A few weeks ago we got a turn to host the third Spicebox Supperclub, chez Spicebox! In honor of Mr. Spicebox’s Trinidadian roots and Trinidad’s famous/infamous Carnival, which was held the same weekend as our dinner, the theme was Trini Carnival. We had a menu custom designed, typeset and illustrated by our younger daughter, including a drawing of Trinidad’s national bird, the Scarlet Ibis.
Spicebox Supperclub Dinner #2 March 1, 2014
Hosts: Linda and Peter
Executive Chef: Linda (aka Spicebox Travels)
Pastry Chef: Chris
Cocktail: The Spicebox Cocktail (custom created by Dave for this occasion and this wonderful group of Supperclubbers!)
Baigan (Eggplant) Choka on Cocount Bake
Callaloo with Macaroni Pie
Project Runway Pelau
Third Course (prepared by Peter):
Trini Curry Chicken with Dal
Cassava Pone (and a story!)
Mango Rum Smoothie
Wine List (carefully curated by Nalin to complement the spicy, Indian-influenced menu):
A new and dry style Riesling. Very clean with upfront minerality, and then a slight amount of sugar at the end. Nicely complements small appetizers with strong flavors.
Von Winning Winery founded in 1849, vineyards in Ruppertsberg, Deidesheim, and Forst. District of Pfalz, adjacent to the Trier/Koblenz regions.
Paradiesgarten (Deidesheim) appx. 30 ha (74 acres); hillside west of Deidesheim above the village, close to the woods, orientation: east-southeast sandstone statue “Eve in Paradise” was built by our winery.
Name: named in the 1950s by our estate’s former owner due to the paradise-like location Soil: top soil: loam to loamy sand, loessial loam (several meters thick at some points), subsoil: new red sandstone.
Winemaker description: “A Riesling with a juicy flavour of yellow fruits, reminiscent of mandarins and yellow plums combined with a fresh citrus aroma, a wine full of elegance and finesse. Depending on the vintage, it is fermented up to one third in 500 and 1200 litre wooden barrels.”
This wine is referred to as a Grosses Gewächs – (great growth), a designation used by VDP members in all regions except Mosel and Rheingau to designate top-level dry wines from selected sites. Used by the organisation Bernkasteler Ring for the same purpose in Mosel.
Kabinett Riesling, 2012
Classic Riesling with a clean taste on the palate and some residual sugar, particularly at the end. Balances and complements the strong flavors of a spicy dinner.
Traditional ‘Mittelmosel’ location with Riesling planted on steep, south-facing terraces by the Mosel River. In the state of Rhineland-Pfalz.
Zeltinger Schlossberg. Steep slope, medium grained Devonian slate as topsoil with medium-deep subsoil of slate and loam.
Prädikatswein, renamed from Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP) (superior quality wine). Translated as “quality wine with specific attributes”, this is the top level of German wines. These prominently display a Prädikat on the label and may not be chaptalized. Prädikatswein range from dry to intensely sweet, but unless it is specifically indicated that the wine is dry or off-dry, these wines always contain a noticeable amount of residual sugar. Prädikatswein must be produced from allowed varieties in one of the 39 subregions (Bereich) of one of the 13 wine-growing regions, although it is the region rather than the subregion which is mandatory information on the label.
Kabinett – literally “cabinet”, meaning wine of reserve quality to be kept in the vintner’s cabinet fully ripened light wines from the main harvest, typically semi-sweet with crisp acidity, but can be dry if designated so.
For the following wines, I chose a theme of 2000, since it was a special year for me. I had a couple of wines from that year so they’ve had a chance to hang out for some time.
Chateau Rol Valentin
Saint Emilion Grand Cru
Very small Bordeaux vineyard (4.6 hectares). The Saint-Emilion region is in the Libournais area of the right bank. Saint-Emilion Grand Cru is a region adjacent to the main region of Saint-Emilion and Rol Valentin is considered one of the newer ‘garagiste’ wines that are characterized by strong flavors, perhaps reflecting less on the terroir. This wine does display a terrific balance that is typical of Bordeaux wines. The wine is mostly Merlot (85%), with equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It does not taste like a typical new world Merlot, lacking the soft and mild flavors of the latter.
This wine was now 14 years old and ready for drinking. It had a lovely mouthfeel with a smooth finish on the palate. It complemented the strongly flavored curry dishes nicely.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
A traditional Napa Valley maker of Cabernet Sauvignon wines, from the Oakville/Rutherford appellations. The winery sits on 22 acres in the heart of the valley floor in an important region referred to as the Rutherford Bench. I’ve always regarded this wine as a great example of the good (flavor) and bad (tannins) of the region. After some time stored away, the tannins were surprisingly still present, but much softened. The winery refers to themselves as making ‘Bordeaux-style’ wines, but I don’t think that’s entirely true given their tendency to stay true to Cabernet Sauvignon. Their single vineyard Cabs command prices in the $100/bottle range.
Vidal Ice Wine 2000
The grapes used to produce this icewine were grown in the Warner Vineyard in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. During the coldest mornings of December (temperatures between -8 C and -14 C) the frozen grapes were harvested and pressed. The pressing yields a golden nectar which was high in sugar, flavour and balance giving acidity. A cool, slow fermentation resulted in a very complex, full bodied dessert wine. This wine still preserved its character after a long time in storage. It has that clean but flavorful taste typical of icewines.
The following description of the icewine process comes from the vineyard:
The precious juice for icewine is pressed from grapes that have been subjected to the harshness of winter, temperatures of at least -8°C for a couple of days. At these temperatures, the water portion of each grape separates from the sugar, flavour and acid components. The water freezes and crystallizes, leaving the other components as suspended liquid drops among the water crystals. The liquid drops are very concentrated, with sugar and flavour levels two to three times higher than juice from grapes harvested in the fall, and are carefully extracted from the grapes by gentle pressing. Pressing, as does the harvesting of the grapes, takes place outside. The grapes must not be allowed to warm up (neither can the pickers or the pressing crew!) or the sugar content of the juice will be reduced. Once the juice of the frozen grapes is collected, the sugar level must be at least average 35 Brix (35%sugar). The icewine juice is then fermented, a process which takes about 6 months to complete.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve just been to wine school! (Not whine school; I’ve already gotten my degree from there.) Nalin’s carefully chosen wine list taught me to appreciate Rieslings, which I had previously dismissed as syrupy. I also enjoyed the chance to understand the process of making ice wine and the reminder that Nalin is from Nova Scotia, not Newfoundland!
Cheers, and come back next week for the specially created Spicebox Cocktail from Dave! For now, enjoy a selection from one of Nalin’s favorite reggae artists, Matisyahu: