I initially thought of this menu for Valentine’s Day because I found the idea of sharing a cheese fondue rather romantic. Plus, cheese is one of Eric’s favorite food groups (that, and chocolate!). He’s not alone on that either. So the main and dessert courses were easy to conceive. I decided a 1st course would be unnecessary because I didn’t want to make the meal too heavy (and OK, I also know that we *love* cheese and would prefer to have our calories there!!). To kick off the meal in a celebratory manner, a more copious “apéro” would “très agréable”. My three suggestions: (1) shrimp and chorizo skewers because I find them festive and delicious, and I like serving at least one hot finger food in winter, (2) spiced nuts because with a dusting of cumin, fleur de sel, piment d’Espelette and herbes de Provence they provide nice crunch and flavor. Of course pecans or almonds are also good, but hazelnuts are my “go to” nut because they are locally grown and the 2020 harvest can’t be beat in terms of freshness and vibrancy, and (3) puff pastry straws because I love the texture and who doesn’t love anything involving puff pastry?! Knowing cheese fondue can be rich, I like to follow the main course with a simple green organic salad tossed with any kind of house made vinaigrette. (As a side note, we have a delicious apple cider that came about from one of Eric’s Calvados experiments last November, and it is out-of-this-world delicious! We’ve become one of those people that take 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar daily thanks to this accidental creation – and happy to do so!). Et voilà, now you know how this menu was born! Bisous, Diane
Pairing : Champagne Gaidoz Forget, Carte d’Or.
This is a somewhat rare champagne because it is dominantly made with Pinot Meunier (80%) mixed with some Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, resulting in a “full bodied” taste that is often referred to as “vineux” by French sommeliers. This is somewhat of an oxymoron, since champagne is a wine! However, the vast majority of Champagnes are made with a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, some are 100% chardonnay, called Blanc de Blancs. These Champagnes typically give a light and bubbly beverage that is loved by all! The full flavor of the Gaidoz Forget is what I appreciate most because it’s a nice change from traditional Champagne, and it easily pairs with the apéro presented in this month’s menu! I would even go a step further and say this is an easy choice if you’re looking for one wine to take you from Apéro through to dessert. A Champagne where Pinot Meunier is dominant, even 100%, is interesting to explore. Ask your favorite caviste and enjoy a change of pace.
Main Course: Cheese Fondue
Pairing : Clos de la Meslerie, Peter Hahn, AOC Vouvray 2011
If you have decided not to stay with Champagne, my recommendation of Clos de la Meslerie will provide an uplifting and interesting pairing to compliment the richness of cheese fondue. This 100% Chenin Blanc is a demi-sec Vouvray from the Loire Valley, and the 2011 bottle we tasted recently has aged beautifully. Its extraordinary length in the mouth enhances the cheese notes, and its real pleasure occurs when tastes of both wine and cheese linger together! This vintage has slight oxidative notes (think dry Sherry like) with a beautiful crispness, and it also has a slight sweetness, the combination of which works especially well with fondue. Experience for yourself the beautifully crafted wines of our friend Peter Hahn’s winery. Although the 2011 vintage is no longer available for sale (nor in our wine cellar!), 2017 is a nice substitute according to Peter. The 2019 is also expected to be a good pairing, and this will be released in the next month or so. With only 4 hectare of vines, Peter is an artisan winemaker of small batch, organic, natural wines with distinctive “terroir” in the purest sense of the term. He uses no pesticides nor herbicides and even uses a horse plow to aerate some parcels of the terrain. The grapes are completely hand harvested and manually pressed in small batches. The combination of abundant care tending to the vines, the land and the wine making process itself insures all of his vintages are unique, complex, full of character and worth discovering! His wines can be found at their web boutique: https://lameslerie.com/en/shop/.