Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dinner and a Food Tasting

A good friend came over the other night and brought our dinner with him, a bottle of 1995 Lafouge Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru La Chapelle, price unknown, USA Wine Imports. I have a soft spot for the wines of Jean and Gilles Lafouge. BrooklynLady and I visited the estate back in 2006 when she was pregnant with our first child. The wines are expressive and true, and affordable. And I had never had a mature bottle, so this was a real treat.

With a dinner like this there is no pairing that is exactly perfect, and there are few things that are utterly terrible. Okay, very spicy food, something with lots of stewed tomato, the most delicate consommé, these things probably wouldn't have worked with our dinner. But within reasonable parameters it would be hard to mess this up entirely.

I decided to prepare a tasting that would accompany our dinner, a plate of little things for us to experiment with and see what worked best with the '95 La Chapelle. I boiled and sliced some fresh red beets and drizzled on them a bit of sauce made by whisking soft goat cheese, olive oil, and vinegar. I roasted some shitake mushrooms in nothing but butter and salt. I sauteed escarole with anchovies, and I hard boiled an egg just to the point where the yolk was set, but not cooked through. I was hoping to offer savory, sweet, mineral, tangy, earthy, and bitter flavors on the same plate.

Dinner was fantastic. The nose was all about underbrush and savory aromas, still energetic and appealing. My friend detected floral notes too. Although it was gone from the nose, the palate still had plenty of soft stewed fruit. The palate was vibrant and expressive and sang out in that lovely mature wine tone. Very vibrant and fresh with good acidity even though the structure was almost resolved. As delicious as this wine is, I imagine that it is still a few years from absolute peak, which I am finding to be true about each of the few 1995 wines I've had in the past year.

It was fascinating to taste these different foods with our dinner. Without any doubt, the roast mushrooms were the best pairing. They were in perfect stride with the savory underbrush notes in the wine. I also enjoyed the way the tangy and sweet beet dish paired. The egg was fine, neither here nor there. The only thing in our tasting that didn't work very well with dinner was the escarole. I might have used too much anchovy, or perhaps the bitter, salty, umami-ness of that dish was simply too pungent for our gentle old dinner to successfully collaborate with.

Note to self - cellar some La Chapelle. And eat more roast mushrooms with mature Pinot.


David McDuff said...

Hey Neil,

I almost always roast my beets. It's as much habit as anything else but I love the sweetness and texture that results. Is/was boiling more a matter of speed and convenience, or is there something you particularly enjoy about the results? Just curious...

And yes, sauteed shrooms and old red Burg are a tough combo to beat.


José Luiz said...

I had a stunning 2002 Michel Prunier Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru Clos du Val a few weeks ago, at Lameloise - Chagny. Expressive, affordable and true to the tone... You should also look for it, to cellar with Lafouge.
José Luiz

jmunro said...

Sounds like it was a great dinner and wine. Haven't heard of any bubbles lately. It's quite a fine drink during warm weather :)

Joe Manekin said...

Hear, hear! I echo your and DMcD's thoughts on the older burg and mushrooms. I recently sauteed some more mild (ok, 'mild' and cheap) cremini's with butter, a bit of wine, shallot and bacon. Ate with 1996 Henri Gouges NSG, just the village. Wine was terrific on its own, really sang with the the mushrooms, though.

Word verification: "horta." Sounds Spanish.

Brooklynguy said...

McD - i like roasting beets too, but the flavors are more intense that way, I wanted room temperature cooling beets without the intensity from roasting.

Jose Luiz - never seen Prunier, but will make a note of it, thanks.

jmunro - i've had a bottle here and there, but nothing new to write about. and i haven't been buying Champs lately because i'm spending less these days. hopefully soon. appreciate the encouragement though.

hey old skool - good for you for saving that wine. and glad to hear that the 96's from a rustic kind of place are not acid baths.

José Luiz said...

Make a note. You wont be disappointed... Clive Coates: