Fri 5 Sep 2008
I speak of the Salmon Cakes with Lemon Yogurt Sauce, the recipe for which is on page 100 of the August issue of Gourmet magazine, a rag I have made fun of several times for blurring the line between editorial and advertising, but we frequently cook from it. Across the spread, on page 101, is a recipe for Celery and Potato Salad, which we also made and served with the salmon cakes, first for ourselves one night and then a week later when friends came for dinner. These are super simple recipes; the hardest step is hard-boiling eggs. When you buy the fillet of salmon — no canned salmon here — be sure to have the butcher take the skin off; it’s really hard to do at home. They’re great dishes, very summery, filled with texture and flavor.
The night LL and I first tried the Salmon Cakes with Lemon Yogurt Sauce and the Celery Potato salad, I opened a bottle of the Morey-Blanc Saint-Aubin Premier Cru 2006. Morey-Blanc is the negociant firm founded in 1992 by Pierre Morey, owned of Domaine Pierre Morey. In Burgundy, in time-honored fashion, negociants buy grapes or wine from growers or owners, often under agreements that go back decades, and make the wine or “finish” the wine themselves; the term on labels is the elegant elevé, “elevated.” This Saint-Aubin Premier Cru 2006 is such a wine. Saint-Aubin is a small vineyard area in Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune, nestled between and just to the west of the illustrious appellations of Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet.
My first notes: “wow,” “superb,” “wonderful.” I suppose I could stop there, but I’ll flesh out the details a bit. The wine earns those adjectives through its balance and integration and a sense of presence we can call purposeful. You would never know that it spent 17 months in barrel; oak makes itself known through the wine’s supple texture and through its lively spicy nature. Jasmine lingers in the bouquet, along with roasted lemon and lemon balm. The wine, 100 percent chardonnay, is moderately lush, vibrant with crisp acidity and limestone elements. A few minutes in the glass bring out notes of yellow plum and grapefruit. Drink now through 2012 or ’14. Excellent. About $55. 250 six-bottle cases imported, that is, 1,500 bottles to go around, though I suspect that most of this ends up in restaurants with wine lists that lean toward France.
Serving the salmon cakes and celery potato salad to friends a week later, I opened a bottle from the domaine, the Pierre Morey Bourgogne Aligoté 2006. Morey himself is the winemaker and cellarmaster of the domaine; his daughter Anne Morey is co-manager and winemaker for Morey Blanc. The domaine vineyards are farmed on biodynamic principles.
Aligoté, ususally called Burgundy’s other white grape, accounts for only about 1,700 acres in Burgundy proper and that much also to the south in Maconnais and the Côte Chalonnaise. The grape tends to make a tight frisky quaffing wine, though in some hands, Audibert Villaine, for example, in Bouzeron, in the Chalonnaise, and Pierre Morey, it is capable of better things. The grape has its own appellation and is allowed to be grown in selected spots here and there. Aligoté, for purists (may their names be legion), is the only base for the famous kir, for which it is mixed with cassis, the black currant liqueur.
Pierre Morey’s Bourgogne Aligoté 2006, made from vineyards in Meursault owned by the Morey family since 1930 (these vines planted in 1957), is fresh, clean and crisp, spare, lithe and sinewy. It offers lemon and lime scents permeated by honeysuckle with touches of face powder and April in Paris perfume (the equivalent of Proust’s cookie pour moi); while the wine is notably resonant, even taut with acid, the texture is seductive and silky. Lemon and orange rind flavors, fringed with spice, expand with traces of chalk and earth on the finish. Drink now through 2010. Excellent. About $20. This wine is such an expressive rendition of the grape and it’s priced so fairly that I would make it a Wine of the Week except that only 225 cases were imported. Yep, that’s 2,700 bottles, so mark this Worth a Search.
Imported by Wilson Daniels, St. Helena, Cal.