So Many Chateaux, So Little Time
Let me clarify – I was not in France (sacre bleu). Instead, France kindly came here, to freezing cold and colorless Minnesota-in-January, at the invitation of the Commanderie de Bordeaux Minnesota Chapter. Let me clarify – I’m not a member of the Commanderie de Bordeaux (sacre bleu). But my friends Debbie & Stu the Wine Genius Williams are, and I’ve been privileged to accompany them as a guest to a few of the Commanderie’s insanely fabulous wine tasting dinners, including last night.
The guests of honors were Patrick Maroteaux, owner of Chateau Branaire-Ducru; and Count Stephan von Neipperg, manager of Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere, La Mondotte, Clos de l’Oratoire, Chateau Peyreau, Clos Marsalette, and Chateau d’Aguilhe. They each charmingly described their wine-making history, philosophy, and introduced the (dozen) wines we tasted as the evening sipped on.
As usual, The Minneapolis Club’s executive chef John Thompson and staff created a lovely menu to pair with the wines:
Chanterelle Mushroom-Speck Terrine
Sweetbread Strudle with Hollandaise Noir
Duck Liver Parfait with Black Currant Preserve
Château Branaire-Ducru 2007
Duluc de Branaire-Ducru 2005
Château Cannon La Gaffeliere 2007
Clos de l’Oratoire 2007
Lanson Brut Gold Label 1996
Truffle Poached Diver Scallops with Skate Wing, Parsley-Parsnip Coulis and Tomato Jam
Château Branaire-Ducru 2003
Château Branaire-Ducru 2000
Château Branaire-Ducru 1995
Juniper Roasted Breast of Squab with Rosemary Spaetzle, Foie Gras Emulsion, Smoked Portabello Carpaccio
Château d’Aiguilhe 2003
Cotes de Castillon
La Mondotte 1997 en Magnum
Château Canon La Gaffeliere 1989
Rogue River Blue, St. Nectaire, Beaufort d’Alpage (selection of cheeses)
Poached Apricot Tartlette with Caramelized Pineapple Coulis
Château Guiraud 1990
All of the wines were oustanding – for me, an incredible grouping. The food-wine pairings were interesting as well, in particular the rich and gamey, crisp-roasted squab with the La Mondotte 1997, a truly spectacular wine. From Robert Parker: “94 points, an amazing effort and unquestionably one of the wines of the vintage, La Mondotte’s 1997 boasts a saturated purple color as well as an explosive nose of blackberries, violets, minerals, and sweet toasty oak. Huge and massive, yet gorgeously proportioned, it possesses an unctious texture with no hard edges.” To me it smelled heavenly and tasted smooth, earthy, rich…and French. How amazing to be able to taste such a special wine, certainly not something I’d be able to do without Debbie & Stu’s generous invitation, so yet again, I thank them.
The only drawback to attending Commanderie dinners is that I am next to worthless the next day – so lame. Although perhaps it’s a good thing that my body just can’t take such a massive infusion of rich food and wine. Instinctive moderation. I like it.