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Fresh Fish; Stale Wines

ettas-photo.jpgEating seafood in Seattle is always a pleasure, but for me a meal without an equally interesting wine is always missing that ultimate note of complexity and pleasure. Etta’s, part of Tom Douglas’ mini-Northwest food empire, is one of those great seafood experiences and, like all of his enterprises, is an excellent restaurant. On a recent visit there the food was outstanding, but the wine list was not.

For dinner I selected the following courses:

  • Stellar Bay Oysters (stellar indeed, some of the best I’ve tasted)
  • Kasu black cod, sweet and sour vegetables with ocean salad ( a wonderful mix of flavors and textures)
  • Pan seared Alaskan Halibut, beluga lentils, baby golden beets, escarole, smoked ham hock and horseradish crème fraiche ( an excellent dish mixing the smoky ham with the rich lentils and a crispy piece of very fresh halibut)

To match this delicious menu I selected from the wine list the 2005 Cedergreen Cellars Sauvignon, Columbia Valley and here the meal hit a snag. Sure this is a nice wine, but it’s just not nice enough for such thoughtfully prepared foods. A very clean wine that’s certainly acceptable, but it’s nothing more than that. This is a wine more suited to a picnic than fine dining. The notes on the wine list presented this wine as light and fresh as it was unoaked, but as it approaches 14% alcohol, light is not the word you would use to describe this wine. Perhaps this time the fault was more the wine buyer than the winemaker.