There’s been a bit of a gap in my posting cycle due to a few things, including a recipe testing project that I was asked to do for a cookbook soon to be published. For weeks, though, I’d had a fixed time block in my diary for last Thursday where there was an invitation to attend a wine seminar and tasting event on behalf of Georges Duboeuf featuring different years of their Beaujolais along with a preview of the 2013 Crus served alongside small dishes of food. It gave me a welcome break from the rest of my work schedule and provided me with some insights about this wine, which is much more versatile and flexible in terms of pairing with edibles than I’d previously realized.
The first part of the program was a vertical tasting of different vintages of Beaujolais. Moderated by Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine, who walked us through tasting wines from 2013 as well as ones from earlier years, with the assistance of representatives from Georges Duboeuf. Beaujolais as a region was created in 1937 and includes 12 different wine appellations (a protected designation for a product), including 10 Crus (meaning from a specific vineyard or set of vines), with most of the production devoted to the Gamay grape. As we were told, the area is as long as Napa Valley but “a wee bit narrower.”
You might recognize the flowery Beaujolais-Village label. Perhaps you’ve even taking part in a tasting or ventured to a restaurant that highlights the newest release with a special dinner. I vividly remember the “Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!” signs displayed all over Georgetown when I was still working in Washington, DC. It impressed upon me the idea that this wine was meant to be drunk as soon as the most recent vintage arrived on our shores, a point that one of the panelists highlighted.
These are “thirst-quenching wines,” he said, which creates the idea that they should be drunk in their early state. Allowing them to age lets their structure develop, which doesn’t happen all that often, he added. The vertical tasting was really eye-opening in this regard. When I looked back at my tasting notes, I can definitely seen that progression. The 2013s were “softer” and “rounder,” with lighter red berry flavors. As we tasted the 2010 and 2009 vintages, my scribbles are more along the lines of “fuller,” “spice notes,” “deep purple berries.” Sampling the wines that are just a few years old, I decipher the words “coffee,” “cocoa,” “amber notes,” “licorice,” “rich,” and “full.” There’s even a side note on the Georges Duboeuf Moulin-à-Vent Cuvée Prestige 2005 that says “duck,” which highlights a possible, desired food pairing.
Or that could have been that I was ready for the walk-around and food and wine pairing portion of the program featuring the 2013 vintages from this winemaker. This event was held at the Bouley Test Kitchen in Tribeca, so throughout the seminar, we could hear the sounds of wonderful dishes being put together for us to try later. Chef David Bouley spoke to us about his own connections to the Georges Duboeuf family and Beaujolais, many of which derive from his time working as a young chef under Chef Paul Bocuse when they would head out and cook for the grape pickers. “Beaujolais goes with any festive event here in the States,” he opined, citing it as a good Thanksgiving meal beverage. He also mentioned that his French colleagues would chose the wine to go with their lunch, as it was light and went with whatever they had made for themselves to eat.
To start us all off and get us moving up from the tables, the staff greeted us at the entryway to the kitchen with a glass of the 2013 Georges Duboeuf Macon-Villages Domaine Les Chenevières, made with 100% Chardonnay grapes. After swishing-and-spitting and inhaling the aromas of a selection of red wines for the previous hour, it was a bit of a tastebud shock to switch over a white. They had laid out for us an assortment of cheeses and meats, including pork rillettes (seen in the foreground in the photo), salami, prosciutto, and a fois gras terrine to wake up our palates and to have us see how fatty, cured meats and aged dairy paired well with the wine.
Following the progression of folks around the tasting tables, I picked up the first nibble of Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Wild Truffle Honey, and Salmon Roe. From the photo, you can see that these were no ordinary blinis, with their pillowy, lofty heights. One bite and the delicate casing gave way to a wave of oceanic salinity tempered by an earthiness and mellow sweetness from the honey. These were paired with the 2013 Georges Duboeuf Pouilly-Fuissé Domaine Beranger, also made with 100% Chardonnay grapes, which matched up beautifully to the combination of flavors from this small bite, leaving an impression of buttery richness on my tongue.
