Today is our last day at sea as we arrive at our final port, Buenos Aries, tomorrow. Lima does not seem that long ago, apparently time flies when you are having fun, wish it didn’t! The agenda for today is the Connoisseur Wine and Food Pairing and not much else, a part from the usual cigar and dinner.
This is my second Connoisseur Wine and Food Pairing on a Regent Ship, it is an event that is chargeable as we get to taste the premium wines on board, the food is always included. I find that doing this on the last day of the cruise a bit strange as, if I was trying to encourage the passengers to purchase the premium wines on board, I would hold this earlier and offer a discount to those who partake in the tasting. On my previous cruise on the Navigator, the tasting was held with about 5 or 6 days left, so you could be tempted, and I was, to purchase a bottle or two for an extra special dinner. Just an idea.
The wines were selected by Gerry, our excellent Cellar Master, and the food pairing was the responsibility of the Executive Chef Jonathan. Let me know what you think of the line up and the food pairing.
A nice touch, an improvement in my opinion, was a the drink map or legend. This was the first time I had seen this used on board, although a friend of mine does the same in his bar, The Auld Alliance, in Singapore for his tasting sets, will write about them another time.
What better way to start a tasting than with a glass of bubbles, in this case a 2003 Moet & Chandon “Cuvée Dom Pérignon”. Apparently 2003 was not great vintage in Europe, but I found that this did not have an impact on this wine. It is not a subtle champagne, possibly because of the higher than usual amount of Pinot Noir used, also possibly a reason that I really enjoyed it. People around the table were mentioning apricot, honey and chamomile notes, also a number of them did not enjoy the wine, a bit too much for some! The on board price for this is USD199.
The food pairing with this was Prawn stuffed with Crab and Sevruga Caviar and a Hibiscus Vinaigrette, the left side of the dish below. It tasted better than it looks, and worked well with the wine.
Next up we had the 2011 Louis Jadot, Puligny Montrachet A.O.C., Chardonnay, Cote de Beaune, Burgundy. I am not a fan of Chardonnay, probably because of the mainstream Chardonnay produce by Australia, but as it was on offer, I had to give it taste, and I am glad that did. The nose is interesting and I found that there were lemon, mineral and apple notes, with only a little butter, so this was a good start. Some of the other people mentioned getting stone fruit and vanilla notes. The wine was balanced and not overly acidic, with an enjoyable long finish. Needs lobster. On board price USD70
And lobster is what Johnathan paired it with, Ceviche of Lobster with Fennel, Herb Aioli and Orange Vanila Syrup, on the right side of the dish below. Another spot on pairing, not sure if Johnathan got to taste the wine or just went off the advice and notes provided by Gerry, but he is two from two so far.
Next up was the first red, which was a 2010 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri from Tuscany. YES!! This is a Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) and Cabernet Franc (15%) blend. First off the colour and the nose, a nice deep red with blackberry and floral notes, I have no idea what anyone else found as I was enjoying it too much. The sweetness of the fruit, smooth tannins and long, very enjoyable, finish show why this wine is so highly rated, the kicker is the price, USD242, but if you get a chance to try it, go for it!!
The pairing for this wine was Waygu Meatball with Marinara and Mozzarella Buffala. The wine and the Waygu went well together, the cheese added to the enjoyment.
We were half way through the tasting and all I wanted to do was to have another taste (well a glass or two) of Sassicaia, guess I will just have to get over it and move on to the next wine in the line up, which was the 2007 Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Cru Classe Graves, Pessac-Leognan. First thing I noticed was the colour which was very dark, I did not get as much on the nose as I did with Sassicaia, which is to be expected, but this was still a very good wine. Nicely balanced tannins and fruit, but, in my opinion, it was not as good as the previous wine. Expect that if I had tasted this separately I would have been raving about it. On board price USD140.
The pairing with this was a “Bruno Style” Open Faced Beef Saltimbocca. Not exactly sure about the Bruno Style, but believe it could be the way that one of Johnathan’s cooking inspirations prepared his Beef Saltimbocca. Enjoyed this dish!
When I saw the line up for the wines, the next wine was one that caught my eye. I have heard a lot about Opus One from the Nappa Valley, we were tasting the 2009, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (81%), Cabernet Franc (9%), Petit Verdot (5%), Merlot (4%) and Malbec (1%). This is a flagship wine of the Baron Philippe de Rothschild & Robert Mondavi joint venture, so it should be up there as a great wine. The wine has a deep ruby colour with dark chocolate and currant notes, some of the others around the table obviously have more sensitive noses than me as they were picking up olive and rosemary as well. I found the wine to be dry and a little dusty, with dark fruit and spice flavours and long finish. I think we were drinking this a bit too early, will love to try it in a few more years to see how it develops. The wine did not “wow” me, but was very enjoyable, with age who knows. On board price USD225.
The pairing for this one was not what I was expecting, but the Chef knows his stuff. We had a Surf and Turf Nacho with Chilean Seabass and Tenderloin Steak, this was my favourite of the dishes we had as a part of the tasting.
The reds, side by side, the first one is on the left, second in middle and, you guessed it, the third on the right.
For the final wine we were treated to a 2003 Chateau d’Yquem 1er Cru Classe Sauternes. When it comes to Sauternes, d’Yquem is regarded as one of the best, if not the best. It has deep golden colour with honey and caramel notes, this wine is full bodied with vanilla, burnt sugar and honey flavours, the finish is very long and just keeps going, awesome. This was a great wine to finish off the tasting. Really enjoyed it, and so did a number of people who do not usually enjoy a sticky, just wish I could afford this stuff. A 375ml bottle on board goes for USD286.
The Chef’s final pairing was a very tasty Field Berry Flan, Vanilla Crème Anglaise, which was another perfect pairing.
Gerry, her Sommeliers and the Chefs on board did a great job, only wished we had a few more wines to taste 🙂
My wine of the day was the Sassicala, followed by the d’Yquem and could not separate the Dom from the Chateau Smith Haut Lafitt. It is nice to have so many great choices, life is hard out here on the high seas 🙂