A Major Crush Edutainment Series At City Winery Continues: French Wine Recap

This recap of the Major Crush Series at City Winery focuses on recent events from the classic French Regions, The Rhone Valley and Burgundy.

Rock & Rhone

This segment of the series focused on the wines of the Rhone Valley. In the “Major Crush Edutainment series fashion” the wine language is important and doesn’t have to be complicated or stuffy, it should be fun. Our first part of the series used Bond characters as a reference point to describe our wines. This dinner highlighted rock music. Bands from Green Day, The Clash, ACDC, were comical and yet accurate comparisons to the intensity of the wines. Over the course of this series, we have come to learn so much about wine production and how the terrior matters so greatly. The Rhone specifically has different climates that influence the grapes significantly. The north is much cooler while the south is warmer with a bigger growing area, close to the famous Burgundy (which comes later in the major crush series. The river water moderates the climate. 

•FIRST COURSE •
WINE: Guigal, Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc
FOOD PAIRING: Apricot & Chevre Crostini

The first two wines are from Guigal, Cotes-du-Rhone, both Blanc and Rouge Cote de Rhône is a region around the Rhône which is known to produce wines that always deliver, a little better than the everyday options. This white is a blend, is nicely aeromatic with notes of apricot and peach, and has a nice freshness and clean finish. The apricot in the first dish really complemented and highlighted the apricot aspect in the wine. 

The second wine comes in a little louder and has power and perfume. It is also a blend (mostly Granache and Syrah). It has that red fruit flavor from the Granache but also a hint of a floral note and a herbaceousness making it a little spicy. 

The dishes both featured a nice chevre cheese which had a nice creaminess and in particular. A fun takeaway fact from Newlin is that most cheeses, especially goat cheese with its light acidic character, goes really well with dry white wine. 

These are both wines for simple comfort food and relatively cheap, considered wines for the working person.

•SECOND COURSE •
WINE: Guigal, Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge
FOOD PAIRING: Cervelle de Canut
•THIRD COURSE •
WINE: Delas, Les Launes Crozes Hermitage Rouge 2020
FOOD PAIRING: Tapenade Provencal/phyllo tart

The third wine is further north, where it is much colder and the primary grape up here (Syrah) is grown basically on granite rocks. A typical note in the northern Rhone is olive. This wine has great aromatics and is full bodied, more refined high acidity and a darker fruit note. It is firmer and more tanic which gives it that dryness, making it a great win with food. It is a bit leaner and spicier than the warmness and more roundedness of the second wine. Paired with the third dish it gave a nice sweet and spicy combination and I like the little textural crunch from crumble.  

Wine number four brings us back to the Southern Rhone, where people look for “big wine”. With 13 grape varieties there are many red varietals but you need the white there to calm it down. In this wine, Grenache is the main grape and is grown on the river bed and ripen with the projected heat of the rocks. Grenache has a red fruit core and slight cherry flavour, and this particular wine has intense spice layers and complexity. It is very big and expressive, but also rustic,  and goes great with hearty foods such as boar or lamb, such as in our fourth course. The dish had a lot of smoky flavours and spices, such as saffron, giving its own complexity to the pairing. 

•FOURTH COURSE •
WINE: Le Cellier des Princes, Chateauneuf-du-Pape Domaine Les Escondudes 2018
FOOD PAIRING: Lamb Tenderloin lentils du puy

Overall we learned how wine and food pairings are about marriage vs contrast. Food pairing is either marriage or contrast. For example they can be perfect complements to one another, or opposite in the way one could have a sweet wine with spicy food to somewhat put out the fire.  

Wine five is powerful and big, also featuring mostly the Grenache grape. This one Newlin describes as “monolithic” with its dark fruit, licorice-like note and spicy note. It’s bold and savory but has a little sweetness creeping in. This is another one that goes great with hearty foods and did pear well with the sausage and complemented the spicy grain mustard.

•FIFTH COURSE •
WINE: Crous St. Martin Gigondas Las Espaliers 2019
FOOD PAIRING: Sausage Lyonnaise grain mustard
•SIXTH COURSE •
WINE: Cote Rotie. Domaine P&C, Bonnefond Colline de Couzou 2020
FOOD PAIRING: Nougat de Montelimar

The final wine is produced on the coolest part of the Rhone valley on the “roasted slope, known almost as the birthplace of Syrah and producing both powerful and elegant wines. The geology makes the vines struggle but it is ultimately great for production with complexities typical to the terrior. This wine has intense, powerful aromatics, black. wild berry fruit notes but it maintains a purity and elegance. As a “happy wine” we finished off the evening with the song a Crazy little thing called love. The Nougat sweet from all angles but wine can balance and contrast it.

Could there be a more perfect closing song than Rolling on the river – the Rhône river that is.

