Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sweet Wine and Cheese

A few weeks ago I was at a luncheon at On Dining in Central hosted by Sweet Bordeaux, the marketing consortium of 10 Bordeaux appellations.with production of sweet and semi-sweet wines. I am not a particular fan of the Wine and Dine Festival held this year at the Central Harbourfront (too crowded, too consumer-oriented) but this annual event did bring a number of overseas people in F&B industry with a string of special events on and off the venue including this one, with the theme of sweet Bordeaux wine and cheese pairing.

Turned out there’s more than just than wine and cheese (not that I would complain if that was the case) – there’s a couple simple dishes prepared by Chef Philippe and his kitchen team to round up the luncheon menu. We began with their signature Comte with mango and passion fruit jam. Comte is always my favorite type of cheese, especially the 48-month aged one sourced by this restaurant. I normally preferred eating on its own with its unique rich mineral, nutty flavor, but the addition of the jam as condiment matched well with the sweetness and acidity of the pairing wine from Loupiac, a small appellation with only white wine production right across the better known Sauternes.

Next was a simple spinach salad served with chunks of Roquefort, thin slices of pears, grapes and walnut dressing, and we went up a notch in sweetness with the wine from Cadillac. Then it’s our main course of Atlantic hake poached and served with a bouillabaisse-like sauce (or sauce Americaine?), mussels, artichokes, tomatoes and cucumber. I am impressed with the execution and flavor, especially the team has to send 20 or so dishes out simultaneously from a relatively compact kitchen downstairs. The wine was great too – a young one from Loupiac AOC, medium to full-bodied with strong orange peels on the palate and some minerals, which rounded up nicely with the firm and fatty hake fillet.

Five different cheeses were served as our grand finale of the meal. There were the more familiar ones like Brillat-Savarin and Roquefort (one being the lightest and the other strongest in our flight in terms of flavor), and we had three other soft cheese selections in the middle (Ossau-Iraty, Perail and Echourgnac) coming from various regions. The more interesting one was the Echourgnac, with the rind washed in walnut liqueur giving the cheese an distinctive nutty flavor. Four more wines were poured into glasses on our table with a few coming from Sauternes (and one from Cadillac and one Graves) Chateau Rabaud-Promis is the only classified growth and the oldest bottle in our flight (from vintage 2008) – I think it has good balance of sweetness and acidity, with distinct botrytis notes in the nose, some honey, spices, and ripe citrus flavor, which was perfect for the mineral-rich and pungent Roquefort blue cheese.

I couldn’t recall having a meal matched entirely with sweet and off-dry wines and I think this was a good introduction to some of the lesser-known bottles and appellations. They worked very well with cheese and I reckon some of them should go well with Chinese dishes too – maybe I should keep an eye on those when I need to do some food-wine pairing.

(Luncheon is by invitation and co-hosted by Business France and Sweet Bordeaux organizations)

When? October 2017
Where? On Dining Kitchen and Lounge, 29th to 30th Floor, 18 On Lan Street, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Atlantic Hake, Shellfish, Artichoke, Lemon Sago, Cucumber
2015 Chateau de Marsan, AOC Premieres-Cotes-de-Bordeaux
2014 Chateau du Cros, AOC Loupiac
2015 Chateau Tanesse, AOC Cadillac
2015 Chateau Loupiac Gaudiet, AOC Loupiac
2015 Lieutenant de Sigalas, AOC Sauternes
2015 Chateau Haut-Mayne, AOC Graves-Superieures
2008 Chateau Rabaud-Promis, AOC Sauternes
2015 Chateau de Lyde, AOC Cadillac
Business France:
Sweet Bordeaux:
On Dining Kitchen & Lounge:

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