French Wines With Halekulani Cuisine

Because there was so much goodness at the Halekulani tasting, it fills up two columns! Here are more highlights of a tasting trip through France, with the winemakers present.

Perhaps of the best value for red wine in the entire tasting came from Sylvain Fadat’s 2013 Domaine d’ Aupilhac “Lou Maset” ($15) Languedoc blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Carignan. The juicy red fruit is intense and bursting in ripeness. The complexity is impressive and the price tag makes it even more attractive. Jean-Claude Zabalia’s 2014 Chateau des Deux Rocs Premices Rose ($15) stole my palate, as well. This is what I would call a porch pounder! You can glug and slurp this wine, chilled, on a warm sum- mer day or night so quickly, you’ll hardly realize you drank the whole bottle. Melons, pears and floral notes abound in this stellar value.

An elegant, Merlot-based Bordeaux PHOTO FROM ROBERTO VIERNES

An elegant, Merlot-based

A more serious red was poured by Anne-Charlotte Genet from Domaine Charles Joguet. Her 2012 Chinon “Clos Chene Vert” ($49) shows the greatness of old vine Cabernet Franc. The vines here are at minimum 35 years old and grown in clay limestone soils. This wine can make St. Emilion wines seem thin and light. It has such heady notes of violets, anise and crushed cherry and a deep resonance of flavor. It has enough structure to last a decade and more, if you can wait that long.

Lastly, Alain Pascal came all the way from Provence to show his 2010 Gros Nore Bandol Rouge ($37). Mourvedre in this part of the world can be so complex and inviting, and this wine is proof. It shows that wild garrigue essence while being polished, with lots of black fruit. It still has a signature of earthiness but wouldn’t scare with too much gaminess or barnyard character.

On top of the wine, the food was outstanding. There were several wine and food pairings that I have to tip my hat to the Halekulani staff for putting together. One was the Hawaiian Haupu‘upu‘u dressed with a beurre blanc sauce with the Chablis from Lavantureux. I was told this beurre blanc was made specially with the Gros Plant from the Nantes region of France. The weight and acidity of the wine matched perfectly with the texture of the fish. The acidity cut through the fish perfectly, with the citrus from both sides meet- ing in the middle. It was quite seamless.

Another pairing that deserves much praise was Oeufs en Meurette with Chignard Fleurie Cru Beaujolais. One might think that the richness of the yolk and the vinegar in the sauce would be too rich for Beaujolais. But the freshly crushed berry flavor
and the structure of the wine hold up so well and meld together in the palate. The lardons also bring in an added texture to pin against the tannin of the wine. It’s a terrific match.

Lastly, seared duck breast with the 2011 Chateau Belles-Graves Lalande de Pomerol: This elegant Merlot-based Bordeaux engaged the red meat of the duck so perfectly with just the right amount of tannin and fruit. I naturally lean toward Pinot Noir for duck, but in this case the Merlot was fabulous.

This night was like traveling through France in a wineglass. Except that I did not have to take a flight there. They all came here. It was a much shorter ride to the Halekulani, and what a magical night it was.