My virtual cooking classes, “Cooking with Norman” continue on. Now we have the expert advice monthly from my dear, long-time friend and colleague Proal Perry! You can sign up right now for the April 21st class. I am cooking some favorites I know you will want to cook too. Now … take it away Proal!
Wine Pairing for Norman’s
“Spring Has Sprung”: Shrimp with Asparagus, Serrano Ham and Brioche Toasts
by Proal Perry
“Wow, I love Springtime in all parts of the world! There is no more magical time of the year. In my newly adopted home in the mountains of Western North Carolina, you know when it’s Spring when the those in the know start talking about their secret patch to forage wild ramps. Likewise, as Norman states in his intro, nothing typifies Spring more than asparagus. When he sent me this month’s menu plan, there was no doubt what my pairing suggestion would be. I absolutely love the dry Chenin Blancs from the area around the central Loire Valley town of Anger, France. This is where Chenin reigns supreme, as well as the Loire Valley being one of the primary sources of asparagus in France and figure prominently in the local cuisine. I’ve always maintained that the wines of a region pair best with the food they’ve grown up with over the millennia, and this could not be more true with this pairing. The wonderful thing about Chenin Blanc is how well it responds in a diversity of terroirs and through different treatments in the cellar, so I hope the recommendation for this class inspires a little sleuthing on your part to discover some different examples.
There are many great Chenin Blancs around Anger to chose from, so the story is a tad more intellectual and the debate revolves around a tale of two soils: the limestone soils known as Anjou Blanc and the dark schist and slate soils known as Anjou Noir. They both can produce phenomenal wines, but the results can be quite different. The greatest examples from the Anjou Blanc are found on the limestone from the area of Brézé. These are nervy and electric and intensely mineral. I recommend you seek out the wines of Arnaud Lambert, in particular his ‘Clos de Midi’. It is very affordable for the quality and somewhat more available.
Chenin on schist is the current darling of wine hipsters the world over. They display a wilder, more savory character, but with the energy and minerality that is the hallmark of great Chenin Blanc. Among the best expressions of are from the cellars of Thibaud Boudignon, but also look for examples from Emmanuel Ogereau and from Chateau du Plaisance. Examples of Chenin on schist may require a little more of a deep dive, but that’s part of the fun and will yield ample reward. In this case, I would highly recommend that you drive by the big box store and seek out your local wine merchant, who enjoys nothing more than assisting with the search and introducing his clients to undiscovered gems. It is not because these wines are especially rare or expensive, so let that not be a deterrent. What’s most important is that you discover the beauty of Anjou Chenin Blanc, whatever the source, and what I’m confident will be a seamless pairing with Norman’s preparation.”
Proal Perry has been assisting Norman in pairing wines for his food since they first worked together in Key West at ‘Louie’s Backyard’ in the mid 80’s. He has also paired wines for a number of Norman’s cookbooks. He and his wife Connie operate the idyllic “Sourwood Inn” just outside Ashville. There you can experience their love of hospitality and nature first hand.