White Burgundy

city winery a major crush white burgundy

Burgundy is a region that produces some of the finest wines in the world. “Just at the edge of possibility” on a razor’s edge climatically, where the magic happens, so to speak. The region is between Dijon and Lyon, seen as the culinary capital of France. There is a lot of geological diversity giving a balance of fruit, great acidity and freshness. When buying bottles of Burgundy the location and geographical names are also of more importance than the producer.  Loosely speaking of varietals, if the grape is Chardonnay if it is white and Pinot Noir if it is red. Flavor profiles are different based on where it is from.

As this evening’s focus was on white wines, Chardonnay was our grape of the night and it is flexible, always producing a high level of quality although it is not an aromatic grape like Reisling or Sauvignon. Chardonnay can do almost anything, except be a red wine. 

White Burgundy has a lifestyle that you can enjoy young, mid-age, or when the primary fruits a background note and you’re left with the buttery  honey notes. Acidity is a preservative as is oak tannin. Good concentration and a nice acidity can make a bad grape better, essentially making a bad cheap wine good. 

In Burgundy as mentioned, location and village matter. The eterriot, meaning the soil, type of rainfall, wind, aspect to the sun are all factors that make a sight unique  and in this market is what matters most.

city winery a major crush white burgundy
WINE Albert Bichot Creman de Bourgogne Brut Reserve
FOOD PAIRING Ikura Waffle Cone, black sesame, crème fraîche

 every region of France they also make sparkling wine. 

Champagne is champagne because it’s from that region thus any other sparkling wine can’t be called that. Cremont is the other general term. 

Typically from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, Cremont is more reasonably priced than champagne. This one that we started our evening off with is a Brut, meaning it has a little sugar for balance but is dry. It is clean and fresh and a great aperitif with a touch of citrus. 

While Burgundy is notorious for producing expensive wines, our second wine, the Aligote, is in the friendlier price range. The grape is almost a sure bet to get ripe because it accumulates sugar quickly. With white wines you don’t need the skins and it does well married to the oak which adds flavor to the wine. This has an initial citrus and floral note but a nuance from the ageing process.

WINE Charles Audoin Bourgogne Aligote
FOOD PAIRING Cavaillon Melon Mille Feuille with Kunik
city winery a major crush white burgundy
WINE Gilbert Picq & ses Fils Chablis
FOOD PAIRING East Coast Oysters, blood orange nuoc cham

Chablis is one of the least expensive of the high quality areas of Burgundy. Chablis has some saltiness and salinity due to the soil in which it is grown. It is known to go great with shellfish, a match made for the oysters we were served, acting as that nice squeeze of lemon and adding to the nice minearlity.

Wine number four is a little creamier and has a note of spice because of the gentle oak treatment and textural richness. The finer the wine, the longer the producer will typically age it in the oak, which adds nice spice and flavor. However, to go there, dense, ripe fruit is required. This one has the reminiscence of that oaky note and texture but maintains a touch of citrus and hint of green apple.

city winery a major crush white burgundy
WINE Joseph Drouhin Bourgogne Chardonnay
FOOD PAIRING Salmon Mosaic, currant

Wine number five is a Chardonnay with a low ph and high acidity but it can age. Young they are, fresh and fruity but as they age they become rounder with more buttery, nutty notes or sometimes an unexpected note of truffle. This wine has a creamingness and richness and a viscosity finish that is fresh with a little salinity. It starts rich but tightens up at the end and that savory finish and salinity makes you want to come back to your food and keep eating. For rich dishes such as escargots, beef bourguignon, cheeses etc you need wines that give a freshness. It pairs really well with the rich fatty duck and complements the sweetness of the jam

city winery a major crush white burgundy
WINE Domaine du Roc des Boutires, Pouilly-Fuisse, “En Bertilionne” 2020
FOOD PAIRING Duck Rillettes brioche, jam

Wine number six is powerfully aromatic. Wine is aromatherapy and we essentially taste with our nose. (Swirling the wine gives the aroma as the molecules are freed.). This one also has an elegance and a butteriness to the wine. It has layers of earthiness and mineral texture as well as citrus. Another great accompaniment to shellfish as in our pairing that was light but also its own buttery rich component to it.

city winery a major crush white burgundy
WINE Francois Mikulski Meursault Tillets 2020
FOOD PAIRING Lobster Toast poached lobster, truffle

Finally we finished with a surprise wine by an amazing producer Eve Comatmore. This is a very chiselled white burgundy. It has that essence of a rich and creamy chardonnay, although more nutty than buttery, but is precise, acidic and mineral. 

