Skip to content

Column: An enchanting evening tasting French wines paired with Hawksworth’s fine cuisine

Reds, whites and Champagnes enjoyed with seafood and meat

After a year and a half of not attending live wine events, I was on cloud nine when I attended a Vertical Tasting and Wine Pairing Dinner organized by Grace Li and Kristie Or of World Wine Synergy.

The venue was a gourmet’s delight: Hawksworth at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, one of the top restaurants in Canada. Chef David Hawksworth, Executive Chef Sylvain Assie, and Wine Director Chris Reilly designed the five-course menu and wine strategy.

The Keynote Speaker was Dr. John Volpe, Associate Professor and Principal Investigator for the Ecogastronomy Research Group at University of Victoria’s School of Environmental Studies. “I and my students use quantitative analyses of food and wine production systems to reveal linkages between ecological and social sustainability, “quality’” and the primacy of place…”Ecogastronomy.” Volpe explained.

Barbara Philip, the first Canadian woman to achieve the Master of Wine designation was Guest Speaker. She is Category Manager for BC Liquor Stores, responsible for buying all sparking fortified, and European wines. All of the speakers have a great deal of wine knowledge of wine and a passion to share their expertise.

The evening began on a high note with a trio of amuse bouche: Oyster & Caviar, Halibut Crudo, and a Gougère of gruyère cheese and choux pastry. The perfect accompaniment to begin the evening of sophisticated food and fine wine was a biodynamic and organic Champagne Augustin Cuvée CXVI 2014 Blanc de Blancs (SKU 098473 Spec Item; $129.99.)

Most champagnes are blends of red grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) and a white (Chardonnay). But the Blanc de Blancs has only Chardonnay. It displays a fine persistent mousse, with notes of apple, pear, and pineapple. There’s a very good natural acidity along with a distinct minerality, which allows for excellent aging potential as well as a wide range of pairing with foods.

Unlike most Champagnes which are blends of different vintages, the Champagne Augustin is a vintage champagne that is made entirely by grapes from one exceptional vintage. They are usually produced only three or four times a decade sourcing grapes from their best vintage and the grapes come from highly venerated vineyards.

The second course was Quail with celeriac remoulade, watercress salad, and quail jus vinaigrette. To complement the quail, Chateau de l’Aumérade Cru Classé Cuvée ‘Marie-Christine’ Rosé 2020 was selected (SKU 110307 $28.99; 91 points). The Chateau was awarded the title of Cru Classé, which only 18 properties in Provence can claim.

This premium rosé is produced from Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah grapes. The skittle shape of the bottle really grabs your attention. The owner’s wife, Charlotte Fabre’designed it in 1956 and each new vintage has a fashionable Marie Christine, Fabre’s granddaughter and now chateau owner, painted on the bottle.

A beautiful pink salmon colour also attracts your attention as does the floral, berry, and stone fruit bouquet. On the palate, there are elegant flavours of peach, nectarine, and strawberry, all with lively acidity, silky medium body and very long finish. Lip-smacking wonderful!

The stars of the evening belonged to the three Chateauneuf-du-Pape’s from Domaine La Barroche “Julien Barrot”. All three were poured for third course, Beef duo with tenderloin, pomme purée, truffle jus, as well as braised sort rib, pine mushroom picked by Chef David Hawksworth, and black pepper jam.

Chateau Chateauneuf-du-Pape is one of France’s most recognized wines. The name literally means the Pope’s new castle when Pope Gregory X relocated the papacy to the town of Avignon.

Most CdP’s are red. They’re a blend of several red grape varieties grown in the southern Rhone Valley; Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault are the most common grapes in the cuvée although they can have as many as 13 varieties.

At its best, Chateauneuf-du Pape Rouge bursts with rich raspberry and plum flavours. With age, flavours of leather, game and herbs or garrique develop such as rosemary, sage, and lavender finishing on a strawberry note.

We tasted three different vintages of CdP Rouge, 2016, 2017, and 2018. All three were from Domaine La Barroche, a family estate since the 14th century managed by the sister and brother team, Laetitia and Julien Barroche.

Join us next week as we discuss the vertical tasting of the three CdP Rouges from Domain La Barroche and the last two courses at Hawksworth Restaurant and the premium wines that were paired with them. Visit BC Liquor Stores for locations to purchase today’s wines.