Hidden Hangar Wine Maker Mark Schabel – Harvest Dinner

Normally I’d write up the dinner in the order in which it was served, but there was a very surprising pairing to me during this Hidden Hangar Wine Maker dinner. If you’re not familiar with Hidden Hangar, check them out in Denison, TX (website). You can also read my reviews of the flights we tried several months ago here – Flight 1 and Flight 2.

My Favorite Pairing

Pumpkin Soup with 2020 Rosé

This warm pumpkin soup had a bit of curry hidden in the background, which made it perfect with the 2020 Rosé. It brought out a smoky flavor in the wine and smoothed out the grapefruit to be just slightly tangy instead of overpowering. It made the rosé very drinkable, which the prior course had not done.

I did tell Mark when he stopped by the table during this course that it was my favorite so far (it was the 3rd course). And we discussed the difficulties of pairing wine and food.

Hidden Hangar describes their rosé as s a medium-bodied, dry wine made with estate-grown grapes that reveal aromas and flavors of pear, lemon, and apple.

Personally, it reminded me more of my grandmother Rhoda’s kitchen on Saturday mornings with grapefruit with sugar. Which is a perfect segue into my least favorite.

My Least Favorite Pairing

Butter Leaf Lettuce and Field Greens Salad with a Pomegranate Vinaigrette and Goat Cheese.

Oddly, it was the rosé with the salad that I liked the least.

My original review of the rosé wasn’t too different than my second impression – except this time around I didn’t get the floral notes. It was almost too cold when it was served for any scent. The salad came before the soup, so it brought out the grass and apple flavor of the wine but clashed with the vinaigrette. The goat cheese and the salty butter on rosemary bread paired well.

Had this been the only course I had with the rosé, I probably wouldn’t have liked it at all and kept my “pool party/porch pounder’ classification. However, this is why trying wine with different foods is so important. You could love it with one (soup) and really dislike it with another. Overall, I’d give this a Tuesday ranking – mostly because I don’t have the energy to make pumpkin soup on Monday – but we often have Thai Curry Tuesday and I can’t wait to try this with my favorite green curry.

The Whites to Start

2019 V.F.R. and Appetizers

The first course, appetizers was served with the 2019 VFR.

V.F.R. (Very Fine Riesling) is a crisp, medium-bodied, balanced white wine with character typical of Riesling such as apricot, peach, lime, and white flowers.

This was a late harvest Riesling that is dry. It had an odd scent like petroleum, but the first taste for me was pear.

It went really well with the puff pastry chicken and cherry bite. The sweet of the wine actually mellowed the tartness of the cherry. The second one had a cheese and greens (broccoli, spinach, kale? not sure) but was smothered by the wine. The cheese went well, but it really washed out the flavor of the Riesling.

Oddly, I didn’t get the sweet sweet grape flavor I did the first time I tried this wine. Although the longer it warmed up the more the Riesling scent came out. Overall, I stick with my original rating – a good Southern Riesling.

NV Texas Fizz

Upon arrival we were greeted with a glass of the NV Texas Fizz. Which you can see at the far left of the picture above.

Texas Fizz is a demi-sec style sparkling wine made from 100% Estate Riesling grapes, It has aromas and flavors of white flowers, peach, melon, apricot, vanilla and blood orange.

A lovely sparkling white that got better as it warmed up. In fact, the flavor was bolder as it warmed up. I didn’t like it with the cherry/chicken tart but quite liked it with the cheese one. Overall, this is the perfect pantry sparkling white. My dining companion described as the perfect sparkling for when the power goes out this winter – because it will still be good warm.

The Main Course and Dessert

Fly Girls and Smoked Meat, Honeyed Brussel Spouts and Mashed Potatoes

This is a red blend, and I probably should have asked Mark what was in the blend rather than how the low yield in this year’s harvest would impact him going forward…. But since I love this wine I’d rather keep the mystery.

This is a Saturday wine – perfect for date night, so it was perfect with the main course.

It’s always a good sign when the volume drops during a wine dinner with a course or wine. It’s a compliment, so no surprise that conversation began to cease when this wine was poured.

In my first review, I didn’t really say much about the wine, but it has the scent of tobacco, fig, chocolate and tomato leaf. It has a deep “red” taste (and yes, I know you can’t really taste a color, but bear with me). So it was no surprise that the smoked meat brought out the spicy stewed fruit (think cherry, apple, plum compote with allspice simmered in port) in the wine. The Brussel sprouts which had been cooked with honey brought out the sweet of the wine and the potatoes were just perfect with it. In fact, I could have just eaten the the buttery mashed potatoes and wine and been happy.

Late Harvest Sweet Riesling

Hidden Hangar describes their Sweet Riesling as being a sweet-full bodied white wine with flavors and aromas of pineapple, apricot, golden apple, lime, and floral character.

I would say it’s like drinking liquid SweetTarts. Sugary and sweet, but tart and tangy.

The brown sugar pecan cobbler brought out both the sweet and tart of the wine, almost to the point of being too tart. The vanilla ice cream just kind of flattened the wine. My notes say that it finished like cloudberry.

All in all, not a bad pairing (and obviously not my least favorite) but I think I would have preferred it with a sweet red.

Final Thoughts

We weren’t really sure what to expect at this wine dinner. Given that we weren’t exactly local… a 45 minute drive, we weren’t sure if we’d fit in or stand out. A little bit of both – but not in a bad way. I loved the fact that both the winery owner and wine maker made a point of introducing themselves as they hadn’t seen us before. I also liked that after that – it felt like we’d spent time with the people around us, much like the regulars at our other wine dinner haunts. I love feeling comfortable enough to discuss the food and other subjects with the diners near me. And I really appreciated Mark (the wine maker) going around and talking to tables about their impressions of the wine and food. Much better than just a lecture about the wine or the perfunctory “any questions” as they walk past, as the wine reps often do.

Overall, a typical wine dinner, with great Texas wines. I look forward to the next one that Hidden Hangar hosts and cannot wait to take friends with us. Although, since it may be a while before that happens, I might just need to join the wine club so I can make sure to get some Rosé and Fly Girls before they are gone.

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