Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lobster Tails with Champagne Vanilla Sauce

No need to worry - Joe's wine is not going 'foodie', this post is only about wine. (For foodie types, the recipe came from the spectacular "Weber's Big Book of Grilling" - Spring weather has finally arrived in Montreal!)

A key ingredient in the champagne vanilla sauce is brut champagne, and tonight a Prosecco Brut filled in nicely. While the first 250mL of the Carpene Malvolti N.V. Prosecco di Conegliano Cuvee Brut was used for the sauce, the last 500mL served as an excellent apéritif for our dinner guests. Straw yellow with a fine mousse, it was rather simple on the nose, all lemons and toast. On the palate it was a great refresher - dry, light-bodied, with fresh acidity, a velvety texture and very nice balance. Very pleasing, and at this price a great excuse to drink more bubbly.
11% alcohol
Score: 15/20
Price: C$16 (est., gift)

Of course, those of you reading carefully saw that the bubbles were the apéritif - what to serve with a BBQ Lobster Tail slathered in butter? Well, a buttery chardonnay, of course. Make that two.

We started with the 2006 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Chardonnay. Golden in colour, this was rather simple on the nose - oaky, butter, with some melon, and noticeable alcohol. Refreshing, but rather bland, it paired well with the lobster, but I think was overshadowed by the next wine.
13.5% alcohol
Score: 13.5/20
Price: C$16

Next was the 2005 Carmen Reserve Chardonnay. Lighter in colour than the previous wine, the label describes this wine as 50% oak fermented, whereas the Koonunga appears to be exclusively oak aged. More complex on the nose, with lemon, melon and some banana, with only a hint of oak. Medium-bodied, this elegant and well-balanced wine paired very well with the lobster. Despite the same level of alcohol as the last wine it was not as noticeable, and increased acidity gave it better balance and persistency. Very enjoyable, but I scored it the same as the 'regular' (i.e. cheaper) Carmen chardonnay I tasted in January. Hmm - time for a rematch, regular vs. 'Reserve', stay tuned.
13.5% alcohol
Score: 15.5/20
Price: C$15

NOTE: I was loathe to break open a real Champagne for the butter sauce (see Doktor Weingolb and the NY Times for discussions on cheap wine and cooking)


Marcus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcus said...

First of all, I have to concur on this strange new season hitting us. It's making Montrealers change their habits. You may have been affected too Foodie Joe.

I think of Chardonnay as a habit-breaker. Personally I find that it can get boring if you have it all the time (or at least the examples of it that I'm most likely to afford, during the times when I'm most likely to drink it, which is before dinner rather than with food). Open it on occasion and it makes an impression.

The Chard here is one of those impressive wines. A lot of these Chards demand food, don't you think? (That might be my underlying issue with Chard since it's usually an apperatif for me.) If you check it out, let me know since I have not had the recent vintage.

Hopefully, it'll be another Carmen for you, though that seems to be a better bargain -- I'll have to pick it up since you're mentioning here again. (I already consider the Penfold's as my go-to New World Chard.)

Joe said...

Hi Marcus - I have to admit I was puzzled by that 'adg' comment...
Spring in Montreal - ahhhh - that's more like it.
You're right about the habit breaker - despite its popularity, it always seems like a surprise when I open a chard. As for your suggestion, I have been eyeing the Santa Rita collection but I never bought, waiting for that perfect recommendation - you just gave it. However, I promise to drink the bottle of 2002 Montplaisir sitting in my cellar (another of your suggestions) before I buy the Santa Rita. In fact, I love blind taste offs so maybe I'll buy the cheapie Carmen, the Reserve and the Santa Rita and have a Chilean Chard smackdown! Sounds awesome - thanks for the idea.

Marcus said...

I'll be tuning in for that.

So you saw my "adg" comment? Sometimes I want to throw the Blogger pop-up comment dialog through the window. The one you see above was my third attempt. I had another one get zapped after the fourth paragraph.

Serves me right for spending my lunchhours like that.

Is it Spain today at lunch for you?

Joe said...

I hate those pop up windows - makes me want to switch to typepad. I was in Toronto, missed the Spain. However, our tasting group is having a Grand Tasting on Saturday night - Spanish Tempranillo - should be a better event!