I decided to blog this week a great dinner we made for our friends last weekend. They are going to Paris for a month in late October, so I decided to use that as an excuse to cook some classic French dishes – and pull out some (hopefully) great French wines from my cellar.

We started off with goat cheese tartines, so I chose a French sparkling wine – a 2007 Blanc de Blanc Monmousseau by Cuvee JM from Touraine. At about $20, it is a good value substitute for Champagne, being dry, with toasty, yeasty citrus and tiny bubbles.

Next I made a Provencal classic – Soup Pistou. This French bean and vegetable soup is easy to make and, with a couple of dollops of basil pesto on top, a true rustic treat!

To try and give our friends a sense of the different kinds of wines they might experience, I pulled out two whites to have with the dish (neither from the south of France, as I am not a big fan of their white wines). The first was a 2006 Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume by William Fevre. It was highly rated, with recommendations it would age well.

What a disappointment when the wine proved to be off – either corked or too old! Not sure, but we quickly moved on to the next wine.

It was from Alsace, the 2000 Tokay Pinot Gris Furstentum by Domaine Albert Mann and…wow! A beauty! Golden yellow, a beautiful nose of sweet ripe tropical fruit, big body and fruit that was so ripe that I seemed sweet, although the wine finished dry. Our guests were quite impressed.

Next on to the main course – slow roasted duck with lentils and haricots verts. The wines chosen were a 1990 Chateauneuf du Pape from Le Vieux Donjon (one of my favourite Chateauneuf producers, and the last bottle from this great vintage) and a 2001 Savigny-Les-Beaune Vieilles Vignes by Domaine Doudet-Naudin.

I was a bit worried about the Chateauneuf; it was very highly rated (95 by Parker), but nearing the end of its drinkability range, and with the experience of the Chablis…I even pulled out a 1999 of the same producer in case there was a problem. But it was the exact opposite! The wine was amazing, classic old CHP, one of the best I have ever had, with garrigue, dried cherries, even some soft tannins. It could easily have lasted another couple of years. Our guests were amazed at this one.

After trying it, I thought that the Burgundy would pale in comparison. Doudet-Naudin is one of my favourite producers, as they make good value (for Burgundy) wines that age well. But compared to the CHP…but what a great surprise! In addition to being in great shape itself, the Savigny more than held its own for its style, with the earthy, slightly spicy red cherries still there and balancing the wood.

We had some of both reds left over for dessert – a chocolate pate, along with a selection of cheeses – and I received another surprise. The Savigny went really well with the chocolate and the Roquefort! No need to open the Banyuls I had standing by!

We talked about their trip to come, ours from 2006 and – combined with the food and wine – it did feel a bit like being in Paris. I’m still jealous they are going, but at least we got to kind of share it for a little while!




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