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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Steak & Wine
By Charles W. Borden

The wine shelves in Moscow are slowly refilling, but the selection is still meager, which made it difficult to hold one of our traditional regional or country wine rating sessions. We decided on a food pairing session, a wine and steak roundup. The Goodman's Steak Houses have made steak the rage in Russia, but we availed ourselves of the opening of Doug's Steakhouse to corral some red wines. Australian PGA pro and wine expert Grant Dodd was again in town to promote his Australian Shiraz wines, so this gave us a chance to sip some of his reds with the beef Doug Steele imports from an Australian rancher. Grant is the author of the wine newsletter, The Wining Pro, available from him online.

Of all the classic wine and food pairings, steak with red wine seems one of the simplest, and certainly enjoyable. The toast and structure of a powerful oak barrel aged red should nicely balance the charred and caramelized flavors of grilled steak. Marinades and sauces can have a strong influence on the match, but as we learned, good meat should need only salt and pepper. A dense slab of steak, with its marbled fat and protein calls for a powerful red wine, with ample tannin and grip. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz (Syrah), Zinfandel or a hearty Merlot each has the potential texture to balance the meaty juicy flavor of a grilled steak; Pinot Noir may be a little too elegant.

Like many other imported wines in Russia, Grant Dodd's Australian wines, which were the basis of our January wine tasting article, have been kept off the shelves since the July customs fiasco. Just this week, Grant's importer, DP Trade, was able to clear a few reds, and four of these appeared in our tasting. Yulia Evdikimova, Director of Palais Royal, added two more Australians from Haan. We also picked up two South African's from Preston Haskell's Haskell Winery in Stellenbosch. The remainder were pulled from the wine bin of our publisher, John Ortega, all purchased pre-wine-crisis in Moscow, which was topped off with a magnum of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1991. Unfortunately, we did not find a Zinfandel, which would be a personal favorite with a steak. A lone white Italian Sauvignon Blanc was added to the corral as a starter.

Grant provided his lucid running commentary on the wines, and Tim Freeman gave us a few tips on the steaks. For the filet, he suggests pan-searing on both sides in a bit of oil before finishing off in a 200 degree oven. The filet should be dropped in just as the oil begins to smoke. For the large Porterhouse, charbroiling with wood or charcoal is preferred. At Doug's Steakhouse they charbroil at 500 degrees with cherry or oak. For good beef, Tim recommends only salt and ground, cracked pepper seasoning, which is our preference for a good wine match.

Expert Comments on Top Wines

Grant's St. Jacobi Shiraz has achieved a laudable 91 from Wine Spectator, outscoring the even the Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1991. See the Wine Spectator comments below:

Dutschke St. Jacobi Shiraz 2003 (WS91)

Lithe and supple for a big wine, weaving its plum, blackberry, caramel and spice character into a cohesive whole, letting the flavors linger against fine tannins. Drink now through 2013. (HS)

Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac 1991 (WS89)

Incredibly fine and subtle for the vintage with tobacco, black currant and berry aromas and flavors, medium body and a long flavorful, silky finish. Drink or hold. (JS)

Grant's Dalwhinnie Shiraz and Chardonnay were the highest red and white scorers in our Australian sampling in January. The Cabernet scored very well in this roundup, and was this writers favorite for a steak and the winery one of our top selections. The Dalwhinnie Moonambel Cabernet 2001 has been fairly described as powerful, intense and elegant with focused, concentrated blackcurrant fruit ending in a long, savoury finish with superb tannic structure. Dalwhinnies website describes it as located near the tiny village of Moonambel in the heart of the Pyrenees region of Western Victoria, Australia and is a super premium producer of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. After 25 years of growing grapes, the 18-hectare vineyard is now fully mature, producing true varietal fruit characters with great concentration of flavours. Wine Writer James Halliday had this to say about his Dalwhinnie: Dalwhinnie goes from strength to strength, making outstanding wines across the board. The wines all show tremendous depth of fruit flavour, reflecting the relatively low- yielding and very well maintained vineyards.

Marshall Grant Dodd, The Wining Pro

Cowboys and Cowgirls

  1. John Orteg a Publisher Passport Magazine
  2. Charles Borden Director, Meridian Capital
  3. Oleg Alimov CEO, Group Trinity
  4. Kim Balaschak Marketing Consultant
  5. Jim Balaschak Partner, Deloitte
  6. Eric Boone Consultant
  7. Sve tlana Chuyko General Director, BATA
  8. Chris Davies Director, AVC Advisory
  9. Tomasz Durzynski AVC Advisory - Poland
  10. Yulia Evdokimov a Director Palais Royal
  11. Olga Galkina Head of Rep Office Centrumutveckling
  12. John Goldader Director Consulting Deloitte
  13. Beth Goldader IWC newsletter editor
  14. Teymur Izatov Grecian wine exporter
  15. Linda Mills Fashion Mart
  16. Glen Moore head Carmen Media
  17. Hillary Stockton Boston Consulting Group
  18. George Voloshin
Ortega Easy Rating System
I love this whisky! 5 pts.
I really like this whisky! 4 pts.
This whisky is good! 3 pts.
This whisky is not that good! 2 pts.
I dont really care for this whisky! 1 pt.

Our Rating

Country Wine Rating
1 Italy Jermann Sauvignon Blanc 2002 3.23
2 Spain Artadi Grandes Anadas Rioja 1999 3.51
3 South Africa Haskell Dombeya Shiraz 2003 3.84
4 South Africa Haskell Dombeya Amalgam 2003 3.28
5 Australia Haan Shiraz Prestige 1999 3.64
6 Australia Haan Wilhelmus Blend 1999 3.80
7 Australia Dalwhinnie Moonambel Cabernet 2001 3.74
8 Australia Dutschke St. Jacobi Shiraz 2003 3.43
9 Australia Tower Estates Barossa Shiraz 3.61
10 Australia Kaesler WOMS Cabernet-Shiraz 3.86
11 France Chateau Duhart-Milon Pauillac 2000 3.83
12 France Chateau Pontet-Canet Pauillac 1994 3.69
13 France Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac 1991 3.96

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