Steamboat Wine Festival: Meeting your match

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Aurum Food & Wine in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, was the site of the “Have You Met Your Match Yet?” event, part of the 11th Annual Steamboat Wine Festival. The wine and food pairing seminar paired two wines with five courses to allow tasters the opportunity to choose their best match.

Stacey Swetil-Rust from Constellation Brands instructed tasters to sample the first wine, then sample the second wine, then try the food with both wines. After each course Rust polled the room. Interestingly, the room was fairly divided for every wine and wine pairing combination – perhaps a good example of how individual wine preference can be.

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It was a beautiful sunny day in Steamboat. Aurum Food & Wine is located on the bank of the Yampa River, which is popular with tubers.  Our soundtrack for the seminar was the laughter of dozens of people floating down the river in their brightly colored inner tubes.

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Course 1:
* Franciscan, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa, California
* Franciscan, Equilibrium White, Napa, California
paired with
East Coast Oyster on the Half Shell with Cucumber Granita and Fresno Chili

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The Sauvignon Blanc was crisp and citrusy with high acid. The Equilibrium blend of 72% Sauvignon Blanc, 17% Chardonnay, and 11% Muscat was much softer. While the group was divided, my preferences were to pair the simpler Sauvignon Blanc with the oyster and sip the Equilibrium on its own before dinner. Sauvignon Blanc matched the acidity, creating balance. The cold, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc cooled the surprising heat of the slice of pepper.

Course 2:
* Estancia, Unoaked Chardonnay, Monterey, California
* Kim Crawford, Unoaked Chardonnay, Marlborough, New Zealand
paired with
Pan Roasted Sea Scallop with Butter-Poached Fennel Purée, Ponzu, and Crispy Taro Chips

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The Estancia Unoaked Chardonnay was zippy, crisp, and direct. The Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay had a similar profile, but with a creaminess that came from malolactic fermentation. My preference was to pair the Kim Crawford with the food. The complexity in the Kim Crawford enhanced the scallop, while the salty creaminess in the scallop softened the wine.

Course 3:
* Estancia, Pinot Noir, Monterey, California
* Estancia, Stonewall Pinot Noir Reserve, Monterey, California
paired with
House Made Ricotta Gnocchi and Wild Mushrooms with a Pinot Noir Beurre Fondue, Fresh Shaved Summer Truffles, and Crème Fraîche

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The Estancia Winery Pinot Noir was smoky with bright cherry, while the Estancia Reserve was a bigger wine with leather and berries. The preferred match was…both.  Each wine offered different elements of earth and oak. It was difficult to pick a clear favorite.

Course 4:
* Simi Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, California
* Wild Horse, Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast, California
paired with
Grilled Medallion of Beef with Confit Shallot, Wilted Spinach, Pommes Anna, and Smoked Red Wine Jus

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The Simi Winery Cabernet was my pick for a wine to sip alone. It smelled and tasted like a bowlful of cherries. The Wild Horse had more spice and dark fruit and paired well with the meat. Both offered abundant fruit.

Course 5:
* Ruffino, Prosecco DOC, Glera, Italy
* Ruffino, Moscato d’Asti, Piedmont, Italy
paired with
Mango Sorbet with Carbonated Blackberries

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The Prosecco offered a lovely array of bubbles. The Moscato d’Asti was a semi-sweet, lightly sparkling wine. The Prosecco was a little sweet for the dessert, but the Moscato was just right. An excellent way to punctuate a fantastic meal!

Until our next adventures in wine and food…..

Read more about the Steamboat Wine Festival:

http://www.examiner.com/article/steamboat-wine-festival-august-4-7-2011

http://www.examiner.com/article/steamboat-wine-festival-a-grand-evening

http://www.examiner.com/article/steamboat-wine-festival-tasting-the-masters-way

http://www.examiner.com/article/steamboat-wine-festival-a-tour-of-spain

http://www.examiner.com/article/riedel-tasting-at-the-steamboat-wine-festival-a-happy-accident

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