The Magic of an Unexpected Perfect Fit

Food and wine pairing epiphanies can be magical, particularly when a risky gamble pays off in spades and the pairing elevates both the food and the wine. It’s quite rare that things work out that well, but if they do, it’s typically because you’re venturing on a well-trodden path for the first time. More often, the wine and food simply respect each other: neither subtracts from the other, and both taste just as good as they did alone.

But even if you don’t hit the ‘mutual elevation mother lode’, sometimes you have a legitimate discovery on your hands. And so it was with silex and salsa: the 2012 Pascal Janvier Jasnières “Cuvée du Silex” got down to business with Enchiladas Suizas (recipe below).

jasnieres and enchiladas
Genetically predisposed haters of cilantro need not apply.

Who pairs Chenin and Mexican?! (Click to Read more)

Ma Cuisine and the Mysterious Mistress of Beaune

Making the pilgrimage to Beaune at least once to visit producers and vineyard sites is a rite of passage that nearly every Burgundy enthusiast finds themselves doing at some point. I’d heard long ago about how one simply had to eat at Ma Cuisine in Beaune. Amazing wine list; great food. The last time I was in Burgundy, I couldn’t get a reservation; this time, I’d set it up early.

Once greeted by a paper taped to the door with a hastily handwritten “RESTAURANT COMPLET”, my colleague and I felt like diligent little hamsters who’d thoughtfully done their work. Inside, it dawned on both of us that this casual, welcoming bistro atmosphere was exactly what was missing in our life.  As casual as it may have been, however, we immediately caught a glimpse of a more serious side: an imposing pyramid of some 50 Domaine de la Romanée Conti (DRC) bottles which attested to just how many high-rollers frequent the restaurant.

We had only recently discovered via chats with cavistes that quite a few Beaune restaurants had Coche-Dury for a reasonable price (vs. US prices and accessory allocation battles). We’d been dying to see what Jean-François Coche’s chèvre à deux bec manually-filled bottles1 had in store for us, so when you tell me I can try 2010 Coche Bourgogne rouge for 57 EU in a restaurant, I don’t care if I’m committing infanticide, we’re ordering the Coche.

One look at the chalkboard menu and it’s clear Ma Cuisine serves classic French fare, perfectly devoid of modern pretentiousness or molecular what-have-you. The wine list is helpfully arranged by price, and even if my only qualm was that I’d’ve liked more Chablis in the 30-50 EU range, the 2011 Vincent Dauvissat Petit Chablis around 32 EU is nothing to balk at.

But I don’t get along that well with 2011. If that pyrazine green monster rears its head, and I realize I’m stuck with 75cl of something that reminds me of Sauvignon Blanc, I devolve into an upset little baby. So I selected a 2010 Domaine Patrick Javillier Bourgogne Blanc Cuvée des Forgets to go with our starters, and will you look at this damned thing. Instead of oeufs brouillés à la truffe, they should’ve called it truffes aux oeufs brouillés:

Oeufs brouillés aux truffes chez Ma Cuisine
This was simply transplendent, and I (Click to Read more)

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  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRSz-1Lq7qc []

Why the Hell Don’t You Ever See a 100 point Chablis? pt 2/2

In this final article (here is the first) examining our curious critical prejudice against dry white wines, I examine our inability to fully appreciate perfect Chablis with Patrick Piuze and share tasting notes on four of my all-time favorites.

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If you’ve not yet tried a Piuze Chablis, you don’t know what you’re missing.

piuze

Patrick Piuze left his wine bar in Montréal in 2000 to make Chablis, and after working for Leflaive, Verget, and Brocard, he knocked it out of the park in his first solo vintage: the outstanding 2008. Some dubbed him the new Raveneau. In addition to his Grand and 1er cru bottlings and his absolutely stellar Petit Chablis, Piuze also vinifies AOC-level grapes that he purchases from growers in various Chablis regional terroirs that he groups in a single bottling: “Terroir de Courgis”, “Terroir de Fleys”, “Terroir de Chichée”, or “Terroir de Fyé”.

These subdivided AOC bottlings compel us to listen even closer to Chablis. “Talk to people in Courgis or in Fleys, and they’ll tell you it’s all the same. But it’s not,” Piuze notes. Piuze also notes how in one particular portion of the grand cru Valmur — where he purchases grapes from Domaine Vocoret — there is a significant difference in the size of the grapes based on the varying amounts of limestone and clay underfoot; he notes how this invariably affects drainage and drastically changes what ends up in the glass1.

One senses in Patrick Piuze a respect for his growers’ grapes and a deeply ingrained reverence for the Chablis terroir, a humble and passionate man before his task. He did have some slightly irreverent things to say, however, about wine critics’ inability to recognize perfect Chablis:

Aside from needing to be an authentic expression of terroir, what is a perfect Chablis? When does a Chablis distinguish itself from others to the point where it deserves to be considered perfect?

In Chablis, we produce Chablis, and the Chardonnay grape is only a vector to accomplish that goal. What deserves to be called “perfect” is when the wine talks about its origine — where it’s from. Chablis can be described as acidity and minerality, bonded together, lending Chablis its own particular personality.

Do you think Chablis must age its ten years and acquire tertiary characteristics in order to be considered perfect? Should a luscious, younger Chablis be judged perfect by critics?

In Chablis, vintage is a very important issue, quite simply because we end up with two distinct styles of wine. (Click to Read more)

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  1. http://www.patrickpiuze.com/Vendanges-2009-Grand-Cru-Valmur.html. []