A BYO dinner with some friends at an Afghan joint, Bamiyan Restaurant in Five Dock, Sydney. This place has hit the hot list after a segment on SBS’s Food Safari outed it as one of the better Afghan food experiences in town. Always an interesting challenge to match curries and spicy food with wine, the problem magnified somewhat due to our limited knowledge of Afghan food. The problem was solved in two very different ways that both worked.
First was a Chateau Les Trois Croix 2004, that when opened offered zero aroma on the cork and very little in the glass. This wine had moved well on from the fruity stage and contained strong savoury flavours. Vegetable taste elements abounded from broccoli to asparagus that matched perfectly with the dry spice and vegetable flavours in the curries.
Second was a Chilean drop, Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Carmenère 2011. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) and Carmenère, the latter grape offering up a lovely spicy finish that complemented the curries. You can currently pick this up at Dan Murphy’s and it’s great value for money.
I find that a food and wine matching requires either a stark flavour contrast, or alternatively something in common that connects the food to the wine. In both these cases there was a savoury and spicy element in the wine that made the association. There is no right and wrong with food and wine matching, but in this case we got it right.
Restaurant definitely worth a visit, curries very mild, very good service.
Updated by Conrad, October 2013
I’ve had both these wines again recently and Neal has given me the ok to update this post.
Second time around and the 2011 Montes Limited Selection Limited Cabernet Carménère was even more enjoyable than when I had it with Neal at the Afghan restaurant. It’s plain and simply a delicious red wine that lasted in the mouth for quite some time, with a long list of flavours like cinnamon scrolls, cayenne pepper, chocolate, vanilla, blueberry and cherries, with a wild scent to go with all of this. All nice and smooth… totally in balance.
At $15 per bottle from Dan Murphy’s it is one of the best bargains going. Not only is it great now but this wine would go down for quite a few years. It’s widely available around the world too. I’m stoked my wife bought me a few bottles of this on Neal’s recommendation. I’ve got a couple more still to enjoy. If I didn’t have any left I think I’d buy a whole case for that price! Neal is a Carmenere fan and he has me converted!
The 2004 Chateau Les Trois Croix was also better second time around. I am so glad this Bordeaux turned out to be quite enjoyable because both Stuart and I have had a bad run of French wine lately. I was starting to think you could only enjoy good French wine if you paid through the nose so I’m glad that it doesn’t always have to be the case. We noticed in the restaurant that it took a while to open up so I decanted this one for an hour or so. Being primarily Merlot driven it is quite a soft wine but it really did open up! Still earthy and gamy like the first time but there was loads more juicy fruit. Yummo!
Although the 2004 may be hard to come by, I won a few bottles at auction for about $25/bottle, the 2009 Chateau Les Trois Croix is available in Australia online from Cloudwine Cellars and various vintages are quite readily available around the world and would be worth a go for sure, especially considering decent Bordeaux is hard to come by at this price!
Both wines definitely confirmed themselves as great red wines for spicy food, especially the Cabernet Carménère as it actually tastes spicy. The soft and subtle style of the Chateau Les Trois Croix works too. Just shows that you don’t have to limit yourself to whites when enjoying spice.