The French Connection
The Bordeaux Rendez Vous was not entirely as intimate an evening affair as this Brit writer initially imagined, with 15 distinguished members of the united châteaux of Bordeaux bearing magnums (18 stunning vintages spanning the Bordeaux spectrum, including two whites) in attendance to represent their esteemed estates.
Adrien Bernard - Domaine de Chevalier
Aymar de Baillenx - Chateau Beychevelle
Henri Lurton - Chateau Brane-Cantenac
David Ornon - Chateau Giraud
Jean-Paul Bignon - Chateau Talbot
Erwan Le Brozec - Chateaux Clerc Milon & d'Armailhac
Augustin Lacaille - Chateaux Pedesclaux & d'Issan
Jerome Heranval - Chateaux Dufort-Vivens & Haut-Bages Liberal
Karim Nasser - Chateau Malartic Lagraviere
Laure Bastard - Chateaux Giscours & du Tertre
Laurence Brun - Chateau Dassault
Lucas Leclerq - Chateau Lafon-Rochet
Matthieu Bordes - Chateau Lagrange
The wine event held at the romantically dim-lit bar of the Veranda of the Sofitel Plaza Manila was part of the five-leg Asia Pacific city tour (Jakarta, Bangkok, Singapore, Saigon and Manila) organised by Barrière Frères, the commercial partner of the chateaus in the international supply chain.
Vinivultures and the country’s Bordeaux purveyors representing AWC Philippines and the Philippine chapter of the Commanderie de Bordeaux sampled legendary wines as conversations pleasantly flowed over the stellar food pairings from the kitchen of Spiral’s Matthieu Garrel, a Maitre Cuisiniere de France or French Master Chef, a prestigious title bestowed by peers.
A genuinely warm camaraderie among the representatives (all dressed in Filipino attire) of the competing chateaus made the evening even more pleasurable. Their goodwill and amiability gave all the guests a feel of the best about Bordeaux.
And thanks to their generosity, we had a taste of the finest varietal blends from their region.
Though it was suggested to accompany each sip of the crowd-pleasing dry 2001 Chateau Talbot with Oxtail Parmentier, the subtlety of the tannins and dreaminess of the dark berry bouquet made it absolutely irresistible on its own, On the other hand, the 2006 Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere mellifluously cut through the sharp and acerbic creaminess of the Stroganoff with full-bodied finesse., Yet another magnetically complex bottle was the 2004 Chateau Brane-Cantenac,, an enticing blend with hints of spice and all things nice such as violets and truffles, to which this writer returned for another pour, This was brilliantly paired with the Lamb Rack and sweet mint jelly. Perfectly combined as well were the subtly sweet nuances of the dense 1998 Domaine de Chevalier and the acute sour and salty piquancy of the thick sauce that smothered the tender and fragrant Lamb Adobo. And the slightly bitter cherry inclinations of the 2009 Chateau Giscours found a faultless marriage in the gamey, albeit rich, Duck Confit that just flaked and fell apart at the eager swipe of a fork.
As no French gastronomic rendezvous would make sense sans Foie Gras, the ubiquitous fat liver delicacy was, seared and paired with 2011 Chateau Guiraud. The liver’s silky texture was perfectly permeated by the Giraud’s full-bodied and bold crispness doused with spicy to medium sweet traces of noble rot. Another gamey offering was the succulent Duck Magret, a truly magnificent dish to emerge from chef Garrel’s French stove. Here, the 2005 Chateau Lafon-Rochet 2005, dominated by tannins more than anything else, was a sultry and voluptuous partner that did well to stand up to the Magret.
If a bit surprisingly, the fatty and sinewy Pork Sisig from the Filipino corner was a superb match to 2012 Chateau Pedesclaux and so was the Korean specialty Spicy Pork Bulgogi to 2000 Chateau Cantemerle. Another exquisite coming-together of the continents was the Chateau Haut-Bages-Liberal 2005 and the Lamb Seekh Kebab.
Underpinned by dynamism, discovery and passion, the Bordeaux Rendez Vous connected us all culturally and gastronomically in one lovely eveninng. A civilised way to remind us that meals are better enjoyed with wine, French wine preferably.