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Wines for Terrines


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Terrine 3 – 2006

August 5, 2006

Three years ago I was trying to think of a way of holding a dinner where we could feature food instead of just wine, and where each couple could prepare a dish and present it as a pot-luck sort of thing.

The theme that I finally came up with wasn’t so much a type of food or cuisine as a method of preparation – terrines. It allows tremendous scope in terms of ingredients and preparation methods and as I took the liberal view on allied dishes like ballotines, pates, galantines and such, there was enough range to keep everyone happy. We’ve done it three times now, in the garden, at a table which comfortably seats 12 people.

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It is fun to bill it as ‘Garden Stadium’, and as an Iron Chef sort of competition, but in fact the only competition is against oneself, trying to make something interesting that pleases yourself and others.

Accordingly, the official judges remain fairly non-judgemental.

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The fun part is not only choosing and preparing a dish, but also coming up with two often quite different wines to go with it, giving us all an opportunity to study the fascinating art of food and wine matching.

This year’s event took place over about 5 hours in absolutely perfect conditions, not too warm, not too cool, and the food, wine and company was as always second to none.

First up was:

Terrine de Poisson Trois Couleurs

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A wonderful dish with a really great sauce, it was paired with:

Clos du Chateau de Mosny Montlouis-sur-Loire Brut NV – a very pleasant little Loire bubbly that had a pleasant soft nose and sufficient acidity to go reasonably well with the food.

2002 Bourillon-Dorleans Coulee d’Argent Vieilles Vignes Vouvray – it got more interesting with this wine which showed a waxy honey and fruit nose, medium bodied, and with a bit lower acidity than is usual in this wine, as well as a bit more fuit in the mouth than you expect. Very nice match with the fish.

Terrine aux Ris de Veaux et Homard Truffé

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My dish, so I can give a bit more detail. A recipe from Tour d’Argent, it is layered sweetbreads, lobster and sliced black truffle in a Port bouillon jelly, served with two kinds of mayonnaise, a green and a red flavoured with spinach and tomato respectively.

The recipe was cause for domestic upheaval as she-who-must-be-obeyed had forgotten there were two live lobsters in the fridge and let out a shriek when she opened the door and they greeted the light by making a break for it. For the rest of the day she wandered around muttering “For the love of God, Montresor” and named them Montresor and Fortunato (see Poe’s story ‘A Cask of Amontillado” if you don’t know the reference).

2003 Black Hills Alibi – a Bordeaux blend from a BC winery, and probably the best such in the province, I thought I’d give the home team a shot at glory. Lighter wine with clean slightly citrus nose, quite nice with the food but in this case overwhelmed by the competition.

1995 Ch. La Louviere – none of us cellars much white Bordeaux, but whenever we taste a wine like this we always ask ourselves why that should be. The nose on this was really tasty – an oak and fruit melange that reminded me of vanilla pudding. Complex in the mouth and very smooth, sweet and long, it was the hands down popular choice as best match with this dish.

Jambon Persillé

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Two pictures as this contestant, in a blatant attempt to influence the judges, submitted a side dish of majestic proportion, a Belgian endive tart with cheese pasty that was admittedly excellent. The main dish was nothing like the traditional ham in parsley jelly either, but was richly textured and accompanied by a stack o’ taters that was the perfect foil to the flavours of the terrine.

1995 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, Russin River Cuve – a very Burgundian wine, right from the excellent Pinot nose featuring cherries to the smooth silky finish. My choice as best wine with the food, but then I may be rightly accused of being a bigger fan of Burgundy than of New World Pinot

1999 Siduri ‘Christian David’ Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – an impressive wine in the more usual American style, this showed a big rich Pinot fruit nose, sweet entry, was smooth on palate and has some soft tannin remaining – must have been a bit of a brute when younger. A stylish wine, it failed to seduce me from the Williams Selyem.

