Tuesday, February 5, 2008

French Kiss: A French wine tasting dinner

At a recent wine tasting dinner at the Claremont Hotel in Roslyn Long Island I got the chance to try a cross section of French wines that were very cleverly paired with delicious French dishes.

First up was an Alsatian sparkling white wine (not called Champagne because its grapes are not grown in Champagne region), made from Chardonnay grapes by Pierre Sparr Marquis. Appellation (a geographical based term to identify where the grapes are grown) is Cremant Alsace, Pierre de Perlade Blanc de Blancs Brut. Light golden color with fruity aromas of melon and slight grass undertones, very crisp with taste of apples, kiwis and berries. Perfect with hors deourves.

Then another from Pierre Sparr, but this time a 100% Pinot Gris. Pale gold color, nose: fruit & apples again, peaches and smoke. This was paired quite nicely with a lobster bisque served in an espresso cup.

Next course was an asparagus tart in puff pastry with triple cream brie which might have posed a problem. Asparagus is a food long thought of as difficult to pair with wine, but they managed a beautiful companion in choosing a Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes used in Andre Lurton's Chateau Menaut Blanc Graves are grown in gravelly soil, giving the wine a mineral note. Color is pale yellow, and palate is a mixed bag of apple, apricot, asparagus. As I drank and ate more, I noticed the minerality intensify to reveal hints of kerosene... but in a good way:)

For an entree I had Filet Mignon with Foie Gras and Madeira sauce which paired well with the Andre Lurton Chateau Couchery Rouge Pessac-Leognan. This is a red bordeaux from Couchery Rouge. The place has a bit of history/legend to it... allegedly Henry IV slept there to avoid a thunderstorm, and it ultimately became known as Coucheroy (the king slept here). Soil from the vineyards are gravel over clay and seated in the Martillac and Leognan communes in the South of Bordeaux. The Grapes are fermented in steel and aged in French oak for 1 year. This is a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and is an easy drinking and velvety Bordeaux. Color: ruby red; Nose: ripe fruits, smokey earth; Palate: berries & spices; mellow tannins.

The dessert wine was Chateau Castelnau Suduiraut 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. It reminded me of a really good Vinsanto or Muscato, and was floral, perfumed with golden color and citrus and honey. It was paired with a creme brule and worked for me.

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