A Pork & Pinot Preface: Eric Larkee on Wines for Saturday’s Pairings Dinner in Grand Cayman

When Michael began talking about doing some more events in the Cayman restaurant his biggest caveat was “no boring wine dinners.”  Sommelier and Wine Director Eric Larkee says, “We wanted to do something that all of us would want to attend, with a bit of thought, and a raison d’etre if you pardon my French.”

One of the first ideas was from Director of Operations Charles Bell to do a dinner involving back vintage and/or oddball wines that people wouldn’t normally try. Another brainstorm yielded the Pork & Pinot theme which we ultimately landed on, and for which Larkee will fly down to the island with Chef on Saturday.  Why not combine one of our favorite animals, The Pig, with one our favorite grapes, Pinot Noir?  Both are versatile with a huge range in flavor profiles but still stay true to their roots. But in the Caribbean?  The two were up to the challenge with some help and local intel from chef Thomas on-island.

Pairing wines with Caribbean cuisine can seem daunting when the old adage, “What grows together goes together,” is thrown out the window in a local climate too hot for grape growing.  Larkee considers wine the last ingredient of a dish – the final element for a complete flavor profile and one of the few, important guiding principles around which he builds his lists.

“I always keep in mind that my choices need to be in step with as many different kinds of food preparations and ingredients that our chefs are working with in a seasonally-driven kitchen,” he explains. “In the tropics, whether you’re in Miami or Grand Cayman, it usually means you’re going to get a few curve balls. To work the way we want it, the list needs nimble, just like our daily-changing menu.”

Call 345.640.6433 or email reservationsgcm@michaelsgenuine.com to book a reservation for the dinner this Saturday, November 3 at 7:00 p.m.  The Pork and Pinot menu they arrived at can be found here.  Chef Thomas has been producing housemade meats as of late, as you could tell from my Instagram the last time I visited the island.  His Coppa will be passed with ham hock croquettes and pork rinds as Rosé is poured.

“We love using Rosé during receptions, something informal at a time when guests are socializing and nobody feels bad if the wine doesn’t get its full attention,” explains Larkee.  “That said, Domaine de Lambrays’ La Rose de Clos is a wine worth giving some thought to. About 90% of the fruit comes from the Grand Cru Clos de Lambrays with the balance from a neighboring Premier Cru. Beautiful red fruits dominate and the acidity will cut though the savoriness of the passed snacks.”

Francois Gaunoux, Pommard Premier Cru Les Epenots 2004 is  a fruitier style Pommard, still with a backbone of the iron-laced minerality.  Larkee continues, “I’ve had the opportunity to taste this wine numerous times over the last three and a half years, and I’m always shocked that this is from 2004. Wonderful fruit and ripeness (which was difficult that year!)”

Essentially with the 3 “regular” Pinots, you will see the wines increase in fruitiness and decrease in earthy qualities while moving from the coldest region, Burgundy to the hottest, California.

“The Adelsheim Vin de Glace is created like an ice wine. Oregon doesn’t get temperatures cold enough to create a natural ice wine so they bring the grapes into a commercial freezer before crushing them,” Larkee elaborates.  “I adore the fresh red fruits on this wine and the ice wine-style acidity. The freshness of this wine in unbelievable and a perfect sticky wine for people that don’t think they like dessert wine.”

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