Thursday, 29 April 2010

A lazy Sunday lunch & some Burgundy goat's cheese

I recently came back from a fortnight in Burgundy with a coolbox full of delicious goat’s cheeses from the region and, a day or two after my return, we took advantage of a gorgeous, sunny afternoon for an alfresco tasting.  The children were rushing round the garden, a bottle of rosé was being enjoyed and we were feeling distinctly mellow.

My stash included two goat’s cheeses from Alain Hess’ amazing Fromagerie on Place Carnot in Beaune (see photo of a selection of his cheeses below) and a just-made, fresh goat’s cheese, bought at a fraction of the cost of the other two, from a local fermier, La Chèvrerie des Sources. I stumbled across the latter on the road between Couches and Le Creusot in the Saône-et-Loire whilst whisking my 10-year-old daughter to casualty with a broken finger and couldn’t resist calling in the following day to see what was on offer.
Our wines to match the cheeses were the aforementioned rosé – Vida Nova 2008 - a fruity blend of Syrah and Aragonez, from Cliff Richard’s vineyards in the Algarve.  I found it in Waitrose, intending to serve it with barbecue fayre.  I hadn’t expected it to be good with the goat’s cheeses but the bottle was already open and I was pleasantly surprised.  In addition to cheese, another commodity I’d stocked up on in Burgundy was wine and we  now have plenty of Bouzeron to get through (see previous blog post on the Fête du Bouzeron) so we opened a bottle of André Delorme’s 2008.  Being a crisp, acidic white wine, I had expected the Bouzeron would work well with the goat’s cheese, just as Loire Sauvignon does.

We started our tasting with the round, fermier cheese which was only five days old.  Lemony, light and acidic, it was an unusual, refreshing cheeseboard option and would be a great addition to a salad of spring vegetables – broad beans, asparagus and freshly-podded peas.  It worked tolerably with the Bouzeron but was far better with the rosé, the fruitiness being a wonderful contrast to the young cheese. Next up was a Vézelay, from the town of the same name in the Yonne.  This was obviously older than the first cheese and denser. Smooth and creamy, there was not a hint of citrus yet it, too, preferred the rosé wine.    Finally , we tried a lusciously creamy cheese called Le Cosne which disappeared fairly quickly, being my husband’s favourite.  It went extremely well with the Bouzeron but the flavour of the rosé was completely lost on it.  
One thing this rather pleasant tasting has taught me is that I should definitely try rosé wine and goat's cheese again and I imagine, giving our findings, that other mild, creamy cheeses would work too. Next time I’m in Burgundy, I plan to investigate the cow’s milk cheeses of the area: Ami du Chambertin, Epoisses, Soumaintrain and Saint Felicien to name just a few.  Don't be surprised to hear that I'm already thinking about the wine matches.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

La Fête du Bouzeron et du Persillé de Bourgogne

Finding myself in Burgundy on a sunny, Sunday April morning with two children aged seven and ten in tow, the obvious event to attend was a wine festival.  Not in their minds perhaps but I had done my fair share of kiddy activities by that stage in the week and a wine festival it was to be despite the chants of “Oh no, Mummy, not more wine”.

Bouzeron is located at the northerly edge of the Côte Chalonnaise and  is something of an oddity being an AOC solely for white wines from the Aligoté grape, the rest of the region focusing on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Acknowledged as the best area in Burgundy for Aligoté wines, Bouzeron Aligoté has its own AOC – Aligoté from other areas must be labelled Bourgogne Aligoté.  Bouzeron Aligoté, as translated from the Fête programme, is ‘a wine of Spring which is fruity, aromatic and minerally on the nose.  The palate displays further the roundness and suppleness of the Golden Aligoté’, the last point referring to the name of the vines here – Aligoté Dorée.  Clearly the poor relation to Chardonnay in this part of the world, I find Bouzeron Aligoté a great, refreshing (if rather racy at times) wine for summer and it pairs superbly with seafood and soft cheeses (more on that in my next blog post on Burgundy goat’s cheese).

Sunday, April 11th was the occasion of the 11th annual Fête du Bouzeron et du Persillé de Bourgogne (a ham terrine in a white wine jelly made with Bouzeron wine).  We turned up at midday, after a visit to the very lively market in nearby Chagny, and the festival was well underway.  The attractive programme advertised a ticket for €7 which included six tasting samples (of Jambon Persillé or wine, the choice being from white and red Bourgogne, Bouzeron Aligoté and the sparkling Crémant de Bourgogne).  Eschewing the chance to taste more Crémant (I had stocked up on Jean-Claude Breliere’s Crémant earlier in the week in Rully), I plumped for a sample of Jambon Persillé (delicious and stunning with the Aligoté),  four Bouzerons (from Domaines de Villaine, Jacquesson, Chanzy, and Delorme) and a white Bourgogne (Clos de la Fortune) also from Domaine Chanzy which I had read about in a recently purchased book: Food-Wine-Burgundy by David Downie (The Terroir Guides).  The book also recommends the Bouzeron from my local cave in Mazenay – Marinot-Vernay.  I was less taken with their example of Bouzeron although their white Bourgogne is delightful.

All the wines open for tasting at the festival were on sale back at the car park for €7 a bottle but, perhaps unsurprisingly, when I returned to place my order, my top three Bouzerons were already sold out – Domaines Chanzy, de Villaine (co-owners of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) and Jacquesson.  I did, however, stumble across a Chanzy Bouzeron in the Leclerc supermarket in Beaune but next year I shall be sure to be at the festival early so as to secure the best wines.  As for the Persillé de Bourgogne, I found a recipe in Elizabeth David’s ‘A book of Mediterranean Food’ (oddly) but as it involves calf’s feet and much soaking of hams, I am researching other recipes and I shall soon be giving it a try.

To buy Bouzeron Aligoté in the UK, try Lay & Wheeler and Winedirect.