bitter edge, but very flavourful with a short finish. A simple pairing of prosciutto-wrapped papaya, enhanced the wine’s fruitiness and completely eliminated any trace of bitterness.
The second red was a blended variety from the Bordeaux region, Chateau Bel Air (2012), which consisted of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot grapes. This had a full ruby colour with zesty aromas of cherry, oak, and spiced tobacco. In contrast, I found it not quite as flavourful as the last red, but lingered in a very velvety finish. However, the pairing of chorizo sausage stuffed dates with this particular wine absolutely popped on the palate. This duo provided the utmost exercise on the taste buds so far.
The last of the reds was hands down my favourite of the night. San Francisco, California’s Wente Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon (2012). It was rich in aromas of black cherry and dark plum with hints of anise and chocolate. The abundance of flavours exploded in my mouth and left a long, smooth finish. The pairing of delicious morsels of roast beef was sheer heaven, and brought this segment of the drier wine tastings to a perfect ending.
Finally, we finished up with an ice cider wine from Quebec called, Leduc-Piedmonte (2008). The quality and sweetness of these wines depends a great deal on an abundant crop and weather conditions that need to dip well below zero. The apples used in this particular dessert wine are of the Spartan and Empire variety. Aromas in citrus and alcohol were slightly pungent but the flavour erupts in the mouth with wonderful fruity sweetness, which for some palates around the table, may have been a tad too syrupy. I found it coupled well with the melon and smoked gouda combination and took the sweetness swell down to a more neutral level.
From start to finish, I found the choices of food and wine to have been well rounded, the explanations were interesting, well informed and brought about an excited engagement of conversation in the experience as the night wore on. I look forward to the next in the series!
Upcoming dates for Bassline Pub’s Wine & Food Pairings for 2015 are, March 23, May 11, July 20, September 14, and November 23. The cost is $25 per person. For more information, please call (613)482-9602, or visit the website. Bassline is located at 2557 Baseline Road.