Non-Cabernet steak pairings.

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2010 at 10:58 pm

So, most of the time when asked what somebody should drink with steak, my default answer is Cabernet. Especially with grilled steak, a big, tannic cab can be just what the doctor ordered. And, while I stand by this recommendation, I was reminded recently that cab is not the only answer. I went to dinner at Chandlers with a colleague, and we took with us a bottle of 2007 Produttori de Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo, and a bottle of 2006 Château des Tours Côtes du Rhône. I started the meal with the artichoke, which I regretted when I got it, not because it wasn’t good, quite the contrary, but because the logistics of consuming an artichoke forced me to compromise the level of table manners I generally try to employ in a place like Chandlers. With great caution I was able to get through it without making an utter slob of myself.

Both bottles of wine were decanted on the table, and were opening nicely by the time we were done with our appetizers. The Nebbiolo showed aromatic character of dried anise and granite, with secondary scents of rose petal and raspberries. When tasted without food, the acidity on the palate was almost overwhelming. This is not uncommon for Nebbiolo, but it did in this case make the wine suffer by comparison with the Côtes du Rhône, which was excellent, both on it’s own and with food. Château des Tours is owned by the same family as Château Rayas, one of the more sought-after Châteauneuf du Pape labels in the world. The two estates were at one point operated independently, however now both share the same winemaker, making this little CdR a fantastic value if you can find it. The nose showed marvelous depth, with dried flowers, black pepper, ginger, and dark cherries. In the mouth, it was beautifully balanced and worked great with the meal. I ordered the American Kobe Flat Iron which, though it seemed small in comparison to my friend’s porterhouse, was fantastic. I have to say however that for me the star of the evening food-wise were the roasted vegetables that I ordered as a side. Carrots, parsnips, haricots verts, and fennel, the beans and fennel were crisp and fresh, and an excellent balance to the slightly sweet caramelized root vegetables.

All in all it was an excellent meal and, while I don’t plan to stop recommending Cabernet with steak, there are definitely a few new wines that I’m adding to my list.

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