Irancy: a red with rustic charm from Burgundy
Today, I’m paying homage to one of my favorite restaurants in Paris: Chateaubriand. This past summer, I had one of the best meals there in a very long time – seared veal served with chanterelle mushrooms. I will try to recreate this dish and of course I will put my own twist on it. And I have the perfect bottle of wine for this meal! Irancy from the Burgundy region of France, made by Nicholas Vauthier. Vauthier is known for his low intervention winemaking style. For the “La Croix Buteix” he adds the smallest amount of sulphur once the wine goes in the bottle. His wines are produced under the label Vini Viti Vinci. This Irancy “La Croix Buteix” is from 2012. La Croix Buteix refers to the climat, or the particular plot of land on which the grapes are grown.
Burgundy is famous for its fine and delicate reds made with the pinot noir grapes. It is also famous for producing very expensive wines, such as the grand crus from Gevrey-Chambertin and Vosne-Romanée (and especially the Romanée-Conti, which holds the #1 spot on my wine wish list.). Irancy, while while made with pinot noir, can be blended with up to 10% Cesar, which gives the wine more body and character, creating what some might call a charmingly rustic wine :).
Yet, the Vini Viti Vinci “La Croix Buteix” is still on the light side, not only in terms of aromas but also texture and taste. The tannins are more noticeable than a typical pinot noir from this region and this is due in large part to the addition of the Cesar grape. The tannins are balanced nicely with some refreshing acidity. Due to the natural wine making style, both the taste and the aroma are fruit driven – particularly berries, cassis, and cherry. This is a very interesting wine: you get both sweet and tart fruit notes simultaneously. There are also some spices and pepper (another characteristic of the Cesar grape). Even though this is a fruit dominant wine, there is a little bit of earthiness and minerality (especially flint). Overall, this is a very nicely balanced wine with enough body to give it good aging potential.
It has a beautiful red color, which is another characteristic from the Cesar grape:
I think veal will pair very nicely with Irancy. A bolder red would overpower the flavors of the veal as it is milder in taste and texture than beef. At the same time, veal has bigger flavors than some of the lighter meats, such as chicken, so it needs a heartier wine than a delicate pinot. In this respect, Irancy, bolstered by the rustic Cesar grape is perfect.
I’m going with veal chops. This cut will not only add more flavor to the dish but also richness, which the acidity of the Irancy will balance nicely. For my veal, I really would have preferred rosé veal. I could not find it. The veal that I’m using is, however, still European sourced.
(Sidenote: The flavors and texture of veal can be quite variable based on whether the animal was milk or grass fed, whether it was allowed to roam, and how young it was slaughtered. That, along with the cut of meat and the cooking method can greatly affect the choice of wine and some might call for a glass of white or a rosé. In this case, because I am serving grilled chops from an older calf that was not confined in crates, a red wine that is not too delicate is a better choice. If Irancy is not available, a bolder pinot or even a Médoc would also work nicely.)
I will serve the chops with onions, rhubarb, and shimeji mushrooms. The onions will add sweetness to the dish, while the tartness of the rhubarb will lighten up some of the flavors. Even without taking the wine pairing into consideration, the interplay of sweet and tart flavors with veal add so many layers of flavor and complexity to the dish. Just delicious!
And especially with this Irancy, these flavors in the food will also echo and highlight the sweet and sour fruit aromas in the wine, which I find to be an interesting and nice characteristic of the wine. As such, I want to bring this characteristic a bit more into the spotlight. Finally, given the hint of earthiness in the Irancy, and the addition of the shimeji mushrooms will also bring out and enhance this earthiness.
I prepared two versions of the dish: one with a sauce and the other without. The sauce is super simple. I just added a bit of stock and butter to the pan drippings.
Here’s is the dish without the sauce:
And with the sauce:
I initially wasn’t sure whether the sauce would overpower the wine so I wanted to try the wine with both versions of the dish. However, because the sauce is not too bold in flavor and not too rich, it worked well with the wine. At the same time, it added yet another layer of texture to the dish and enhanced the flavors of the veal. In my opinion, the sauce was a winner!
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