Celebrate Summer with Beaujolais

Looking to make your summer of drinking more sophisticated? You may not think of wine as being a summer staple – i was even sceptical myself – but Beaujolais expert Anthony Collet and Acadia Chef Patrick Kriss have proven otherwise. On a gorgeous sunny afternoon, we hit up Acadia in little Italy for a Beaujolais Barbecue and indulged in a wine and food pairing.

The menu:

Creole Shrimp w/ Anson Mills Grits
Paired with: Georges Duboeuf, Beaujolais Fun, 2009 & Louis Jadot, Beaujolais-Villages, Combe Aux Jacques, 2011.

Piri Piri Chicken Leg w/ Yogurt
Paired with: Bouchard Aîné & Fils, Beaujolais Supérieur, 2011; Jacques Dépagneux, Morgon, Côte du Py, 2011 & Joseph Burrier, Saint-Amour, Côte de Besset, 2009.

Grilled Eggplant w/ Peanut, Coconut & Curry Condiment
Paired with: Château de Pierreux, Brouilly, 2011; Villa Pnciago, Fleurie la Réserve, 2011 & George Duboeuf, Beaujolais-Villages, 2010

Korean Short Rib w/ Crispy Rice, Sesame & Chili
Paired with: Domaine Manoir du Carra, Juliénas 2010; Domaine du Vissoux, Moulin À Vent, Les Trois Roches, 2010 & Domaine Piron-Lameloise, Chénas, Quartz, 2009

Dark Choclate Ganache w/ Chantilly Cream, Caramel Popcorn

Chef Patrick prepared the mouthwatering menu in the back, while Anthony Collet began explaining the basics of Beaujolais. It is a varietal found only in the Beaujolais region of France, just north of Lyons and part of Rhones. It comes from the Gamay grape which has thick skins and are low in tannins, creating a less acidic wine. They vary in flavour, some being more fruity and light, to others being slightly more spicy and fuller bodied depending on where their grapes were grown. They only produce approximately 1% of white wines, usually as a Chardonnay, but are most commonly red.

We were given instructions as to how to go about tasting the Beaujolais. In proper tasting technique, one must first look at the wine in the glass and observe the colour and clarity as well as the legs (when you swish the wine in the glass, streaks of wine stream down the inside of the glass, known as the “legs”. The longer the legs the higher the alcohol content). Once observed, the next step is to sniff to gain an idea of flavours and elements of the wine. Finally, and my favourite step, it’s time to taste. I had made the naïve assumption that all Beaujolais wines tasted the same or were quite similar, but boy was I mistaken. Each wine had their own characteristics ranging from spicy to fruity to earthy, and with every taste, the flavours became more and more pronounced. The exquisite dishes enhanced the flavours of the wines as well, arousing the palette completely.

While we tasted the wine, we took the opportunity to chat with Anthony and gain insight on his expertise. Hailing from Lyons, France with a background in business and marketing, he told us how he had fallen into the Beaujolais industry by pure luck. Being at the right place at the right time, he got his first taste (no pun intended) by getting into wine sales and snowballed into being one of the most recognized Beaujolais specialists in the world. With over 12 years of experience, he clearly knows what he’s talking about. He travels all over the world speaking of and promoting Beaujolais. We stole a glance at his passport and it was chalk full of stamps ranging from Japan to Germany to Brazil. Although he is proud of his French background, he says they tend to stay more traditional whereas North America is “more willing to discover and experiment with different wines and are always eager to taste”.

With every dish, we were given 3-4 wines to taste and with every round, the food and the wine got more and more decadent (but maybe that was the wine talking). The shrimp and grits were rich and delicious, I could have eaten everyone’s there. The marinade of the chicken, enhanced the flavours of the Beaujolais it was paired with. I typically am not a fan of eggplant, but somehow Chef Patrick managed to make me crave seconds of his grilled version. My favourite however was the mouth watering Korean Short Rib that was melted like butter in my mouth. The crispiness of the rice and sesame, the spice of the chill and the tenderness of the short rib was sensational.

After twelve different samples of wine, it became hard to keep track of which one I liked the best. I was caught between the Louis Jadot 2011, the Saint-Amour 2009 and the Georges Duboeuf 2010. I wondered if maybe tasting the Beaujolais with the food had swayed my perceptions of them, so after another round of tasting – this time without food- I had come to favour the Domaine Joseph Burrier, Saint-Amour Côte de Besset, 2009. Leave it to me to choose the most expensive wine of the evening as my favourite, priced at $25.85/bottle. Although my favourite may have to be saved for special occasions, all the other Beaujolais wines on the menu can be found at the LCBO ranging in prices of $10.95 to $25.85. So whether you’re looking for a romantic night in, a gift to give at a party, or just something to enjoy on a nice sunny day, Beaujolais wines will be sure to satisfy for any occasion.

To get more information on Chef Patrick Kriss and Acadia Restaurant visit their site at http://www.acadiarestaurant.com/
To get more information on Beaujolais wines visit http://www.beaujolais.com/

– Article by Celia Schepp

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