Monday, September 10, 2007

Sunday dinner's good surprise: Vieux Telegraphe, La Crau, 2003

Vieux Telegraphe

Every time my friend Bertrand joins us for dinner, he brings over a good bottle of wine. But Bertrand and I share the same weakness (and I'm not talking about wine here): we are both kind of last-minute guys. I usually make a decision about what to cook a couple of hours before dinner. He usually buys the above-mentioned and, more often than not expansive, bottle only a few minutes before taking the cab heading to my place. Since he has no idea of what we are going to eat and he must cope with the urgency of making a selection in a wine shop he does not know, this often results in very surprising food / wine pairings.

Yesterday was not an exception to this rule. I had planned to cook seabass with braised fennel (without telling Bertrand obviously). When he showed up and handed me the black plastic bag that contained the bottle, I knew I was in for a surprise. And a surprise it was: Vieux Telegraphe rouge 2003. The pairing with the upcoming dinner was far from obvious. But, as a native from Valence (France not Spain), I'm fond of Rhone wines and decided that we would drink it that night no matter what.

Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe
was founded in the 20's and is still owned by the same family : the Bruniers. The vineyards are located on the Plateau de la Crau (which looks like a stone field) next to Chateauneuf-du-Pape. As a typical Southern red Rhone, the blend is mainly made of Grenache Noir (65%) but also contains Mourvedre (15%), Syrah (15%) and Cinsault / other varieties for the remainder. The wine is imported in the US by Kermit Lynch who provides a unique insight on this domaine in his wonderful Adventures on the Wine Route.

But let's get back to our bottle. Like all his fellows red Chateauneufs, Vieux Telegraphe 2003 is a full-bodied, powerful wine high in alcohol. It boasts a beautiful ruby-colored robe, ripe plum / cherry aromas and a long fruity finish. Although it was still a little too young, as evidenced by its rugged tannins, we all really liked this wine. And after all, seabass and red Rhone did not form such an odd couple. By the way, I should have known that since the paupiette of black sea bass with a Syrah sauce served at Daniel had been such a revelation the first time I had it.

Just so you know, we have just finished the bottle tonight with a chickpea salad, canned sardines and Saint Nectaire cheese. I already hear some people say: too simple a food for such a wine. To me, it just tasted like home.

N.B.: recipes mentioned in this post will be published subsequently.

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