Wednesday, 10 December 2008

French Night

Bonjour mon amis du vin:

Heir soir we had the latest of our wine meetings at Tom and Claire's in Barceloneta. The theme was all things French, as a number of us had just got back from a weekend DJing in Toulouse, and were full of le inspiration. We had a couple of tried and tested classics for the table, some new combinations spied on our ramblings, and of course a couple of nouvelles trucs regionelles to try out.

I'll tell you right away that we weren't as strict as maybe we could have been, but it's not always easy to cop French produce at the last minute in Catalonia, even though we're only a couple of hours' drive from the border.

The first wine up for review was Les Roses Du Clos, a 2005 Fie Gris, a variety native to Touraire, also known as sauvignon rose. Pale and golden in colour, it had little nose compared to the bouncy Spanish whites we've become accustomed to. The taste, however, was big. The flavour of peach dominated, but some found its acidity a bit but on its own. Shortly thereafter came a Toulousean treat that we had seen served last weekend. A whole camembert is filled with smoked salmon (or cured duck) and melted in the oven, and served in a little dish with bread. This is a piece of piss to knock up at home and I'd definately recommend it with a quality French white like we enjoyed.

A little contrast was to follow with Trevor's election. Unable to locate a single French white at his preferred bodega, he instead brought a 2007 Galician white from a cellar by the name of Santiago Ruiz. Comprised of Alberino, Loureiro and Treixadura grapes, this one was a banger. The golden-green fluid seemed to propel itself high into the nasal cavities; no effort whatsoever was required to enjoy its citrus aromas. In the mouth, we got nectarine and mature white fruit, discovering secondary floral aromas along the way. To accompany we broke out a doorstop of lumpy cheese bought en route back to Barna. No information was available about this product (the French have a penchant for excluding such details from their packaging), but I can digress that it was so rich in creamy nutty flavour that it vanished in no time, rind and all.

Next up, a joint from Cotes de la Malepere whose name was Le Mas de Monpere, which caused minor confusion. Our Froggy guest of honour, Jerry McBerry suggested that Mas meant mast, as in ship, whereby Natalia the Catalana maintained that it was the same as the Catalan significance, meaning country house. Most saw that Natalia had logic on her side. Deep cherry red in colour, it reeked of forest fruits. The taste was quite different, surprisingly. Dry and spicy, this had been recommended without culinary accompaniment, which everyone agreed with. This granache noir was a burst of autumn flavour which I would thoughoughly recommend.

Tom brought out his piece de resistance following that: patates gratin dauphoise. Quite a simple dish, it was nice and heavy and had people fighting over the oven-browned topping. Together with that, a 2005 Domaine de Saint Guilhem from the AOC Fronton. Using the negrette grapes, this thing was deep burgundy in colour with a flourescent red surround. Toasted on the nose, the tasting stage divided opinion. So rich in tanins was this wine that some enlikened its texture to that of wool. Really long with hints of liquorice, I dug it, others never.

The two-course dessert rally started with a block of artisanal mint chocolate brought by Ominous K. I'd never considered mint with red wine before, so was eager to check out the second and final bouteille imported from the South-West of France. Folk were hoping for something lighter than the last tanin whirlpool, and got what they were after with the Chateau Laurou 2006, again from Fronton. This one was lighter and more translucent, and had a hint of vanilla on a sniff. It had a more fruity, Spanish character, and was well recieved.

By this point, the entire club were sporting false moustaches of varying colours and devouring their way through a couple of bars of ginger-flavoured chocolate simply named Sexy. Oh la la.

Mark Philip Dix I


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