Commanderie de Bord…oh!
Ah, good morning. I’m up and at ’em, perhaps a bit on the late side, but in surprisingly good form considering the wickedly not (!) moderate 16 wines I tasted last night. Santé! Yes, as Debbie and Stuart Williams’ guest at the November meeting of the Commanderie de Bordeaux, I was on my best behavior and politely drained my glass(es) and cleaned my plate(s), the least I could do, non? Seriously, it was a lovely night, hosted by Commandeur Bill McGuire and his wife Mme. Nadine McGuire, along with their guest, wine expert Kevin Swersey. The evening’s wines were chosen from the 2005 (Bordeaux, natch) vintage, particularly for affordability and accessibility as well as for, of course, drinkability. A quick survey of the group revealed that most had tasted exactly none of the wines – Bill and Kevin’s secret goal, mwahaha, and not the usual Commanderie experience. So we were off…
But wait, I should take a step back and introduce my tablemates: Debbie and Stu, of course (pic, below, is actually from Napa, as we enjoyed cassoulet at Bistro Jeanty, but that’s another story…), as well as Commandeur Mary K. Stern and her husband Gary Stern, and Commandeur Kirt Woodhouse. A delightfully clever, charming group, they very kindly answered my many (naive) Bordeaux questions and kept the conversation hopping from topic to topic, always returning to – what else? – food and wine, baby, food and wine.
Our group particularly enjoyed the opening food-wine pairing, a classic I personally hadn’t experienced before but oh, will I be seeking out again: Peking duck with champagne. Yes, turns out that champagne’s signature acidity is the perfect foil for every flavor element of Peking duck – the silky, rich duck breast, the paper-thin, crispy-salty skin, the sweet-tangy Hoisin sauce, and even the mild spring onion garnish. All together, ka-blam, taste explosion. Loved it. (If anyone has a recommendation on where to find good Peking duck in Minneapolis/St. Paul, I’m taking suggestions. I found this Strib rave for Yummy Chinese Restaurant on Nicollet – sounds like the real deal, but the review’s a bit dated…)
Below is the entire tasting menu with wine pairings. I’d recommend in particular the second two champagnes – both delicious, unique, and according to Kevin, quite affordable (he purchased all the wine at Surdyk’s). Find yourself some Peking duck (or make it – you’ll see it’s a luxury item for good reason, given the unusual and lengthy preparation, although the recipe doesn’t look terribly complicated), pour a glass, and bubbly-bottoms up. Quack that. Oh. Yeah.
Kudos to Chef John Thompson and his staff at The Minneapolis Club for turning out such an ambitious, lovely dinner:
Passed Hors d’Oeuvres
Beef Tartar with Mustard Aioli and Cornichon
Chicken Chili Empanadas
Boneless Lamb “Lollipops” with Dried Apricot Chutney
Clarendelle Blanc 2005 Pessac-Leognan
Chartogne-Taillet Blanc de Blancs N.V. 2005 Champagne
Pierre Gimonnet & Fil 1er Cru Brut N.V. 2005 Champagne
Pierre Peters “cuvee de Reserve” Brut N.V. 2005 Champagne
Slow Poached Monkfish with Brown Butter Sauce, Celeriac Remoulade and Wild Arugula
Chateau Ferriere 2005 Margaux
Chateau La Gurgue 2005 Margaux
Seared Oxtail Ravioli with Fig Balsamic Reduction, topped with Crispy Sage
Chateau Haut-Bergey 2005 Pessac-Leognan
Chateau Tour des Termes 2005 St. Estephe
Roasted Rack of Bobby Veal, Braised Sweetbread Strudel, Chanterelle Ragout
Pomerol Christian Moueix 2005
Chateau L Croix du Casse 2005 Pomerol
Braised Pork Cheek, Truffle Potato and Glazed Grilled Carrots
Chateau Quinault L’Enclos 2005 St. Emilion
Chateau Bellevue 2005 St. Emilion
Chateau Clos de Sarpe 2005 St. Emilion
Fromage d’Affinois, Cave-Aged Gruyere, St. Nectaire Cheeses with Fall Fruit Jams
Chateau La Gomerie 2005 St. Emilion
Gracia 2005 St. Emilion
“Mystery Wine” El Desafio de Jonata 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
My thanks again to my favorite hosts, Debbie and Stu The Wine Genius Williams, as well as to the Commanderie de Bordeaux and the evening’s hosts, Bill and Nadine McGuire. Have a great weekend, everyone.
Moderate it: uh, right.