How to Drive Your Cabernet Franc Crazy at the Dinner Table

Homemade côte de boeuf and sauce Choron.

Given this blog’s obvious indebtedness to François Rabelais, it’s long overdue that I sing praises of Loire Cabernet Franc — particularly Chinon.

Last Thursday, thanks in large part to Thierry Germain, I discovered the most perfect food pairing in the universe for Loire Cabernet Franc.

With a friend, we threw together an impromptu dinner contrasting two Loire Cabernet Francs from the same vintage: a 2002 Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur-Champigny “La Marginale”, and a 2002 Olga Raffault Chinon “Les Picasses”.

These are two benchmark Cab Francs from an excellent, sun-drenched, warm vintage. Thierry Germain’s Domaine des Roches Neuves “La Marginale” is his tête de cuvée wine, only made in the best vintages. A portion of the vines for La Marginale reside in the fabled lieu-dit “Poyeux” (of Clos Rougeard fame) in Varrains, and the other comes from other vines around Chacé; Olga Raffault’s Picasses is sourced from its own revered vineyard in the northwest of Chinon. Here are maps of Saumur and Chinon.

Saumur and Saumur-Champigny. 
Chinon and Bourgueil.

Thierry Germain is clearly a bon vivant, and meticulous in all he does; he is one of the only winemakers whose technical sheets offer not one, but twelve different food pairings.

Côte de boeuf sauce Choron was Thierry Germain’s pairing suggestion for La Marginale that stole our hearts. We’d already decided steak was in order, so all that was left was figuring out what the hell a sauce Choron is. (Click to Read more)

The Four Mistakes Every Restaurant Makes

The Jerk, Carl Reiner, 1979. Click here to see the unforgettable scene.

#1. BY THE GLASS SADNESS

Problem: Far too many restaurants’ by-the-glass poured wines are geriatric, oxidized sadness. They’ve been open for days, and taste like the vinous equivalent of a balding dowager. Why should not investing in an entire bottle (the time-tested solution to the issue) always lead to the tragic contents of a lukewarm bottle that was stored aside a bar cash register or — conversely — an unreasonably chilled, glacial runoff glass pour of wine that somehow still lacks freshness?

Solution: At such extreme by-the-glass markups, restaurants should be able to convert leftovers into cooking wine once they’re tired, particularly once less than 25% of the bottle remains and oxygen dominates the bottle’s contents. Just store open bottles in a small, dedicated 55° F fridge after recorking them. Forsake your profit and loss obsession long enough to serve good wine.  And none of those stupid Vacu Vin / penis-pump wine stoppers — they’re a waste of everyone’s time; just recork it.

#2. THE HAND SOAP THAT WORE A BOTTLE OF COLOGNE

Problem: Look, restaurants: we understand you want to exude LUXURY in your bathrooms. Flower arrangements; pyramids of rolled, single-use white cloth hand towels which patrons throw into a wicker basket; and hand soaps that help evoke a luxury spa with “luxurious” scents.

But if your hand soap is strongly scented, for the next 15 minutes or so until my olfactory receptors ignore the signal, every time I lift my stemware or silverware to my nose, guess what my food and wine smells like ? It’s the hand soap equivalent of (Click to Read more)

Portugal’s Ageworthy White Wines and the Cinderella Myth

When most folks think of Portuguese white wine, they think of Vinho Verde, and involuntarily dredge up a tired set of stereotypes:

“This wine is only good up to a year after release. This wine is fizzy and sweet. This wine isn’t serious — it’s just cheap and easy.”

This does a disservice to a country whose wines will dazzle so many serious wine drinkers. Shortest internet quiz ever:

Are you always adding slices of lemon to your drinking water?

If so, you’re not just doing something healthy, you’re predisposed to amazing, undervalued Portuguese white wines. You crave acid and citrus — the very heart and soul of Portuguese whites grown in granite soils.

Two Portuguese regions are dominated by granite: Vinho Verde and the Dão, and each produce stunning whites. And yes, even Vinho Verde makes terroir-driven wines that can age. Vinho Verde is the land of acid surprises, and below are only a few examples of what you can buy without flying to Lisbon for fairly absurd prices. (Click to Read more)