Wednesday, September 5, 2012

MRE Menu 13: Cheese Tortellini

A Note from the Taliban:  We apologize for interrupting the posting of yesterday’s blog with our continued hostilities throughout southern Afghanistan.  We will try to be more considerate of the wine and food loving public in the future.

And now for today’s pairing.  The pasta in this case is neutral in terms of flavor, texture, nutritional value, and so forth, so the key element for the pairing is the processed cheese food inside.  Almost acting like a compote, the dark cherry of a Central Otago pinot noir from New Zealand will harmonize with and stand up next to the dense cheese in the tortellini.  With quality producers here judiciously using proven winemaking techniques and barrels from this variety’s spiritual home in France, the intense fruit will be balanced by spicy notes and streaks of minerality reflective of the local terroir.

Desirable characteristics for a white wine pairing would be acidity to cut through the fat in the cheese, yet with enough structure to stand up to its strong flavors.  Such a wine can be found in northeastern Italy in the region of Friuli, made from tocai friulano.  Nutty notes on the finish will serve to bring out the very best from this substandard cheese.

Complementary Pairing:  Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand
Try:  Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate Pinot Noir
[]  The production here mirrors a Burgundian model.  The grapes are mostly destemmed, with a small percentage of whole clusters depending on the vintage, and are then given a cold soak before the start of a temperature-controlled fermentation.  After the completion of fermentation and additional maceration, the wine goes into mostly new barriques, and will be fined but not filtered prior to bottling.

Contrasting Pairing:  Friulano, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
Try:  Schiopetto Collio Friulano
[]  This classic expression of friulano comes from vines over 40 years old planted on marl.  In order to preserve the purity of the fruit, aging is in all stainless steel tanks for approximately 8 months.  Look for floral aromatics, with golden pear and almonds on the palate.

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