Wine Review: Beaulieu Vineyard

   

Beaulieu Vineyard 2007 Tapestry Reserve ($60.00)

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Beaulieu Vineyard 2007 Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon ($125.00)

In 2007, the Napa Valley hit the wine jackpot. The stars were aligned and the valley produced some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in recent memory. According to several publications, the strength of the 2007 vintage was a surprise to most winemakers as the weather was very cool (yet still dry) for the region. Nonetheless, the bold and complex cabernet sauvignon varietal fared very well, as evidenced in Beaulieu Vineyard’s (known as “BV” for bottling purposes) 2007 Reserve cabernets.

According to the winery’s website, Beaulieu Vineyard was founded in 1900 by Georges de Latour. De Latour had been operating a small cream of tartar business until his wife renamed the property “beau lieu”, or “beautiful place” and shortly thereafter De Latour expanded his plot of land to start what is today known as Beaulieu Winery. De Latour became well-known on the international wine scene because of his importation of phylloxera-resistant vines from Europe. During prohibition, De Latour obtained a contract to supply wine to the Catholic Church nationally, thus increasing sales substantially from 1920-1933. Beaulieu Vineyard was the only winery in Napa Valley that was permitted to remain open during prohibition.

Today, Beaulieu Vineyard’s is well-known internationally as producing some of Napa Valley’s best reserve wines. The 2007 Tapestry Reserve consists of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, and 2% Malbec. This Bordeaux-style blend has such amazing complexity and balance that I thought it was slightly more interesting and balanced than the 2007 De Latour, despite being half the price. The tannins were present on your palate but were smoothed out with notes of dark fruit and oak.

The 2007 Georges de Latour (93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot) had a similar first impression but in my opinion lacked the butter flavor that characterizes the Tapestry’s finish. The Georges de Latour shows hints of plum and licorice that linger long after your last sip. Both wines are very well balanced and can be consumed on their own. My personal opinion that an exceptional wine should never be consumed with food unless you take a moment at every sip to remember what you are drinking and pay close attention to the evolution of flavor. My guess would be 95% of people would become so enveloped in conversation that they forget the wine. Despite my personal opinion, I imagine this wine would evolve nicely when paired with the appropriate food. Due to the concentration of cabernet sauvignon in both wines, they will age very well and can be consumed through 2036.

RECIPE: Sauteed Beef Medallions, Potato Gratin & Broccoli Rabe

This recipe is for all of my meat lovers out there. Today in class we made sauteed beef medallions with sauce chasseur, potato gratin, and sauteed broccoli rabe. Too often beef tenderloin is grilled which drains all of the natural flavor in the meat. By sauteing lean and tender cuts of beef on the stovetop, you can retain the moisture that makes this cut of meat so delicious.

To make Sauteed Beef Medallions, first season both sides of the meat generously with salt and pepper. Place the medallions gently into an oiled sauce pan. Do not use whole butter because the water in the butter will burn easily in the pan. When the meat hits the pan do not move the medallions until it releases itself from the bottom of the pan. This will create a desirable crust around the outside of the meat. Sear the other side of the medallion and continue to cook until its desired doneness while trying not to flip or agitate the meat more than absolutely necessary.

The sauce shown above requires demi-glace which is hard to come by for the casual, at-home chef. (Demi-glace is a reduction of equal parts veal stock and espagnole sauce). To make a variation of the sauce above, saute sliced button mushrooms, shallots, and garlic in the oil left over from the beef medallions. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add beef broth and a beef bullion cube and reduce until a saucy (nappe) consistency is formed. If the sauce is still too thin, add a small amount of flour and immediately whisk in the sauce until completely incorporated. Add sliced tomatoes and parsely right before service. S&P TT.

To make Potato Gratin, you will need:

– peeled, 1/4 inch sliced Idaho potatoes

– equal parts whole milk and cream

– cheese, grated (Gruyere, Parmesan or white cheddar)

– butter

– garlic, nutmeg (optional)

– Salt and Pepper To Taste (SP TT)

Cook the sliced potatoes in a salted mixture of equal parts milk and cream until about half way cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes depending on the amount of potatoes. The potatoes should be completely submerged in the liquid and cooked  until they are soft but still crispy. Do not try to make this recipe healthier but omitting the cream or substituting whole milk for milk with lower fat content because it will curdle. Place the sliced potatoes in the bottom of a buttered casserole dish in a circular pattern so that the potatoes are shingled. When the first layer of potatoes are set, season the potatoes with salt. Then add a layer of grated cheese, as shown in the photo below.

Repeat this process for the second layer and depending on how deep the dish is, you may have to add a third. After the final layer of cheese is placed on top, ladle the milk and cream mixture into the casserole dish until it is about 3/4 full.

Wipe the outside of the dish with a wet paper towel because any remnants will burn in the oven. Place the dish uncovered in an oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until a golden crust has formed and the potatoes are cooked through. Allow the dish sit for about 10 minutes to let the cream to cool before cutting and portioning.

To make Sauteed Broccoli Rabe, first clean and slice  any thick stalks you may have so that they are all the same width. Before cooking any green vegetable, they should first be blanched. Blanching is a technique where the vegetables are placed in boiled water and par-cooked (partially cooked) and immediately placed in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. The ice bath also helps the vegetables to retain their bright green color. To finish the broccoli rabe, saute garlic and shallots in olive oil. Add the broccoli rabe to the pan and saute briefly. S&P TT

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about this recipe!