I love Chateauneuf-du-Pape, in part because of the food pairing options. As CdP ages, the wines evoke pepper, olives, herbs and meat. To keep things simple, I like pairing Chateauneufs with those same foods and flavors.
Last night I got together with some old wine-loving friends and was reminded yet again of the bliss of a table loaded down with CdP and delicious meat. Urban Butcher in Silver Spring is a Mecca for Maryland meat lovers, and oh my did chef Raynold Mendizabal deliver yet again.
We paired the wines (which included some other non-CdP beauties) with an assortment of Urban Butcher's specialties: charcuterie, salume, cheeses, paté, porterhouse steak, and osso buco. The diversity of flavors and pairing options was amazing.
Here are some notes I jotted down on the three Chateauneufs I tasted.
2001 Domaine Jean Royer Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Prestige - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Meaty aromatics, blood and pickling spices, some jammy red fruit as well. Full tannin on the palate yet a velvety feel. Black cherries, currants, fig paste, roasted plums, throw in some smoke and mushroom. Still plenty bold enough to stand up to lamb shank and root vegetables. (90 points)
2003 Henri Bonneau Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Marie Beurrier - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Smells roasted and funky with smoke and pepper on top of the sweet red fruit. Full-bodied, not much acid, sturdy tannin. Earthy and meaty accents to the roasted, jammy red fruit. Notes of pepper, smoke, olive paste and meat drippings. Lots of complex funky elements that I really like. This paired wonderfully with paté. Definitely needs air and will hold up for quite a long time to come. (91 points)
2005 Clos des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Decanted, and it needed it. Plum cake, currants, green olives and some herbal notes came out with time. Full-bodied, quite tannic, medium acid, the wine was tight at first but became surprisingly approachable and even delicate after an hour or so. Chewy black and red berry fruit topped with olives, grilled herbs, smoke and roasted chestnut. Complex and long. A great showing, but this wine has plenty of time left and a lot of complexity buried within. (94 points)
What's your favorite pairing with Chateauneuf?