Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Who Says You Can't Drink Red with Fish?

Mr. D. was dropping by in the afternoon, so Boo and I figured what's an extra plate on the dinner table. Particularly when, after he found out he was staying for dinner, Mr. D. stopped by Granville Island and brought along a batch of swimming scallops.

So, unexpectedly, here we are having another seafood extravaganza - only a couple of days after scallops and mussels with Elzee. Boo had already pulled out the smoker to cook some salmon. Now, it was my turn to cook up the scallops so that they wouldn't taste exactly the same as the other night. The vanilla butter was out and wine, cream and chives filled in.

458. 2008 Nk'mip Pinot Blanc (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Scallops are such a delicate flavour that we didn't want to overpower them with too big of a wine. We don't generally have a lot of white wine on hand but this bottle of Nk'mip looked to fit the bill. Enough acidity to cut through the richness of the scallops and cream, but still some prominent fruit with a touch of residual sugar.

The scallops went quickly, so we even had a bit of the Pinot Blanc to drink along with Boo's salmon.

459. 2006 Domaine de Fondreche Nadal (AOC Cotes de Ventoux)

The white wasn't going to get us through the rest of dinner though, so I figured that, since the salmon was seeing some smoke, it could handle a red with a bit more body. I wasn't familiar with Domaine de Fondreche but they came highly recommended from Marquis Wine Cellars - and I see that there are a lot of big name critics that like what the winery is doing as well.

The Nadal blend is typical Southern Rhone - Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre in 45/45/10 proportions respectively. I was happy that there was enough fruit on the palate and that the tannins and body didn't overpower the salmon. A little risky of my part, but the wine drank nicely on its own in any event.

Fondreche is generally seen as an example of what a new generation of French winemakers can get up to. Established 15 years ago, the winery is located in the South-Eastern Rhone in the Cotes du Ventoux section of Vaucluse departement (province). The region tends to have a bit higher elevation and a slightly cooler climate than much of the surrounding Rhone and producers, such as Fondreche, are now taking advantage of such a location to introduce a higher level of sophistication to the previously simple wines of the region. Fondreche seems to have caught the eye of the big name wine writers as providing the much sought QPR ("Quality Price Ratio") or quality for value.

Personally, I think you need to be seeking out serious wines to look at this as big QPR. At $30, it's not exactly a bargain wine. I don't know if I have the chops to discern the differences between a $30 bottle and one that costs two or three times that. Whether or not there's a big enough difference between this and a $15-$20 bottle to justify the extra bucks mid-week is a different question altogether - and I don't know that I'd answer that in the positive right now.

We had no problem finishing off the Nadal though and - since we've been talking acronyms - QPR or not, the bottle fit our "WFM" category. That's a brand new acronym on these pages - standing for "Works For Me." It also looks like I guess you can drink red with fish - at least this one.

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