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.
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.
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.
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)