Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Food & Wine Pairing with Ex Nihilo Vineyards

Every once in awhile a bottle of wine will come along and stop you in your tracks, take your breath away, and make you want to hug or compliment the winemaker (if you happen to find yourself in their presence). This mind-blowing moment happened to me in late February, when I tasted Ex Nihilo's Merlot at our local Winefest trade show. I still remember it's lush flavour profile of ripe red fruit and smoky undertones, it's smooth mouthfeel and racy finish. It turned out that Jay Paulson, the mastermind behind the bottle, was there and not only did I compliment him, I also hugged him to show my sincerity!


I reunited with Jay in late August for a one-of-a-kind wine tasting in the Ex Nihilo cellars, complete with food pairings. This is what was waiting for me when I arrived:


Meaning "Out of Nothing", the name Ex Nihilo winery was inspired by a sculpture bearing the same name on the Washington, DC, Cathedral. Jay, along with his lifelong friend Jeff and wife Decoa, ventured into Lake Country, BC in 2003, and purchased 10 acres of land in 2004. The first vines were planted in 2007, and the winery officially opened in 2010. A former cattle rancher, Jay was thrown into the chaos of winemaking. With that said, sometimes the greatest things come out of chaos, and the wines crafted by Jay are all an excellent example of that. Although I tasted the majority of the 2015 wine portfolio, I'm providing the notes for my favourite wines of the tasting...or else I'd be writing forever!

The 2015 Chaos Bianco carries notes of apple jelly, honeysuckle, and lime curd framed by spicy acidity and a long, sultry finish. A well-structured blend of 50% Riesling, 25% Gewurztraminer and 25% Pinot Gris, this gem pairs well with mild curries, pasta primavera and light cheeses.


Thanks to cooling lake breezes and shale-like soils similar to Burgundy, Pinot Noir grows very well in Lake Country. The 2016 Pinot Noir Reserve opens with aromas of cherry preserves that carry through to a spicy palate of forest floor and vanilla, due to aging in 30% American oak. The plush mouthfeel continues through the elegant finish. 


And of course, the 2015 Merlot stole my heart with an ever-evolving flavour profile of ripe red fruit, black cherries and a hint of charred cedar. Cocoa tannins and racy acidity round out the smooth, full body, ending in a long, complex finish. I paired the Merlot with a heart of dark chocolate, and it seriously melted my actual heart! The full body of the Merlot complemented the weight of the dark chocolate perfectly, and the succulent mouthfeel married beautifully with the cocoa notes in the chocolate.


If you find yourself in Lake Country, BC, make sure to stop by Ex Nihilo for a tasting and perhaps even a bite at the Chaos Bistro. I promise, you won't be disappointed!

My sincere and humble thank you to Jay Paulson for setting up an amazing afternoon of wine tasting, food pairings, and excellent conversation. This is a day I will cherish as long as I live.

Cheers!
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