Match of the week
Smoked, caramelised salmon with Disznókö Tokaji 6 puttonyos 1993
This week’s match is not mine but fellow wine writer Margaret Rand’s who also writes for Decanter. She recently went to Hungary at the invitation of AXA Millésimes who ownes the Tokaji producer Disznókö - as well as Château Suiduiraut - for what must be the most extraordinary wine dinner ever conceived: a Chinese meal, paired with sweet wine cooked by two Bordeaux-based chefs Tommy and Andy Shan of Au Bonheur du Palais, (which happens to be AXA proprietor Christian Seely’s favourite restaurant in the city).
Subscribers can read Margaret’s full account of the experience tomorrow including the Shans’ highly unusual philosophy of food and wine pairing but here’s what for her was the highlight of the meal.
The dish was described as smoked salmon in red pepper oil - ”not smoked salmon in the Scottish sense” explains Rand, but “a cube of salmon that had been smoked and caramelised on one side” The wine, being categorised as 6 puttonyos was the second sweetest in the Disznókö range (puttonyos are the baskets or hods of botrytised grape paste that are added to the base wine) and came from an exceptional vintage. Already 15 years old it had gone beyond the stage of mere sweetness to gain an extraordinary complexity evoking, according to Disznókö's own tasting notes, dried apricots, plum, dates and spice. Flavours that you can actually imagine working with salmon.
According to Rand the match was ‘sensationally good’ a perfect marriage with the ‘soft, melting’ texture of the salmon. “It was the star of the evening:- adventurous, imaginative and spot-on”
I suspect it took great skill to bring it off and may well be a case of ‘don’t try this at home’ but it does make one think differently about the roles that sweet wines might play beyond the dessert course. For more come back tomorrow . . .
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