The folks from Beaujolais came to Portland to make a point. They brought their wines, worked with the Chef at Salty’s On The Columbia, and proved their point beyond any doubt: Beaujolais is the food-friendliest and most accommodating wine there is.
Inter-Beaujolais, the marketing body of Beaujolais wine, created a multiple-city Beaujolais food fest tour along the west coast to remind people how utterly versatile Beaujolais can be. At Hakkusan Beverly Hills they had an exotic Chinese connection that dazzled the mind and fascinated the palate. At Puesta del Sol in San Pedro, CA, it was an audacious pairing of Mexican flavors with Beaujolais that captured the imagination. During their stop in Portland, they featured the seafood and shellfish delights of the Pacific Northwest with the endlessly versatile and charming Beaujolais.
In Portland, Anthony Collet, Head of Marketing and Communications for Inter-Beaujolais, consulted with the chef and sommelier at Salty’s On the Columbia for a sumptuous feast of seafood and Beaujolais.
Enjoy the accompanying photos by Katie Acheff. Katie also has a wonderful blog with even more beautiful photos and her own take on the evening.
Chilled Northwest Seafood and Beaujolais Rosé
As an appetizer Salty's served fresh Northwest seafood bits with a delightful, crisp Chateau Thivin Beaujolais Rosé 2012 with light strawberry and raspberry fruits that highlighted the hors d’ouevres beautifully and set the wine and food tone for the evening: a “food wine” should accommodate itself to showcase the food, not obscure it. The rose did precisely that and foreshadowed the remainder of the dinner pairings.
Lobster Trio with Beaujolais Blanc
Our palates were whetted for more delicious pairings, so the waitstaff placed the Lobster Trio course in front of us, accompanied by a soft and silky-textured Domain Lucien Lardy Beaujolais Villages Blanc 2012, a 100% Chardonnay with bright tropical aromas in a fruit-forward style. Lobster, with its intense, rich sweet meat, can be a tricky match with wine---and especially so when there are three contrasting preparations of lobster on the plate--- but this combination worked quite well, nicely abetted by the very light whisper of oak echoing behind the fruit.
Four Cru Beaulolais for dinner
The four Cru Beaujolais to be enjoyed with seafood at Salty's.
Beaujolais is comprised of three AOCS: Beaujolais AOC, Beaujolais-Villages AOC, and Cru Beaujolais, of which there are ten, all located in the northern, hilly part of the region, tucked up against Macon to the north.
It's worth the effort to seek out these signally delicious expressions of gamay from the ten Cru Beaujolais: Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Côte de Brouilly, and Brouilly.
Bronzed Ahi Tuna and Fleurie
Salty’s Bronzed Ahi Tuna required a step up in body and intensity, which was no problem whatsoever for the Villa Ponciago La Reserve Fleurie 2011, a meaty red to match the meaty chunks of rare, seared tuna and a dollop of saturated cherry fruit, briskly assertive acids, and a touch of tamed tannins showing immaculate balance with the entire dish.
Anthony Collet, Inter-Beaujolais
Anthony Collet, Marketing Director for Inter-Beaujolais, presented the group with a map to highlight the different AOCs in Beaujolais, and more importantly, explained the amazing pastiche of soils and terroirs in the northern part of Beaujolais where the ten Cru Beaujolais AOCs are located.
A tasting of the many and varied Cru Beaujolais is a stunning revelation of the diversity this region can achieve with the gamay variety, ranging from light, fruity and amusing picnic wine to truly impressive, complex and utterly distinctive expressions of the soil, the vine, and the winemaker's style.
Alaskan Halibut and Chiroubles
Another step up in power and overall complexity was required by the Fricassee of Alaskan Halibut and Morels. The dense and tender flesh of the halibut, magnified by the umami of mushrooms and sauce was every bit as robust as a red meat dish. But the Christophe Pacalet Chiroubles 2011 strutted proudly, like a fine Burgundian Pinot Noir, with black cherry, blackberry, fine acidity, and surprisingly taut tannins giving excellent structure and ageability. With the dish, it blossomed in aroma and flavor expression, a superb example of the ability of a fine wine to balance and enhance the dish.
Sous-vide Salmon and Côte de Brouilly
Stepping on the heels of a delightful surprise of sparkling water with cherry impregnated ice cubes—so fitting for a meal based on gamay noir--we segued to an impressive dish of sous vide Columbia River Springer’s Salmon with spring peas, morels and Bing Cherry, immaculately paired with the Nicole Chanrion Côte de Brouilly 2011, a full-bodied yet still soft and fruity wine that harmonized totally with the rich flavors of the dish.
Oregon Cheeses and Chénas
With a stunning selection of Oregon cheeses to follow Inter-Beaujolais selected the Paul-Henri Thillardon Les Carrières Chénas 2011. Chenas is a seldom-seen cru these days, and that’s a shame because this one delivers on flavor, style and price, and shows enough versatility to pair with this wide ranging selection of flavors and textures on the cheese board.
The hosts of the evening
With espresso and coffee and chocolate for those who desired it---although most preferred going back to the glasses of Beaujolais arrayed on the table---we wound down our evening, and recalled our sumptuous wine and food experience. The acclaim was unanimous and the lesson learned: Beaujolais is one of the most delightful and amazingly versatile wines around and makes a marvelous companion for seafood and shellfish.
Anthony Collet of Beaujolais, the chef, and the head sommelier of Salty's on the Columbia did an impressive job of combining an amazingly delicious and diverse selection of seafood dishes with the equally impressive and entirely versatile selection of wines from Beaujolais.
The roar of the crowd
The enthusiasm of the crowd was obvious and the acclaim was thunderous as the chef and sommelier took their bows at the end of the evening.
The showcase of the versatility of Beaujlais in all its variety, from Beajolais AOC, to Beaujolais-Villages, to examples of the four excellent Cru Beaujolais as a selective sampling of the region, married perfectly with the menu of the evening.
If there was only one regret, it was that we would not have the pleasure of experiencing the upcoming dinners in Los Angeles and San Diego, with the pairing of Beaujolais with Chinese and Mexican cuisines.