"If it grows together, it goes together" is a rule of thumb for classic food & wine pairings around the world, from a fine Barolo with a butter-truffle pasta dish in Piedmont to an Alsatian Riesling with their legendary choucroute garnie. In each case, the vegetables and other ingredients for the food dish literally grew next to the grapevines for the wine -- whether the wine and cuisine bond so well due to the shared soil and climate or simply because chefs over the centuries learned to make do with whatever was at hand is a debate that will not be settled anytime soon.
So last week when our friend Al was in town, we took him to a great new restaurant in San Jose, Thea. Thea is built around a Mediterranean theme, with a heavy focus on Greek and Turkish dishes and mezze (small plates). Since we opted for a dinner of mezze consisting of mainly Greek flavors, we faced a conundrum on the wine list -- many choices from around the world, such as a Spanish Ribeira del Duero or a lighter California pinot noir, but we decided to stick with the motto above and rolled the dice with a Greek syrah, the 2001 Domaine Gerovassiliou. It did not disappoint, since the slightly smoky oak and balanced ripe fruit flavors really filled up the glass with a wonderful bouquet and paired extremely well with our variety of meat, fish and Meditteranean-spiced mezze.
I was so interested in this new find that a little research yielded a lot more info about this wine (e.g., went through malolactic fermentation and then aged for 12 months in new French oak barrels, hence the slight tilt towards an international style that enhances rather than suppresses the wine's sense of terroir), and unearthed the fact that this winery and particular vintage have won a host of international awards. Shows how much great wine there is out there and reinforces my belief that you should always take a chance on a wine list if you see something new (at least to you ...) -- let the "grow together, go together" mantra guide you (California fusion cuisine may be the exception, but that is a post for another day!).
Region: Makedonia, Greece
Grape: Syrah (100%)
Food-friendly? Definitely, particularly with game or Greek cheese
Swirl by the fire? Yes, in the same way that a good California syrah can do well solo -- give it 30 minutes of aeration to let the flavors open up, though.
Tags: greek wine , syrah, gerovassiliou