Saturday, September 5, 2009

Season of Soup - French Onion and Pichot Domaine Coteau de la Biche Vouvray Moelleux 2002

With each new day dawning to blue sky in cosmopolitan Brunswick, my daughter Imogen asks me if spring is now over and is summer coming sooo quickly. Well my dear, I am sorry to say this is Melbourne, home of the ‘G’, the upside down river and those glorious four seasons in one day....

‘.... lying in the depths of your imagination, Worlds above
and worlds below, the sunshine’s on the black clouds hanging
over the domain.
Even when you’re feeling warm, the temperature could drop away
Like four seasons in one day......’

'Four Seasons In One Day'
Crowded House

So with one eye on a beach towel and the other on an umbrella, we in Melbourne are still in the throes of winter, which brings me to soup. But this is no ordinary ‘Season of Soup’ entry. Today is not only our favourite soup (Erin and me), but a Susan match that I reckon is one of the best!

French Onion Soup with Pichot Domaine Coteau de la Biche Vouvray Moelleux 2002 – a big mouthful, but a good one.

French onion soup is pretty much that, onions and lots of them!!!! This is sort of like risotto; lots of looking and lots of stirring. The key element to a good French Onion soup is making sure the pot and onions brown. So here is my French Onion soup.

· brown onions, plenty of them (14 serves four)
· olive oil
· flour, just a pinch
· Gruyere cheese
· butter, optional though
· salt to taste
· crusty bread
· water
· swimming goggles

After cutting up the multitude of onions, add a good glug of oil to the pot and heat. Add onions and add another glug of oil over the onions. Let it sit for a while on heat with the occasional stir. Once there is an obvious reduction in volume or the pot, add butter and season to taste. Keep stirring!! After a while the pot will start to brown over in the hot spots – this is good. Keep stirring.

Once you have the contents a good brown, add flour and stir for another five minutes. This thickens the contents of the pot so it is easier to reduce evenly. Add water to cover entire volume and add a few small cubes of Gruyere for a creamy edge. Reduce to a good ratio of onion and water. Grate some Gruyere over some bread and grill to your liking.

It is important to let the soup sit for a while so you don’t burn your tongue – this bugger is super hot just out of the pot.

Now the wine. Just to let you know that Vouvray is Chenin Blanc. Now Chenin Blanc in Australia gets a bad rap I reckon. Why you ask? Because we don’t get it; that’s at both levels – producing and drinking.

The very best Chenin Blanc’s come out of the Loire Valley in France. Now before you start thinking that I am banging on about French wines and how they are superior to ours (well yes), I’ll just remind everyone that in France they can only grow certain fruit in certain areas, unlike here where we can bloody grow anything any-bloody-where.

So back to the Loire Valley, and in particular to a little town called Vouvray. You punters out there may know this name from a couple of years ago when a nag by the same name was favourite in a couple of group 1 races. If you are like me and put a few bucks on it and are cursing the sound of the name ‘Vouvray’ (cos’ the mongrel didn’t salute once), I am sorry for bringing back bad memories.

Vouvray is situated on the Loire River just west of Tours in central France where Chenin Blanc is King. Here there are three styles, sec, demi-sec and Moelleux; dry, semi dry and Moelleux which is the sweetest of the three and by far the most sought after.

Moelleux wines can have up to 500 grams/litre of residual sugar in them, making them syrupy sweet and perfect with rich food such as Foire Gras.

This Pichot Moelleux has only 94 grams/litre of residual sugar, but this by no means makes it a light weight in this style. The colour is a beautiful light golden/straw with a yellowish hue coming through. The nose is super sweet with candied orange and saffron. Decanting this wine will benefit. After a while in the glass and decanter, this wine develops richness similar to Sauternes that produces a very warming mouth feel with glycerol, honey and marmalade coming through.

The reason I have given this combo the ‘Susan’ is that I reckon this pairing has got equal measure of richness – both develop a natural viscosity with time – and natural sweetness from the caramelised onions and candied orange in the wine. Ohh I do love it!!

Drink till 2032
Quality cork (blackened at tip is an indication that it spent time in underground cave)
$55 12.5% a/v

1 comment:

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