The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2014

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16  /  the tasting panel  / april 2014 Brief Encounters Whether THE TASTING PANEL goes to the brand execs or the brands call us, there is an abundance of news to report, from the latest releases to behind-the-scenes experiences with some of the world's most influential importers, winemakers, distillers . . . well, you name it. We may not have enough pages in each issue to devote as much attention as we would like to each person whose path we cross, but please note that if it's in the publication, we deem it noteworthy —Meridith May, Publisher & Executive Editor THE MESSAGE D escribed as modern Cantonese, the cuisine at San Francisco's Hakkasan is a canvas that inspires Sommelier Cassandra Brown to work with a broad palate of flavors. From Champagne to saké, she seeks out pairings that elevate the nuances of this clean, oftentimes delicate cuisine that can be easily overpow- ered by a heavy hand. During our visit, she expertly opened the meal with a Bruno Paillard Première Cuvée Brut Rosé Champagne, an appetite-whetting wine that set the stage for a succession of authentic dim sum as a first course. Befitting San Francisco's chicest Chinese restaurant, the wine list at Hakkasan is organized by categories that help guide patrons to their preferred wine styles while, at the same time, broadening their horizons. Wines by the glass are "Explorations" and those produced from less well-known varieties are "Curious." Biodynamic producers can be found under a section titled "Spiritual" while "Classics," "Blends" and "Old Vines" rate their own pages. Brown—a certified Sommelier pursuing Advanced Certification from both the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Wine & Spirits Education Trust— has her work cut out for her navigating patrons through the well curated list or recommending wines to those who might not be inclined to explore. Alsatian varieties get lots of play here, and Brown's choice of a Trousseau Gris by Russian River producer Falcor stood up well to jasmine tea smoked duck, but it was a saké, the Tamagawa Kinsho "Heart of Gold" Daiginjo that stole the show. This crisp, rich rice wine perfectly mirrored the umami-rich flavors of the cuisine and was an inspired choice of style to finish the meal. —Deborah Parker Wong "Heart of Gold" at Hakkasan 16  /  the tasting panel  / april 2014 PHOTO: DEBORAH PARKER WONG PHOTO: DEBORAH PARKER WONG Cassandra Brown. "#1 IN TASTE" The New York Times, July 31, 2013 © 2013. Used Under License. © 2014 Casa Noble Tequila, 40% Alc / Vol. Imported by Wilson Daniels Ltd. Santa Helena, CA. The only way to enjoy Casa Noble is responsibly. W W W.CASANOBLE.COM 2014_CN_NYTimes_Ad_TastePanel_8.375x10.875.indd 1 2/12/14 3:04 PM TP0414_001-33.indd 16 3/24/14 4:43 PM

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