Top tips for food and wine pairing

Matching the perfect wine with the perfect food to bring out the subtle, distinctive flavours of both is a delicate skill.

Chablis, “Terroir de Courgis”

Chablis, “Terroir de Courgis”

Here Constance Halaveli sommelier Cedric Jacobs selects his favourite wines and, with the help of executive chef at Halaveli Holger Joost, pairs them with a selection of delectable dishes.

1. Chablis, “Terroir de Courgis”, Patrick Piuze, 2010, France, Burgundy

I will always remember the first time I tasted this wine, I was in Bordeaux in 2011 for a famous wine exposition and a friend of Jerome Faure brought a few bottles from this producer to be blind-tasted. When the results came back, it was like I was back in school with my lecturer warning me that Chablis can be confused with wine from the Loire Valley due to the proximity of Terroir.

Courgis is the western city of the Chablis appellation and very close to Pouilly Fumé – a total confusion, yet an incredible discovery.

100 per cent Chardonnay – The hint of gunflint, citrus & exotic fruit and minerality could confuse the drinker with a Sauvignon Blanc. Showing an amazing purity in the mouth, a juicy, rich mineral wine with a perfect respect of the fruit.

Food Pairing:

Some time ago, the executive chef prepared prawns in 3 textures (seared, sous vide and tartar) served with mango salsa for me to taste. This would have been the perfect wine to drink to respect both of the wine and dish.

Chef Pairing:

Tiger Prawns in 3 textures (seared, sous vide and tartar) with mango and palm heart salsa curry emulsion.

VDP des Bouches du Rhône, Villa Minna

VDP des Bouches du Rhône, Villa Minna

2. VDP des Bouches du Rhône, Villa Minna, Red, 2007, France, Provence

This wine comes from the commune of Saint Cannat, a few kilometres from Aix-en-Provence and neighbour of the small village I am from, Ventabren. I discovered the wine from Jean Paul Luc 8 years ago when I started my sommelier formation. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy to bring to the middle of the Indian Ocean. Eventually, the wines arrived and my love for them did not change at all.

A bold blend between Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Mourvèdre. The nose is crammed full of black cherry, almost kirsches, and dried fig aromas. After few minutes of aeration in the glass, violets, mixed Provençal herbs and spices are showing off. The mouth is fruitful and complex offering a beautiful freshness for a 2007 vintage showing that this wine still has guts to age even more.

Food Pairing:

Halaveli cheese selection – a selection of international cheeses with dried fruit, crackers & honey.

As a typical French man I cannot refuse a piece of cheese but being in the middle of the Indian ocean I do not have access to it that easily. I discovered here a Brie from Australia, the Jindi Triple Cream, battered more than a normal one and showing an incredible complexity. I could simply spend a whole night with friends pairing these two.

Waterkloof, Sauvignon Blanc

Waterkloof, Sauvignon Blanc

3. Waterkloof, Sauvignon Blanc, 2010 – South Africa, Stellenbosh

I discovered this wine in October 2012 while visiting South Africa, more precisely the Cape Wine wine exposition in Cape Town. The first contact was with Paul Boutinot, the owner of the winery, and then his son Louis, who invited us to taste his wine.

The Waterkloof Sauvignon Blanc is one of my ‘Coup de Coeur’ of the year for the purity that is present in this wine. A rich and complex Sauvignon Blanc offering citrus fruit, vegetal and fennel aromas on the nose for a mineral, salty, and long lasting finish – a great complexity for an easy drinking wine.

Food Pairing:

Halaveli Sushi and Sashimi selection with pickled ginger and soy.

Minerality and saltiness lead me directly to products from the sea and one of my first experiences with the Waterkloof, and the most memorable, was with Japanese Food: Sushi, Sashimi, Californian Roll… This unctuous wine matched perfectly these Japanese specialties.

4. Mullineux, “Granit”, Syrah, 2010 – South Africa, Swartland

Like the Waterkloof, this was a discovery that happened in South Africa during my last trip. We were welcomed by Andrea and Chris Mullineux in a restaurant called “French toast” in the city of Cape Town.

The cuvée Granit is, for me, majestic. The nose offers beautiful black berries, olive, spices and meaty aromas. On the palate, the wine is fresh, lively and spicy with an amazing fruit – the feeling of literally biting into berries. A feminine, yet complex Syrah which deserves to be aged for couple of years, but can be enjoyed right now.

Food Pairing:

Tuna steak and caramelized foie gras, warm salad of Shimeji, Edamame and tomato, celeriac puree.

Living in the Maldives for the past few years, tuna, the meatiest fish of the Indian Ocean, has become one of my favourite dishes. To complement this amazing fish, The Mullineux Syrah is a perfect match, especially when the tuna steak is served with a typical olive tapenade, grilled Mediterranean vegetables and a celeriac purée.

Barolo, Attilio Ghisolfi

Barolo, Attilio Ghisolfi

5. Barolo, Attilio Ghisolfi, 2005 – Italy, Piedmont

My most recent trip was to Italy where we visited mostly the north of the country seeking out small yet amazing winemakers. I had already worked with the wines from Attilio Ghisolfi for the last 2 years (in fact, Jerome Faure discovered them during a tasting in Italy a few years back) but I wanted to meet the man behind the superb bottle.

Cherry, balsamic, olive and chamomile all together coming to your nose for an amazing mouthful, this 100 per cent Nebbiolo is similar to a Pinot Noir but with firm Tannin – This wine from Attilio Ghisolfi, after a long and delicate aging in the cellar, shows beautiful and melted tannins, with impressive fruit – Can be kept for aging for another 10 to 15 years.

Food Pairing:
Angus beef tenderloin, Asian spiced spinach, truffle potato and horseradish crème.

Red meat is the first dish that comes to my mind when having a bottle of Barolo in front of me. More exactly, a nice, juicy Angus beef tenderloin, served in its own jus with a homemade truffle potato purée and horseradish cream.

Find out more