Jacques Scott and the Journal make their annual homage to the Christmas season with a fresh look at some wonderful wines for you to enjoy along with the all-important festive spread. Business Editor, Lindsey Turnbull reports.
Calypso Grill’s super skilled Chef George honoured the tasting team this month with a one-off Christmas lunch extravaganza to help us in our quest to fine that perfect Yuletide pairing, but you won’t find turkey on the menu over Christmas.
“I don’t do this for everyone!” he confirms. So, readers, please use this menu for reference purposes only (and still visit Calypso Grill for all your favourite dishes in the meantime!)
We started the joyous proceedings with a dish that you actually can find on the restaurant’s menu – their divine chicken liver pâté, complete with warm crusty French bread, Cumberland sauce and pickled cornichon – a truly delicious rich starter. A glamorous glass of Moët (note – you pronounce the ‘t’) and Chandon’s Rosé Impérial (CI$68.99) was the perfect wine accompaniment.
This is the most extrovert and seductive expression of the Moët & Chandon style. It’s lively and fun and derives its intensity from Pinot Noir (40 to 50 per cent), fruitiness of Pinot Meunier (30 to 40 per cent) and the finesse of Chardonnay (10 to 20 per cent). What better way to start off the proceedings, with this beautiful wine’s acidity perfectly cutting through the richness of the pâté.
The next course consisted of a light and refreshing crab cocktail, full of juicy white crabmeat offset deliciously by a generous helping of citrus acidity with mango and cilantro flavours for good measure. “Just like mother used to make,” quipped Paul McLaughlin, Jacques Scott’s wine retail manager.
Paul enjoyed the crab cocktail with both the Champagne as well as our second wine, Principiato’s Pinot Grigio Blush (CI$13.99). Principato means principality and refers to northeast Italy’s Tre Venezie, a region embracing the majesty of the snow-capped Dolomite Alps and the picturesque beauty of Italy’s romantic Lake District. For wine lovers the Tre Venezie is also a source of Principato, one of Italy’s most popular and affordable wines. Introduced in 1978, it has become a welcome and familiar feature of daily American family dining.
This lightly pink hued wine is made from 100 per cent Pinot Grigio and Jacque Scott’s wine sales professional Lee Royle, delights in its delicate floral aromas and crisp and light, soft fruit flavours.
“Rosé wines in general are really popular right now,” he states. “This wine in particular is excellent value and a versatile pairing to a variety of foods.”
Christmas diners should also look out for Schloss Johannisberg’s lovely Riesling (CI$25.99), a clean, peachy, melony wine (honeydew, rather than cantaloupe, just for the record…) that is also a beautiful accompaniment to Christmas Day appetisers.
Schloss Johannisberg stands out from the gentle landscape of Germany’s Rheingau. It is the nucleus of a great wine culture that stretches far beyond the borders of the region. History was written here and they have been making wines such as this classic Riesling for over 900 years. The particular Riesling that we tasted was labeled ‘trocken’ or dry and the wine definitely lacked the sweetness sometimes associated with German Rieslings, making it a pleasure to drink with our Christmas crab cocktail.
Time for the big guns – a tremendous turkey and roast ham courtesy of Chef George, and what a magnificent feast it was. All the trimmings accompanied the meat – cranberry sauce, traditional veg, pork and apple stuffing, a huge bowl of creamy mashed potatoes (we will save the roasties for the actual day!) and lashings of homemade gravy that only a chef of good northern stock like George can properly muster.
We tried the Principiato with the turkey and ham which was surprisingly good and definitely one to recommend for guests who don’t want to be knocked out by a heavy red at the Yuletide dining table.
A 2007 Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast (CI$30.99) was a sheer delight with the main course – a traditional wine for a traditional Christmas dinner. Barnaby Richardson, beer and spirits manager with Jacques Scott, noted the wine’s lovely blackcurrant notes, along with dark forest fruits, dark chocolate, cedar wood and mocha while Lee enjoyed the wine’s aromas of earthy red fruits (cherries and strawberries) and just a hint of smoky oak and licorice. Soft tannins finished the wine off nicely.
Of course, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a heavyweight red, so we tried a St. Clement 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley (CI$35.99) rated 91 points by Wine Spectator).
Lee states: “This wine opens with bright red fruit aromas of raspberry, cherry and dried cranberry with background notes of vanilla, clove, and bittersweet chocolate. The palate offers a concentrated core with layers of black currant, red cherry, cocoa powder and smoky oak.”
Sergio Serrano, senior wine sales & marketing associate with Jacques Scott adds: “It’s a full-bodied, Napa Valley Cabernet and the wine has solid structure and tannin to ensure aging potential. A powerful wine for the festive Christmas table.”
Dessert at Calypso Grill would not be the same without at least a taster of Chef George’s famous sticky toffee pudding and he excelled himself this time with an incredible version atop with walnuts to add a dash of seasonality.
Diners tried a glass of Estancia Piedra Dulce (CI$22.95), full of pale gold notes and a floral nose of dried apricots, mango and honeysuckle.
Lee furthers: “The wine has great ripe pear, nectarine, and wild flower honey flavours with a firm acidity that provides a clean, crisp finish.”
As lovely and light as this dessert wine was, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a glass or two of Port and thus Graham’s Six Grapes (CI$27.99) fitted the bill to perfection.
Six Grapes is one of Graham’s original Port marques. It is a big-hearted wine, sourced from the same vineyards (Quinta dos Malvedos and Quinta das Lages) that contribute to Graham’s famed Vintage Ports in ‘declared’ years. As such, it closely resembles Graham’s Vintage Port style: full-bodied, with rich opulent black fruit on the palate and fragrant brambly aromas.
And with that, the Journal and Jacques Scott bid you a very merry Christmas!