Thursday, 2 July 2015

Bordeaux does streetfood at Imbibe

Bordeaux in south west France is famous for wine. Renowned for its very fine red wines, such as Margaux and St Emilion, it is not as well known for its white wines. Planete Bordeaux (or Planet Bordeaux) wants that to change.

As a result, at the 2015 Imbibe exhibition at London's Kensington Olympia, Planet Bordeaux wanted to show the range of Bordeaux white wines and their versatility with food. They are convinced that Bordeaux whites are food friendly, making them a great choice for home cooks and contemporary casual dining.

I was invited to their "Bordeaux Does Streetfood" event at Imbibe Live 2015 to see how well Bordeaux whites can complement food. I was intrigued and keen to discover more. Hosted by BBC Saturday Kitchen wine expert Jane Parkinson, the event promised to shine a light on the grape varieties, variation of style, versatility and value of Bordeaux white wines.

We had five wines to sample along with some carefully selected dishes. We were encouraged to try a small sip of wine before eating, to sample the pure flavour of the wine, but also to have some whilst eating the small dishes made for us. The flavour of wine can be radically affected by what you have with it.

Jane's advice to us was that Bordeaux whites are "super versatile with food" and that they are "underestimated even by us in the drinks trade". Jane was joined by chef Nicos Popupalot. "Popupalot" is not his real name, but an adopted name inspired by his many varied cooking projects, and a nod to his genuine Cypriot heritage. 

The first dish was a cod mousse, wrapped in cucumber ribbons, served in a pea veloute. The wine match for this was a Chateau Pierrail 2014 (Single varietal).

The Chateau Pierrail is made in the Entre Deux Mers area of Bordeaux from 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Sauvignon Gris grapes. The Sauvignon Blanc gives fruity, clean flavour and the Sauvignon Gris less fruity notes, with more savoury herby palate. It echoes green mint and chives. Sauvignon Gris is growing in popularity. I enjoyed the light white fish and gentle summer sweetness of the peas. The combined effect of the food and wine was a fresh and ripe feel of clean, fresh, light, green flavours. This wine is to my palate a little too young and fruity to be drunk on its own, but would go well with green salads.

The next dish was Gravadlax with dill and lemon zest in blini with creme fraiche. The wine to complement it was a Chateau Le Grand Verdus 2014 (blend). Again, this wine is from Entre Deux Mers. 

Nicos informed us that he had tweaked this dish from the regular by infusing the salmon with a little vodka. His idea was that the creme fraiche would cut through the dill, and the vodka and herbs would mellow out the salmon. The Chateau Le Grand Verdus, made of 60% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon, 10% Muscadelle, to an exacting method. The grapes are harvested at night only, to preserve and retain aroma. It is keep on lees for 5 months. These processes result in a mineral driven wine. The heavier flavours cope well with the strong saltiness and unctuousness of the salmon. 

Our third dish was a crostini topped with smoked mackerel rillettes. The third wine was a Chateau Lestrille Capmartin 2013 (barrel aged) from Entre Deux Mers. 

This wine had a dark colour to it, as a result of the fact it is both fermented and aged in oak. It is made from 62% Sauvignon Gris, 23% Semillon, and 15% Sauvignon Blanc. Michel Rolland is the consultant winemaker to the Chateau. Despite the fact that 2013 was a difficult year for the region, this is a successfully balanced wine. I do not usually enjoy oaked wines, but this was an exception. It was full bodied and was not overwhelmed by the strong flavour and aromas of the oily mackerel. There was nutty richness to the palate of the wine. This is a wine which can be laid down for up to 5 years, in contrast to the wines above, which are for enjoying now. 

Next up was a more complicated and meaty dish. Nicos made us a squid and chorizo slider with lemon aioli. The wine was a Chateau Thieuley, Cuvee Francis Courselle 2012, made from 50% Sauvignon Gris and 50% Semillon, grown on 25 year old wines.

This barrel aged wine is macerated for 12-18 hours, the skins adding flavour and tannins to the wine. It is fermented in barrels and aged in lees for 8 months, which is a generous amount of time. The wine therefore is rich and full, which allowed it to cope with the meaty component of the slider. Chorizo, with its heavy dose of paprika, can be a challenge for white wines to match with. This wine, from Entre Deux Mers was a suitable match for the chorizo and lemon aioli. Jane hadn't expected Nicos to have thrown the curveball of the lemony sauce, but she need not have worried. 

Finally, was some asian style marinated tiger prawns, served with Chateau Le Hargue 2014 Moelleux.

This wine, the only made at Chateau La Hargue, is 45% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon, 15% Muscadelle. The grapes are harvested late to increase the sweetness and is fermented at low temperature following 24 hour maceration. The resulting wine is not as sweet as the aroma leads you to expect, being off dry. 

Given that the prawns were marinated in a combination of flavours which are difficult to pair with wine, namely lemongrass, coriander, ginger, chilli and lime (typical of Thai or Vietnamese food), this wine was something of a revelation to me. I think I have found a wine which would be very well suited to spicy food, from Thai through to Indian. The wine is more balanced and subtle than my usual choices of wine for this situation; Rieslings and Gewurtztraminer. It has a pale tone and and is highly aromatic. This is a wine to watch!

We tried some very contrasting flavours and textures of food during this tasting session. Many of them are notorious for being difficult to match with wine. It has been illuminating to discover how Bordeaux white wines can be paired with food so successfully. White wines make up 11% of Bordeaux's overall production, but they are wines which Jane reminded us represent "fantastic value for money" and I am impressed by their wide variety and versatility. 

If you want to find out more about Bordeaux whites, please visit:

Snigdha was invited by Planet Bordeaux to Imbibe Live 2015 and to the Bordeaux Blanc Does Street Food tasting session. Snigdha has not received any payment or incentive for writing this post. 

1 comment:

  1. Streetfood at Imbibe looks like as an Indian Tandoori Restaurant foods. Most of people when fill hungry, instant take some from here.