Thursday, September 08, 2005

Chateau Fort de Roquetaillade Graves 2004

Tonight I prepared my first dish from Paula Wolfert's amazing cookbook, the Cooking of South-West France. First published in 1983, Paula's book will likely become one of my favorites, with its recipes for boudin noir, daube of oxtail, and cassoulet. As an initial attempt, I tried her Basque-inspired recipe for pork braised in milk. A boneless center loin of pork is slowly cooked in milk, seasoned with leeks, onions, and carrots. It is served thinly sliced with the reduced cooking liquid. As I side dish, I prepared Thomas Keller's fancy version of a ratatouille, with squash, zucchinie, and tomatoes over onions and bell peppers. While the pork was a touch on the dry side, it was perked up immensely by the sauce and nicely balanced by the rich vegetables.

Paula recommended a white Graves to match the dish, and we just happened to have one chilling in the cellar (actually I chose the dish knowing that we had a bottle of Graves). Graves is a small region in southeast Bordeaux that gets its name from its gravely soil. While the red wines of this region are some of the biggest names in Bordeaux, many of the whites are overlooked. The whites are made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, and they tend to be drier and more minerally than their cousins from the Loire, California, or New Zealand.

Tonight's Roquetaillade was a characteristic example, offering notes of citrus and white peach, backed by an acidic, minerally core. As Stephanie mentioned, the fruit was in perfect balance with the acidity, making for a delightful sipping wine and one that worked especially well with our dinner. Like many of the great white wines of France (from Burgundy, Alsace, or the Loire), those from Bordeaux are capable of aging nicely. And for less than $15, this is one that could be stashed away pretty easily.

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