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Starting a Trend in Wine Dinners

Great Unknowns Dinner at Mosaico Restaurant

Little known wines for fine palates

by: Simone Zarmati Diament

Pairing great wine with food is easy: you just serve a few bottles of the greatest and most sought-after wines from the best years, let's say: Vega Sicilia, First Growth Bordeaux or some Premiere Cru Burgundy. Then throw in some Caymus and Super Tuscans from Italy, or a Catena Zapata from Argentina, and you can call yourself a savvy sommelier or restaurateur.

But then you have to find the people who can pay for fabulous food with these fabulous wines. And with the abundance of wine dinners in South Florida, which hasn't slacked this summer even in the midst of the most ferocious hurricane season in history, to make your mark you have to be really knowledgeable and creative.

It takes craftiness to find unusual wines that are exciting, that show the character that you are looking for to match your chef's creations and that are not expensive. "Take for instance the Larmandier Blanc de Blanc," explained sommelier Alejandro Ortiz, "it is a Cote de Blancs, a very small production high quality champagne which, because it only produces few cases, is just as good and much cheaper if not as popular as Pomméry."

This is exactly the point for the "Great Unknowns Wine Dinner" last week at Mosaico Restaurant. Whereas until recently the restaurant focused on Spanish wines, Sommelier Alejandro Ortiz and proprietor Larry Harris offered well-chosen wines from different provenance, most bio-dynamic, to match Chef Jordì Valles's exceptional cuisine, while entertaining diners with pertinent information and anecdotes about each wines.

Larmandier's Blanc de Blanc, light, delicate, slightly yeasty while fruity and floral enhanced the foie gras and was a perfect match to the sugar-meringue coated grape.

Laura's Vineyards Chardonnay, a well-balanced wine with candy and exotic fruit filling the mouth complemented the contrasting sweetness of the apple soup with the seared bacon-wrapped "cigala." Even more successful, the Flowers Pinot Noir's aromas of dark fruit and mineral, and its firm yet delicate acidity were perfect with the smoky tones of the Idiaza bal Rice and the perfectly cooked Red Mullet fillets, imported from the Mediterranean.

Marqués de Griñon "Emeritus" reads like it sounds: an elegant, rich, ruby red, full-bodied blend of Cabernet, Syrah and petit Merlot, all from the Valdepusa domaine and harvested by hand, with a complex bouquet of berries, spices, leather and licorice. A big as the wine is, it met its match with the fork-tender pomegranate-laced veal cheeks accompanied by a seasonal ragoût of artichokes and corn that came alive with the crunch of pomegranate seeds.

Just as the wines, the wine program at Mosaico is unfamiliar and little-known, but worth a try, or rather several tries.

Mosaico & Salero Restaurants, 1000 South Miami Avenue, downtown Miami. 305-371-3473.

Great Unknowns Dinner Menu

Larmandier, Blanc de Blanc, Premier Cru, Champagne, France
Champagne Gelatin-Glazed Sautéed Foie Gras
Roasted Grapes, Black-Pepper Caramel, and Brioche

Hartford CourtsChardonnay, Laura's Vineyard, Napa Valley, California 2000
Seared "Cigalas" with Chilled Roasted Apple Soup and a Shallot Reduction

Flowers, Pinot Noir, Andrée-Gale Cuvee, Sonoma, California 2001 Red Mullets with Smoky Idiazabal Rice

Marqués de Griñon, 'Emeritus,' Dominio de Valdepuesa, Montes de Toledo, Spain 2001
(Voted one of the top 10 wines in the world in VINExpo France)
Pomegranate-Laced Veal Cheeks
Ragout of Artichokes and Corn with Spicy Crispy Onion

Palacio de Menade, "Exxencia," Rueda 1999
(D'Yquem of Spain)
Passion-Fruit Brazo de Gitano with Pineapple Sorbet and a Macadamia-nut Crisp

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