DeathbedFood Burgundy Wine Dinner Echoes French Laundry Experience
Recently, I was invited to cover the Burgundy Wine Dinner held at Bouchon Beverly Hills. They have been doing dinners to celebrate the various wine regions of France, pairing food with the wine of the region – with the first being a Loire Valley dinner. This, their second one, was for the Burgundy region. Its six courses, paired with white and red Burgundies by Head Sommelier Alex Weil, came as close to a French Laundry experience for me as, well,
The price of $175 per person was well worth it for the educational and entertainment value alone. In fact, the wine discussion was like taking a Master Class in Burgundy with the likes of the following wine folks involved:
- Special guest , who, having traveled all the way from Burgundy, gave us a history and philosophy of his wines which we sampled;
- Paul Wasserman, who’s mother’s company (Becky Wasserman, whom the WSJ called, “the American-born Earth Mother of Burgundy”) exports the wines;
- Importer ; and
- Bouchon’s Sommelier Alex.
Here are my Top 5 “Tastes” of the topics we covered:
- TASTING. It was argued that wine tasting is not really subjective. Instead, it could be thought of as being divided between “right and left wing” (with whites, some prefer “stonier” while others prefer “richer”). I prefer “stonier” wines which, apparently, have a more impactful “mid-palate”. I’m not sure I fully understand the “mid-palate” effect yet (perhaps that’s an advanced move?) but it was interesting to try to see the difference between the two varieties.
- TERROIR. Terroir is “everything” in Burgundy (down to region, village, and, often, side of the road). Other areas with this terroir focus include Austria, Germany and Piedmont. With the Boeuf Bourguignon, we sample a flight of three red Burgundies, each located in a row something similar to Century City, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood (but only 100 yards apart total). Each had a unique taste, largely based on its unique altitude/slope/terroir.
- WINE READING. For Burgundy reading, they recommended Burghound, ‘ definitive source, saying “No one reads Parker for Burgundy news … the wines are ‘too pretty’ and ‘Burgundian’ for his tastes.” When buying Burgundies (and wines in general), they encouraged us to learn to read “beyond the points” as all reviewers are biased (Burghound is biased towards Burgundy, Parker biased toward Bordeaux, etc.).
- BUYING BURGUNDY. There are plenty of great places to buy Burgundy in LA. They stressed the importance of developing a relationship with our “Wine guy” (or gal). Their favorite store for Burgundy was Woodland Hills Wine Company with some other favorites being Wally’s, K&L, Larchmont Village Wine & Cheese, The Wine House and Domain LA. Final tip: buy the producer not the vintage. Good producers will always produce good wines, regardless of vintage.
- DRC. Having Burgundy “authorities” there, I had to ask about Domaine Romanee-Conti (DRC). I’ve seen it on many very high-end menus (with exorbitant prices) so I assumed it must be benchmark standard. Recently, when I saw Jancis Robinson’s piece about how Francis Ford Coppola got paid for his work with DRC, I thought “I’d blog for DRC!” So, naturally, I wanted to know, “Is DRC really all that?” Paul Wasserman didn’t hesitate, saying, “YES! For a variety of wine geek reasons.” OK, good enough for me … I may never have the opportunity to try it, but I’m pretty confident now it would be DeathbedFood wine.
Then, of course, there was the food. Executive Sous Chef David Hands really pulled out all the stops with six incredible courses, paired with incredible tastings of Burgundy wines.
Course 1: celery root soup with black truffle croquettes (DeathbedFood!)
Course 2: veal terrine, grilled pain de campagne (including tongue) … many finished their plates on this one, but, for me, it’s an acquired taste yet to be acquired.
Course 3: braised Burgundy snails with garlic butter & puff pastry (my first time having snails and I’m sold!). Loved this dish.
Course 4: Boeuf Bourguignon. I’m a huge fan of this dish (current Top Chef Texas contestant!). Bouchon’s was made with all day braised beef short ribs, braised in some of the Burgundy wine we sampled.
Course 5: Epoisses with red wine poached Bartlett pears … the cheese in this dish went beyond savory, a perfect compliment with the wine.
Course 6: Mignardises (a lovely selection of Bouchon Bakery cookies)
So, with Loire Valley and Burgundy done, I can’t wait to hear which French wine region will be next for Bouchon …