Another year, another Beaujolais luncheon, another boast that the current crop is the best in years. "You get a vintage like this every century. Last one as good was 1947," insisted winemaker Stéphane Queralt. I didn't want to say this to Stéphane, but in spite of a positive spin on the 2008 vintage, guests at last year's gathering were grumbling that it would best be used for cooking. Then he added, "And this time we really mean it," and you could tell that this time he really meant it. But how does it differ from, say, last year's batch?
He notes that getting so deep a color "after only between four and five days maturation is special." The nose "is complex", and the tannins, which this Beaujolais has in abundance, "are very very soft, like velvet or silk." It is "comfortable", "refreshing", and, most pertinently according to Mr. Queralt, "after finishing a glass you feel as though you want another glass. That's a good point for wine."
This year's theme, Rootstock: Peace, Love, & Beaujolais, meant VW hippie vans filled with recreated hippies accompanied the ritual Biker Chef brigade that arrived to fanfare at Au Pied de Cochon in South Beach (Sean Bernal, Oceanaire Seafood Room; Sean Brasel and Mickey Deshane, Meat Market; Stéphane Hainaut, Barton G The Restaurant; Carla and Luis Lopez, Soyka; Bruno Macazaga and Mustafa Filiz, Villagrande Club at Porto Vita; Kieran Masek, ONE Group-STK; Gerdy Rodriguez, MIA at Biscayne). Belkys Nerey was there too, but she didn't arrive by motorcycle or hippie van. It just occurred to me that I have been living in Miami for a long time -- I spelled Belkys Nerey properly without having to look it up.
The gathered guests enjoyed a sampling of canapes outdoors, with choice
of various Georges Duboeuf wines. We especially liked a full, fruity,
golden green Pouily-Fuissé 2007. I should mention that this was the
first media dinner I have yet been to, wine-based or otherwise, that
featured a prolonged Grateful Dead set played over the speakers.
Pied's executive chef Didier Lailheugue orchestrated a great lunch, and
service was impeccable -- much better than it usually is at these sorts
of things. There were menu choices, and ours, to start, was a smooth,
country pâté with aged balsamic-onion marmalade matched with 2008
Georges Duboeuf Mâcon-Villages. Roasted rack of lamb was luscious,
pommes frites crisp, Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2009 clean, aromatic,
soft tannins, softer black cherry/blackberry notes. Chelsea Morning played in
the background. I asked Stephane what he thought might be the ideal
pairing for this Beaujolais-Villages. "The most important thing is to
enjoy it with quality people, like your friends and family." I was
hoping he'd give me the name of a specific cheese or something, but you
can't argue with his reasoning.
There were other praiseworthy comestibles and wines, but the important
points to take away from this post are that this year's Georges Duboeuf
Beaujolais is truly better than it has been in a long time, that it
makes for a pleasant seasonal sip during the holiday season --
especially when you live in a place where holiday season implies
frolicking under a hot sun -- and that restaurants really ought to
consider playing more Joni Mitchell.
From now through November 25th, the following South Beach restaurants
will be serving as drop-off points for nonperishable food items as part
of Feeding South Florida's food drive: Au Pied du Cochon at 81
Washington Ave.; Café de Arts at 1360 Collins Ave.; Casanova Suites at
524 Ocean Dr.; and Clarke's at 84 1st St.. For virtual donations, go here. Or you can call 212-620-7027.