le tasting room

Loire wine tours, tastings, day trips from Paris & short breaks organised by experienced English wine trade professionals.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A New Year's Feast

Enjoyed a lovely meal with friends to see in 2012 last night - a great opportunity to indulge a little and open a few interesting bottles.

We started with a spicy duck rillettes, smoked magret and foie gras served with fresh fig bread and pain d'epices. I'm not normally a big fan of pain d'epices but this was superb - dense and aromatic. It was superb with the Quarts de Chaume 2006, the ginger notes in the wine marrying perfectly and providing a great contrast to the rich smooth foie gras and spicy rillettes.

An amazing colour - rich, amber, honey, spices and ginger all combined with a beautiful lean streak of acidity. Just delicious - thanks to Ali and Jos for such a treat.

We followed with some scallops simply pan-fried with garlic, parsley and butter. I just love scallops - we don't eat them very often but they were wonderful. Sweet and tender with a hint of crispness on the outside. We drank a Clos du Papillon Saviennières 2006 from Baumard with them. Savennières comes in many different guises depending upon how it's been vinified, aged etc but Baumard's are clean as a whistle with a lovely precise minerality and not a barrique in sight. I'm a fan of the slightly oxidative style as well but do wonder why more producers don't make wines in this fresh, clean style which is more accessible to the average winedrinker.

Main course was a long slow cooked shoulder of pork cooked with sage, lemon, white wine and milk. A few simply roast potatoes and some carrots Vichy finished the dish. Simple flavours but tasty.

We drank two reds - firstly a 1998 Grand Mont Bourgueil from Pierre-Jacques Druet. I thought it was corked but was overruled by everyone else. Sometimes it's difficult when wines are showing tertiary aromas that come with age but I still think I was right! Pierre-Jacques' wines are normally full of elegance and fruit and for me this was ruined by a slightly stale cardboardy aroma. Just goes to show that we all have different levels of perception when it comes to cork taint. I've always been particularly sensitive to it but can understand the wariness to go out on a limb when others don't detect it to the same extent.

The second red we enjoyed was a bottle of Clos du Chene Vert 1998 from Charles Joguet. That was better - beautiful elegant fruit on the nose, a touch of leather and smoke and soft rich tannins that married well with the pork. Delicious.

The piece de resistance was the dessert. Inspired by his recent stage at the wonderful Auberge de la Sansonnerie, my 14 year old son and I spent hours fiddling around in the kitchen together creating the star anise sablé topped with a spiced pear fig and orange chutney, salted butter caramel ice cream and pear crisp. It was wonderful and a perfect finish to the evening (after the cheese).

With it we enjoyed a glass of Chateau Rieussec 1996. A real lanolin waxy hit on the nose was followed by rich honey and barley sugar notes. If I am brutally honest - I preferred the Quarts de Chaume that we enjoyed with the foie gras. We've obviously been living in the Loire valley for too long - the bias is setting in!

All in all a lovely evening spent enjoying good food with good friends and family. What more can you ask for for.

A very Happy New Year to you all. May 2012 be full of good things, laughter, good food, great wine and happy times.

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