Local Food and Wine Pairings
from East End Vineyard Owner & Restaurateur, Tree Dilworth
Comtesse Thérèse is the only Long Island vineyard that also owns a restaurant, Comtesse Thérèse Bistro in Aquebogue. Vineyard owner/winemaker/restaurateur Tree Dilworth shares thoughts on which wines she’d pair with her food and why.
Bowl of Olives
Our olives are house-brined and tossed with olive oil and herbs from the Bistro garden. I’d pair with the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. Why? Two reasons. First, both olives and sauvignon blanc are light, not too filling, and good for “starters.”îSecond, the wine’s crispness and acidity complements the tart olives. The year 2009 was a cool and rainy growing season on Long Island, not a hot dry one, so it brought out a hint of healthy, light green vegetable aromas in addition to the fresh citrus characters, the perfect complement to olives.
Escargots with Garlic and Parsley Butter
We serve the escargots broiled with sizzling butter, garlic and parsley. Spring, summer and fall, we use our own parsley. Before broiling, Chef simmers the escargots in our own rosé and herbs and spices for quite a bit of time to soften and infuse them. I’d pair with our 2008 Rosé. Refreshing and off-dry, the rosé goes with just about anything, but I think it especially good with salty, savory appetizers – like smoked salmon, prosciutto and charcuterie. We make it from bleeding off the white inner juice from cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes.
Pan-Seared Montauk Sea Scallops
Our chef, Chef Aristodemos (Arie) Pavlou, makes Montauk day-boat pan-seared scallops with various accompaniments and occasionally broils them as well. Last night I had them with some lightly seasoned rice and a vegetable ragout of zucchini, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. Our Russian Oak Chardonnay is an obvious choice with fish. We only make one style of chardonnay, and this is it. It’s barrel-fermented, but crisp and not overly oaky – particularly the 2008, which we just released. The tiny hint of hazelnut and vanilla from the oak complements those luscious, charred brown, slightly sweet, pan-seared edges, which are my favorite part of the juicy scallops.
Local Duck Leg Confit
Chef Arie makes classic, falling-off-the-bone-tender confit de canard from Crescent Farms duck leg, along with North Fork potatoes from Kozak Farms, local spinach from Schmitt’s Farm and a sauce that includes herbs from the Bistro garden. The soft, fatty, rich, meaty and juicy duck goes well with a ripe, soft, fat, easy-drinking wine – which merlots generally are. I’d pair with our 2005 Traditional Merlot. Aged in French oak, I am trying to replicate say, a Bordeaux Third Growth. The 2005 was a good, ripe vintage where we had hot sunny weather all summer, albeit 19 inches of rainfall the week of harvest, that ruined a lot of the crop. There is some power and richness to this merlot, along with scents of walnut skins and tobacco.
House-Smoked Local Duck Breast
We have two small smokers in which Chef Arie smokes the duck breasts using local hickory and cherry wood branches harvested by a friend in Southold. The sweet, earthy smokiness imparted to the rich duck meat by the fruit and nut woods is similar to the smoky oak tannins imparted to the wine by the oak barrels.
The duck breast, flavorfully browned on the outside but still rare and juicy on the inside, looks and tastes almost like a tender steak. So it is a good choice for those who think of red meat with merlot.
I’d pair with our 2005 Hungarian Oak Merlot. The Hungarian Oak barrels make this easy-drinking wine stand out. The long, earthy, dark espresso finish complements the dark-smoked, slightly charred brown exterior of the duck breast, while the plum and dark cherry flavors complement the pink, juicy, soft interior of the duck breast.