By George Kassianos
The special relationship between chefs and sommeliers surfaced again last month with two events in Paphos where a chef with a sommelier, or a team of sommeliers, produced something spectacular in the marriage of wine and food. Within a week Almyra hotel and Kyperounda joined forces at Eauzone and 300m away at Risto La Piazza Paris Sigalas, the famous Santorini winemaker, visited the island and experienced his wine with “Cyprus (flavours) in mind”. But first, let me refresh your memory with an explanation of the term oeno-gastronomy.
Chefs and sommeliers have to work together. It’s their job. And a fair number of them work well, putting together tasty food and wine pairings on regular basis. But transcendent food and wine pairings – the kind that make us rethink all that we ever knew about the potential chemistry between the dish and the glass – are far more difficult to achieve. They require that a rare kind of culinary symbiosis exists between the chef and the sommelier, a pair that is wholly attuned to ones another’s instincts and aspirations. Oeno-gastronomy…
This (and next) week we will come across two Chef – Sommelier pairs who represent this kind of relationship. Even with their distinct menus and distinct food and wine pairing approach, Ccef Rob Shipman and myself in the sommelier’s role and chef Riccos Iordanou and chef sommelier Vasos Manoli of Risto La Piazza embody the same drive to build collaborative pairings in which neither the food nor the wine outshines the other.
But first ‘Cool by the Pool’ with Kyperounda wines at Almyra’s Eauzone. Both Rob and I appreciate the good work of Minas Mina, the Kyperounda winemaker, and year after year we allow his wines to inspire us in creating new recipes. There is a certain style in his winemaking that really speaks to Rob. ‘Cool by the Pool’ was not a standard meal, almost all food was barbecued and served as meze on high tables allowing the guests to experience the ambience of Eauzone Spa.
The 2013 Petrites, PGI Lemesos Abv 13% (€7.20) worked well with pinchos or bites. This complex Xinisteri spends some time in a barrel – at least one third of it – a wine still fresh that will develop in time. Previous vintages proved that it is worth saving a few bottles for a few years (2005, 2008, 2009, 2011 still hold and are exceptional). This crystal-clear Xinisteri is pale yellow with light green hints. The complex and elegant nose offers up aromas of lime, grapefruit, pineapple and pear complemented by floral, grass and mineral touches. In the mouth it is elegant with crisp acidity that is typical for this variety. On the palate more citrus and tropical fruit are evident. It is delicious as an aperitif or as accompaniment to salads, shellfish, ceviches, and fish. It also goes well with white meats and fresh cheeses.
On the evening it was escorting smoked aubergine and sundried tomato Pesto Bruschetta, Rosemary Hot smoked salmon and horseradish sour cream. BBQ Tunisian spiced octopus skewers with Green and Red Zhoug.
The 2013 Oaked Chardonnay, PGI Pafos, Abv 14% (€10.65) is another Kyperounda success story, with a pale yellow colour and aromas and fruit-forward bouquet of lemon, pear and crisp apple mingle with hints of vanilla and flinty mineral notes. Toasted almond rounds out the nose, evoking the creaminess that is to come on the palate. The palate is bursting with vibrant fresh pear and citrus flavours with a mouthfilling, creamy, round palate. Bright fruit flavours and a silky texture lead to a lingering finish of apple, honeysuckle and vanilla. Delicious when paired with mushroom, risotto, pan seared scallops or line fish.
On the evening an array of different fish was suggested like sweet potato and grilled squid with chilli jam, Sumac butterfish with brick or pink pepper with black salt, smoked bacon and tarragon quiche with purple lavender, BBQ pork with onion jam and red bell Muhamara sauce.
The main BBQ dishes were served with 2011 Shiraz PGI Limassol, Abv 14.5% (€10.65) purpley crimson, violet, this wine is deep, generous and balanced. It is smooth and supple but at the same time it is rich and has a powerful palate. It has shy blackberry and blackcurrant aromas with a whiff of liquorice and a very long and savoury palate. It has a seasoning of classy French oak that is perfectly balanced with fruit. Any red meat dishes and aged dishes will go well with this wine and it is excellent with BBQ shiraz marinated chicken wings, BBQ beef skewers with star anise Teriyaki and purple cabbage slaw, lamb kofta with spicy red Harissa and yoghurt and last BBQ vegetable skewers Chermoula.
A selection of sweets were served – smoked vanilla crème brûlée cake, burnt Commandaria flavoured marshmallow with caramelised fig, blackberry cheese cake with purple sauce and appropriately the 2005 Kyperounda Commandaria Abv 13% (€25). This is a wine with an unfamiliar bouquet, a combination of spices, honey, raisins and mature aromas.
With a rich and velvety nature, the intensely sweet taste plays joyfully with the acidity of the grape varieties and alcoholic volume. A luscious dessert wine from sun dried grapes. Enjoy its exquisite structure, delicate acidity, complex aromas of dried fruit and intense caramel aftertaste. Great ageing potential enjoyed as an aperitif with sweet appetizers or as a dessert with fresh fruit, pies, ice cream, baklava or strong taste cheese as Roquefort and Cheddar.
Crispy sesame feta and Halloumi pesto were served with 2013 Kyperounda rosé Abv 13% (€7.20), a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Grenache. A strawberry rose colour, a delicate rosé with a heavily perfumed nose of candied strawberries and vanilla cream, plum blossom and cherries. Soft and refreshing on the entry, the wine has a beautiful texture without being weighty. The smooth long palate is dominated by cherries with a touch of sweetness that fills the mouth and ends with a bright and clean finish. A lovely wine to have on a hot summer day with seafood, a crisp salad or by itself.
This was an excellent dinner, an opportunity to welcome summer. Rob said wine and food are truly two of life’s great pleasures. And, when paired together in perfect balance, they awaken the palate and stir the soul.