Reading this post is like watching a fencing match between Chef & Sommelier. Chef Eric had no doubt that his sommelier Frédéric would be up for the challenge when he served him up this delicious tasting menu. Frédéric comes back “en garde” to present his matching wines to delight our palettes and compliment the meal. A few choices from our chef may have been seen as a riposte but our Sommelier’s parry was up to par. A perfect Chef’s Table – Food & wine tasting experience.
Once upon a time… a chef decided to create a culinary experience with a wine tasting dinner in Uzès (Arpaillargues to be more specific), at his cooking school, Cook’n With Class Uzès … and I was the luckiest sommelier to be part of this moment and share it with you.
Chef Eric envisioned a great dinner in Uzès for our guests this week: So of course, in order to create a great pairing I asked him to send over the menu, so I could work on it and make sure we would create a surprising match. This is what he sent me:
Terrine de Foie gras, gelée de pomme, pommes cuites et crues
Asperges vertes d’Uzes, salade d’herbes et pamplemousse
Cabillaud rôti au beurre de truffes, salsifis
Pavé de veau, langoustines, jeunes légumes et purée de panais
Tomme de brebis, jeune et affinée
Tarte au chocolat et fleur de sel
I was very happy when I read the first course: I am originally from the southwest of France, so you can imagine that Foie Gras is religion for me: Easy pickings for a sommelier, but I just chose to shake the taste buds, and chose a double wine pairing: First I started with a Gewurztraminner from a local winery, Les Collines de Bourdic and also an excellent apple cider from Eric Bordelet. You would not expect to find Gewurztraminer in this region of France. When we think of this grape variety, which originated from Germany, we think Alsace in France and not Languedoc-Rousillon. And cider? This is a Food & Wine pairing what is cider doing in here? Well it is an alcoholic bubbly cider.
The Gewurztraminer has fruity notes, and also a great acidity to literally cut the fat of the foie gras and clean your palate after each bite. The cider, a sweet to support the sweetness of the cooked apples served our foie gras (the gelée de pomme), whose bubbles bring a cleansing acidity.
But then there was the next course, the naughty chef chose the worst food to pair with wine: asparagus, vinaigrette, and grapefruit! Ouch! But I love a challenge so this did not make me sweat.
The best for bitterness is bitterness… so, here I selected another local wine from Duché d’Uzès, Domaine de Malaïgue, Cuvée Charme: It is a blend of chardonnay, muscat, and roussane. Roussane brings bitterness, while chardonnay holds the acidity and muscat, the fruit notes in this wine.
After that slightly stressful course came an easy one, Codfish, truffles, butter… ok sir, here is your chardonnay from Burgundy, Chassagne Montrachet, from Domaine Jouard: They loved it! A classic pairing with oak-aged chardonnay wine, with buttery and creamy notes, coating your palate and still some tension with a long finish.
And now what? Veal loin and scampi: Love this chef! Some surf and turf French style: I’ll do crazier than you: Red wine, yes! Local, yes! And crazy, yes, a blend of Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernet … Monastère de Solan, Cuvée Porphyre. Pinot noir has finesse and is usually light, which is perfect for the delicacy of the veal, but it also has some shiraz in the blend to bring some spices and balance the power of the scampi reduction.
And now the cheese course: Goat cheese…easy – Sauvignon from Loire Valley, Menetou Salon Domaine Minchin: It’s dry, straight to point, and lots of fruits in this wine pairs perfectly with the youngest goat cheese we tried tonight.
And as if we didn’t have enough food: Chocolate Tart with sea salt: We need a powerful wine to match the strength of the chocolate, and the acidity brought on by the salt. And now I play my hand – the joy of being a sommelier is that we encounter unforgettable wines. Let’s try something you’ve probably never tasted before: Maury Legend Vintage, 1929. No there is no mistake, you can ask them, it really was 1929. And: what a finish!
Maury and chocolate is usually a great match, but dark chocolate and salt can be tricky: an old vintage will pair well as it has some oxidative notes (nuts, almonds, notes of sherry) and also sugar to balance with the tart. Not at all a bad way to end a fabulous evening.
I think I left my mark and stepped up to the task before me. Can’t wait for the next one! So bring it on chef. I’m ready for a new challenge that I can’t wait to share with you guys.
See you in Uzès!