Small Plates Menu: Beef Tenderloin Skewers with Cranberry Port Peppercorn Relish & Gorgonzola

Today we get to the “meat of the matter” in this week long series of small plates with wine pairings. Beef Tenderloin Skewers with Cranberry Port Peppercorn Relish & Gorgonzola which we paired with Hall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007.

It’s a simple dish with a lot of bold flavor. The relish has the bite of plenty of assorted peppercorns and the Gorgonzola is just the right finishing touch. A Cabernet such as this Hall is a perfect compliment.

But since a new year is starting we also thought we’d also start something new. Wine Reviews!

Now we’ll still do wine pairings. That’s what Sippity Sup is all about. But my brother Grant will also be reviewing some of the wines that cross his path as well. He has developed a Sippity Sup appropriate rating system that is far less complicated than points or stars, because it relies on common sense and the simple question, would I reccommend this wine to a friend? It’s basically a scale from Nope! to Hell Yes! in four easily understood categories. CLICK here for an explanation of Sippity Sup’s wine rating system.

The first wine he has chosen to review is paired with my beef tenderloin skewers and is a part of my small plates series. Read his review of this wine after the jump or CLICK here for a printable recipe serves 4 Beef Tenderloin Skewers with Cranberry Port Peppercorn Relish & Gorgonzola. GREG

Hall CabernetHall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007

As the self-professed “wine guy” at Sippity Sup, I’d say that I take wine pretty seriously.

But wait a minute, I take that back, because I’m also the guy who is always telling my friends and customers that wine is fun, and the biggest mistake one can make is to take it too seriously. In fact, I actually have “fun” with those who treat buying a bottle of wine like they’re researching a cure for cancer, or appointing a Supreme Court Justice.  Part of this “fun” includes keeping a list of some of the most outrageous, pompous, and ill-informed comments I’ve overheard at wine tastings, coming from both sides of the pour-spout. But that’s a subject for another post.

What I do take a little more seriously, however, is trying to understand how I perceive the wines I am tasting, and what is driving my perceptions, and ultimately, my opinions of those wines. So here, I’ll be the first to admit that I do “nerd-out” a little. I keep tasting notes on many of the wines I taste, where I consider such elements as aroma, flavor intensity, sweetness, acidity, tannin, oak, weight and complexity. I do find each of those elements “elementary” when assessing wine, and I think my training and education has prepared me well for this type of analysis. Yet I can’t help but wonder about other factors that come into play; whether real or imagined.

Which brings us to the Hall Napa Cab– finally! I recently received 2 bottles of the Hall Napa Valley Cabernet 2007 from the winery in the mail as samples. I was eager to taste the wine, because I have enjoyed wInes from the Hall Winery in the past, and I am aware of the high ratings and good press their wines have received. But now I’m worried … will these factors affect my perception of the wine? I’m fully aware that their 2006 Napa Cabernet was rated 94 points, and placed #18 on Wine Spectator’s “Top 100” Wines of 2010. I also know that their 2006 “Kathryn Hall” Cab was one of the best Napa Cabs I’ve tasted in several years, and scored a 96! So finally I decided to do what I’ve been telling others for a long time, which is forget about all that ratings stuff and just drink the wine!  So I did.

This is a deep-red colored wine, with intense aromas of ripe blackberry, tart raspberry, baking spices and touch of Starbuck’s mocha-latte. The flavors are rich, and complex with blackberry compote, cassis, licorice, and more chocolate. Of course, Cabernet is a no-brainer with beef, but this wine in particular pairs well with Greg’s Tenderloin Skewers. The tart-fruit component is great with the cranberry relish, the minerality picks up on the earthiness of Gorgonzola cheese, and the wine’s bright acidity not found in many Napa Cabs, keeps the wine from overpowering the more delicate beef flavors found in tenderloin. And it’s not straight Cab. Happily the winemaker has blended in Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cab Franc to add an elegance not usually found in Cabernet alone.

If asked to recommend this wine, my answer is a firm Hell Yes! in the pseudo-Mickey-Mouse-quasi wine rating system I’ve come up with. CLICK here for an explanation of Sippity Sup’s wine rating system.

At Around $40, this is really an outstanding example of Napa Valley Cabernet. And this is a wine built to age, so it will evolve and improve over the next 5–10 years. I have to make sure I remember to come back and taste this wine again in 5 years. I’ll just need to forget how much I loved it, so I don’t screw up my “perceptions.”

sippity sup wine ratingSERIOUS FUN FOOD

Grant Henry