Terrine of Guinea Fowl, Green Lentils and Porcini Mushrooms

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1962 Chateau La Grace Dieu, Grand Cru (Saint-Emilion) – an even more pronounced difference between the wines with this interesting course. 1962 was a decent vintage overshadowed by 1961. I do not know this producer and don’t recall ever seeing it before. Nonetheless it put on an interesting showing. There was (needless to say) nothing much in the way of fruit left, but the nose was copybook mature claret until it very suddenly went all metallic on us. Brown edges and a lot of acidity and some remaining flavour interest.

1999 Casalferro – this IGT from Barone Ricasoli showed currants and coffee in the nose, with quite a bit of oak and a hint of pepper. Still tannic, it is an international style of wine with good length and a future ahead of it. None of the telltale terminal acidity of so many Italian wines, and a good accompaniment to the dish.

Terrine de Lapin aux Noisettes

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1988 Beaune-Teurons – Albert Morot – a slightly stinky nose and lots of acidity, the fruit levels a bit low but pleasant and perhaps the better wine with the food.

1996 Condado de Haza - this was a nice mature Condado from back in the days before they started pounding this out in great quantities, to the detriment of quality. Leather and fruit in the nose, the wine smooth and mature. Nice on its own and with the food, but a little lower acidity made the Burg the best wine for matching the food in this flight.

Lamb Terrine

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This terrine used traditional pig’s foot for gelatine and while the experimental batch had no problem sticking together, this one had a minor failure of ‘stiction’ but certainly not of flavour – you can’t find a good pig’s foot when you need one!

1998 Domaine Bois de Bourson Chateauneuf du Pape – I am not acquainted with this producer although others present were. Great nose with black pepper and Rhone funk, it still could use some time as the tannins are evident if softening. Spicy/peppery in the mouth as well. Very nice.

1997 Montresor Santomio – this merlot/cab blend from Veneto was very presentable indeed with ripe fruit and chocolate in the nose, which reminded one generally of Bordeaux a bit, and it would have made an interesting ringer in a group of clarets, only the slightly high terminal acidity and the ripeness in the nose being clues to origin. The maker’s name was particularly apt in light of SWMBOs previous lobster adventures.

We finished up with some chees and a Gould Campbell Old Vintage Character Port, some of which had found a home in my Port jelly, Quite pleasant at the age of about 25 years (I’ve had it for more than 20 years). You don’t see that terminology any more, do you?

At the end we took a vote and it was unanimous that there be a T4 next summer (only this time I won’t wait to hear what everyone else is making before making a decision myself….)

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  • 11 months later...

For those that haven’t come across notes of these terrine events before, a few words of introduction.

A few years ago I decided that I wanted to create a wine and food event to be held in my garden. I wanted the ease created by a potluck rather than having the host prepare everything. I wanted a theme dish or type of dish that could preferably be prepared mostly ahead of time, and I wanted something with enough variability and scope to allow people to experiment with ingredients and wine matching.

I ended up choosing the general theme of terrines, and made it clear to all that allied dishes like galantines, pâtés and ballotines were more than welcome within the theme. I have a hard core group of 12 people that prepare 6 terrines to make a meal, and it has worked out better than I’d ever have hoped.

This year, for the first time, some unseasonably inclement weather relegated us to the dining room rather than the garden, although that did save on travel time between kitchen and table. We started off with a seafood terrine made with an avocado and shrimp centre, a halibut based outer, wrapped with smoked salmon and garnished with cucumber, green wasabi caviar and a shrimp. I took a picture of the whole terrine as the owner wanted to document it in case it fell apart when he went to serve it!

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2002 La Chablisienne Chablis Prem. Cru Cote de Lechat – clean stony nose, light and well balanced and it worked very well with the food. Picked up some additional complexity as it warmed a little.

Next up was a vegetable and foie gras terrine, offered with a dry white and a couple of half bottles of Barsac.

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1998 Pascal Jolibert Pouilly Fumé La Grande Cuvée – good fruit and minerality in the nose, full in mid-palate and a nice long peach tinged finish.

