This month the Wine Pairing Weekend crew - with Linda of My Full Wine Glass at the head - is hosting a Merlot vs. Cabernet Sauvignon face-off. She directed: "Do you favor Right Bank or Left Bank Bordeaux - the smooth, medium body of most Merlot-dominant wines or a structured, full-body Cabernet Sauvignon blend? Choose sides if you wish or highlight both and the foods that make them shine. Any Merlot or Cab Sauv single-varietal or blend is fair game."
Here's the line-up of articles...
Culinary Cam has Broadside + Brisket (then the Runner-Up with Revamped Leftovers). (you're here)
Wine Predator...Gwendolyn Alley is posting Festive Pairings: 3 Maipo Valley Cabs vs 3 Napa Valley Cabs + Instant Pot Pom Cab Braised Roast.
Cooking Chat is talking about Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Pairing Tips and Recent Highlights.
My Full Wine Glass insists For veggies, my vote is Merlot over Cab.
When I first saw Linda's prompt, I picked up a few Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon bottles from the same winery to compare and contrast. I ended up pouring the bottles from Broadside during Thanksgiving weekend. I still have a few other pairs to go.
Broadside Wine is based on Paso Robles - not too far from me - and has been making wines since 2006. I love that they are SIP-certified. SIP, the acronym for "Sustainability in Practice" is a rigorous certification program of strict, non-negotiable standards based on science and expert input, independent verification, transparency, and absence of conflict of interest. The program is rooted in the 3 P’s of Sustainability – People, Planet, Prosperity. Broadwide's priorities are water management, erosion control, safe pest management, energy efficiency, and natural habitat maintenance. Ponds and reservoirs are fitted with rain catchment systems to utilize rainfall, in tandem with advanced irrigation systems. Cover crops are planted to encourage biodiversity and to assist with natural erosion control. Owl boxes dot the vineyards to help with rodents. And ancient oak trees are maintained among the vines to provide natural habitat for native predators that aid with pest control.
To do a side-by-side comparison, I picked up a bottle of their Merlot and their Cabernet Sauvignon - both the 2019 vintage.
Interestingly enough, upon further reading, neither of my bottles were actually single varietals as I had planned. The 2019 Broadside Merlot was a blend of 78% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon. It poured a bright ruby hue and had a nose full of red fruits along with some smokiness and herbs. On the palate the wine had velvety tannins and dark berries. There were also notes of spice and an almost meatiness on the finish.
The 2019 Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon was also a blend comprised of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 6% Malbec. This was a much more complex wine with sweet and savory notes. Think black fruit and black olive with layers of cedar and cocoa. But there was something oddly delicate about this wine and I felt it was overpowered by the slow-roasted brisket.
So, though we tasted both wines with the brisket, we ultimately poured ourselves glasses of the Merlot to go with the meal. And the runner-up for this event - the Cabernet Sauvignon was poured the following evening with homemade agnolotti stuffed with potatoes and roasted squash. Stay tuned for that recipe.
I decided to make an oven-roasted pepper-rubbed beef brisket. This is one of my favorite ways to prepare brisket as it's largely hands off and the result is simply mouth-watering. I opted for a mix of the Indian green peppercorns, Sarawak white peppercorns, and Brazilian pink peppercorns. Note that this brisket roasts for six hours, so if you want to serve it for dinner, plan your time accordingly. Also, I served this with three different kinds of onions: pickled, caramelized, and roasted.
1 brisket (I used a 4-1/2 pound piece)
3 Tablespoons mixed peppercorns, ground
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons freshly ground sea salt
dash of ground coriander
dash of ground cardamom
Also needed roasting pan with roasting rack, foil
The night before, or first thing in the morning, prepare the rub. Combine all spices and mix thoroughly until well blended. Pat the brisket dry, then coat the brisket on all sides with the spice rub. Refrigerate for as many hours as you can; I ended up leaving them for 8 hours. Although you can let it rest for as little as an hour, if needed.
Right before you want to cook them, preheat the oven to 290 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven heats, take the brisket out of the refrigerator to warm up.
Place the brisket on top of the roasting rack in the pan and cover with foil. Place in the oven. Roast for 6 hours. Remove the foil and raise the heat on the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Return brisket to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
As I mentioned, we both picked the Merlot - hands down - to go alongside the brisket. Winner, winner! The Cabernet Sauvignon was the runner-up in our faceoff and paired beautifully with some homemade pasta the following evening. Stay tuned for that recipe.
And that wraps our 2022 Wine Pairing Weekend series. Here's the year's recap...Month - Theme - My Post...
January 2022 - Bubbles from Around the World - Gelukkige Nuwe Jaar with Pannekoeke + Boschendal Brut Rosé.
February 2022 - Celebrating BIPOC Winemakers & Winery Owners - Cherry-Kissed Pairing: Maison Noir's Horseshoes and Handgrenades + Steaks in a Cherry Pan Sauce.
March 2022 - New Discoveries - Exploring Pineau d'Aunis Rosé: Two Bottles and Chicken Two Ways.
April 2022 - Wines of Mexico - Outside the Pigeon-Hole: Pairing Mexican Wine with Thai Cuisine.
June 2022 - Canned Wine - (Easily) Portable Wine for Summer Picnicking.
July 2022 - Summer Sippers - A Casual Feast and Canned Wines: Bo Ssäm + Two Shepherds' 2021 Maxzilla Piquette.
August 2022 - CSA Challenge - CSA-Inspired: Whole Roasted Rockfish with Tomatillo Sauce + Seabold Cellars' 2021 Siletto Aligoté.
September 2022 - Back-to-School - Vite ad Alberello, Carricante, Caciocavallo, and Fiori di Zucca al Forno.
October 2022 - MerlotME - Celebrating #MerlotME with Mushrooms, Truffles, and a Wine from a Cal Alumna.
November 2022 - Zinfandel - Inspired by Notes of Asian Spices: Braised Spareribs + Brown Estate Zinfandel 2021.
We will be back in January as I kick off the group with a new-to-you grape theme. I have several bottle of new-to-me varieties. Can't wait to dig in.