Friday, July 4, 2008

Expecting The Unexpected

Ever since my childhood, I have had a love/hate relationship with July 4th firework displays. The roman candles made me "ooh" but the cherry bombs that follow dampened the overall enjoyment.

This year, we chose to make a simple meal with unexpected ingredients and serve it with a white wine from a producer who is known as the "King of Beaujolais".

We paired shrimp with scallions, garlic, roasted red peppers and topped it with feta cheese. For a side dish, we made couscous with tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions and lemon juice. The wine was a NV Cuvee Blanc from Duboeuf. The label told us to expect a dry wine with hints of white flowers, hazelnuts and honey. There was more grapefruit (from the Sauvignon Blanc) in this blend than honey.

In the 1950's Georges Duboeuf began selling wine from his home in the Maconnais, just north of Beaujolais. Beaujolais occupies an area 30 miles long and 8 miles wide in the southernmost part of Burgundy with Macon to the north and the Rhone to the south. Lyon, the third largest city in France after Paris and Marseilles, is a half hour south. Beaujolais is very hilly and its latitude is similar to that of Portland, Oregon. One third of the area (55,000 acres) is covered by vineyards with the granite soil in the northern vineyards that give aromas of ripe fruit and faded roses. The clay soil in the south impart aromas that remind many of red fruits. 98% of the vineyards are planted in Gamay with 2% in Chardonnay, which is used in the small production of Beaujolais Blanc.

Today Duboeuf sells Macon-Villages, Saint-Veran and his first wine- Pouilly Fuisse. From the Cotes du Rhone (northern Rhone just south of Lyon to the southern Rhone near Avignon) come the Cotes du Rhone red and white, Cote Rotie, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Gigondas, Saint Joseph, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cotes du Ventoux, Cotes du Luberon and Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise.

His grape varieties including Merlot, Syrah, Viognier, Gamay and Sauvignon Blanc that come from the Vin de Pays D'Oc in south-central France, on the Mediterranean, the largest wine region in the world. His Loire wines come from Vin De Pay Du Jardin De La France and finally there are the Georges Duboeuf Cuvee red and white table wines.

Georges has organized his wines into several categories, including the flower Label which is blended from co-ops and growers including Beaujolais, the Crus, Macon and the classic varieties. The Prestige Label is from the oldest vineyards, with the best plant exposure and limited yields whose wines include: Julienas, Brouilly, Morgan, Fleurie, Moulin-A-Vent, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pouilly Fuisse.

Whether sipping a chilled glass before dinner or with some Mediterranean cuisine, try something unexpected, like the Cuvee Blanc.