Last night, Christophe Bristiel the export manager of Chateau La Nerthe and Thomas Cortez of Pasternak Wine Imports hosted a wine dinner at L'Olivier Restaurant & Bar showcasing their portfolio of wines paired with the culinary masterpieces of Chef Olivier Ciesielski.
As the guests arrived, we were greeted with a glass of 2011 Prieure de Montezargues Tavel Rose . This wine was just released and will be arriving to Houston soon. It is definitely one to add to your list for the summer. A beautiful pale pink in the glass; dry, crisp, refreshing, medium+ body with citrus, berries and cherries.
The first course was 2010 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, a blend of Grenache, Rousanne, Clairette and Bourboulenc, paired with a seafood ceviche. This combination was a fresh citrus explosion of complementary flavors. The presentation with the dry ice added even more magic to the moment.
The next course was the best scallop that I have ever eaten in my life, a North Atlantic pan-seared medium rare jumbo scallop finished in Beluga lentils (I am still scraping the plate clean in my mind). This was paired with the 2009 Clos de Beauvenir Chateauneuf -du-Pape. The grapes (60% Rousanne and 40% Clairette) for this wine are sourced from old vines in a small enclosed vineyard. The wine was rich and round with a full body and it had a honeysuckle/citrus blossom floral character with pear and tropical fruit flavors in a long finish.
For the main course, we were given two different wines, the 2009 Domaine de Renjarde CdR Villages Rouge and the 2010 La Petite Fontaine CdR Rouge. These were served with pork tenderloin slices with a caramel and vinegar gastric and baked potato pastry. The de Renjarde was fantastic with the pork- ripe red fruit, slight candy character with great structure and a long finish. The La Petite Fontaine was tight and tannic with the promise of better times to come.
Next, we were served a cheese plate consisting of baked Roquefort with macerated apricots, figs and pecans and fresh baked brioche with two glasses of Chateau La Nerthe, the 2008 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Rouge (approx. $75) and the 2005 Cuvee des Cadettes (approximately $400 a bottle). My only note on the 2008 was "silky, smoooth". The 2005 was dominated with pronounced aromas of ripe, black fruit with undertones of pepper, nutmeg and chocolate; a well balanced glass of pure deliciousness.
The evening was brought to a close with fresh baked Madeleines (aka a bit of almond heaven in my mind) and something called the Floating Island Dessert. A shot of Gran Marnier over a concoction of caramel, meringue and cream glaze served with cappucino and espresso. Something in this combination of sweet, fluffy, creamy flavors evoked happy child memories of over indulging on Easter morning.
L'Olivier is a fantastic addition to Houston's resturant scene. Each course was so well thought out and perfectly executed by Chef Olivier. The pairings were seamless. Sommelier extraordinaire, James Watkins, was tableside to discuss service temperatures and decanting time. I got to take a peak in the cellar with him to check out his organizational system and the restaurant's amazing collection of wines. In addition to numerous splurge bottlings, they have over 100 wines which are affordably priced at under $65 on their list. I am looking forward to trying out their lunch menu soon. I highly recommend this establishment for their ambiance, quality and service.
Chateau La Nerthe is one of Chateauneuf-du-Pape's oldest estates dating back at least to 1560. They have been certified organic since 1998. Their terroir is typical to the area with the vineyards set on sandy clay slopes layered with the famous galette stones. They grow all fourteen of the permitted grape varieties although 40 year old Grenache vines dominate the vineyard plantings. The quality is unmistakably high. I enjoyed each one of their wines and I will be looking for more out in the Houston market.