Rosé – Pearls and Pink Fish

Rosé, like much seafood, can be misunderstood, misused and often abused – but is this delicate, dry style the wine for all seafood? This session will match the wine often referred to as the Princess of Anjou with seafood more often eaten by kings – salmon, caviar and tuna – let’s see if she can hold her weight!

Rosé – Pearls and Pink Fish

NV Laurent Perrier Rose, Champagne, France
Russian Osetra Karat Caviar produced by Caviar Galilee

First up was Champagne and caviar. Seafood host John Susman explained that Russian caviar is available again in Australia after a 10 year moritorium. The wild sturgeons are hand milk to produce a best in class product: high in salt levels, with fungal almost mushroom flavours up front and a light clean fishy after taste. Wine host Mike Bennie questioned the value in these more expensive imported products. I for one am a fan of the traditional combo: not only for the flavour and texture match, not only because the chalky bead of the Champagne cuts through the salt, but also because of the history. Give them to me anyday!

2010 Rimauresq Cotes de Provence Rose, Provence, France
First Milked Virgin Yarra Valley Salmon Caviar

This is an impressive salmon caviar. Pop in your mouth bubbles. A fragile product with a 10 day shelf life. The roe are dry cured in the caviaring process. This, is not an easy thing to do and the pearls can easily “burn.” The cure of Murray River Salt and Organic Demerara sugar not only helps preserve but also adds to the flavour profile. “Yarra Valley Caviar is one of the only fresh water aquaculture farms in the world to take a completely natural approach to rearing and milking its Atlantic Salmon.” One of the differentiatiors, we’re told by John Susman, is that these salmon are grown specifically for the caviar (and not the flesh – salmon caviar as a bi-product results in a denser stickier roe.) OK I’ll admit it. This salmon caviar (the best I’ve tasted) were so stunningly delicious, I picked up each delicate pearl one by one to savour and enjoy. True.

Again I’m taken with the wine match from the sandy soils. Mike Bennie reminds us of the food and wine terroir. Grapes grown near the sea (though not so common) works well with food from the sea. A seemingly simple philosophy and one with which I heartily concur. Cotes de Provence was my introduction to rose so there are no arguments from me on this style or wine (as I lean over to a vacant place setting and steal the glass that’s been poured for there.)

Still we’re told, perhaps there is better value in an Australian wine match.

2011 Clye Park Rose, Geelong
Yarra Valley Salmon Caviar Classic

It’s my first taste of this wine: which I like very much. In fact, to my palate, it’s a very good match with this salmon caviar and a better match than the wine offered with the (next tasting) wood roasted King salmon. (Our hosts and the room doesn’t necessarily agree. But that’s the beauty of different preferences, different palates.) Bennie tells the grapes have been grown in hard and thirsty soils, moving us into a more textural wine. With the classic salmon caviar a little saltier and stickier the extra texture in the wine is needed for balance.

This caviar is harvested May to July, then frozen to provide consistency in supply, and has a slightly longer shelf life. Mostly though it seems the difference comes from the cure which this time is a (wet) brine.

Before we move on to the last food and wine match, there’s an extra tasting: white Albicore tuna (sometimes called the chicken of the sea.) John Susman tells us it is yet to be regarded in Australia, but is highly regarded in countries like Portugal and Spain – and used by premier suppliers like Ortiz for canning. With 18% body fat (compared to 14% for salmon) it’s an unctious offering. It’s best served as raw fish he says. When served in this way he says it’s a “knockout.”

2011 Medhurst rose, Yarra Valley
Wood Roasted King Salmon

This is Mike Bennie’s preferred match. I like it. It’s quite acceptable, but it’s not my favourite. Having the advantage of that extra empty place setting nearby, I mix and match all the foods and wines. Perhaps the New Zealand snook salmon and I have something in common. It’s an opportunistic and greeder feeder. And, for me, it is a better match with the previous 2011 Clyde Park Rose. In fact I like that wine so much, I hurry in after the masterclass to meet Clyde Park stand at the 3 Winos and a Fish Tale event.

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