On Thursday, November 3, a select group of Ottawa
wine-os wine professionals congregated at SideDoor in the Byward Market for a fantastic tasting event with Nobilo winemaker Dave Edmonds. With the theme of “unusual pairings with sauvignon blanc”, I was intrigued!
As we waited for the main event, we sipped on the 2016 Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc ($16.95 at the LCBO and $19.10 at the SAQ). It was the perfect lunchtime apéritif: lots of tropical fruit like pineapple, mango and passion fruit, as well as apricot, grassy notes, minerality and white peach. The crisp, refreshing acidity, the hallmark of NZ sauvignon blancs, had us salivating for lunch. Marlborough’s maritime climate, with the moderating influence of the ocean, offers perfect conditions for creating this telltale juicy acidity. Nobilo sources its grapes from all over Marlborough, and apparently has more vineyards than any other Constellation brand. This sauvignon blanc also happens to be the number one-seller in the US.
2016 was the perfect growing season for sauvignon blanc. Edmonds described it as “short and sharp”, with generally hot and dry conditions in the summer that made for uber-ripe grapes that were ready for the picking come harvest time in late February to March.
The first course arrived: pulled pork tacos with a peach jam. I thought the sweetness of the peaches and the pork complemented the tropical notes of the wine well, but the jalapeño was perhaps not as great a match for the racy acidity of the Regional Collection SB. Some people may like it when their tongue is on fire, but that’s not my idea of a good time, and that’s what acidity tends to do to spiciness. That said, when the second wine was served and I went back to my tacos, it was a match made in heaven, brought to you by the 2016 Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc.
This wine is Dave’s baby, and you can practically taste the love that has gone into it. He describes it as “flinty minerality under delicious fruit”, but the texture of this wine is what really got me. Usually a NZ sauvignon blanc is light and fresh, but this one was unctuous and elegant, with notes of pink grapefruit, peach, and white flower. It did great things for the leftover heat of the jalapeño from the tacos, and also paired quite nicely with the exquisite tuna sashimi with yuzu marmalade that came as our second course. With 2016’s fantastic growing conditions, this wine is a real stunner, and I feel very fortunate to have been among the first in Canada to taste it. To get an idea of what’s to come, you can try the 2015 Icon, currently in select LCBOs in the Vintages section for $24.95, then keep an eye out for the 2016 in Vintages next year. It is divine.
As Dave introduced the pinots that would accompany the third course, he mentioned that pinot noir grapes really have to be amazing to avoid being ripped out of the ground and replaced with the New Zealand wine industry’s bread and butter, sauvignon blanc. He is very proud of these grapes from the Waihopai Valley, whose hot days yield grape ripeness and fruit flavours, while the cool nights leave the grapes with a refreshing acidity.
For the third course, we diverged a bit from the sauvignon blanc theme and were treated to a vertical tasting of Nobilo’s Icon pinot noirs from 2013 and 2014 (sadly unavailable in Ontario at the moment, but will likely be in Vintages at some point). These were paired with Sidedoor’s delicious black cod with miso sake glaze. The dish was excellent (and I tend to use that term sparingly, so that’s a big deal), but it was taken to a whole new level when paired with the 2013 pinot noir. This wine effused dark cherry and boisenberry as well as old world characteristics like earthiness, gamey notes, mushroom and forest floor. The old world characteristics matched the salty and umami flavours of the cod, which in turn brought out the more fruit-forward character of the wines. A delightful pairing!
A huge thanks to Dave Edmonds for making the long trek from the other end of the world, the Constellation team, Natalie MacLean and of course Sidedoor for a fabulous event!