This spring, Patz & Hall’s own Heather Patz brings her award-winning wines to Boston for a one-night-only menu at Post 390. The special wine dinner matches the famed California vintages with farm-fresh dishes from the Post 390 kitchen. Chef Nick Deutmeyer and Certified Sommelier Jason Percival have crafted a four-course meal designed to showcase the standout, single-vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that have gained the winery recognition across the world. Here the chef and somm talk the art of pairing and a shared commitment to supporting local farmers:
How do you go about creating a menu to complement specific wines?
Jason Percival: I sat down with Nick and his sous chef and my sommelier assistant so we could all taste the wines together. We knew what the wines would be and we knew what the order would be, which is not how we typically do pairings. We tasted through the flight because we wanted to taste the progression of wines so we can know where the food is going to go. We talked about what kind of flavors we were getting and what styles of food, what basic flavors they would best pair with.
Nick Deutmeyer: I write my own tasting notes and for me it’s about aromas generally, and also mouthfeel and sweetness versus acidity. I’ll look through my tasting notes and see if anything matches seasonal vegetables and fruit and that’s kind of where I start from. We try to cook as seasonally as possible.
What makes these particular wines unique?
JP: What I know of Patz & Hall’s wines is they tend to be really full-flavored and very rich. There’s a lot of texture in the wines—they’re very concentrated. With Chardonnays, there’s a lot of ripeness to them. The two Pinot Noirs we’re using were vastly different even though they’re from the same area. We’re generally looking at more full, assertive flavors.
ND: Which is why the menu is a little richer sounding. The food has to match the intensity of the wine.
How did you balance the richness of the wines with the dishes you chose?
ND: With the first course, for example, we’re doing a pork course but it’s really more of a salad. We counteract the sweet, malty ham with the bitterness from the greens and the cucumbers and then sour from the pickles and the yogurt. So all of those things will tone down any richness and make it a little more late-spring, early-summer.
JP: In a dish like that, the Chardonnay that it’s paired with is a really ripe, rich Chardonnay. There’s a lot of texture and a lot of weight to that. Pork does match that with a kind of milky texture and weight but the salad really lightens it up. Where the Chardonnay doesn’t have a whole lot of acidity we wanted to add something pickled or a vinaigrette or citrus juice. The saltiness of the ham and the tanginess of the yogurt really play with the fresher flavors that are in the Chardonnay. The last course is a duck dish, but we’re pairing it with roasted strawberries, so we’re playing with a lot of lighter elements with maybe a heavier protein.
How would you describe the overall tone of the menu?
ND: We try to do everything that we can homemade and then we try to cook seasonally so that’s basically what the menu is. The ham we’ve been curing already for a couple of weeks and we got that from a local farm we’re working with. I look around and see what we’re working on and what’s seasonal. One of the farms we work with, the farmer’s daughter is one of my prep cooks. She’ll come in with pictures from the greenhouse and be like, “We have heirloom tomatoes that are going to be ready in a couple of weeks.” We have an inside look at that.
That seems to parallel the Patz & Hall approach, working with small growers for single vineyard wines.
ND: All of the farmers that we work with are doing amazing things and we try to support them as much as possible.
JP: We are forming really strong relationships with a lot of the farmers from our Farm to Post program. Even when they’re not featured on that menu, we’re still getting a lot of product from them on the regular menu. All of our menus here are really dependent on what we can get at its freshest, at its peak. It’s nice that we’re going to be getting fresh summer fruit, early spring fruit, strawberries and rhubarb and such. Fiddleheads and mushrooms will be in season and those work very well with Pinot Noir. It’s a good time of year to be doing this dinner.