Elizabeth and I went to The Wine Trials 2010 book release party at Seppi’s on Wednesday night.Â I was one of the blind tasters for the first edition of the book. The Wine Trials 2010 is a completely rewritten new edition that “recommends 150 wines under $15 that outscored $50-$150 wines in brown-bag blind tastings of the latest vintages.”
While we were waiting for everyone to arrive, we were served some Brut CuvÃ©e from Domaine Ste. Michelle, a $12 Washington state sparkling wine that was preferred by over two-thirds of The Wine Trials blind tasters over a $150 bottle of Dom PÃ©rignon Champagne.Â As a passed appetizer, we had some Alsatian tarte flambÃ©e, which looked and tasted like some really good thin crust pizza.Â I can’t think of a better pairing to showcase the values of The Wine Trials than pizza with bubbly.
After sitting down for dinner, we were served roasted red beets and frisÃ©e salad with goat cheese over apple paired with a GrÃ¼ner Veltliner, Federspiel Terrassen, DomÃ¤ne Wachau from Austria.Â The thinly sliced beets reminded me a little of beef carpaccio in appearance, which I think disturbed our vegetarian table mate.Â I still had some of the sparkling wine left over when the salad was served, and I actually preferred it over the GrÃ¼ner with the salad.Â Although I am usually a GrÃ¼ner fan, I thought that the herbaceous subtlety of the wine couldn’t really stand up to the vinaigrette in the salad.
Next up was a lobster bisque with crab cake on sugar cake matched with aÂ White Rioja from MarquÃ©s de CÃ¡ceres (Spain).Â I’m not sure what “sugar cake” on the menu referred to, but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise of sugar cane, which formed the “stick” on crab cake “lollipop”.Â I appreciated the whimsical tropical allusion in the hearty cold-weather bisque.Â I have fond memories munching on sugar cane when I was a kid in Taiwan.Â The white Rioja had a vegetal lightness to counterbalance the creamy hearty soup.
The main course was a duo of monkfish “osso bucco” over saffron risotto and miniature rack of lamb over sautÃ©ed spinach.Â I’m not sure where the osso bucco reference came from, but the dish tasted great.Â Both the monkfish and the lamb were perfectly cooked.Â I didn’t really taste the saffron in the risotto, but otherwise it was wonderfully executed.Â The wine pairing was Rioja Crianza from Bodegas LAN in Spain.Â Â I’m not sure what LAN stands for in this case, but Elizabeth and I noted that it is a geek-friendly name, and could play well with 8-bit wine.Â LAN party anyone?
The next course was a cheese plate with blue cheese and GruyÃ¨re paired with an Altano Douro, Symington Family Estates from Portugal.Â I am a frequent vinho verde drinker, but I had never tried a red from Portugal before.Â It was a real revelation.Â Elizabeth and I both agreed that it was a unique wine and our favorite of the evening.Â I don’t have the words to describe it, just try it, it’s less than 10 bucks a bottle.
Finally, for dessert, we had a flyer chocolate cake paired with a dessert wine from Greece, Mavrodaphne of Patras, Kourtaki, which had a caramelly taste, and a nice lighter-bodied alternative to the usual pairing of Port with chocolate.