Sat 9 Jul 2011
LL used the rest of the fresh porcini and morels a few nights ago and made a simple pasta dish to highlight the deep, earthy flavors, going very light on butter and using more olive oil. I never understand the impulse, seemingly the imperative, to slather sauteed mushrooms with lots of butter and cream, thereby obscuring, if not obliterating, the reason for using them anyway. Before she got home from work, I chopped two leeks, sauteed them in a bit of olive oil and a wee sliver of butter, covered the pan, turned the flame way down, and let them stew for 15 or 20 minutes until quite soft and savory. As a thickener for the sauce, LL pureed these incredibly soft and flavorful leeks in the processor with some chicken broth and olive oil. She’s really smart that way. I brushed the porcini and morels off carefully, sliced them, and sauteed then gently in olive oil and, again, just a bit of butter, and then LL added the leek puree, some dollops of white wine and finished the sauce and the dish. For pasta we used a very interesting fresh whole-grain fettuccine, made from Kamut, from Laura and Davy Funderburk’s FunderFarms in north Mississippi. As with porcini risotto, the resulting dish, while fabulously deep and earthy and flavorful, was not very photogenic. (Kamut is a brand name for the khorasan variety of wheat supposedly discovered in Egypt in the late 1940s and grown now in limited quantities in the United States.)
I told LL that my choice for a supremely well-matched wine-and-food marriage made in heaven would be a great Northern Rhone roussanne or marsanne-based white, say an E. Guigal Ex Voto Ermitage Blanc or Paul Jaboulet Aîné Chevalier Sterimberg Hermitage Blanc, about eight to 10 years old. I didn’t have one of those, and, unless I am somehow transported into the slender ranks of Very Privileged Wine Writers or Big Dogs of Fiduciary Prowess, never will I. So I poked around in the white wine fridge for a substitute and actually found an intriguing bottle, Les Deux Rives Corbières Blanc 2010, made from a blend of 60 percent grenache blanc grapes and 20 percent each marsanne and roussanne. Now I’m not saying that this wine would in any way be comparable in nobility and character to the tremendous examples mentioned earlier in this paragraph, but it does have the advantage of selling at a price affordable to those millions of consumers modestly existing on the Plane of Mere Mortals.
What was so pleasing about Les Deux Rives Corbières Blanc 2010, produced by the Groupe Val d’Orbieu cooperative headquartered in Narbonne, is that it encapsulates, on a small scale, the nature of a wine that in large might extend the qualities of these grapes into epiphany. Yes, at most this is a very pleasant and more-than-decent effort, made all in stainless steel, yet the wine’s combination of crisp freshness and delicacy balanced with heady qualities of roasted lemon and lemon balm, dried thyme and bee’s-wax, hints of lanolin and camellia, all ensconced in a texture deftly poised between litheness and moderate lushness, rendered it deeply satisfying with the porcini and morel fettuccine, both in terms of complement and foil. When not serving a similar purpose, this would be terrific as a Porch, Patio, Pool & Picnic Wine, either as pure aperitif or with grilled shrimp wrapped in bacon; melon and prosciutto; or smoked salmon bruschetta. The alcohol content is a non-threatening 12.5 percent. Drink, nicely chilled, through the rest of 2011 and into 2012. Very Good+. About $10, a Distinct Bargain.
Corbières is in France’s Languedoc region, way down along the coast, where it turns south toward Spain, and inland up to some pretty rugged hills. “Les Deux Rives” refers to the banks of the Canal du Midi, built between 1666 and 1681 to connect the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. The 150-mile-long Canal du Midi runs from Etang de Thau on the Mediterranean coast to Toulouse, where it joins the Canal de Garonne. The enterprise was economically important until the construction of railroads in the mid-19th Century. It was named a UNESCO World heritage Site in 1996.
Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, N.Y. A sample for review.