February 25, 2016
Bonjour Mes Amis,
On a recent trip to Paris, my sister and I spent a brisk afternoon wandering around the 16th arrondissement. As evening rolled around and the air grew more crisp, the growling of my stomach told me it was time to find dinner. We hurried into the first inviting bistro we could find. To my delight we found Magret de Canard on the menu. The rich, tender duck breast, paired with a glass of red wine, seemed the perfect meal to warm us up and end our evening. I plan on recreating this succulent dish very soon with magret from the Paris Grocery.
Moulard Duck Breast (Magret) $25.99/lb
Magret is duck breast that comes from the Moulard breed of duck. It is commonly used in France, and is what you might find on a French menu. It is thicker, beefier, and richer than other breeds, and can be prepared grilled, seared, or roasted.
Duck Breast with Cherries (Magret de Canard aux Cerises)
From The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan $50
Serves 2 or 3
8 ounces Cherries, pitted
1 cup Fruity Red Wine
2 Tablespoons Red Currant Jelly
1/3 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 Garlic Cloves
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
3 Tablespoons Butter, cut into cubes
2 Duck Magrets (about 12 ounces total)
Salt and Pepper
Arugula Leaves, for serving
Put the cherries in a small saucepan with the wine and red currant jelly and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cherries are just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Set the pan aside. Trim excess fat from the magrets, then crosshatch the skin, cutting down almost to the meat so fat can escape; sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
Heat a heavy-based, dry frying pan over medium heat, add the magrets skin side down, and fry until the skin is very brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes or longer if necessary, to extract as much fat as possible. Turn and brown the other side, 2 to 3 minutes. Test a magret by poking the center with the point of a knife to see the color of the meat; if it is too rare for your taste, continue cooking 1 to 2 minutes, but remember it will be very tough if overcooked. When done, set the magrets aside on a chopping board, skin side up. Cover them loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Discard excess fat from the pan, add the vinegar, and boil until reduced to about a tablespoon, stirring to dissolve pan juices. Whisk in the garlic and tomato paste. Pour in the wine from the cherries, keeping back the cherries with a pan lid. Boil until the wine is slightly syrupy and reduced by more than half, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cherries and heat them gently. Take the pan from the heat and stir in the cold butter, piece by piece. Taste, adjust seasoning of the sauce, and set it aside.
Carve the magrets on the diagonal in thin slices. (You can discard the crisp skin if you must, but what a pity!) Pile a mound of arugula leaves at the side of two serving plates. Arrange the duck slices overlapping on the plates, add the cherries, and spoon the sauce on top. Serve at once.
Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhone Superstar!
There are few more storied wine regions in the world than Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and one that we are more than pleased to highlight. This iconic appellation is situated in the Southern Rhone and has been officially designated as such, since 1936. The Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation includes the adjacent villages or communes of Orange, Courthezon, Bedarrides, and Sourges, which simply means that wines from vineyards located in these communes can, legally, label their wines as Chateauneuf-du-Pape. While there are vineyards, lieu-dits, that are justifiably famous (e.g., La Crau), most lying within the borders of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, wines from these neighboring villages can frequently be the equal or even superior to wines from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, itself.
As in other wine regions, producers make wines in a broad range of styles, mostly made from Grenache and Syrah, with lesser amounts of Mourvedre, often also included. Those aiming to make wines that are accessible, designed for immediate drinking, possess easy to understand red/black fruit aromas that are appeallingly jammy, while producers aiming for fuller-bodied, classically made Châteauneuf du Pape produce wines with a vast array of aromatics, ranging from black cherries/currants and blueberries, to roasted herbs, the noted Provençal garrigue aroma (an earthy, herbes de Provencearomatic concoction), to overripe peaches and raspberry jam. Additionally, there are acknowledged stylistic differences that fall within traditional/modern/progressive categories, with traditional producers creating wines that are markedly earthier than those at the modern/progressive end of the spectrum who favor a more concentrated, fruit-forward, international style of wine.
Chateauneuf-du-Pape has been blessed with a long run of outstanding vintages, most notably, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2010, and 2012, all rated in the mid-to-high 90s—outstanding to extraordinary—by The Wine Advocate. Happily, there is a broad price range from which to choose; don’t hesitate to try wines from this magisterial wine region. Here are some of our favorites:
Domaine de la Janasse Chateauneuf-du-Pape ‘Vieilles Vignes’ 2012 $120.00
Up in the top handful of wines in the vintage (which should come as no surprise to anyone who follows this estate), the 2012 Châteauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes is a full-bodied, beautifully concentrated, rich and layered Châteauneuf that doesn’t put a foot wrong. Made from 85% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre and the rest Syrah, it offers blockbuster notes of blackberry, liquid-violets, spice and serious minerality to go with awesome mid-palate depth and layers of sweet tannin. Like the Cuvee Chaupin, it will be better in another handful of years and thrill through 2027.
96 Points, The Wine Advocate
Domaine de la Mordorée Chateauneuf-du-Pape ‘La Reine du Bois’ 2011 $110.99
“The 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee de La Reine des Bois is gorgeous in the vintage, with an up-front, perfume and sexy style. Violets, potpourri, spring flowers and sweet fruit give way to a full-bodied, pure, concentrated and balanced Chateauneuf that can be consumed anytime over the coming decade or more.”
93 points, The Wine Advocate.
Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012 $70.00
“A classic wine from this estate, the 2012 Châteauneuf du Pape has beautiful kirsch, roasted meat, ground pepper and assorted wild herbs and lavender aromatics, medium to full-bodied richness, and a tight, structured and nicely concentrated palate. Give it 2-3 years and enjoy bottles through 2024.”
92 Points, The Wine Advocate
Saint Cosme Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2011 $50.00
“Loaded with Provencal character, it has tons of garrigue, licorice, ground pepper and sweet dark fruit, full-bodied richness and a sexy, seamless profile. I don’t think it will be the longest lived Chateauneuf du Pape out there, but it will dish out plenty of pleasure over the coming 7-8 years at least.”
92 Points, The Wine Advocate
Domaine Grand Veneur Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012 $45.00
“The classic Châteauneuf du Pape has beautiful purity and elegance in its sweet black cherry, black raspberry, licorice and toasted-spice aromas and flavors. Medium to full-bodied, perfectly balanced and ripe, with good acidity and tannin, it can be consumed anytime over the coming decade.”
91 Points, The Wine Advocate
Domaine Porte Rouge Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012 $38.00
“Charming and sweetly fruited, the pleasure-bent 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape delivers plenty of kirsch and berry fruit, spice and licorice notes as well as a medium-bodied, supple and pure feel on the palate. It will be a crowd-pleaser and dish out plenty of pleasure over the coming 4-6 years or so. Drink now-2020.”
89 Points, The Wine Advocate
Kelsey & Manuel