Madiran wine and fresh foie gras? Move over Sauternes!
A couple of weeks ago, we covered the Southwestern region of France in my wine class. We tasted some beautiful wines such as Jurançon sec, Monbazillac, and Madiran. I’m not too familiar with these wines so it was a very enjoyable and informative class.
What really struck my interest is the Madiran wine. The Madiran is made from the tannat grape, which literally means “tanned” and as one might expect, it produces a very dark wine. In terms of taste and aromas, the Madiran is quite robust and rich. I think the perfect adjective to describe it is “rustic.” These qualities make this wine the perfect accompaniment to the regional cuisine of the Southwest – equally rich and rustic.
Duck and foie gras are key players in Southwestern French cuisine and one of the food recommendations that my wine instructor made for this wine is foie gras! Most people know that the textbook wine pairing with foie gras is Sauternes, a sweet wine from Bordeaux. I’ve had this pairing numerous times and yes, the Sauternes goes so well with foie gras, not to mention Roquefort. I usually open a bottle of Sauternes and serve it with the appetizer – foie gras – and then again at the end of the meal with the Roquefort cheese course. The Sauternes works really well with these two foods but I am very curious to try the foie gras with the Madiran.
I decided to try this pairing out at home in Paris. I always bring back months’ supply of foie gras from Paris – always entier, meaning cooked whole, and always mi-cuit, meaning semi-cooked. I only get the mi-cuit – which has to be refrigerated – because I find that it is much better quality than the canned stuff. However, since my reserves allow me to eat this foie gras throughout the year, I wanted to try a type of foie gras that is not easily accessible to me when I’m not in Paris: fresh, raw foie gras that I can pan sear at home!
I went to La Grande Épicerie de Paris and picked up two slices of fresh foie gras. I scored both of them on one side (just to enhance the appearance) and seared them in the pan. Searing only takes about 20-30 seconds on each side. I also prepared a red wine cherry reduction sauce, which is so easy to make, yet so delicious! Cherries are a classic accompaniment to foie gras. The tartness and the sweetness of the cherries are a great complement to the buttery richness of the foie gras.
Here’s how my food turned out. The first picture is my dinner companion’s plate with a regular amount of cherry reduction. I also didn’t put any cherry decorations on top to better show what seared fresh foie gras looks like.
And below is my plate. I think you can tell from this picture that I love cherries (it’s my favorite fruit and I have fond memories of picking cherries from the tree in my grandfather’s garden when I was little). I think I may have gone just a tad overboard it with the cherry reduction sauce 🙂 but I ate and enjoyed every drop of it!
Now for the wine. The Madiran that I’m pairing with these dishes is a 2012 Chateau Barréjat.
As expected from the tannat grape, this wine is very dark and concentrated. This wine is so thick that it is actually coating the glass. After I swirl the wine, you can see the tears slowly coming down.
It has aromas of dark fruits, like cherry, plum, red currant as well as some sweet spices and a hint of chocolate. The taste also mirrors these aromas. So the cherry reduction sauce will be a great match for this wine.
This wine is also very full-bodied because of the fresh tannins. It completely coats your tongue. This is definitely a wine to be enjoyed with a meal. It would be a bit too robust to drink on its own. The juiciness and the richness of the pan seared foie gras will be perfect to tame these tannins and the tannins will do a great job of lightening up the buttery foie gras. At the same time, I definitely want to stay away from salty and savory flavors in the dish as they augment tannins in a wine.
So how did the Madiran work with the fresh foie gras?
All I have to say is, what a wonderful pairing!!! The buttery richness of the foie gras just melts away the tannins that were so strong prior to eating the food. The food makes the wine so much smoother.
As for the foie gras, even though the serving is tiny, it is such a rich food that you definitely need the tannins in the wine to lighten it up. Similarly, the cherry flavors in both the sauce and the wine are a great contrast to the richness of the foie gras and they both work wonderfully to create a lighter and much more balanced meal.
This might be my favorite food and wine pairing to date! It is a perfect example of wine and food simultaneously working together to enhance each other.
I will definitely take a couple of bottles of Madiran with me to Abu Dhabi and serve them with the entier mi-cuit foie gras that I’m also bringing back!
The picture above doesn’t include goose foie gras by Georges Bruck from Alsace. This is another great foie gras that I always take back with me along with the pictured Vidal and Frères Gourmets.