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Thursday, November 1, 2012

"Salmon Screams for Pinot Noir!"

Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon’s winemaker, quipped this comment ten years ago during a private visit with a Wine-Knows group in the Champagne countryside.  This was one of the most memorable tastings I’ve attended.  It took place in the Abbey of Hautvillers where monk Dom Pérignon made his famous bubbly wine discovery.  The Abbey, closed to the public, is owned by Moët (makers of Dom Pérignon).  We had a vertical tasting of Dom Perignon dating back to 1975 served by a white-gloved waiter wearing a tuxedo.  The winemaker’s remark has since been etched in my brain as I’ve always thought this match was about as close to perfection as you'll find.

Meaty fish such as salmon and ahi tuna pair beautifully with Pinot.  That being said, it really depends on how the salmon is prepared.  Butter based sauces, for example, would probably pair better with a buttery Chardonnay (marrying similar flavors and textures.)  But, BBQ salmon achieves rock-star status when served with a Pinot Noir.  My much-loved rendition is salmon cooked on a cedar plank on the "barbie."

Because Pinot Noir is a grape that requires a lot of T.L.C. to grow, it is typically one of the more expensive varietals.  For California Pinots I prefer Dehlinger, however, my husband is a Williams Selyem fan (both of these are from the Russian River and are in the $50 range).  For a less expensive alternative, the Santa Rita Hills of California’s central coast are producing some terrific Pinots that represent a great quality price ratio ($30-40)--- I especially like Melville, Stolpman, Alma Rosa and Alta Colima.  On the other hand, if you’re a red Burgundy fan, one of the best-bang-for-the-bucks is Dujac in the $200 range.  Willing to spend >$500 on a red Burgundy?  I recommend Meo Camuzet.  If you want to keep it under $20, the best Pinot I’ve tasted in this category is Point Conception Salsiuedes (refer to my posting from September 5, 2012).

As for salmon, it goes without saying that fresh WILD salmon is the best choice for taste and health.  Farm-raised are higher in fat.  They are also often fed fish meal that can be polluted with toxic chemicals

If you are coming with us on the 2013 France tour we will visit both Champagne and Burgundy...and you are guaranteed that there will be salmon paired with Pinot.

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