He's Crafty—He's Got a Grape

top pairing
by Tejal Rao with photos by Antoinette Bruno
Vol. 5
March, 2007   
Eventually mentored by Paul Bottamer of The Mansion on Turtle Creek, and with experience at Red Sage, Zola, and Ventana Canyon, sommelier Aaron Rodonis first spent 6 years in the band and bugle company of the Marine Corps before finding his path. A moment at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort with wine captain Gary Sullivan's pairings suddenly brought wine into focus for Aaron, who had previously ranked it as a fairly ordinary beverage. It seems fitting for Aaron's epiphany to have been during a tasting menu rather than just by sipping an outstanding glass of wine: his strength is clearly in enhancing the entire dining experience by accenting flavors and textural nuances. His pairings, which are thought-out down to the minute flavor-details of Chef Kevin Maxey's garnishes and sauces, work to develop flavors already present all the while gently steering the dish in his intended direction.
Restaurant
Who
  • Aaron Rodonis
  • Eventually mentored by Paul Bottamer of The Mansion on Turtle Creek, and with experience at Red Sage, Zola, and Ventana Canyon, Sommelier Aaron Rodonis first spent 6 years in the band and bugle company of the Marine Corps before finding his path. A moment at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort with wine captain Gary Sullivan's pairings suddenly brought wine into focus for Aaron, who had previously ranked it as a fairly ordinary beverage. It seems fitting for Aaron's epiphany to have been during a tasting menu rather than just by sipping an outstanding glass of wine: his strength is clearly in enhancing the entire dining experience by accenting flavors and textural nuances. His pairings, which are thought-out down to the minute flavor-details of Chef Kevin Maxey's garnishes and sauces, work to develop flavors already present all the while gently steering the dish in his intended direction.
Wine
Chablis 1er Cru Vailions, Verget, 2003, Chablis
Dish
Lump Crab Risotto. Baby Sorrel, and Lemon Confit
Pairing Note
The rejuvenating acidity of the light Chablis, the bright white fruits, and the soft lemon peel notes finish the dish like a squeeze of exotic citrus. There are so many levels of sweetness and acidity from the variety of lemony flavors (lemon confit, baby sorrel) and the Chablis accents each one distinctly.
Wine
Barbaresco Riserva, Moccagatta, 2000, Piedmont
Dish
Guinea Fowl in Bacon, Apple, and Savoy Cabbage
Pairing Note
The hearty, Italian, peasant-food dish feels gamey and autumnal. The tawny Barbaresco, with its rich sherry nose and buttery body compliment and amplify the smoky, rustic flavors of the meat. The wine is especially delightful when it highlights the tiny pieces of crisp citrus peel and breadcrumbs that top the roulade.
Wine
Hermitage, La Sizeranne, Michel Chapoutier, 1999, Rhone Valley
Dish
Canadian Wild Boar in Juniper-Rosemary Crust
Pairing Note
The floral, almost black truffle nose and alluring color of this full-bodied Syrah reveal the fairly recent dynamism of the Maison Chapoutier and its unique wine-making. Its long, lingering finish echoes those same rich, piney flavors of the juniper and deep, caramelized, meaty crust of the boar.
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