11 September, 2008

Wine + Chocolate = good!

Maybe it's not as obvious a combination as wine and cheese, but the appeal of wine and chocolate was more than enough to draw me in. Plus, I had long been curious about Crushpad http://www.crushpadwine.com/, which is an amazing facility located in Dogpatch. Basically, it is a DIY boutique for all things wine making whether you are a hobbyist or looking to create your own label, they take the garagiste philosophy and provide all the bells and whistles to come out of the process with an extremely drinkable result. It definitely called to Anni and me! But this evening was all about chocolate. Due to unforeseen circumstances (week from hell, muscle spasm in back and resultant vicodin/generic relaxant cocktail), I was a teensy bit late, but still found my people. Brian H., Tom J., Kristy and Anni were hard at work collecting chocolate. I grabbed a glass of rose and got started. We were all assigned a sheet of chocolatiers and instructed to collect samples from each.
Amano Artisan - Dark, flavorful. They made it simple to grab nice chocolate meant to go with wine.
Coco Delice - Edited selection of beautiful handmade chocolate. I particularly enjoyed cognac trruffle and salty caramel
Jade Chocolates - Standout for me was Salty Caramel bon bo
Newtree Chocolate - Many exotic flavors matched to mood:Cherry, Cassis, stood out and paired well
Saratoga Chocolates - a Busby Berkley musical of delights! Shapes! Colors! Flavors! Beautiful decorated chocolates: Pomegranate, Black and Tan, Raspberry, Salty Caramel, Garden Hearts, etc...
Schoggi - Shiny rich dark chocolate also truffle
Tcho- Matched well with wine My favorite had floral notes of Ylang Ylang
The Tea Room - Many exotic treats including Mata, salty caramel bar, Earl Grey
The premise of the evening was to select some chocolate, taste and then taste with a selection of wines to see which the group felt was the best match for chocolate. Not sure how scientific it was, but definitely fun. The first wine poured from barrel samples was an Alder Springs Merlot. The wine had a jammy nose that was so full of blackberry goodness it could carry a Smucker's label. While the color was lovely and the wine drank well (for a Merlot), it was a little thin. But I did find three parings in the Coco Delice, Tcho and Tea Room. Next came a delicious Zinfandel. I drifted of on a cloud of bliss matching chocolate after chocolate to this delicious Grist Zinfandel, with its beautiful nose of fruit and spice. It had an almost continental complexity, but its feet firmly in California fruit forward tastiness. I waited, saving most of my chocolate for my expected favorite pairing, the Cabernet, which was a Vineyard X Cab Sauv from Beckstoffer. I'm not sure if my palate was fatigued, I had crossed the line from tipsy to sloshed or I was approaching sugar overload,, but I missed the tannic grip I would have loved. The wine tasted spritzy with a Kool-Aid-y presence and no finish to speak of. We felt this was a wine that would be ready to drink soon and didn't seem to have lasting power. I liked it with the simplicity of th edark, rich Amano, as well as the exotic tea flavors of the Tea Room. But I was not pleased by the combinations of the truffles and bon bon types, although to be fair, those would be very tough to pair. However, on their own, they went down exceptionally easily! I think the non-scientific straw poll of the crowded room was the Cabernet. What were those people thinking???To be fair to the Cab, Tom had held back a little of the Zin and later after so much chocolaty goodness, it did not taste as delightful as initially. When the Crushpad folks flashed the lights, we took the hint and staggered off to the Dogpatch Saloon for some dog watching, local consorting and a glass of Guinness to top off the evening of chocolaty goodness!
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