Saturday, July 24, 2010

French Food and Wine Extravaganza - 11 people, 5 courses, and 9 bottles of wine!

Tonight we got together with some good friends for a French food and wine extravaganza! Between 11 people, we experienced 5 courses (8 dishes) and 9 bottles of wine.

First Course - Appetizers
  • Leek, Goat Cheese, and Olive Tapenade Puff Pastry Tart
  • Caviar d'Aubergine (eggplant caviar)
Cocktail Pairing
  • French 75 (gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, Monmousseau Brut Etoile Champagne from France, sugar cube at bottom - stir if you want it sweeter)

Fabulous start to the evening! Both the tart and the eggplant caviar were fantastic! The French 75 was a bit strong for me, but the taste was delightful! We did go through 2 bottles of this Champagne - it was quite good!

Second Course - Salad
  • Artisanal Greens Salad with Figs, French Goat Cheese, and Toasted Walnuts
  • White Wine and Lemon Vinaigrette
Wine Pairing
  • Bieler Père et Fils Rosé 2009, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, France

This French Rosé is 60% Syrah blended with Grenache and Cinsault.

Aroma - floral
Taste - dry, floral, soapy/clean

I loved this salad (full disclosure - I also made it), and the wine went great with it. The figs in the salad were so perfectly ripe and fragile that I had to handle them as gently as possible. The goat cheese, the toasted walnuts, the fantastic artisanal greens (which I've never had before), and the amazing dressing (white wine, fresh lemon juice, stone-ground mustard, organic agave nectar, olive oil, salt, pepper) all went together so nicely! As for the wine pairing, I selected a Rosé because they go great with salads, and because the figs and goat cheese called for something drier and with a little more body than a white wine (which I used in the dressing).

I'd love to try making this dressing with Champagne or Sparkling Wine next time!

Third Course - Main Course (à la Barefoot Contessa)
  • Filet of Beef with Roquefort Sauce (à la Barefoot Contessa)
  • Tomatoes à la Provençale (à la Chef Laurent Tourondel)
  • Gratin Dauphinois
Wine Pairing
  • E. Guigal Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2000, France
  • Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley, CA
The 2000 Châteauneuf-du-Pape was a real treat! Mel and JS saved it for a very special occasion, and when we popped the cork and took a sniff, we knew it was going to be fantastic! It is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvèdre, and 5% other varietals. It was rated 92 points by both Robert Parker and Stephen Tanzer.

Color - I don't usually list color on my tasting notes although I always do pay attention to it. The color of this mature wine was definitely garnets - gorgeous!
Aroma - cooked red fruit (we learned in Napa that as red wines approach 10 years or so, you'll often find this flavor profile)
Taste - cooked fruit, black tea, soft tannins, very well-rounded, nice finish

This wine paired with the filet was pure brilliance! The filet was unbelievably melt-in-your-mouth tender! The tomatoes and potatoes were also amazing!

The secondary wine for the main course (because we only had one bottle of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape) was the Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Napa Valley, CA. It is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petite Syrah.

Aroma - blackberries, currants
Taste - blackberries, currants, moderate tannins

Another nice pairing with the main course! I've tasted this wine before - see this wine's main page for the previous tasting notes.

Fourth Course - Cheese
  • Midnight Chèvre - soft goat cheese sprinkled with edible ash to cut the acid and make it smoother
  • Pont l'Evêque - washed rind cow's milk cheese bathed in brine while aging - a little stinky
  • Ossau-Iraty - sheep's milk cheese made with raw milk, firm with a natural rind and nutty flavor
  • Blue d'Auvergne - a blue cheese created by aerating the cheese to allow the mold to grow - also stinky
Wine Pairing
  • Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label NV Champagne

Everyone recognizes the yellow label of Veuve Clicquot Champagne. It's such a food-friendly wine that it would go with just about anything! It rates 92 points with Wine News and 91 points with Wine Spectator.

Aroma - subtle, very light fruit
Taste - subtle, very light fruit, fresh and clean

In short, the Veuve Clicquot was of course spectacular with the cheese! My favorite cheeses (no surprise) were the goat cheese and the Ossau-Iraty. The course also included Marcona almonds and green grapes. We finished 2 bottles of the Champagne!

(Quick French lesson: According to our resident French professor, Mel, "Veuve" means "widow" in French. "Buda" as in Buda, TX, is an alternate pronunciation of "Viuda" which is the Spanish version of "Veuve" - meaning that "Veuve" and "Buda" originate from the same roots and both mean "widow!")

Fifth Course - Dessert
  • Petites Choux au Chocolat
Wine Pairing
  • Domaine des Bernardins Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2007

The Muscat is a blend of 75% white Muscat à petits grains and 25% red Muscat à petits grains.

Aroma - lychees, rose
Taste - lychees, rose, sweet and thick, syrupy

The Muscat was really the perfect compliment to the Petites Choux au Chocolat. I really enjoyed this dessert and wine combination!!!

This was our post-dinner, post-dessert wine (well, some of you have coffee, but I just open another bottle of wine!). It's the Two Hands Bad Impersonator Single Vineyard Shiraz 2006 from the Barossa Valley, Australia, and it was rated 91 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. It is 100% Shiraz.

Aroma - dark fruit, inky, smoky, a little hot when first opened but after breathing a little it seemed to burn off
Taste - fruity, earthy, smoky, soft to moderate tannins

A great way to end the evening!

This really fantastic idea and a really fantastic meal! LOVED every minute of it!

1 comment:

Catherine said...

Great bottles of wine. You should try Château d'Yquem which is a premier cru supérieur from Gironde region. The Gratin dauphinois is a wonderful choice.

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