Families everywhere will be sitting down together to celebrate the upcoming Easter holiday, and what better way to usher in the end of Lent than with a big meal and a great bottle of wine? We would be remiss if we did not also mention the nine-hour feasting event that is the Passover Seder, which already has my mouth watering from thinking about brisket. And though the following wines are not Kosher, maybe if you are really nice you can ask the Rabbi to say a Kiddush. Trust me; the following goodies are worth blessing!
These two holidays can be a little tricky in terms of selecting wines as there are often strong flavors and competing food philosophies that line the table. The traditional Lamb and the traditional Ham don’t necessarily play nicely together when it comes to wine, and add in yams, stuffing, potatoes, greens, etc. and it can make for a veritable traffic jam of flavors. So the trick is to find wines that will stand up to boldly flavored dishes and that have a little flexibility when it comes to foods that they can pair with.
The first wine in our lineup is the 2008 Gilbert Picq Chablis 1er Cru Vaucoupin, and this wine is simply stunning. Chablis can run the gamut from the fresh, bright and minerally side of Chardonnay to the fruit-forward, tropical and lush version of the grape, while the best versions tend to stay towards the more chalky and vibrant end of the scale. The Picq I am happy to say hits on all fronts. It is at once bright, clean, crisp and refreshing but also lush, savory, complex and chewy. There is so much packed into this bottle of wine that one cannot help but be blown away. Because of this cavalcade of flavors the Picq Chablis also can run with quite a few dishes- from Dover Sole and seared Sea Scallops to roasted Chicken or Squab. It is broad and juicy enough to handle the spice, but it is light and lively enough to not overpower the fare.
Another option is the 2007 Domaine Bott-Geyl Gewurztraminer Les Elements. Gewurtz is one of my favorite wines for the holiday table because it can handle just about anything thrown its way. The Bott-Geyl offers up rich lychee, apricot and rose petal notes along with a full body and fresh acidity. Add these elements to Turkey, Stuffing, Yams and other strong flavors and it is a match made in heaven.
But what to do about Lamb? A wine that I have always found compelling and easy to love is the 2006 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir La Bauge au Dessus. This is a special bottling from ABC and it is year in and year out a delicious, well-balanced and nuanced Pinot. If you like dark fruit and spices- it has it. Want a silky texture to your wine? Bam, it’s in there. Like a little acidity to refresh your palate during a big meal? No problem- the ABC La Bauge can handle it like a pro. A classic food and wine combination is the gamey yet delicate flavors of Lamb matched with the delicate and ethereal nature of Pinot Noir. And the ABC La Bauge is no different, as it is classically-styled Pinot that is neither too heavy nor too light. It is just right.
And as more than a few of you may have given up something you truly love for Lent it may be time to celebrate with a fine bottle of bubbles. Whether it was chocolate, fried foods or even (gasp!) alcohol, a bottle of bubbly is always a welcome addition to any gathering. Look for Cava from Spain and Prosecco from Italy as affordable alternatives or maybe even a Grower-Producer Champagne if you really want to hit the high notes. Either way your friends, family and neighbors will thank you for it.