Show of hands: Who knows anything about Ventoux?
OK, who even knows what Ventoux is???
I didn’t, until about 2 hours before dinner, as I sat in the beautifully-large-and-comfortable bathtub in our Shangri-La suite and Googled it.
As my wife says, when it doubt, “always go to the Googles!”
So, rather than tell you in my own words, this except from their Wikipedia page should do the trick.
Ventoux AOC (known as Côtes du Ventoux AOC until 2008) is a wine-growing AOC in the southeastern region of the Rhône wine region of France, where the wines are produced in 51 communes of the Vaucluse département along the lower slopes of the Ventoux mountain and at the foot of the Vaucluse Mountains. The neighbouring appellation of Luberon AOC stretches along its southern border and is separated from it by the Calavon river.
I discovered lots of fun facts about this AOC while reading various articles. Perhaps most interesting, is that they have been a huge beneficiary of Global Warming. Ironic, actually, for a winery that is 100% organic and Bio-Dynamic, but without Global Warming, they would not be able to produce the world-class wines they are producing. Noted wine critic Jancis Robinson was quoted as saying that the reds from this region were “barely wine” when she visited in the 70’s. Now, this up-and-coming AOC is getting high praise from all the major critics.
To give you an idea of how significant the altitude changes are, everyone reading this is probably familiar with Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which makes world renowned red blends, primarily GSM blends (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre). Ventoux, just 50 miles away, didn’t used to get warm enough for their Mourvèdre to fully ripen. They have some 10-year old Mourvèdre plantings that are just starting to round into shape, but the wines we were going to taste tonight did not contain any at all. They have some other red grapes
Attending the dinner tonight was Frédéric Chaudière, who, along with his brother Alexandre, have taken over the day-to-day operations of this winery, Château Pesquié, from their parents, who had taken over operations from THEIR parents in the mid-80’s. He came around to all the tables to talk about his wines and his region, and he was flabbergasted that I knew as much as I did about the region. I confessed that I had this knowledge for all of two hours, which he found amusing. But, hey, knowledge is knowledge, right?
Frédéric pointed out that if we don’t reverse or slow the effects of climate change pretty soon, it’s going to go too far in the other direction, making it difficult to impossible to grow Syrah and Grenache in this region. What a shame that would be.
OK let’s get to the wine and the food, expertly prepared by the Chefs at Chambar Restaurant.
All kinds of things going on in this dish, the star being the deep fried halloumi, which for those of you (like me) who were unfamiliar with it, is a cheese that you can cook and it won’t melt. Really delicious, and the wine was an excellent pair for it. The wine was quite a treat, and I am hoping to be able to get some of these at the onsite BCLC liquor store at the Festival later today.
Crevettes à L’absinthe
Spiced prawns and rosé? Seemingly an odd pair but it worked; at least, the food and wine didn’t get in the way of each other.
As a substitute for my wife, they provided her a beef dish which was cooked very rare, so we had to ask them to cook it a bit more, which they were happy to do. It was delicious, in fact I ate about half of it.
Carpaccio de Betteraves
I do not like beets, generally, but this was the best beet dish I have ever had, and it’s not close. Still, I gave most of mine to the wife, since beets and pistachios are two of her favorite things on the planet. No surprise, she absolutely loved this dish.
The wine pairing was absolutely perfect; this was one of those pairings that elevated the food and the wine. Lovely.
I really enjoyed the risotto, but my wife insisted that my mushroom risotto is better. It’s tough to imagine a better compliment that a home chef could receive.
She’s wrong, though :). She likes mushrooms more than I do and my risotto has a lot more mushrooms in it. This was more restrained, which I enjoyed.
This was another good wine pairing, although pairing a wine like this with mushroom risotto isn’t exactly rocket science.
Tajine D’azia à L’agneau
I hated this dish. Hated hated hated hated it. All I could taste was Cinnamon. It didn’t matter that this was lamb, this could have been beef, chicken, tuna or tofu. It just tasted like cinnamon.
I would have preferred Cayanne. (Inside joke that only a few people will understand but those people are laughing hard right now).
My wife also hated it. The lady sitting next to me hated it. The two girls sitting across from me hated it.
But, apparently, this is one of their signature dishes, and has been on their menu forever. To each their own, I guess. We mentioned this to the waitress who went to the back to taste it and confirm that it was the same as it always is, and she confirmed that it was. Oh well, we had a lot of great food tonight, not everyone is going to like everything.
The wine was terrific, but I can’t comment on the pairing with the dish. Not even 1982 Château Lafitte Rothschild would have helped THAT dish.
Chèvre et Orange Sanguine
This was a lovely way to end the evening, and I was particularly impressed with the basil sorbet. Everything was very good here, including the pairing.
What a wonderful way to start our week here. Next up: In just a few hours, we head to the Trade tasting, and get to see just how many wines we can taste in 2.5 hours. Then back to the tasting room for the normal Thursday night tasting a couple of hours later. It is going to be quite a night!