Friday, July 24, 2009

Chablis, butter and acid

There are food-and-wine pairings. Bordeaux with steak. Riesling with Sichuan. Sauternes with foie gras. Burgundy with mushroom beef stroganoff. Gamay with Cantonese. Very very good.

And then there are FOOD-AND-WINE PAIRINGS (all-caps!) that produce moments of epiphany that caress your senses and elevate your faith in wine as something much more than a drink - an elixir, a magical potion, a fountain of delight that washes over you like an orgasm and reminds you what being alive is all about.

I was lucky enough recently to receive two such pairings in one dinner cooked up by a friend who has been blessed by the gourmet gods. I will describe the first of those pairings here, and another - in a future post.

Butter-sautéed morel mushrooms and garden peas with lemon thyme with 2002 William Fevre Chablis Grand Cru "Blanchot". Chablis grand cru wines from a good vintage and a good producer (which are all the traits of the wine I drank that night) possess a combination of buttery flavor, a touch of citrus peel, stoniness, along with powerful acidity. Made of the Chardonnay grape and officially a part of Burgundy, Chablis is nearly always lighter and leaner than its more southerly world-famous cousins from Meursault, Puligny and Chassagne villages in Burgundy's Côte de Beaune, not to mention full-bodied examples from California. However, Chablis Grand Cru elevate above most Chardonnays in the world by walking the fine line between elegance and weight. What made this pairing so memorable was the uncanny match of the butter in the dish with butteriness of the wine, and the greenness of the peas with the stony limey tartness characteristic in this Chablis. The combination was ever so clearly so much more than the sum of the parts.

In my mind I could almost hear the wine gods chanting:
Butter to butter
Green to green
Show this mere mortal
A gift he has never seen!
(sorry for a cheesy poem, but I was inspired!)

Perhaps a part of this epiphany came from the fact that the morels were hand-picked by a person who is no longer with us, and whose sister and a dear friend is now fighting a similar affliction. It was only so becoming for this delicious dish to be completed by this grand wine to come together into a never-to-be-forgotten epiphany. We celebrated his life and we cheered to hers!

I stumbled home a renewed man.


half_bottle said...

Toast to Julie & her brother for sharing with us their special morels and the inspiration they carry and to Dan for having the culinary gift to put it all together in an heavenly pairing.

Dan said...

Spectacular post! Gary, your knack for appreciating every nuance of an experience is really awesome!

Wine Yoda said...

My mouth is watering!

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