By Chef Gene Gonzalez
I am always impressed by the wine socials that JP Santamarina, Mike Sanvictores, and Isay Miranda organize. This time, it was a dinner held at Raging Bull of Shangri-la at The Fort and what better way to hold a pairing of a Grand Cru Classe of St. Julien but to partner it with steaks that carry the details of their provenance much like Chateau de Beychevelle? This winery from the Saint Julien appellation of Bordeaux was classified as one of the 10 Quatriene Crus (Fourth Growths) with historic 1855 Official Bordeaux Wine Classification.
While waiting to be seated, we had a pouring of Grand Bateau Blanc 2014, which was the entry level wine of Beychevelle. The white wine was contemplative, rather shy though showing off its oily, viscous texture on the palate. Perhaps another year, this wine would show off its pear, green mango, green plum, and kiwi character more, as its fruitiness would he derived from its Sauvignon Blanc make. Though paired off with oxtail croquettes and smoked beef jerky and was a pleasant aperitif, I would have preferred this with the Grand Bateau Range, a spicy red reminiscent of red cherries, red plums, and cranberries which was served with a mousse of chicken liver, apple chutney, thyme bread, and Serrano ham as first course. Pairing this off with some of my leftover white that I had brought to our table surely brought out the richness of the pate while its acid structure countered the fat and richness of chicken liver and Serrano ham. I had a fun time though going back to the Grand Bateau Rouge 2012, as it eventually had opened up in the glass and acquired a pleasant moka character.
For the duck confit served with a braised cabbage cooked with sweet and spices, pickled pear was a pouring of Amiral de Beychevelle 2013, the second wine of Chateau Beychevelle. The spicy, firmness and ready drinking character that worked well with crispy skin and tender juicy duck leg flesh as it was pulled firmly by my fork and knife. The Amiral eventually through the meal became the crowd favorite as it was a ready drinking and seemed to easily open up on the glass. I did keep some for the next course of pedigreed steaks. The Amiral de Beychevelle brought out the grilled and smoky characters of the meat on the next course.
The main course entitled “Chopping Blade” had three steaks. Tenderloin cape grim (grassfed) from Tasmania, Striploin John Stone 49 days-aged Ratihmpre Darling Downs Wagyu MSS + grassfed from Queensland. A pouring of Chateau Beychevelle 2014 and Chateau Beychevelle 2008 went with this platter accompanied by grilled mushrooms, asparagus, and potato topped with a gratin of gruyere cheese. The two wines were almost detectably different in style as the 2008 represents a rustic traditional St. Julien with tart and green leafy character. Fruits of red cranberry and dark cassis and coffee combined with the earthy, raw chocolate flavors. I had thought that this went really well with the 49-day-aged John Stone Striploin especially combining its nutty tasting fat and meat near the toasted fat rim.
The 2014 Chateau Beychevelle showed off a fresher approach revealing its new winemaker will spice, menthol, and cola character mixing with very ripe red fruit. (This later opened into moka character…) This wine paired with the more subtle grass-fed Darling Downs Wagyu MS 5 from Queensland that was good hallmarkof tenderness without going off the character of a true steak by being limp in textures.
Dinner ended with a Valhorna Caraibe a crispy wafer lined with chocolate cremeux, berries, and a subtle sprinkling of caraway, basil, and sea salt.
Staying a while after dinner, one becomes privy to other surprises such as the Secret de Gran Bateau they opened. This was another entry level wine that proved the good terroir of Beychevelle its propensity for making good wine. The white was had complex traits of minerals, steel, citrus, and stonefruit with a floral, creamy almost custard like aroma.
Then again, I was glad to have taken a private taxi home as it seems the wines poured in seconds and thirds were too drinkable to say no to.
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