1988 Ch. Doisy Daene Barsac – slightly the lightest colour of the two, with a botrytis nose nicely coupled with a floral note. Not too sweet, long and well defined - the better wine of the two.

1988 Ch. Coutet Barsac – bit darker with a sweeter nose and more weight in mid palate but lower acid made it a less bright wine than the Doisy and a tad clumsy.

A very pretty mushroom terrine was up next, incorporating several different mushrooms and garnished with Phyllo covered Boursin cheese. It had replaced (at the last minute) the avocado terrine that had defied three attempts to produce anything other than guacamole.

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2004 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc – Roussanne 65%, Grenache Blanc 30% and Picpoul 5% (unusual that last one). Good white Rhone nose, full flavoured and mellow.

2001 Arcadian Pinot Noir Gary’s Vineyard – medium colour for a Californian PN, excellent nose, more Burgundian (although sweeter fruit than a Burg would have) than the Arcadian also brought by the next person. Sweet entry, good acidity and length and a sweet finish as well. I thought this wine went better with food than the next Arcadian.

The next dish was a rabbit with pistachios and olives.

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2001 Arcadian Pinot Noir Sleepy Hollow Vineyard – a lighter colour and higher acid distinguished this wine as well as a less Burgundian more fruit driven nose. It was a little sweeter and less earthy than the Gary’s and didn’t work quite as well with food.

1999 Jacques Prieur Beaune Champs Pimont – the stand out among the Pinots with excellent Burgundian nose of cherry and a hint of blackberry, clean and silky with nice acidity at the end. Great food wine and an excellent value.

Next up was an eggplant and lamb terrine with a tomato based sauce:

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2003 Jaboulet Chevalier de Sterimberg Hermitage Blanc – I must say that this wine was one of the real stand outs of the evening. Best I could find out was that they use Roussanne and Marsanne in approximately equal amounts. It had a lovely waxy nose of cashew and honey, a nice oily mouth feel, and despite reports of this vintage, entirely adequate levels of acidity. Best match!

1998 Dom. du Caillou Chateauneuf du Pape – I am surprised we don’t see more of Bruno Gaspards work – these wines can be delightful and I was myself delighted to later check my cellar list and see that I had a full case (somewhere!) unopened. (as well as a little of the Le Clos reserve wine). Excellent funky Rhone nose quite sweet in the mouth, but with tons of offsetting acidity. A big, dark, very good wine that there is no hurry to drink (or in my case, find).

My course was last – a terrine made of strips of ham and chicken breast rolled in herbs in a forcemeat of veal, chicken, ham, Armagnac and cream. The accompaniment was pickled grapes (I used Jalapeno as an ingredient and was trying to remember not to rub my eyes for the rest of the day!)

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The background is different as I wanted to present my wines blind and I couldn’t quite trust the crew not to peek, so I took the picture in the kitchen.

2000 Montes Alpha Syrah – this wine always shows mint, yet it definitely doesn’t come across as Australian so it is a good ringer. It has some sweetness on entry but not much in the mouth and wasn’t really varietally correct in terms of nose and profile, unlike the following wine.

2003 Renard Syrah Truchard Vineyard – right away the white pepper in the nose was heading people to the old world, and cassis didn’t give this Napa wine away as New World. Fairly big wine, long finish and amazingly Rhonish for a Napa wine, and the best match with food.

We had now finished the main event and decided to have a bit of cheese and of course also needed wine to go with it, so we took one person’s back-up and I headed for the cellar for a second wine.

1995 Biondi Santi Schidione – an IGT with cab and merlot mixed in with the sangiovese gave a wine with decent fruit in the nose, and lots of clean acidity. Interesting but not paradigm altering.

1990 Lungarotti San Giorgio – tar and currant and some tomato in the nose, medium body, smooth ending with little tannin but clean acid. Time to drink.

A short discussion revealed that the attendees in no way felt that we have exhausted this theme and there will therefore be a T5 in 2008!

Next year we will be back in the garden!!

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