Red Burgundy

When it comes to Burgundy, the land is the brand. For our focus on this evening’s dinner, Pinot Noir is the main grape, which adapts to the place that it is grown. These are typically wines of finesse, evident as in the soft shoulder of the bottle, meaning  that sediments aren’t deposited as it ages due to the thin skin of the grape. These wines marry beautifully with food and have a great subtlety and wonderful red fruit aromas. There is not that much skin tannin and texturally sometimes you can’t tell the difference with a white wine. 

Pinot Noir is also a very versatile grape, but unlike California, which sees a lot of sun and can pick grapes close to whenever they want, in Burgundy harvesting has to be more mindful based on their terroir. Unlike Chardonnay which can grow wherever you put it, Pinot Noir needs perfect conditions. However when it hits right, the perfume and subtleties of these grapes can be really beautiful.  

Some dishes over the course of the night were rich but these are wines that make your mouth water and you’ll want to return to your food. 

Burgundy located between Dijon and Lyon, the culinary capital of the world, Burgundy has also really mastered fine dining. 

WINE
Domaine De la Grand Cour “Fleurie” 2022
FOOD PAIRING
Gougeres
“Barely Buzzed” cheese, red wine shallots

The first dish was a classic Borgundian starter. Cheese in puff pastry with a nice lemony note and a decadent caviar topping. The first wine almost acts as a palette cleanser with a medium weight and good acidity. As Newlin describes it, this is classic French picnic wine, great on ice and served in the summer. In general these delicate wines are great to serve a little bit chilled, as they can always warm up. In this wine there is not too much tannin so you can really feel the fruit. 

WINE
Domaine De la Grand Cour “Fleurie” 2022
FOOD PAIRING
Gougeres
“Barely Buzzed” cheese, red wine shallots
WINE
Chateau de Rougeon “Bourgogne” 2021
FOOD PAIRING
Scallop
squid ink crispy rice, truffle

The second wine is different and a warmer grape. Aged in an oak barrel it has more spice, more wood, and almost a sour red fruit note like cherry or raspberry. It is bright, acidic and very smooth. The wines all act delicate and the simplicity of the second course with the scallop and nice texture of the crispy rice are testament to these balanced pairings.

WINE
Domaine de L’Arlot, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru ‘Les Suchots’ 2010
FOOD PAIRING
Escargot Vol Au Vent leek fondue, porcini velouté

The third wine comes from Romanee, the island of vines, mostly because of its limestone soils. This third wine is like silk, with an exotic spice to it. It has a nice pure fruit flavor as well as a little earthiness. The escargot is was paired with also is filled with flavorful seasoning in the creamy sauce. Both the wine and dish here are elegant and finessed.

WINE
Hospices de Beaune, Pommard, “Cuvee Raymond Cyrot” blend by Michael Dorf 2019
FOOD PAIRING
Beef Wellington
au poivre

The fourth dish commands a wine with more muscle, and this one was a special one. Our founder at City Winery purchased this barrel in 2019, and was produced by two individuals, one from Israel, one from the Middle East who forgot their differences and got together for their love of Burgundy. This wine is deep,rich, and powerful although young and youthful. There’s a bit more earthiness and almost a truffle note, which would make it a great choice for a wild mushroom dish but also wonderful without pairing. The delicious beef wellington is was paired with has a lot of flavor and a little spice and this wine really stands up to it.

WINE
Hospices de Beaune, Pommard, “Cuvee Raymond Cyrot” blend by Michael Dorf 2019
FOOD PAIRING
Beef Wellington
au poivre
WINE
Chateau Doisy-Vedrines, Sauternes 2009
FOOD PAIRING
Torchon de Foie Gras apricot mostarda, pumpkin seed cracker

Our fifth wine is not from Burgundy but another famous French region Sauterne. The wine style here the grapes are almost left to rot on the vine till they are basically raisins. While a regular plant/vine produces a bottle, one vine of this grape produces only a glass because it is so concentrated. It has that lovely stone fruit sweetness of apricot, peach and a nice honey note as well. Fois gras is an amazing accompaniment for this sweet wine because it really cuts through the richness and fattiness giving us a really nice surprising element. The foie gras also had its own sweetness in the jam which complemented the wine and a nice crunch from the cracker to again bring a little textural balance as well.

WINE
Rare Wine Co Madeira Reserva Especial
New York Special Reserve
FOOD PAIRING
Chocolate Truffles

Our final pairing was a Madiera and chocolate truffle combination which epitomizes a dessert pairing. This was a coveted wine in the 18th and 19th centuries in the times of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson etc. In homage to that time period this wine is deep molasses like sweetness and is very complex.

WINE
Rare Wine Co Madeira Reserva Especial
New York Special Reserve
FOOD PAIRING
Chocolate Truffles

For Info On More Upcoming Events At City Winery

For more City Winery Event Recaps

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *