The Grand Crew from Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a serious wine for serious drinkers. Whether from the traditionally powerful Left Bank of the Gironde estuary, or from the more approachable Right Bank, the wines from the Bordeaux region have dominated the global imagination (and global trade) for centuries, and, as with anything with such a long history, it can inspire emotions as deep and as complex as the wine itself. Want to see an ugly brawl in a wine bar? Just declare, loudly, that you think Bordeaux is clearly better than Burgundy, or vice versa, and get out of the way as the affected wine lovers start brandishing broken stemware.
Spiral at the Sofitel—known to most as the setting of the most decadent buffet in town; known to others as the unofficial culinary embassy of France to the Philippines—seems to have chosen its side in this enduring rivalry. With wine trader Cordier Mestrezat Grands Crus S.A., Spiral hosted the Cordier Club Elite wine dinner, which showcased a collection of vintages devoted to great Bordeaux fine wines complemented by a creative menu by Chef Paul Cottanceau-Pocard.
Cordier Mestrezat, of course, is perhaps one of the best ambassadors for Bordeaux, having brought the wines from some of the region’s most legendary chateaux to more than 135 countries over the course of two centuries in the business. They’ve also been actively introducing innovations to the industry, inventing, for example, designer cases fashioned from materials that have included animal leather, 24-karat gold leaf, or even wood from Marie Antoinette’s oak tree. Each bottle is carefully selected and each winemaker personally wooed.
For this dinner, Thibault Odent, Cordier Mestrezat’s man in Southeast Asia, presented the house through five bottles from the 2010 vintage that represent the region’s diverse terroirs, each a glimpse into the fascinating story of their estates.
Dinner began with a Chateau La Rousselie?re whose rich flavor and smooth tannins, with roasted mocha notes was paired with a crisp tendon cracker with a fine beef tartare dressed with a rather punchy pickled egg yolk puree. The rounded and elegant flavors made for a bold start to the evening. The next course invited much discussion around the table, being of such striking looks—razor-thin pickled beetroot parcels with brie and raspberry gel, with walnut crumb and syrupy, aged balsamic set the stage for Le Cloitre de Grand-Puy Ducasse whose deep berry notes and mellow woodsiness, and supple and delightfully silky tannins, were pronounced and fresh.
An appreciative murmur rose for La Croix de Boyd-Cantenac: deep red, it was balanced and supple on the tongue, redolent with smoky vanilla, cherries, and blueberries. It was silky without being cloying, bringing out the rich, earthy flavors of the lamb course—served medium rare and rolled in olive powder, with a side of smooth pea foam, chargrilled zucchini, creamy fried halloumi and zucchini puree.
The Chateau Pouget demanded a prolonged pause for its depth and finesse. Paired with a tender sous-vide duck breast, parsnip puree, parsnip chips, sliced nectarines and piquant pickled cabbage, its subtly toasty, fruity notes and richness were made apparent. Judging from the silence around the table, it was a strong favorite.
Dessert was a deconstructed opera cake. Layers of sponge cake, dark coffee, syrup, and ganache brought forth the intense, roasted berry aroma of lush Chateau de Candale, the product of grapes harvested at that point of perfect ripeness. Heady notes of licorice, and a hint of vanilla and cinnamon were present throughout.
Throughout the meal, it became very clear that this small and very select line was deeply personal. There was pride and affection for every tasting, an appreciation of the terroir, passion, history and craftsmanship that went into each bottle. No wars were fought that night, stemware remained blessedly intact. The night rolled on agreeably, with personal favorites poured with increasing generosity.
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.