With the city of Boston whitewashed in the throes of a mid-March blizzard - I cannot help but reminisce on last week's stay-cation. How enjoyable it would be to relive that experience, the cozy interior and service of the five-star Boston Harbor Hotel and the wondrous journey through German Rieslings featured as part of their annual Boston Wine Festival.
As much as time-travel is not (yet) a part of our arsenal, nothing stops us from capturing moments on paper and sharing them with friends. The Boston Harbor Hotel has buttressed themselves with ample opportunities to enjoy the colder months in this city. In addition to their fireside lounge which invites guests to enjoy the evenings by a cozy fire, specialty cocktails and fondues, the Boston Harbor Hotel is celebrating their 28th year as host of the Boston Wine Festival. Founded by Chef Daniel Bruce, this is one of the largest food and wine festivals in the city. From the 13th of January to the 29th of March, the Hotel welcomes many of the world’s most sought after winemakers and vineyards. Receptions, seminars and dinners all thoughtfully paired with delectable food created by Chef Daniel Bruce and his culinary team.
There truly are few things I love more than a wine dinner. A dish, delicious on its own, paired with a wine that transforms the palate is a true craft and one I endeavour to enjoy as often as possible. On March 9th, renown wine master, Raimund Prum of SA Prum in Mosel Germany curated the evening. We began with an hour-long seminar throughout which Raimund, as head of the vineyard for decades, blended facts and anecdote into the rich history of this vineyard, producing wines since 1156.
The first thing to put straight, is the erroneous association between Reislings and ‘arbitrary sweetness’. This untruth is something classic Riesling makers from Germany have to deal with repeatedly.
From the beginning Raimund makes it perfectly clear that the quality of his wine comes from the vineyard, not from the cellars. Feed your product with care and quality, and that is what you will reap in return. Mosel is known around the globe for the steep, slate-covered hills. There is heavy rainfall and at SA Prum, they age their wines in oak for no longer than two years so as to get the robust opening without that in-your-face oaky funk. The grapes themselves are harvested when they are ripe to over-ripe, making for a relatively late harvest.
After tasting the 2004, 2006 and 2007 Rieslings, which Raimund described as ‘fireplace wines’, we tasted a delectable Pinot Noir rosé before being ushered into the dining area of The Meritage Restaurant. From there, Chef Daniel Bruce wowed the crowd with dish after dish of creative and effective pairings. With the Luminance Riesling (2013) a bright wine with bright acidity, we enjoyed a play on carbonara; diver sea scallops with potato gnocchi, spring garlic and apple smoked bacon.
The New England Jonah crab meat salad, a spring-esque dish with sweet lumps of crab meat was paired with both a 2013 and 2014 wine, one was more robust and grounded, the other, had a slight effervescence and sweet mouth feel.
Third came the heartier veal dish with St. Geronimo cheese and baby kale. This was paired with a 2011 Graacher Dompropst and a 2006 Wehlener Sonnenuhr – the former was almost like a white Burgundy and the latter, orange and cloudy, was fantastically complex, each sip taking you on a journey.
To finish, a fortified version of Riesling (2002, Graacher Himmelriech) also referred to as ‘Eiswein’ was paired with a light lychee nut mousse and apricot sorbet. A perfect finish to a meal that bravely promoted the comings of spring despite the frigid outdoor temperatures.
Of course, making the evening even more enjoyable was knowing that our room was only a few floors up. At the generosity of the BHH's PR team, we spent the evening in one of their water-facing suites. This hotel is one of only three 5-star establishments in the city. Its lush lobby, access to the waterfront promenades and floor to ceiling room views are a few of the many qualities of this establishment. The elegance of service, white and blue décor contribute to the feeling of being somewhere timeless. The wine collection, available at any of their restaurants, unsurprinsingly, speaks for itself.
The Boston Harbor Hotel clearly has a keen sense of providing transportive experiences for their guests. The Boston Wine Festival is one example of their ability not only to promise and deliver, but to exceed expectations. Be sure to get to one of these wine dinners before the festival is over on the 29th of March. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Boston Wine Festival website. We will be going back on the 23rd for a South African wine dinner with Ken Forrester...though I certainly wish I was there now....