Last year, around this time, I was sent a case of sweet wines from the Bordeaux region of France for a series of online tastings. The focus by the fine folks at the Sweet Bordeaux has been to resituate the wines from the region, which have long been heralded as wines to be enjoyed after dinner or with dessert.
Given their high levels of acidity, the producers of Sweet Bordeaux argue that the wines should be considered as excellent options as an accompaniment for appetizers, entrées, and even as an apéritif. I became familiar with the approach when I visited Bordeaux a few years ago, coming away convinced of the validity of the contention.
Last month, while trying to make some sense of my pile of samples, I came across those twelve bottles of golden Bordeaux wines and decided the time was now. My idea? Make some of the recipes I have been ‘perfecting’ over the past few years and pair them with what I would normally consider a good option as well as one of the Sweet Bordeaux wines.
(This is now the fourth week of this “Challenge” with links to the first three weeks at the bottom of the page.)
Last week I mentioned that Tuesday’s in our house are certainly reserved for tacos (or another Mexican or Tex-Mex inspired dish), and usually the day is greeted with much enthusiasm by the boys.
On Mondays, we also have a theme that is met with far less excitement, however. For several years now, I try to have “Meatless Mondays” in an attempt to reduce the demand for animal products, which is a large contributor to greenhouse gasses and the intensifying heat on the planet.
While the boys, I think, share my concern for Mother Earth (there is no Planet B), they are not fans of the lack of animal flesh on their respective dinner plates. I no longer ask what they would like for Meatless Mondy (I have about 5-6 different dishes in my repertoire at this point) since the answer is always a simple “Meat.”
This past week, I opted for a recipe that I have developed a bit over the last decade or so. It originated at was our favorite restaurant in Philadelphia, L’Oca, which was owned and operated by its chef, Luca (these near homynyms caused some confusion for our then much younger boys, but I digress). One of my favorite dishes at the long-since shuttered establishment was this Trofie con Fungi.
From beginning to end, this should take no more than 30 minutes, less if you are somewhat at ease in the kitchen.
List of ingredients:
- Trofie pasta (really any smallish rotini-style pasta should do). This is what trofie looks like, to give you an idea (from Wikipedia):
3-4 oz. of sliced mushrooms per person–chanterelles would be the best, but they are somewhat hard to find and can be pricey, so I usually get cremini (baby bella) or shitake, but plain white will also do. And a blend is even better.
1/2 of large yellow Onion, 2 tablespoons (or so) shallot, 2-3 cloves garlic, all diced.
A grated semi-hard cheese that will melt easily. I have used Tomme de Savoie, Gruyère, Comté, and Asiago Fresco—it seemed that the Asiago Fresco (not the aged Asiago) worked the best.
A splash of vegetable stock per serving—you can also use some of the water from the cooking pasta.
Olive Oil—a splash to get the onions going.
Arugula—a hand full for each person.
Salt and pepper to taste.
As the water is boiling/pasta is cooking, heat up a skillet over medium high heat and then add a little olive oil. Once hot, add the onion, garlic, and shallot and sweat them a bit. Add the mushrooms and toss regularly until the mushrooms have reduced and softened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the mushrooms from the skillet.
Once the pasta is cooked, reheat the skillet (without having cleaned it) and add some olive oil and about 3/4 cup of the cooked pasta. Toss a few times then add 1/4-1/3 of a cup of the cooked mushrooms and a bit of vegetable stock (or pasta water). Toss a few more times to combine the flavors. Sprinkle on some of the grated Asiago Fresco cheese and toss until melted. At the very last moment, add a handful of arugula, and fold it in, causing it to wilt slightly.
All of this should take less than two minutes. Repeat for each serving.
This week I grabbed the 2020 Château Tanesse Lion de Tanesse from the broader Bordeaux appellation and a bottle of 2020 Tongue Dancer Foxtrot Pinot Noir, a new bottling from one of my favorite producers in Sonoma County (although the wine is made from fruit from a little further north, in Anderson County).
2020 Château Tanesse Lion de Tanesse L’Amour, Bordeaux, France: Retail $11 (375ml). From 375ml. Agglomerated stopper. A blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. I first tried the 2019 vintage of this wine a couple of years ago and I was impressed (88 points). Today with this 2020 vintage? I might like it even more. Fairly light in color with plenty of tree fruit aromas in the glass. The palate is fairly light, almost delicate, with nice fruit, a vibrant tartness, and just a touch of sweetness. Very nice. Very Good. 89 Points.
2020 Tongue Dancer Pinot Noir Fox Trot, Anderson Valley, CA: Retail $40. Under cork. Heavy bottle. From what I understand, this was a bit of a last-minute thing with some leftover juice from other bottlings that Kerry MacPhail urged her husband James to blend together into something fabulous. Goal achieved. Whoa. I first tasted this a couple weeks ago for the Fifth Annual Blind Tasting of American Pinot Noir and I loved it then. A. Lot. Yes, there is a ton of fruit here. A. Ton. (I guess that is why they thought they needed such a heavy bottle?) But there is also earth, tartness, and balance, all in spades. This is much bigger than my preferred style of Pinot, but holy mother of god, this is good. Outstanding. 95 Points.
I should have known that this was really not a fair fight. Sure, the Sweet Bordeaux was very nice, and a good pairing here, but any dish that has a ton of mushrooms in it really screams for a Pinot Noir. The earthiness and meatiness of the mushrooms meld in seamlessly with the Tongue Dancer Pinot. A really fantastic pairing.
The Standings (thus far):
Sweet Bordeaux: 2
The Drunken Cyclist: 2
Sweet Bordeaux Challenge #1: Gochujang Crème Fraiche Poached Shrimp Linguini
Sweet Bordeaux Challenge #2: Hachis Parmentier
Sweet Bordeaux Challenge #3: Beef and Chorizo Enchiladas