Friday, November 4, 2011

Mauritson Wines: A Pairing Dinner at Legal Seafoods

A few evenings ago I had the opportunity to share in a truly notable experience.  Clay Mauritson, owner of Mauritson's wines, hosted a dinner party at Legal Seafood's in Park Plaza.  I have never had an opportunity to share a meal with someone with so much raw knowledge of wine, and I was thrilled to experience all that the evening had to offer.

Mauritson Wines was founded under two decades ago, and entered the Boston market just 10 years ago.  It was founded by our host, Clay Mauritson, who, after growing up as part of a grape growing family, found his calling in turning those lovely berries into wine.  Today, the Mauritson family still honors their families legacy of growing grapes for a variety of wine makers, but now also supply their fruit into their own label- a true family business.

We began our evening of dining sampling with a trio of hors d'oeuvres, a mini tuna tartare served a top a slice of cucumber and mixed with avocado and a white soy sauce, a stuffed mushroom filled with sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese, and finally a king crab tartlette served with a yuzo aioli.  These were paired with Mauritson's Sauvignon Blanc, from the Dry Creek Valley in California vintage 2010.  I love a good Sauvignon Blanc, and this was a perfect accompaniment for the small bites of food.  It was crisp, with a scent of apple, and without any hint of oak, resulting in an incredibly pure, clean flavor.  Pairing a bite of the tuna tartare with a sip of the wine resulted in strengthening the flavor of the cucumber, a taste that had otherwise gotten lost under the mound of dense fish. 

Our next course was poached cod, served with a tamarind jam and pureed parsnips.  This dish was served with a glass of Mauritson Chardonnay, with grapes from the Alexander Valley, vintage 2010.  Normally, I am not a Chardonnay fan, I find them either far too dry, too heavy in oak flavors, or too laden with a heavy buttery flavor which decreases its appeal as a refreshing white wine.  The Mauritson Chardonnay contained bright notes of pear and apple, which served to dull the creamy flavor to a perfect resonance.  It was a rich wine, a great pairing with the very light cod, and with very little after taste resulting in an extremely clean finish.  Aside from the pairing here the cod was very lightly seasoned, but when paired with both the garlicky parsnips and the very sweet onion jam, the flavors enhanced the subtleties of the fish and resulted in a good bite.

Our second course was seared Salmon, served atop saffron lobster mushroom risotto accompanied by a black truffle and tarragon compound butter.  This was served with a beautiful glass of Malbec, bottled under the Rockpile name, in Rockpile area, vintage 2007.  Often it is considered a "risk" to pair seafood with red wines, I think we are trained to think that fish is "light" and therefore really only goes with a white wine.  However this certainly isn't the case.  Pairing a full flavored fish like Salmon with a bright red wine, such as the Rockpile Malbec was delicious.  The Malbec was incredibly smooth with a rounded full flavor, not over powering, and perfect to pair with the salmon whose natural flavor was enhanced by the earthy truffles and light acid of lemon zest.  This was an artful pairing, and one I'm glad was presented.

Our next course was paired with two wines, the Mauritson Zinfandel, from the Dry Creek Valley, vintage 2009, and the Mauritson "Clough" Cabernet Sauvignon, from Sonoma, vintage 2007.  We were served fork tender "Barbacoa" Braised Beef Short Ribs, which celebrated fall by being served atop black garlic mashed potatoes and a host of roasted root vegetables.  The two wines were as different as could be.  The Zinfandel is Mauritson's flagship wine, and it was easy to see why.  Full bodied, slightly sweet, with a wonderfully jammy scent, this was a wine that I could easily sip daily.  It tasted the way I anticipate Zinfandel to taste, and in that, it was a comforting drink.  While I found that the flavor was lost somewhat with the dish it was served with, I would gladly serve this with a spicier entree to allow for a wonderful harmony.  The Cabernet Sauvignon is what is known as a single soil wine.  The Mauritson family is so in touch with their land that they have pinpointed an area where only soil sub sect Clough is found.  They have chosen that spot to grow their Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, exposing them to that limited flavor profile.  The result was crisp red, a slight scent of mint, and dry personality, which paired perfectly with the slightly sweet short ribs.

Finally we were served the Rockpile label, Independence wine, from the Rockpile area, vintage 2008.  This was served with a dark chocolate bread pudding, drizzled with a cherry caramel sauce and sprinkled with a marcona almond brittle.  The dessert was a decadent as it sounds- deep rich chocolate, cut with the sauce and punched up with the textural contrast of almonds and brittle.  Definitely a wonderful end to the meal.  The wine, unfortunately, was not my favorite of the evening.  It was sweet as a dessert wine should be, but contained an odd smoke flavor that I had difficulty placing.  When paired with the sweet dessert my taste buds were able to concentrate on the sugars more, but on its own the flavor was a bit distracting.  

I was highly impressed with Clay Mauritson, not only for his knowledge and passion for wine or his gumption for starting a wine label at 23 (or there abouts) but for his production of incredible wines.  A staunch opposer to Chardonnays previously, I will be seeking out a bottle of the Mauritson.  I may be stocking my wine cabinet with a few bottles of the Zinfandel as well...I would urge you to give these varietals a try- Mauritson Wine is a family owned and operated business that produces a solid line of delicious wines.   


Michelle Collins said...

Looks like a glorious meal!

Jen said...

I love the way you write about food. Thanks for bringing me along!

Elizabeth said...

Mmm, love bread pudding

Jen said...

That salmon sounds incredible! And I love a good Malbec.

24h Pfleger said...

OH my! that looks very tempting.

Restaurant Reviews: A dead art?

Last December I declared 2023 the year I would return to food writing.  It was a bold statement (even now as I look at my last published dat...