Loire Wine Dinner in Raleigh - Printable Version

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- wondersofwine - 02-20-2006 05:43 PM

As part of Triangle Wine Experience I attended a wine dinner at St. Jacques Restaurant with Loire and Champagne wines imported by John David Headrick. He is based in Chapel Hill and works with 22 small wineries, hand-picked grapes, artisanal and with biodynamic methods.
With an amuse bouche we were served Champagne in flutes, from Bruno Michel, one of the 2% of Champagnes where the grape grower bottles it himself (mostly large Champagne houses that source grapes from many different growers). Pleasant with a steady, delicate mousse.

2002 Les Genets Savennieres from Damien Laureau with salmon filet with mousse of asparagus, puff of fennel, red pepper coulis and pesto. The wine was a very dry Chenin Blanc of medium-gold color. Savennieres is a district of 250 acres with nine winemakers, seven of whom live in castles. Damien Laureau lives in the old horse stables of one of the castles and farms five hectares of prime land from his uncle. He is the youngest winemaker in Savennieres. The minerality of the wine is owing to the schist (slate) rock which distinguishes the terroir of Savennieres. It's also a low-yiedling terrain. To me the Les Genets tasted somewhat oaky so I asked if the wine was aged in wood. John David said that 80% is aged in tanks and only 20% in wood. I felt it leaned a little toward butterscotch in the flavor but it was not my type of wine.

Before the discussion of the next wine I assumed it to be Pinot Noir but was unsure of the region. It turned out to be from La Vende' where the Loire River dumps into the ocean. It was a 2002 Domaine St Nicolas Cuvee Jacques (and was Pinot Noir) Dark crimson color. Nose of dark berries and cherries with some earth or sous bois--slightly funky. The taste follows the nose with a little funk but nicely so. I liked it but wasn't as enthused about it as three others at my table. The vines for this wine are raised on a biodynamic property and the producer uses massive oak casks. This was served with a guinea fowl fricasee (like a stew) with braised meat, meat stock, cream, peas and some wine contributing to the sauce.
Hard-boiled egg and olive tapenade accompanied the fricasee.

A grapefruit sorbet served as palate cleanser before the next course.

I was correct in judging the next wine to be a Cabernet Franc from Chinon. I didn't get a look at the label but it was possibly Jerome Villard (last name may be off). Dark crimson color. Pronouced raspberry fragrance. Raspberry taste--a bit tart. It was paired with a really delicious dobre of braised wild boar with potato gratin.

Dessert was a strawberry clafloutis--caramelized strawberries, pastry and lightly flavored thyme ice cream that seemed more like a creme anglais. So yummy but quite rich and I was unable to finish it with all the other food we had consumed.

Dessert wine was a sweet Chenin Blanc from Vouvray region--from Domaine de Viking. The blond-haired producer is nicknamed The Viking. Labeled as sec tendre--off dry. Aged in chestnut barrels. I bought a bottle of this for later pickup and will report on it with more detail after I open my bottle. On the nose I detected peachy notes and on the palate stone fruit with some sweetness. It was my favorite wine of the evening.

- Thomas - 02-20-2006 06:34 PM

Sounds like a good time to me.

WOW--small chance I will be in your area end of March. I will let you know if it comes to pass.

[This message has been edited by foodie (edited 02-20-2006).]

- TheEngineer - 02-20-2006 09:02 PM

Thanks for the notes, sounded like a good night!

- wondersofwine - 02-21-2006 11:11 AM

Okay, Foodie. Possibility I will be in DC area the first weekend in March to see an opera composed by the brother of a friend (being presented at Performing Arts Center on University of Maryland campus). Other than that I should be in North Carolina all March.

- brappy - 02-22-2006 02:38 AM

What a great dinner. Seems like the whole "Triangle" is really growing up as far as restaurants go. I still remember when the Angus Barn was about all there was.

You take excellent notes. My notes seem to fall off as the night progresses. I can almost taste the food. Thanks!


- wondersofwine - 02-22-2006 12:51 PM

Brappy, there is a whole "confrerie" (correct term?) of young chefs gathering in the Triangle area nowadays. Scott Howell at Nana's in Durham has made a name for himself. The Agasis (Sarig and Nancy) came to Raleigh after hearing about Scott. Sarig worked under Scott at Nana's and then opened his own restaurant Butterflies--later closed that and now has Zely and Ritz. Ashley Christiansen also worked with Scott Howell I believe and now is chef at Enoteca Vin and was invited to do a dinner at James Beard House in New York City. She has also consulted on Nana's Chophouse in downtown Raleigh. The owner of St. Jacques was maitre d' at Il Palio in the Sienna Hotel in Chapel Hill before starting his own restaurant. (He does not do the cooking). And so it goes.
And all of the restaurants I've mentioned put a nice emphasis on the wine list as well as the food.

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 02-22-2006).]