Saturday, August 15, 2015

Exploring Southwest France with the French Winophiles.

This month the French Winophiles, led by Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva, are exploring the southwest region of France.  I am still not very familiar with French Wines so this club is a wonderful opportunity for me to learn and grow.  I had heard of some of the wines from this region like Armagnac and Malbec. 

I ended up purchasing a bottle of Chateau Haut-Monplaisir 2012 Malbec.  This winery is in the heart of Cahors Valley where Malbec originated.  I really like the philosophy of the owners of this winery, who farm with respect to the environment and in a way that develops sustainability.   Researching this wine, I found that it is described as robust and meaty.

I decided it should stand up well to a grilled steak dinner. I decided to liberally season some Rib Eye Steaks with Montreal Seasoning and serve it with a Potato/Fennel Gratin, Sweet Corn and Vine Ripened Tomatoes.  

Frank opened the bottle of wine to allow it to breathe as I started putting together the Gratin and seasoning the steaks.  I put the gratin in the oven (luckily, our grill is equipped with an oven) and we had a cocktail, relaxed and visited, while it baked. When the gratin came out of the oven to rest and the steaks went onto the grill, Frank poured the wine for further aeration before dinner.  I took a sip and puckered right up.  This is a very dry wine.  I love a dry wine and I love that chalky feel it leaves in your mouth.

We sat down to dinner, I had a bite of steak and a sip of wine and.....the Angels started singing, the harps started playing and it was Heavenly.  This was a wonderful, perfect pairing.  This Malbec is dryer than many of the Cabernet wines that I normally drink and I LOVED it.  I am very pleased to have found this new wine pairing and very grateful to Christy for starting this wonderful club.

Now I would like to share the recipe for this decadent Potato/Fennel Gratin. This Gratin screams for a dry wine to cut the richness.  It was the perfect accompaniment to this meal.

Potato/Fennel Gratin

2 large russet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced very thin.
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced very thin
salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste
butter for greasing the baking dish
1/2 pint heavy cream
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling the top 

Generously butter the bottom and sides of a small casserole.  Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the casserole.  Top with a layer of fennel.  Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Repeat twice more and then place a final layer of potatoes on the top.  Pour the heavy cream over all an sprinkle the top layer of potatoes with parmesan cheese.  Cover tightly and bake in a preheated 375* oven for 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until top is browned.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.  Print Recipe

Here are some more great wines from Southwest France.

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  1. Your meal is a perfect pairing with Malbec. It looks delicious!

  2. LOL!! When I first saw your title I saw "Exploring France with Winos" That is how I would want to explore France.

  3. Great pairing! I can imagine what a tasty combination that was with the steak and the potatoes gratin!

    It is so much fun to explore and learn about food & wine with this group and Wine Pairing Weekend, Italian Food Wine & Travel.... Now I just need one for the 4th Saturday of the month!

    1. Oh my gosh, I have not learned about the Italian Food Wine and Travel...Now I have to look into that LOL

  4. Sounds like you found a winner in terms of a wine for your grilled steak! Don't you love it when a plan comes together! Cheers!


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