Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Report from ... Huff Estates 6 Barrels for 6 Chefs – July 2, 2008

Lanny Huff and his staff couldn’t have ordered up a more perfect evening, weather-wise, for their 6 Barrels for 6 Chefs event. The Chefs: Bryan Steele (The Old Prune), Michael Potters (Harvest), Scot Kapitan (The Bloomfield Carriage House), Hiro Yoshido (Hiro Sushi), Chris McDonald (Cava) and Ryan Crawford (The Stone Road Grille) match-up their culinary skills with the winemaker’s creation (so far) from the 2007 vintage. The wines we sampled are still in barrel, and most of them will be there for the next 6 to 12 months, but this event gives you a preview of what the ’07 vintage was like, and, in some cases, like with the two Huff Chardonnay barrels, or Hardie’s two Pinots, the difference wood can give to the same wine from the same year.

The event starts with registration at the Huff wine store, and just beyond that, o
n the patio, the jazz band Straight Flush are playing – no offense to these young men (a three piece local ensemble that played last year - pictured), but they look about 12 years old … or maybe it is I who am feeling older; maybe it’s true, the music does keep you young. Anyway, from the registration table you received your menu/tasting notes for the evening, cutlery and napkin, and a glass of Huff Rosé to help you on your way to the first food station located in the vineyard.

There is no set course, you could start anywhere and end anywhere you liked … I began at station 4, did 5 and 6 – which were the Pinot Noirs from Norman Hardie (2) and Roshall Run and ended with 3, 2,1 – which were the Chardonnays from Huff (2) and Closson Chase. For those who recall last year's 6 Barrels event, you not only notice some new chef participants, but 2 new wineries have joined the mix – Closson and Rosehall, both were welcome additions to the event.

Three shout outs to give: Best Wine, Best Food, Best Pairing – and they go something like this …

Best Wine – Red …
for it’s rich cherry nose and taste, along with silky smooth tannins, Rosehall 2007 Pinot Noir (in Long Toast, 1st Fill, Billion barrel).

Best Wine – White … toss up here between the two Huff Chardonnays; same grape, same year, same vineyard, same toasting on the barrel (medium plus), both 1st Fill, but from two different coopers: Taransaud and Radoux. The Taransaud was crisper, more acidic and more food friendly; while the Radoux was softer, fuller in the mouth and much more sippable on its own. Both were delicious wines.

Best Food … hands down, after a quick straw poll of attendees, and with my own opinion thrown in for good measure, the Michael Potters “pan-seared Bay of Quinte walleye with young green garlic” takes this crown. Maybe it was the presentation: Potters bent over an open fire “pan-searing” the fish, throwing ingredients on and working up a sweat – or maybe it was that great tasting potato salad that paired beautifully … or maybe, just maybe, it was the light flaky melt in your mouth fish – yup, that was it. Delicious.

Best Pairing …
does the wine make the food or does the food make the wine? An age old question that can never truly be settled. But in this case the best food and best wines went together. The walleye from Michael Potters went exquisitely well with the Huff Radoux Chardonnay (see best wine–white, above). In second, and just beaten out by a bill (or is that a quack) was the Ryan Crawford “confit duck and foie gras tart with pickled cherries” paired with; you guessed it, the Rosehall Run 2007 Billion Pinot Noir. Does the wine make the food or the food make the wine? Who really cares when they both go so well together. I’ll let others debate the age-old question, I’m just gonna eat, drink and be merry.

Another great event at Huff – see you next year when we’ll see who’s cooking, who’s bringing the wine and who reigns gastronomically supreme.

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