While some of my colleagues were drowning in a River of Skulls last Saturday, I was dragged totally against my will to Le Colonial, San Francisco. NOT! I actually went there willingly with my companion Sherman because the food there is always good and because I knew there would be pork on the menu. Right away Sherman spotted the Thit Kho Chien also known as braised pork belly. Check out this description: “Braised Niman Ranch pork belly roulade with a savory caramel sauce, white truffle oil, hosui pear, pickled bok choy and a quail egg.” Sweet, savory, tangy, fatty with a little crunch all rolled into one mouth-watering delicacy. What wine would you choose to accompany this? The only grape in my mind was Merlot. Alas, they did not have one by the glass so I chose the next best thing: a 2005 Bordeaux blend from the Craggy Range winery of Hawkes Bay, NZ. Little did I know of the alchemical perfection I was about to experience. But first the wine: The 2005 Craggy Range Merlot / Cabernet Te Kahu Gimblett Gravels Vineyard. Yes, the restaurant was dark but so was this wine. It showed a medium to deep carmine color. A profound nose of plums and cassis. Medium + tannins with hints of oak gave a fine structure to the berry richness of this elegant yet restrained Bordeaux Blend. I was not sure how good of a food wine this would be but I had to let go and just trust the Sommelier’s picks. Good thing too!
The medium high acidity of this wine totally supported the sweet/savory sauce keeping the sweetness and acidity in a fine balance. The sweet/savory flavors also brought out a bit of sweetness in the wine which was actually a welcome addition. The tannins also matched the fattiness of the pork belly and the richness of the white truffle oil. This pork belly almost melted in my mouth and the flavors and textures made my palate sing. So, when are we going back???