Last week was the first ever Rhône Wine Week in Ireland, celebrating all things Côtes du Rhône. I couldn’t have been happier; this region in France has long been my favourite wine appellation. I’m no expert by any means, but I like that these wines tend to be delicious whether you’re pairing them with food or drinking them on their own. The grapes used in this region – Syrah (or Shiraz) and Grenache, to name a couple, make flavoursome and full bodied wines.
When I found out La Bohème in Waterford was planning a Winemaker’s Dinner showcasing one Côtes du Rhône winery in particular, I booked my sister-in-law to babysit and secured a table for me and Patrick. The menu, consisting of five courses (including an accompanying glass of wine), was a steal at €50 per person and sounded delicious.
The star winery that evening was the Domaine de la Citadel located in Luberon. Their winemaker, Cyril Delvalat, was there to present his wines and came to each table during each course to discuss the wine and why it was chosen for the particular dish it accompanied. He was extremely friendly and clearly loves what he does (who wouldn’t love that job?). His wines were gorgeous and have inspired us to plan a trip to France sometime in the not-too-distant future. It should be noted that this was the first time any Domaine de la Citadelle wines were ever showcased in Ireland.
The dinner started out with French farmhouse cheese gougères which were waiting on the table when we arrived – gooey and warm, as they should be. We were offered artisanal bread and then our salmon course was brought out – a trio of smoked, cured and tartare alongside a carpaccio of Dunmore East scallop.
The third course was a generous portion of roasted monkfish, du puy lentils, glazed shallot and a buttery herb sauce. You can easily overcook monkfish to the consistency of rubber. Happily, I sliced through my serving as if it were made of butter.
The fourth course featured local venison prepared two ways – a pithivier with wild mushrooms and roasted loin with crème de cassis sauce. This was my favourite course of the evening. The loin was cooked perfectly and was so very tender (you can see the fork marks in the photo!).
For dessert, we were brought an entrement of hazelnut and chocolate. A base of chewy nougat was a great offset to the chocolatey mousse and we even got a dollop of mocha ice cream on the side. We took home a goody bag with information and maps of the region and the Domaine de la Citadelle (also: an awesome, bright red apron).
Out of the four wines we tasted my two favourites had to be their Les Artemes white (2011) which was sprightly, citrus-ey and went perfectly with the salmon course and the Le Gouverneur Saint Auban red (2009) that accompanied our venison.
Rhône Wine Week Ireland also had daily competitions on Twitter – I won a lovely cookbook featuring world cuisine to pair with Rhône wines (go me!). I’m already looking forward to next year.