So much for summer farniente. Every year, wine expert Jean Aubry of Montreal daily Le Devoir must taste hundreds of bottles under a few months (poor man, right?) to produce his annual guide, Les 100 meilleurs vins à moins de 25$ (The 100 best wines under $25). One year, for his next edition, Aubry wished to propose wine and food pairings as an added value to regular readers. The best vino for your next poutine fix? It’s right here…
That summer of experimentation, during which family and friends were recruited to wine, dine and opine (poor friends, right? NOT) led to a surprising result: often under-rated maybe because it has become too popular not to be suspect, of all the varietals served, from noble to upstart, the one that proved a cook’s best friend was… the chardonnay.
Back to the future, Gazette fine dining critic Lesley Chesterman, and Aubry’s other half, welcomed the media at Dix30’s Williams-Sonoma store — heavens but I love this franchise — for a select tasting of a wine which had found grace with her at-home “nose.” Le Clos du Bois, an American chardonnay, bears the North Coast AVA reserved to the six varietals produced in the counties north of San Francisco: Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Marin and Solano.
Located in Sonoma County per say, the Clos du Bois Winery was established in 1974 by Frank Woods (pun alert) who wished to combine his family name with the French traditions dear to his heart. The chardonnay developed by the American winemaker is a charming, accessible wine indeed, with aromas of exotic fruit, peach and lemon, a touch of spice and oaky notes. The aftertaste is long and fresh. Above all, it’s a natural team player when paired with ubiquitous summertime dishes.
Is it age, okay, no big question there, I AM getting on, I tolerate the tannins in red wine less and less, even worse when it comes to bottles of plonk that often accompany barbecued meats. Conventions be damned, I turn to white, rosé and even sangria throughout summer, and when I can’t avoid reds, when serving aged ribeye for example, I’ll play the Merlot card, hail the Sideways generation. As for cheese, let’s not go there, I haven’t served a red in years out of respect for our great Québec cheeses.
According to our hostess, from high-end restaurants to suburban backyards, red meat dishes are declining in popularity. If you’re up with the trends, this summer more of you will be serving fish, poultry, pork and even rabbit. And if you’re looking for a spiffy white wine that doesn’t err on the side of excess alcohol content like too many US wines, here’s a pleasant, versatile choice for your 2015 hipster barbecues. (
For the media presentation, Lesley Chesterman served recipes of her own making, with the help of chef Joanna Notkin. Click below if you’d like to find out how fine dining critics cook at home. (Yep, I too was quite curious.)
Nicoise salad as a starter or main
Chardonnay Clos du Bois, North Coast AVA, California
13.7% alcohol, SAQ Taste Tag: Aromatic and Mellow/LCBO Taste Tag: Full-bodied and Rich
Sold $18 at SAQ (code: 11768568); $15.95 at LCBO (Don’t get me started! Code: 400549)
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