Day 3 (at Sea): “Forever French” Wine and Food Pairing

22 September 2021

Our day at sea, yes there was only one sea day on this cruise, started with a late wake up (thank goodness) and then a long work out at the ship gym.  I know it was only the third day in, but I was already feeling the calories rack up and I definitely didn’t want to skimp on the next week and a half of this adventure!  Truth be told, I was also feeling a wee bit of the Catholic guilt…Which brings many layers of confusion because I am also of Jewish descent… but THAT’s another story, for another post.  So yeah, I hit the gym.  I won’t bore you with those details, because honestly it bores me to think about it.  Moving on to the fun parts of our sea day!

The afternoon was all about wine and food pairings.  Neill and Sofia (hereafter known as the honeymooners) had lined up an awesome tasting at Jacques.  Jacques is the French specialty restaurant onboard the Cruise Ship Marina.  First off, Jacques is tucked away in an area I wouldn’t have even thought to look for a specialty restaurant.  The space is truly stunning with incredible crystal chandeliers and today it was set up for a very small group tasting of French wines with food pairings.  We were greeted with a “welcome” glass of French champagne.  The perfect way to begin the next leg of our voyage along the French coastline!

From left to right:  Crab & Fruit Tartlet, chicken-FoieGras Ballotine w/ celery & Pistachio Mousseline, Beet & Goat cheese napoleon w/ champagne/Truffle vinaigrette, Cheese Profiterole, and Beef Tartare w/ toasted baguette.

Unfortunately, I was so excited about the welcome champagne, I forgot to take note of what it was!  Sorry about that. 

First up, we were presented with Le Domaine Saget Pouilly-Fume’ from Loire Valley, France.  This was a Sauvignon Blanc for Sauvignon lovers.  For me, this wine had a minerality mouth feel and citrusy flavors.  Again, “for me” mouth feel is a big deal.  People who know me, know that I don’t like drinks that are high in sugar content because it makes my mouth and teeth “feel” weird.  It’s not that I don’t like the flavor of sugar, I don’t like the “mouth feel” of it.  This is important to note as I go through tastings, because if you like sugar or sweetness, then we will likely have a difference of opinion.  And as most of us know, opinions, as with tastings, are very personal.  Back to the Pouilly-Fume… I like it.  It is slightly tart with a very balanced…slight hint of citrus.  The flavors were really teased out with the food pairing of a Crab and Grapefruit tartlet.  The saltiness of the crab salad and pop of citrus with the grapefruit piece was an absolutely perfect match for this wine. Price point for this lovely wine is around $69.  A little pricey for my average, every day drinking on the porch, but I would shell out for a special occasion at home.   I was just getting warmed up and ready for more!

We were greeted with our next tasting, an offering from Louis Jadot Meursault, Cote De Beaune (2017) from Burgundy, France.  This was basically a chardonnay.  Somewhat oaky and is recommended to serve NOT chilled.  I don’t know about you, but I do like my white wines chilled.  Probably because I’m not a connoisseur, but I do know what I like.  The backstory to this particular offering was fairly fascinating and my big take away was that Thomas Jefferson enjoyed this wine so much, that during his French ambassadorship in 1778 he bought an entire year’s crop!  Either wine was cheap back then, or he was making a fair living as a politician?  The wine was a little flat in my mouth and had it not been for the Chicken-Foie Gras pairing, it wouldn’t have been that remarkable.  However, that Foie gras…UM!  I let out an audible gasp of enjoyment, so much so, my travel mate (and new Father-in-Law to my Stepson) offered me their serving.  I am sure they wanted to relive that moan of enjoyment!  I can’t help it.  I really enjoy a good liver.  And no, they didn’t have a nice Chianti! LOL!  We were told this bottle could fetch about $110.  Not really my style but throw a good piece of liver in there and I might be tempted to pop for a bottle!

Next up, and tasting number 3, was Louis Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin, also from Burgundy, France.  This is a pinot noir and a very sought-after grape in Burgundy.  This grape is over 1,000 years old than cabernet sauvignon.  It is noted in the tasting brochure that “…two of the greatest men known to civilization have spoken about the wines of Gevrey-Chambertin:  Napoleon Bonaparte, “Nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin,” and King Louis XIV the Great: “There is no equal to Chambertin.”  This was paired with the Beet and Goat Cheese Napoleon and OH MY GOD, was absolutely delicious!  The wine immediately burst on to my palette with very mineral flavors and a hint of blood.  It was full of deep red fruit flavors.  Cherry, raspberry…oh and maybe a hint of earth?  Is that a note of leather and maybe tobacco? Those tannins punch you in the face but carry a nice long finish. A bite of beet and cheese, then a sip of wine.  I was on flavor overload!  I just wanted to savor this one and it was time to move on to the next taste.  Price point on this is about $115 a bottle and I would definitely buy this one.  In fact, as soon as I have cell service again, I am definitely hitting up google!  Okay, on to the next one.

Taste number 4 brings us to Chateau Mont-Redon Chateauneuf-Du-Pape from Rhone Valley, France.  This is a blend of grenache, syrah, and mourvedre.  I don’t know how, but this tasting just got elevated another notch and after that last taste, I wasn’t sure if that could happen!  A nose of fig jam, slightly enhanced with a spicy note, reminiscent of black or maybe green peppercorn.  This was very well structured in the mouth with nice punch of tannin.  Elegantly paired with the Cheese Profiterole (cheese puff), just fabulous.  They said this one runs about $92 a bottle.  I would probably purchase this as a gift for someone else because I would be too busy basking in the mouth-gasm of the Gevry-Chambertin (G-C).   It will be tough to top the G-C.

Domaine De Chevalier Grand Cru Classe De Graves (2014)

Last but not least brings us to Domaine De Chevalier Grand Cru Classe De Graves (2014) which hails from Bordeaux, France.  Mother of God, I just can’t.  The French have a very slow, methodical way about them.  It’s like they savor every word, every breathe, every moment and this truly translates in to this wine.  This wine is the lovemaking of the foreplay from the previous wines and really brings your wine tasting senses to a home finish.  What can I say, other than sign me up!  Oh wait, this isn’t for a wine club?  So let me say this, I love a good wine.  And I have had some great wines.  But this far surpasses what I have had.  It’s like I’ve never even had a good glass before this taste, and I always thought blends were so blah.  Going through my notes page (yes, I take notes when I taste), I have a smiley face drawn and three exclamation marks with the ditto (…) sign.  Then the simple note, “buy this when home.  NEED this.”  And then the pairing with the steak tartare… and I’m done.  My mouth, my senses are just way overwhelmed with complete and utter delight at this point.  Price point on this was stated as $165 and I really don’t care.  I would buy this for myself and hide it from my husband (sorry Jake).  But seriously, it’s that beautiful.  Actually, I would be willing to share if someone would bring the steak tartare!

A HUGE shoutout and thank you to the Honeymooners (Neill and Sofia) for booking this tasting!  I’m not sure we would have done it for ourselves and truly, this was an experience to remember. 

To sum it up, DO the tastings.  If you have an opportunity to check out some new wines, go out of your comfort zone and DO IT.  Take notes, savor the moments, look around and observe how other people are reacting.  Live life and drink wine.  You won’t regret it!

Published by Analiese Kennedy

Ecology and anything outdoors is my Jam! We love exploring new places and connecting with others over a good meal and wine.

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