Red wine with fish. I know, it seems to break those “pairing rules” we were all brought up with, right? At this tasting, a 2013 Georges Duboeuf Chiroubles (made with 100% Gamay grapes) was teamed up with a lobster dish that featured a red wine sauce and meaty mushrooms as garnish. This shows that when put together with the proper components, even seafood can play well with red wines.
Gougères are just the perfect little nibble to offer at a drinks gathering. They are flexible and can be dressed up or down depending upon the cheese and other ingredients used to make them. My beverage selection for these is usually something with bubbles (Prosecco, Cava, sparkling wine). Here, they were accompanied by a 2013 Georges DuBoeuf Brouilly Château de Nervers (made with 100% Gamay grapes), which was a more robust pairing that my usual choice but still went well with these small bites.
See that green dollop on the bottom of this bowl? That is an interesting, piquant component of this dish that went really well with the soft, delicate chicken. It is also a flavor that could prove challenging in a wine pairing. There were two different wines to sample with this dish: a 2013 Georges Duboeuf Fleurie Château des Déduits and a 2013 Georges Duboeuf Fleurie Domaine des Quatre Vents (both made with 100% Gamay grapes). My preference was for the former vintage over the latter. I just felt that it handled the sauce better without being overwhelmed by its strong taste while balancing out the other elements of the dish.
As I mentioned above, I’d made a food pairing note about one of the wines as something that might go well with a duck dish. The chef must have read my mind with this plate of grilled marinated duck served on a bed of creamy polenta and dressed with a sauce of Pruneaux d’Agen (a type of French prune). This was a hearty but not overly heavy offering was presented with three different wine pairings to try. My favorite match was the 2013 Georges Duboeuf Morgon Domaine Mont Chavy for the way that it picked up the dried fruit notes in the sauce as well as complementing the delicate flavors of the meat and the caramel notes of the cooked duck skin. The other wines to sample with this were also of the Morgon label (all made with 100% Gamay grapes): a 2013 Georges Duboeuf Morgon and a 2013 Georges Duboeuf Morgon Jean-Ernest Descombes.
This next small bite actually came with an advisory from Chef Bouley. He and his team had been working on a gluten free cracker that they could use to serve with hors d’oeuvres – something light, yet substantial enough to support (physically and taste-wise) a variety of toppings. He found it by using kuzu, which proved to be a delicious base for his black truffle paté with Aligote. The 2013 Georges Duboeuf Juliénas Château des Capitans (made with 100% Gamay grapes) was a great pairing, taking on the creaminess of the sauce as well as the meaty, woodsiness of the truffle. Those words of warning? They were that we’d love it so much that we’d want everything to be served on this instead of on regular bread or crackers. After eating these, we all agreed that he had been entirely correct.
After quite a few savory dishes, it was now time to sample the wines with something sweet. A tray of assorted truffles, with different fillings, had been put together by the chef. For me, I couldn’t decide if I enjoyed the chocolates more with the 2013 Georges Duboeuf Moulin-à-Vent Domaine des Rosiers or the 2013 Georges Duboeuf Moulin-à-Vent Rochegrès (both made with 100% Gamay grapes). For me, they seemed to pair equally well.
I didn’t really have a chance to dwell on the chocolate-wine match for long, as the chef had the waiters bring out two additional, specially prepared, dishes from the kitchen. During his introduction, Chef Bouley had mentioned that he’d just received a shipment of truffles from Australia. With them, he made those two luxurious dishes that you see in the photos above. I filled my glass with some of the 2013 Georges Duboeuf Moulin-à-Vent Prestige (made with 100% Gamay grapes) to go along with them. It was an ideal combination. The wine held up to the richness and creaminess of both of the dishes as well as to the funkiness of the truffles that can sometimes drown out a lesser beverage. These were the perfect dishes on which to end the afternoon’s tastings showing the breadth and depth of how wine works to enhance our enjoyment of food.
Thank you so much to the team at PadillaCRT for including me in this event. The opinions on the wines and food and their pairings are mine alone. For more information on Georges Duboeuf Wines and their company, please visit their website.