2013 ICC Wine Wrap-up

2013 ICC Wine Wrap-up

Day 1: Wine Tasting at ICC

BBQ Meets Its Match: Costières de Nîmes
Joe Carroll of Fette Sau – Brooklyn, NY
Fred Dexheimer of Juiceman Consulting – New York, NY

“I actually don’t like wine with barbecue,” began Joe Carroll of Brooklyn phenomenon Fette Sau. But this kind of a challenge just fires-up Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, whose hand-picked selection of Rhône Valley wines were a revelation in pairing for Carroll’s unique style of slow-cooked meat. Eating at Fette Sau is a communal experience, and the easy-drinking wines of Costières de Nîmes in the southern Rhône Valley are the vinous equivalent.

Grenache Blanc and Roussanne blends, rosé from Mourvedre, and light, juicy blends of Grenache, Carignan, and Marselan are the predominant wines of Costières de Nîmes, and they exemplify a style of wine deemed “gulpable,” by Master Sommelier and ICC presenter Chuck Furuya. “These are the wines drunk every day in the Old World, that American wine drinkers need to get more familiar with, instead of seeking out 100 point wines,” he explained. Low and slow is the buzz word for barbecue, but it really describes the transformation from juice to wine in the fermentation process, and hopefully, the burgeoning appreciation for wines from the southern Rhône.

Crushing It at Pearl & Ash
Patrick Cappiello and Richard Kuo of Pearl & Ash – New York, NY

The synergy between a chef and a wine director can be elusive and temporal, but when it's there, it's magical. On Day 1 of ICC, attendees witnessed that magic at Pearl & Ash's seminar "Crushing It" with Chef Richard Kuo and Wine Director Patrick Capiello. Kuo's respect for Capiello is evident in his cuisine: delightful in its own right, it also creates a canvas for the #SaberTown Somm's thoughtful and surprising pairings.

Patrick Cappiello explains <em>Pearl & Ash</em>'s wine program
Patrick Cappiello explains Pearl & Ash's wine program

Fluke Crudo with Candied Ginger, Lime Segments, Watermelon and Lemon Balm held our attention and teased our palates, but the Weiser-Kunstler Trocken Riesling's racy acidity laser-pointed our attention to each element of the dish. Tea-cured Salmon with Chidaine's Chenin Blanc and Bornard's Poulsard with a Harissa and Shallot Confit Hanger Steak were other examples of the fairy dust that Kuo and Capiello sprinkle on the clientele at the hottest spot on New York City's former Skid Row. But we aren't fooled: the food-friendly wine list based on great value and unique producers is a standout, but the charm, talent, and charisma of Cappiello and Kuo are what make this hot spot a success.

Art of Coffee Harmonization
Fred Dexheimer of Juiceman Consulting – New York, NY

After a late start on Day 1 of ICC, Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer led his (now annual) Art of Coffee Harmonization workshop on the fly on the edge of the SuperPier with the sunshine over the Hudson and New Jersey as a backdrop for Nespresso coffee pairings. Dexheimer dove head-first into the workshop a coffee-gin La Bohème made with Lungo Leggero, Boodles gin, cherry herring, Port, grape juice, and tonic.

Fred Dexheimer showing the versatility of Nespresso Coffee from aperitif to dessert

For Dexheimer’s first harmonization, he accented the fruity Escazú Milk chocolate with a dry Lambrusco Bianco. The young and fruit forward bubbly, Lambrusco complemented the strawberry and floral notes in the chocolate. For his second harmonization, he paired Nespresso Espresso Forte with Escazú’s 60 percent bonbon and Brewery Ommegang Rare Vos. Each individual component was intense but worked well because of their similar dark and cherry notes. For his final pairing, he matched Nespresso Ristretto Espresso with Bulleit Bourbon, which packed flavors of caramel and butterscotch. Each pairing demonstrated how a versatile coffee program can complement each moment in a guest’s meal—from aperitif to dessert.

Day 2: Gulpability and Food-Friendly Wine

High Acid, Vibrant Flavors, and Pairing Fun with Rueda
Kerin Auth of Olé Imports – New York, NY
Anthony Sasso of Cassa Mono – New York, NY

Although Spain has the most land under vine in the world, it’s third in production, with many grapes going into alcohol to fortify Sherry and its low yield per hectare. So began the flood of information from Spanish wine expert Kerin Auth. And what could make a wine seminar better than food prepared by Chef Anthony Sasso of Casa Mono in NYC to match the wine selection

Kerin Auth and Anthony Sasso greet the audience at the Rueda wine workshop

A lush Verdejo with succulent notes of bright peach and grapefruit from Hermanos Villar was matched with Tuna Escabeche, Red Onion Balsamico, and Pickled Onions, exemplifying a 1+1=3 math in a wine glass. Another version of Verdejo, this time with high minerality but old vine depth and character (from Vinedos de Nieva) showed more restraint than the typical super-aromatic Verdejo from the region. Paired with Baby Pulpo, Grapefruit, Pineapple and Olive Tapenade, these same salty fruity notes were elevated by the food. The duck breast finale paired with an atypical Verdejo from Bodegas Naia—this time oaked to express a waxy, round, toasty version of the grape, and a wonderful finish to a carousel of variety exhibited by one grape in an under-appreciated region, Rueda.

Uncorking Portugal
Scott Carney of The International Culinary Center – New York, NY
Anthony Gonçalves of 42 The Restaurant – White Plains, NY

The history of wine in Portugal is long enough to include the Phoenicians and the Greeks, and the commercial history of wine in Portugal is long enough to include the wars between France and Spain. But when the home of Port joined the European Union in 1986, the country’s wine industry experienced a greater shift than ever before. Though the majority of Portuguese wine was still being made from the worst-grade grapes and consumed, for the most part, on the quinta, it was allowed to be produced for export. However, since then the wine-drinking world has become a much better place, with the quantity and, most importantly, the quality of wines from Portugal increasing markedly and steadily.

Scott Carney tasting Vinho Verde from Portugal

Scott Carney, Dean of Wine Studies at the International Culinary Center led a discussion of the varied wine styles of Portugal, from Vinho Verde to tawny Port. And upping the ante with a Portuguese cuisine component, Chef Anthony Gonçalves from 42 The Restaurant prepared dishes with a traditional Portuguese base, but updated for the modern American palate. Braised Octopus with Smoked Paprika Oil and Piri Piri Aïoli; Suckling Pig with aguardiente-based barbecue sauce and cornbread; and Sirloin with Pickled Oyster Mushrooms wowed the attendees, who only stopped eating to sample the Touriga Nacional, Barca, Cerceal, Arinto and Alvarinho based wines. While the dramatic story of Portuguese wine is still unfolding, this Tasting Room experience at ICC will most definitely be a turning point for many of the wine professionals in the room who couldn't wait to put theses wines to work.

Day 3:Wine in Hula Skirts

Pairing in Paradise: Hawaiian Cuisine and a World of Wines
Chuck Furuya and DK Kodama of DK Restaurants – Oahu, HI
Ed Kenney of Town – Oahu, HI

Master Sommelier Chuck Furuya greeted Day 3 attendees with an amuse bouche of Seared Chile-Crusted Kona Kampachi, and pointed out the incredible teamwork of the five Hawaiian chefs who created the cuisine for the pairings. Although from different restaurants, the camaraderie became evident in what Furuya described as "collectivism indicative of Hawaii in general."

Ed Kenney discuss techniques for making pa’i’ai
Ed Kenney discuss techniques for making pa’i’ai

Other pairings included a Crispy-Skin Kona Kampachi with Squid Ink Sauce from Chef DK Kodama of DK Restaurants, paired with a bright Moschofilero from Boutari. Rising Star Chef Ed Kenney of Town, prepared a Pa’i’ai and Limu with fresh Long Island bluefish and green market vegetables to show how to still preserve a Hawaiian twist while sourcing locally. Furuya paired a Bastianich Malvasia Bianco, Adriatico, using the light aromatic wine to heighten the flavors of the fish and local produce.

Summing up his philosophy in pairing, Furuya gave four guidelines: the wine must drink well at that moment; be light and fresh like the style of food that is popular now; be food friendly; and be low oak and low tannin. His goal: to make every pairing “gulpable.”

Photos by: Anna Beeke, Clay Williams, Ellen Wolff, Ester Soligue, John Keon, Ken Goodman, Laura Thompson, Mark Kohlman, and Shannon Sturgis