An extraordinary culinary experience
I attended a discreet private party last FRI evening organized by Mr Cristian Preotu and Le Manoir, that represented one the most decadent (in the most positive way) culinary and wine-pairing experience I enjoyed so far. The event had Mr Roland Birr as a guest chef that put up a mind blowing 8 hours cooking session called “Grill to Thrill” for almost 12-15 people present at the party. Mr Roland Birr is an international winemaker that produces wines in Languedoc, in Pays de l’Herault, and South Africa, and together with his Swiss company: Vive Group, specialized in events and special activities in the wine business, is touring the world cooking and introducing his wines in a unique pairing experience. Other special events organized by Vive Group are Wine & Spices, Ocean Feast, David & Goliath, Wine meets Chocolate, Meat to Steam. More information can be found here. Another similar event was held by Metro Baneasa on Oct 1st, 2012.
Most of the wines served this evening came from Mr Birr’s properties from France and South Africa: Chateau Capion from pays de l’Herault and Saxenburg in South Africa. On the side we were served for appetizers a very satisfying Champagne Duval Leroy (89/100) that is clean, mineral and full of citrus fruit, with good tension on the palate. I also had an excellent 2004 Deutz Blanc de Blancs Champagne (92/100), delicate and elegant, with plenty of tiny bubbles, hints of vanilla and roasted hazelnuts, long aftertaste and mouth watering acidity.
“Thrill to Grill” was prepared and started 4 h prior to guests arrival when the meat was placed on special barbeque devices brought by Mr Birr so it can be slowly cooked at lower temperature for almost 5-6 hours. Mr Birr’s aim was to prepare authentic food that reminds people of their childhood and the simple things in life. We started the evening with grilled coquelete cut in small pieces and served as finger food. A real treat paired by a fresh rose 2011 Capion Fiona produced by Chateau Capion.
The menu continued with veal carapaccio with fresh marjoram and olive oil produced from the 200 olive trees they have at Saxenburg in South Africa; a hot and spicy salad prepared on a large frying pan with oyster and soy sauce; grilled rack of lamb and the star of the food menu: a huge paella made with prime ingredients: fresh King prawns, chorizzo, baby squid, rabbit, mussels, clams and plenty of other ingredients. I wish I would see similar ingredients used in restaurants that prepare paella.
2011 Chateau Capion Le Colombier (90/100) blanc was served with the veal carapaccio and what a great combination it was. Spending big part of the night outside watching Mr Birr cooking while he was keeping a close eye on the 4 bottles of Colombier to remain untouched, I confess it was a real struggle to touch that wine before the carpaccio was served. I did however manage to have a few sips of the wine as a reward for resisting outside on the cold evening.
2011 Chateau Capion Le Colombier is produced in a limited quantity every year – around 9000 bottles, and is sold based on allocation to the 58 partners that distribute Capion’s wine all over the world. A blend of Viognier and Roussanne this wine happily combines freshness and creaminess. I enjoyed a lot its pronounced white flowers character, its lemon and pineapple aromas, the mango spiciness on the finish and its freshness.
With Paella, the options of red wines served were more than generous: 2008 Chateau Capion Le Juge (88/100) that comes from 25 years old vines from a plot in one of Languedoc’s Grand Cru’s – Terrasses du Larzac, predominantly Syrah (70%) blended with Grenache and Mourvedre, the wine is serious and is drinking well now. It has structure, soul and a medium long chocolatey finish.
2000 Saxenburg Pinotage Private Collection (91/100) was a superb surprise as the wine shows no signs of aging or being tired. It has a well developed nose, fully open and still on primary (fruity) aromas with beautiful spiciness, structure of smooth and ripe tannins, balanced and a long fresh finish. It is probably the oldest Pinotage I tried so far and I loved it. There was another red wine that I did not get to taste.
To end this Gargantuan dinner, French cheese assortments, chocolate and cigars were served next to a 2000 Graham’s Vintage Port (93/100) that continued to open up in the glass for the rest of the evening. There is abundant richness both on the nose as on the palate for this wine, and it smells and tastes like the chocolate candies filled with dark cherries and rum that I used to eat in my childhood. Long finish, good balance and overall such a great wine. For me, this wine was a very close and personal experience as it had the power to take me back in time and bring back such warm memories.
This type of event that brings together so much passion for cooking and wines, shared by the small group of people present deserves to be promoted, repeated and repeated again so everyone can sample it at least once. Every wine lover should look up for the next time it happens and do whatever it takes to be on the guests list. The question is not whether one will like it, but how ecstatic will one be after.
P.S. Mr Roland Birr will be back on February 10th to cook for a larger group of doctors at the Parliament’s House.