Last week was a bit of a downer I’ve got to say. You know these weeks when every day is a Monday, you keep hitting barriers whatever it is you are trying to achieve, the weather is moody, sad news here and there…ok, maybe not that bad but basically when you get to Friday, you pull a big sigh, breath it back in and you decide to have a brighter outlook, that the weekend will decisively be great and starting with tonight’s dinner, it will make up for it all !
I have recently been offered a bottle of Graves 2007 from Chateau des Gravieres and I know for a fact it’s one of my friend’s favourite wines of the moment as he keeps recommending it to everyone. I specifically received the order to make this bottle proud so it was forever destined to be opened for a good meal.
A word or two on Bordeaux wines just so we can understand the choice of dish. First let me say that for reasons going beyond style and taste, I am not a big fan of Bordeaux wines. I don’t really want to get into details here as this would the subject of a completely separate issue so let’s leave it at that for now. They are, however, wines that undisputably have the potential to show great flavour and complexity and they famously need some ageing to reach their full potential. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are Bordeaux’s two trademark grape varieties and are well suited to a bit (and often more than a bit) of oak ageing which defines the world renown Bordeaux style. This Graves from Chateau des Gravieres definitely is a fine example. Merlot dominates to the extent of 80% and Cabernet-Sauvignon makes up the rest. Looking up a recent vintage chart, it tells me that 2007 red Bordeaux is good for drinking now. Juicy black fruit (cherry and currant) with soft and subtle smoky and vanilla undertones bound together by the tannins which bring strength and tightness.
So in this case, it was definitely about finding the dish to match the wine. There are plenty of websites out there that will suggests dishes to match a wine or vice versa but I knew I wanted something beefy and saucy so I ended up making an Estouffade of beef, which is nothing more than a beef stew cooked in wine, stock and herbs with carrots, onions, mushrooms and lardons. Not a million miles from a Beef Bourguigon where the wine used is…..a burgundy red.
Whilst making it I thought this dish would work wonders in a slow cooker but sometimes you don’t quite have 8 hours in front of you and in my family we’ve always used pressure cookers with reasonable success. After 45 minutes in the pot, the meat was super soft but not quite melting which is what I was after, I like a bit of a bite. And by sieving the vegs from the sauce, I had a cracking gravy, ready to serve. A couple of boiled spuds to soak it up and off you go.
The Graves and beef stew both made a lovely combination, the meat and sauce softening the tannins to bring up a bit more of the plump fruits without compromising the flavours of the stew. Job done 🙂