All of us are looking forward to sharing the coziness and good food of the festive season, which is also an opportunity to enjoy fine wines and spirits. The Fine Wines & Spirits auction on 15 and 17 December offers a chance to indulge yourself, give beautiful gifts or invest in wines to be kept for ageing. Wine expert Laurie Matheson lets us in on her secrets for the best food-wine pairings.
Did you know that the gastronomic meal of the French has been on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2010? Unique French gastronomy pairs food with wines. In the 19th century, service “à la française” was replaced by service “à la Russe”, where one course follows another, each accompanied by a different wine throughout the meal.
Among the wines we are presenting, we have chosen to highlight a few lots to enjoy with cheeses, especially dry and sweet white wines, which are among the most successful pairings. These combinations are complex due to the different styles of both the cheeses and the wines that can accompany them.
Focus on the Sauternes appellations, dry whites from the Rhône Valley, Switzerland and Savoy
This auction is an opportunity to offer an old vintage of Sauternes, lot 403, the 1990 Château Guiraud, and a very old one, lot 376, a 1934 Château d’Arche Lafaurie. For those who think they do not particularly care for sweet wines, an old vintage is ideal. The sweetness decreases with age. The nut, candied fruit and mild spice aromas become concentrated, resulting in a brilliant burst of flavor on the palate. These wines pair perfectly with foie gras (roasted or in terrine) and cheese (Bleue de Bresse, Roquefort, Stilton, etc.) during winter and the festive season.
For dry whites, we recommend wines from the Rhône Valley, Savoy and Switzerland
Lots 855 and 856—the 2003 or 2011 Hermitage Blanc Jean Louis Chave—are a match made in heaven when it comes to white meats (rabbit and Christmas-fattened hen), fish, shellfish in sauce and scallops as well as soft and smear-ripened cheeses(Langres, Epoisses, Livarot, Vacherin Mont d’Or, Munster, Pont l’Evêque, Soumaintrain and Vieux Lille, for example).
This powerful wine will hold its own and enhance the pairing. So will the wines from lots 1014 and 1015, dry whites by renowned producers off the beaten track: Domaine Belluard in Savoy and Marie Thérèze Chappaz in the Valais, Switzerland.
We recommend prestigious white Burgundies with fish in sauce or seasonal scallops.
We have unearthed some treasures from the Leflaive, Jean François Coche Dury and Raveneau estates. Examples include lot 798, a magnum of 2006 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles, so elegant and versatile that it can accompany an entire meal, or a dozen bottles of Santenay 1er Cru (lots 806 and 807). The 2006 Château de la Maltroye is also impeccable for your meals.
As for red wines, why not treat yourself to a beautiful Bordeaux!
Red Bordeaux wines are always a safe bet, and you don’t need to purchase famous names to enjoy them. They pair perfectly with winter dishes, such as mushrooms, game and meat stews in a sweet/salty, spicy or peppery sauce and caramelized or roasted root vegetables. These wines are delicious after 15 years of ageing.
Once time tames their tannins, they develop forest, prune and dark berry aromas and richness on the palate. Here is a small selection that can be enjoyed without going broke. Forget your troubles with lot 55, the 2004 Château Chasse Spleen; lot 82, a delicious 2002 Clos René Pomerol; lot 115, the 1998 Château Haut Bailly, magnificent cru classé from Pessac Léognan; lot 200, a 2002 Château Lafon Rochet; and lot 231, the 2004 Pagodes de Cos d’Estournel, an elegant, powerful Saint Estèphe.
Or a Grand Cru de Bourgogne
Don’t miss out on the splendid Grands Crus de Ruchottes Chambertin and Charmes Chambertin, among others, which are highly prized by connoisseurs around the world. There are over 200 lots from the greatest estates, including Armand Rousseau, Les Clos des Lambrays, Thibault Liger Belair, Dujac, Dugat Py, Méo Camuzet, Leroy and Jean Jacques Confuron. We offer many lots of bottles sold individually. This is an opportunity to indulge yourself. Some of these wines can be enjoyed now, while others should be stored in the cellar to age further. For those who do not want to break the bank, we recommend lots 497 to 506.
Not to mention red wines from the RhôneValley
Lot 816, a 1998 Château Mont Redon Châteauneuf du Pape, is a lovely wine that can be enjoyed right now. Lot 820, a 2005 or 2013 Domaine Saint Préfert, and lot 822, a Château Maucoil, have the same appellation. They are perfect for meats in flavorful and spicy sauces.
At the end of the sale, we will feature some foreign wines, such as lots 952 to 964. These are delicious Spanish wines, especially Celler del Roure, a very high quality Valencia appellation from a pioneering estate that has rehabilitated indigenous varieties and works as closely as possible to nature, ageing the wine in buried terra cotta jars.
What could be more festive than a Champagne Millésimé to accompany an entire meal?
Around 50 of the lots we are presenting, including 907 and 909, are magnums of 1995 Champagne Bollinger RD and 1996 Grande Année. Vinous and delicious, they pair well with fish and white meats in sauce. Lot 922, a 2000 Champagne Duval Leroy Femme de Champagne, made up of 95% chardonnay, will be more enjoyable with scallops for example.
To beautifully top off your festive meal with a spirit, we recommend lots 456 to 460, Grande Champagne Vieille Réserve Cognacs from A.E. Dor. They are spicy, round and powerful—perfect for ending cozy evenings by the fireside with nuts, candied fruits, chocolates and cigars.
Happy holidays to one and all!